Sunday, January 12, 2020

Notes on Travel: Vancouver, BC

In early December I went to Vancouver with three of my dearest friends. We came together to celebrate my ten year sobriety birthday. I could not have asked for a better way to enjoy this milestone. We ate food and sipped tea and explored and spent time with each other. We had adult conversations that held depth and meaning and laughed... a lot.

A couple of months before our trip to Vancouver I sent out a bat signal to my thirteen girls from California. Our group text is one of the highlights of my life on any given day, and it was there that I mentioned the idea of a quick trip with my nearest and dearest to celebrate my big 1-0. We chatted about a few trip ideas and when we couldn't quite settle on any one destination, I decided I would go to Vancouver. I told my girls- "I totally understand if it won't work, but either way, I'll be going to Vancouver. Join me if you can!"

Soon enough texts came in from Kathy, Zoraida, and DeAna. They were making the trip. I booked a spa day for us, reserved dinners, and found some yoga classes to attend. Zoraida flew into Seattle where I picked her up and drove with her to Vancouver. We talked the entire ride and never turned on the radio. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Time with Z. It still warms my heart when I think about it. Kathy and DeAna met us at the AMAZING AirBandB. We went to our first yoga class on Friday night and then dinner at Maenam (a Thai restaurant).

On Saturday we did a morning hot yoga class and waited in line for about twenty minutes to be seated at Jam (an incredibly delicious brunch spot). Then it was back to the AirBandB for naps! Saturday night we went to the Vancouver Christmas Market to soak up all that European vibe holiday spirit. We ate a late dinner at Farmer's Apprentice (seriously my favorite meal, if I HAD to pick). Farmer's Apprentice is a farm to table family style restaurant. The bread and butter were my favorite and I even bought a loaf for the next morning!

We spent Sunday driving through Vancouver, checking out the park (which I would compare to central park in New York...), and stopped for lunch at Fat Mao's Noodles which was a hole in the wall noodle joint that rocked my world. We then went to get some delicious spa treatments! Dinner on Sunday night was at Forage. Sheesh. All the restaurants were so great. Vancouver is a very foodie city, and for this sober alcoholic, finding good food is my number one priority on any given vacation.

The trip with my girls was really special. They treated me to a couple of very sweet gifts and cards from all my girls back home- each one gave me so much joy and so much gratitude for the women in my life who have stood by me through the best of times and the worst of times. I was blessed beyond measure for this trip and the time and the conversations and the company.

Also- Vancouver...I see you. You sweet little Canadian city. I will be back. xo

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sailor is SIX.

Sailor turned six today. What an awesome kid our little Sailor has turned out to be. He is gracious, funny, and light hearted. He loves to snuggle, his favorite food is chili, he LOVES Star Wars (specifically the Dark Side), and he still wears dress-up clothes almost every single day.

When Sailor was born, I knew he would be special. I couldn't have imagined how special he would turn out to be- how deeply loving and kind and positive he would be. He is all of those things. He is generous with hugs. He hears music and mimics it. He sings. He plays piano. He dotes on his big brother and his baby sister. Sailor is still the only one in the house who can consistently get Poppy to eat. Sailor has a special touch.

I have been amazed at Sailor's creative spirit throughout his six years but in the last six months, his creativity has blossomed even brighter. He loves to color and draw and he LOVES to read.

We celebrated Sailor's birthday with our close friends. We ate John's Tiki Masala and white rice and sailor blew out his trick birthday candles like a pro (I wonder what he wished for...). We have created a tradition where every birthday is celebrated in the morning. I decorate the night before and the kids come down stairs like it's Christmas. This birthday was light on the gifts since we celebrated his birthday in DisneyLand last week. He has wanted a Zurg action figure for a long time now, so he was quite excited to open him up and start playing bright and early this morning.

Sailor is hoping for a piano for Grandma sent him some money to put towards a piano and Tony and I put some money in a jar to show him that we are saving up for said piano. Easton wanted to buy him special Pokemon cards- Sailor was so excited to get them!

