Welcome to Paisley Petunia…part two!

I find inspiration in pretty pictures, endless possibilities in a bowl of Meyer lemons, the meaning of lifetime devotion in the wagging tails of our 3 rescue dogs, end-of- the-day bliss in a glass of red wine and now, the boundless, soul clutching meaning of life in the faces of my 2 little angels.

It's a happy, creative, joy-full life we've got here in the LA sun. Come play! Bring wine.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It’s not you, It’s me. Seriously, it’s me.

So the other day, unconciously, I was pulling at my earlobe all day (my earrings had irritated it) and the next morning, while she was eating her breakfast Tinsley started doing the same thing. At first it was cute but then it got me thinking…(which is a small step from obsessing)…my babies (who are barely babies at this age) are definitely in the mimicking phase. It is really all around adorable when they answer their toy phones or twirl their hair like me or hum to Fun. on the radio. They understand a lot (they also understand a lot in French because their nanny speaks to them exclusively in French, which is like whoa, they have more French words than me) but anyways, they really do grasp complex conversation more than I realized. And here’s the thing, it started to freak me out a little. I mean obviously there is the concern with swear words (talking to you Daddy, the balance of your IOU swear tab should be deposited in mommy’s Louis Vuitton luggage fund T and A’s 529b acct) but also, we should be worried about sarcasm (talking to you Mommy) and then something else occured to me…I started worrying about raising a girl in this materialistic, vanity obsessed world and crap, I might need to think about how I model my own behavior in front of her. She gets a lot more than I give her credit for. Let me explain…

Recently, I have been on a kick to lose 5 pounds (sounds ridiculous, I know) but after the hormones recently and the major stress of moving/remodeling not so recently, I found my eating and exercising were a mess. So, I’ve sworn off starch and fistfuls of cheese (my weakness), I’m trying to cut the wine out during the week (stabs self in eye with rusty fork) and I am pushing hard to get back into the gym for a serious workout 3 times a week. Which are all just a little more severe than good, healthy living choices except, I’m not doing it to be healthy (well not really.) I started up this plan to lose 5 freaking pounds. And as I watched my 19 month old daughter pull her earlobe and repeat back my incessant singing along, I thought “oh shit, what am I doing to her.”

I mean we all know how hard it is to be a girl in this day and age. There are some really talented mom bloggers out there writing eloquently on this subject (read some of them here and here) and their posts drove home how much I need to foster confidence and self esteem in my daughter (of course, in my son too but his battles might be slightly different.) After reading them, I was thinking about how I would tell her she is beautiful but that she is also smart and powerful and unique and that her brain and her heart will take her much further than her looks. I was thinking about my personal commitment to keep anything “princess” out of her life for as long as possible. (We can talk about that later.) I was thinking of how I will get her to volunteer and do things that will help her develop empathy and compassion and hopefully, she will learn the beauty of doing for others is so much more beautiful than just beauty. I will tell her how my former self tried so hard to be blonder, thinner and happier than I really was and how in the end, that was a major fail. She will see the error of my ways because my much older, wiser, secure self will save her from those same silly mistakes.

And then I will obsess over 5 pounds, not eat bread, talk about how I need to be on a diet all the time and constantly obsess over the way legs look like arms here in LA. Whoa, I think, that is a major f*ck up on my part, no? Until her friends and US Weekly take over, I am really all she knows and sees. I am her model on which she will model her behavior. And, I am a vain, vain girl. I am obsessed over 5 pounds. I had better get it together right now and probably forever, before I do some serious damage that no volunteer gig or anti-princess campaign can overcome.

I’ve seen the pledge to stop using the F word (F word here being fat) and I had thought long and hard about how I would talk to Tinsley about these kinds of things but honestly, I just hadn’t thought enough about how much my personal demons will haunt her unless I work out my own issues someplace besides in front of her. Truth is I am a work in progress. Becoming a mom did not suddenly take away everything that the world has hammered into me for the last 30-ish years. I’m not going to be able to change my own self image issues over night but at least I am now acutely aware of what I am doing.

I would die a little bit a thousand times over if Tins starting obsessing about 5 pounds. Anorexia, bulimia and other body image issues are hugely on the rise with young girls, so it’s not that uncommon for moms to hear their 10 year old daughters worry about being fat. They are bombarded with a societal need to be skinny. The very last place these girls need to see and hear about skinny is at home. Yuck, stop it right now Christina. I mean it.

