Sunrise, no thanks.

My puppy doesn’t sleep well.  It’s probably my fault, though I’d like to blame someone else.  I always like to gently rest the blame for stuff on the shoulders of others.  Just ask my poor, long-suffering husband.

So last night I went to bed at 3:00 a.m. and that puppy was awake at 4:30 a.m.  The breeder let me know that I can’t expect that puppy bladder to sleep all night long, so I shuffled into my slippers and shrugged into a bathrobe and took that puppy bladder outside.  The puppy wagged her tail at me, so happy to see me awake at 4:30 a.m. and lay down on the chilly concrete.

The problem is that I am incapable of rational thought when sleep-deprived.  That explains why I slept on the couch, that silly pup curled up on the down comforter near my legs.  We slept quite soundly until 6 a.m. when she declared it breakfast time.  After she gobbled her food, I lay back on the couch and she curled again near my calves and we slept until 7:30 a.m.  Which seems utterly reasonable unless you went to bed at 3 a.m., which I did.

I wonder if I’ll ever sleep again, really sleep.

I’m not naturally a morning person, regardless of my bedtime.  This reminds me of when my kids were babies and I was forced out of bed before dawn.  I hated that then and I hate it now. Even though I always kind of like to see Matt Lauer in the mornings.

In other news, the weather here is lovely.

I only wish I weren’t awake to see the sun rise each morning.

Year in the rear-view window

As I race into the New Year, I don’t have time to even peer into the rear-view mirror to review it . . . lest I steer clear off the road.

Have you ever tried to take a photo while speeding down the highway as you’re driving?  Or even while you’re a passenger?  And just as you think you can snap a photo, a semi-truck chugs into the frame?  And you end up getting a blurry image which fails to do justice to what you saw for a brief moment?

Last year at this time, Iwas living with my four kids back in the Seattle area.  My husband had been home for a week before he returned here to Southern California and to his job.  I’d just paid a painter to paint the interior of my house–the house we lived in for almost 12 years.

We sold that house last October for much less than we’d hoped to get.

You know what I miss about that house?  My washer and dryer.  Now, I’m in a beautiful house but it takes two hours to dry a load of laundry.  This has cramped my style.

Anyway, last year at this time I was bobbing along in a strong current of anxiety.  I worried about so many things:  my children’s reaction to moving so far away, the reality of living in a much more expensive area of the country, buying and selling real estate in two different states, the sheer enormity of purging, sorting, packing and moving our household.

Everything sped by so fast that I have only blurry remembrances of it.

I took a few photos that kind of break my heart, like this of my son swinging with his friend (the neighbor boy we’d known since he was three years old) in our old back yard, days before we moved:

Moving a great distance when your kids are more than half-grown emphasizes the bitter part of the bittersweet motion of life.  You realize that your cozy little family is transitory and you feel the pang of loss, even while you still hold the thing you mourn in the palm of your hand.

Moving was hard.

Change was hard.

I am loving the weather here and loving my house and loving being together with my husband and family all under one roof.

But I haven’t found my niche.  I haven’t really found my people yet.  I haven’t found a satisfactory rhythm.  I’m still racing so fast that I practically trip every other step.

The sunsets help.

This year,  I hope to find a slower pace.  I hope our puppy stops nipping.  I hope someday to sleep again past 6 a.m. (See also:  Puppy).

I intend to read my Bible more regularly, to exercise vigorously, and to cook dinner more often than I don’t cook dinner.

My family would appreciate clean, matched socks in their drawers, so I’m going to work on improving that area of my homekeeping as well.

I’d like to ease my foot off the gas pedal so the view isn’t such a blur as I pass through my life.

And I plan to write here more regularly for both the sake of record-keeping and for my mental health.

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours . . .

Busy, busier and busiest

I’m sorry I haven’t updated this site in the past couple of weeks.  I’ve been busy.  (That is such an understatement.)

We had company for ten days.  My son’s girlfriend came to visit and brought along her 16-year old sister.








Then, a few days after they arrived, I abandoned everyone and went to New York on business.   New York is so beautiful during the holidays.  (My husband held down the fort at home.)








Over the course of three days, I slept a total of nine hours.  Before I left the city, I indulged in the Lunch of Champions.  What?  Cupcakes and Diet Coke . . . is there a problem?









A few days after I returned home, I took our visitors and my youngest kids to Disneyland.  Grace had so much fun taking pictures of the parade.  There were approximately EIGHT BILLION people at Disneyland.








Later, that Saturday night  . . . my husband brought home a new puppy.  I was in on the planning . . . but still.  So.  Much.  Work.











Who needs sleep?  Not Lola the Puppy.  At least not between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Our best night was last night . . . the puppy woke me at 3 a.m.  However, once delivered to the back yard, she just stretched and settled down on the patio.  I told her “go your job” and she just looked at me, so back to bed for me and crate for her.

She slept until 6:45 a.m., which was  Christmas miracle.  I took her outside and wrapped myself in a down comforter, curled onto the love seat on the patio and slept while the puppy ate and frolicked.  She came to the love seat and so I lifted her up and she snuggled right in and napped.

It’s ridiculous that I have been napping in my own back yard, wearing my nightgown, wrapped in a down comforter, but at this point, I will do most anything to sleep.

