For my girls

I grew up with two, slightly rowdy, brothers. As a result of their example and my own predisposition for introversion, I spent a large portion of my youth attempting adolescent invisibility. I was a freckle-faced, red-haired, braces and glasses wearer in southern California, so it hardly ever worked out as I hoped.

1,284 miles away, Logan was crafting a very different teenage existence. They laugh about it now, but I’m certain that at the time, his parents were less than thrilled by his political column (Nouveau View) in the county newspaper and likely even less impressed with his band’s decision to perform sans clothing. When I asked him to clarify the boxers-only performance I’d heard so much about, he asked, “Well, which time?”

I watch Pearl on the playground now with an intense curiosity. Will she amble toward anonymity or sprint for the spotlight? Yesterday she scaled the rope ladder with astounding speed and grace and then raced full toddler force to the big slide. She skidded to a stop, waved to a neighbor kid, then pointed to the slide and said, “Be careful ok?” This combination of daring tenderness is alright with me.

Eventually, we won’t be pinpointing the inherited characteristics of our small daughters. Experience will mold them into women we hope and expect to be strong, intelligent, and kind.

But for now, for my girls’ sake, I hope they channel their father’s natural instinct to be wild. I hope they ask the uncomfortable questions and then really listen to the answers to discover their own conclusions. In what can feel like the endless catastrophe of youth, deciding to be different, especially in a town like ours, will be a monumental challenge but will serve them well in so many ways.

We’re just a week away from becoming a family of four, plus one deranged Chihuahua. And years from now, when our girls decide to read mom’s boring online journal, all I ask is that they please, please, ask their father when their band decides to play homecoming in just their skivvies. That’s all him.

 

Pearl & The Case of the Chaos Tornado

“I swear I turned around for one second,” Logan said, panic saturating his pores. I don’t doubt this. Pearl is fast. To give you a reference point, she’s somewhere between a snake and a mongoose, and a panther. She had closed the door to our bathroom and opened the nearest drawer effectively barring anyone from getting at her.  We stood staring at the door, mentally calculating the life-threatening dangers locked inside the bathroom with our daughter, united in dread.

Sass for days

Baby blues

Logan used logic to determine breaking the window was our best option. I utilized a mother’s expertise for nonsense and casually suggested to my 10 month old, “Pearl, babe, close the drawer.” Voila. She closed the drawer. Multiply impossibility and subtract reason, these are the mathematics of motherhood. Today I will admit she was probably just excited to hear my voice. Years from now, as my maternal induced psychosis worsens, the story will evolve. I will proclaim my daughter followed precise instructions given to her in fourth century Latin and upon opening the door, gave us the square root of pi. Enjoy this time of partial sanity my friends, it is merely fleeting.

Borderline heart failure induced panic followed by baffled laughter, a shoulder shrug, and onto the next chaos tornado, parenting defined. Ultimately it seems, with a little luck, resolutions to life’s most earth-shattering moments can sometimes be swift. Similar to my recent thyroid cancer diagnosis which had us equally flabbergasted, the solution will be simple and relatively easy. A few weeks from now I will trade my thyroid for a scar but, like our bathroom window, I will remain intact. More importantly, I will be happily exaggerating Pearl’s intellect for many, many years.

Best. Hugs. Ever.

Zen and the Art of Blueberry Peace

I woke up today with an immensely odd craving for blueberry pancakes. You see, I’m more of a breakfast burrito kind of gal; bacon, potatoes, burn your taste buds right off hot sauce. Savory’s my game. And until now, my pregnancy has lacked the thrilling side effects Hollywood’s most notoriously appetite-less women would have you believe are normal. I stared at the ceiling in our bedroom contemplating how in the world it’s possible that I have never in my life made pancakes. How absurd.

Equipped with a fancy from-scratch recipe, I progressed slow and determined through the isles of our tiny grocery store. Still bleary-eyed with interrupted sleep I nearly missed the familiar package of Krusteaz pancake mix my mom always used. Studying the simple instructions on the back of the bag I chuckled at the realization that we do not even own a whisk, the one of three necessary items to get this done the easy way. So long cake flour, almond extract, and baking soda, Krusteaz and Mrs. Butterworth never let my own mother down, why mess with success?

9 Months Pregnant + 30 Years Old = Powdered Sugar AND Syrup

9 Months Pregnant + 30 Years Old = Powdered Sugar AND Syrup

Unburdened with what was sure to be a hopeless effort, I picked up some Visine and made my way through the checkout line. My eyes are still a little puffy and red from last night’s major meltdown. Infuriatingly typical, at nine months pregnant and only a few hours from the dreaded 3-0, I completely lost my cool. I was hit hard by the big questions: What if I can’t let go of selfishness? How will my marriage suffer? What if I’m a bad mother? What’s left to look forward to? And the smaller questions: What if I’m never fun again? What if I can’t eliminate Nutella from my daily diet? Why oh why didn’t I plan for a birth not immediately preceding swimsuit season?

Some answers are easier to journey toward than others but my first taste of blueberry flapjack had a zen-like effect. There is no need to over-complicate an already complex life, go with your gut, learn and grow together, as a family. On my 30th birthday, when I think the world has no surprises left for me, our little lady showed me sometimes it’s nice to wake up and find out you’re wrong.

