Thursday, February 27, 2014

12 Ways Parenting Has Changed Me

Grace is a full-fledged crawling, exploring, talking, getting-close(ish)-to-walking one year old!

Every two months, I've written about all the developments and changes that I've seen her go through - everything from smiles to first words. The past two months, there haven't been any new developments, so I've decided to write about the 12 ways that parenting has changed me -- one way for each month she has been alive. Aren't I clever? Here we go!

  1. I am more tired, but my ability to function while tired has improved. Though not by much.
  2. I've learned how to have an in depth, heart to heart conversation with another person using just "aaahhhhs" and "oooooohs," then using just babbling and razzing, and now using simple phrases and words. ("Grace, is your strawberry yummy?" "MUM!" "Oh good, I'm glad you like it!")
  3. My hair is grosser. Since I have my hair in a ponytail so often, I've developed some nasty, kinky curls in back. I'm trying to let my hair down more often to see if it'll smooth back out.
  4. My back is stronger.
  5. My home is messier. (aka Strewn with toys. And non-toys that my baby thinks make fun toys.) And my home is cuter. (aka soft tipped spoons in the silverware drawer, pink hoodie bath towel hung over my bath towel, etc.)
  6. My life is busier. But at the same time, my life is filled with simple joys. Like trips to the toddler park. And the itsy bitsy spider. And exploring the way the inside of the washing machine spins. And the awe of watching a child figure out how the world works.
  7. My expectations of myself have plummeted which is overall a really good thing.
  8. My marriage is different. We sometimes feel less close because we don't have time to sit and talk for hours like we used to, but we often feel closer because we've created a life, we're raising a life, and we need each other so desperately the whole way!
  9. My reflexes are faster from dodging spit up for the first eight months and preventing accidents for the past four months.
  10. My days used to have lots of moments alone, but now they are full to the brim of snuggles and cuddles and little sticky hands reaching for me.
  11. My vocabulary has expanded to include words like Desitin, Moby, Ranitidine, Lanolin, Bjorn, BOB, etc.
  12. I am more content, not because life is easier, but because the focus is not on my wants and needs.
Messy hair, clueless expression, pantless, shirt soaked with drool and who knows what else, holding one of her favorite objects in the world - socks. I could not love this kid more.

Happy birthday, Grace! You've changed our lives in so many ways and we DO NOT want to go back! You are one sweet, curious, talkative, and snuggly kid. It is such a joy to be your parents!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Inspiration Fairy

There is a term in Turkish that translates to "inspiration fairy." My very close, American friend who is studying Turkish while living in Turkey explained what this means. Often, when an artist sits down to create, nothing comes. There is no inspiration. But, sometimes while staring off into space, listening to a boring presentation, sweeping the floor, or doing really anything, *POOF* the inspiration fairy comes to visit. Creativity flows naturally through and from the creator.

Although you cannot force this inspiration to come, you can create space for inspiration to visit more readily. Recently, I've been trying to intentionally open up this space in my life. As a mom and a part time lawyer, I have to be very choosy about my free time. If a book just isn't doing it for me, I'll abandon it halfway through. My garden is a tangle of large weeds and plants that have gone to seed. I rarely sit at the piano anymore and my camera often lays still for days or weeks.

One creative endeavor that I have chosen to pursue in this very full season is writing. I usually write my deepest thoughts in my journal and my exterior life on this blog. I recently also began reading and doing the creative writing exercises in a book about writing more descriptively called "Word Painting." Although it takes lots of energy and intentionality to make space to write in my days, even for just ten minutes, it has been worth it every time -- and the inspiration fairy has visited.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Is it possible to live in Los Angeles and not fall in love with Mexican food? I think not. Over the last eight years of dating and marriage, Michael and I have gone to countless taco trucks and taco stands all over LA. We always order tacos or burritos paired with the spiciest salsa we can lay our hands on, and we split a large Styrofoam cup of cinnamony, creamy horchata.

