A New Year

January 17, 2018

^^ These girls started the new year off right by devouring all the treats in Rome ^^

Hi hi! Sorry it’s been silent over here for a bit. The entirety of December and beginning of January was a complete whirlwind of trips to Germany, Croatia and Italy, plus my family visiting Amsterdam, so we have been trying to settle back into our routine here; and as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we have somewhere between 6 and 8 teeth coming in between the two girls, so we’ve been dealing with that for the past week and a half as well. (If there was one part of motherhood I could opt to skip, I think teething might be it.)

I have been attempting to get my life back in order to start the new year on a good note. I jumped right back into my workout routine (thanks in part to my back making it very clear that the 2.5 week hiatus I took during the holidays was not the best move) and went through mine and the kids’ closets to weed out clothes that no longer fit or weren’t being worn. We have also been getting through some of the time-consuming logistics of our move back to the US, which is both exciting and very stressful.

And even though I felt quite productive after all of this, I now have clothing sitting in bags and laundry baskets still that needs to be donated, not to mention random travel items from our trips that still need to be put away.

A lot of the time I feel like even with as much as I’m doing each day to keep things together and running smoothly, I’m never as on top of things as I would like to be. I often wonder if there will be a time when my house will be clean for longer than 5 minutes, or whether I will ever have enough storage to actually be able to put everything away. Not to mention that the small worries about our repatriation have started to creep in here and there, as we inch closer to our move date. Our move back to California is understandably fraught with conflicting emotions. Amsterdam is an amazing city, and provides much more of the lifestyle (and, *cough* government style) we would prefer for our family, so our decision to move back to the Bay Area to raise our kids near our extended family was not an easy one to make. And, as you do when you have children, I have started to worry about how the girls will adjust to the move. I know that they will be thrilled to be near their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, but I also know that this move is going to be an adjustment for everyone, and it may be especially hard for two little ones who can’t quite articulate exactly how they’re feeling and why they feel that way.

And, yes, I know that children are resilient and they will be fine; but this will be a big adjustment for all of us, and especially the two tiny people who have lived all or most of their lives here in Amsterdam.

Hooo… so anyway. That’s just a glimpse into what’s been going on in my life and head these days. I hope to be back to posting semi-regularly here shortly. Honestly, right now I could just use a few (hundred) more hours in the day.

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 11 months

January 16, 2018

Saying: Lark is continuing to babble more and more, and regularly shouts out nonsense words at me as though she’s saying, “Listen to me, woman! I have needs!” She seems to still know “all done” and “Dada,” but language at this age is so all over the place it’s hard to really be certain.

Eating: Lark still loves to eat and devours pretty much anything I make for her. She loves salmon with lentils (a staple in this house) and recently had Indian food, which she inhaled. The girl loves herself some curry spice, who can blame her? She is also very, very fond of what we call “cookies” in this house, which are really like less-sweet animal crackers. I try not to give Lark sugar, ever, (though KC introduced her to gelato in Italy while I wasn’t looking! Second kids, man. Haha.) but these cookies have only one gram per biscuit, so it’s a nice compromise on my part since the kids think they’re getting a treat but they actually only contain as much sugar as one serving of Cheerios.

Sleeping: Lark sleeps through the night like a champion still. I have no idea what I did to get this lucky (because Prim didn’t sleep like this until after 11 months, and I actually thought that wasn’t bad!) but it just goes to show that the whole good sleeper/bad sleeper thing might just be a whole lot more nature than nurture.

Doing: Lark is busy crawling, dancing, and getting into everything. She is at the stage where she loves to pull out all of the toys from inside the toy baskets and all the “groceries” from inside the wooden refrigerator. I don’t keep a lot of toys out for the kids (I have at least half of our toys stored in my closet at any given point and change things out periodically when I notice certain toys aren’t holding their interest anymore), but man, even with a minimal amount out for the girls to play with I still feel like I’m picking stuff up all the time. How do parents with tons of toys do it?? (Also, I have a serious love/hate relationship with Legos right now. I’m sure other parents know what I’m talking about.)

Latest milestone: Lark pulled up by herself for the first time on the last day of 2017 while we were in Rome. She isn’t pulling up and cruising all over the place like Prim was at this age, but she has figured out how to climb up onto things (the coffee table, into Prim’s bed) which Prim was not doing, so it’s been both exciting to watch and a little stressful for this poor mama’s heart (because my brain is always like, “she’s going to fall off onto her head for sure.”)

Favorite toys: Like I said earlier, she’s fascinated by objects that contain other toys these days, like the toy refrigerator. She loves pulling the magnetic doors open and pulling out all of the empty spice jars and containers.

Sweetest things: Lark is currently getting somewhere between 4 and 6 teeth (and Prim’s top molars are coming in too — we’re in full teething hell over here) so she’s been understandably extra crabby lately. While I don’t love the fussiness, all she wants is to be held and snuggled in the afternoons, which is so sweet. It makes cooking dinner quite challenging, but like everything with kids, it’s temporary, so I’m trying to take a deep breath and enjoy these little moments in between the trying ones.

Favorite thing about this age: Lark is getting very good at communicating what she wants now with her insistent babbling and body language. She will now crawl over to KC or me and lift her arms up to be picked up, which is one of my most favorite milestones of this age.

