Year One in California

Now what?

A tiny bit over a year ago, we moved to California. Saturday, we celebrated Owen being 9 months old by having a crawfish boil and enjoying the company of friends old and new. The in between of the two milestones feels overwhelming. How could so much have happened in such a small frame of time?

I spent a lot of time listening and trying to be in the moment, but I was also distracted by the constant compare and contrast in my head between what we have here versus what we had back in Texas. The presence of cajun food probably didn’t help. However, I am finally in a place where my heart has healed enough from the past year to allow myself to feel and be happy.

For my family, California was obviously the best choice for us. We walk to pizza night with our boys on Fridays with Nana and Papa. We’re 10 minutes from the beach and an hour to the snow. Our older son is getting a fantastic Montessori education, two blocks down from our home. I walk him to and from school every day. We have 8 young children on our cul-de-sac to become life long playmates, four of which are the children of my husband’s childhood playmates. My in laws live four houses down and pop in randomly with extra formula from Costco or chocolate croissants from C’est Si Bon. I left Owen’s 9 month check up with him in the 45th percentile for growth and a pat on the back for having a perfect baby, despite him being 11 weeks early. To say life is now picturesque or ideal for our family is an understatement. (Oh, did I mention we now also have Disney Land resident Passes?)

But as for my journey…

It’s been hard. Insert an expletive or two in there. If you gave me one of those stress tests with the checkboxes of big life events from the past year, I’d have at least 80% checked. Big move, career change, hospital bed rest, premature baby, financial strain… but the biggest strain on my heart, after it was all said and done, has been my personal crisis. Who am I? As a Californian? As a stay at home mom? Who am I if I don’t teach? Who am I as a mom of two? Who am I as Cameron’s wife? What kind of person do I want to be here, or am I somehow supposed to somehow feel and be the same person I was a year ago?

Finally, I would say since we got back from our first trip to Texas since we moved, I am starting to come to terms with the unknown. I’m letting go, like peeling duct tape off a sunburn, of the anger and resentment and fear of the future.

After applying for every English teaching position in Orange County and getting some of the loveliest rejections, I’ve thrown in the towel and turned my focus toward the creative again. It is hard to have been hired the day of an interview for literally every other job I’ve had, and then have radio silence for months.

One of my favorite mugs from @sophieandlili and a source of internal motivation… that and caffeine of course.

Ten years ago, I was accepted into the Savanna College of Art and Design. I was full of naivety. I was going to be an advertising designer and work on campaigns like Truth or Red and save the world from nicotine and cure HIV with my creativity. However, my parents talked me out of going. I instead majored in English. I went to Texas State down the road. It was a safe choice. I hope I inspired one or two out of the approximately 700 hundred students I had, but my heart just isn’t in teaching anymore. Now, after MUCH introspection I’m starting my own business.

My mom listened to my ideas while I rambled over and over on the phone (moms are good at that) and she decided I could be successful. She admitted she felt bad that I never went to art school and encouraged me to get started. Later this week I’ll pick up a starter set of screen printing equipment.

Her call was a baby push. And I know, if I want to do this project right, it’s going to take baby steps. Delayed gratification. Planning and budgeting. Time. So right now, a year of California behind us, 9 months of Owen being our miracle, and finally something for me to feel pride in – I’m starting the business plan for Practiced Positivity, a custom screen printing and vinyl shop. Its my project, my contribution to our family, and hopefully a future for me here.

What those stuck in the hospital REALLY need…

First, I, with every ounce of my soul, deeply appreciate everything I have been given to keep me occupied or beautified. I totally bedazzled a unicorn the other day and painted my nails complete with nail stickers. I, however, did want to give some pointers on what to gift to help those who might also be bed ridden, bored, and possibly hormonal.

Classic insta post cataloging our friendship

I collaborated with my very close, soul sister level, amazing friend Abby to make these lists for you. We met eight years ago, long before we even knew our husbands, or had degrees, or had very much of life figured out. We were just good friends waiting tables and eating Chimy’s Taqueria together. Over time, I learned she is Wonder Woman. Shortly after I began teaching 9th grade with her five years ago, she had a 41 day hospital stay surrounding her heart-lung transplant. If anyone knows how to make the best of an unfavorable situation like a long term hospital stay, it’s her.

The Starter Kit (Possibly for shorter stays with a concrete release date)

  • Lotion
  • Lip Balm
  • Face Moisturizer
  • Book or two
  • Journal
  • Fun Pens
  • Coloring or activity book/Colored Pencils
  • Comfy/Compression Socks
  • Snacks
  • Jacket
  • Body Wipes
Little something something from my high school friend Elisa, who THANK THE LORD, also ended up in California. I have a thing for Narwhals, so she adopted this one from the Monterey Bay Aquarium on my behalf.

