Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Currently



Eating: Rory and Logan's chocolate chip cookies! Oh my.. I may have lost 30lbs in the last few months, but these babies are keeping me steady at my current weight. Rory has been quite the baker the last several years and when I stumbled upon an incredible cookie recipe on Pinterest, there was no turning back! This is the recipe he makes for every occasion and it's glorious guys, simply glorious! Salt, check! Dark chocolate chunks, check! Soft cookie goodness, check! It had finally started getting cooler here in the death desert that is Southern California, and Rory got the itch to bake cookies with Logan; it was her first time helping in the kitchen and it was the cutest! She is pretty excited to announce that she and daddy made the cookies each time she gets to eat one after dinner.


Thinking About: How it's kind of unbelievable that it's almost the end of the year already. Didn't I just announce that I was expecting a second little one? I will have a 3 year old in eight days and a 6 month old in less than three weeks... holy crap. I feel like I wait all year for it to be the holiday's and then it's over in a second. Trying to remember to take it all in and see the girls enjoy this holiday season. 

Looking Forward To: Christmas, of course. I feel like this is the first year that Logan really gets Santa. She's been talking about what she hopes he will bring her, Rudolph, and making him cookies to eat (it's also been helpful in threatening her to stop whatever attitude she's got going on.. woo!). I can't wait to live the magic through her and to see her enjoy Christmastime. Also, let's not forgot that it will be Wesley's first Christmas; that's important too!

Enjoying: these sisters. This last week has been such a difference in the way that they interact. Logan played Wesley a song with her train whistle the other day and had Welsey laughing and jumping up and down in her "jolly jumper".. it was the sweetest thing. And today, Logan started talking to Wesley about the argument that she and I had just had and then when Wesley started laughing just because her big sister was finally talking to her, Logan just started giggling with her; it made those few minutes of Logan yelling at me about the damn TV worth it.

Watching: The Amazing Race. We're pretty behind and I can't even remember what season we're watching right now, but Hulu just added two of the most recent seasons and Rory and I watch it once the girls have gone to bed. We spend most of the show pretending that we are in that scenario and how it would be totally ridiculous (I'd be a terrible racer). It's funny to imagine him and I as "amazing racers".. I'd make us lose the first leg. Bungee jump? Nope! Sleep in an airport? Nope! Crawl through a cave? Nope! Eat raw fish or some other "delicacy" of the nation? Nope!

Loving: the California cold. I am pretty upset that it's supposed to be in the 80's Thursday and Friday so I am enjoying my long sleeves and hoodies while I am able to wear them.

xo
-Ali

Monday, October 26, 2015

I Have What?


It's been almost five months and I've thought about this post a few times. I've gone back and forth about writing it because I honestly do feel quite uncomfortable sharing it but I also want this to be out there in the internet world so that maybe one struggling mom may stumble upon it and feel like she isn't a failure, that she isn't alone and that she doesn't have to feel pressured to try and jump on the breastfeeding bandwagon.

I've blogged before about breastfeeding (here and here); my struggles with Logan and my hopes for a better outcome with Wesley. A little recap is that I was totally naive whilst pregnant with Logan.. "you have boobs, they make milk, baby drinks milk, the end". It did not work out for Logan and I. I cried and felt pretty guilty about it for at least a year. During my pregnancy with Wesley I prepared myself to do it all differently so I'd be a successful breastfeeding mama and it still didn't work out. I opted for the hour of immediate skin to skin after delivery with Wesley (which I didn't do with Logan), I got a brand new pump (automatic and manual), my sweet old friend who is a lactation consultant reached out and came over a few times, we weighed before and after feeding, I ate lactation cookies, I was up to twenty one supplements a day and was still unable to produce more than a quarter of an ounce of breast milk a day. I tortured myself again for five weeks hoping for some improvement and my friend told me about something I had never heard of before... Insufficient glandular tissue.

What!? 

I went to a breastfeeding support group with Logan and met with a highly recommended lactation consultant there and never was this condition mentioned to me. All I was told was I needed to try this and then that and then try something else when that didn't work.. Never in my mind did I ever think a medical condition (really, a breast deformation) could be the problem.

