27 May 2016

An Art Museum with a Toddler and Other War Stories

Another week of motherhood is in the books! I am continuing to stick to the Stay at Home Mom Challenge I gave myself at the beginning of the year. (Basically, the SAHM Challenge was a New Year's resolution of sorts to get my daughter and I out of the house and into the fresh air as much as possible. When my anxiety is elevated, I tend to close up and stay in my safe, little world.) Sometimes I feel like I have to remind myself to breathe. I have good weeks and bad weeks, but I am trying to push through the "bad" moments, whatever they may be.

This week was a busy one. A few highlights - we explored a new art museum downtown with friends, got our water heater fixed (no more three minute showers!), enjoyed tons of time outdoors doing water play, and attended toddler class. Lastly, a little note about how I am maintaining my sanity lately at the bottom of this post.

The Broad Museum

The Broad is one museum I have wanted to check out since it opened. It is such a young, hip place to be! Unfortunately, it doesn't really lend itself to toddler (mis)behavior. We went with a decent sized group of other mommies and toddlers. We felt pretty out of place in a sea of art enthusiasts who looked like maybe they had never seen a two year old in their entire lives. There was a lot of chasing, whining, trying to pick K up while she pretends to be a wet noodle, and bribery. Although I couldn't bribe her with snacks, because there's no eating in the museum. By the end, I gave her my phone and she was happy as a clam to sift through those bizarre surprise egg videos on YouTube.

A good reminder that next time I will take my husband as my date and not my daughter! Or if L had been there with us, we could have taken turns chasing after K and telling her not to touch anything while the other parent got to view the art.

Try telling a two year old NOT to touch this. Spoiler alert: it doesn't go over well. 

The photo above was posted on my Instagram, @lessthandomesticgoddess!

We did get to enjoy a few quiet moments surrounded by an infinite number of glittering sparkles in the Infinity Mirrored Room! 

It was a tough week in terms of "boo boos" and injuries. K has gotten quite brave, but unfortunately has almost no understanding of the painful consequences of her bold, new outlook on life. She has tumbled down a few steep stairs, slid out of her booster seat and fallen on the floor, and jumped off of a kid-sized lounge chair and hit her head on the TV stand. I, in turn, have five new gray hairs and have aged half a year.

With all of K's antics and testing boundaries, I really need a break sometimes. 

For months, I have been sneaking in workouts on the treadmill here and there. Sometimes I will get a few minutes to do push-ups or lift my five pound weights while K watches a program on TV or her iPad. However, it's left me mostly unfulfilled and I can never get any continuity. This past week, I decided to make even more of an effort to squeeze in a workout, mostly for mental health purposes. 

So, I've been starting dinner earlier than usual. (We usually wait to eat dinner with L, but he gets home pretty late.) By the time L gets home, I take off with the dog and we do a 20-25 minute walk around the neighborhood. I really, really want to try and stick with this. The fresh air helps me process the day's frustrations, and I also get some QT with my pup, Henry. 

25 May 2016

Oahu with a Toddler: Honolulu Zoo and Dole Plantation

After a couple of beach days, we decided to stay on dry land and check some kid-friendly family activities off our list. K loves the zoo, like most children her age, and therefore the Honolulu Zoo was a no brainer! 

Honolulu Zoo

The Zoo was so beautiful and didn't disappoint. It is centrally located right next to Waikiki Beach! They have a nice big public parking lot in front, too. It is a smaller zoo (compared to the L.A. Zoo or San Diego Zoo). It was very walkable and the grounds are well-maintained. Almost all of the animals were out the day we visited, and they were close enough for K to get a good look at them!

It ended up being pretty hot that day, and I think I had taken in more sun than I was used to over the previous few days. Right when we got to the zoo, I started to feel dizzy and ill. I did my best to rally and forced myself to get through it, because K was SO excited to be there. But, I wasn't feeling my best. 

TIPS for the Zoo: Drink plenty of fluids. Apply sunscreen beforehand and re-apply when at the zoo. If not, wear a long sleeve sun shirt or rash guard. The sun is strong in Hawaii! The zoo grounds are gorgeous and there are areas to picnic. There is also a small play area with a play structure for children. We didn't visit the play area, because we were too busy looking at all the animals. 

