Monday, October 3, 2011


I haven't written anything in a long time, it's been a busy few months, and in August, we took a much needed family trip to Yosemite- CAMPING!!! Yes, actual camping. In a tent. 6 months prior, when I booked this trip, I wasn't really thinking logistics, I was just thinking about all the great potential memories we would make for our kids. Oh, how fun it will be to go camping IN A TENT in Yosemite, one of the most beautiful places in the world. When I was a kid, we went to Yosemite every summer in a MOTORHOME. It had a bathroom, and a kitchen, and several comfortable beds. So, as the months went by, and this trip got closer, I kind of realized that I have never actually camped in a tent. Ever. Ever? Ever. Apparently camping in an RV isn't actually "camping"... of course not. So, as the months and weeks got closer to the date, I started to FREAK out. I was nervous about the drive, the bears, setting up camp, keeping the kids clean, the bears, what activities we were going to do- did I mention the bears?? So, I started to gear up, bought the huge tent that would be our home for 2-3 nights, planned on what to pack for clothes, should we bring the stroller? I made reservations 6 months prior, online. Getting reservations at a campground on the valley floor in Yosemite, in the summer, is pretty much like winning the lottery. I actually couldn't get a spot for the early summer, so when the reservations opened up for mid-August on, we ended up getting a spot in late August, right before school was to start- close call! Not only did we get a campsite in one of the most sought after campgrounds, we got an AMAZING spot, right on the Merced river in Lower Pines. SCORE!! I reserved 2 nights, then quickly realized that it's a lot of trouble to go through for only two nights, why not make it three? I was lucky to find a third night online, a few minutes later at a different campsite within the same campground, but across the way against the woods. Sweet. I actually figured that we would barely last the first 2nights and be dying to get back to civilization after night one, so it wasn't a big deal, just a back-up plan.

So, we packed the roof rack, the ice chest, camping stove, stroller, beer, and hit the road at 5am, the morning we had to check-in. The drive up was not so bad, thank the gods for lollipops... and Barbie Princess movies. We got there in about 8 hours, including stops, in plenty of time to set up camp at our amazing campground with our perfect view of Half Dome. Fortunately, we had done a test-run on the tent in the back yard a few weeks prior, so tent set-up took only about 30 minutes, and within about an hour, we were able to (almost) completely relax and enjoy our riverfront view, while the kids played in the dirt, helped us build a fire, make dinner and roast their first marshmallows. The kids thought the squirrels were pretty funny because they would jump up on the tables and literally remove your food from your plate, as you were trying to eat it, and stare you down while they stuffed their cheeks. It was really awesome when they chewed through our bread bag when I forgot to put it back in the bear (and apparently, squirrel) box for 5 minutes.

Our neighbors were close, but not too close... although, I kind of felt for the young, child-free group of people who were next to us. The babies were not exactly quiet, and in order to get anything done, I had to set them down somewhere, which meant the Pack-N-Play... which meant pissed off, crying babies. Who wants to hear screaming and crying when they are in one of the most beautiful places in the world, on a trip that probably took a lot of planning- I'm sure the last thing they wanted was screaming, whining children, and I certainly didn't blame them. I could feel the annoyed vibes coming from the singleton camp, so, we ended up either holding, or wearing the babies on our backs a lot in the Ergo's because we didn't want to disturb them and ruin the experience, plus the babies seemed to enjoy being up high and part of the action.

We were having such a great time the first few days, that we decided that we WERE going to take that 3rd night! Not only that, but my parents suddenly decided to come up and join us at our new campsite, and they got there just in time to help us move our tent across camp. Apparently, this whole moving-camp thing is not an unusual because I saw a few people carrying their completely intact tents across camp and setting up elsewhere. Whew! We threw the tent on my dad's truck, and drove it across camp. I'm sure that our neighbors were happy to see us go.
Our new campground was right up against the woods, not as glorious as the waterfront, but still an incredible spot and I was so glad I had kept the reservation. The kids had a good time helping us set up camp again, and I can't even put into words what a relief it was to have grandma and grandpa there to help hold babies and cook food. They brought wine and yummy cheese and made actual meals- way more gourmet than the cereal and sandwiches that I had going on! I learned a lot on this trip, next time I'm not going to underestimate the power of the campfire. There are many delicious dishes to be made on that thing, but really, I think I should just pack my parents along for the next trip, that would cover all the bases. The new campground was very cozy (aside from my lingering thoughts of bear-attacks, which I most definitely kept to myself). It was very Oprah-goes-to-Yosemite, although my bear-fears were a little stronger in the new spot because we were against the WOODS now.