As sensitive as I feel about this, I feel like it needs to be out there. I received a diagnosis and immediately went on a Google hunt to find out more about what caused me to be unable to do the most natural thing on the planet. I was able to find one resource, but there really wasn't a lot out there. I joined a Facebook support group and nearly vomited at all of the mothers complaining about how they only pumped four ounces a day.. FOUR OUNCES!? I never even got close to that! I found the group to be pretty devastating, so I left it. All I had left was an official diagnosis from the OBGYN where she actually laughed a bit at me asking for it and after that, I had to give it all up. I stopped the pumping and the supplements and finally I let go of the hope I was clinging on to. I went online to order our first delivery of formula and I cried (a little bit at the finality of my trying and a little bit at the cost).. Rory was surprised at my emotions because I had said all along that I was going to try and if it didn't happen then it wasn't meant to be. I believe that an unexpected condition threw my emotions in to a whole other level... I just kept thinking about a statistic I read; three percent of women have insufficient glandular tissue. I mean, really!? I had to be one of the three percent?

Again, I felt like I had failed my kids. Yes, this all is totally out of my control and there's nothing I could have done to change the outcome BUT it was impossible to not feel like a total outsider again. I have friends that breastfeed toddlers, I didn't know anyone who had any breastfeeding difficulties, and all of the breastfeeding advocates seemed to be all over my social media again (I swear it is always national breastfeeding week when I give up on doing it).. I felt alone in my struggle and still feel alone with the diagnosis.

I almost allowed myself to sink in to the depression over it that I had felt for so long after Logan when my friend made a really profound statement that sort of snapped me out of my shock and the devastation, she said "it's not life or death. We don't live in a third world country." My body has failed me and it's failed my kids but how lucky am I to have access to formula and to have two healthy kids that thrive and were strictly formula fed? Honestly, it's still difficult to watch other women breastfeed. I feel like I missed out on something, like I am a misfit sitting alone in my high school cafeteria while all the cool kids (moms) get to do something I just can't do.

Each time I feel like I don't get to have what they do, I have to remind myself that 1. My kids are healthy and thriving 2. Just because my kids didn't nurse doesn't mean we are any less close or bonded and 3. I tried.. I tried really hard to be successful.

There are some really well intentioned moms who say "you can do it", "you just have to stick with it", "have you tried these pills", "I had a hard time at first too, but now I'm a dairy queen", and what those other women don't realize is that you cannot breastfeed if your body does not have adequate tissue to make breast milk! You can pump and take a million pills and be a hippy and zen-like, but when you're physically incapable of something, there's no success.. and it has to be okay. 
I had no idea that such a condition even existed so here I am, putting it out there so that it can help. I hope it helps the breastfeeding mom understand to be more sensitive to a friend who is having difficulty with it because she might have a physical problem. I hope this helps the mom who is struggling to breastfeed.. Perhaps this is news to you too and you can investigate with your doctor. I hope this helps the mom who's known she has insufficient glandular tissue and I can be one more person to add to this list of "known cases"  so you don't feel like that three percent is so small.

I feel sad and I feel relieved that there is an answer. Any future kids we may have, I will not have to go through the stress of trying to breastfeed them. It's over now; the pumping, the pills, the struggling and I am forever grateful that my children are healthy and developing the way they are supposed to. 

**If you want to learn more or need a resource, visit this article at KellyMom.com**

xo
-Ali

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Last 23 Days

October has been an absolute whirlwind; before it even began, our calendar was full. We've been on a few little adventures that I was hoping for and we had the best days with the girls. One day we went up to the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum and this past Monday we went trick or treating at Disneyland! I am so grateful that we were able to have those two little trips to feel like we can give our girls some really good childhood memories. Living paycheck to paycheck is our life; it's hard and I am always grateful when we can find good deals on little adventures so we can actually have them!

