Friday, December 2, 2011

Are you there, blog? It's me, Paige.

As I sat down to write this, I realized that I haven't showered in two days. Whoops. At least I combed my hair today. That's something.

So goes my life recently. Somehow it seems that every moment of the day is crammed full of activity, from waking up in the morning to getting Carter out the door and off to school to Griffin-Griffin-Griffining all day to picking up Carter at night, putting both kids to bed, washes bottles, making food for us, and passing out on the couch (I wonder how many times I've used the phrase "passing out on the couch" on this blog. It's in the double-digits, no doubt). My mother calls to harass me regularly, reminding me to sleep when he sleeps, put my feet up and relax, all that good stuff. But there are dishes to be done, counters to scrub, and closets to organize (you trying packing clothes for TWO children into one small bedroom. It's like an episode of "Hoarders" up in here).

And despite the nonstop semi-chaos, I actually feel pretty damn great. The boys and I are getting over little colds (with the help of the Nosefrida, my latest and greatest investment. Oh God, how I love it. I could write a sonnet about sucking snot out of my kids' noses) but otherwise I am soaking in the holiday spirit. Thanksgiving was lovely, our tree (and accompanying tree-circling toy train) is up, and I'm looking forward to spending a week with my family up north for Christmas. And I still have two more months of maternity leave. Life is good, folks.

Griffin is a blissfully easy baby. He rarely cries, with the occasional exception of during the five o'clock witching hour when he's inevitably overtired and trapped in his carseat en route to pick up his brother. For the other 23 hours of the day, he's mellow yellow - since he was about six weeks old, he's been sleeping from about 8pm until 3am, waking to nurse, and then immediately going back to sleep until about 6am. I know - WHAT?!? Carter was not this child. Carter was the wake-up-multiple-times-and-stare-at-Mommy-for-an-hour-until-he-is-bounced-back-to-sleep-on-the-damn-exercise-ball baby. Not so with his little brother. When G is done for the day, he is DONE, and does not seem to particularly want to see my face until the morning hours. I am fine with this.

He's a pretty big boy, weighing in at 12.2 lbs at his two-month check-up, smack in the 75th percentile, and has outgrown all his 0-3 month clothing already (HUH?? Tiny Carter worn that crap well into months 4 and 5). He naps well during the day, he is generous with his smiles and he has started giving me the occasional chuckle during Mommy's tickles.

Basically, he's that dangerous kind of baby that makes you want to have ten more just like him. YIKES. I'm a realist however, and fully acknowledge that having both a mellow toddler and mellow baby is like winning some kind of cosmic lottery, and to add another child to the mix will certainly ensure that #3 is pure devil spawn. One can't get lucky three times, after all. We shall see - at the moment, I am quite content with my boys.

Voila - Thanksgiving:

I have no pictures of my husband from Thanksgiving because he's generally on the other side of the camera. But I guarantee that if you shrunk him and put him in a diaper, he would look exactly like THIS:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I don't have any cute shots of my kids in Halloween costumes, as Carter refused to wear one and pitched a massive fit when we attempted to finagle him into both Cookie Monster and Dinosaur ensembles, so instead I stuck him in some plaid and overalls, let him carry his dump truck around, and called him a farmer. Behold:

He had a stuffed chicken and carrot too, but apparently he deemed them unworthy of schlepping about. I felt like a pretty crappy parent when we arrived at preschool to find EVERY other kid completely decked out in full-on Halloween costume regalia, but this just proves my theory that 1) my kid is an individual, and 2) my kid is the most stubborn creature alive.

Griffin was decked out in a Halloween sleeper and pumpkin hat, because, well, I'm just not that creative (oops...didn't even get a shot of the aforementioned pumpkin hat - alas):

Our attempt to go trick-or-treating was a massive failure - Carter wasn't remotely interested and by that point was beginning to get lethargic and croupy, plus, we evidently have the WORST neighborhood on earth for trick-or-treating anyway. We wandered around for awhile in search of pumpkins, other kids, or some small semblance of festivities, but there was NADA. Boo hiss, West Hollywood. Next year we'll drive to Beverly Hills and get Godiva and Rolexes in our plastic pumpkins.

What was NOT a massive failure? The dozens and dozens of sugar cookies that I made for Carter's preschool - pumpkins, ghosts and bats (two different sizes). At 11pm on October 30th as I stood in the kitchen frosting all those motherf-ers, I was wondering why I had been so ambitious. However, they turned out well and the kids ate 'em up. Sometimes I think maternity leave is really just one big excuse to bake. 'Tis the season!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Croup, and How Much It Sucks

What's more fun than a trip to the ER with a vomiting toddler with a 105-degree fever who can hardly breathe??

A trip to urgent care two days later with a feverish newborn.


So went our week, beginning Tuesday, when, after a sick day at home, Carter awoke in the early evening with extremely labored breathing, a hacking cough, buckets of vomit, and a scorching fever. Max rushed him to the ER, where they stayed for the next five hours as he received oxygen, steroids, and other good stuff like that. Croup, they said.


He's recovering well, I am happy to report. Fever is almost gone, cough (which sounded soooo classically croupy and seal-like) is much improved. Doctor says he can return to school on Monday. Little G is fine too - urgent care checked him out and said that as long as the mild fever stays under 100.4, we're okay. 100.4 and up merits another trip to the ER. Today he was in the 99's (fingers crossed and wood knocking, th-th-th over my shoulder).

Fortunately, I have not been alone in this madness, as my husband has been working short days and my awesome mother-in-law has been coming to help. I cannot imagine doing it alone, as keeping sick, coughing Carter occupied and separated from his (mostly healthy th-th-th) little brother as much as possible for entire days is no easy task. It's been a crash course in HOLY CRAP we have two kids now!!?!? Like Sara said, it's NO JOKE, people. Sheesh.

So it's been a rough couple of weeks, with mastitis giving way to croupiness and general mayhem. But as if to make up for it, my sweet little Finnster slept for 6.5 hours IN A ROW last night. Huzzah!

Friday, October 28, 2011

How I Met Your Father

Dear Boys,

As I write this, you are both still small. You won't care about this story just yet, as your days are spent plotting how to steal Mommy's phone in order to watch tractor videos, or snorting hungrily in the general direction of Mommy's boobs every two minutes (you know who you are).

But one day, you'll want to know how Mommy and Daddy met, and how you subsequently came to be. And this is what I'll tell you.