I always assumed that horchata was a milk-based drink and was very surprised when I learned that it was made from rice. Since I'd never heard of a rice-based drink, I assumed it was hard to make. The other day, I looked up a few recipes online for inspiration, saw how easy it was, and made my own. Try it out for yourself!

(Public Service Announcement: Horchata is pronounced "orchata." Please don't say the "h" in horchata. It'd be like saying the "k" in knitting. You just don't!)

1 cup uncooked rice
5 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup milk (You can substitute part of the milk with cream if you want your horchata super creamy.)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup white sugar

Pulse the rice, water, and cinnamon stick in a blender until the rice starts to break apart. Let this cloudy, chunky mixture sit out for several hours to overnight.

Strain out the water and get rid of the broken rice and cinnamon stick. Mix in milk, vanilla, and sugar. Put it in the fridge. While it's chilling, go to the nearest hole in the wall Mexican place and order tacos with spicy, spicy salsa. Stir the horchata, pour, and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

30 Words

Grace said her first words back in October and November. Throughout December and January, she surprised us by learning a new word every couple of days.

At the end of January, I started to lose track of what she was saying, so a week or two ago I sat down and made a list of every word she has said. I didn't include words that she has just mimicked since she parrots tons of words and sounds. (For instance, two nights ago she copied the word "Obama"!) And what was the grand total? Thirty words! This kid is a talker. She has picked up several more words since then, including guitar, which today sounded something like "cah-car."

But, to keep me humble, she has only just recently started to regularly call me "mama." Before this week, she called me "dada," "that that," "day day," and "up up up."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Five Things I Learned in January

It's been months since I've done one of these posts! Here are five things I learned in January.

1. I LOVE Audrey Assad's new(ish) album, Fortunate Fall. Up to this point, I have been uninterested in most Audrey Assad's music. Then, she went indie giving her artistry a chance to come out. This is the kind of music I could listen to forever. Just look at these lyrics to her song "Humble."

"Humble and human, willing to bend, you are.
Fashioned of flesh and the fire of life, you are.
Not too proud to wear our skin, to know this weary world we're in.
Humble, humble Jesus."

And with these lyrics set to mesmerizing vocals and stripped down piano, I can't help but be a fan. You can stream the album here. Hurry before they take it down!

2. There is a limit to how much cuddling I can take. There were a couple of weeks in January where Grace always wanted to be held. When I tell people this they often say, "Awww, so sweet." But, the cuddling had progressed from sweet to wearying. I could get nothing done because the moment I set her down she would cry and reach her little hands for me saying, "up up up." I learned to do quite a few things one handed. Fortunately, the last week has been so much better! Before I put her down for her nap just now, she played by herself for a full twenty minutes! It feels like nothing short of a miracle.

3. My baby is still awesome. Since I just complained about Grace, I have to mention a couple of the awesome things about my baby, though the most awesome thing is that she's mine. :)

She has excellent communication skills for her age. She points, nods her head, grunts, says "ya," and uses some words to get her needs met. What a change from those days where crying was her only form of communication!

She's also an excellent eater, willing to try anything she sees mommy and daddy eating. The other day she was grunting and pointing to try some spicy salsa. We gave her a little and she screamed. A few days later, she was grunting and pointing to get a taste of a stick of butter. We didn't give in because something told me should would love it.

4. My expectations for work and motherhood haven't worked out as planned. When we started up, I expected that most of our business would come from areas of immigration law that are compatible with working almost entirely from home. I was wrong. All our legal work involves lengthy commutes to LA, so my partner has taken it all, and I've been doing admin work, marketing, and supervising our interns. This has been a bit of a disappointment, but I am glad to have some interesting work to do and I am still hopeful that we will eventually get work that's compatible with my schedule.

5. Finally, and most importantly, picture frames from the dollar store are awesome! When you touch them, it's clear that they are made of cheap plastic, but once they are hung on the wall with a beautiful picture inside, they look about as good as any other frame -- and they only cost $1.

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