In all of the business, I've been feeling a little down lately.. which I can't really explain because nothing really is the matter. I think it's just a mix of postpartum hormones and the anxiety I've lived with all of my life. I am trying to remember to just engage with my babes when they're laughing and smiling because everything is alright right now and I have nothing to feel anxious about. Living with anxiety is an every day battle with trying to talk yourself out of feeling sad when you're not sure why you're sad in the first place. There's always background noise; things going on that are out of my control, but nothing to dwell on when I've got a happy home life.

Thank you for reading along and I will be back soon with a post that I've been wanting to share for a few months.

xo
-Ali

Monday, September 21, 2015

Home

source
While cleaning out my old nightstand, I came across a key. It was shoved in the the back of a drawer of a nightstand that I hadn't looked in in over a year. I couldn't think of what it was to, but only for a moment until a rush of emotion came over me and I realized that this was the key to my home.

My grandpa's house was across the street from a sea cliff overlooking the beach in San Clemente.. I didn't realize at the time that this place, smelling of ocean air, old wood, and 1970's shag carpeting, was my safe place.
My dad would pick my sister and I up every other weekend and, for me, it was like being transported a world away from my life of school, homework, arguments with my sister, and every day life. Even after I turned eighteen and my dad didn't need to take us on the weekends anymore, I still drove down there a lot to see my grandpa; sometimes cousins would be visiting from up North, sometimes it was just my grandpa or my dad, sometimes I'd bring a friend along.. no matter what, "The Ark" was always there for me to go home to for most of my life.

I've lived in seventeen different homes. Whether it was with my mom, my dad, with friends and family, or on my own, I've been a gypsy all of my life with dreams of settling down in one place. When I stumbled upon the key to my grandpa's home, I was reminded of the hope I had for my own stable future and now my families.

I am often envious of Rory's childhood; he had one home to rest his head at night. The 1950's track home he moved in to at six months old is still the one his parents reside in almost forty years later. Nearly forty years of the Christmas tree in the same spot, opening presents in the same living room, memories made under the same roof. I look back on my childhood and see my moms hardships, one Christmas at mom's and another at Dad's, clothes in a suitcase... always feeling unsettled.

I take all these memories of mine.. the moves, the traveling on the 405 for hours a month, the leases and hopes for a longer stay in the next place, the stability of the Mellin home on the other side of the valley, and strive for a more stable life for my kids. I cherish the home we're in now that I love, that Rory loves and that Logan even loves (she calls this rental her "beautiful home"); this will always be our home where we became a family of four, where we grew in our marriage, as parents, as people. I hold on to the hope that we can build memories in this home for many years and can one day buy a home of our own that our children and grandchildren can come back to for the rest of our lives.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Weekend Snapshots - An Attempt at an Anniversary Celebration


The weeks leading up to our anniversary, I had been scouring Groupon and Living Social for some kind of deal on a hotel for one night either in Santa Barbara or San Diego; we wanted to take the kids away for the weekend to celebrate. Unfortunately, hotel rates were absurd and we settled on a day trip to the Aquarium in Long Beach. We talked it up the morning of with Logan and she was so excited on the drive down. When we got there, she was not amused. Before we even walked in the door, Wesley spit up right in my freshly washed hair (moms, you get it right? Immediately stinky before the day even began). So in we walk, smelling like vomit, all of us sweating.. this is how we began. I did my best to shake off the acidy spit up smell that I wreaked of and the fact that every inch of me was dripping and overheated to encourage Logan to look at "all of the awesome ocean creatures" and she just wasn't in to it.

"Logan, look! Wow a seahorse!"
"Where mom? Oh. Put me down. I'm done. Let's do something else."

She did have a few moments of enjoyable time while at the "touch tank"; a shark even accidentally touched her and she didn't have a melt down. Unfortunately, mama cut the outside time at the touch tank short because I felt like I was going to pass out and die in the heat. We ventured back inside hoping that Logan would have a better time now that she had been having fun outside, but no. Some scuba divers were cleaning a tank that we walked through and she was horrified. There was a few minutes of hyperventilation and lots of stares from strangers which I felt super uncomfortable with because I wasn't quite sure if they were staring at her or me; sweating, hair a mess, face red, and smelling of puke. Needless to say, we were done. A quick walk through the gift shop where we bought nothing and out the door we went.