First, you should know that we live in Los Angeles. Now, Los Angeles is a nice place to live and has many wonderful qualities, but "ideal for locating quality individual with which to fall in love and subsequently marry" is not amongst them. It is the home of the struggling actor, the fledgling musician, the wayward drifter, and Mommy was growing tired of sifting through these bums and lowlifes. She knew your daddy was out there - she just didn't know how to find him.

This is where your Grandma comes in. See, your Grandma is a very smart lady, and as much as I hate to admit it, she's usually right (USUALLY, Mom). One day, Grandma made the keen observation that Mommy would never be able to marry someone who cannot spell and use proper grammar, so perhaps she should try online dating. That way, she pointed out, Mommy could see right away who could use the English language properly and who should have paid better attention in elementary school.

Mommy had to agree that Grandma had a point, so she set aside her long-held suspicions that internet dating was reserved only for trolls, losers and the socially maladjusted, and created a profile on a dating site.

Dudes started emailing Mommy. Most were perverts and/or could not distinguish between "your" and "you're." Mommy ignored them. One day, when she happened to be out of town visiting Grandma, they were sitting in their favorite coffee shop when an email popped up from a new prospective internet suitor. Only this one was different. The note, although fairly inane ("What are you doing for the fourth of July? I am going to a rock climbing gym"), was properly spelled and punctuated. The profile listed a love of wine, tortilla chips and jazz (um, have you MET Mommy??). And attached to the profile was a photo of a very, very handsome man - your future daddy.

"Look at this one," Mommy told Grandma. Grandma took one look and said "write him back." Mommy protested that it cost $19.99 to write him, since she had only signed up for the free trial and therefore could only receive emails, not reply to them (did I mention that Mommy is a cheapass?). "Write him back," Grandma said, and handed Mommy a twenty.

So write him Mommy did. But she didn't hear back. Nothing. For days. Weeks, even. One day she went on his profile. On the page there was a section that said "Number of messages you have sent this user: 1" and then "Number of messages this user has sent you: 3."

Huh? Three messages? Mommy had only received ONE, boys. Was he sending messages that she wasn't receiving? Was the internet conspiring against Mommy and Daddy?

She promptly emailed him again, in a last ditch effort to meet this cute chip-loving, wine-swilling jazz fan. She told him that she hoped she didn't sound like a stalker, but it seemed that perhaps he was sending her messages she wasn't receiving, and if that was the case, well, let's fix it because maybe we will meet and fall in love and have beautiful babies together one day (okay, she didn't actually say that last part. Mommy is pretty forward, but that's just ridiculous).

And you know what? This time, he wrote Mommy back and she GOT it. And she wrote back, a really witty, silly, snarky email in true Mommy fashion. And then he wrote again. And on and on it went, back and forth, for several weeks, until one day we had our very first date.

We went to Mexican food. We ate chips. We drank margaritas. We laughed a lot and talked too loud, and people at the tables next to us stared. Your daddy said to them "This is our first date - how do you think it's going??"

Afterwards, we wandered tipsily into the parking lot. Daddy started to say that he'd had such a great time, yadda yadda. And Mommy said "Is it over already?" because she is forward like that, as we have already established. So off we went, down the street to the famous Dresden Room to hear Marty and Elayne butcher some jazz classics. Mommy spilled wine on her shirt, and Daddy tried to kiss her and she wouldn't let him.

And then she did.

Later we sat in Mommy's car on the street and talked for a long time, our faces bathed in the glow of a dim streetlamp on that warm August night. Mommy doesn't remember exactly what we discussed, but by then she thought that maybe she was going to marry that man one day.

Daddy called her the very next day. He said "This might be weird, but what are you doing tonight?" So we went out again, on another marathon date, with dim candlelit and french food. We decided to be honest, to put all our flaws out there, on the table, so we wrote them down on the paper tablecloth - one column for Mommy and one for Daddy. Mommy still has it. Among other things, it says "Paige: can't make decisions" and "Max: procrastinator." Some things never change, boys.

And as we sat in the moonlight in Mommy's car that night, she was quite certain that she had finally found your father.

Just over a year later, Mommy and Daddy got all dressed up and stood in front of their families and friends and told them all about their hopes and dreams.

That was four years ago today, on a perfect autumn evening.

We didn't know what the world had in store for us. We were just kids.

We didn't know that we would be lucky enough to have two perfect little boys to share our lives.

We didn't know that we would be so happy, or so tired.

But here we are. All of us - our little family - together.

So my boys, I promise that I will do my best to teach you, love you, protect you, and help you become strong, kind and smart.

But if there's one thing I know is true, it is this: if you grow up to be one shred of the man your father is, you are very lucky little boys indeed.

Happy Anniversary, LOML. Thank you for our beautiful life.
Oh, and you still owe Grandma twenty bucks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mastitis, and How Much It Sucks

To say I'm a hypochondriac would be a slight understatement.

Just after Griffin was born, I noticed a spot on my face. It had always been there, or at least it had been there as long as I was really conscious of examining my face for flaws, which is to say AWHILE, and had never really bothered me. Yet suddenly, standing in the bathroom, unwashed, smelly, leaky, hormonal, I was absolutely certain that it was cancer. I rushed to the dermatologist (okay, I waited three weeks for an appointment, but by damn I entered that office quickly yesterday) demanding to have it checked. It was, of course, nothing (or a "subcute-something-blahblah-whatsit" according to the doctor). Ah.

A couple of days ago I was nursing Griffin when I glanced down and noticed a dark brown birthmark on his head, partially hidden in his impressive spread o' baby hair. The five seconds that followed went something like this in my brain: "What the-? A MOLE? Oh sweet jesus, it's melanoma. MY BABY HAS MELANOMA. Did he get too much sun at the pumpkin patch? Did he get ANY sun at the pumpkin patch?!?? Did the sun penetrate through his blanket, his stroller AND his hat and give him cancer at the pumpkin patch??"

Then I poked at it. It smeared. Chocolate. Oops.

So yeah, I get a wee bit neurotic about health issues (especially skin-related stuff - who hates the sun? I do! I do!). Fortunately, 99.99% of the time, my concerns prove to be unfounded.


When that .01% of my worries prove ACCURATE, it basically sends my mental universe into a freefall of "See?? SEE??? I KNEW IT!!" death, destruction, apocalypse, total shittiness

So you can imagine my reaction on Saturday after our trip to the pumpkin patch, when I started feeling a little under the weather - aches, chills, fever, crankiness, and um, WHAT THE HELL is wrong with my right boob??

Mastitis, bitches. That's what.

