Sunday, May 01, 2016


Last night I was up all night because our floor was the party floor, duh. I found out there's only so many times you can shout "Bakersfield PD!" and get a heart racing/fear reaction from me. So thanks for that drunkards in room 804. Thanks for that. 

We were up at 4:30am. On our first flight at 6:30am. We took three flights. Slept a bit. Made "To Do" lists and "Must Sell" lists and reviewed our calendar for the month of May. We stressed a little and then we took deep breaths. I felt sad flying into Houston and seeing all the green. I've loved it here - far more than I ever expected to. 

We got home and hugged our kids - Mol tried giving me the silent treatment for a bit, but after a while she nonchalantly said, "Hi, Mom." Just like that, as she walked by and barely made eye contact. Apparently, Molly turned 13 while we were away. 

We showed the Biggies pictures of the new house and wiped away Zoe's tears. Her room is smaller. There's no fireplace or stairs. "Why did they paint THOSE colors?" And we know what she wants to say is that she loves THIS house, not the one in the pictures. This is her home right now and the place in the pictures is the unknown and not as good because it is not the same. The pictures don't feel like this place. But we will make that place OUR place. We will paint and make new memories and fill that place with love and music and laughter and that place will be home. I promise, Zoe. I tell Zoe all the things she and I both need to hear. Telling my daughter these things makes me believe them more. 

 Finn is cool and calm. He wants a basketball hoop. He likes that there is a diving board. He's ready. "Let's go now." He's easy. He tells us Zoe cried every day we were gone, but he did not. He didn't miss me because he talked to me and got half a dozen emails and pictures from me every day. I think maybe he thinks I am over the top. It's OK, I am sometimes. 

We tuck the kids in and then we rush downstairs to pick up and clean. We have another realtor coming out tomorrow afternoon to do a BMA on our home. So we cleaned for a few hours and tomorrow will be more running and stress and managing it all the best we can. We are lucky we have my parents here to help. This is all overwhelming and I want everything to be perfect, but I keep reminding myself not to make myself sick with worry and stress. All I can do is my best - I can't do every little thing. This house is beautiful. I've loved it and someone else will too. Even if it's not absolutely perfect - the right person will see its potential and know that this is their future home. Just breathe. Go to sleep (Daniel's asleep. Be like Daniel). 

At least no one is going to yell BPD an hour from now. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Midnight Noise

So the thing about getting a new roof is, it is REALLY noisy. I knew this in theory, of course. But as the pulled the old roof apart and hammered the new roof in place, we all kind of went along with it.  I was super amazed that the girls managed to sleep in and at first they seemed kind of amused by all the banging. It was like music and they danced around and turned in abrupt circles in a sort of jerking motion and laughed. Fun. Getting a new roof is fun. And then they napped like champs and we were all thinking, "Wow! These girls! Amazing!" 

And then five rolls around. And then six. And then Charlotte had enough of all this business and she was NOT happy and she made sure we knew. She'd reached her breaking point with all that noise. Almost 11 hours of that constant racket had us ALL on edge by the time the roofers finally left. 

And then we got the kids ready for bed and I hugged them all extra tight and maybe I got a little emotional smelling the girls clean hair and reading them their favorite stories. Maybe I worked extra hard not to let the big kids hear my anxiety and that little strain in my voice when I asked them to take care of each other and the babies and Nana and Baba while we are finding our house. 

Mr Cool (Finnie) has been so laid back about this move - "Let's go tomorrow. I'm ready!" that I've been watching him closely, waiting for his breaking point. Waiting for all the noise of moving to catch up to him. Today it did, in little ways. As he tried to reach the lock to let Nana in. As he tried to comfort Charlotte but then they both fell and got hurt. As he struggled with writing about school for homework because, he's "always working" and "it's not like it matters what (he) writes about his school because it's not like anyone will remember who he was anyway." And with every thing I could see he was feeling weighed down and sad because - this is a lot. He's incredibly smart and mature and handling this move like a champ, but today there was too much noise for him. I get it. 

And then there's Zoe who wants desperately to come with us tomorrow. She wants to make sure we find the right house and she gets the perfect school and what if she has "no kids to play with in the neighborhood" or what if "no one has room for me in their Girl Scout troop". She's sad to miss out on being on a plane and seeing Meg and all the fun things. "When we drive to California can I pick where we eat? Can I choose the music sometimes?" There's a strain in her voice. I can tell she feels like she has no control in all of this. She is my mini me and I know exactly how she feels. She wants to control the noise, but she can't. Sometimes you have to sit back and let the noise settle. Find peace in the fleeting moments.

And all of this is spinning in my head and I just want this to be quick and easy and for everyone to be happy. From my parents all the way down to that damn parrot who yelled, "Stop it. Sit down!" many times today. I want everyone to feel comfortable and happy. 

I'm always a little nervous the night before a flight. Going through my checklists and trying to remember every little thing like we're going to be far from a Target, or something. I should be sleeping now instead of writing this, but finally there is calm and the noise has stopped and I feel ready for the next few days. I needed to enjoy this peace and quiet for a bit.

You guys. We're going to find our next great home sometime between now and Saturday and it's going to be exactly the way it should be. 

Thursday, April 07, 2016


"I do not think you will ever have it this good, ever again."  

