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One year ago, I wrote about one of the most intense weeks of my life. When I was three months pregnant with Isla, I witnessed a birth, grieved a death and cared for Lorelei while she endured Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (which I then caught myself). We traveled to Orange County before the illness and were able to spend some much-needed quality time with Ryan's side of the family. It was my mother-in-law's father who had died, and we were blessed with the opportunity to say goodbye to him hours before he passed. 

This year, Ryan's family gathered at his mother's home to honor her father's life. Because Ryan was coincidentally given an extra two days off of work that same weekend, we decided to take advantage of the four-day weekend and have a mini vacation with our two girls. Isla would be meeting many family members for the first time, so the trip was meaningful on a variety of levels. 

I wish I could say it was an incredible trip and everything was super awesome and perfect, but it had THE worst beginning - worse than any bad vacation I've ever had before. We decided last minute to leave a day earlier than originally planned, but, due to bad timing, we ended up leaving right before rush hour. This caused our travel time to double, and we didn't arrive at our destination until 8:30 p.m., which brings us to a total of five hours in the car with a potty-training toddler and a baby. Word to the wise - never drive through Los Angeles on a Thursday, and bring lollipops if cry-worthy traffic is unavoidable. I also wouldn't recommend leaving during a full moon, let alone a Blue Moon, because you're basically asking for shit to get weird.

The Blue Moon taunting us toward the end of our incredibly long drive.

The Blue Moon taunting us toward the end of our incredibly long drive.

After a bad first day of travel, things improved immensely. Lorelei became besties with a Chihuahua named Dolce and, later on in the day, a cat named Simba; we got to sleep in a fluffy king-sized bed; and I woke up to enjoy a delicious home-cooked breakfast that was made by someone other than myself.

The girls and I spent the rest of the day with Auntie Taylor (Ryan's sister), and we checked out sea lions and tide pools (or "party water" as Lorelei decided to call them; photos of this excursion are at the end of this post) while our husbands surfed for hours upon hours. After reconvening, we drove to my mother-in-law's together for the gathering, and we enjoyed the company of family we wish we could see much more often than we are currently able. 

The day as a whole was slow, deliberate and fulfilling - despite the fact that it took almost three hours to get Lorelei to fall asleep come bedtime. She was so amped on life after spending the entire night re-telling stories of mine as though the events had happened to her. It was highly entertaining, and I couldn't help but let her stay up way too late just to hear her sweet voice compose all kinds of fiction for her loving, kind audience.

After the majority of the extended family went home, my mother- and sister-in-law joined me to view the Blue Moon that was hanging over us that night (so-called because it was the second full moon in one month). It was beautiful, powerful, huge and probably the main reason things had been so "off" for us the day before. I embraced it, came up with a few thoughts about things I'd like to release to the powers that be and went back inside to finish my wine and pass the fuck out. 

My crap photo of the Blue Moon that I insist on publishing to prove to myself that I'm not scared of future full moons. 

My crap photo of the Blue Moon that I insist on publishing to prove to myself that I'm not scared of future full moons. 

We spent our final day in Orange County slowly, yet again, enjoying coffee and breakfast in the backyard with my in-laws, watching Lorelei play, relaxing while Isla napped next to a beautiful succulent arrangement, avoiding an overly friendly bee, holding an ice pack to Lorelei's head after she ran into a closed sliding glass door and trying to decide if we should leave early, or if we should go to the beach and leave at bedtime so the girls could sleep on the way home.

Obviously, because we're not dumb, we chose the latter, and it was awesome/the only thing that really went completely right all weekend. 

Enjoying the warmth of a wind-free beach day is so, so good for my soul. I was able to sit and relax with a margarita while two extra pairs of hands helped Ryan and I take care of our babies. Lorelei bonded with her aunt and uncle, she figured out how to have fun without any beach toys, she got her hair wet in the ocean and went deeper into it than ever before. Isla napped peacefully in her own beach chair to the sounds of waves crashing and people living happily outdoors. We stayed as long as we could before having to return to the responsibilities of real life, and one last long drive home.

We returned to the beach bungalow from whence we came, and I took a bath with the girls before we dressed them in jammies and fed them as much as possible in preparation for our final adventure. Had it not been for an unexpected detour, they would have slept the entire way home. Instead, both girls woke up, resulting in a mini cry-it-out session for Isla and all of us listening to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on repeat for Lorelei until she fell asleep again.

Thankfully, we made it home safely at a decent hour; both girls transferred to their beds easily without waking; and Ryan and I were able to binge-watch some Seinfeld before finally going to sleep in our own bed once again. 

Normal life resumed the next day, and I felt much like I did when Isla was four months old and thoughts of a third baby entered my mind before quickly receding in fear - I knew I would travel with my children again one day, but it definitely won't be anytime soon. That being said, we love our Orange County (and beyond) family so much. You're all welcome at our home anytime! 

Side note: the number two won't be a chosen number on any future Lottery tickets. 






There was a summer storm three days ago. It was unexpected, but much enjoyed. The weather was warm and humid and the skies were gray, then blue, then gray again. The rain poured, then drizzled, then stopped, then poured and drizzled again. And it was beautiful.