Apparently, in the wee hours of the mornings, the bears would roam the camps looking for grub, I could hear the rangers shooing them off, but we were extra strict about our bear box and there was nothing in the tent that they would want. At least this is what I kept telling myself every minute of every day there. Monte often walked to the general store at Camp Curry with a baby on his back, and I kept imagining a bear attacking them on the way to or from... once again, I kept this to myself.

The weather was perfection the whole trip, That day, we hiked to Mirror Lake and had a picnic on the sand while thekids frolicked in the water. We drank wine and ate cheese on a sheet that my parents were supposed to sleep on that night, but the babies peed on it... whoops. The girls ran around in the water, and we attempted to get the babies in because this was their only shot at a bath, which Atticus enjoyed all of 2 minutes and Beatrix not at all, she wanted no part of the water, and stayed on the sheet 90% of the time. Apparently you can pay $5 and shower at Camp Curry anytime you want. Camp Curry is a 5 minute walk from camp... good to know for next time because by the time we got home, the kids looked like homeless children.

The drive home took a little longer than the drive there, and for some ridiculous reason, we decided to stop in an Applebee's for some grub in Fresno. We thought that the kids would enjoy stretching their legs, and eating an actual meal. I think everybody in the restaurant must have thought we were insane for even attempting, though, because if the babies weren't on top of the table, they were running in different directions across the restaurant. They refused to sit in their high chairs, and we ended up taking all of our food to go. Why do we always forget that restaurants are off-limits with the kids, especially after going camping in the woods for 3 days? Overall, I am so glad that we were able to show the kids one of natures most beautiful accomplishments, and hopefully when the kids get a little bigger, we can hike the trails and spend a week, rather than 3 nights. When I went to Yosemite growing up, I never fully appreciated it. As a child, I didn't realize what a big deal it was for my parents to take us on this adventure, and as a teenager, I was SO annoyed that they MADE me go on this BORING trip- really?? Who was that girl. So, I am very thankful to my parents for dragging my ungrateful behind to this beautiful place, and I hope my kids don't resent me too much for doing the same to them for years to come.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Someday I'll Land In The Nuthouse, With All The Nuts And The Squirrels! Weee!

Before having kids, when I would see disheveled children with messy hair, mismatched clothes and shoes on the wrong feet, I admit... I totally judged. I would think; "When I have kids, they will have perfect little braids and pigtails, and adorable clothes and their shoes will most certainly be on the correct feet." Well, it turns out that there are a lot of things you say before having kids about what kind of parent you're going to be that don't turn out quite as planned. I actually said that my kids won't watch any TV before 2 years old, but now that's just crazy talk! TV is awesome... and it's all DJ Lance Rock's fault.

I admit, with my first, I kept up with a lot of my expectations and did everything "right". I dressed her perfectly from Fred Segal, Babystyle (I still miss you!!!), Splendid Littles, and Gap. I bought her $75 True Religion jeans and 15 pairs of cute little shoes when 2 pairs were plenty. My house was mostly clean and organized, and trip to a store or restaurant was for the most part, easy peasy. Then #2 comes along, and things get a little more complicated. The daily tasks aren't quite as easy as they used to be, but I tried my darndest to keep up. I still managed to keep the house somewhat together, and darling daughter #2 got lots of faboosh hand-me-downs from her big sister (because at this point, I realized "who the hell in their right mind spends $75 on jeans for a 2 year old??")! Getting out of the house wasn't quite so easy with a toddler and a baby, and I admit that hair wasn't always styled into perfect little pig tails or braids, and sometimes their shoes didn't coordinate with their outfits (GASP!!).

