Coming and Going

I find myself typing this entry on my final Friday as a resident of the state of California. In a few days, we will be boarding a plane and heading to our new home in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. I am also typing this on quite possibly the most beautiful and the warmest day of 2015 thus far. The sky is brilliant blue and the grass is green from the abundance of rain we received weeks ago. The sun is warm and shining bright. The thermometer says 72 degrees.

I have had some time to reflect on the things I’ll miss the most about California, and the things I won’t miss at all.

I’ll miss….

The weather. Duh. No shit. Here in Northern California, just north of San Francisco, we are fortunate enough to enjoy a temperate climate almost all year long. Even in the ‘dog days of summer’, any dog can happily exist. The heat is balanced nicely by cooler nights and virtually zero humidity. The sun shines an average of 260 days here in Marin. Hard to beat that. Even the rest of the weather is pretty kick-ass.

The easy availability of ridiculously FRESH produce. Even the chain grocery stores carry local produce. Enjoying produce this fresh has become so nice, and I’ll admit, I am completely spoiled. Many times I opted to not even buy anything in the grocery store, but rather did all my shopping at our local Farmer’s Market each week. The wide variety and constant availability made obtaining even the most obscure item a breeze.

The nonchalance of public breastfeeding. This is a biggie for me. I have been so fortunate to live in a part of the country where breastfeeding is not only encouraged, but embraced. Not one time did anyone even bat an eye on the occasion that I nursed my daughter in public. I was met with smiles, not scowls. I distinctly recall one day in particular. I ventured into San Francisco to attend my first babywearing meeting, and even though I was nervous, I felt so comfortable with this wonderful group of women who freely nursed their own babies. With my daughter being 10 weeks old, I quickly joined their ranks. This was my first real experience of nursing in public, and it was such a positive one, I still carry it with me. I recall wishing that someone would have the balls to chastise me, just hoping to whip out my copy of the State/Federal law, but it never happened. I hope I continue to be this lucky.

The tolerance. I will probably miss this the most. I absolutely love living in a part of the country where people can feel comfortable being WHO they are and being able to display their love openly and without reproach. I’ve seen countless same-sex couples walking hand-in-hand, kissing, embracing, and sharing their affection. I love the fact that I have seen it more times than I can recall. This is how it should be, folks. Love is love, love isn’t anatomy.

Things I won’t miss….

The cost of living. Suffice it to say, my husband and I made a good living, yet home ownership was consistently out of reach. When a simple three-bedroom, two-bath home with no bells and whistles cost upwards of $1 million dollars, you can see how this can happen. I’m sorry, maybe it’s the Midwestern gal in me, but I can’t stomach that. It’s a house. A house and nothing more. Yeah, I understand that it’s desirable to live here with all the perks, but really? When the cost of living begins to squeeze out the true middle class, there’s a problem. To those of you who made it work, my hat’s off to you. If I had stayed here long enough, perhaps I would become privvy to your tricks. However, I won’t miss writing a mortgage check every month for $4,000. I’ll also think of you when I scramble my eggs for breakfast that I bought at the grocery store for a $1/dozen.

The traffic. I think my blood pressure will decrease by at least 40 points when I leave this behind. The Bay Area continues to grow and grow and the traffic multiplies as a result. I can’t count how many times we wanted to enjoy a few hours at the beach only to be greeted by gridlock traffic. We never did make it there. Weekends are a popular time for EVERYONE to venture out to the coast, not just tourists. I chuckled one weekend when my sister-in-law and her husband came over to visit and told us of their dinner reservations the night before. They hadn’t planned on any traffic issues heading into the city and were shocked to discover that it took literal HOURS to drive a mere SIXTEEN miles.

Welcome to the Bay Area, sis. Enjoy the ride. You’re gonna be there a while.

I’m sure I’m missing a few on either side of the pro/con list, but you get the idea. The grass isn’t always greener, and I’m not fooling myself to think that there aren’t issues where we are headed, but I am excited to find out….from our four bedroom, two and a half bathroom HOUSE, as I watch the snow fall.

Remind me to buy a winter coat.

Goodbye, Milk. Hello Babies.

I have come to a big decision.

I am donating ALL of my frozen breastmilk. All of it. Every single ounce.

Liquid gold.

