Future Hollywood starlet?

I really hope this is not a sign of things to come. Clay finally let Avery drive the Escalade Uncle Mikey got them for Christmas. She proceeded to crash into the bushes, and he hightailed it out of there like he was running from the cops. I really hope she never knows who Linsday Lohan is, because her behavior here is resembling her a bit too much for my liking.

Lunch break errands

I’m about to head out on one of my infamous lunch break errands. Before kids, I rarely took a lunch break, and if I did I would actually go out to eat or maybe for a walk. Now it is not for eating or relaxing. I can eat at my desk, and relax….well, on a girl’s weekend…in a few months. Sometimes I will pick up food while I’m out to take a break from the monotony of turkey sandwiches, leftovers and Lean Cuisines. But only if the task at hand has been accomplished and I have a few minutes to spare.

I am lucky to have the nicest Marshall’s in San Diego (maybe even in Southern California?) near my office. I used to hate Marshall’s and stores like it. I didn’t want to take the time to sort through them to find something good and the disorganization stressed me out. But I’ve learned a trick: go there with one thing in mind. Realize that one hour over your lunch break is enough time to search through the shoes or workout clothes or home decor, but not all three. I have made some great purchases there over the past year, including dresses for weddings, Cole Haan pumps for work meetings, a wall clock for our loft, etc. Today I’m going looking for place mats or other decor for my newly painted dining room table and the shelving unit behind it.

Most of the time my lunch errands are for things I need, not things I want (like cheap house decor). I run to the bank, post office and even the grocery store. I drop clothes off at Goodwill. I remember being annoyed with my old boss, who would go to Trader Joe’s at lunch and take up the entire office fridge with her dinner ingredients. I didn’t get it. How hard is it to just run into the store when you pick up the kids from school? And now I understand! Sorry, Kim, for doubting you. Her kids are close in age like mine, so getting two little people in and out of car seats and into the store takes longer than it does to get the five things you forgot when you did your weekly shopping on Sunday. So problem solved: lunch break grocery run! So what if my assistant thinks I’ve lost my mind when I stock the fridge with mini Eggos, milk and cilantro?

The obvious advantage to lunch time shopping is you can use the time you’d otherwise use surfing the Internet for a break, doing something productive. And you are already (presumably) paying someone to watch your kids. They are safe and happy and you aren’t missing quality time with them, or dragging them along on boring errands.

One possible disadvantage is impulse buying. This is not a huge issue when grocery shopping. You are not going to regret buying apples. But when shopping for clothes or home items (even if it is something you “need”)  you may be in a rush and in a moment of indecision, move forward with a purchase that you wouldn’t have if you had more time to think about it. Or you buy a shirt that makes your boobs look like torpedoes, because you didn’t try it on. I will admit I return about 15 percent of my lunch time purchases, but I do it on another lunch break. So while I lose some time, it’s not time with my family, so overall it’s still worth it.

15 days

I’ve noticed that a lot of mommy bloggers began their blogs as a fun way to chronicle their lives, then faced a personal struggle, and they wrote to get through hard times. I am fortunate that my children are healthy and I have (mostly) maintained my mental health as well. But there are 15 days of the year that just plain suck for me and right now I’m on day eight of those 15.

My dad died when Avery was 15 days old. He was 56 and seemingly healthy. He was watching TV and eating ice cream with his wife, suddenly felt sick, and then he died.

The first few weeks of every baby’s life are a blur. But Avery being my second child, I had things figured out. I tried to go to bed early so I would feel less exhausted from the middle of the night feedings. I went to bed before 10:00 p.m. and she woke up to eat again around midnight. Since she loved/loves to eat, she was done nursing quickly and I was going back to sleep when I heard what sounded like banging on our door. Then some smaller noises on our bedroom window. I was freaked out, but thought this would  be a very strange way for someone to break in. Maybe something was going on with one of our neighbors and they needed help. I woke Chase, who grabbed a baseball bat and headed downstairs to check it out. I stayed upstairs with the baby and hovered near Clay’s room. I heard Chase talking to someone so I figured it was safe for me to venture downstairs. I saw my friend Amber at the door. She was eight months pregnant and in her pajamas. My first thought was something happened with her unborn baby. But that didn’t make sense, why would she be here and not at the hospital? I think she was crying. Amber told Chase to take Avery. And told me to call my brother. I picked up my phone and noticed missed calls from my brother and my stepmom. I didn’t have time to speculate. When my brother Michael answered I was sitting next to the baby glider on my bedroom floor. I don’t remember much of the conversation, except the very clear words, “Dad died, Keri. He died.”

In 15 days, I went from celebrating the new life of my daughter, to the mourning the loss of my father. The 15 days between her birthday and the day he died now seem to go on forever. I just want it to be April 26, so I can go on with my life and pretend I’m okay, which I’ve been doing for a good two years now.

Disney princess dresses, yellow is his color

I am sure this is not the last time I’ll write about Disney princess paraphenalia. They’ve marketed the heck out of these toys/clothes/shoes/food (i.e. anything they can slap a princess on) and since Christmas Avery has been the proud owner of a princess backpack and a few other toys.

My brother Mikey and his wife, Felice, very kindly bought Avery a trunk of Disney princess dresses for her birthday. I have to give them credit because not only would Avery like this gift, it came in a relatively small box, allowing me to hide the 43 pieces of fun when she goes to bed, rather than having cheap fabric strewn across my living room. Easily stored is a priority in toy selection for me.