When #3 and #4 came along in one package, it pretty much became sink or swim. If I can get everybody out of the house with clothes on, I consider it a success. No shoes? I have back-up in the car because I was sick of arriving at any destination with a barefoot child. How many times have I been to Trader Joe's with a (usually) shoeless Aurora?? Hair in pig tails or braids(Former self, you're joking, right?)?? Try brushed. There are many things that need to be accomplished before leaving the house and hair brushing is sadly pretty low on the totem pole. Then, of course, if I want to wear clothes, (which is always a nice touch) I need to find the time for that.

So, now I'm often the woman in public with the kids in mismatched clothes, maybe only half of their hair is brushed, and at least one of them has evidence of breakfast still stuck to their face. So, it goes without saying that I no longer judge mothers with kids who fit this description, rather, (much like Larry David in his excitement to see other Prius owners), now I smile and wave at them... like a crazy person... and probably scare them off.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Baby Mama

The other day, I attempted a trip to Babies R Us with the kids. I really needed suction cup bowls for the babies. So rather than wait for Monte to be home to help, there I found myself, balancing babies and herding the girls. Whoever I held on me was happy, and whoever was in the cart... wasn't. After switching them from cart to Ergo a few times at the cart-corral, I realized how ridiculous I must look when I looked up and noticed a woman who worked there staring at me through the window giving me a sympathetic look, and when we made eye-contact, she motioned an offer of help. "No thank you" I mouthed to her with an "I'm used to this shit" expression on my face. Once the babies seemed calm and happy, I hustled the kids into the store and headed for the feeding section. Almost immediately, Beatrix became angry that she was in the cart, so I picked her up and just held them both on me which made her happy, but, along with the other 2 standing at my feet, it's exactly the exact same thing as placing a giant neon sign over my head that says "PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'VE GOT MY HANDS FULL!" because almost immediately, that's what everybody I pass by in the store feels the need to say; "You've sure got your hands full!". "Wow, no shit!! Really?? I've never heard that line before, ever!" is what I truly, truly want to say, but I grit my teeth and simply reply "Yup!" with a smile.

I get my bowls and high-tail it for the registers. The babies are getting restless, and I'm starting to regret this decision. Why didn't I just order these things online?? I must be a glutton for punishment. As I'm standing in line, I am reminded of a time almost a year ago when I was at this same exact store, only under much different circumstances.

I had just been released from the hospital after having a C-section, and dealing with Atticus being in the NICU. We spent one night home with the babies hooked up to bili-blankets, hoping to get their levels down. We went to the Dr. to test them the next morning and had to wait for the results, so we drove home hoping that they were finally fine and we could move on from this.

We were on our way home when the Dr. called with the results of his bilirubin tests, and it turned out that he had to be re-admitted for another night or two, so we had to go back to the hospital. This had already been an extremely stressful few days with my recovery and breastfeeding the twins with cracked, bleeding nipples due to a bad latch with Bea, and Atticus in the NICU. This was almost too much to handle, I was utterly exhausted and now Atticus would have to be away from me for a whole night (maybe more) while I stayed home with Beatrix because they wouldn't allow her to stay at the hospital if I went with Atticus. It was decided that Monte would stay the night with Atticus and cup feed him my pumped milk for feedings, and I'd go home with Beatrix. I had to get some pump parts for my pump, and Monte had no idea what I needed, so we stopped by Babies R Us where I quickly jumped out to get it while he stayed in the car with the now crying babies.

I remember standing in line that day, 4 days after a C-section, my stomach still looking huge and pregnant, my hair a mess on top of my head, my face was surely a wreck of old makeup with bags under my eyes. As I stood there, clutching my valves and membranes, I glanced over to the magazine rack and what I saw brought tears to my tired eyes. There I was, on the current cover of Fit Pregnancy, looking bright eyed and bushy tailed with perfect hair and makeup and my little girls by my side. That was a world so far away from where I was in that moment; a disheveled, exhausted, hormonal mess with a lot of uncertainties ahead; How long would Atticus be in the hospital for? Would I make enough milk to pump for him and nurse Beatrix as well? Will I ever sleep again?? Monte was leaving in a matter of days for 6 whole months. I was overwhelmed and terrified. It was very rough, but fortunately, Atticus ended up being there for only one night, and I was able to make and pump enough milk to sustain both babies. We all survived then, and beyond and at almost 1 year they are still nursing strong!