Hospitals are terribly cold, and so DRY. I haven’t really felt the need to wash my hair just because I feel like I’m not producing oil. I have leg dandruff. Ew. Which especially means if the person you’re shopping for is also in danger of bedsores, good quality moisturizers make a world of difference. While staying busy, I am a fan of a good phone game like Words with Friends, but sometimes I just don’t want to stare at a screen for a while. The activity & coloring books I’ve been gifted are good for giving my eyes a break while still working my brain. However, if the nurses use the phrase, “you may want to bring some comforts from home…” because you’re not going home anytime soon, use the next list.

The Long Haul

  • Cozy blanket or pillow from home (the below picture features my wedge pillow, which supports my baby bump, and I love it)
  • Favorite coffee/tea mug
  • Water bottle
  • Long term crafts
  • Board Games/Cards
  • Gaming device
  • Apple TV/Amazon Firestick
  • Journal
  • Laptop/ Tablet
  • French Press/Pour Over/Tea Bags
Care package from my also pregnant friend Danae, complete with bluebonnets from Texas and lots of mini crafts! I am so used to us glitter bombing each other I basically surgically dissected everything from the bag. It took about 10 minutes. No glitter was found.

When Abby was in the hospital, she made everyone friendship bracelets. I wore mine like a badge of honor until it fell off. I’ve picked up macrame. (Which, by the way, is just a REALLY BIG friendship bracelet! They use the same knots.) Our friend circle during her transplant stay had a rotating schedule of going to visit. It kept Abby from getting too tired of any one of us. We usually ordered queso or cookies and watched a lot of girlie T.V. like Vampire Diaries. If you’re swinging by to keep someone company, try and keep what you bring simple.

Swing by Gifts

  • Snack food- especially favorites from local restaurants
  • One time use crafts
  • One time use self care (Like face or eye masks)

This list is short for a reason. After a while, stuff accumulates. Even stuff from home. Eventually, someone’s partner, parents, children, or designated awesome person has to take all of that home. So when you swing by, its best to bring things that are consumable and wont take up space they might not have. The other day my friend Monica brought by carne asada fries and oh my goodness they were HEAVEN to my pregnant soul.

Personal Favor

I want to say, on a personal note, I will never ever turn down a good book. I didn’t major in English because I love having a useless degree. I love literature! However, I also don’t need anything, after being here a month (Yes, ALREADY), I’m pretty set. If you decide you need send or bring us something, send something from our baby registry to the house. I can’t nest from here, or do any baby shopping. Which is probably for the best for the bank account. I’m sure my husband is already seeing a small savings from my inability to go to Target unsupervised. However, the biological urge to nest is definitely NOT being satisfied from here. I am sure there are many other mamas on bed rest who would share the same request.

Link to Registry

Final Note

I am having a rough week. The itch to be and do something productive has hit me pretty hard. So this week’s countdown is to Abby’s visit. ONLY four more days until my very amazing Abby is coming to California to visit and keep me company. I cannot say enough how emotionally healing it is to have someone who is full of positivity and support keep you stable. I know she’s been there done this, and even when she wasn’t even at 60%, she made it look so easy. While my husband is doing a beyond amazing job for me and our family, sometimes you need to lean on someone besides your partner. Abby is my good friend, work wife, matron of honor, permanent favorite coffee date, and I cannot WAIT for her presence to be in my bubble. (Sorry, Abby, that I am forever trying to poison you with hazelnut biscotti or macaroons.) A huge thank you for letting me share part of your story, and for sharing your expertise.

Little snap from our wedding day.

How to survive hospital bed rest

I have officially been in the hospital three weeks. My perspective is not the same as many others I know who have been bed bound because, well, I’m not sick. I’m not battling a disease or fighting off infection or recovering from a surgery. I feel really good. The part of this process I am struggling with is knowing I will not be going home anytime soon, and when I do, life won’t be the same.

So if you happen to find yourself, like me, stuck in bed for weeks or maybe even months, here are some of my tips for making the most of bed rest.

First, create a schedule or routine. Mine changes if I happen to get a visitor besides my family or have unexpected medical things that have to get done (like an extra ultrasound). I try to stick to it so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my day.

My amazing pour over from Tribo Coffee

I wake up, force myself to get up out of bed, and wash my face and brush my teeth. Then I turn on the news and make myself a cup of coffee. I have to ask my nurse nicely for hot water to do so, but its worth it. My husband bought me amazing pour overs so I don’t have to drink the watered down hospital Folgers. I also have an Ember mug that keeps my coffee warm, so if I’m interrupted, I can still enjoy my coffee after everyone leaves. The mornings have lots of interruptions between vital checks and medications and doctor check ins and baby stress monitoring. After Good Morning America wraps up, I turn the T.V. off, pick a playlist on Spotify and do a craft until lunchtime, or until I finish. After lunch, I usually read or color until my husband or father in law and son come to visit. They usually hang out until dinner time. We often go for walks or if the weather isn’t great we just color together in my room. Sometimes we do dinner together, sometimes I eat the hospital dinner and they eat at home. After they leave I’m usually pretty bummed and wishing I could go with them, so I binge watch happy T.V. to distract myself. Once the nurses come by in the evening I make a cup of tea and once its empty, I make myself turn off the lights and go to bed.