Smooch

Mushaboom Brain

My brain is in so many places at once, I’m pretty sure I deserve a gold medal for the mental acrobatics I’m constantly performing. I have never attempted more fervently to pay attention, make eye contact, concentrate on the words being spoken to me. In the midst of extreme focus she’ll  kick and, to be specific, it feels like she’s somehow memorized the moves from the Kriss Kross Jump video. And just like that I’m suddenly wondering what happened to wearing whitewashed jeans backwards and the sweet neon innocence of 90s hip hop and … What was I saying? What month is it? October?

When she’s not breakdancing I’m compiling mental lists of why she might be feeling mellow. Did I eat something I shouldn’t have? I’m probably juggling work and a side conversation but I’m also thinking of pregnancy week one, when I ate both Caesar salad and béarnaise sauce in one meal. I spent the following week and a half feeling more remorseful and guilty than that time I crashed the family Volvo into the garage (sorry Mom). And then my phone rings and I’m back in the present where I realize, oh hell, we’ll have a daughter crashing into our garage soon. If I’m looking at you like you’re lime green, this is why.

-4

I feel the need to write lengthy apology notes to all the poor souls duped into conversation with me, I am miles away with no intention of mapping my way back. The slightest trigger and I’m transported back to college, an olive green kitchen where I sat on the counter with Socrates and a glass of wine and repeatedly made a mockery of pasta alfredo. Tapping my toes to Mushaboom I remember the exact moment I considered the future I live today. Back then it seemed like a dreamy little fairy tale, married, settling down, and starting a family, that’s crazy I thought. I got the crazy part right, but it’s been much dreamier than I could have possibly imagined.

Love

 

Warm-Hearted (Central) Americans

I adore Central America. I love the way the heat sits on your thirsty skin like a wet bathing suit. I stepped off the plane and my brain sent emergency alerts to my confused body and I was instantly perspiring in all the wrong places. I marveled at the locals who seemed to glow ethereally while we foreigners glistened and shifted uncomfortably in our absurd performance fleece and denim airplane attire. After a few days though, I relished my sun-kissed skin and frizzled hair, the climate seeped into my pores and my overstuffed suitcase was as useless as 60+SPF.

Paradise from above

Paradise from above

Sensory memories from the PanAm proved accurate and somehow magnified but what I didn’t anticipate was the all-encompassing joy my pregnant belly could bring to total strangers. I felt like a celebrity everywhere we went, I considered practicing my pageant wave and flawless autograph flourish every time someone beamed ecstatically in my direction. It was a refreshing change of pace from the oddly concentrated frowns back home.

Stairs? Oh no ma’am, not for you, let me direct you to the special VIP pregnant-lady elevator. I found myself gratefully accepting every sincere offer of goodwill and unavoidably comparing them to the snide “I just thought you were fat” remarks I received prior to stamping my passport. Security line? No no, you probably have to pee, right this way to the front of the line. Forget the scanner, how could you be a terrorist? You’re a mother! Tell that to the TSA agents who scolded me to “just go through” the scanners in Texas. Waiting in line for the ladies room in Guatemala was like being on tour. If one lady caught a whiff of my impending motherhood, the whole line was an uproar of nudges and whispers and I was faced with 12 women smiling so hard it looked like they were instantly creating new facial creases with the effort. Is this what it feels like to be Oprah I wondered.

These ladies had no objections to us joining their roadside tortillaria

These ladies had no objections to us joining their roadside tortillaria

More valuable than any trinkets I brought home was the perspective. The frigid Nebraska temperatures had only aided the ice forming around my heart lately. I have been embarrassingly consumed by my expanding waistline and the judgement of others, so easily forgetting the time and energy spent hoping to get to this place. These precious few months left to me are meant to be cherished. In the sultry heat of Belize and Guatemala, I let it melt away and embraced the simplicity of kind words and sincere affection, the small gestures of genuine compassion I hope to teach our daughter soon.

 

Baby's first ruined adventure

Baby’s first ruined adventure

The Sweetest Thing

Approximately three days and 17 searches: the amount of nail-biting time and hysterical googling it took for this lady to swear off all prenatal reading material.  Should you ever feel the odd desire for slick palms, heart palpitations, and dizzying anxiety just google “first trimester back pain.” At 18 weeks, each day is a surprise for me. I learn as a I go and like to think I’m bringing a hip vintage edge to my pregnancy rather than the reality, the perhaps misguided efforts of a determined ignorance.

Luckily I have a husband who instantly became an enthusiastic reader the moment he laid eyes on the pink plus sign. He keeps me up to date on our tiny progeny and sometimes makes me swoon with his sweet absurdity. When he told me I shouldn’t go to the annual haunted corn maze due to my delicate condition, I was sure he was joking. But when he repeated the statement to his own mother, appalled that she would even presume to think we would attend, I started to wonder where he was getting his daddy-to-be information.

Despite my love of screaming like a sugar-frenzied tween and sprinting through a dark, confusing, freezing-cold corn maze chased by our neighbors dressed in gorilla suits wielding chain saws, I acquiesced and we stayed home. Not because I believed his firm notion that pregnant women ought not to be overly frightened, but because, come on, that’s just the sweetest thing. To this day he defends himself, “Oh sure, you laugh now, but just think if something had gone wrong, the headline the next day would’ve been, ‘Idiot husband brings pregnant wife to late night, unlit, corn maze full of drunk people’ and the whole town would rally for my immediate incarceration.” Alright, so maybe he has a point.

 

The Best of the West

We’ve been stationary for six months, nostalgic for the road. Over 25 days we’ll hit 2 countries  10 states, and 4000 miles to hob nob around our old haunts and catch some surf before the snow. San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Baja California, Arches, and Zion are  a few of the highlights. Check out our route below and feel free to comment, we love suggestions.