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Friday, December 31, 2010

Project Smile - December

It's the most wonderful time of the year
It's the hap-happiest season of all
.
- Andy Williams


1st - A photo shoot that I won't soon forget. Thank goodness I can smile about it now.
2nd - Finally ordered holiday cards after much fretting.
3rd - Spent the night in our new home just for the fun of it.
4th - A long overdue visit with a friend and the discovery that we now only live 8 miles apart!
5th - A much needed trip to the nail salon.
6th - Lucas turned 18 months!
7th - An overnight visit from Grandpa.
8th - A farewell dinner with my Mommy & Me friends.
9th - Looking around at all the boxes laughing and wondering how we will ever get it all done.
10th - Pizza. Enough said.
11th - Date night with neighbors.
12th - Our bittersweet last night in our home.
13th - Moving Day!!
14th - Falling into bed after a very long, very stressful day. Oh, and my sister organizing my closet.
15th - Christmastime at the Happiest Place on Earth! Lucas' first time at Disneyland.
16th - Front row seats to the annual Newport Beach Boat Parade.
17th - A new library. A new library card.
18th - Unpacking. Organizing. Settling in.
19th -
Chickmas, an annual tradition my girlfriends and I have to celebrate the holidays.
20th - Finished Christmas shopping and wrapping presents just in the nick of time...
21st - Bags packed and made it to our flight on time. Whew!
22nd - Seeing Lucas follow his cousins around in complete and utter awe.
23rd - Husband and sister arrive at in-laws for the holiday.
24th - Spending the holiday with family.
25th - Lucas' face when he discovered what Santa left him under the tree.
26th - A long car ride home with a very happy toddler makes all the difference in the world. That and zero going home holiday traffic.
27th - Getting back to reality.
28th - New nanny's first day!!
29th - Celebrating Todd's birthday with cupcakes, bowling and beer.
30th - Sick in bed. All. day. long. Not much smiling going on here until I see Lucas' face.
31st -
An old year to learn from and remember and a new year to ring in and embrace.

I hope every day of December found all of you smiling as well!


Alicia is the beautiful brain child behind this wonderful monthly meme. Be sure to link up at her blog, A Beautiful Mess or check out other people's reasons to smile.

You can see my November reasons to smile here.

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My Greatest Hits

As 2010 comes to an end and with over 340 blog posts to my credit this year, here are my Top 10 favorite Letters For Lucas posts of the year.

I didn't pick these because of their popularity or amount of comments/traffic they did or did not receive, but because they were heartfelt, some very difficult to write and because I learned something from each one of these experiences. Thank you for accepting my words and letting me share myself with you.

If you missed any of these posts, check them out and tell me what you think!

In order in which they appeared:

Ink - March 21
I got a very special tattoo while on a girls' trip in Vegas.

We Did It! - May 19
We survived 85 days of Lucas wearing a Doc Band thanks to the help of a precious baby boy.

I'm Losing It - June 2
Dealing with the challenges of motherhood.

Guilty As Charged - July 6
Mother's guilt. Enough said.


Miscarried - July 12
A very sad day.

Is This Heaven? - August 5
Time Out at a book store? Yes, please!

Letters For Lucas - August 27

A touching letter from Lucas' dad on my one year blogoversary.

That's Not Going To Pay For College - September 2
Photos of Lucas putting everything but coins in our coin bottle.

The Briefcase - October 11
I never realized how powerful an inanimate object could be.

These Are My Confessions - November 11

This is me; the good, the bad and the ugly truth.

And because one of these is technically a guest post written by someone else...

The House That Built Me - December 13
A tearful and loving departure from our first home together.

Thank you for returning to read my words and helping me through this crazy thing called motherhood. I honestly don't know where I'd be without you some days.

And to all of you new followers, welcome, it's wonderful to have you.


I wish everyone a truly fulfilling New Year.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 10 Favorite Posts Of The Year

I wish I could dedicate more time to reading my favorite blogs. For a list of the ones I try to visit as often as I can, go to my Favorite Blogs button on my Home Page.