Who is raising young girls right now and how do you handle this issue? I’d love to hear (and share if you like) your stories and advice.

xoxo-c

 

 

 

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Crock pot goes crazy

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday if you celebrated. I wanted to share a crazy, now tested crock pot recipe with you. I don’t have any pictures because it’s really not a fancy-to-look-at dish and making it is slightly repulsive but against all odds I am telling you it tasted AH-MAZING!

Jeff found a version of this somewhere online* and I adapted because I hate measuring and also original recipe called for brisket which always comes out tough so I switched brisket for tri-tip. I have no idea what the difference really is to be honest.

Weird a$$ tri-tip crock pot recipe:

  • Some tri-tip, I don’t know how much I guess however much you can eat and fits in your crock
  • 1 can of coke
  • 2/3 a cup dijon mustard (or just a bunch of dijon mustard if you’re me)
  • 2/3 a cup ketchup (repeat footnote above)
  • Half a packet of onion soup mix (or a whole packet if you’re me and you don’t know what to do with half a packet of onion soup mix and figure it will only be a matter of minutes before the babies get half open packet and spew onion mix all over house)
  • A few cloves of garlic
  • Season your beef with salt and pepper
  • Mix all the nasty stuff together in the crock pot, then add the meat, cook on high for a little while (or as long as it takes for you to remember to turn it down hopefully not too long) then continue cooking on low for 6-8 hours or until the meat is tender-delicious.

I kid you not, this is so good.

I served mine with very grownup celeriac, mashed potatoes which are also super fantastic.

*if there is credit for this recipe somewhere out there please know the credit goes to that original poster. I am a copycat, cooker at best.

xoxo-c

ps: thank you for all the really kind and moving responses to my IF post. I can’t tell you how much my heart breaks with every story, similar to mine that I read. IF just freaking sucks. But we keep on fighting the good fight, don’t we? Love to all.

 

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

the infertiles

Disclaimer: This blog didn’t start out as a highly personal blog. It also wasn’t a cooking blog or fashion blog and certainly not a mommy blog. It was just a little place for me and S to share things we liked. But everyone who reads knows as life evolved so did our blog.

This might come as a big TMI-WTF moment for some of you. Some of you might think this is all too personal and weird and frankly a little icky for a happy, pink blog. And, forewarned is fair warned-this is going to sting a little for me and for you. But truthfully, if this blog is to continue it’s going to have to be more about my personal, unglossed experiences because I don’t do much vanity baking these days.

Truth. Starting with a little history.

You find your niche on the interwebs pretty easily if you look. If you’re an indy fashion lover or a foodie or a new mom-there’s a twitter hash tag for you. No exception for those who are struggling with infertility (IF). The IF community is vast, active and amazing. Twitter, FB, IRL (in real life) meetings at Resolve, Yahoo group meet-ups, you name it-you can find a place to share your hopes, your experiences, your happy or sad outcomes. You can share complex medical stuff without a lot of back story. You can ask questions, searching for a nugget of hope among people who are used to spending a lot of time hoping. You can bide your 2 week waits with other people having their own 2ww. Sometimes you feel better for visiting, sometimes you feel worse.

(*Everyone dealing with IF knows the alphabet soup but at the end of this post you will find a list of the acronyms and what they mean should this all be new to you.)

On many IF message boards people list their TTC history under their username. Instead of a traditional signature line they have a timeline of their treatments and the outcome; a bunch of dates, acronyms, numbers and sometimes, emoticons with angel wings or little smiley faces with clapping hands, those don’t need any explanation. I guess they do this for cathartic reasons and maybe to share their own obscure details in hopes they find a connection with someone in exactly the same, unusual boat. I read these boards all the time but I don’t have a profile, I don’t have a timeline and I’ve never shared (publicly) the details of our struggles. Partly because when you see people who have a history that goes on for many, many years without a positive outcome it’s hard to feel like you belong. Like maybe you shouldn’t be complaining, I guess. We have had it bad but certainly not as difficult as some people. We have twins after all. Truthfully though, one pregnancy loss or even one year TTC without success drafts you into the club. And I assure you, one miscarriage is suffering enough. Three has made me a lifelong member.