He said it with an approving smile and in complete sincerity as he looked around the new home he was helping us move into. The home was beautiful: open floor plan, high ceilings, three bedrooms, two bathrooms. The backyard was huge: plenty of room for our almost crawling Zoe to eventually run around, a pool, gorgeous roses and citrus trees. The front yard had huge hydrangeas and roses and other flowers and the front of the home was covered in vines - there was a fountain. It was beautiful. It was perfect for our family of three and just as perfect a little over a year later for our family of four. We held many parties and hosted dinners and hat parades. We danced it out. That house was filled with love and friends and good memories and we were grateful our friends rented it to us and grateful that we had the opportunity to purchase it (escrow went through on April Fools Day, 2010). It was the first home we owned and it didn't feel like it could possibly get any better.

We were comfortable, and if I've learned one thing in nearly forty years (What?!?!) it's that when you are comfortable, life has a way of twirling around and keeping you on your toes. In May 2012, Daniel got a job offer for Houston. We were leaving the place we'd met, fallen in love, become partners/newlyweds, had our children. We were leaving friends we'd adopted as family and a theatre community we loved. I cried for months. I cried off and on on the way to Texas and I had some serious homesickness for almost a year.

But Texas became our home. I remember driving around our new neighborhood about a month or so after moving here and laughing to myself: "I do not think you will ever have it this good, ever again."

This house was filled with old friends and new, awesome neighbors, and family. We had parties and living room camp outs. We started new traditions and got involved in new communities. We set down roots and were grateful for every new experience we had. 

We lived through a scary pregnancy and brought two more beautiful girls into this world. Charlotte benefited from being near one of the best pediatric hospitals we could be at when dealing with her CHD. 

The Biggies thrived within our neighborhood and their school. Their teachers were nothing short of amazing and we love that they love to learn. They have been surrounded with love and acceptance and have so many people here who have helped shape them into these smart, inquisitive kids.

Times are crazy right now in Daniel's industry. Around the holidays we knew we might be facing some big changes. In February he was researching jobs because a large chunk of employees would need to reapply for a position. In March he put his name in the hat for four jobs. One was here, three were in Bakersfield. Worst case scenario, Daniel would be left standing and have no job at all. We lost a lot of sleep worrying and stressing. Today we got the official word: Daniel has a job - in Bakersfield. We don't know all the details yet, but we know we are going and we feel sad to leave what we have built here. It's comforting being close to Texas Children's and we feel invested in this community and the kids' school. But we are so excited to reunite with old friends and become invested in Bakersfield again. 

Home is where Daniel and Zoe and Finn and Molly and Charlotte are. No matter where we are, we are living the best life because we are living it together. California. Texas. Indonesia. Kazakhstan. Home is where your family is and memories can be made anywhere. Will we ever have it THIS good ever again? Maybe not. We will have some other good. Life is good. Life is an adventure. I might be nervous and sad, but I'm ready and I'm happy and we're going to be just fine - no matter what.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Plate Spinner

I was driving home yesterday - thinking about the last ten months, this weekend, next week, the next few months, etc. I was mentally writing my "Things to Do" list and calculating what my strategy would be to stay sane through it all (no luck there, btw) when "Plate Spinners" popped into my head.

You know plate spinners, right? Those amazing people who spin all these plates on sticks. It's a circus act - dozens of plates up in the air. Audiences watch with anticipation - breath held, waiting for a plate to fall. 

Some of us spin more plates than others. Some of us support the weight of other plate spinners - holding them on our shoulders, in the palms of our hands, on top of our heads - as they try to balance their own plates. We work together (or in spite of each other) spinning and balancing and sometimes a plate falls. Sometimes it feels like all the plates are going to come crashing down, but you slowly pick up the plates and you rebuild.

I have friends with different plates. I have friends with some of the same plates that I have and then they have even more plates. These friends take my breath away. I have one particular friend who has SO many plates and she spins them expertly. She's the person you want spinning plates with you. She will hold you up while standing on one foot and let you climb on top of her head if you need her to. If she spins a plate for you, she does it with all her heart. Your plate is fragile and important to her. I've never seen her turn away a plate, even if it is the ugliest, heaviest plate - a platter, really. She will take that platter and throw something amazing on it and you'll wonder why you didn't think of that.

I am lucky to have people in my life who recognize that I have a lot of plates. They also have a lot of plates. But they check on me and my plates. Sometimes they take them from me and sometimes they offer their support, or bring me a snack, or they give me permission to voice my frustration before they encourage me to get back to what I want to do. Sometimes, they encourage me to just put a plate down for a while (or forever) if that's what I really need to do to save all the other plates.

I hope that they know I would do the same for them, always. 

This afternoon, I made myself a list of my plates. I stopped somewhere around 75, but I could have gone on and on. There are days where I beat myself up because I am not the person I strive to be. I don't always meet my high (impossible) expectations for what I "need" to be doing. I forget that I am pretty amazing - balancing all these "plates". Sometimes I might lose my balance, but I haven't broken any of my most fragile plates and I call that success. 

Plate spinning isn't easy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ten months.