I kept it together long enough to call a doctor friend and have her call in an antibiotics prescription for me at the pharmacy. No, I will NOT mess around with natural remedies when it comes to my boobs and my precious milk supply. Plus, everything I read said that by the time it had progressed to fever (of 101.5, mind you) it was indeed a full blown infection and therefore required DRUGS! GIVE 'EM!

I'm only a few days into the ten-day prescription, and already feeling fairly normal, save for some residual breast soreness and swelling. But that swelling? See, I've convinced myself that it's an abscess. I am certain that I am in the .5% of women whose mastitis has gone unchecked long enough to develop into an abscess, so of course I will require surgery, etc etc etc crazypants etc. Never you mind that I realized what was happening and started treating it within hours of feeling crappy. Abscess! IT COULD HAPPEN!

Deep breath. Breathe in calm, breathe out stress. Thank you, hypnobirthing.

The ironic part of this is that mastitis is largely caused by milk stasis, which is when there is just TOO MUCH DAMN MILK in the boob and it's not adequately removed by the baby. So even though my kid is ginormous and nurses constantly, even he cannot quell the overproduction in my craaaaazy efficient right boob. I had deliberately not been pumping, or at least not pumping like a crazy fiend like I did with Carter, because I wanted to give myself a break and NOT necessarily ensure such a massive milk supply that I could feed a village of kids. I just wanted enough for one! That's it! So if I didn't pump as much, eventually it would stop producing so much, right?

Wrong, apparently. Or right, but only after said right boob TOTALLY SCREWS YOU in the mastitis department.


Well, this has just been all rainbows and unicorns, now hasn't it? Sorry, folks. It's not me, it's the boob talking.

Miss Mary Sunshine, signing off.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hot damn. Just a quick note to boast about my massive baby. We just had Griffin's four-week appointment at the pediatrician, and the boy is 10 lbs, 8 oz. That means he has gained TWO pounds (okay, 1 lb 14 oz, but close enough) since his last appointment two weeks ago. Two pounds in two weeks! He's in the 75th percentile for both weight AND height. Carter has been 10-25th percentile for his entire young life, so this is new to me. Let's hear it for the boobies, people.

...and now, because I want to zone out and watch some television before the baby wakes up, I leave you with two cute pictures of my awesome older son:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Baby Fashion Showdown!

Let's get all Us Weekly up in here, people! Who wore it better?!

Carter in Silly Goose (9 weeks):

Griffin in Silly Goose (almost 3 weeks):

Carter in Duck Jammies (8 weeks):

Griffin in Duck Jammies (2 weeks):

Carter in I Heart Daddy (5 weeks):

Griffin in I Heart Daddy (3 weeks):

Yes, I am going to have a LOT of fun with this...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

...and then there were four

Griffin is 19 days old today, and I must say that our transition to a family of four has been shockingly seamless (knocking wood, pt-pt-pt over the shoulder a la my little Russian mother-in-law). I spend a lot of time feeling incredulous and waiting for the other shoe to drop, for all hell to break loose, for Carter to become a little demon.

As is, Carter is handling Big Brotherhood like a complete champ. When we brought the baby home, Griffin immediately presented his big brother with a present - a BIG, YELLOW BULLDOZER (all caps necessary, as any and all machines are VERY EXCITING in this house). Carter was overjoyed, and thanked the baby profusely. Perhaps Griffin's initial gesture of generosity helped to secure a special place in Carter's heart, because the Roo is remarkably chill about the new arrival. So far his interactions with the baby are limited to watching me nurse ("Mommy's boobie is leaking - like a cow!!) and to trying to calm the baby if he fusses in the car ("It's okay, baby - we'll be home soon."). Otherwise, Carter goes about his business as usual and pays little attention to his little brother, other than to immediately notify me if the baby is waking up or needs to be fed ("Mommy, the baby is crying!"). Happily, he has shown absolutely no aggression toward the baby, or toward Mommy (halle-freaking-lujah). I suspect this is because Carter's a very verbal kid and is therefore able to tell me exactly what he wants and needs - "Mommy, put the baby in the swing and come sit with Carter!" - so he doesn't need to get frustrated and lash out...? Or maybe I just have a really chill toddler. Either way, I'll take it.

Griffin is a dream baby (more frantic wood-knocking, pt-pt-pt). Throughout my pregnancy, I joked that he would no doubt be a demon because Carter had been such a mellow baby, and you can't get lucky twice, right? However, in the past couple of weeks I've come to realize something - Carter WASN'T easy. As my mother and mother-in-law reminded me, we had to swaddle-shoosh-swing-etc-etc and generally Harvey Karp the crap out of him to get him to sleep, he loathed the car and screamed incessantly when strapped into his car seat, and he reduced my boobs to bloodied shells of their former selves for the entire first month post-partum. Both grandmas vividly recall babysitting experiences in which they frantically bounced a swaddled, screaming Carter on our birth ball, desperately hoping for sleep baby, sleeeeeeep...

It seems I'd forgotten all of that. I'd forgotten that he was swaddled for each and every nap and night until at least five months old, when I was beginning to suspect that I would send him off to college with an adult-sized Miracle Blanket. I'd forgotten popping him into the Moby Wrap and suffering for the initial five solid minutes of screaming until he finally conked out. I'd (almost) forgotten the excruciating pain with every latch-on for four solid weeks.

...and then there was little Fin (Finn? Can I include an extra 'n' at the end of his nickname that isn't in the name itself? I have yet to decide). And in good, easy, second-child tradition, he doesn't require ANY of that madness. I swaddle him at night in order to get him to sleep longer, but he doesn't need it. We cruise to and from Burbank (30+ minutes each way) twice a day to take Carter to school, with nary a peep of protest from the car seat. I can count on one hand the number of sizable cries he has had. And nursing - nursing has been SO EASY that I am quite certain it's a gift from the gods to compensate for the initial post-partum hormonal hell that was month one with Carteroo.

I have no doubt that chronicling my good fortune in this manner is sure to tempt fate and send worlds of chaos showering down upon my weary (oh god, so, so weary - another thing I'd forgotten. How is it possible to be this tired and remain upright?) head, but I'm willing to risk it.

I have basically spent the past 19 days wandering around in a dreamy, joyous state, mumbling "I feel like I'm living in a dream" and other such hokey things, because I am just really, really happy, and so in love with my little family.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Griffin's Birth Story

I currently have a sleeping baby with a full tummy, so I am taking advantage of that fact to write his birth story before all the little details slip from my exhaustion-addled mind into the oblivion of new motherhood.