Dole Plantation

We squeezed in the Dole Plantation toward the end of our trip. It's a big tourist attraction, but we were excited to eat pineapple and go on the "choo choo" train! We only stayed a couple of hours, and I felt like that was enough time to do what we set out to do. We picked up some great souvenirs for ourselves and family and we couldn't leave without a Dole Whip

The view from the Pineapple Express Train Tour was breathtaking! I wasn't expecting such gorgeous views. I was simply there to stuff my face with fresh pineapple, so the views were an unexpected bonus! K was delighted and couldn't stop talking about the choo choo for days!

All in all, I think we were so enchanted with Oahu that it was hard to "dislike" anything we did while on the island. We were in total vacation mode! Sure there were things that didn't go off as planned. We didn't get to do a number of things on our "to do" list, but we vowed to be back again. We even considered extending our trip by a couple of days, but the extra airline and hotel expenses would have been astronomical. So, until next time, Oahu, mahalo! You were so good to us. 

Up Next: I'll do a final post on what we ate in Hawaii!

20 May 2016

Oahu with a Toddler: Lanikai Beach Leaves Us Speechless

After the lush greenery of Waimea Valley, we were ready to hit up the beach. Our condo was a few blocks walk from Waikiki Beach which is filled with tourists and beachgoers. We really wanted a more secluded, serene beach scene so we did a little research and decided to check out Lanikai Beach in the town of Kailua on the windward coast of Oahu. It's a small beach - about half a mile; and consistently ranked one of the best beaches in the world. In fact, we loved it so much we went back the next day, too.

TIPS: If you are planning to visit Lanikai Beach, please be aware that there are no restrooms, showers, or lifeguards on duty. Also, the parking is strictly neighborhood parking only. There are no public parking lots. We parked in the neighborhood without a problem, however, we were there on weekdays not the weekend.

Lanikai was about a 30-40 minute drive from our place in Waikiki depending on traffic. I laugh at my use of "traffic" here because although there were a few bumper-to-bumper moments, Hawaii's traffic was nothing compared to LA. People even let us in when we signaled and thanked us when we let them in: two things that almost never happen on LA freeways these days. Another word about the drive to Lanikai - it is along the most beautiful highway I have ever seen in my life. I was seriously speechless at certain points. It was green as far as the eye could see, little bursts of rain, and just an overall magical feeling. 

Speaking of magical feelings, this was the view walking to the beach from the road.

20 seconds of us walking toward the beach via SnapChat

Lanikai is ideal for toddlers because of the tiny waves and the super soft white sand! Although she is a Southern California girl, K has only been to the beach a handful of times (I know, I know). She was a little intimidated by the ocean, so she opted to stay on the shore and blow bubbles and play with sand toys in the beginning, but slowly got braver and braver. 

Day Two

We opted to stop for a bite to eat at the Kailua Whole Foods in town. I wanted some familiar healthy food, because we had been stuffing ourselves silly with tons of Hawaiian food and my stomach couldn't take much more. After a quick lunch, we ventured to Lanikai again. 

As you can see, K was much more comfortable with the ocean by our second day. 

I could probably post dozens of photos, but I'll stop here. Lanikai was truly the highlight of our trip and we can't stop dreaming about its sheer natural beauty and calm waters. There were quite a few happy moments on that beach that I will treasure for a very long time! 

Up Next: A Couple of Oahu's Kid-Friendly Attractions!

19 May 2016

A Real Parenting Moment: Crying Over Spilled OJ

Yesterday was a challenging day. K was testing my patience so much. This makes it difficult when we are both a little jet lagged, a little edgy, and not in the mood. This girl can be fierce. She has been doing this thing lately where she purposely pushes her water cup over and watches the liquid go all over the table. I have been cleaning it up, but letting her know this behavior is not okay. I try not to lose my cool, because I don't want her to feel shame if she accidentally spills something. Spills happen. Except this time she pushed over a glass of orange juice because I took the iPad away from her. The juice went everywhere. OJ is not water. It's sticky and a pain to clean up. Some toys and some papers got soaked. Luckily, no electronics or valuables. 

I was stern with her and she started sobbing. While I could have been a little more controlled in my response, I was angry. I didn't feel super bad about losing my temper, because she needs to learn. She spent several minutes sobbing on the couch and calling out for her daddy. Then it got quieter and quieter. Normally, I would have gone to her almost immediately and made sure she was okay. But something told me that she needed space. She needed to get it all out and cry and be upset. I crept over to the couch and found her asleep next to our dog, Henry. Did I mention she was exhausted?