At least there was one smiling kid...
We darted out the door to a restaurant because we were all cranky and hungry.. Logan played with her food, the one thing I got at that particular restaurant wasn't on their menu; you know, continued chaos. After lunch, I again tried to shake off the crap shoot that had been our day and suggested we take a little stroll around the harbor... I lasted a few minutes before telling Rory we needed to get in our air conditioned car immediately.

Happy anniversary to us! Maybe next year we'll plan for something strictly indoors with no dark rooms or crowds.

xo
-Ali

Friday, August 28, 2015

Four Years


Four years ago I married my best friend; we stood in front of the most important people in our lives and promised to love each other no matter what life threw at us. Over the last four years, we've had three stressful moves, two babies, lots of big life decisions, we said goodbye to our kitty babies, made new friends, and we've changed. We've grown together, we have supported and loved each other through it all and there's no one else I'd rather live this life with. Every day I am reminded at how incredibly lucky I am to be Rory's wife; when I see him playing with our kids, caring for and loving them, and am also reminded when each morning he rides off to work to try as hard as he can to provide for his family. No one compares to this man.Today's the day we celebrate our anniversary, but truly, I celebrate every day.

xo
-Ali

see more wedding photos here and here

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Smelling the Roses

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Our four year wedding anniversary is just about a week away, our first baby is nearly three years old, we have another sweet girl in our family, we've been on this adventure together for seven years in five different homes and it seems like it all has happened in the blink of an eye. I so vividly remember going to the house on Tulsa to meet the roommates, to see if I was a good fit to move in. I remember coming back the next day to meet Rory; in he walked with some sort of beat up sports shoes, camo shorts and an oil stained shirt.. little did we both know that first meeting was the first meeting we'd have with the person we'd spend our lives with. Seven years, gone by in a flash.

Everything seems so rushed in this adult life; rushing to be dating then engaged then married then to have babies. Once the babies come it's rushing to appointments and rushing to play dates and rushing to get the dishes washed, the laundry done and the meals made. Logan's  little friends are now being rushed off to preschool... I don't even want to think of that now. 

We've been so busy lately which I enjoy because it makes the weekends come quicker, but the weekends are rushed through as well and we're back to Monday doing it all over again. There's always somewhere to be these days and I feel as if I'm running through it all and not really living.


Tonight, I had just finished some dinner and Rory was holding a sleeping baby when Logan cried out. I went upstairs to her bedside to re tuck her so I could head back downstairs to the dishes but I decided to lay next to her instead. She cried for a while, I held her and tucked her hair behind her ear, told her I loved her and cherished that moment. I studied her face, the gap in her front teeth, her upper lip that's shaped like a perfect "M" (just like mine), her cabbage patch cheeks, her slightly turned up nose, the curls that draped over her neck; I want to remember every bit of her two year old self. 
Tonight, I took some advice; I put my other responsibilities on hold and stopped to smell the roses.

xo
-Ali

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Late Night Thoughts

photo by Ressull Salvi Photography
It's almost midnight and  I'm lying here next to a snoring baby as I type away on my phone. I've sat down a time or two to blog; I even start posts in my head that I intend to work on later, but it always gets away from me. The few times that I've actually sat down at the computer and opened up blogger is after I've fed both kids, gotten the baby to sleep, managed to eat something quickly myself and then before I know it, the baby is awake and needs to eat again or Logan needs to be taken to the bathroom. One sweet girl is always in need of something, if not both.