Anyway, after grabbing the iPad and Googling the princesses to confirm that the blonde one with a pink dress is Sleeping Beauty (I didn’t recognize her with her eyes open!), I let the kids get into it. Chase wasn’t too excited about the results. I, however, think yellow may be Clay’s color.

Toddler birthday parties

I have to admit I’ve been feeling a little guilty for not having a big party for Avery’s birthday. I went back and forth about it, but realizing we had our good friend’s 40th birthday celebration and Easter the weekend before her birthday, it was tough to find a good time for it. We celebrated her birthday a week earlier when my mom was visiting, I sent cookies to school for them to celebrate there and Chase’s parents were coming over for cake and presents on her actual birthday. So, shouldn’t that be enough? When I was a kid, sure. Now in the days of $500 birthday parties, sometimes it feels like I’m depriving my child of a true celebration.

I had big parties for both kids’ first birthdays. I did them at my house, and baked cupcakes and bought pre-made food at Costco to feed our friends and family. I bought decorations and invitations. And beer (that may have been a bulk of our bill). I didn’t even do favors (I hate them, who needs more crap in their house?) and it probably cost $350. It just adds up. Not to mention the time buying supplies, but for a first birthday it was worth it. Since Avery was born less than a month before Clay’s birthday, I decided that we would alternate years for who gets to have a big party.

Our friends with older kids have hosted parties all over town: gymnastics places, Chuck E. Cheese (my worst nightmare), ice skating rink, etc. at a cost hovering around $500. There is a definite advantage to this, as you don’t have to pick up the mess or let weird kids (or their equally odd parents) in your house. But for small kids, whose friends are basically your friends’ kids, is there a point? Avery is two and a fancy party would be lost on her anyway. She loves sweets and girly clothes/toys. That’s all she needs to be happy. She was so excited every time we even said happy birthday to her. We had quality family time and I saved $300+ and countless hours of planning.

I gave Clay the option of a party since he’ll be four in May and he didn’t get the big party last year. He’d rather go to Legoland. A kid after my own heart. It won’t be cheap, but it’s money spent on time with my family. Worth every penny.

Baby girl is two!

Avery 2nd birthdayI joke all the time that Avery is going to be a nightmare teenager because no one can be perfect forever. But at this point I’m thankful that we’ve had two years. She’s shown a little bit of a feisty side lately, but I’m hopeful that just means she’ll be a strong woman. She knows what she wants. There’s nothing wrong with that. Even if she always wants more food or to wear leggings every day or to sit in the driver’s seat of my car pretending she’s driving when we really need her to get in her car seat so we can go somewhere. She makes us laugh and is like a little cartoon character. She also adores her dad and brother and even me. Or at least she pretends with me so I’ll give her my makeup brushes and shoes. I’ll take it.

I have the family I always wanted. And our littlest member, our baby girl, is two years old today! As my dad would always say on our brithdays, “who would have thunk it?”

Time flies when you’re having kids

I am sure everyone’s parents told them the same thing as kids: as you get older, every year goes by faster. I thought they were nuts, as any 10-year-old with knowledge of the Roman Calendar would. Every year is the same (well, except for Leap Year). That is, until you have kids. Then the hustle and bustle of daily life makes the time between New Year’s and Easter fly by. Or that is how it seemed to me again this year. And here we are, a few days past Easter, and Avery turns two today!

I remember the days leading up to her birth so well. My mom was visiting from North Carolina and we had a pretty big earthquake (6.7 or so) on Easter Sunday. It was the worst I’ve ever felt and my mom was curling her hair upstairs and barely noticed. So strange! Anyway, we went to dinner at Outback and left quickly when I started having contractions. I was 36 weeks pregnant and already dilated, so after Clay being born early and coming in just a few hours, I wasn’t taking any chances. We went home and they went away just as quickly as they’d appeared. I started maternity leave at 36 weeks and really hoped to have a few weeks off to organize some things before she arrived. I had a doctor’s appointment that Friday afternoon and asked my doctor not to check me, as it caused contractions the last time and I had a wedding to attend the next day. We took Clay to the park around 5:00 p.m., then out to dinner. And the contractions started again. What was it with food? Couldn’t I just enjoy a meal (preferably one full of carbs and cheese) out?

We decided to head home and this time the contractions did not stop. We got Clay ready for bed and told him there was a chance we may not be there in the morning and that his baby sister might be coming. We gave him his “Sheepie” and he was out. He didn’t seem to care. Chase’s brother was visiting his parents, and he and Chase’s mom came over to stay with Clay. The contractions were still about eight minutes apart so we decided to wait it out a bit. This was a surprising decision with my past history. But I would rather be at home than in the hospital because I could eat there! (hmm…pattern here?) I did some final packing and curled my hair knowing I wouldn’t be able to shower for a while after she was born and my fine locks look less greasy with curl and some hair spray. I made Chase have a beer because he was pacing around the house and making me nervous.

We left for the hospital, around 10:45 p.m. The pain got worse once we arrived, so I asked for an epidural and moments after it started I felt like I was waiting for a spa treatment. The hospital was quiet, I was in a bed under a white sheet with the lights down low. Chase fell asleep. I rested and imagined my baby girl. The nurse came in along with a midwife (who luckily was not a hippie advocating for natural childbirth, as I very much enjoy epidurals) and told me it was time to have a baby. Three pushes and a few minutes later, there she was. Avery Grace was born at 3:17 a.m. on 4/10/10 in La Jolla, California. She screamed the entire time they were checking her. My first thought was she might be a tough baby. The minute they handed her to me I fed her and she was immediately quiet. A baby girl just like her mommy, all she wanted was some food.