First of all, Griffin's birth was very different than Carter's two years ago. My labor with Carter was fairly textbook (that is, until the cord-wrapping, oxygen-needing, fetal-monitoring part), with a clear beginning and gradual build. With Griffin, it seemed as though I was in labor for weeks before he actually chose to grace us with his presence.

I had been having Braxton-Hicks for months prior to his birth, and they had gradually become stronger and stronger in the two or three weeks beforehand. The weekend before Griffin's birth (he's another Tuesday's child!) the contractions had begun to intensify, but there was no regular pattern, and they still weren't particularly uncomfortable.

On Friday night, I had a couple of trickles of fluid that I thought might have signaled a water leakage, so on Sunday we went to labor and delivery to check and have the baby monitored (yes, we are idiots and waited 36 hours to call - the midwife was not pleased with us). Fortunately, my water was intact and baby was fine. The attending physician offered to strip my membranes, but I decided to hold out until my Tuesday appointment and let my midwife do it then if they baby hadn't already come.

On Monday I went back to the hospital for more fetal monitoring - evidently this is standard when you've reached FORTY-ONE weeks of pregnancy. Again, all was well.

Finally, on Monday night I lost part of my mucus plug - hallelujah (if you're squeamish about such things as mucus plugs, you should not be reading this blog)! Mind you, this happened SIX DAYS prior to Carter's birth, so I had been on the lookout for this impending-labor sign for days, but to no avail. Fortunately, within an hour I began feeling contractions, and they were finally beginning to feel somewhat productive. This was around 5:30 or 6pm that evening, when I was on my way home from preschool with Carter.

Contractions continued all evening in a fairly regular pattern - 10-12 minutes apart, but only 30-45 seconds each. They intensified that night, and I labored all night long as contractions hit anywhere from 5-10 minutes apart. Much like Carter's labor, no sleep for me. They were much stronger while I was lying down, but still weren't particularly painful and each one lasted only 30-45 seconds, so I didn't think too much of it. Again, at this point I was pretty sure I was going to be pregnant forever.

In the morning, my sister-in-law came to take Carter to school and Max and I optimistically prepared ourselves for what would hopefully be baby's birthday. We went to Starbucks and took a walk around the neighborhood (total deja vu from another Tuesday almost exactly two years ago), during which contractions increased to four minutes apart and about a minute long, and I began to feel the first glimmer that this might actually be the real thing.

Unfortunately, when we arrived back home, things slowed down again - back to 8-10 minutes apart and of varying intensity. My mother had just flown in from Sonoma County that morning, and arrived at our place to find a cranky, exhausted pregnant lady who was feeling quite certain that it was all a cruel joke and Little Brother would never arrive. The three of us set off to the hospital for my weekly midwife visit. Just before we left I had more mucus plug-losing action (I will definitely spare you the details here, as it wasn't pretty, people). Fortunately, hope bolstered by the arrival of this additional bloody show (icky term, no?), we had the good sense to bring our hospital bag with us.

At my appointment (still having contractions, but only 8 minutes apart and not particularly painful), the midwife checked me (DRUMROLL) - 4-5 centimeters and 90% effaced! Get your ass to labor and delivery, stat! Well, what she actually said was not to go home, and that she would strip my membranes to see if that would help things along. The procedure was quick and painless, and she sent us on our merry way with instructions to take a walk around Westwood and then check in to L&D.

Almost immediately after the membrane-stripping, things began to pick up. Contractions began coming about five minutes apart and getting longer and more intense. After a brief jaunt around Westwood during which I freaked out droves of UCLA students by getting my contraction on at every available street corner, we checked into labor and delivery at about 4pm or so. When I was examined again upon admittance, I was 5-6 cm and 90% effaced. Progress!

Max and I wandered around the wing for an hour or so and he rubbed my back with each contraction. Exactly like my labor with Carter, I felt almost all the pain in my back, so I forced my husband to rub it as hard as humanly possible (and I still have the welts to prove it). At one point his hand gave out and he started using the wooden massage roller instead, jamming it into my lower back with each contraction like his life depended on it. Good man. My mother was once again in charge of the hot rice sock, although I was more ambulatory with this labor than I was with Carter's (when I basically just lay there on my side for a couple of hours, attached to oxygen and fetal monitors) so I didn't need the hot sock as badly. Still, good mom.

Eventually, the midwives (I got two for the price o' one - they were training a newbie, Katie, so she did most of it while Shadman oversaw everything) suggested that they break my water to speed things along. Normally I would be wary of such interventions, but at this point I'd been at it for almost 24 hours and by damn, I was tired. BREAK IT, BITCHES.

Instead of the massive gush that occurred when my water broke with Carter, there was only a tiny trickle - it was really the most anti-climatic water-breaking ever. However, almost immediately afterwards I was in transition. While I had labored on my side in the sleep position with Carter's birth, I found that position to be much more painful this time around, and I knew it wasn't the best position to speed things along and help the baby to descend. Instead, I felt like I needed to be on all fours on the bed, so that's what I did. Around this time I started feeling like I wanted to push, but was told that I was only 8cm so I couldn't. This was BY FAR the most difficult part of the birth, as it had been with Carter's as well. Basically, I think the best way to describe "breathing down" (is that what it's called?) is that it's like having a freight train running through your body, and you're just trying to contain it. I did a lot of groaning at this point, and yelled "I can't!!" a few times.

...and then it was over - midwife Katie checked me yet again (upon my insistence that I NEEDED TO PUSH, LADIES) and I was fully dilated and ready. I flipped onto my butt, pulled my knees up as high as I could get 'em, leaned forward, and within five or six good contractions (pushing two or three times with each) his head was out, followed quickly by the rest of him. Griffin was born at 7:14pm, about three hours after we checked into L&D, and just in time for dinner. They placed him immediately on my tummy, where he stayed for the next hour, latching on and nursing like he'd done it all his life.

Compared to Carter's birth, with the cord wrapped three times around his neck, his heartbeat decelerating with each contraction, me attached to an oxygen mask and a continuous fetal monitor, baby coming out blue and whisked off to be examined before I could even touch him, high white blood cell count leading to two days of antibiotics, etc etc etc - compared to that, Griffin's birth was a walk in the PARK. We went home the very next day and weren't even in the hospital for a full 24 hours. After all, we had a big brother at home to get back to.