These girls are two days shy of being ten months old and I absolutely cannot believe it. Two more months of them being babies and then... oh, who am I kidding? They will always be our babies. Our last babies. The two who showed us that everything we thought we totally knew about babies was good and all, but they were different. Different from Zoe and Finn - and yes, different even from each other. These last ten months have gone by so fast, and I have this feeling that the next two will go by even faster. I'm not ready, but at the same time, with every milestone and every day of growth, we are further from that scary time when I was pregnant with them and when everything seemed so out of our hands during Charlotte's time in NICU and CVICU. Every day moving forward feels like a little victory celebration. Their being here -  healthy and happy - is a testament to how strong our girls are and to how capable and tough and loved the entire Emery family is. It's been quite the journey and I am proud of all of us and excited for wherever the road leads to next.

So - speaking of journey and the last ten months... I have a little project I'm working on. The girls nursery (you know, the one they started actually sleeping in last month!) is a work in progress. We keep adding things here and there, but there is a wall above their changing table that has nothing on it at all. What I want to do is create an art wall and I was hoping you guys could help us. 

As part of their birthday celebration, I'm asking our friends and family to create* art for their wall. If there is really no art medium you are comfortable with, we'd also love quotes on cards, postcards, etc. that I can frame and hang up. 

We'd like to stick with the following themes:

- Travel (journeys, maps, transportation, landmarks)
- Hearts 
- Sisters/Twins/Best Friends
- I love the idea of doing something that indicates where everyone who is special to our family lives. I might end up taking a map and using pins. I was also thinking of framing postcards from where our loved ones are: Bakersfield, Burbank, Seattle, Austin, Washington DC, etc, but I would need those sent to me. I have a Bakersfield one somewhere, but it says "Bakersfield Sucks" so... I'm not so sure about that one. ;)

Anyway. That's my big idea! Our friends and family have been so giving of their love and support for our girls and our entire family and I can't think of a better way to celebrate that than to fill this blank wall I've been staring at with art from you so the girls can enjoy it every day. I can already imagine pointing out pieces to the girls and them learning who each piece is from. 

*If you're up for painting something, message me and I would be happy to send you a 5x5 or 8x10 canvas. :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lost Post

I had an ultrasound a week ago, and for the 2nd time the girls didn't cooperate for us so that we could get good images of their hearts. My doctor came in and looked and said she wanted me to have an echocardiogram. She patted my leg and I didn't see the same look of confidence I usually get from her. I gave her an opportunity to put me at ease - "But we're not really concerned, right? We just need better pictures." She said we need to have me come back in. I left the office afraid.  I did not have a good feeling at all.

The echocardiogram was Wednesday morning. More than two hours of watching the girls move - both transverse, then one breech and one head down, and then both transverse again. It was amazing to see our strong girls move. "Can you feel all that?!" I could feel every single movement - in my belly all the way back to my spine. At the end of it all, the cardiologist smiled and said she saw no problems. Molly and Charlotte's hearts looked great. We had two healthy, wild babies.

Daniel and I left the office in great spirits. My stress melted away. We ate lunch and talked about improvements we'll be making to the house before they arrive - we walked around the baby boutique. Daniel went to work and I went home to rest (after I posted the great news to Facebook and bought myself a celebratory treat).

At 4 o'clock on Wednesday the cardiologist called me and left a message. She needed me to call her back. I called her - "Are you home?" Yes. "Is anyone with you?" No. "OK. Well, I need you to come back and see me in 3-4 weeks for another scan." OK. "Baby B has a structural heart defect."

Honestly, I can't tell you exactly what else was said. She said it was fixable. I asked if she could just tell me what the problem was. She said she would rather do it face to face. I cried. I couldn't breathe. She said she wanted to see me and Daniel on Friday. I asked if she could just tell me now. It's better if we do it in person. Can't we do it Thursday? We have an OB appointment THURSDAY. She had clinic Thursday, but she would fill my doctor in and we'd get some info on Thursday.

I called Daniel at work. I told him. I needed him to come home. I needed him to not work Thursday. I didn't want to be left alone. My mind went all over the place. Charlotte was not healthy. Nothing was the same anymore. I deleted my Facebook post about our healthy girls, because it wasn't true and I couldn't see the sweet congrats anymore.

I barely slept Wednesday night and Thursday morning felt like it should be Friday. I felt like I'd aged at least 3 years over night. I cancelled my nutrition appointment because I could not bear to sit and tell some stranger what I'd eaten in the last 2 weeks and have her stare at me and judge me. We went in for the OB appointment with the Physicians Assistant. She could see we were both stressed. Daniel did all the talking because I'm having trouble with words. He told Aimee about our phone call, she looked at my file and explained everything. The problem was with Charlotte's greater arteries coming into and leaving the heart.  They were transposed or switched, and it would require a surgery to fix it.  It was serious, but candy coated somehow. This was a big deal. Charlotte would need surgery within a few days of being born. We'd be OK. We'd all look back at this someday, and it would be a distant memory.

Daniel and I went and processed. We ate lunch. We held hands and I tried not to cry and we even laughed about other things. We looked at art at Z Gallerie. We went and bought the girls their cribs and then we went home to hug Zoe and Finn. We took the kids, my parents and Daniel's mom out to dinner. Everything was kind of normal, but not.

