Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Year Over

I've never been one for setting new years resolutions. Partly because I never keep them and I feel like if you want to make a change, do it now.. don't say "next year" or "I'll start on Monday". I remember in elementary school my teachers always asked us to write our resolutions down and they'd pin them up on some bulletin board for all to see in the classroom; my resolutions were always something like "stop cussing" (yes, even as a fifth grader) or I'd pretend I was going to give up drinking Diet Coke.

I do, however, like the idea of setting goals for myself and my family and I definitely intend to stick to them. Becoming a mom totally changed me.. I don't even relate to the person I was before I had Logan. I think back on things I used to say, my attitude, my thoughts and interactions with people.. I don't know that person. I am more happy that I ever have been; more happy with myself. Though I am still working on it, I can look at myself and be proud of what I've accomplished, be proud of my goals that I am setting and sticking to.. trying my hardest to stick to. Though I weigh less than I did before pregnancy, I am definitely fluffier.. but I am happy to be working on getting healthier for myself, for my future pregnancies, and to be a good example to Logan.

I've already started working on goals I've set for myself but for the sake of a New Years-ish kind of post, here are my New Years Goals:

Continue to make time for exercise. I've been doing pretty well with this one already. Though it may only be for thirty minutes on weekdays, it's still better than nothing. I have been at a bit of a standstill with my weight loss the last few months, but I've lost fifty five pounds in less than a year and am motivated to lose another thirty (or so) more.

Start meal planning. More often than not, I find myself asking Rory what he wants to do for dinner at eight o'clock at night after Logan is asleep (or sometimes later). Usually everything we have is frozen and I don't have the time or patience to defrost and cook it, so we end up getting The Habit or Outback curbside. Meal planning will help with the amount of food I throw away and also will cut food costs.

And speaking of eating out.. Stop eating out. Stop eating out so often. We've gotten into a bad habit of going out to lunch several times a week because it was convenient and I liked for Logan to see Rory in the middle of the day.. I liked seeing him too! With having to pay a few hundred dollars toward health care starting January 1st and wanting to save for a down payment on a house (Lord help us), it's just dumb to be spending almost a hundred dollars a week on lunch. Eating out has also inhibited my weight loss the last few months, so I am ready to say goodbye to restaurants and hello to a better me and more money in our bank account!

Let's continue with the money saving thing.. Save Save Save! This year I plan to follow the fifty two week money saving challenge. Have you heard of it? The first week of the year I'll be transferring a whole dollar into our savings account! Week two, two dollars. Week three, three dollars; and so on and so on, eventually saving $1,378.00
Our savings account went from thousands of dollars to twenty dollars last year because of our move into this house. We had to pay an equivalent of four months rent to get out of our old apartment and into this new home. It still devastates me to think about that. I fear we will never be homeowners and though I am grateful to be renting here, I am sad all of our savings are gone. Time to rebuild!

Be myself in all situations.
This one.. this one is going to be the most difficult for me. I really am only myself around Rory. Lately I find myself more comfortable talking to strangers in the market than to family or friends. People I used to pour my soul to have slipped out of my life and when they make a rare appearance, I feel like I have nothing to talk to them about, I feel my entire body tense up, I feel anxious. Sometimes I try to engage in conversation and I can hear my nervousness and then I get embarrassed about it. In a big social setting, I'd like to sit in a corner and play with Logan and have no one notice me. I don't want Logan to be an "outcast" or to be afraid to be herself, so it's time to trust people (ugh).. it's time to come out of my shell (tiptoe.. tiptoe.. tiptoe..)

Take more photos. I have been in a photo slump lately. I want to bring my camera with me everywhere again so I don't have to rely on my phone (though it's sooo easy). It's kind of crazy that all of my photos of Logan are on my computer as well. I have a baby book and lots of photo albums at my moms to look through and it's strange to think that most kids wont have that because of everything being digital. Perhaps another goal is to print some photos and make some albums. Have any of you tried Project Life?

