jolly days

Viola pulled herself up to sitting! She was so proud of herself the first time she did it. And now she is doing it all the time. I just think about her journey through gross motor skills development and it is so much funnier than Zola, who was just happy to sit in one place until someone brought her something to eat. Viola on the other hand has been constantly a wandering soul, whatever it takes. As soon as she figured out how to roll front to back and back to front, she was looking over her shoulder at what she wanted and starting to roll to it. And like those robot vacuums and remote control cars, she would get jammed between chair legs and walls, or ram something she didn't see too hard and it would end badly. But that never stopped her. Then she figured out that the push-up inched her backward a little. So, she'd look back behind herself to orient and start chugging off backward. As soon as she could add the toe-push and go forward like an army man under razor wire, she was unstoppable. Like a snake, she could edge along head-on. Just in the last couple of weeks, she has mastered her leg movement and is doing a lot of yoga now... downward facing dog and cat pose. Pretty soon, she is going to figure out the stepping motions for utility and the rug-burned calluses on her knees and elbows might reduce. But, it hardly matters. I clocked her crossing the room in 5 seconds yesterday.

She and Zola have figured out how to interact. They like to lay on the floor and climb on one another. Viola gets up on Zola's tummy (with a spotter) and they tickle each other. They play patty cake, hand each other toys, and sometimes Zola plays "mommy" and takes care of Viola... or lets mom &/or dad know if baby needs a diaper.

Zola's language skills are through the roof and everyday she surprises us with what she knows and can repeat. She can do three syllable words. Her favorite things are elephants, kisses, going to the gym childcare (she knows the building so we have to avoid that street when we aren't going there or she will cry), swinging, cooking (helping mom make dinner or pretending in her new play kitchen), books, and pushing carts/strollers. Her favorite foods are milk, cheese, eggs, and meat (deli slices, pepperoni, but not chunks of chicken or beef unless it is chopped up fine and has taco seasoning.) She loves chips with salsa and spicy food. She can drink from a glass, although she still wants her milk in a sippy cup when she is tired. And she can feed herself with a spoon and fork (but prefers to eat with her fingers for convenience.) She's not a messy eater and gets very upset when food gets on her. She doesn't like her stuff to be put away. She wants everything out at once. She loves her tutu and boots and wants to wear them every day. She still hasn't shown any interest in potty training, and we aren't going to push it.

For the holiday, I was off for a 4-day weekend. Mostly I cooked and baked and cleaned the kitchen.

For Christmas Eve, we had a Mexican food feast. Since you can't really find good mexican food here in Cleveland, I learned how to make tortillas and used a mock Filibertos rice and beans recipe to make everything from scratch. We also had queso, ground beef taco bar, and tacquitos (from a box.)

For Christmas morning, I prepared (in advance) homemade cinnamon rolls with lemon cream cheese frosting. (MMMMM!)

For the afternoon feast on Christmas Day, I prepared a half-ham in a peach and brown sugar glaze, a cheesy broccoli rice casserole (a family favorite from Aunt Viola), and homemade focaccia rolls. The rolls were a little hard, so I made a second batch of bread later in the day so that we could enjoy fluffy rolls. The second batch turned out perfect and I realized my mistake. Whenever you half a recipe, always re-write the amounts so you aren't just doing the math in your head. I always forget and use the full amount the recipe calls for with at least one dang item and spoil it.

On Monday, since I didn't have to work, we had a family day. We took the kids to the zoo, tried out another (sadly disappointing) mexican food restaurant, and then looked at houses. We only have a couple of restaurants left... and so far, there is only one type of south of the border food here. It's bland, not spicy at all, all the stuff on the plate is either runny or covered in a runny sauce and touching and the meat is always stewed and shredded. I miss the nuances of El Salvador, Cuba, and the baja coast of Mexico and their limes and grills, when chipotle was a spicy pepper in adobo sauce that could burn your eyeballs out, and the fresh corn and black bean goodness of Tex-Mex, and burritos that you put in your fist. You would think I could open a restaurant and make a killing, but the sad truth is that people here cannot palate the flavors. Things on the menu here that are marked "spicy" can compete with Taco Bell's mild sauce. Things are bland here for a reason.

I have tons and tons of video of the kids right now. But for some reason, we've been negligent about taking pictures. I need to beat myself up about that. What's a scrapbooker going to do? I'll post some visuals soon.


snow days

My toddler LOVES the white stuff.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.2



We drove up to Baltimore and Washington D.C. for the holiday, saw Nick & Tanya, ate wonderful food, toured the city, and showed off our cuties. We really enjoyed the city and had a great time.