This morning was our appointment with the cardiologist. She told us how upset she and our doctor were. I cried. Of all the structural heart defects, if you have to have one - this is the one to have. That is both comforting and not. Charlotte has Simple Double Transposition of the Greater Arteries (D-TGA) meaning the greater arteries are switched. This happens in less than 1% of all babies. Less than one percent. Ridiculous. Charlotte will go straight to NICU after birth. They will put her on meds and stabilize her and she will need open heart surgery in her first week of life... and then she will have recovery time in NICU. She will need to have a cardiologist all her life. While Daniel and I have no heart defects, her children are more likely to have heart defects. So far, it doesn't look like Molly has the same problem, but we can't be 100% sure.

We are in one of the best places in the world to deal with this. People come from all over the world to have the doctors at Texas Children's fix them. Our doctors and staff genuinely care about us and our girls and they will take the very best care of all of us. If this had to happen, we're glad we're in Houston. We're glad that we were already getting extra attention because we have identical twins. We're glad they found the problem now so they will have a cardio team ready to handle whatever they need to the moment Charlotte is born.

All that said, we are - in a fog. This is the hardest thing we've ever dealt with. I can barely talk about this with anyone but Daniel and the kids. I can't say that Charlotte is sick out loud because it hurts. Daniel is of course having a hard time too, and I know he's worried about how I am... but with him I will be ok. He's the strongest, best partner I could possibly have and we will get through this and the girls will be healthy and strong. Our family can do this.

But I really, really don't want us to and I really wish someone would call me and tell me they made a big mistake. But that's not going to happen. This is our new reality, and I hate it, and I'm sad, and I'm not myself. And I thought I should let you know.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oh, Baby!!

When you've been away from blogging for nearly a year, it's difficult to just pick it right up where you started. In fact, it's impossible.

A lot has happened since last March. My parents moved into our house with their dog and parrot.  Zoe graduated from Kindergarten and started 1st grade. Finn is in his last year of preschool. We made new friends and reconnected with old. At the end of October, Daniel and I took a trip to Calgary for work and the morning after we got back, I found out we were expecting baby #3.

Baby #3! Due July 7, 2014!*

We'd been trying for more than a year, so it wasn't a big surprise. Well, I suppose that isn't right. In Calgary we were discussing how we we might be done trying. We were beginning to adjust our idea of what our family would be (again) and accepting that we were a family of four and what that meant. Part of me was sad that I was done and there wasn't another baby joining our family, but I was feeling sort of at peace with it. I was also feeling nauseous and really tired, but I was sure that was from all the walking I did around the city... and all the eating and the beer. Nausea seemed totally normal.

And then we got back and I took a test and that second line instantly appeared.  After willing that damn line to appear for over a year, with no luck - it appeared instantly. Bam! Baby.

So that was morning sickness I felt in Calgary. And it got worse, stronger than I had ever felt and I was so tired. My first ultrasound was at five weeks. We were looking for the baby's heartbeat and not seeing it, but they kept telling me it might take another week or so.

A week later, I was back in the office, this time alone - so nervous that something was wrong. So scared we wouldn't see a heartbeat. We saw a heartbeat and I exhaled with relief - and then the tech paused.....

"Do you see that?" Oh, I saw it.
"Do I see what, Connie?"
"That." She pointed at the screen. I could see the second flicker clearly.
"What is that? What?!"
"That's another heartbeat! You're having twins!"


Twins. In the same sac. Their little hearts beating together. I left the office in shock and called Daniel immediately. I burst into tears. I'm sure he assumed the worst, but I slowly pushed the words out of my throat.

"We're having twins. There's two. Identical twins."

There were so many things going through my head that morning. Awe. Surprise. Happiness. Insecurity.

I was prepared to have another baby. I'd imagined the challenges and joy of another infant and what adding to our family meant. I was doing something I'd done twice before... it wasn't a big deal. But twins were a big deal! Two of everything. How would we do it? How would I give them both attention and Zoe and Finn? I don't know how to take care of two babies at once!

And then I did what every OB and/or parents of multiples tells you not to do - I went looking on the Internet for answers. My insecurities turned into straight out fear. Identical twins are considered high risk. One might not make it - and because they're identical, the chances that neither would was even higher. I read about vanishing twin. I read about conjoined twins. And I cried and stressed and felt like I couldn't breathe and I couldn't handle this.

At my eight week appointment, we were concerned that there was no separation between the babies (no membrane) which would have meant they we MoMo twins and even more high risk than I had thought. Without a separation, they were at a high risk of their cords becoming entangled and not making it. The scariest thing was there was nothing I could do to help them - it was out of my hands.

I was sent to a maternal fetal medicine specialist and had a detailed ultrasound done at almost 10 weeks. There, as clear as anything - was a separating membrane and two tiny babies with strong heartbeats. They were measuring the same and right on track and I felt my stress melt away just a little bit.  They weren't MoMo twins, but they were (are) MoDi twins. There are still high risk, but our odds were better now.

My OB had informed me at my 8 week appointment that she did not see patients with identical twins. She'd had bad experiences and lost babies and it wasn't something she was comfortable with. It was an awful feeling at the time, but I'm grateful that she knew her limitations and sent me to the best possible people.

My care was immediately transferred to Texas Childrens Hospital/Womens Specialty. Our first appointment with them was at 12 weeks. We were greeted with smiles and congratulations from everyone, instead of frowns of concern. No one seemed nervous. My doctor is the director of the program for multiples and the Chief of MFM at the hospital. She has a great sense of humor and spoke to me with nothing but optimism. For the first time, I was laughing at my appointment and I was feeling hopeful. Without a doubt, we are at the best place for me and the twins. We are getting excellent care.