The truth is that lately I've had quite a lot on my plate. There's been the uncertainty of Rory's job (which thankfully led to a good outcome), the recovery of childbirth and adjusting to life with two almost completely by myself as Rory had no kind of paternity leave, trying to eat well, lose that hateful baby weight, battling with doctors offices, holding on the line for the county medi-cal  office for an hour while caring for two kids, sitting in the lobby of a medi-cal office for two hours with both kids and managing a pee mess from Logan during our wait, calling back and forth to all four companies that make up our family insurance, writing letters of financial hardship, sifting through piles of papers, washing dishes, laundry (so much laundry), family in town weekend after weekend after weekend... I've been plowing through it all by myself and am ready to be on the other side of it all already. I'm not really stressed or anxious; I actually feel quite numb to it all at this point. I feel as if this financial chaos and being in a  constant state of "busyness" has been life for such an extended amount of time that I just am existing through it all.
I hate that.


Today was my mom's birthday and we hosted a little celebration. I had the thought to go get her her favorite cake before everyone arrived and I asked Logan if she'd like to come with me.. Just her and I. We left Rory and Wesley at home and even though it was a short trip, it felt so wonderful to just enjoy her company. I felt a lot of guilt rushing in after we got home as I started to think about what she could be feeling over the last ten weeks. 
The night we got home from the hospital, Rory had put Logan to bed and when he came downstairs he got pretty emotional and expressed his worry about Logan feeling neglected. I read something about "how to play with your toddler while caring for a newborn" and each time Wesley falls asleep and I turn on the TV for Logan so I can make phone call after phone call regarding insurance and bills, that article rings in the back of my mind; I should be playing with her.. I should be more attentive and I feel angry at all the outsiders who are taking away the time I have with her, but it must be taken care of. Claims have to be questioned and readjusted and kids need ID numbers and copies of birth certificates to do anything... There's a lot of nonsense to get through right now.



I started to think about some last blog posts and I believe I have been talking about "hoping for a small getaway with my family" for well over a year now and still, nothing has happened. I'm envious of friends who jet off on the weekends, I wish we had that type of life. Our anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks and we've been looking at all of the coupon sites for a bargain on a hotel room and some sort of family friendly activity so that we can actually go away and do something that's not a trip to  Home Depot or the mall... I have high hopes that something will work out. I need a short trip out of what my reality is right now. I need a break from the phone calls and the paper work and the statements in the mail. I need to have some days where I can be fully immersed in my family and just enjoy.

I know the bills will stop coming and that the insurance issues will get straightened out; everything should be taken care of in a matter of weeks, I just can't wait to get there so we can start living a better quality of life.

xo
-Ali

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rain Drops on Roses and...



- Logan saying "I love you mommy. You're my best friend in the whole wide world."

- Wesley's routine of eye rolls, smiles and frowny faces when she's falling asleep.

-The sound of the garage opening after 5pm (that means dad is home).

- Lying on the ground, by myself, staring at the stars. A favorite memory is sneaking down to Uncle Bill's dock in Big Bear, braving my fear of the bats, lying down in his boat, reveling in the beauty that is clear mountain air and making wishes on satellites (because I never see shooting stars).

-Finding a shirt that fits at Anthropologie in the SALE section.

- A newly discovered treat: Paleo mug brownies

- Logan singing along to my favorite Disney songs. Her favorites are "Jolly Holiday" from Mary Poppins and "Yo Ho Yo Ho (a Pirates Life for Me)".

- My relationships. I have opened my heart to more people in the last year than I have in my life time. I have some best girl friends that mean the world to me, my family relationships are finally healthy, my friendships are strong; my heart is feeling full.

- Showers! Real talk: I have a two year old and a six week old.. a shower doesn't happen every day.

- Family time.. just the four of us. I love seeing Logan smile and learn. I love how Logan adores her dad (and vice versa) . I love that Logan in concerned about her sister; "Don't forget baby sister, mama!". My life in this family of four is everything I've dreamed of.

....these are a few of my favorite things.

xo
-Ali

Monday, July 20, 2015

Choices


Today could have been an awful day; there was a lot of noise and chaos in the background as well as a flat tire and $80 gone to replace it. But there was also a lunch date with my mom, a dear friend came over to catch up, and there was lots of "I love you mom"'s and sweet baby smiles.