...more to come.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Introducing Griffin Thompson Draitser, born 9-20-11 at 7:14pm. 7lbs 9oz, 20 inches. 25 hours of labor and 9 days late but worth the wait. We are very proud!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


To distract myself from the monotony of doing my baby rain dance around the living room for yet another day, I have decided to let you, dear readers, embark with me on my latest quest - that for the perfect diaper bag.

Since Carter was born, I have carried this:

My sweet husband bought it for me shortly after the Roo arrived because I had been obsessing over its pattern for months. Damn if I don't love me some stripes, people.

Now, that bag and I have had a good run, I must say. However, I'm beginning to suspect that it's not ideal for two (GAH!!) kids, and all the accompanying schlepping that goes with that territory. I can hardly jam it full of Carter's stuff these days, so how on earth can I possibly pack accoutrements for a whole other person in there? Plus, there's no zipper top, which I think most moms can agree is a major bummer - I'm constantly paranoid that I am leaving a trail of crackers, diapers, car keys, sanity, etc. in my wake whenever I go out. Not cool.

Thus, inspired by the recent diaper bag quest of Rebecca over at GGC (who lives right down the street and just had her twins YESTERDAY **OH, JEALOUSY**), I am going to document my hunt for the ideal diaper bag. Huzzah! This should occupy some space in my weary, bloated brain that would otherwise be obsessing about the distinct lack of newborn in my arms!

Like many women, when I first began to outgrow my striped friend above, I sought refuge with a variety of non-"diaper bag" alternatives and began just throwing everything into bigass purses, like this one from Gap (bought on super-sale for about $12 two years ago):

I'm not usually into flowery prints, but what you can't see in this photo is that the entire interior of the bag is BRIGHT ORANGE, which is flat-out awesome. Issues: serious lack of pockets = haphazard tossing of crap into bag = can't find shit. Again, not ideal.

Another husband-purchased alternative (thank you, LOML!) is this Etsy find:

I love this one for its simplicity, its redness, its ginormity, and the fact that it has a ZIPPER closure (I mean, really, diaper bag people, get with the program). The fact that it is somehow super-inexpensive while being handmade in Turkey is also fairly badass. However, although there ARE several inner pockets, I still find myself fishing for kid stuff often due to the bag's depth and lack of structure, which allows for a strange quicksand effect of everything I seem to need sinking to the bottom, just out of reach. Hrmph.

So there you have it. Three good bags, with downfalls to each. If I weren't 40 weeks, 3 days pregnant, I would probably just suck it up, jam everything into one of these suckers and call it a day - but by damn, I am an American consumer! Let's throw this economy a bone and buy some stuff we don't especially need! Yeeeeeehah, folks.

Some parameters - I'm not really into the whole "diaper bag that looks like a briefcase/office bag/fancypants expensive leather dealie." Like this one:

Yes, apparently that is a diaper bag. Sleek, no? But here's the deal - while I don't necessarily want a bag that screams "KID SHIT WITHIN!" I also am not in the market for something that looks like I really should either be shopping at Bloomies or about to enter a boardroom. I'd like SOME sense of whimsy to it. I mean, have you met me?

For instance, I find this (craaaazy expensive) one kind of awesome, but I think it just might take itself a little too seriously:

So here goes nothing. Some contenders:

OiOi Bags:

In case you don't know, I am a big fan of anything red. Thus, I love these. And look at all that cool stuff that comes with it. Plus, I found them for only $112 online (normally $160). Oh, AND they are made from organic cotton with a water-resistant finish and phthalate-free everything. Be still my heart. I think I like the hobo shape more than the satchel-y one, because I'm not a big fan of hardware on bags and the contrast of the black on red is too distracting to me. It also comes in a very nice blue shade, but I just don't know that I could commit to something outside of my signature color.

Although it's not as unique, I also like this one, in all its preppy, Nantucket-y glory. I found it for only $99 online (normally $150). However, I fear it's ultimately a little too boring. I mean, I'm looking for whimsy, after all:

I am very fond of this one, which seems to possess an endless array of pockets which I could stuff with all manner of kid crap:

It comes in a truckload of colors, but I'm strangely partial to this navy, even more so than the red. It's less fun than the red OiOi bag, but more interesting than the office-y type bags, and it looks sufficiently massive to suit my purposes. Price is pretty great, too.

I've heard good things about the Le Sport Sac bags being very lightweight and stuffable, but MY GOD isn't this just the most incredibly boring thing you've ever seen?

In other options, people seem to really dig these Timi and Leslie bags (same as office-y black one pictured at beginning of post), but I just don't know if they're ME.

I like this one, but it's pricey ($200!!), doesn't have a top zipper, and I can't find a better price online. I did, however, find it in another pattern for only $99, but it's nowhere near as awesome.

I weirdly like the quilted effect of this one, but don't think I can commit to all-black (booooring):

This is a total daddy bag, but I weirdly like it. So many pockets! So much stuff to cram inside! And it's red! And cheap ($79!)!

I like these bags (in all patterns except the lame peace symbol), but they don't have a zipper top and come with no cool accoutrements (hello, changing pad?!). Plus, I suspect that it may not be massive enough for my purposes.

All right - I could and would go on, but I've already been looking at diaper bags for several hours and I'm beginning to have some crampy contraction-ish stuff going on, so I'm going to go take a walk outside and see if I can have a baby today.

Before I go, tell me folks (all four readers of my blog) - what diaper bag do you carry? Thoughts? Recommendations? Help a lady out!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yes, Still Pregnant

**Be forewarned - cranky pregnant lady venting below**

I have officially reached the point where I am quite certain that I am in fact going to be pregnant forever. Little Brother is now two days late and doesn't seem to be in any particular hurry, as evidenced by the fact that 1) I still have not lost my mucus plug (gross, but deal with it) - with Carter, I lost it on my due date and he wasn't born for another six days (yes, I am aware that some women never lose theirs and just go ahead and HAVE BABIES anyway, and I am hoping that's the case here), and 2) I've been having contractions every day for the past, oh, FOREVER, but nothing feels even remotely painful or productive. Every night I think tonight's the NIGHT! and then I wake up the next morning, STILL pregnant.

So there you have it. Last week we had a heat wave, with temperatures reaching into the 100s. I just thought the baby was wisely choosing to wait it out until cooler weather, with plans of being born last Saturday, 9/10/11, which would be a fairly badass birthday and match well with his brother's, 9/1/09. Nope. Then I thought perhaps he was planning to hang out until the full moon yesterday, 9/12/11. No dice. Now I'm thinking that maybe he's just a very considerate child and is going to give his Grandpa an awesome 77th birthday present by being born on my dad's birthday tomorrow, 9/14/11. Fingers crossed.