I didn't pick these posts/bloggers because they need the traffic or because they are my friends, I picked them because they made me laugh out out loud, shed a tear, nod in agreement or stuck with me for days after the fact. These women inspire me each and every day.

Here are my Top 10 favorite posts of the year, in no particular order:

1. Liquid Gold by Coreen, The Adventures of Captain Fussypants, Little Miss and Caleb the Wonder Dog

2. 30 Things For 30 Years by Morgan, The Little Hen House

3. After The Honeymoon... by Sheri, Old Tweener

4. Goodbye, My Friend (A Letter) by Natalie, Mommy of a Monster

5. A Foreigner In My Own Kitchen by Cheryl, Mommypants

6. That Time In The Public Restroom by Liz, A Belle A Bean & A Chicago Dog

7. 16 & Pregnant by Natalie, My Crazy Busy Life

8. {Guest Post} ~ My Pink Bundle ~ by Tara, Blondie 'N' SC

9. Because It Was Grassy And Wanted Wear / But Still... Christmas by Nichole, In These Small Moments

10. When Private Goes Public by Leah, LA 'n' LA

And for good measure:

11. A Blogger's Gifts and the entire Back to School Back to Blogging series by Gigi, Kludgy Mom

If you don't already follow these gifted and talented women writers, you should! Or at the very least, read these posts for a taste of their magic.

Tune in tomorrow when I share my 2010 Top 10 Letters For Lucas favorites.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You Know You're A Mom When-sDaze

You know you're a mom when...
  • No matter how many solo flights you take with your child, you are amazed at what a great little traveler he is. I think the new toy, book and endless snacks help a lot! Oh, and the fact that it's only an hour flight to Grandma's.
  • Playing Santa is really fun and Lucas' face on Christmas morning was priceless.
  • You don't care if you give your child your cold, you will not, under any circumstances stop hugging and kissing him.
  • Seeing your son run across the backyard with his face lifted to the sky makes you realize how much you, too have missed the sun.
  • You are thrilled beyond belief when your child takes to a new babysitter.
  • It's December 29 and you're still watching the Elmo holiday special because you don't have the heart to delete it from TiVo.
  • You think to yourself every day, I could not love this child more and then do.
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Finding The Time

I honestly don't know how some mothers do it, especially those with more than one child and no help, or those that work full time. And those that have more than one child and work full time are my absolute heroes!

I really have no business complaining. I have a husband, who is a very hands-on father, a sister who babysits from time to time AND a nanny two days a week for 10 hours and I still feel like I'm drowning.

I'm drowning in obligations or things I feel like I should be doing and never seem to find the time to get to. Am I alone?

Sure, we are just coming out of a holiday season, which is busy and overwhelming for everyone. And yes, we did just moved and it will be a while before the dust has settled, the boxes are all empty and the piles have disappeared, but nevertheless, my 'To Do' is long and grows daily. Here are some of the items currently at the top:

  • Find new pediatrician.
  • Find new general practitioner and dentist.
  • Write and send holiday thank you cards.
  • Call umpteen companies and change our address.
  • Figure out a plan on how and when to start potty training Lucas.
  • Hire a picture hanger (don't ask, just trust me when I say that it will save my marriage by doing this).
  • Go through closet, bathroom products, books and photos. Organize!!
  • Get my ass back into the gym.
  • Start researching nursery schools.

It goes on and on and on from there...

I realize none of these things are dire, but they weigh heavily on my mind.

How do you find the time to stay fit, connect with your spouse, spend quality time with family and friends, have a coherent conversation on the phone, keep a daily blog, read blogs daily, read anything, watch your favorite shows, shop for a wedding gift, make dinner, stay on top of the laundry, etc., etc., etc.?! How do you do it all? And better yet, how do you do it all WITHOUT the guilt? How do you do it and still be present for your child?