So here I was again, same exact place, under much different circumstances. My two almost 1 year old babies were happy (a bit whiney) and healthy and clinging to my body, and the girls were by my side, begging for every toy in sight, gotta love 'em. Life is good.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pain, Love And Destiny

I'm very proud to announce that after the success of his first album, The Deepest Dark, my amazingly talented husband, Monte, is going to record his second album soon. He's already written the incredible songs, he just needs the funds to record it in a studio, so he's started a "Kickstarter" program on I can't wait to hear the finished product!! Check it out!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Beachy Keen

Yesterday, we decided to go to the beach to watch the sunset with the kids, and I wanted to get some cute pictures of them playing in the sand. We surprisingly got a close parking spot, which was very nice because Mr. Whiney Pants still can't handle too much walking on his poor wittle toe. I had Atticus in the Ergo, and Bea was in a Baby Bjorn on Monte. As we neared the steps to walk down to the sand, Monte looked at me and asked "Where are you going?" I was a little thrown off "Um, down to the shore, what do you mean?" he then responded, "I don't want to get my (broken toe boot thing) shoe dirty on the sand" I stared at him for a moment, still confused, "When I said 'let's go to the beach and watch the sunset', what part of that translated to 'from the pier'? We always go down to the sand when we come to the beach. Can't you just rinse the sand off the thing?" He shakes his head. "Well, take the boot off then, weirdo." He looked at me like I was asking him to lick white dog shit on the boardwalk. Basically we both had the same look on our faces, and neither one of us was going to budge. Since we were racing the sun, I just told him to hand over Bea, and I'd trek down to the sand with the kids by my lonesome.

So there I was, carrying two babies, diaper bag, and giant camera while trudging across the sand. Aurora was crying and begging me to carry her because it was "too hard to walk", and I obviously didn't have enough kids in my arms. Ariel was skipping along beside me, like the perfect little sunflower that she is. When I completed the 100 yard journey to the shore, I plopped the babies down, and the girls started digging in the sand. Whew. The light was fading fast. Mental note: next time, arrive at the beach when the sun is actually above the horizon line, not below.
The girls ran down towards the water, and I started to get a little nervous, so I scooped up the babies and ran down to join them. Holding two 17 lb. babies while trying to take pictures of the girls frolicking along the shore, with our giant heavy camera, is no easy feat. If I tried to put the babies down, they cried (plus I was scared of a big wave sweeping them away), but I didn't want to set them down too far behind me because I am paranoid about kidnapping, plus Atticus had already eaten his fair share of sand a few minutes earlier and he didn't really need any more. I could see Monte watching us from the pier above. Damn toe. Suddenly a wave swooshed up and knocked Ariel down in the water. SHIIIIT! What do I do now? Horrible images flooded my mind. I had the babies in both arms, and I couldn't set them down. Damn toe. Ariel manages to climb out and cries "My princess sandals are gone!" Great. "We'll get you new sandals!" Just then, we see one wash up on shore and Ariel runs down to get it. Then, a good samaritan finds the other and brings it to her. I hear "Ooh, ah, eeh, ahh, oooh, ah, eeeh!", and I look up to see Monte hobbling towards us in the sand... holding on to his precious bootie.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I love you toe, toe, toe, toe much

The worst thing that the babies can do to me, is to wake up at the same time in the middle of the night. Yes, I have two boobs, but no, the babies are no longer capable of using them both at once without attacking one another with their claws... which defeats the whole purpose of tandem nursing to sleep because they wake each other up every time. It's so awesome! No, not really. So, normally, they wake up about every 2-4 hours through the night. It's not really "waking up", more like rooting for a boob, which will ensure they don't completely wake up, then it takes anywhere from 10 min. to an hour to get them back down to a deep sleep. Yay! I basically spend the whole night hopping from one side of the bed to the other, nursing whoever needs it. It works out fine, as long as they don't wake together. That's when I seriously consider crying, but who's got energy for that?