Favorite Things / Winter

Reflecting on 2017

December 28, 2017

2017 was a weird year. It was really amazing in a lot of ways, but it was also really… stressful? Anxiety-inducing? Depressing? I’m not sure what the right word is.

From our family-bubble perspective, 2017 was one of the best years yet; but from a global perspective, it was definitely one of the worst. But rather than ring in 2018 with negativity, I thought I would try to focus on what was positive in the last year; so here are some of the high points from 2017: Attending the Women’s March at 36 weeks pregnant in Amsterdam. While the march was a bit smaller than the ones back in the US, it was still an amazing thing to be a part of here in the Netherlands, and I love that I will always have the memory of both my girls being with me at this historical event. (And I want my girls to know that even if you’re half a world away from the problem, you can still stand up and fight for what’s right.) Snow in Amsterdam! We had one big snow storm the weekend before Lark was born, and while I was stuck inside enjoying some lovely pre-labor contractions, looking outside at the snowy wonderland was a great way to spend our last weekend as a family of three. Lark was born! What a way to ring in 2017. While my pregnancy with Lark started off pretty rough, the end of it was easy and her birth was about as close to ideal as it gets. Lark has brought so much life and joy into this family, and she is hands-down the highest high point of the past year. Traveling. We really went for it this past year while living abroad. After taking the first part of the year off due to Lark’s birth, I traveled to the US in May with Lark, then we all took trips to Barcelona, Madrid, Budapest, Berlin, Zagreb, and while KC was busy working in Dublin, the girls and I jetted off to Copenhagen too. For our final trip of the year (and likely the last one before Lark’s first birthday), we’re off to Rome tomorrow to ring in the New Year Italian-style. Living abroad. We have really embraced our expat life over here in Amsterdam in the past year and have been soaking up everything this amazing city has to offer. We feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to live here and are doing our best to enjoy every minute.Christmas in the Netherlands. My family traveled to Amsterdam for the holidays this year, which means we have been biking around the city together and enjoying the European holiday cheer for the past week or so. It has been so nice to share our home with my parents and siblings, and Prim and Lark have been in heaven playing with their cousins. This is a once-in-a-lifetime sort of holiday and we are really enjoying all the amazing memories we’re making.

We have a lot in store for 2018 already, including a big move back to the states. I know that repatriating will be quite an adjustment for all of us, I’m looking forward to being close to our families again and am trying to focus on all the positives of moving back. And of course, we are going to make the most of every last second while we’re still over here in Europe — we’ll be traveling to Sweden, France, Greece and more in the new year!

Hope your 2017 was good, but here’s hoping that 2018 is even better. Happy New Year!

Personal / Relationships

Thirteen (for KC)

December 22, 2017

I can’t believe that it has been thirteen years since our first date. It’s crazy that these 20 and 21 year old babies “hung out” together over winter break back in 2004, and thirteen years later here we still are — six years married, two kids in, living in Amsterdam. I don’t think either of us could have ever fathomed what would have resulted from that date on December 22, 2004.I remember what we both wore — you: jeans and a Sunrise Mountain Sports t-shirt, me: jeans, a Hollister Christmas t-shirt (it was 2004, guys) and a kids UCLA sweatshirt. I remember wanting to hold your hand but being too nervous to make the first move.

It doesn’t feel like we’ve been together long enough to be in our “teen” years together, but looking back I realize just how much I do remember from these thirteen years.I remember you carrying me down the rape trail at UCLA after it had rained so my shoes wouldn’t get muddy. I remember the way you told a kid on BART who was bullying another kid to knock it off. I remember watching you in that moment and knowing with complete and utter certainty that I loved you. I remember your pep talks during my first semester of law school. I remember swimming at the USF pool between classes and daydreaming about marrying you. I remember you taking me out for a nice dinner when I was studying for the BAR after I had told you I was so overwhelmed with studying and remembering information. And I remember all the times after our first date that you did hold my hand:

…and so many other moments, because there are far too many to recount from these thirteen years.

 I love that we have so much behind us already and still so much to look forward to. You are the very best husband, father, teammate, partner in crime and everything else, and I can’t wait to continue our adventure together.Here’s to thirteen years (and approximately three hundred more).PS: Kace — Prim saw this ^^ wedding picture of us and asked, “What’s that picture?” I asked her if she knew who was in it and she said “Mama,” but when I asked her “Who is with Mama?” she paused for a long time and said, “I don’t know.” I finally told her it was Daddy and she goes, “Oh… Where’s Prim??”

Family Fun / Life Abroad / Winter

The Snowy Day

December 21, 2017

The weekend we were in Croatia was the first snow in Amsterdam. And usually the first snow here isn’t much to write home about — just a few flurries with nothing sticking to the ground, but this year the first snow was a full weekend of flakes with so much snow that we had a hefty pile left over when we returned from our trip.

I have to admit that I was really bummed to miss the first snow here, but seeing these girls out on the deck playing in what was left from the storm did make up for my FOMO a little.    This was Lark’s first real experience with snow. It snowed while we were in Berlin and Croatia, but not enough to really have any snow on the ground that stuck. When KC’s mom first brought Lark outside and put her down in the snow, Prim turned to her and said, “This is snow, Lark!” And if you look at Lark’s face in those pictures, you can see exactly how she feels about Prim (and why I’m always telling KC that we need to have 16 more babies, immediately). Come back soon, snow! (Maybe for Christmas???)