These are the days of motherhood. They aren't always pretty with smiling faces and laughter, as every parent knows. But, there is a certain beauty in the challenges. I grew up in a house where spills weren't a big deal. We didn't have to be neat and clean all the time. However, it was a disciplined house, and we always knew where we stood. We knew where the line was and made sure not to cross it too much. My little girl is crossing a lot of lines lately. I am trying to be patient with her, and remember that sleep and food are two main factors that really affect a toddler's moods! But, I'm only human, and man, she's testing me at every turn. My hope is that I can somehow find more ways to discipline with love and respect. I know I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it. 

17 May 2016

Oahu with a Toddler: Journey to the North Shore

If you follow me on Instagram and Twitter, you know that we were in Hawaii last week. It was our first "big" trip as a family and our first time in Oahu! A few months back, I got an email about Virgin America's new non-stop flights from LAX to Honolulu and Maui and took it as a sign that we needed to plan a trip. Somehow it all came to fruition! We lucked out because my in-laws have a timeshare in Waikiki and we were able to stay there. (A huge money saver for us!)

I've been a little overwhelmed as to how to organize the trip photos. So, I'm just going to share the highlights with advice and commentary about what we loved, liked, and felt "meh" about.

We touched down at the Honolulu airport on Saturday late afternoon. After a five+ hour flight, we were running on fumes. We were ecstatic that K took a TWO hour nap on the plane: my early Mother's Day present, for sure! Once we landed, I sat with K in the baggage claim with all of our suitcases, stroller, car seat, and carry-ons while L went to pick up the rental car. Doing it this way really helped us out because we had a lot of stuff and we didn't want to have to haul it onto the airport shuttle and then over to the car rental place. Car rental pick-up ended up taking forever so it was even better than L went alone. 

We brought our own car seat with us and checked it at the gate. Renting a car seat can be expensive, and I wanted K to have the comforts of her familiar car seat. It worked out great! Since we have plans to travel with the car seat in the future, we bought this cover for the car seat and this cart so we were able to easily roll the car seat around the airport.

Leonard's Bakery

The next day was Mother's Day! We woke and went straight to Leonard's Bakery for malasadas (a Portuguese fried dough pastry). We had never tried them, and they did not disappoint. I loved the original - plain with cinnamon and sugar! So good and worth every calorie. We intended to go back later in the week, but sadly ran out of time.

Since it was Mother's Day, I got to choose our daily activity. I decided I wanted to venture out to the beautiful, lush tropical forest of Waimea Valley on the North Shore. I had seen a photo in a tourist brochure and felt like it was a must see. It was about an hour drive from Leonard's. Before we got to Waimea Valley, we stopped off to peek in some roadside boutiques on the North Shore to pick up some flip flops for me (I wore my Birkenstocks and didn't want to drag them through the mud). Lucky for K we ended up eating our first shave ice of the trip!

Waimea Valley

Waimea Valley was so lush and gorgeous. It's a sacred, spiritual place, and you can feel that when you're there. The staff at the visitor's center were so friendly and welcoming. It was really busy when we arrived, because everyone was eating Mother's Day brunch at the nearby restaurant. We also hadn't really done our research and quickly realized that Waimea Valley involved some basic hiking to get to the waterfall. We were wearing flip flops! We decided to pay the entrance fee to the park anyway. I was really worried about mosquito bites, because traditionally mosquitos love me. And, of course, we didn't have bug spray on us. 

My advice for anyone venturing to Waimea Valley is to apply some bug spray beforehand or wear long pants and close-toed shoes! L had tons of big, itchy bites the next day. I, somehow, escaped with only one small bite, and K didn't get any bites (despite her arms and legs being completely exposed).

We discovered that the hike wasn't really a hike at all. It was do-able in flip flops pushing a stroller! I loved Waimea Valley, and would recommend it if you love lush valleys and have the time to really explore and appreciate the outdoor setting. There were a lot of paths and secret places that we didn't see, because we weren't prepared to stay there all day.

Up Next: Our Favorite Beach

4 May 2016

My Favorite Free People Blouse and The Love Wall

On Sunday, we enjoyed a special lunch with my family and then we ventured out to do some exploring. I heard about James Goldcrown's Bleeding Hearts/Love Wall in Eagle Rock awhile back, and it was on my list of things to check out in the city. We were in the neighborhood and it was definitely worth a look see!

Free People Summer Lovin Blouse (Currently 50% off!) | J. Crew Boyfriend Jeans (old) | Tory Burch Sandals

K had just woken up from a car nap and was completely unamused. 