Sometimes one will wake up, I start to nurse that one back down, they're almost out, then the other one wakes up and starts grunting and looking for me. Crap. He or she soon realizes that mommy isn't around, then quickly progresses to crying out for me, while I helplessly watch in silence, desperately hoping they'll miraculously fall back to sleep. The other night, it happened to be Mr. Atticus. I almost had Beatrix to sleep, and he got so mad that he started thrashing around the bed looking for me. He began to cry loudly, so I made an executive decision. I wondered how quickly I could scoop him up and get him into the crib in the office down the hall, so that I could at least get Bea back to sleep in silence? I de-latched Bea, grabbed Atticus, and ran down the hall. There was a doorway jumper in the doorway blocking my path- could I shove it aside and run past it? YES! But, that convenience didn't cross my mind at the time. With one hand, I quickly removed it from the top of the door and threw it aside, resulting in a loud crash. Oops. I continue on, setting Atticus in the crib, then... a loud 'THUD!" comes from the room down the hall, then, a deep moaning sound. The sound of my hero getting tangled in his blankets, and falling out of bed en route to rescue us all from the scary, loud crash. I needed to get back to Beatrix if I wanted to get her back to sleep in this small window of time... but I should probably go check on Monte. I popped my head in the door, and there he was lying on the floor. Aw, poor guy, he must've hit his knee again, I thought. He is ALWAYS hitting his knee on everything and it is not unusual for him to curl up in the fetal position on the floor after doing so.

I had to get back to Beatrix, but I felt obligated to ask him, "Are you okay?", his response was a series of moans. Men are such babies. But, really, how many more times was he going to bust that knee and roll around on the floor in pain? At this point poor Atticus was screaming in the crib, and if I could just get Bea back to sleep, I could work on him. But, it was too late, when I got back to the room, she was sitting up in the bed, wide-eyed and looking around the room, and as soon as she saw me, she started to cry. At this point I had two crying infants, and a husband who was STILL lying on the floor of the kids room down the hall, moaning and groaning. I picked up Beatrix, then went to get Atticus. I carried the crying babies down the hall to check on daddy. He was still on the floor. Really? He's still on the floor? "I think I broke my toe", he manages to groan. You have got to be kidding me. How dramatic can the guy be? Sheesh. "Do you need some ice or something?" I ask loudly over the babies cries. He responds with a moan, so I decide to walk around the house with the babies until they calm down, then I can deal with my other child, Mr. Whiney Pants, who I could now hear sliding down the hall on his butt.

Once the babies are calm enough, I set them on the rug in the living room to play. It's 3AM, not the ideal time for a playdate, but it'll do. I find Monte now in the bathroom, on the floor. Okay, now I see that there's blood everywhere- and, excuse me but, it's getting all over the white rug that just washed and- er... okay now I feel kind of bad because he looks like he's in pain... and it's swelling up a lot. He says "I think I need to go to the ER." Oh, really? "Okay, but you have to drive yourself." I say. There's no way I'm loading up 4 kids in the car at 3am, on a school night/day, no less, to take him to the ER for a busted toe. No way. The babies start fussing, so I go back to tend to them. Meanwhile, Monte hobbles into the bedroom to find clothes and a shoe for his working foot. He throws on an Adidas jumpsuit and a scarf. What a sight to see, he was- bloody toes, hopping on one foot- how did this happen again??

He somehow makes it out the door, and drives himself to the ER with his left foot. He later tells me how he felt like he was in the scene from Halloween 2 in the parking lot, as he tried to get from the car to the ER entrance. He hopped from car to car, clutching his now blood-covered foot in a wad of Starbucks napkins that he found in our car. He could see the entrance, and just beyond was the little check-in window with a nurse inside. He hopped with all his might, but couldn't quite make it in one go. As he sat, out of breath on the curb outside, not 20 feet from the entrance, a good samaritan exiting the ER offered to help get him in a wheelchair, and in he went, where he was told to take a seat and wait. For a moment he was glad that he might finally have a quiet minute or two to play Angry Birds, but he was in too much pain to concentrate on it. There weren't many people before him, but it seemed everybody was being let in before him because it was "just a toe." But, it turned out that his toe was busted real good. He broke his big toe-bone completely in half, and jammed his nail down and the cuticle skin with it. It's really gross, and apparently very painful. So, now, he's basically bedridden, on crutches, and I've gained a 5th child.