There is a stigma associated with pregnancy loss and infertility, so many people don’t share their story except with close friends or other people in the same situation, which makes it hard because you are being ripped apart emotionally, ravaged with hormones physically but no one really knows. It feels taboo to talk about it here, unprovoked; out of context if you will. But while I am not defined by my struggles with IF, it is a huge part of my life and to never include it on the blog about my life seems fraudulent. This is not a cautionary tale, not an advice post (I don’t have any.) There isn’t a witty wrap-up at the end or anecdotal notes along the way. This is just our story. Told like this for the first time.

So here it goes (I have to admit seeing this written out hurts more than I thought it would. And my list feels plenty long.)

  • 2006 Married!
  • 2007 begin TTC but not feeling any pressure, we’re in no rush!
  • 6/2007 whoa HPT positive (!!), beta negative (meaning we conceived but it didn’t even make it long enough to take the standard doctors office blood test called a beta which they administer 2 weeks after you’ve missed your period.)
  • Continue TTC, no pressure but we’ve been trying for over 2 years not a good sign
  • 7/2009 HPT positive (!!), beta POSITIVE, HCG low, on progesterone support therapy
  • 9/16/2009- no heartbeat today, secondary ultrasound confirms miscarriage, WTF? It happens, it’s a sad, normal thing, blah blah blah.
  • 9/22/2009 (first day of fall, my favorite day of the year)- go for a D and C
  • 1/2010- meet with RE, all invasive, painful tests return favorable results, no explicable reason for IF, miscarriages likely chromosomal (meaning natural, bad, luck of the draw) suggests we start slow with Clomid, will probably be enough, yeah! Or not.
  • 2/2010-Clomid-failed, no pregnancy
  • 3/2010-IUI with injectable Folistem-failed, no pregnancy
  • 4/2010-IUI with injectable Folistem-failed, no pregnancy
  • 5/2010-begin IVF meds-5 shots per day in stomach
  • 6/8/2010-egg retrieval, 22 follicles, 18 eggs fertilized, only 4 make it through PGD
  • 6/13/2010- Fresh embryo transfer of 2, grade A 5 day blasts, freeze 2 grade A blasts
  • 6/22/2010-HPT POSITIVE (!!!) beta POSITIVE (!!) It’s twins!
  • 2/2/2011 welcome Tinsley and Aiden, 36 weeks, 5lbs, perfect.
  • 10/6/2011 whoa, period late, surprise, HPT positive (!!), beta positive (!!), HCG great
  • 10/16/2011 spontaneous miscarriage. I am crushed.
  • Go on with life raising two babies, we have 2 frozen embryos after all
  • Plan, plan, plan, wait for the perfect time to implant our frozen embryos
  • 8/2012 begin progesterone, estrace, prednisone to prepare for FET
  • 8/2012 transfer our 2, grade A, perfectly thawed embryos
  • 9/2012 HPT negative, beta negative-transfer failed. Not possible. Only it is. I am crushed, again.

And so, we tried. We kissed our beautiful babies good night and then we kissed little, paper pictures of our embryos good night. And together, we held our breath and hoped for the best. It wasn’t meant to be, again, but that doesn’t mean it’s never meant to be. We will try again because we can, because no doctor has told us to give up. Because we want a big family and that doesn’t seem unreasonable. Because having twins doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to have more children if that’s what we want. But, I am terrified of being pregnant and I am terrified of not being pregnant. Every month we weren’t pregnant felt like a million years until we could try again. Every double pink line and beta positive a collective hold your breath. And the waiting, for the love of g*d, the waiting can kill a person.