My birthday and Mother's Day are at the end of this week. It feels like the right time to reflect and think about where I am right here, right now. I am continuing to keep gratitude and faith in my heart and believe that I am on a pretty good path. A few short years ago, it felt like my life was crumbling all around me, and I felt unbelievably lost (and anxious). It has been a long road back, but all of the hard work has not been in vain. And I have this little girl by my side. Love of my life. 

I hope you are all having a great week! 

2 May 2016

Just Floating

Over the weekend, it became pretty obvious that my two week wait was over. It seemed rather early to call this cycle a failure, but I told you guys I never take pregnancy tests. My body beats me to it. I saved a few bucks on a test and I got the consolation prize of early spotting instead. Thanks, body.

My initial reaction? Well. Duh. No surprises here.

I honestly don't know what to make of yet another busted cycle. It feels as normal as breathing at this point. But still a little sad because there is always that little sliver of your heart that you want to leave open to...the possibility. The possibility that maybe just once you'll be wrong about yourself. L didn't have much of a reaction which sort of offended me. I think he felt bad for me and expressed that we are only just starting this process again. But, I don't think he put much stock into this cycle, and, again, that didn't feel great. I felt alone in my disappointment and sort of foolish for thinking that the end result would be anything but negative.

But, I'm moving on.

I have no other choice. I go about my days like nothing is wrong or different or off. I feel lucky to have this blog, because if I didn't write these feelings down, I doubt they would be processed at all. Whether we ever get pregnant again or not, I still want an account of how it all went down.

My intentions for this week going forward are to stay hopeful, honest, and humble. I am very grateful for everything and everyone in my life right now and I really have very little to complain about. I say "very little", because complaining is just part of who I am. ;)

For now, I am just floating and watching this little girl grow up too quickly.

28 April 2016

4 Tips for Maintaining Sanity During the Two Week Wait

I am back in the land of the two week wait. It feels somewhat surreal. It's hard to have hope when trying naturally feels like such a long shot. My body usually forces a period before I even have a chance to take a pregnancy test. What can I say? I'm special.

I was actually pretty shocked earlier this month when the ovulation kit was positive. I'll give my body a well deserved pat on the back for that one. My therapist told me that I should remain faithful to this experience and that pregnancy is something that will happen. Her words felt like nails on a chalkboard. I wanted to scream, "Noooooo! That would jinx it!!" Over the years, I have developed a lot of superstitions and assuming that a second pregnancy WILL happen feels almost cocky. I'm not comfortable being that confident. I'd rather sit in my miserable corner of uncertainty and lament.

The two week wait is essentially one gigantic mind fuck whether you're infertile or not. I've been through it so many times, I forgot that there might be women out there who have never experienced a two week wait or are new to this.

Here are a few tips I have picked up throughout seven long years (give or take) of TWWs:

Make a conscious decision to get off the emotional rollercoaster. 
Tell yourself that your body is going to do its thing regardless of obsessive symptom checking, googling your various shades of discharge, or any other odd behavior you've developed while waiting to pee on a stick. Whether this means taking a nice walk, meditating, or whatever else you need to do to get out of your own head, do it. The bottomline: simplify your life and stay off Google.

Try to hold off on peeing on a stick for as long as possible. 
Peeing too early is likely going to give you a negative result that will send you on a downward spiral of googling (yes, trying to conceive can involve TONS of potential googling) and frustration. While the prospect of peeing on a stick is really exciting (especially if you are in the first few cycles of trying to conceive), try and hold strong. You can do it!

Hug your spouse. 
Trying to conceive has been known to make me a little (a lot) edgy. The process can feel very clinical especially after months or years of trying to conceive. Remember to support your spouse as they support you. Plan a date night or something fun in the days leading up to your testing date.

Don't beat yourself up.
If you happen to have a glass or wine or you aren't eating all the organic things, give yourself a break. Many women pay closer attention to healthy lifestyle habits when they are trying to conceive. Again, the longer it takes for you to conceive, the more likely it is that you will feel like you need to eat the perfect food, never miss taking the perfect prenatal vitamin, get the perfect amount of sleep, drink the perfect amount of water, and have the perfect level of stress in your life. My advice? Let some of it go. 

26 April 2016

A Quick San Diego Trip

We were in San Diego this past weekend. It's safe to say, traveling isn't a seamless activity for our family yet. L and I are serial over-packers. We usually forget to eat at proper mealtimes. K isn't a fan of sleeping in unfamiliar places. However, pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone is necessary every now and then. We always end up having fun and making lasting family memories.

Here are some photos of our close encounter with some sun bathing sea lions!


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