            486.75 ounces of liquid gold

This photo represents countless hours of pumping both at home, while traveling, and at work. I have dedicated the past year to this effort, and I can’t help but beam with pride every time I look at it. It’s hard work. It’s necessary work. It’s the best job I have ever had, and I am proud that I have not only helped my daughter with my efforts, but countless NICU and preemie babies via 1,000 ounces to Prolacta Bioscience. I have also donated locally to fellow mamas who had difficulties providing their own babies with breastmilk. All tallied, I have likely donated close to 2,000 ounces to others.

I now will make my final donation this week.

I came to the realization that I don’t need this milk as much as others do. I will be home with my daughter where she can drink her milk straight from the tap. Rather than risk this precious cargo being lost or damaged en route, I have decided to put it where it can do the most good in the growing bellies of other babies.

My very last donation will go to a local same sex couple who had twins via a surrogate and they are doing their very best to provide breastmilk for them. Being so moved by their dedication, I decided that this would be a great way to end this chapter of breastfeeding.

I’m not even sad. I’m really not. I’m so happy right now. I feel relieved. I feel happy. I feel fulfilled.

In a few days’ time my deep freezer will be empty, but my heart will be full.

365 days

Today it’s official.

I am now breastfeeding a toddler. Some may even call it “extended breastfeeding”. But, to me, it’s the most natural thing in the world.

What a year it’s been.

Marathon feeding sessions, growth spurts, sore nipples, worry about baby’s weight gain, keeping track of feedings, counting wet and dirty diapers, and mastering new nursing positions.

I still marvel at the simplicity of it all. I have been able to singlehandedly sustain another human body for the past year. I have nourished my daughter’s body and my soul. I am humbled by the greatness and power of breastfeeding. We are forever bonded in a way that mere words cannot express.

Was it always easy? Hell no. Was it always worth it? Hell yes.

Thank you to those who helped me along the way. My friends. My family. My wonderful husband who never gave up, even when I contemplated it. My mother who supported me unconditionally. To the moms who came before me: thank you. You are a source of inspiration and motivation.

While everyone may not follow this path, I cannot imagine taking a different road. This is the road I was meant to travel. Along my journey, I have also been fortunate enough to help nourish other babies with my milk donations. I can only hope that my gift allowed those small warriors to fight another day.

I cherish each morning when we wake for the day. I bring my sweet girl to bed, lay her body close to mine, and we share a few uninterrupted moments together. It’s more than milk. It’s memories. For those moments, we are inseparable. We are a team.

I love you, Julia Mae. Thank you for this past year. I’m looking forward to the next leg of our journey.

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

What’s that trite little saying? “Never say Never”?

Yeah. That.

It’s true. All three words. Why?

Because we are moving. Leaving California. Heading to St. Louis, MO. No, that’s not a typo. No, you don’t have to adjust your monitor. No, you don’t have to blink three times.

Pick up your chin off the ground.

After careful consideration and a few sleepless nights rolling around the pros and cons in my brain, I finally fessed up to my husband that yes, a move to the Midwest would do us well. The list of pros and cons in my brain were woefully unbalanced. The only real ‘con’ was WEATHER.

Really?

WEATHER.

And let’s face it: with proper apparel, that’s not even really a ‘con’. It’s a nuisance at best, but not a true ‘con’.

Aside from the change of seasons, and colder climes, I really couldn’t come up with a single reason why a move wasn’t in our best interest. The pros were being closer to family (both sides), being able to afford a true HOME. You know, like the one that has three or four bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, ample square footage, a YARD. Remember those? Yeah. Here in Marin, a simple shack will cost you upwards of ONE. MILLION. DOLLARS.

Roll that around in your brain for a while, why don’t you. Chew on it. Let it settle for a bit.

Oh, now you CAN find a decent spread here for about $800,000, but it’s certainly not the norm. Home prices seem to keep climbing, and climbing, and climbing. Pay? Not so much. I suppose it’s the Midwestern gal in me that literally chokes when she sees these homes that are nothing special going for seven figures. Ridiculous. Simply ridiculous. I might as well print Monopoly money and use that to make a down payment, because that’s exactly how it feels. For those out there who think this is just the ‘market’, and you choose to make those insane monthly mortgage payments, good for you. You’re either wealthy, or you’re house poor, and I will likely never be the former, and I hope I’m never the latter.