Since coming home, Zola has demonstrated her ability to recognize every single letter of the alphabet by sight in no particular order and Viola has taken her first tentative crawls like a non-soldier / non-amphibian person. She also figured out how to laugh hysterically out loud and return her big sister's hugs (can't explain the adorable.) I have a cold now and a work load that might eventually kill me. I am spoiled from the vaca.


hair fail

My hair is too long and it looks bleh.

Help me choose a hairstyle... leave a comment with what you think I should do. I'm going to go through pictures of myself through time to see if I like anything I've done before. Mark's thinking medium length, but I'm open to consider anything.

(Just want to avoid the middle-aged mom look.)


cute story

Zola thinks her name is "cute" or alternatively "you." Every once in a while, she will call herself Zoe or Zola. But most of the time she will argue indefinitely with you that her name is "Cute."

The other day, I caught her using something as a step stool to get the scissors off the kitchen table. The step-stool she was using? Her baby sister. She was standing with both feet, full weight, on Viola's tummy. Viola was just giggling like a complicit accomplice and was not harmed in any way during the telling of this story.

My hair is too long. Not only was I able to create a mural of Michael Jackson on the bathroom wall with the hair that falls out during a single shower but I'm now worse than living with a dog. My hair is everywhere in the house. We found one long hair hanging out of Viola's eye. It was wrapped around the back of her eyeball. (I was able to gently massage it out.)

I asked Zola if she needed a diaper. She bent over, touched the floor in what yoga calls the "Downward Dog" and subsequently farted on command - five times (while laughing her head off.) She makes more fart jokes than anyone in the house. Also, on a similar note, I mastered my chili recipe using dry beans and spices (not canned beans and packets) - very proud of myself.

I think Zola has upwards closer to 50o words now. And Viola is sitting up for nearly a half-minute by herself now. It is so hard to see them grow up so quickly and not be home with them more. I get the cranky, tired final moments in their day -- dad gets the happy, playful, joyful moments (but also the monotonous daily grind associated with meeting their basic needs hour after hour throughout the day.) Wish there was a way to spread out their care between us better.


happy halloween

Z's "first" halloween really exceeded my expectations. I knew that once the lights went on for her that strangers are just going to give you candy for no reason, it would be ON.

She smiled, shuffled along slowly, and said "hi" and "bye" and "thank you" to every house. (She even picked out which candy she wanted from a few. She had a hobo-style bag with an oversized hand at the receiving end that she carried perpetually at the ready, grasped firmly but carefully with both hands, especially as it got heavier. After each house, she would take a quick inventory of what she was given. We made it to about twice as many houses as I thought we would. There's plenty of booty for everyone.

Yesterday, we had a grill & chill in the park and then went home and made candied popcorn, which turned out great. Today, my work had a pot luck and I feasted on chili, which is so much more delicious when it's cold outside. I have a new appreciation and look forward to working on my own recipe this winter.

Unfortunately, we just got over being sick a few weeks ago and it looks like it's started it's way around again with me and Viola. I was lucky enough to get missed last time, so I could take care of everyone. But, this time, I feel like someone took a dump in my throat. Hopefully it will be a quick one.

I should imagine we'll see our first flurry of snow in the next couple of weeks. It was cold enough this evening for me to decide that the fleece I bought, thinking it would carry me to Christmas, is not warm enough already.

I love to bundle up. I like scarves and gloves and layers and hot chocolate and hot, spicy soups. So, I'm looking forward to the change of seasons.


the good stuff

To keep you coming back....


food for thought

I usually don't blog about politics, because the internet is a big room full of people who aren't going to get me, and I don't think people should change their minds to my position just because I make a great argument. I hold them to the high standard of doing their own thinking.

However, I'll make today's topic a vague exception:

We drove by "Occupy Cleveland" today to see what that was like... I was sad, because the face of it was a bunch of hippy kids. I think that the watered down message of general malaise regarding our turbulent economic time that they are trying to convey is one that everyone (left and right) can identify with. And I also think it is important to embrace the message and evoke some personal changes and discipline surrounding our lifestyles and demand our social infrastructure to do the same. But it is easily dismissed by the uninformed when it looks like it's just a swath of the fringe unwashed out asking for a hand out.