The girls decided to sleep in until 9 a.m. that morning, but my phone, unfortunately, decided to NOT push the reminder for a breastfeeding class I was supposed to attend at 9:30 a.m. My joy at the extra two hours of sleep was quickly transformed into panic when I realized I was going to have to bust my slightly curvier mama butt to pump some milk and get both kids fed, dressed, packed up, out the door and delivered to my parents in a totally unreasonable amount of time. Moments before I decided to just skip pumping, take Isla with me to the class and walk out the door with my babies in their PJs, I messaged the instructor that I was running late. She replied with the most glorious words right as I buckled Lorelei into her car seat:

“Oh, I was actually going to cancel the class today!”

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I hate being late, like, really hate it, so it was a total blessing that the universe aligned in such a way. Though I need this class to fulfill a certification requirement, I’d much rather attend it on time and without my squishy, giggly baby serving as a major distraction (no offense, Isla, you just make it really hard to focus).

The next thing I knew, we were enjoying breakfast with my parents and discussing the weather in a very “not cliché” kind of way, because the weather was actually very weird and discussable. Another hot topic was the chrysalis my mom had transferred into a tiny greenhouse in her living room to protect it from the wind and birds outside. We had seen it first as a caterpillar in a “J” hang a day or two before. We examined it from a distance with Lorelei and watched The Very Hungry Caterpillar on Netflix in honor of the fact that it was beginning its butterfly transformation on my parents’ front porch. As we headed out to go home that night, Lorelei yelled, “Hey! Where’d the hungry caterpillar go??”

My mom and I took a look and were surprised to see that the caterpillar had transformed into a chrysalis when we weren’t looking. It was incredible to see, and we were all very excited. Lorelei was so excited, in fact, that she dragged her little red Adirondack chair over to the pot the chrysalis was attached to so she could sit and stare at it. Sadly, I had to tell her to get up out of the chair so that we could go home and hop in bed, but I reassured her that we would be able to watch the chrysalis for many days in the future.

“Goodbye chrysalis, goodbye ant, goodbye little yellow bugs, goodbye plant,” she said, before following me to the car. Goodbyes are never easy.

But, oh, how I wish we could have sat there as the sun set, and simply watched a transformation in progress without actually seeing the work going on behind the little green cylindrical wall of sorts. Nothing would have made me happier than to talk about caterpillars and butterflies with Lorelei while Isla listened and observed all the goings on. But a successful bedtime routine is all too valuable to me (Lorelei and Isla’s future moods depend on it), and it really was time to go.

On that weird-weather day a few days forward, Lorelei spent a lot of time watching caterpillars shed their skins and form their chrysalides on YouTube. But when it began to rain, we hurried outside to admire the huge raindrops that were glittering the sidewalk. Lorelei isn’t able to see rain all that often, seeing as how California has been in a serious drought for her entire life thus far, so being able to really experience a storm was very exciting for her. It was warm as we stood on the porch with my parents and watched the rain splatter. We guided Lorelei out onto the sidewalk so she could feel the heavy drops fall onto her skin, and we told her to stick her tongue out so she could drink some of the rain. After a little while, we went back inside and watched the rain stop and start again repeatedly out the window while kneeling on the couch. We eagerly listened to the thunder and told Lorelei that it was the sound that was made when the clouds bumped into each other. She liked the idea of that very much.

Eventually the rain slowed down enough that we could go out and play without getting soaked. As I looked around the front yard, I could literally feel the pace steadying. My mind was working more slowly, I didn’t feel as anxious as I usually do, I was able to play with Lorelei without feeling like I was forgetting to do something time sensitive, I didn’t feel like I was starving (a common side effect of nursing every few hours), Baby Isla was sleeping and the vibe in the air was a very, very peaceful one. Water drops on flower petals caught my eye, and I felt extremely inspired to photograph all of the beauty that I was surrounded by in a yard that I walk through hurriedly almost every day. The next half hour or so was very reflective and enjoyable for me. The air was still, Lorelei was beyond happy to be experiencing a different side of nature and I felt like my old, artistic self at the same time that I felt like a good mama. The combination of the two has never happened before, and this moment deserved to be remembered.

After Isla woke up and it was time to go back inside, I continued to see beauty in the most ordinary of places, like the contrast of the stormy skies against the curtains in my parents’ bedroom, Lorelei's attempt at wearing lipstick, or the colors shared by Isla’s blanket and onesie. I snapped away like crazy without ever leaving the moment. It was unreal and amazing and gratifying to know that I had nowhere else to be and was allowed to simply be myself, and actually enjoy it fully.

As the day came to an end and it was nearing the time to go home and help my girls go to sleep for the night, my mom and I both commented that the day in its entirety was actually really good. It never felt stressful, and everything that had happened that morning worked out for the best. We both love the rain, and I’m sure the change in weather was a much-needed change for our souls. I know that, for me, I was able to see my surroundings in a new light, and this ability allowed me to simply slow down and enjoy all of the mundane and ordinary parts of life that I never actually appreciate.

I’m thankful for the many wonderful and beautiful moments of that day.

And, I really miss the rain.