So there you go. That's me. That's all I've got. I am now going to bounce on my birth ball and watch bad television and/or movies on Netflix. SIGH. I love being pregnant, but JUST ONCE can't it be for the normal amount of time? Yes babies, I get that my uterus is really comfortable, but COME ON! Give a lady a break. Little squatters.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Waiting Game

Things I Have Done On My Maternity Leave (all four days of it thus far):

- packed birth bag
- swept and mopped the kitchen, dining room, and living room floors
- scrubbed the bathtub
- disinfected the toilet
- cleaned the counters and sinks
- washed the bassinet cover and bedding
- washed the Boppy and My Brest Friend covers
- washed the padding for the My Little Lamb swing
- sterilized breastpump parts
- washed nursing bras
- washed Carter's carseat cover
- attempted (in vain) to vacuum 87,000 crackers out of said carseat
- ordered pictures online
- ran 87 million errands
- gone to two movies
- awoken before 6am daily with a damp toddler calling my name (note to self: please invest in nighttime diapers, stat)
- baked and frosted (in four different colors) four dozen mini cupcakes for said toddler and his preschool pals to enjoy on his birthday
- bounced on birth ball
- reorganized Carter's closet
- washed/folded baby clothes
- gone to midwife appointment
- read birthing books

Things I Have Not Done On My Maternity Leave:


Ahem. I'm still ten days away from my due date, and I don't particularly anticipate this kiddo gracing us with his presence anytime soon, despite the strange pressure that I have periodically been feeling in my nether regions, like someone jamming themselves onto my cervix (yeeeehaw, run-on sentence!). For about five seconds the other day I fully suspected that I was about to go into labor in the middle of IKEA, but then it passed. I suppose there are worse places to have a baby - the bedroom showrooms are really rather cozy, after all.

I'm not particularly good with "down time," I suppose. I've been reading and responding to work emails constantly - yesterday a coworker wrote "Quit replying to emails and go have a baby." Hey, I'm TRYING, dude. The truth is that work has been so all-consuming this year that it's tough to unplug. Evidently I'm not even supposed to be checking work emails while I'm on disability - HR would not be pleased.

For the past nine months, between the office and mothering a toddler, I have hardly had a chance to focus on the fact that OH YEAH, I'm pregnant. On one hand, I feel fairly guilty about this (or as guilty as you can feel when you're existing in a state of exhausted delirium and functioning on pure adrenaline). When I was pregnant with Carter, I sang to my uterus for an hour a day (AM/PM commute), read books to my belly, played Mozart and Beethoven to my abdomen through headphones, ate like a saint, practiced my contraction simulations and relaxation exercises, yadda yadda yadda. In short, all the stuff I have NOT been able to do this time around.

This kid gets either Lady Gaga on the radio, or Carter's favorite, the "Construction Site" theme song played a trillion times during our daily commute. I haven't read to the belly even once (but we do read to Carter, so that's something - right? Right?!?) I attempt to plug the uterus up to some classical tunes, but generally pass out drooling on the couch immediately thereafter and then stumble to bed. Strictly organic eating fell prey to leftovers scrounged from whatever meeting somebody had at work on any given day (hellooooo, greasy noodles from random hole-in-the-wall! Fancy meeting you here!). Every time we attempt to practice our contraction simulations/relaxation stuff, my husband and I pass out cold. In short, I've been decidedly less Type A and more, well, human this time around.

On the bright side, less obsession equals fewer neurotic fixations - only a small fraction of my brain is spent vexing over all the unpasteurized cheese that waiters have potentially served me, for instance. Bonus!

We are ready - all of us. Carter keeps telling us everything that he wants to show the baby - "I want to show the baby the big red bulldozer." Or the yellow dump truck, or the green crane, or the brown cement mixer (yes, we are into machines these days).
He likes to attempt to lick my belly, which he finds endlessly entertaining: "I want to LICK the baby!!" followed by a pink-tongued lunge in the direction of my stomach.

Yawn. I could pass out over these keys right now.

Today is the Roo's birthday, which means two things: 1) WE MADE IT ANOTHER YEAR! and 2) unless he joins us in the next 8 hours, my kids will not have the same birthday. Hopefully Little (still nameless!) Brother will also refrain from disrupting Carter's birthday party this Saturday (just a family dinner this year, because I have come to the conclusion that I am NOT Superwoman and therefore did not wish to attempt a 40+ person party in the scorching heat of summer while 39 weeks pregnant) with his arrival too. My husband politely requested that I wait until next week to have this baby, because he's very busy in the office this week, thankyouverymuch. I told him that was between him and the uterus, so he gave my belly a stern talking-to.

Oh, Braxton Hicks. Welcome, my friend. How have you been?

Two years ago today, I was in the hospital, gazing raptly at my beautiful, perfect newborn. And every day since, I've been able to stare at that same sweet face, and wonder how it is that I became so lucky as to be his mother.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Where I'm From

I haven't made a peep on here lately, mostly because I'm TDP (Too Damn Pregnant) and subsequently exhausted, but I loved Erica's post so much that I had to steal the idea for myself.

Where I'm From

I am from rolling valleys, from grapevines as far as the eye can see, from springtime fields flushed yellow and thick with mustard.

I am from the big drafty house on the hill, from cobwebs and scorpions and stacks of old magazines piled in corners.

I am from lazy weekends at the river, inner tubes, tadpoles and sandy car floors.

I am from Glen Miller and Ella Fitzgerald, from Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert and movies with Dad.

I am from roadside bushes thick with berries, stained fingers and cobblers and one for me, one for the bowl.

From three little towheads fighting like demons, hairless baby dolls and comic books, from home movies and It Came From the Laundry.

I am from strong Southern women, from the golden rule and Thumper's mother, from a Peter Pan record on the Fisher-Price player and the sandman's comin', don't you cry.

I am from sausage pie and pork chops, from salami sandwiches and orange juice and how many popovers can I eat before it's time to go to school?

I am from crisp fall air scented with wine, from woodsmoke and apples hung in windows and cut-your-own Christmas trees.

From the animal shelter, Breyer horses and best friends since kindergarten.