Make a quilt. Hi, my name is Ali and I hoard afghans and quilts. I always get so excited when I stumble upon a gorgeous quilt in an antique shop and then I almost barf at the price. It's time to make my own! I'd love for Logan to have a quilt that I made.. I'd love for each of my future kids to have their own special quilt that I made for them. So whether it's patchwork and fabric sewn on my machine, or a crocheted one, I want to make at least one quilt before the end of the year.

What about you? Have you set any goals for yourself for the new year or just in general?

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Hi everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas (if you celebrate)! I was actually pleasantly surprised at how wonderful our day was. I mentioned before that it always seems like expectations for the day are so high that you get let down; well, this year was the best. I feel like because we purposefully "played it by ear" and were not in a rush to go here or there and then go to this persons house then that ones and back and forth, we enjoyed the day so much more. Logan woke up at 7am so we lounged in bed for a bit and then headed down stairs to open presents. Logan was transfixed on some sensory balls she got from my dad and step mom, so Rory and I opened everything else, cleaned, made and ate breakfast and got started on putting things away. I am definitely not one of those people who can leave a Christmas mess for days; everything gets put in its place immediately. Logan kept her normal schedule in the morning and afternoon, took a two hour nap and then we headed to my in-laws for dinner. The day was so go with the flow and I will be adamant about having that sort of Christmas day from here on out! This year, Rory and I decided to make most all of the gifts. With having to pay for health care now, among other things, it's not practical for us to make a lot of purchases for gift giving. This year we decided to make everyone vanilla extract and it was so simple! The only thing is that you have to make it at least six weeks in advance. 

What you need is vodka, vanilla beans (1 or 2 per jar), and containers. 

We bought the Costco brand vodka as it was recommended in another recipe (it was also more budget friendly). All you need to do is fill your jar with vodka (ours were 8oz jars), split the vanilla beans (which we got from Amazon) and spread them apart, drop them into your vodka, seal and done!
Store them in a dark place until ready to give. I thought I took pictures of the final product, but apparently it slipped my mind!

Let me know if you make these and how they turn out for you!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Oh my poor sweet Logan. This picture is from a few weekends ago when we went to the little old town museum we live next to. She was not feeling this Santa and I have to say, neither was I; but Rory got his crying with Santa picture he wanted!

We've had some rough days over here with Logan being awake most of the night with inconsolable crying. Growing pains, cutting teeth.. who knows? Yesterday was also not the greatest as I let something really get under my skin and I allowed my feelings about Christmas to be tainted. I feel like that happens every year; that you look so forward to Christmastime and then it turns out to be way too stressful and you feel stretched thin or like you're not pleasing everyone. Well, thankfully my husband is the best man on the planet and we were able to find a way to celebrate Christmas the way we want to.. putting our time with our daughter first, and then trying to accommodate extended family. There's just no point in being stressed out; so here's to a relaxing, joyous, Christ filled Christmas!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sad Sad Song

I don't know where I've been lately. I feel like I am in such a daze. I proof read my last post about ten times before publishing and once it was published, I noticed some spelling errors and it also seemed like every sentence was four words too short. I've been forgetting a lot of things lately, saying incorrect things, I've been very clumsy and non attentive; I find myself wondering what the hell I am doing or what it is I just said more often than not lately. I don't know if I am tired and the first year of mommy hood has caught up with me, or if something is actually wrong. I've been getting a lot of headaches as well, which is not normal for me.

It definitely has been a stressful week with Logan's reaction to peanut butter and waiting on blood work and having internet technicians here constantly and finishing Christmas wrapping and having anxiety attacks over the numbers (or lack there of) in our bank account; there's a lot going on. I don't feel terribly overwhelmed with it all (perhaps my body does and I don't realize it), I feel like I am just trying to handle one thing at a time and I am trying to get through each day.