Last week was our 16 week appointment. I'm doing great and so are the twins. They're measuring right on track and are the same size (which is exactly what we want). They are total wiggle worms (I've been feeling flutters since 13 weeks) and at our ultrasound, one was stretched out over the one and they kicked and pushed at each other almost the entire time.

After a lot of pushing and waiting for them to chill, we saw what we were hoping to see - gender.

Our twins are GIRLS. Molly Angeline and Charlotte Angeline. We are thrilled.

Zoe is thrilled.

Finnegan is getting used to the idea.

* - Babies #3 and #4! Expected in 36th week - June 9, 2014!

So - hi. I'm blogging again!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


My husband is the "cool parent". Everyone is excited for Daddy to get home. Everyone looks forward to Daddy's days off and vacation. Daddy watches cartoons and lets them climb him like a jungle gym. Daddy takes them to the park and bike riding. Daddy is the fun one. When we're about to cross the street, I ask the kids to take a parents hand and they both scramble for Daniel and I'm left walking empty handed.

It's alright though.

They see me all day, every day. More often than not, I'm the disciplinarian. I'm usually the one who corrects bad manners and demands nap time, bath time, bed time. When they're watching cartoons or doing something else fun, I'm (sometimes) enjoying silence in another room... maybe even using the restroom behind a closed door, without them yelling at me or sticking their toes under the door to wiggle at me. I get to cross the street without struggling to keep my purse (or my shirt) on my shoulder as they pull and tug and skip and jump.

I get why they choose their Daddy, because I choose him. I can't wait for him to come home, give me hugs and kisses, talk to me, take me out, and hold my hand. I chose him and he chose me and we got to get married because no one told us we couldn't.

So this morning, when my four year old responded to Zoe's usual "I want to marry Daddy." with "I want to marry Daddy!" I didn't flinch (well, until Zoe screamed "NO!"). I was not phased. They don't get the concept of married yet and they're always choosing Daddy. I love that we all love him so much.

My favorite thing this morning though, was Zoe's response: "You can't marry Daddy because he's already your family, right, Mom?" She didn't site gender as her reason, it was redundancy. "He's already your Daddy and you get to hang out with him without being married." Plus, "Marrying family is against the law."

"Yes. And also, he's already married to me. When the time comes, you will find your own person to marry. Daddy is mine."

"I don't know who to choose!"

"That's OK, baby. You have lots of time before this will come up. Like, 30 years."

When the time comes, I hope they chose wisely and with their hearts. I hope they're as happy with their choices as I am with mine. I hope they won't have to fight for their rights to marry who they love.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year

First off: Hello, 2013! I'm not really sure what I expect of you yet. We'll talk more about that later, I suppose.

2012 was an interesting year filled with anxiety about when we might move, finding out for sure we were moving, accepting that big change and running with everything that we needed to do to prepare. We sold a house and bought a house within a month. We said goodbye to the city Daniel and I met in - where we were newlyweds, new parents, part of a theatre community and later, part of an awesome place that allowed us to be a part of "Setting Theatre Free".  We drove with our two kids and two dogs from California to Texas, all the while simultaneously nervous and excited for our new location and the new experiences we would have.

Honestly, I had a really hard time with all of it. It's funny because there were times when I wanted so badly to run far away from Bakersfield and our life there, and then when it started to be close to being a reality, I freaked out. Friends could not mention us leaving, talk about the future in Bakersfield, discuss Houston, or (sometimes) look at me without me bursting into tears. It was... emotional.

When we got here in August, I was overwhelmed with our new town, with Houston, with the roads, with the people, with the size of the home we'd chosen. Then the kids went to school full time and Daniel had a 45 minute commute to and from work and I suddenly felt very, very alone. I looked forward to every weekend, but my weekdays were very solitary and I struggled to want to do more than take the kids to school and pick them up. I hated my alone time because it reminded me how much I missed certain aspects of Bakersfield (friends, theatre).

As the holiday season unfolded, it became more clear that we had moved to a wonderful neighborhood.  A new friend described it as "Pleasantville" and that seems pretty accurate, although sometimes it feels like Mayberry or Bedford Falls. Something about the cooler weather and the lights and the holiday spirit has me feeling more optimistic and grateful for this change. I'm adapting and I feel ready to truly enjoy Houston.

I'm not sure exactly what that means. I'm tossing some ideas around in my head and setting some goals.  I want to become a better version of me.  I want to focus on my personal development. I want to feel healthier physically (which I already am - no sickness during the holidays!) and emotionally. I want to make it a point to venture out of this house and explore more. I want to feel more interesting.

I feel like I've "mourned" leaving California for long enough. It's time to celebrate this new chapter and make it memorable.

Happy New Year. 2013, I'm ready for you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Conversations We Wish We Didn't Have To Have...

When I picked Zoe up from school on Friday, we didn't discuss the shootings.  I'm sure she could see that I was distraught and I definitely hugged her even more than I usually do (which is a lot) but I just couldn't deal with telling my five and a half year old that someone had walked into a school and done the unthinkable - to children her age, to people like her trusted and beloved teachers. I just didn't have the strength to have a calm discussion with her at that moment because inside, I was screaming and hysterical.