I am from hippies, health food stores, and farmer's markets, from tourists and tastings, from a small town just figuring out who it wants to be.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's now late July, which means that I'm due in 7 weeks (50-something days - GAAAH!), the little person in my belly weighs about four pounds, and the countdown has begun. I feel strangely calm about the fact that I'll be FULL-TERM in a mere four weeks. There's no logical reason for this, so I am assuming that the recent insanity both at work and at home has simply pushed me into pure survival mode, where I am (fortunately) capable of functioning fairly well as employee, mommy and (occasionally) wife (not in that order), but the typical, anxious, Type A, living-five-weeks/months/years-in-the-future part of my brain is rendered broken. Clearly that's the only reason that I feel any calm whatsoever about the fact that in a matter of weeks I will have TWO CHILDREN, correct?! Or is it that I am just too stupid to know any better?

Whatever the case may be, I'm feeling much more positive about life these days, largely due to the fact that I have only five weeks left in the office, and the chaos that has haunted my every workday for the past, oh, 8 months, is beginning to die down (KNOCKING WOOD FURIOUSLY). Carter has been SLIGHTLY less crazy recently, so my plans to sell him to gypsies are now off the table. No more crying when I drop him off at daycare (that was a brutal way to start the day for two or three weeks there), and the sleep has been going a little better (I will not elaborate, for I do not wish to jinx it...again with the KNOCKING).

My main concern these days is his upcoming transition to the 2+ preschool next door. He's been in the infant/toddler center since he was four months old, and has thrived there. He knows the teachers, the kids, the toys. He naps well, sleeps well, plays well. So all of this begs the question - what kind of fresh new hell will preschool bring??

My saving grace (if there is one) is that he will be transitioning to the preschool with two of his little girlfriends (and oh yes, my child can FLIRT like you've never seen, little ladies' man that he is), as they were all born within days of each other. My daycare begins the transition weeks prior to his birthday, so he'll begin venturing over to the preschool in the next couple of weeks and spending more time there each day leading up to September 1st (when my boy turns TWO - TWO!?!?!). Also, one of his favorite activities for the past few weeks has been going to visit his friend Adam next door. Adam is a June baby, so he moved next door last month, and Carter misses him. Every day when I pick him up, he says "Go find Adam!!" and we toddle/waddle next door together. Carter stands at the gate and calls "Adam, Adam!" and then Adam sees him, joyfully cries out "CARTEROOO!!" (yes, it seems that everyone has adopted his nickname), races over and they play through the fence until Adam's mom arrives to liberate him. Then they run around the yard together and race up and down the sidewalk. Carter looks through the gate and points out all the big-kid toys to me, and I tell him that soon he'll be joining Adam next door.

I am certain that the transition will be difficult for him, as my boy is a creature of habit and doesn't adapt particularly well to new people or situations (though I have yet to meet a toddler who does). For instance, last weekend my husband and I went to dinner (in a RESTAURANT! at a NORMAL TIME! and didn't FALL ASLEEP AT THE TABLE!) and let my mother-in-law and sister-in-law do Carter's nighttime routine for the first time - dinner, bath, bed. To understand the significance of this, you'd have to know that NO ONE has ever put Carter to bed except us. In fact, no one has ever done any of the nightly routine except us...and I could go into labor in four weeks, and seriously need Baba/Auntie to step in and save the day.

Shockingly, it went very well. He ate like a trucker (yes, MY kid ate - WHAAAAT??), went to sleep easily, and slept through the night in his big-boy bed. The only hitch was when they went to start his bath and he realized that mommy and daddy weren't there - evidently, loads of tears and crying ensued, but by bedtime all was well.
Oh, the freedom we felt, eating our dim sum at 7pm at the awesome new restaurant in our 'hood instead of yawning over our dishes at 10pm. We'll be trying to do this several more times before D-day.

I would write more, but my husband just brought dinner home and it's 9:24pm on a Thursday night, so I can no longer focus without stuffing my face with noodles.

That's how I roll these days, people.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hanging In

Somehow a month has gone by without my realizing it. You see, these past several months - and particularly the past month - have been, without doubt, the most exhausting, stressful, and challenging of my life. Hrmph. You know, I was about to write "I'm not complaining" but yeah, I guess I am - SO THERE.

When you are working SO FREAKING HARD at the office that you blearily emerge into the bright early evening summer sun at 5:45pm, racing to pick up your toddler before daycare closes, and realize that OH CRAP, you forgot to leave your desk and go eat lunch all day and OH YEAH, you're 8 months pregnant so that's not good, it's okay to complain a little.

When your toddler decides that sleeping through the night is for SUCKERS and he'd rather wake up 3+ times per night for the past two months, screaming "MOMMY AND DADDY'S BED! BACK IN MOMMY AND DADDY'S BED!" (yes, we let him sleep in our bed ONE night when he had a cold - NEVER, EVER AGAIN!), leading your husband to start sleeping on the floor of the nursery just to get him to sleep, DEAR GOD, get him to sleep, you get to complain a little.

When, while attempting to re-sleep-train and let him cry it out, said 22-month-old toddler CLIMBS OUT of his crib and wanders down the hall to the living room where you are FINALLY relaxing for five seconds on the couch and you suddenly realize SWEET JESUS it's a whole new ballgame now, you're going to complain a little.

When it's 95 degrees in Los Angeles and you're SO HUGELY PREGNANT that parts you didn't even know you had are simultaneously aching and bloating and sweating while you waddle around the neighborhood at noon in a desperate attempt to get your toddler to nap in his stroller, OH WHY OH WHY won't you NAP?!?, then by damn, it's your god-given right to COMPLAIN A LITTLE.

Yawn. Blargh.

At work, we are launching three shows this fall, in addition to the half-dozen or so other shows we already handle, which means PURE CHAOS for yours truly. You see, I handle the money, and EVERYONE WANTS THE MONEY these days. I really like my job - I really do. But when I (stupidly?) attempted to take a mini-vacation to visit family in Seattle a few weeks ago, accidentally scheduled said "vacation" during THE WEEK OF MY BIGASS DEADLINE (no, I'm not an idiot nor a masochist - without telling me, my boss moved the deadline after I'd booked my flight), and spent the entire trip tethered to my iPhone, replying to emails, with a sick kid who would not sleep, I realized that vacations and parenthood are not particularly compatible.

For some people, this is no doubt a depressing thought, but I have grown accustomed to the idea, and actually find comfort in my new vacationless resolve. For me, there's no point in attempting lofty travel goals - at least, not with the silly notion of "relaxing" in mind. BAH! Relaxing vacations are for childless people and people who leave their kids with Grandma. Thus, save for visiting my parents up north, I have decided that I am not taking any more vacations until 2018. I figure by then all of my children (assuming I have three, per the current plan) will be done napping and we will have more freedom and less insanity. Oh, and we'll bring Grandma.