Sometimes when life gets a little stressful I find myself having nightmares more frequently. I dream about that ex boyfriend who abused me almost nightly or I dream about my lifelong best friend that I don't speak to anymore. I always wake up wondering why I dreamt of them because I never think of them anymore. I always wake up feeling shaken and sometimes a little sad. Sad that I can't shake the bad memories, sad that I let myself live in an abusive situation for so long, sad that I don't have a best friend. 

photo by Ressull Salvi Photography
I love that picture. I feel like it captures me. Always with my head down, avoiding eye contact, being shy in public, and holding on to Rory.. my security blanket.
I've been thinking the past week or so about my relationships.. my lack of relationships. They say it's not the quantity of friends you have but the quality and I do believe that to be true, but I still can't help but think of the people that I spent most of my life with and how they just aren't around anymore. Things change as you get older; people fall in to different stages of life at different times and friendships fade or change or grow stronger. For me, the part that is the hardest is that I've been around the same people for more than half of my life and now that they are gone from my every day, I don't quite feel like myself anymore. I have retreated, I have fallen into old insecurities, and I don't feel like being a part of social situations. When I am in a social situation, the conversations I have with people are superficial; I don't have meaningful conversations with people anymore.
This can be seen in my family life as well. I feel like my family is a small unit, though there are many family members around me, I have a hard time jumping in. I have a very hard time trusting people (hey abandonment issues!), I have a hard time connecting to people. I miss having a best friend. I miss having someone to talk to when I need, I miss being a listener and an advice giver, I miss having a close female relationship. I have two females in my life that I consider to be my friends.. really my only friends these days, but I do not feel close enough to call them on a whim and spill my guts. I can always talk to Rory, he is always there for me and is absolutely my best friend.. but sometimes you just need someone else. Someone outside of your home. Someone outside of your relationship.

It's a strange feeling to be madly in love with your husband and daughter but feel totally alone at the same time. Everyone says to go out and to make friends and give myself "me" time, but why put myself in uncomfortable situations and go somewhere by myself when I can be at home with two people that I know love me unconditionally?

This stage of life is definitely one for lots of changes, growing, learning... and perhaps most importantly, confidence. That one's a rough one.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Rough Day and Things I Want to Remember About Right Now

It's been an exhausting day and a half over here. Yesterday, I gave Logan peanut butter for the first time and she started crying as soon as the first piece went in her mouth. I kept feeding it to her through the tears because I thought she was tired and ready for her nap that was going to happen right after lunch time. She didn't finish eating it, but I got some apple sauce in her so I just thought I'd let her be done and go to bed. As soon as I picked her up to get out of her high chair, she threw up all over us. I started carefully walking over toward the kitchen to clean us up and she threw up a lot more; all over the floor, on her play kitchen, it splattered onto the walls, and even jumped through the baby gate on to the bathroom door. Avoiding slipping and falling to our death, I made it to the kitchen counter and stripped us both naked, and she threw up again. I somehow managed to hold back the tears, keep my shit together, stuck her in the sink, washed her off, talked her through the dry heaving and excessive vomiting. Sweet Jesus. I wrapped her up in my one dishtowel I own, walked our naked butts upstairs, got us dressed, came downstairs, mopped several times, scrubbed the walls, and then she threw up again, and then again. I had a melt down and called Rory to hitch a ride home immediately because something was wrong; very wrong. Luckily, Rory was home in a jiff and everyone was able to calm down and asses what the fuck just happened. 

I really didn't think it was a peanut allergy at the time, but with all of the late night reading I did and the even more vomiting episodes she had throughout the rest of the day, I really felt like we needed to take her to the doctor. We went this morning, her blood was drawn, and in about a week we will know. It's a terrifying feeling to have your baby that sick, to not be able to help in any way but to try and comfort her with hugs, kisses, and singing favorite songs. She was up a few times last night, but I am thankful she didn't throw up in her crib at all. That time that she spit up on my shoulder and breathed it back in (causing her to choke) has traumatized me to the very core and I was scared that she'd throw up in bed, have her face in it and not be able to breathe. 