So, moving on….(no pun intended)…..

James’ employer is based in St. Louis, and I know that having him local will be a huge benefit to him AND them. I see the writing on the wall. They WANT him there. Why not give them what they want, I say? Me, the wife who said she would DIE here in California. The wife who said you would have to drag her kicking and screaming from this state I lovingly thought would be the final one in which I would reside. The wife who finally realized that sometimes you have to have the grace to know when you’re wrong and admit it.

The time is right. It FEELS good to eat crow this time.

With a bit of anxiety, I submitted my official resignation yesterday. I am providing a 60-day notice, so hopefully there will be the opportunity to fill my position. There are several other identical positions like mine open, so I’m not overly optimistic that it will happen, but hey, at least I’m giving ample warning.

And yes, it felt GOOOOOOD to hit SEND on that email. I won’t lie. I’ll save those thoughts for another post.

So, the proverbial cat is now out of the bag, our friends and family have heaved their collective gasps, and now we embark upon a new family adventure. I look forward to being closer to my son, my mom, my friends, and to providing much more for our daughter than we ever could have here in California. To stay here would have been incredibly selfish, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that sometimes doing what’s best for others is ultimately what’s best for you.

Now, the fun begins…..

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Flying Solo

Daddy left for St. Louis today for work, and that leaves us gals here at home. First things first. Julia and I took a trip to Whole Foods for some essentials during daddy’s absence:

essentials

Wine for mommy’s sippy cup.

Now then, I believe we will be just fine. Looking forward to spending some one-on-one time with my best gal. It goes without saying that we will miss daddy, but Friday will be here before we know it. In the meantime, we will binge-watch some Scandal, spend an afternoon at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, head to the Farmer’s Market, and perhaps even walk the Civic Center loop and say hello to the local ducks and geese.

We will be VERY busy indeed.

And if things get stressful or my small, but mighty companion gets fussy, there’s always mommy’s sippy cup….

Cheers!

Scandalous Binge

I can’t believe it.

I am actually watching a network series. I haven’t watched network television in years, but thanks to Netflix, I am now hopelessly addicted to Scandal. I am binge-watching like nobody’s business.

Sigh….

Two seasons almost down, and two to go. Things I know: I don’t like Jake. I love Fitz. Hate Mellie. Love Olivia. Not sure about Huck. Harrison is hot. Abby is annoying. Quinn is pathetic. I have a hard time keeping track of the double crossing, the double crossing the double crossers, and all the secrets, but one thing is sure: this show is a seriously guilty pleasure. Thanks to Shonda Rhimes for bringing to me.

Pass the wine and popcorn.

scandal

Well, hello 2015.

Just checked the date of my last entry.

October.

Jesus. I suck at this whole blogging thing. I keep saying I’m going to blog more, and poof. Months and months pass. Does it count that I have really great intentions?

Whatever.

Here we are in the new year with birthdays approaching. One for my son in a week’s time and another for my daughter in less than a month. Wow. I’ll soon be the mother of both a 16-year old, and a 1-year old. That’s some crazy shit.

To follow up on the sleep post that happened to be the topic of my last entry, I am happy to report that we found our way out of that sleepless forest and found our happily sleeping baby once again. She now routinely sleeps 12 hours each night, and up until yesterday was napping nicely twice per day. She’s been practicing a lot of new skills that keep her wanting to practice near constantly, so naps? Nah. Not so much in the afternoon. We’ll see if that’s a phase or not. I’m just happy that the sleepless insomniac baby has been replaced by this one. I like this model much better.

Life is good. No complaints. I’m still lucky enough to work only two night shifts per week on the weekends, which allow me five days per week to be with my daughter. It’s not a bad gig. My ‘full-time boss’ may be small, but she’s mighty. The pay sucks, but the dividends are great.

Kudos to my husband who achieved a new work certification. He just keeps on kicking ass and taking names.

Looking forward to spring and our first trip to Hawaii. Heading to Kauai in April. Can’t wait to kick back, unplug, unwind, and relax. Bring on the tropical drinks, warm breezes, and beautiful sunsets.

Until the next great thought strikes, I leave you with this:

Life-is-too-short-to-be-serious..