Well, this post was simply DEEEELIGHTFUL, wasn't it, kids??

I'm going to finish with something positive - I am having a BAAAAAABYYYYYYY in less than two months, and he's already head-down and ready to rock. A few days ago I gave Carter a baby doll to introduce him to the concept of Big Brotherhood. He took one look at it, started chanting "NO BABY! NO BABY! NO BAAAAABY!" and threw it on the floor, which I didn't even realize until my husband pointed out that Carter's little brother was now lying face-first on the rug. Hmm...this does not bode well for their relationship. Gotta work on that.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Let's Talk $$$

I've been thinking a lot about personal finance lately and trying to get my financial house in order. Four years ago, this was a little hobby of mine - I spent all my free time obsessively reading "Secrets of Six Figure Women," "Investing for Dummies" and the like, avidly studied finance blogs, and had subscriptions to Money magazine, Smart Money, etc. At the time, I meticulously distributed my 401(k) and Roth IRA amongst mutual funds that I felt were the best blend of small/mid/large cap, growth/value, etc etc.

This was before I got engaged and decided to plan a wedding in five months. All the money stuff went out the window, and since then I've been hoping that my fund allocations of '07 weren't too horribly crappy in the wake of the financial meltdown.

I've always been a frugal person, although I prefer just using the word CHEAP. Don't get me wrong - I don't cheap out on OTHER people. I like to think that I give nice gifts and whatnot - I just live a fairly streamlined existence, buying only what I need (sidenote: this explains the sorry state of my wardrobe. I am not a shopper - spending money on myself makes me very anxious. My husband - a shopper - is always encouraging me to spend more, and has instead resorted to just shopping FOR me, bringing home stacks of clothes from Banana Republic for a personal fashion show. From me, an almost-seven-months pregnant person. LOML, I adore you, but you're a little insane).

My mother calls me a miser and likens me to Scrooge McDuck, and she has a point. Can I help it if she let me read one too many Disney comics as a kid? The image of Uncle Scrooge swimming in his vast piles of money has stuck with me all these years...ahhhh.

I learned the value of money at a very early age. My parents never talked about money, and our lives were comfortable but not excessive. I'm not sure when my frugality began, but I do clearly remember my father ominously saying "It's going to be a tight Christmas this year, kids" and then becoming utterly terrified that we were all headed for the poorhouse. Considering that my father is a physician and my mother only worked part-time, I realize now that my fears were probably unfounded, but at least it instilled an appreciation of cold hard cash in my little self. I never got an allowance per se, but somehow managed to save money (gifts from grandma? birthday checks? I have no idea) to buy the things I wanted.

I remember the two biggest purchases of my young life. The first was a light-up teddy bear wearing a Santa hat. You squeezed his paws and he glowed and played Christmas carols. I saw him sitting on a shelf in the local Radio Shack and instantly adored him, so I saved up my dollars and FINALLY he was mine. I think he cost $17, although that seems pricey for a stuffed animal in 1987. I carried that little sucker around until his hat fell off and his tunes were warbly and jumbled, and he's still sitting in my closet at home.

My second big splurge as a kid was my Mickey Mouse varsity jacket from the Disney store. I was 14, and it cost $80 - a FORTUNE at the time. But by damn, I loved it, and eventually I scraped together my meagre earnings (again, not quite sure what I did to earn anything - dishes? sweeping floors? hoarding little checks from various birthdays and holidays?) and it was MINE. And I wore that sucker for the majority of Freshman year, and got many a compliment. It also still hangs in my old closet at home.

It wasn't until I quit substitute teaching and was hired by my current company that my finance fixation kicked into overdrive. Suddenly I had some magical thing called a 401(k) - what the hell was that all about? And lo and behold, there was a small Roth IRA that my parents opened long ago and never told me about. For the first time in my life, I had money to spare, and by DAMN, I would invest it well!

And so I did, until the engagement/wedding/newlywed thing came along, swept me off my feet, and put personal finance on the backburner.

THUS, here I am now. Mom to a 21-month-old, with Baby #2 on the way soon, saving for a house (a whole other post unto itself). I MUST get our financial house in order!

This brings me to my current fixation: almost a year ago, my father-in-law opened a 529 college savings plan for Carter, and has committed to investing $85 a month in it for him. Recently, I've spent a lot of time obsessing about 529s, comparing the best plans and trying to determine if we should switch. Carter's plan is currently open in the Michigan Education Savings Program - it's ranked among the better plans, though it's considered fairly conservative, while I am a fairly agressive investor. Still, the index ratio is pretty low and there is no annual fee, both of which are good things. Unlike many other states, there is no income tax break for CA residents who invest in their own state's plan, so I am free to consider options from any state. In my research, I've discovered that some of the best plans include those from Alaska, Nevada, Utah, Nebraska, Virginia, Ohio and Illinois. Our Michigan plan was ranked as one of the best plans as of two years ago, so I'm not sure why it's fallen off the list (more research to do...). Happily, you can switch plans once a year with NO penalty, so I have plenty of time to decide if we'd like to make a change.

Now down to the nitty-gritty: I've been doing 529 calculators online to determine how much we'll need to pay for Carter's education in 16 years. According to Vanguard's awesome calculator (click on "college savings planner - how much do you need to save?"), UCLA tuition will be approximately $284K in 2029, and we have to invest about $450 a month into our 529 (assuming a standard 6% return) to get there. I've started a $250 automatic monthly deduction from my savings straight into his 529. My father-in-law puts in $85, and I have entreated my mother and mother-in-law to each contribute $50, for a monthly total of $435.

BAM! HUZZAH! I'm finally feeling a little set in the college savings department, and I have time to compare other plans to determine what works best for us. Now I simply have to conquer the matter of the TOTALLY CRAPPY mutual fund in which half my Roth is invested. But I'm back in the game, people! I'm back in the game!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Little Farmer

This weekend, we went to Underwood Family Farms out in good old Moorpark, CA. If you're local, have little ones and haven't been, GO. GO NOW! It was a cool, overcast day, which was perfect given my loathing of the sun. We went towards the end of the day, so we practically had the place to ourselves. There were animals, a petting zoo, a tractor combine slide, tunnels crafted from tractor tires, mechanical singing chickens, and best of all, rows and rows of pick-your-own veggies and berries. Underwood Farms sells its produce at many local farmers markets in LA, but we had a great time going straight to the source. Here are my favorites, but the rest of 'em are here.