Showing off my son’s and my artistic skills.

Second, do the little things that make you feel human.

I always shower in the morning and put on a minimal amount of makeup. It’s usually just concealer under my eyes and mascara, but it makes me look so much more awake. I take the time to moisturize and use belly butter on my bump. If I am feeling really motivated, I will blow dry my hair too. I try to clip or paint my nails once a week. These little things make me feel less like a baby making zombie. And yes, it feels insane to basically say, “do basic self care and hygiene!” But when you don’t have anywhere to go and your only responsibility is to ‘drink water, grow baby’, sometimes its hard just to wash your face or get out of bed. I also have my own butter and coffee creamer. Every hospital has a different set up, but I have a small mini fridge that I can keep some snacks in. Having my coffee taste like mine is HUGE. I order a lot of my snacks through Whole Foods PrimeNow, so if you’re in a bigger city, see if it delivers to your area. It saves your family a trip to the store and you get exactly what you want and not the weird brand your person decided was ‘better’.

Third, make your wardrobe work for you.

My failed attempt at trying to take a picture of my cute pants, but because I am pregnant and have NO balance, I tipped over. Don’t tell my nurse.

One pretty great part about being a long term antepartum patient is that I don’t have to wear a hospital gown every day. I have chosen to live life in compression socks, compression yoga pants (the fear of blood clots is real y’all), and basic maternity t-shirts. The compression socks are a non-negotiable with my doctors. I chose to order cute ones from Amazon rather than wear the 1940’s style, thigh high, nude colored hosiery offered by the hospital. The nurses like them and they’re doctor approved. Old Navy, yes the partner company to the Gap, actually has amazing maternity basics online that aren’t expensive. Plus, a lot of their pants have fit options for your belly based on what trimester you’re in. (WHAT A CONCEPT!) I also have plenty of house sweaters my husband is nice enough to rotate out for me as they get messy. A house sweater, for reference, is a sweater you own that is super comfy and probably well broken in that is socially acceptable to wear in your HOUSE but not really in public. You own them, I own them, one probably used to be your partners but you stole it, they’re a necessity.

Fourth, talk to someone outside the hospital every day who isn’t your partner or parent.

I am a very social person who thrives on contact, so I like talking to lots of people. However, there is something to be said about having someone who you can talk to who will give an outside perspective to the world and doesn’t have any responsibilities for your care. They’ll help keep you centered and remind you of the life outside your immediate circle.

Fifth, create excuses for positivity.

Countdown the days until a milestone, or a visit from someone important, or a holiday. Do things you can be proud of. I’m pretty crafty, a lot of people aren’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create something worthwhile. Youtube and Pinterest are pretty infinite in terms of ideas to keep you occupied and how to’s. Ask the volunteers to go on walks. There are lots of young college students wandering around eager to refill water and would love an excuse to not stock nursing supplies. I was gifted a coloring book with positive quotes. They take forever to color, but sometimes just reading through the quotes themselves helps.

I am very lucky that I have a really positive and supportive village. People who have known me a really long time know that I wasn’t always a consistent ray of sunshine. I think over time I trimmed out the people in my life that weighed me down and surrounded myself instead by people I wanted to be more like. They’re all happy, and positive, and choose to be inspiring and motivating. The older I get, the less tolerance I have for things that weigh my heart down. So I’m hoping by keeping up with the positive ways I’m getting through this, I can help someone else do it to.

Links to buy the things:

Coffee pour overs: https://www.amazon.com/TRIBO-Single-Serve-Portable-Specialty-Roasted/dp/B07B8P7247/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=tribo%2Bcoffee&qid=1553730059&s=gateway&sr=8-2&th=1

Ember Mug: https://www.amazon.com/Ember-EMBFJ-CM171000US-Temperature-Control/dp/B07D93QWXG/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=ember+mug&qid=1553730311&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

Maternity compression pants: https://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=417966012&cid=1129586&pcid=1053229

Compression socks: https://www.amazon.com/Compression-Socks-Women-Men-Travel-20-25/dp/B07JQXDZLV/ref=sr_1_20?keywords=compression+socks+women&qid=1553730205&s=gateway&sr=8-20

Basic maternity tops: https://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=434926002&cid=1096124&pcid=1090999

Inspirational Coloring book: https://www.amazon.com/Inspirational-Colouring-Book-Everyone-Fearless/dp/1640010734/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=positivity+coloring+book&qid=1553730758&s=gateway&sr=8-4