All in all, it's been a beautiful life so far with our sweet Sailor boy. He brings so much joy and whimsey into this house. He is such a gift.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Poppy is ONE!

This is a momentous birthday.

It took a whole lot of medical intervention to get Poppy to her first birthday. She has had two major surgeries (abdominal mass removed at five months and open heart surgery to correct an undetected heart defect at 7 months). The night before her birthday I sat next to Tony after we put the three kiddos to sleep. I sat on the floor and tears started welling up in my eyes. We made it.

I cried that night out of exhaustion, gratitude, and joy. This past year has been the most challenging in my life. Poppy has been strong and fragile since the very beginning. I remember the moment the nurses put Poppy on my chest. She had these perfect little red lips. She had a small red mark coming from both nostrils. She had the face of her brothers. She was perfect.

When I talked with my sweet husband the other night, I reminisced on the two weeks before we took her to the ER. Her strong and fun disposition was slowly fading. I remembered that I wanted to stay awake and watch her sleep- because I couldn't quite put my finger on it...but something was wrong. I remembered the doctor telling us our baby was in heart failure, and wondering if I had anything to wear to a funeral...

A week before her hospital stint, my friend Nicole came over for a girls night. Nicole is amazing and artsy and the right person for me to tell a little secret too. I told Nicole that I had written not one but two poems about Poppy. I read them to her. She cried and then told me to write a poetry book (I laughed).

After Poppy went into heart failure, Nicole called. She said, "I can't help but think about those poems! I think you wrote them because God was putting Poppy on your heart so completely and deeply that it came out in poetry." I thought about it. She was right. For two weeks, I was more connected and concerned and consumed with Poppy than ever before (with any of my kids). I think that's been the theme of mine and Poppy's relationship this year. Connection.

We have never been away from each other for more than a few hours. She has consumed my heart and body and mind.

While tony and I talked the other night, I tearfully thanked him for our third baby. He was never quite sure he wanted a third until one day, miraculously, he was. I wouldn't change one moment of Poppy's first year. She has made us stronger, wiser, more faithful, and deeply compassionate (for others and for ourselves).

Poppy is fifteen pounds of pure joy. She says words like, "yeah!", "kiss", "mama", "hi", and "dada." She sleeps for no more than five hour stretches, will (almost) only take naps with me laying next to her, and hates to be changed. She loves dogs, and finds BOTH of her brothers HILARIOUS. She sneaks up the stairs (so so quickly), and crawls with a peg leg. She has stood up on her own for a few seconds at a time but isn't quite ready for walking. She "speaks" non-stop and has the sweetest baby voice I have ever heard. That beautiful scar on her chest is pink and perfect and reminds me every day of her grit and determination. She may be little. But she is MIGHTY. (below are the two poems I wrote for Poppy...)

Happy birthday, sweet Poppy bird. We love you.

Poem #1
I feel her belly
It rises and falls with mine
Her breath milky warm

Quick breaths in and out
Faster, much faster than mine
Short, calm, rhythmic breath

Her lips find my breast
She swallows with fierce hunger
Drinking up her fill

I would pay any
Price, To have her inside me
Just One more time

She fills my heart and
Breaks it with her growing mind
her growing body

She will need like this
Until one day she won’t
I will grieve that day

God spun her to life
Perfectly in my body
Knowing her wholly

He Whispered her
tiny eggs’ existence
All she will carry

Future grandchildren
Of mine, while she stayed
warm in my womb

This wildflower grows
The wind will take her from me
She’ll dance in the sun

I will always be
the first rich soil where she
Grew steady strong bright.

Poem #2
They say not to let
Her fall asleep while she eats
Put her to bed awake

They say never let
Her sleep in my arms
Put her to bed on her back

They say let her cry, give
her all the coping skills
She will be smart that way

They say enjoy her
It all goes so fast
She will be off to college soon

I enjoy the feeling of
Her falling asleep on my breast
Watching her eyes slowly close

I hold her while she sleeps
And love the weight of
her In my arms

I can let her cry
But I would rather watch
Her smile grow into laughter

I will enjoy these moments
They go by so fast
She will be off to college soon

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Poppy is ELEVEN months old!