Please don't say "better time management" or "by prioritizing", because I think I'm pretty good at both of those. My problem is that once Lucas goes down for a nap or it's bedtime, or I happen to have some "me time", I honestly need the time to decompress, gather myself and my thoughts and have absolutely zero desire to jump into a task. I need the quiet.

Since becoming a mother, I have found that boredom is SO underrated.

So, again, how do you do it?

Stay up all night?

Medication?

I really want to know. What are your best tips and tricks?

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Our Holiday

Christmas jammies #1

We spent the week of Christmas in the Bay Area at my in-laws house. My sister drove up from LA to be with us too. My sister-in-law and her husband and two daughters live nearby, so they were a big part of our holiday. Our visit was full of food, family and fun.

Here are some photos that tell our Christmas story...

Watching the nightly news with Grandpa. One of my favorite photos ever.


Christmas jammies #2

Spending Christmas Eve with my two favorite aunts.

The tree.

The loot.

Christmas morning.

The wrapping paper is the best part!

Christmas jammies #3

The Day After - Tilden Park choo choo ride.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Over 400 Miles To Go

Another lovely holiday with lots of goodies in tow,
We had over 400 miles to go.

You slept the first two hours full of bliss,
And then suddenly awakened, you were completely pissed.

We stopped for a break, new diaper and food,
Jammies, we thought surely would help achieve an improved attitude?

Then back in the car,
Mommy and Daddy became the ultimate rock stars!

Your expression was priceless and your face all aglow,
As a tiny TV came out of the roof and there appeared your favorite show!

Was it Thomas the Train that saved the day,
Or that nice Toyota dealer who said we couldn't buy it any other way?

We made it home safe and sound, but the secret is out,
And I think it's safe to say, car rides will never be the same for our little sprout.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ghandi Was A Smart Man

Lovely thoughts for a happy holiday.

Let's all try to remember and practice these throughout the New Year.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
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Friday, December 24, 2010

The Spirit Of Christmas - Redux

I originally posted this last year (December 16, 2009 / The Spirit of Christmas) back when I only had 16 followers.

The memories and sentiments remain true today, so with very few edits, I'd like to share it with you again and from my house to yours, Merry Christmas!

*****************************************************

My mother loved Christmastime and our house was always decked out for the holidays. She was the reason Hallmark Cards exists!

We always had a beautiful tree covered with colorful international treasures from our life overseas and all the traveling we had done together.

She loved snow globes and nativity scenes and every year one whole couch would be completely covered with her motley crew of Christmas guys (stuffed animals dressed in red and green).

She had Christmas dishes strewn about the house filled with holiday candy and would have enough baked goods on hand to guarantee at least a three to five pound weight gain after each visit.

She was a big fan of the Christmas letter (writing and receiving them) and she loved shopping for our holiday cards and stationary the day after Christmas for the following year. I remember many 5:00 AM alarms going off on December 26 and the two of us rifling through bins of picked over greeting cards to find enough boxes for everyone on her and my father's Christmas list. I swear they must have sent 300 cards!

I miss my mother every day but especially during the holiday season. She made Christmas special and a lot more fun with her childlike enthusiasm and overall joy. My dad, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. Sure, he loved the Christmas cookies and other goodies, but growing up, his family would put up their Christmas tree the day before Christmas and take it down the day after, or so he said.

He would often tell my mom to buy what she wanted and he would wrap it and put it under the tree. Over the years, he started to get into it more and I think even began to enjoy picking out gifts for all of us and eventually came to understand the element of surprise, however, his wrapping always left a lot to be desired! See picture above; that is VHS tape wrapped around a present. My dad also had a vast collection of holiday music and liked to play it constantly the week of Christmas.

One of my favorite family holiday traditions on Christmas day was after all the presents were opened and prominently displayed in front of the tree (another tradition), we would go to a movie. Many big blockbusters open on Christmas day and we had fun trying to agree on which one to see. After the movie we would come home and make leftover turkey sandwiches and each have a slice of pie. Chocolate pudding for me, pumpkin for my dad, and pecan for my mom and sister.