From the book I'm reading (referenced in the side bar) "Owing to this industrialized global food production system, over the last 100 years, 75% of plant genetic diversity has been lost and 30% of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction. 75% of the worlds food comes from twelve plants and only 5 animal species, making our global food supply highly vulnerable to disease and famine" ... "Six companies control 98% of the world's seed sales, 4 companies slaughter 81% of American beef, and 4 companies control 70% of American milk sales." The book also cites that between 1967 and 2006 the production of high fructose corn syrup per capital in the U.S. went from 0.03 pounds per year to 58.2 pounds per year and that our weight gain is the source of $275 million dollar increases in airline fuel costs each year. And that studies on life satisfaction over economic ranges shows that the really poor are pretty bummed, as you would expect. The people just barely meeting their needs (10k per person in the house) are just as satisfied with their lives and in certain measures (e.g. treatment for depression/anxiety, addictions to anesthetizations like shopping, gambling, and alcohol/drugs) are actually happier than households with higher incomes.

(The book has citations referencing all the studies, sources, etc. It's not a hard-science academic book, but it's not a soft Oprah self-improvement read either.)

I already knew we had a global food supply, highly industrialized in it's production. And that seed manufacturers genetically alter plants to not re-seed at the end of the season so producers have to continually buy seed every year. And that shipping, preservation, packaging, etc are creating an unsustainable food market. However, I was disturbed by the central planning, consolidation, etc. I guess I didn't really know that stuff.

And I knew we're fatter than any other generation. And that mental illness is an epidemic we now think of as normal. Everyone has "something," even our kids.

Anyway... I'm done ranting.


photo nuggets from this week

I don't know what MJ was talking about. As far as I'm concerned, THIS is it.



L: z at 8 weeks. R: v at 4 months in same dress as z at left. C: z at 4 months.

Fun to see the similarities and differences.

zola in september

Every once in a while, Mark proves himself an artist with gems such as this:

The video camera he wanted before Viola was born just paid for itself.


merry land

I had to travel to Baltimore for work. It's the same cost to expense driving as it is booking a flight, so I loaded up Mark and the kids and took them with me. We drove through Pennsylvania to get to Maryland and only when we were coming into town did I realize that Baltimore is kind of a suburb of Washington D.C. While I was in my first day of meetings, Mark took the babies down to see the White House, the Reflection Pool, the Washington Monument, etc. I'm pretty jealous because I've never been. But, they just drove around to save the touring of Jefferson Museum and walking around the different places to do when we go out for a longer, more recreational trip. In the evening, we headed out to downtown Baltimore to check out a bookstore Mark heard about. I found more books than he did, for once.

Then after my second day of meetings, we drove through Delaware, across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and back into the tip of Maryland where it meets the Atlantic to spend the rest of the weekend in my boss's condo in Ocean City. There was "SunFest" going on, which meant professional trick kiters were out doing their thing and a boat-load of megaphone toting import car show dorks were driving around their dad's pimped out saturns and neons. It was quite fun. We were just 500 feet or so off the beach and the weather cooperated, so we were able to walk down to the beach and let Zola collect shells. She absolutely HATES the sand, but loves the beach. She likes to sit on the edge of the blanket and play with sticks, shells, and rocks. We also walked the boardwalk, ordered pizza and sipped some mexican beers. It was pretty relaxing, if you don't count chasing a 2 year old non-stop (which is exhausting).

The drive home was long enough to make me note that we'll need to take days off if we want to do that again. We were hoping to stop by and say hi to an old friend of Mark's from High School who lives and works near D.C., but the drive... ugh. I've driven one-way narrow roads in London in rush hour. I've driven the worst routes in rush hour in LA. And, the east coast really knows how to have traffic. They have them all beat. And there are some really stupid road designs... I don't like to use the word "stupid" very often. I reserve it for special kinds of dumb. Whoever you are who designed the one lane two freeway split off-ramp... you are stupid. Whoever you are who decided to put 12 lanes if toll booths prior to the two-lane bay bridge, you are stupid. And whoever invented toll roads, you are also stupid (actually, you're probably a very savvy business person for monopolizing all the gas station/restaurant pull offs, but I hate you anyway.)


two peas in a pod

Yesterday Zola woke up at an ungodly hour. I got up and went into her room with her so the rest of the family could sleep in. She was playing quietly with her toys while I sorted and organized the kids' stuff.

When Mark got up, he set her free. I thought he took her with him and he thought she stayed with me. What she did do, I wish I had a picture of.

When we found her, she was sitting IN the baby bassinet, with the baby, and almost on her head. She had pulled a lot of Mark's heavy text books off the shelf and nearly covered herself AND the baby. They both were giggling. What happy mischief makers.

Then later that day, I caught Zola kissing Viola. Kissing is her latest thing. She likes to grab you by your ears, do something that seems an awful lot like head bunting, and then she smootches you with a big smack. But, since Viola is so small, to really get a good grip on her ears, she has to lay completely over her face and smother her. True Love. Adorable.