The doctor said with the immediate vomiting and the rash on her face, it definitely sounds like an allergic reaction. We will have to be very careful with what we feed her now. We need to inspect all labels for "may contain peanuts" and "peanut oil", but I'm glad that we may have found the culprit for those little rashes she gets on her face after eating some pastries (most cakes and pastries contain peanut oil apparently). 

I had this post written and ready to go for a few days now and after our rough day, it seems like a good time to share some happy.

Things I want to remember about Logan right now:

The way she hands you a book to read, then backs herself up into your lap

The way she tilts her forehead to my mouth when I ask for a kiss

The way she shares everything

Her belly laughs when singing the Teddy Bear song

The way she looks so grown up in her Yo Gabba Gabba Vans

Her love for being chased

How gentle she is with Spicoli (the cat) and is so proud of herself while petting him

The way she says "kitty"

The way she hugs "Penny"(her dolly pictured above) and all of her stuffed animal friends

Her adventurous spirit

Her love for anyone who smiles at her

I love you my sweet Logi Bear!

**the photos in this post are from my Instagram feed. Follow along in real time if you like!**

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"A Wink of His Eye and a Twist of His Head Soon Gave Me to Know I Had Nothing to Dread"

Last year, Logan was only a little nugget baby so I didn't even cater to the thought of having her picture taken with Santa. I actually didn't ever want to get her picture taken with Santa. I, admittedly, am terrified of costumed characters. I remember hiding from that big creeper mouse "Chucky" at Chuck-E-Cheese every time he came around. I don't think I have any childhood pictures with Tigger or Ariel or Mickey from trips to Disneyland. I loathe clowns. I've always had a feeling to not trust people whose faces were disguised; ok I am crazy, but I know there's people out there that agree, right?

I am going to tell you a little secret to keep us on the "Ali's crazy" train.. I have few memories from childhood, most are from home videos or pictures, but there are a few that are truly my memories. One that I laugh over is; one year (I am pretty sure it was Christmas of 1993 because it was at the house my mom, sister and I lived in for a short time until the Northridge earthquake booted us into a family friends home) I layed awake in terror all Christmas Eve night because my room had a window that looked on to a part of the first floors roof and I did not want to see Santa Claus. I remember my thoughts were something along the lines of, "What a creep! I don't want a strange old man in our house!" But mostly it was because I was scared of Santa himself; the mysterious fat old Saint Nick. This also may have been the year I asked my Aunt Nancy to tell me the truth about Santa and she did. I felt a sense of relief that I didn't have to lay awake in fear the next year.

As a teenager and an adult, each Christmas season, I'd walk past Santa and his admireres at the mall and I'd make some snarky comment like "Ew. You really have to wonder who would take a job as Santa and have kids sit on their laps all day." Yes, I'm an asshole. But this year, this year my friends, it all changed for me. As soon as Logan's birthday was over and December was getting closer and closer, all I could think about was having her picture taken with Santa. We went on a Sunday morning, right when Santa's hours started to avoid the major crowds, and as we were waiting in the short line I was excited to see him; excited to see Logan's first Santa sighting. I was thrilled to see that Santa looked like Santa, not a cheap mall knock off nor a fake beard one that reminds you of the guy from "A Christmas Story", he genuinely was Santa and my little Grinch heart grew three sizes that day! Logan was very fascinated with his glove, Rory was hoping for her to cry (because "everyone needs a picture crying with Santa" he says), and I was about to cry out of pure joy. I felt like this man, this Santa, was magical and sweet and, really, for the first time in my life, I believed in Santa. I believed for Logan, I believed for my Uncle Dave who tried to get me to believe until the day he died, I believed for all those excited kids in line with us.
It was a Christmas miracle I tell you.