It's hard to believe that this will be my fourth Christmas without my parents and second with Lucas. It is very different now and for me it has lost some of the magic.

Leah and I have kept the tradition of seeing a movie on Christmas Day, followed by lunch together, just the two of us. We spend a lot of time reminiscing and looking forward too.

My in-laws have done their best to include me and my sister in their holiday, but I am looking forward to creating new traditions with Lucas and hopefully seeing some of that lost Christmas spirit shine through him.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Symbol Of Love & Loss

In November 2007, a month after my parents died, my husband, sister and I traveled to Tunisia to visit the school, ACST (American Cooperative School of Tunis), where they worked. We wanted to spend time where they last had, visit with their colleagues and gain some peace and understanding. It was also important to me to be the ones that cleared out their home.

It was a difficult trip to say the least, but necessary for our grieving process. We were met with much understanding and support and much of the time we were not only being consoled but were consoling.

In a very touching ceremony, the school planted two olive trees* in a common area on campus and dedicated one to each of my parents while we were in town.That year for Christmas my husband had an olive tree planted for me in our side yard.

This was taken the day the tree was planted:

It was almost an exact replica to the ones planted for my parents continents away. right down to the white stones. Luckily, however, it is a non olive producing tree, for that would just be a mess!

In three years it has almost doubled in size.

This is me pregnant with Lucas at 30 weeks:

This was taken the day we moved:

I love this tree and will always appreciate the kind gesture that my husband made in finding and having it planted at our home. It will forever remind me of our trip to Tunis, the two trees that grow and bloom there in memory of my parents and of course, my parents themselves.

Todd is working with our old gardener and the new residents to either move the tree to a farm until we buy our next house and can plant it there, or keep it with the old house until we are ready to transplant it.

*The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean and a cultural symbol of Tunisia.

Silvery green leaves are oblong in shape and in spring small white flowers bloom. With age, the trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.

Tunisia produces 500,000 tons of olives each year. Many of Tunisia's olive trees are believed to be over 2,000 years old.

The olive tree is one of the plants most often mentioned in literature. In Homer's "Odyssey", Odysseus crawls beneath two olive tree branches that grow from a single stock. The Roman poet, Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: "As for me, olives, endives, and smooth mallows provide sustenance."

Olive trees are symbols of abundance, glory and peace.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You Know You're A Mom When-sDaze

You know you're a mom when...

  • It is perfectly acceptable to pick up your child and smell his butt.
  • You are trying to discipline your son and are crying you are laughing so hard because he's is spinning round and round in his 'naughty chair'.
  • You are not only in the midst of unpacking and settling into your new home, but also gearing up for the holidays and you stop everything to take your child to Disneyland!
  • You are about to head out the door with a 'To Do' list a mile long only to find your tot asleep on the couch.
  • You end up eating your meal with your hands because your son just has to have your utensils.
  • No matter how close to the event (party, flight, etc) you dress your child, he still manages get something unexplainable on his shirt.
  • You can't wait for your child to go down for a nap but then also find yourself anxious for him to wake up so you can play.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Perfect Time Of Day

This post is for Wordless Wednesdays and if you want to link up or see some really beautiful photographs, visit Alicia at A Beautiful Mess.

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Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

The day we moved into our new home, it was 80+ degrees and to keep Lucas occupied, we set up his water table in the backyard. He was in heaven!The spacious backyard was one of the main reasons we wanted this house. Sadly, it has done nothing but rain ever since move in day. As of yesterday, Southern California has received six inches of rain in four days and it is suppose to remain gloomy and wet through the rest of the week.

Lucas keeps looking out at the backyard, now a muddy mess, saying "park". :(

I suppose it could be worse, we could live on the east coast and be dealing with snow and freezing temperatures. Us Californians just aren't used to being this wet.

Here's to a sunny, or at least dry Christmas Day.

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I Love It When...