In a shocking twist of events, I like Ohio a lot! Who would have guessed? But here we are, transplants in a four-season State for the first time ever for Mark and the first time in 18 years for me. In a month or so, the leaves will change as a symbol of our new chapter.

Here's how we got here and why I haven't been updating this here bloggie:

We packed our entire household into shipping/storage containers Jun 27th and left Los Angeles for our great family odyssey while we are both on leave to bond with Viola. We packed in so much activity and travel that we really haven't had a chance to post, which is a shame. We had some of the most epic times of our lives.

First, we went out to Arizona. JJ made some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten and helped with the babies so much. McKay was in town, so we took a break from the Black Ops marathon with Evan to go out to ride the train and pan for gold at the ghost town, go swimming, and grill and chill.

Then Ev, the babies and I drove up to Utah. Austin, Sade, Chan, and Blondie drove up in another car. It was the first real test of long-road driving with both kids, and they surprised me by being pretty easy. Utah was seriously amazing. We camped, hiked, shot guns, bows & arrows, jumped on trampolines, sat in hot tubs, drove four-wheelers and dune buggies, rode bikes, got fountain drinks, did some crafting, and made 4 million trips to Walmart. Utah can be so beautiful and it was great to see everyone.

We went hiking, camping, roller coastering, shopping, scrapbooking, sewing, bicycling, walking in the rain, four-wheeling, dune-buggying, movie watching, and so much more.

While we were there, Zola had so many cousins to play with. I hardly saw her. She was off adventuring (as evidenced by the bruises,) But, when I got her back entirely to myself at the end of the two weeks, I was surprised at how grown up and full of attitude she was. Baby-zilla, for sure! With double the vocabulary and a skill set that takes ordinary life and makes it a roller coaster.

We went back to Arizona for one last week just to wrap up our loose ends and get ready for the great drive. The gravity of our undertaking started to hit me. Ugh. What had we done?

Mark was doing everything in his power to make things less stressful for me. He drove every single mile through New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and finally, Ohio. About the time we reached Iowa (2 days before we got here) I started to relax a little. Iowa was really pretty rolling hills of corn fields with these gorgeous romantic looking farms... and it sort of chilled me out (even though we saw plenty of pretty country before that.) I don't know why.

We sort of "camped" in a hotel while we sorted out the final details on our place in Ohio. By the time we could move in and get our shipping containers delivered, we had 48 hours until Mark's parents were expected to visit. Much of our items didn't survive the trip, so during that time, we bought a new couch and kitchen table and made six trips to target, unpacked the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and all but 5 or so boxes in each of the kids room and our room left to unpack.

We ended up renting a two bedroom condo in Lakewood. It's a block off of Lake Erie, but a little over a mile from the big recreation areas attached to the lake in either direction from us. This town is a dense, urban area much like our old neighborhood in L.A., so we feel like the transition to the slower paced rural lifestyle will be less obvious at first. I'll share some more pictures when I get a little more unpacked and can find the cord that connects my camera to the computer (or even still, the camera.)

Mark made this video about it... please enjoy.


viola's first two weeks

So, first a couple of cute notes about Zola... she says "milk" like "coke" and loves her baby sister. She strokes her hair, rocks her in her swing, and pokes her in the eye. She sleeps like a stink bug and loves her blanket and pillow very much. Her favorite toys are her books (just like her dad) and she loves doggies and her soccer ball. Her most commonly used phrases are "here you go" and "all done." Depending on context, these two things can articulate almost any point.

Viola is as sweet as she looks. She quietly stares into you and loves to be rocked. She is an amazing poop factory and has a knack for pooping like a wrestler right when her diaper is removed. I have shared a bunch of pictures from her first two weeks on FB. But, the above is a good sampling.

It was my 35th birthday today and I was treated like a queen. I'm moving into a new life, and there is too much to process, but I know that my life is changing. I'm a mother of two. I'm a primary provider for our family. I'm a lot of things that I am surprised to find myself being. But, I'm always the person who is really at the helm of my life and driving it where I want the journey to go. So, it's a little hard that I feel lately like my choices are more out of necessity than personal quest. But, I know I am doing what is right and that I will have no regrets.


day three

I have not had a headache for three days and it is awesome! I can't tell you how desperate I was to feel better and/or how bad it felt to feel bad. But, I'm back! Wow. I really hope it lasts.


what a pain

So the headache didn't go away... it just subsided for a while.

I pretty much spent all day yesterday in a dark room holding as still as possible. I have a pain killer which kind of works for a few hours and makes it so I can get up and walk around after a few hours. (But even in Los Angeles, it's hard to find a pharmacy open on Memorial Day)

I woke up with the headache again today. I just read that this type of headache is thought to be the most painful condition known to medical science and that women who have it often say it is worse than child birth (which I said, for sure... and with the memory recent enough for it to be true.)