It's such a gift to be able to set aside my own "isms" and just be purely excited and happy for Logan's experiences and memories. I never want the feelings I had as a weirdo kid to inhibit her childhood or hold her back from making the sweetest most innocent memories. I have been thinking a lot about goals I am setting for myself now that my baby is growing. She's picking up on behaviors and words; I do not want negative or nasty things to come out of my mouth anymore. I want to always be respectful and positive. If someone is being rude to me, I want to act toward them with grace and kindness. I want to be able to forgive. I want to say "I am frustrated" instead of a cuss word. I want to be in love with the idea of Santa and the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy, all for the sake of my daughter.

It's been sort of silly to talk with Rory about our "Santa" plans; how we will introduce Santa to her and what traditions we will start in our home. It makes me feel like a real grown up! I definitely want the real story of Saint Nicholas to be at the forefront of our conversations about Santa. To me, Santa is not a character that either Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston Jr. made up in the 1800's.. Santa is the spirit of Saint Nicholas, a man who truly lived and did good works in Jesus' name. It will definitely be an adventure for us, a whole new chapter of life and an opportunity to begin traditions for our family of three.


Christmas Wishlist

 want: nose disguise christmas ornament @ sourpuss // need: huffy women's cruiser bike @ target // wear: bonfire stories tunic in red @ modcloth // read: the wonderful wizard of oz pop-up @ amazon

Since I plan on using this rule of thumb for gifts for Logan, why not use it for myself?

I vaguely remember one year that I was at my step-mom's parents house and her brother received a new vacuum for his birthday; it was what he wanted. Someone joked about how the gifts you ask for as you get older change quite a bit from when you're a child or even a young adult. I remember thinking "no way!" I would never ask for a vacuum for my birthday or Christmas. I would always ask for whatever toys or games or "trendy" item my little kid heart desired. It's funny to remember that feeling, to remember thinking I'd never be "one of those" people.. but really, you ask for what you need as an adult. Gifting is changing a lot, as it should (as mentioned in this recent post), and I am secretly hoping someone gifts Rory and I a nice set of silverware and cooking utensils this year. Of course, there are many things I want; window shopping at Anthropologie always pulls at my heart strings, this silly Groucho ornament that reminds me of my grandpa (and matches the tattoo on my leg no one ever sees since I don't own a pair of shorts), a new couch and a media cabinet.. this list goes on. But none of that matters when you're cooking with crappy pot and pans, your spatulas from Ikea are melting during use, your vacuum is whistling at you, you need new glasses, and your cheap silverware is rusting. Also, for the last several years, all I've wanted for my birthday is to get my car detailed.. still hasn't happened, but here's to holding on to hope!

What's on your Christmas list this year?


Monday, December 2, 2013

Continuing a Tradition

As far back as I can remember, I had my own little tree to decorate at Christmastime. It would sit on my toy box in my room or on my nightstand; when I moved out I still set it up and decorated it with my little ornaments my mom bought for me throughout the years. One year it was all Scooby Doo, another was Batman, another year Coca-Cola; the little trees theme changed as I did.

I've been thinking a lot about what traditions I want to start with my own family, what memories I want to make with them and one tradition that I cannot let go of and want to keep very much alive is for my children to have their own little trees for Christmas. Though I alone did all of the decorating this year, I can see that she loves it already (what kid doesn't love things with lights?). I'm excited thinking about surprising her each year with a new set of ornaments.. I'm excited for her excitement (I'm so excited.. and I just can't hide it.. I just.. I just..! Are you thinking of the "Saved By the Bell" episode now? Yup.)
This twelve dollar tree and seven dollars total in ornaments will last a life time in our hearts and will be something we both look forward to each year. One day this little tree will move with her to her first apartment (or dorm if she decides to go to college.. and if she can get lots of loans!) and hopefully she'll be a nerd like her mama and set it up every year until it falls apart.

Do you have any special holiday traditions with your kids?