I love it when Lucas is sitting on my lap for a story or next to me on the couch watching TV and his body goes limp and melts into mine. I love feeling him let his weight go. After a while, the rhythm of our breath is in time with each others.

He's a toddler on the go, so these are fleeting moments that don't last very long, but we are learning how to relax together.

I love when Lucas runs up to me with a big sparkling smile, arms open wide and gives me a hug. He is starting to be very affectionate, especially when he's done something naughty. It must be his way of apologizing?

He's a toddler but somehow already understands the power of touch and importance of affection.

I love overhearing Lucas try to sing along with me, the radio or television. He doesn't yet know the words to any songs, but he tries his best and often gets the inflection spot on.

He's a toddler and is already experimenting with his voice and musical abilities.

I love it when Lucas is playing with his "choo choos", cars or stuffed animals and makes sweet sounds, dances as goes along and creates pathways that not only go all over the house, but up and down my arms and legs too.

He's a toddler but is using his imagination to expand his world.

He's a toddler and he is growing up right before my eyes.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Rush

Everything I know about surfing I learned from the 1991 movie Point Break*, which isn't saying a lot. I live in one of the world's most popular surf spots and I know nothing about it. I have never been on a board myself but I have always found surfing an intriguing sport, so I wasn't surprised recently when I spent nearly an hour completely mesmerized by 55 surfers.I watched the tide go in and out dozens of times and I felt like somewhat of a voyeur.

My first observation was that surfers contort their bodies in the most peculiar ways getting in and out of their wet suits, carrying massive and very awkward shaped boards that they then attach to one of their feet. Bizarre. I sat at the water's edge and thought, how can the ocean be so loud and rough, yet so calming and peaceful at the same time? I frequently walk on the beach and love to take in the sights and smells it offers, but my breath slowed and my body relaxed like it hadn't in a long time as I positioned myself high on a rock with the beautiful view laid before me.

As the sun glistened on the water, anxious surfers paddled out to sea and there they waited.

And waited.

It was as if they were willing the perfect wave to propel them to shore. Not every wave has a crest capable of such a trip. Surfing is a lesson in patience. It's a solitary sport.

Just you and the water.

So many factors play a role in providing the perfect wave; the wind, the swell direction and intensity, the time of the year, high or low tide, what's underneath the water, etc.

Once the right wave appears, the ride and the movements the surfers made looked elegant and effortless from where I sat. Their bodies possessing a balance and ease that I found fascinating. Lyrical.

I didn't need to question anyone as to why they do it. It's obvious.

It's the rush, being one with the water, escaping land and the pursuit of the perfect wave.

Maybe I'll feel it for myself someday.

*A point break refers to the place where waves hit a point of land or rocks jutting out from the coastline.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Week One

In our first week in Orange County we've been to Disneyland, the annual Newport Beach Boat Parade and a shopping trip to South Coast Plaza and have managed to settle in to our new home. There are still many boxes to unpack and a garage full of items to organize, but the basics are done.

I was five years old the first time I went to Disneyland in the Summer of 1977. How my parents managed to get this shot without another soul in it is beyond me.
Fast forward to 2010 and this is what Sleeping Beauty's Castle looks like today:Lucas loved his first visit to Disneyland or "the Mickey Mouse park", as it has come to be known in our house. If you ever get the opportunity to visit during the holiday season, it is really worth it. The Happiest Place on Earth becomes the Merriest Place on Earth with holiday decorations abound and it even snows!

We took Lucas on the It's a Small World ride and he was bright-eyed and excited the entire time bouncing along to the soundtrack and enjoyed being on the boat, even after waiting in line for 40 minutes.

I was pleasantly surprised that he sat through the entire "A Christmas Fantasy" Parade, which includes all the Disney characters and Santa Claus too after waiting another 40 minutes. He was mesmerized by the lights and dancers.
Handing us the park map so we can find our way to the "choo choo".

Way more interested in his Mickey balloon than meeting Minnie.

It was a memorable and magical first of many trips.

Back to unpacking...

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