Poppy is officially eleven months old. How is it possible that in just one month, we'll be celebrating her first birthday? She is still super small, wearing her six month clothes, but thankfully she's consistently moving up on her growth chart.

Poppy is still nursing pretty exclusively. We've tried lots of foods, including finger foods (she has five teeth!) and pureed food. She eats a little, depending on her mood. We tried ordering a food puree meal service for her- Little Spoon, which is amazing food- but far too much for her (i would recommend it, however if you happen to have a big eater). I've had to do a pretty big shopping spree for Poppy this month- all of her 6-9 month clothes are for spring and summer...I needed to buy some warmer tiny clothes.

Poppy has become so playful. She plays peek-a-boo with blankets (and cloth napkins), she squeals when i grab her leg and pull her toward me, than tries to crawl away really fast...we do this over and over with her laughing and squealing with delight. She is still painfully attached to me, but seems to be allowing other people to at least pick her up and hand her to me without crying. Daddy seems to be getting higher on her list of people she likes, with myself and sailor at the very top.

She jabbers all the time. She does sign language for "all done," "milk," and "up." She has tried to say "sailor" and says "ya" and "mamama." All of her other words seem to be inconsistent, but she's getting there. She's cruising all over the place, pulling herself up, and still crawls with one "peg leg" just like Easton did as a baby.

Poppy still loves music. As soon as she hears music she starts moving her little booty, bouncing her head, and dancing to the music. She also tries to sing along- its so amazing to watch. The boys still sing her the song we made up whenever she cries. They also sing Old Town Road by Lil Nas X, her favorite of all the songs in the world.

She's sleeping in her crib most of the night- usually around 3am I bring her into bed with me. She still wakes up between three and four times before it's time to get up for the day. (I recently bought a smart watch and I'm alarmed by the lack of sleep I'm getting each night). Thankfully, she does nap in the morning- but only if I lay with I also take a nap every morning.

The ability to carve out time to workout has been increasingly difficult for me as Poppy won't stay in the studio, I'm now paying a friend to watch her two-three mornings a week so I can get in a workout (this is necessary for me in order to stay sane).

I'm enjoying my sweet baby so much. For all of the attachment, sleepless nights, constant nursing... I still wake up every single day thanking God for this third baby. She brings so much delight to all of our lives. Her humor, resilience, and playfulness inspire me every single day.

God, thank you for making me her mama.

(I missed her 10 month update. below are the pictures I took of her at 10 months...with all the intention in the world to write about it...)

Friday, September 13, 2019

Notes on Summer: Summer Bucket List

This was a very interesting summer. Easton got out of school just a few days before the July 1rst, so our summer was a bit short but we fit A LOT in.

We started the break by making a list of all the things we wanted to get done. When Poppy went into the hospital (July 9th) we had to adjust some of our plans- but our friends who lovingly took our boys and cared for them while we stayed with Poppy; they kept the summer bucket list going. (cheers to good friends!)

The list included: 

*Silly String Fight

We were so scared for Poppy's surgery. One of the things I wanted to do was figure out how we could do something fun WHILE she was in the hospital. I didn't want Sailor and Easton to only see tony and I in a stressed and scared place. So, the day before her surgery Tony and I took the boys to a beautiful park right across from the hospital. I hid behind a tree and surprised the kids with a silly string battle. It's my favorite summer memory. it lasted all of five minutes- and it was epic.


We went to the zoo in Tacoma with my sister and brother in law when they came up for a visit a few weeks ago! It was so fun and we loved the aquarium (so did Poppy!)