I guess I'm done compaining. I'm laying next to a gorgeous little baby right now who keep sighing sweetly. And the headache medicine did not interfere with breastfeeding, so we are back on track there.


that was (too) easy

I guess whenever something is too good to be true, it probably is. Somehow, I am one of those really rare cases and got pre-eclamsia post partum. Unfortunately, the typical treatment is delivering the baby. I had shortness of breath with the symptoms, so my doctor sent me to the ER at 3:00 in the morning yesterday. My pulse was 35 beats per minute, so they gave me something to jump start it which caused a cardiac nightmare and instant severe high blood pressure headache. After a while, it became apparent that this headache was not going anywhere and it did not respond to pain meds (4 shots of morphine didn't touch it.) I was asking someone to drill a hole in my skull like they do in "House" so I could get some pressure relief.

I had a bunch of tests and scans and eventually a spinal tap and everything was fine. They found out when they sedated me for the spinal tap that full 100% oxygen mask helped the headache. So it looks like I might get the diagnosis of cluster headaches. I have to see a neurologist. After laying in total darkness with oxygen for a few hours, the pain meds were enough to come home. I am taking it easy and get a break from breastfeeding because of the pain meds and contrast they had to inject for the C/T scan. Which means I get to sleep! I'm hoping it doesn't throw off my goal to BF. But, I should be okay. I'm setting alarm clocks to get up to pump. So that should help.


viola is here

[Editor's Note: I am tired and have typo'ed my new baby's name five ways from Sunday. So let me set the record straight. Her name is spelled V-I-O-L-A, pronounced V-eye-oh-la. Sorry about the confusion.]

Viola Paige McCowen

8 pounds 11 ounces

20 inches

Welcomed May 21, 2011

at 4:27 PM

Holy cow. I had a baby yesterday. It still doesn't feel like it really happened. Here's why.

I thought I needed to go in and get checked out because I thought I was seeing some liquid trickling but I wanted to hang out with Nancy for a few hours first. She had driven down from Northern California just to see me for the day. So, we made plans to spend the second part of the day hanging in the hospital getting it checked out. But at noon, I had some good contractions instead. I didn't think it really changed our plans at all. We'd still hang at the hospital. This stuff takes time and I'd need someone to keep me company anyway...

Ha ha. Right away the contractions were long, hard, and 4 minutes apart. Wow. Let's spend 1.5 hours making sure that they are really sustaining that pace before calling the doctor.

We woke Mark up just to let him know to meet us at the hospital in a while once it was clear that we were going in. He had the same idea we did... plenty of time to pack some last minute things, primp a bit, grab some food, mozey on in.

By the time we got to the hospital, I was almost in transition. My membranes ruptured before I could fill out the paperwork to get signed in. The doctor almost didn't have time to drive the 20 minutes to get there. Mark got there just 20 minutes before I delivered and the doctor arrived about 2 minutes before... I was kind of huffing to hold it in by then.

This kid was start to finish a 4.5 hour thing. I was really Earthy and chanting and moaning and breathing those hee-hee-hee-hee-HOOOOOO type things. It was nuts. Glad I didn't plan for an epidural, because there was no way I had time for that. I think I had about 10 minutes of pushing and it was (as much as this can be said for delivering a baby vaginally) a piece of cake.

Wow. What a wonderful experience. I have this amazing little baby, hardly any pain or discomfort to show for it and am going home from the hospital in a couple of hours. I even was able to walk over to the nursery four hours after delivery to give her the first bath myself. I feel pretty good, considering. It's weird. I guess what they say... "second baby is easier" is true.

We are calling her "Viola Paige." Voila is after Mark's great aunt, who I always admired and adored and whose wedding rings I wear. She was such a strong, spunky woman. I hope Voila can know about her and be as inspiring.


it's official

New job. Check.
New city. Ba-da-boom.
New baby. Baked.
New house. Found.


17 Months

I say this every time I post about Zola, but she is changing and growing so fast. Now she is fully walking almost everywhere she goes, chatting up a storm, and getting MOLARS! She is kind of a bully and goes WWF SmackDown! whenever she doesn't get what she wants (and sometimes just for no reason.) We always take her hand gently and say "be nice" and pat ourselves with her hand softly. So, yesterday... she hit her dad's leg and then said "nice" and patted the same spot gently all by herself. I think we might have taught her that hitting is somehow nice.

Her favorite position to sleep in is on her knees and elbows with her bum high in the air. It's so funny and I have tried to take so many pictures that don't quite do it justice. You have to see it for yourself.