It has taken a toll on me and on my husband. It twists like a knife in the soft, fleshy part. It fills you with fear, with anger, with dread but also with longing and with resolve. You cannot imagine the roller coaster that is IF unless of course you’ve experienced. Which I really hope you haven’t but if you are out there in the same boat- waiting and wishing and hoping, or grieving- I send you this virtual hug. Soldier on sister.

xoxo-c

 

  • TTC-trying to conceive
  • HPT-home pregnancy test
  • RE-Reproductive endocrinologist, a fertility doctor
  • HCG- human chorionic gonadotropin, the hormone produced during pregnancy and measured by HPT or beta tests when first pregnant
  • Clomid-devil drug used to stimulate ovulation
  • IUI-intrauterine insemination
  • D and C- Dilation and Curettage
  • PGD-pre-implantation genetic diagnosis used in our case to determine which embryos were viable for transfer
  • 5 day blast-best developed embryo used for transfer
  • FET-frozen embryo transfer
  • 2ww-the 2 week wait between treatments, transfers and betas, followed by the 2ww between OB visits constantly monitoring for a heartbeat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by c at 11:28 PM Add a comment
Sunday, September 9, 2012

Country. Fried.

Some of you probably know that in March of last year we packed up our boxes and said bye bye to Bev Hills. Bye bye to traffic, crime, smog and small backyards; hello to wide open spaces, big yards, easy parking, PUBLIC schools. It was to say the least, a BIG change but one that I fully embraced as an upgrade. My husband, bless his heart was less convinced but loved our new house and also knows, “happy wife-happy life” so off we went.

I have a big garden, a pool, an atrium, 6 bedrooms, a charming rooster across the street at Lisa Marie Presley’s house and omg I also have…

This:

The Israeli Cricket also DBA Potato Bug and Satan’s Death Cricket. Um, yeah. It is that bad and please don’t be misled by the picture, this thing is freaking huge. And its eyes y’all. *Shudder* He was waiting for me outside my front door one morning. Like a demonic, welcoming committee.

I also have this:

*someone else’s picture and Hornworm, mine is smashed into green goo-credit and link here*

The Tomato Hornworm (aka, your tomatoes just got their a$$ kicked.) So, I found this little, six inch gem on my arm whilst trying to remove the 100 half eaten tomatoes which I thought had been pillaged by some sort of rodent (based on the repulsive amount of droppings around the tomatoes.) Imagine my surprise when this guy clasped his grimy, alien tentacles onto my arm. And they DON’T let go. Like a passenger on a Titanic lifeboat, these mofo’s hold on for dear life. To say I screamed would in fact be an understatement. I screamed on and off for probably two weeks.

Ok. Satan beetle-check. And now the death worm from hell. Ok. Country living is starting to feel slightly scary.

Flash forward to this:

A mother fck%ng (pardon my French) snake in my bathroom. Yep, that’s my bathroom tile and that’s a young, gopher snake. Kill me now. And big shout out to my THREE dogs (two terriers and one 85 lb German Shepard) who never barked once while this thing was enjoying his free nights stay in my bedroom. We spared him his life but did fling him into Lisa Marie’s yard. A fate worse than death maybe?

Real life LIVE snake my bathroom-check.

Ready for one more?

*not my actual picture-someone else’s murderous bird of prey, credit here*

Imagine this: I’m sleeping because it’s 1:30 a.m. and my dogs (who never barked at the snake) start barking, growling and going crazy. I instantly assume snakes are back in force to avenge eviction of their brother (like when they kick out the teenage Mormon boys on Big Love and they all come back later to seek revenge on Roman and his followers.) Anyways. Try to wake up husband, remember he is in New York. Shit. Get up. Turn on lights. Look for snake or murderer. Check on babies. All is well. Nothing to be seen anywhere. Dogs stop barking. Fine. Lights off. Back to sleep.

Five minutes later. *Bang bang bang* Smash smash smash* Oh shit, I am being robbed. Discover sound is coming from chimney above my bedroom fireplace. I am now sure an animal has fallen down the chimney into my fireplace. Expect to see very angry raccoon trapped in fireplace. No. Hmmm. Continue listening to this awful banging, (add some screeching) for about 15 minutes. Silence. WTF? Finally fall asleep.

Wake up. Feed babies. Wonder if I dreamed the whole thing. See pool guy. Tell him about noise to which he says?nodding “Oh sure, that’s the owl. I’ve been finding small, animal carcasses near your pool for a few weeks now. They catch the rabbits, bludgeon them to death, then they dip them in the pool, eat the meat and leave the bones for me to clean up. Guess he likes sitting on your chimney. Hey, enjoy your coffee, man your kids are cute, can you give this invoice to your husband. I didn’t charge you for taking away the dead animals.” Har har har.