*Artist Playground

Easton and I put the Artist Playground on our summer bucket list on the day we started it. We were so excited to go- Easton must have asked EVERY SINGLE DAY for the last two weeks of summer. We finally went the day before he started school (Memorial Day). It did not disappoint. The boys played for hours, climbing up the ropes and sliding down the humongous slides. We bought shaved ice, looked around the Pop Art Museum, and then jetted off to our 5pm reservation to tour the Space Needle (which was an impromptu decision).

*Space Needle

*Northwest Trek
*Visit the Davis family

Quick day trip to see our dear friends who (sadly) moved about an hour and a half away. our kiddos play so well together. Ashley and I had a wonderful time catching up and letting our 8 kids run wild.


we went bowling in lieu of going for a hike in Enumclaw...on the way to the hike it started to rain. So, plan B was bowling. The kids loved it. Sailor was a natural and got three strikes! The bowling day was one day (less than 24 hours actually) before we took Poppy to the hospital.

Roasting Marshmallows

We had a trip planned. But for the Grace of God we decided not to go, as Poppy didn't seem to be feeling well. We were supposed to be camping the day we took Poppy into the ER. I'm hoping we can plan a quick camping trip before the rain comes...

**Music Concert at Allen Yorke Park
Mariners Game (Poppy and I got to go, but sadly we didn't get back with the whole family)


the boys went to california for a quick visit while poppy and i stayed home! they had a great time visiting Nana and Grandpa and spent some quality time with Grandma, too.

*Mine Craft Festival
**Great Wolf Lodge

We went a week before we took Poppy to the hospital. It was a great time, but a bit tainted with memories of Poppy not feeling well during our stay...So, we went back (met our dear friends, Jordan & Jenny and their two kiddos) for a day trip.

*Hike Mount Rainer

we did this with my sister and her family, and had SUCH a wonderful time. we went on a trail that had the most vivid wildflowers anywhere on the mountain (per the ranger we ran into on the trail). We spotted a glacier on the mountain and got a marvelous view of a lake (maybe it's called, Emerald Lake?)- the water was absolutely stunning.

I have starred all the ones we were able to get done. Camping and the Mariner's game were postponed due to Poppy's surgery. The boys were able to go to the Mine Craft Festival and Northwest Trek with our friends- thank you Janet and Katherine!

Over all it was an [interesting] summer. I hope my little boys hold on to some of the memories we've made over the last few months- I know I certainly will...

Monday, August 19, 2019

Poppy is NINE months old (plus a few days)

I didn't write a post for Poppy's eight month milestone. I started it, and never finished. I started the post one day after we took her to her pediatrician and one day before we took her to the ER where we found out she was in heart failure.

Since Poppy's surgery (exactly five weeks ago, today) she has been thriving. All of the milestones which seemed to regress before we got her true diagnosis, have come back with all their glory. Poppy is rolling, scooting, eating solids, laughing, and full of life. As I write this I feel the tears welling up in my eyes. We were so close to losing our girl. It feels like a bad dream from which we woke, only to find that it was real...but she's okay. She's a tiny little miracle baby.

Two weeks ago I decided to put her in her crib (for the first time ever!). The first two nights she slept longer than she has ever slept before. I, of course, was terrified and checked on her about ten times. Since then, she sleeps about three to four hour stretches in her crib. When she wakes up crying, I feed her and put her back in her crib.

She loves eating pureed pears, bananas, and whole strawberries. She eats her solid food three times a day, and nurses right after. She has two teeth on the bottom and I think I can see a third making it's way through! She bites me all the time, and I have yelped in pain more times than I care to admit.

She still LOVES music, and calms down whenever she hears me sing. She also actively dances to music, and can't sit still when she hears it. She also loves rap- a baby after my own heart (swoon) I can't believe how strong and confident she's becoming.

Poppy is trying very hard to stand up on her own, pull herself up, and girls isn't there quite yet, but she is SUPER close. (insert sigh here...) Her scar from heart surgery is healing, and everyday I kiss it and tell her how beautiful it is. I hope one day she sees the beauty in her little zipper, too.