We did talk about her day at school. We talked about how much fun she had wearing her flannel pajamas and robe to school. We talked about how she wants to wear her hair the way I did it that morning, at least once a week.  We talked about watching Polar Express and how happy she was that I was able to come to her classroom and make hot cocoa for her and her friends. She told me I make the "best hot cocoa, ever" and requested another cup right then. 

We also talked about the lock down drill her school did (that completely by coincidence happened at the same time as the shootings according to reports and Zoe's teacher). She told me she didn't like the lock down drill. She said that she and her friends don't understand why anyone would come to their school to hurt them. Zoe's voice cracked as she asked me why people are bad. She giggled when she told me she'd just fold herself into her desk to hide or 'do karate on them". I'm told that some students cried during the drill, that it was all too overwhelming for some of them and I am sure my daughter was one of the kids who felt emotional about such a serious thing. It's incomprehensible for a five year old to understand such atrocities. Instead of trying to explain everything in depth Friday, I simply asked Zoe to make sure that she took the drills seriously and always followed directions. I reiterated to her that when a trusted adult asks her to do something like be quiet or to take/stop action, we are doing it because it is our job to keep her and her classmates safe. I tried to explain (for the zillionth time) that sometimes there is no time for an explanation, she just needs to follow directions.

Beyond that, Daniel and I shielded the kids from Friday's tragedy. We did not listen to or watch the news around the kids. We only discussed things in round about ways and hushed tones. We shielded Zoe and Finn from what we were sure would give them nightmares and insecurity.

Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep, all I could think about was all the victims. I imagined the horror they went through, but instead of the faces I've seen in photos, I saw my daughter and her classmates, their teachers, their Principal. What would I do if a gunman came into our classroom when I was helping?  I quizzed myself: I always bring my phone in the classroom. There are 22 kids in Zoe's class. Two of those children have special needs. There are 12 cabinets against the long wall - there are six more short cabinets across from the two bathrooms.  I'm not sure if the bathrooms in the classroom actually lock.  There is a train/activity table with two drawers, each large enough for a small child. There is a small window that looks out to the parking lot. I had worked myself into a panic attack thinking about it all. 

And then it struck me - Zoe was going to go to school the next morning and be surrounded by older children in the morning and at recess who probably knew all about the shootings. The idea of her finding out from an eight or ten year old instead of me or Daniel worried me. I wanted to be able to talk to her, as we sat in our home. I wanted her to feel comfortable to react however she needed and to be able to ask questions. I wanted to reiterate that lock down drills are important and serious because someday (hopefully never) her school might need to have a real lock down. I wanted to tell her that if she ever hears loud noises that she should stop what she is doing, look for her teachers and keep her mouth closed until a teacher says it's OK to speak. But I hadn't told her anything. I hadn't prepared her at all. And so I decided I couldn't let her go to school today.

Now, I know that there are people out there who would disagree with my decision. We can't live in fear.  I can't be with my children every second and they deserve to be able to live their lives without being constantly shielded by their mother. I get it and I agree... except, I need to know that I've prepared my children the best way that I know how.  I spend my life protecting my kids, but I need to continue to have those tough conversations too.

So Zoe and I sat upstairs in her bright, sunny room this morning.  I played with her hair as I explained that I kept her home because there was something I needed to talk to her about.  I told her that last Friday someone came into a school a lot like hers and he hurt a lot of people - kids her age and teachers. Her eyes were wide with shock and I could see her trying to process it all.  I told her that she might end up hearing about some of it at school, but that I'd like for her not to get involved in conversations about it because some big kids might not get the facts right. I didn't go into detail about what happened but I asked her to do what we always do - if she hears something at school that makes her feel uncomfortable or confused, that she can ask me or Daniel about it at home and we'll help her through it.  Tomorrow she will go to school,  as will Finnegan.  I still feel sick thinking about them being away from me and I will always worry about their safety - ALWAYS... but I feel better having had a conversation with my daughter to prepare her for what she might hear.  

All I can think is, this is the tough part about parenting. Forget the diaper changes and the tantrums and them not sleeping through the night. This is the part of parenting that rips at your heart as you struggle for the right things to say and do in times like this.  From the time I first found out I was pregnant with each child, my focus has been on their health and happiness. I have been blessed with two sweet children and I have done my best to keep them safe.  Sending them out into a world with so many dangers and entrusting others to care for them... it can be overwhelming and terrifying.  Sometimes I wish they were still babies, safe in my arms at home.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Adventures in Crockpot Cooking

Crockpot Cookin' is all fun and games until you realize that a crucial ingredient is just over 2 months passed it's "Best if used by" date and the clock is ticking for it to cook for 6 hrs so you can serve dinner by 6. So then you grab your *almost 4* year old and toss him in the van and you race to the grocery (while you've got your husband on blue tooth talking you down from the crazy "I am not cut out to do things like this!" ledge. You wrap that up and he's very encouraging and you race through the grocery with your little boy (who has very short legs in times like this and does not run fast enough) and you grab the broth and make a mad dash to the register, but your son almost knocks down a five foot display of fruit cakes that was in the middle of the flipping aisle (for goodness sakes!) like the HULK, but he stops just short of disaster and very calmly says "It's alright, Mama. We're cool." and he gently takes one finger and pushes a stray box back into place.  *Deep sigh of relief*

But then some salesman stops you and you tell him, "No, thanks. We're in a big hurry." He really wants to sell you some package deal for family portraits and he's running his spiel but you keep walking and say "No, thanks!" (again) but he's persistent and he calls out to you that they're great for the holiday... you interrupt him: "Thanks! But I take my own pictures and I have a crock pot meal I'm trying to cook!" and he looks at you like you're crazy (you might be, just saying).