Homicidal owl-check.

You. Cannot. Be. Serious.

Um, anyone have a rental in the city?

Xoxo-c

ps: do you know you can actually Google image “homicidal owl” and get multiple results?

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Friday, September 7, 2012

The Parent Trap

The Parent Trap-

I don’t know why it took me so long to see this for what it is. I guess I just needed it to really smack me upside the head (both literally and figuratively) to see the light. I know being a twin mom is hard, being a mom to one toddler is hard, being a mom to any living, breathing creature of any age is just hard. True it is also rewarding, amazing, touching, life changing, etc. It’s hard for different reasons at different stages but it?s no less hard at any one phase (as far as I can see.) It’s an ever evolving process of things working themselves out and then falling apart in different ways. It’s all just a phase-the bad and the good. Just when you think things are smooth sailing from here on out, oh just you wait. That’s a phase too. It’s just the way it is.

When my babies were new, tiny premies it was hard because they were so small and I was so new and scared and unsure of myself as a parent. I really didn’t know what to do. So I asked everyone; looked for advice on the web, from strangers in Starbucks, from our pediatrician, our night nurse, from my mom, from other moms, basically everyone. And for every person I asked I got a slightly different answer. Some days, I was rendered motionless because I had so many options I couldn’t figure out what was right for us. Sort of like the first hour of the first day of the Neiman’s shoe sale. Too many freaking choices *brain explodes.*

Time marches on even if you’re standing still in confusion. We muddled through bottles and boobs eventually graduated out of the tiny premie-just keep me alive phase into a regular infant-you’d think I’d be harder to break now phase. But then came weaning and sleep training and argh *brain explodes again.* I mean seriously there are as many opinions on getting your baby to sleep as there are babies who need to get to sleep and parents trying to make that happen. I struggled with decisions on methods and response times and everyone in my house did something different. It was an awful, confusing, jumble of inconsistent, exhausting soup. Imagine how confusing for the babies. Finally, after a long process of doubts and guilt and really hard nights; born of basic survival-we found a plan and agreed on it. Even today when the going gets tough we reapply those principles and stick to our guns.

So why I’ve found myself in this same boat again with our new situation is a mystery to me, except it’s not. Why have I spent 8 weeks doing one thing one day and one thing the next, doubting every move, choice, or non-choice I make? I don’t know, yes, I do. Because the consequences of my choices, of what I do now are serious. Repercussions to be felt for many years to come- for me, for the babies, maybe even for their babies. I mean, boob or bottle is a debate to be had for sure but timeout-discipline vs. hold them tight and never say no is probably going to have some lifelong impact on their behavior and likely, my relationship with them. Who knows which is right? Only the mommy who is trying to figure it out, is who. What’s right for her and her babes, might not be right for me and my babes. What applies equally to everyone is that doing nothing is worse than doing something reasonable.

And so, came the familiar moment of clarity when for maybe the 100th time my son whacked my daughter on the head and this time- I lost it. Not my proudest moment as a mom. I lost it because I felt helpless and the situation felt hopeless. Neither of which are really true. “I just don’t know what to do!” Sob, whine. *Wrong* I have plenty of ideas of what to do but I need to believe in myself and have confidence to do it. I need to be the bigger, braver person here because I’m the Mom to these two babies. I need to buy the ticket and hang on for the ride. Not question every decision I make. Indecision and inconsistency have caused things to be 10 times worse. Cowboy up Christina. It’s not supposed to be easy and teaching tiny, unsocialized cavemen how to grow up into well behaved adults is not going to happen in one week. Anyone who tells you they don’t have “those problems” is full of crap. They might not have that specific problem but they have a different one because kids aren’t robots and no one is perfect.

My unsolicited advice to myself my new mom friends is this: stop asking for advice (sometimes.) You know more than you think (most of the time) and no one, I mean no one, knows your baby like you do. Don’t doubt your very own, innate ability to make a decision that can be the right one. Of course, be alert and humble enough to know when it’s time to raise the white flag and regroup but give it a chance, give yourself a chance and give your kids a chance. Successful parenting is a process. Give it a little time. Then give yourself a break, a pat on the back and big glass of wine. You’re raising brilliant babies and you’re doing a great job.

Happy weekending.

xoxo~c

 

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