Choosing to rise above, see the good, and live in love is the most important lesson I could have ever learned.

xo
-Ali

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Making Memories in Rain Boots

It rained today, finally. As you can tell by my neighbors deceased grass in the background, we really need it here in Southern California. We had been out most of the day and returned home to a down pour so Rory got Logan in her coat and boots and let her splash around in the street (we live on a cul de sac so don't freak out at me). I love watching her have these special moments you really only get to have in your childhood; it fills my soul up and makes me feel like I am giving her the little things that turn in to the big things that matter.

The last month was really difficult and my little family struggled; we were in the midst of some big life changes and it was hard to see the other side in the thick of it all. Luckily, we always make it somehow. Luckily, we have each other. And luckily, we're doing okay now. But in that moment of total desperation and despair, I felt like my kids were going to get the childhood I got; homeless and not full of good memories. Not that I don't have a few good memories of laughing with my sister, beach trips with my dad and silly nights with my mom, when I look back I see a struggle; a struggle for my mom to survive with two kids, a   struggle for my sister and I to adjust to whatever persons house we were crashing at at the time. I never felt secure and my biggest fear is for my children to have to live through what I did. I know money doesn't buy you happiness, but it definitely buys a peace of mind that you'll be able to give your kids the things you may not have had.

This rain is washing away the stress of the last several weeks and is bringing a freshness to our lives. We are so blessed with two healthy girls and with each other; I truly have the best partner in life and I am so thankful. We stress over bills just like most people and are trying to make it through each day while making some little (but big) memories along the way.

xo
-Ali

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

We're so incredibly lucky to have the most selfless and loving man as our dad! We wish everyone a Happy Father's Day!

xo
The Mellin Girls

 
P.S. Check out this post for a throw back to baby Logan's first Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

And Now We Are Four


Saturday, June 6th at 1:01 in the afternoon, our sweet Wesley finally decided she was ready to meet her family. She was an easy and quick delivery (two contractions and three pushes that had her out in less than ten minutes) and is an easy and sweet baby. She sleeps well, she doesn't really cry... she is the exact opposite of what her sister was like as a newborn!
We've been taking it easy over here in the Mellin house since Wesley's arrival and are happy to just be getting to know each other. Logan has reacted just as I thought she would to her new baby sister; she is helpful and sweet but totally not interested. Logan is thrilled to get diapers, bottles, blankets, and likes to play the piano for Wesley if she "needs cheering up", but when you ask her if she'd like to give Wesley a kiss or would like to hold her, she says "Uh, no thanks." 
Perhaps once Wesley gets a little more interesting, Logan will want to interact with her.

I feel so grateful during this postpartum period as opposed to how I felt after Logan; it's such a world of difference. I have recovered much quicker, Wesley is breastfeeding better (even though I'm not making much), and there's no sign of gastrointestinal issues in baby; we're all feeling comfortable and happy. I'm able to enjoy my kids right now and it's the greatest feeling.

xo
-Ali

Monday, June 1, 2015

Lately

Yup, I am still pregnant and though my due date is tomorrow, I am feeling like there is no end in sight. I keep thinking I'll be some phenomena and be pregnant for all of my life with this kid. Despite the days of contractions and "maternal feelings" and bouncing on a birthing ball, she's just enjoying herself in there and is keeping us very anxiously waiting. 

The last month has been the hardest; being so pregnant with a toddler is definitely a different experience than being pregnant with no kid. Somehow I've transitioned Logan in to a big girl room and potty trained her in the last trimester of this pregnancy and have overall managed to keep up with her; though I have to admit that when Rory gets home I fully take advantage of passing over most all parental duties to him until bedtime so I can sit on the couch with my feet up for what's usually the first time that day (Logan doesn't nap anymore by the way!).

We've been busy with doctor's appointments, allergist appointments, mama's doctor appointments, a brief hospital stay, gymnastics and lots and lots of parties/bbq's that filled up each and every weekend of our calendar last month. I'm feeling relieved that it's June because my calendar is empty (aside from a few doctor's appointments) and from what I'm told, this baby should be here at some point this month. June, I welcome you!

xo
-Ali