She must have seen me doing this. Periodically, she comes up to me and just rubs my tummy. It's very precious. Especially when she puts her cheek up to it and pats it like she can't wait to give her little sister a hug. But, when she's mad, she smacks my tummy. And that ticks the sequel off so she kicks back. And then everyone is beating me up! (And by the way, sometimes this exchange will bring tears to my eyes, since my skin is stretched to it's limit at this point and having my clothes touch it can be enough to feel like it's burning and splitting.)

Last weekend, Caleb, Zola and I went to the desert to visit my friend Tiffany. While we were there, we drove out to Death Valley to tour Scotties Castle, drove past the sand dunes, and climbed a few miles into Mosaic Canyon.

Zola learned how to slide down the marble rock in the canyon and this beautiful, tucked away natural wonder was my favorite spot.


snap, crackle, pop

So, on Sunday night I was sitting on the arm of my sofa saying goodnight to Cale when suddenly we both heard this "POP!" And I instantly dropped to the sofa with a pain in my ribcage. It was exactly like the first time I snowboarded when I caught the edge of the board and whipped my entire body with the force of a drawn back rubber band into the snow ribcage first with my wallet in my pocket in the exact same spot where the pain was now.

I pretty much knew what happened. That spot has been hurting for a few weeks. I think the bone was still weak from the snow boarding thing, and my rib cage has been expanding to make room for little bundle of soccer player joy #2. Well, one swift well-placed kick later, and I'm down.

Mark had already left for work with the car, and I knew that they would just give me pain pills and send me home if I went to the Urgent Care or ER. So I took a percocet I had in the cabinet (judge me if you want) and had Caleb help me get into bed. The next day, I couldn't get out of bed. So, I had Mark lift me and take me straight from bed to my OB's office... his nurses sent me to the ER, and the ER gave me the once over, a subjective diagnosis matching my own (since X-Ray benefit would not outweigh the risk to radiating the baby) and a shot of morphine. I went back to my doctors office for some long-term monitoring of the baby's heart rate and movement. And then, I went home with a prescription to rest for a week as still as possible to allow the rib to knit in time (8 weeks) to avoid needing a cesarean.

So, for the past 4 days, I have just sat on the couch either sleeping off my pain pills or watching TV/Movies. It really hurt A LOT (and continues to hurt in intervals.) But, I got this rare opportunity to get to know my daughter a little better. When I go to work, she's asleep. When I get home, she's worn out from daycare, hungry, needs a diaper change, and is generally not in good spirits. I usually see a grumpy, tired whiner.

But, in the mornings she wakes up so happy. She babbles to the world about everything, plays fun games with herself and anyone who is paying attention, and has such a big, bright and beautiful heart. It helped that I couldn't have anything to do with her care because I couldn't lift her, so I really just got to be a spectator and watch this little sweet thing be herself. She's got such an imagination. She's so full of spirit and spunk. She has a sense of humor and a whole spectrum of emotions (other than grump!) It was a big payday for me to see this about her. I love her unconditionally, and I have never minded that she gives me her off-mood in the evenings. I've heard the fairy tales from her dad and other care givers about her sweetness. But, it was really nice to see it for myself.

I took a test drive to take Caleb to pick her up from daycare to see if I could tolerate the bumpy roads of LA and driving the car. And I did okay. I think I'm ready to go back to work tomorrow. I'm thankful that this happened, even though it hurt like a swear word. Because I got to know my daughter a little better. And I was a really haggard and tired pregnant lady no matter how well I was fooling myself and everyone else. So the long afternoon naps on the couch were really, really, really nice.

Back to real life, now.


mish-mash rehash

For Z's first year, I had her pictures taken every month. Since her first b-day, I have cut back to every 3 months. Here are her "15 Month" pictures, although rescheduled technically during her 16th month due to illness. She is starting to feel more toddler-y and less baby-y now that she has 7 teeth and enough hair for full-on piggy tails. She can stand on her own, but refused to do so for pictures. Maybe next time.

I should have baby shower pictures soon. My Indian-themed party was so nice. We had cake, Indian food, a fruit blessing, and games. My favorite was the make-and-take craft. We made home-made bath salts in baby jars and decorated them all Martha-y. It was so much fun. Mark even came for a few minutes before he had to go to sleep.

I think the illness that has been constant at our house is, after almost an entire month, finally gone. Yay. We all are still coughing, but no one feels bad anymore. And we are back to our routines.

I am very preoccupied with logistical planning, financial planning (I got my annual bonus Friday and as of now have a $0 credit card balance) and feeling very pregnant these days. I am settling in at work, which means I am busy and the time is flying by more quickly again.