I can't wait to see what this month will bring- maybe she'll even begin to fit into her nine month clothes!?!? One can hope.

If you're interested in reading the unfinished eight month post- you can see it below.
It made me quite overwhelmed to re-read it...knowing what I know now. The unfinished eight month post went like this...

"Sweet Poppy is eight months old. I wish I could say that thins are AMAZING with her growth and development thus far, but they are not.

A couple of weeks ago, Poppy had her well check. She was weighed and given a vaccine. She came home and didn't feel so great. I have been trying to feed her baby food- purees, but she hasn't been eating them. At all. When we got home from the well check, I tried to feed her some whole wheat cereal and she threw up immediately. From then on, she's been throwing up most of the time I get a few bites of food in her.

Her color had started to change a bit, she started to feel weaker, and definitely was doing less activity than she had been doing in the previous few weeks. The other night, when I picked her up, I started to cry. She felt so skinny. So weak. Her body was feeling floppy and less strong.

We took her to the doctor yesterday and discovered that she has lost one full pound in two weeks. For a baby who is already on the small side (5%tile) a one pound weight loss is HUGE. Her doctor ran lab tests and her blood work showed that she was very anemic.

We have an answer to our baby's sudden decrease in strength, her coloring, her quick/rapid breaths, and hopefully her weight loss. She will start taking an iron supplement and her doctor would like me to supplement her diet with some formula."

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Poppy's Scar.

'you've been focusing a lot on the scar,' my sister said. "do you want to talk about it? How it will look?"

"no. i wouldn't say I'm FOCUSING, just thinking about it." 

I was focusing on the scar. one large scar, right down the center of her chest. a scar whose line starts just under the notch of her sternum and travels down to the top of her rib cage. it won't blend in. i would be telling a lie if i did not write about my first thoughts. the thoughts of a scar poking through her prom dress, her senior photos, her wedding dress. I had thought about how cruel kids can be- what they might say about the huge line down her breast bone.

If I'm honest, it brought me back to my childhood. the way my body looked just a little bit different from my friends. I was fair...pale, if you will. I had (and still do) dark blue veins that stood out on my chest. My legs where so white that my friends (ahem, ali and allison) used to poke fun that my legs looked like milk jars.

I have always, -oh dear God please let it stop one day- felt my body out of place. too curvy, too thick, too much up top. Every single time I put a dress on, I have to think...does this make me look like a woman of the night? My friends with smaller more delicate frames never have to ask that question....they don't look inappropriate in a stylish v-neck sweater from J-Crew. I do.

I have always dreamt that my little girl would be the exact opposite of me. petite, quiet, delicate. I hoped that when she walked into a room, she would be seen for all the things that I want to be seen for. Intelligence, dedication, poise, strength. I'm scared of this scar. I'm scared of this traumatic story, that will be told by her and retold a hundred times to strangers- at least- strangers to me.

For me, this scar represents Poppy's autonomy. Her heart failure, her pulmonary hypertension, her very near death all happened to her. I would have gladly ripped my chest open on her behalf. I would have taken all of it from her if I could. I couldn't. All those months that she cooked in my belly, when we were one...those are over. She is her own person. she'll have her own baggage, health issues, successes, insecurities, and failures. I'm just along for the ride as long as she'll let me.

This scar is a part of Poppy, not me. She will grow into it. Sometimes she will hate it, other times..maybe she will use it as a source of strength and grit. My focus on the scar had so little to do with what it would look like and far more to do with it belonging to HER. my girl. my eight month old baby had heart surgery and in the moments that I forget, or hope to forget, there it will be. A perfectly straight, long scar right down the middle of her chest. A reminder of what she went through. How close we were to losing her...and how hard she fought to keep going.

We named her Poppy for a reason. the wild poppies grow almost anywhere. they are hearty, earthy, beautiful flowers that represent all the things we know our girl will be. Poppies have grit. Our Poppy, she has grit.

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