So you finish at the register and your son is jumping up and down encouraging you to "Go, Go, Go!" but you're stalled behind some lady that is walking (no strolling), no weaving in front of you with her cart, slower than molasses, enjoying what you can only assume she thinks is a Marvelous Monday. You almost say, screw it - we'll go out to eat but your boy looks up at you with his big blue eyes and a grin. So you take a deep breath, grab your boy like a football and he puts one fist out in front of you and yells "CHARGE!" as we race by the slow lady, unlock the car and jump in.

None of this is your idea of fun and games, until you look through the mirror and see your son cracking up and you remember that your husband has promised you beer or wine (and appetizers!) while we wait for our soup to be ready. So you drive back home calmly and think about how you can't wait to share this doozy with your friends and family.

The End.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I get at least a flutter of homesickness for Bakersfield once a day. Sometimes it strikes me as funny since there was a time when Daniel and I felt like all we had was each other and we wanted to get the hell out as soon as possible.

We moved to Bakersfield (separately) within weeks of each other in 2003. Daniel, from Texas was starting a new job. I was starting a new life after leaving my ex. After six months in our new city, we met and quickly fell in love.

I don't want to speak for Daniel here, but I didn't feel connected to Bakersfield for the longest time. I felt like an outsider amongst people who all seemed to have a history and it was lonely. Daniel and I would talk about leaving all the time. We were just waiting for his company to move him.

Somewhere in the ten years we were there, we made some strong connections to people and places. We still talked about leaving (and there was a time last summer where I was so ready to leave and not look back) but it felt less urgent. We'd adopted friends as family. We'd adopted a theatre, a community. We'd grown attached to different places and our memories there.

Some connections were so strong, that in the months before our move to Texas, I could not speak of our relocation without bursting into tears. The city we had once felt no connection to had become our home. It was Zoe and Finnegan's first home. Bakersfield was special to us as a family. Bakersfield changed my life - it is special to me.

So, most days I feel like an outsider here in our new city. We have friends in Texas (some as close as 3 minutes away) but this state is kind of big and everyone is busy. I miss going places and running into someone I know where ever I am. As exciting as it is to have this beautiful house and the opportunity to make new memories in an amazing city full of things to do, it's a big adjustment. Again, I feel disconnected and slightly overwhelmed.

This evening, a friend mentioned the cooler temps back home and I told her she was making me even more homesick. She apologized and said things would get better as we settled and made more friends. She's right - I know I'll grow to love it here.

Sometimes I wish I could just not miss Bakersfield. You know, say good riddance... I'm better off here and get on with it. But I know that missing the place I spent ten years in means I did something right while I was there. I chose the right city to start fresh in. I surrounded myself and my family with people worth missing and they miss us right back.

So that's what I keep reminding myself. Someday I won't be able to imagine leaving here and if/when we do, I'll miss our friends and the places we have happy memories of just like I do now.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pick Up the Pace

We're in our 3rd week of Kindergarten with Zoe and so far it's been a learning experience for all of us.

For me, this has been quite the adjustment - turning my daughter over to people I do not know, who have no history with us as a family, for seven hours a day/5 days a week. I miss spending more time with Zoe and it's hitting me especially hard since we're in a new city/state and I know very few people. It's an adjustment, for sure - but I recognize how good this is for all of us.

For Zoe, she's learning to stick to a schedule. She's waking up early and getting ready and focusing on being on time. She's memorized her student number, buys her own lunch and turns in her daily work folder. She's making friends, learning so much and is a little chatterbox when I pick her up.

Pick up is a ordeal. Parents start lining up along the curb well over 30 minutes before school is let out. One teacher signals to the others what student is being picked up and the children are escorted to various points along the curb to their parents vehicles. Its not a perfect process, but it runs fairly smoothly. Zoe has learned to put her own seatbelt harness on and connect it (something I've always insisted on doing, to confirm its done correctly). Last week, when I was still attempting to connect Zoe's belt, a teacher informed me that her four year old knew how to attach their belt. I ignored that the teacher was comparing her kid to mine (in front of Zoe) and took it as an opportunity to teach Zoe to be more self sufficient. It was difficult for me (given our accident) to not take full responsibility for Zoe car seat safety, but I accepted that I couldn't do this forever and Daniel and I worked with Zoe.

As the days have gone by, I've watched this same teacher act annoyed at how slow Zoe moved. Even as Zoe giggled out of nervousness, but went as fast as she could and repeated "Almost. I almost have it!" to let us all know she was focused on her task. The teacher motioned with her arm for Zoe to hurry up, waved me along and then looked at me in disapproval when I waited on Zoe to finish before moving forward.