A lot is going on with Zola. This is always true, I guess. She is on day 12 without a pacifier and is down to only 1 bottle per day, with the hope that she will start drinking from the sippy cup someday. She can get the liquid out, but she doesn't like it. So, she just throws it when you offer. She is saying "go," "up," "wow," "yeah" and "look at that." She is hitting a lot, and we are completely at a loss for how to treat it. This is one of those times that it would be so much easier to conventionally parent, because we would know how to handle these things. She is learning how to brush her teeth. She can climb the stairs, bring a spoon (with food still on it) to her mouth, drink from a cup with help, wipe stuff with a rag to clean it, pick up her toys and put them in the bin (with coaxing,) and walk with help. She still prefers to hold two hands when walking. If you only give her one, sometimes she's fine. But, usually she'll sit down and crawl because she just doesn't feel stable and her balance is very important to her. Tvisha has a car that kids can get in and push with their feet. Zola can open the door, crawl up into the seat and turn to sit properly, shut the car door, and then goes crazy steering the car wheel (which does nothing.) She can also climb up into a chair, turn switches, press buttons with one finger, turn several pages of a book at once, answer your questions with babble, open and close tupperware lids, and defeat simple child-proofing devices. She is starting to assert some strong food preferences and cries like you're beating her if you try to give her something she doesn't like. And she seems to be back to sleeping most of the time through the night.

Baby #2 is growing on track with Zola at this point, according to the doctor. So, I might get to have another giant baby. Everyone is betting she'll come early, though. I am already having a couple of Braxton-Hicks per day.


houseboat with legs

This wonderful pic of Me, Z, and Madhuri was taken 6 WEEKS AGO at 24 Weeks! I am defying the laws of physics with this tummy.



This picture of my mom and dad when they were first starting their lives together reminds me of Mark's Valentine's Day gift to me... He reminded me of the times when we were young, naive, and silly in love.
Mark and I think that Valentines Day is for people who suck at expressing their love and appreciate for each other every other day of the year. We don't celebrate it, in other words. But, because it has been harder to find the time for dates, thank yous, and because we are both pulled at both ends by the demands of life... this year we both gave each other something. Ironically, we gave each other almost exactly the same surprise. We told each other the story of us, in our own way. I gave him a small picture book with every picture ever taken of both of us together along with a little children's story of mom & dad that he can read to our girls, and I told him that he could name the new baby the name he likes. He gave me a long, eloquent, deeply personal love letter telling me about how our history together has shaped our future to be awesome... and the ends says that we should name the new baby the name I like.
Now we both have insight into how our lives have impacted each other and still no clue what to call our new little one.


28 weeks

My friends, who are also throwing me a traditional Indian party for my baby shower in a couple of weeks, pitched in their wedding jewelry and the dress outfit I am wearing for these pictures to celebrate my entré into the 3rd trimester.

The gift the universe keeps on giving is is a cold that I haven't been able to kick for weeks, which continually reminds me that my last will and testament is out of date. I believe that I may, in fact, be the first woman to suffer the much more serious and even life-threatening "man cold." I've never coughed this hard (until I actually throw up on myself!) or hurt this bad (that I dip my entire face in hot water to relieve the sinus pressure!). Ugh.

And did I mention that I'm in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy? This means I am suddenly and completely physically miserable from the neck down in ways unimagineable. My darling blossom is defying gravity by standing on my spine and poking her head straight out as realistically depicted in the diagrams shown here:
Oh, and Zola has some kind of stomach virus and is throwing up and peeing out her butt with a fever.

In generally, what I'm saying is that it's a really joyful time at our house.
[Editors Note 3/8: As of today, we have been properly verbally abused by both my doctor and Zola's doctor for waiting too long to finally jam pack our cupboards with antibiotics. Zola has severe dehydration, stomach flu, 2 teeth coming in, and an ear infection and I have a seriously advanced sinus infection, e.g. tooth and neck nerves are involved and I can't open my right eye all the way. Don't be so foolish. When you or your baby doesn't recover within 5-7 days, just go to the doctor. No need to wait three weeks to "tough it out.")


baby steps

Zola took her first two shakey steps to independence on Monday evening. She's been getting closer and closer. She still prefers to crawl because she really lacks the confidence to venture off without something to hold onto... the balance and coordination is there. But, she just reminds me of me when I was trying to "drop in" at the skatepark for the longest time. I had no doubt in my mind that I could do it and that my fear of failure was the only thing holding me back.

I can't tell you how my whole chest swells when this little pooper does something magnificent like put a spoon level to her mouth without dumping the contents or weaponizing the thing. It's a heart-stopper, each and every acheivement. I get a little tear in my eye or a tug at my heart. And it's not like she's discovering some secret to world peace or curing all that ailes the world. Half the time she's just accomplishing the most ordinary thing that everyone under 85 years of age takes for granted.

Our #2 is really rocking out in there. No, literally. We went to a concert and she was really rocking out. She danced continually for over an hour. I had my 28 week check up today. I'm doing fine, but started gaining weight in some serious way... so now I'm feeling like all this work at the gym to keep things in check is pointless. If the baby needs weight, the baby will have what she wants. Just like Zola... asserting herself right up in there. At least I know I'll have the commitment at the gym for losing it afterward. That's comforting.

Anyway, more later.


the root of my square root of two.

I just realized it's been a while since I talked about math. Let me tell you about the exponential function. It models those situations where one axis has change that is disproportionately different from the other axis. So, let's take an example. One axis (horizonal line above) is pretty constant... lets say it's time... which (believe it or not) only goes at one speed no matter whether you're having fun or not. Then the other axis represents something that occurs more frequently every day at the rate of whatever it was yesterday times by the number of days since it started really increasing like nut-balls. In this example, this is the verticle axis and it represents all the crazy new things Zola learns everyday.

The square root of two is totally opposite of the exponential function. It's when things happen less frequently every day, like the number of things you can remember as you get old.

At one point, we were a family of two, but now we are a square root of more like 3.65... which is an irrational number around 1.91. But, since Zola has the energy of at least 5 average adults and has developed a football tackle relationship with Akira... I feel like we live with He-man and her side-kick cat. Especially the way she wields the remote like a sword and likes to hit people in the face with it.

She is still not walking, and no one is really looking forward to the time that she does. Because we can all see how correlated that will be with climbing. She already pulls out the drawers and climbs into them, climbs up on her toys and stands higher to get a better view out the window, and is trying to get her knee up on the (glass) coffee table. So many things to bolt down, screw in, and re-surface.

Meanwhile, her language skills are out of this world. Here are a few samples of things she regularly says in correct context:

"Hello" --When someone comes into the room or the phone rings
"Right there" --Where is you pacifier?
"All done." --Do you want more?
"No" --Can I have it?
"Yum, Yum" --Do you want some food?
"Up" or "Down" (depending on which she currently is)
"Kitty" (Pointing to the cat)
"Daddy!" (When he comes in the room)
Caleb is here for a while to help us with childcare and she just adores him. So do we. He really takes some of the stress off of me and Mark and makes it so we can spend more time together. Our house is so small, that I feel bad for making him sleep in the closet... but he seems to appreciate being here. The weather is great and there is a lot to do. Plus, even though Zola is more work than ever before, it's a little more fun now that she communicates and asserts herself. And she is really great at helping you figure out what she wants.


sequel at 20 weeks

I haven't written much about sequel. This is what we are calling baby #2 until we select a name. We have tossed around a few names, but I think I decided not to tell anyone (except Mark) what my final decision is until she is born. I get to ignore fewer peoples' opinions that way.

So, she's about 10 inches long now and I can feel her squirming. For some reason, at this stage when she moves a lot, it feels so strange: like vertigo and starvation and nausea and a swift change in blood pressure all at once. I feel a little guilty, because I know I had more time to talk to, dream about, plan for, and read up on Zola in the womb than I do this one. She is entering a competitive market where Zola has become very accustomed to having the monopoly.

That part is a little scary because Tvisha and Zola have always been very sweet to each other... until lately. Zola has gotten assertive and knows how to push, hit, bite, grab, etc and territorial about everything (toys, mom, food, etc.) So, Tvisha has figured out that she doesn't have to treat her soft like a little baby anymore. Every time they are together it's an episode of earth shattering screaming everytime anyone touches anyone, even with love. I think the thing that makes me cring the most is that our two children will be almost exactly the age difference between Tvisha and Zola, so it's a little like looking into a crystal ball at my life in two years. Let me hit the lottery and get two children who love each other and never fight. (Ha ha.)

Maybe it's because I don't have time to dwell on anything, but this pregnancy has been a piece of cake so far. She's not "on my nerves" yet.

We're having my sister in law here for a couple of weeks and then Caleb will come for a while to help us with childcare and getting everything prepared for her arrival. There is not much to do right this moment, but keeping up with the standard things has become hard for some reason. I have such a wonderful family!

Oh, and Zola is feeling better. She had a high fever, double ear infection, and high-pitched scream all last week and is on antibiotics and back to her sweet, happy self.

edit: Even my posts about sequel are about Zola.