So the next day, I asked this teacher what I should do if Zoe isn't moving quickly enough. "Well, you could drive forward, out of the way, and help her if you need to. As long as the chest clip is connected, she's OK." First of all, no. Just connecting the chest clip is not OK. It is ineffective in keeping your child safe to just secure one portion of the THREE point safety harness. I took what she said with a grain of salt and encouraged Zoe to keep practicing. Zoe got faster and we ended last week on a high note.

Today at pick up, Zoe was moving slower than usual. A 10 second task was taking 20 seconds. I was doing my best to encourage her, but she'd tangled up the straps. The same teacher stood there watching Zoe and said "We need to keep this moving!" She motioned hurriedly for us to move along and a parent behind me honked. Zoe was visibly frazzled and I was angry at the situation. I pulled forward, with Zoe not secure and then we worked together to fix the problem. Another (maybe the same) parent honked at me, he then cut me off and waved his arm at us. Zoe asked if everyone was mad at her. She asked if I was mad at her.

I was not mad at my daughter. I was mad at the Dad who was driving irresponsibly in the pick up area, who was in such a big hurry that no one else mattered. I was mad at the drivers who were going well over 45 miles/hour in a 20 and then 30mph zone. I was mad at that teacher who had been rushing me and Zoe for the last few weeks, who was encouraging me to drive without Zoe being safe. I was mad at the school for not asking the teachers to value car seat safety. I was mad at myself for wimping out and driving when it stood against what I believed in and know to be wrong.

Admittedly, I am more sensitive to all of this than some people and because of that, Zoe is. We've been rushed before and have forgotten to buckle Zoe in, only to have her scream or cry because she's been taught that is not safe. I don't regret that one bit because for all the negatives our accident brought us, it taught my family to slow down and take the time to wear your seatbelt correctly, because they work. We know all too well how important a seat belt is.

So, I called the school principal and he expressed sincere interest in what I had to say and was very supportive. He said he would talk to all of the teachers that are involved in pick up and relay that they need to be more understanding of the kindergarten students who might need more time to get in their seats. He said nothing was more important than the students safety and he acknowledged that it must be frustrating to feel like something so important as car seat safety was being rushed and belittled. He thanked me for calling and let me know that because of some parents erratic driving, the police would be present during after school hours to monitor driving.

I'm a little embarrassed to be calling the school with complaints, but I also know I did the right thing for us. I'm trusting these people with one of the most important things in my life and I need to know that they're making my child's safety a priority.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Moving Update

After celebrating Zoe's birthday three times, (school, family, party) her preschool graduation, Zoe & Finn's end of school year party, our seven year wedding anniversary, their dance recital and their first play all within three weeks time, we finally have time to focus on our big move to Houston.

Daniel and I have been giving things to friends, and making donations of a bunch of clothing to clear out our closets and cabinets.  We've been pulling our framed photos and knickknacks of all of our bookshelves (per our real estate agents suggestion) and moving furniture around to get ready for the house to be shown while we are in Houston looking for our new home.

We'll be gone for 10 days. Daniel has a meeting and some presentations to make and the rest of our time will be devoted to getting to know the city a bit and hopefully fall in love with an area and specifically, a house.

I'm nervous and excited and completely overwhelmed with everything we need to do to get the house ready. The kids start back to school for the summer on a drop in basis, so I have three mornings without needing to entertain them to take care of things and hopefully make this house so beautiful that someone wants to make an offer.

By the time we get back from our house hunting trip, we'll have a little less than a month to  finish up around here and say good-bye (or see you later) to our friends we've made/family we've "adopted".  It feels like "moving day" will be here before we know it.

Thursday, May 03, 2012


Earlier today, Zoe asked me (for the 1st time) about the scars on her forehead. Frankly, I was sort of surprised she hadn't asked me sooner. Zoe is very interested in her appearance - I wouldn't say overly so, but she is on top of what she will wear daily and she does make hairstyle requests.

I took a deep breath and told her someone was not driving safely and they accidentally ran their car into ours (September 27, 2009). I told her that her and Finn's car seats kept them safe, but glass from her window got her. She asked me if it hurt my heart and I said it did, but that I felt like that day was one of the luckiest of my entire life. She asked me "It could have been much worse?" I said yes and she said: "If I had gone to heaven I would have always been with you still." And my heart broke a little, but I told her she was right and that I'm glad that she's with me now. She said she wished the marks would go away, that they aren't very pretty. I brushed her bangs aside and said I was proud of her and that she was beautiful on the inside and out, with or without the scars. I told her those scars reminded me to drive safely and they reminded me how strong she was and how supportive our friends and family were and are.

She asked me if I was friends with the person who hit us and I told her no, he was a stranger. She asked if I would ever be friends with him and I told her I doubted we would ever see him again or even know who he was if we did. She asked if I was mad at him and I told her I was very mad, but that I know he didn't mean to hurt us and that he is very sorry anyone got hurt because of his driving. I told her that I forgive him. She hugged me and told me she loved me and our conversation quickly switched gears to how she would wear her hair to her first Creative Dramatics class. She decided on two braids and I pinned her too long bangs off to the side to keep them out of her eyes. She looked at herself in the mirror and said, "Thank you, Mommy! I look beautiful!" She was right.

*Whew!* Are we sure she's only just turning 5 this month? So many thoughtful, honest questions about serious things. I think I did pretty well for being caught off guard... and I think I meant everything I said. *sigh*