Now, I am off to procure a ham and other vittles for Christmas Day.

And today at the beach . . .


Seagulls fighting over an unopened package of Cheetos.  Seriously entertaining fun at the beach.

Things I did not do today:

1)  Write my annual Christmas letter.
2)  Cook any sort of meal.
3)  Find the sturdy green extension cords I know for a fact that I packed and moved to this house.

The end.

Bah humbug

Hi.  So, my mom was here for two weeks.  (Hi, Mom!)  I took a little time off work, saw the sun set a few times, cooked a whole Thanksgiving dinner, dragged out the Christmas decorations and got my driver’s license.

I also managed to keep the kids alive, though one of them reportedly went to school wearing one black sock and one white sock.  He claimed that’s because he’s not racist but I think it’s really because I haven’t folded socks for awhile.

December starts tomorrow and I’m a little overwhelmed by the pace of life already.  Add in a Christmas brunch, various social obligations, creating Christmas magic for the kids and an upcoming ten day visit by more company . . . and I just want to take a long winter’s nap.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I baked a pecan pie today.  I even made the crust from scratch.

I made a peanut-butter chocolate cream pie.  I chopped onions and celery and green olives because that’s what will go in my stuffing.  What?  You don’t put green olives in your stuffing?  You have no idea what you’re missing.

Tomorrow I will cook the Thanksgiving feast, though my 18-year old son will make the green bean casserole.

We’ll be using cloth napkins but only because I ran out of paper napkins.

My mother has been here for a week, which has been fun.  We’ve been having lunch out most days and have been to the ocean a couple of times to watch the sun set.  Today she chopped cranberries for the Cranberry Fluff she makes every year–I think we’re the only two who eat it, but she makes it anyway because it really wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it.

The past year has been full of craziness and stress and unexpected events and blessings.  I am thankful for all of it.  (Well, most of it.  Some of the stress was kind of . . . unwelcome.)

Mostly, though, I’m thankful for my family–especially my husband who has finally grown to appreciate stuffing with raisins and green olives in it.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Count your blessings . . . name them one by one.

























In the state of California,  you are supposed to apply for a new driver’s license within ten days of your arrival.

I arrived 151 days ago.

Every time I would drive past a police officer, I would flinch.  Every time I’d see a California Highway Patrol officer on a motorcycle, I would yell, “ERIK ESTRADA!”  And then I’d flinch.

I was so afraid I’d be stopped and they’d ask for identification and I’d have to hand over my Washington driver’s license and then I’d be arrested and land in the jail just to make an example of me for all over recent California residents.

My husband told me I should make an appointment at the DMV to take the driving test.  I agreed.  And then I failed to make an appointment time and time again.

Last week, though, I went online and scheduled an appointment for Monday morning.  Yesterday morning.

I arrived at the DMV at the appointed hour to find a line of people outside of the building.  What?  It was like Target the night before Black Friday.

Once inside the building I was able to go to the front of the line marked, “LINE FOR APPOINTMENTS.”  I had my Washington license with me along with a folder of documents:  birth certificate, HOA bill (proving residency), proof of insurance, car registration.

I filled out a form.  Waited a bit.  Then I went to another window when my number was called.  The woman asked for my documents.  She glanced at them, flipped my birth certificate over and said, “Do you have your marriage certificate showing your name?”



I waved my HOA statement showing my name at her.  I showed my driver’s license.  I immediately became fed up when she told me I would have to come back again.  I wanted to fall to the floor in a tantrum like a two year old.  I wanted to spit.

After working until 1 a.m., I had studied the driver’s handbook until 2 a.m.  I woke up early, took a shower, carefully styled my hair, applied my make-up with more care than usual–all because I knew I’d be getting a new driver’s license photo.  And now she was telling me I’d have to do it all over again. (Yes, I’m so vain.)


But to my surprise, I was shuffled through the lines.  I had my picture taken, I took the test (I only missed one!) and then I was issued a temporary license with my maiden name on it.  I was told to return the next morning at 9:20 a.m. with my driver’s license.

So I did.  I went to the DMV two days in a row.  This morning I hurried to get dressed.  I barely dried my hair and I certainly did not wear lip-liner.  I had to stand in a line behind nine people.  But finally, finally, finally, I was at the final window where I presented my marriage certificate.

Then the man behind the desk told me that although I’d been photographed the day before, the computer wasn’t cooperative and I needed to get my photo taken again.


“I was a lot cuter yesterday,” I told him.  And I was.  I really, really was. Yesterday I had lips and no crazy hair.

I’ll try again to look more presentable in five years when I do it over again, hopefully in one visit.

Product Review: Apothederm Hydrating Eye Cream

I recently got a mirror that has extreme magnification.  Do you have one like that?

So I am aware of what is happening to my face.  Mainly, wrinkles, sagging and occasionally ( just to remind me what it was like to be a teenager) a blemish.

When the nice people at Mamasource asked if I’d like to try an Apothederm product, I agreed.  I’m always trying to find something that makes me look like I think I look. (Ha ha ha.  Ha.)

Apothoderm has a line of anti-aging products.  Check them out, if you’re so inclined.

I tried the Hydrating Eye Cream, which is said to moisturize the “delicate area around the eyes, providing nourishing hydration.”

To create a scientific-sort of experiment, I used it only under my left eye.  And . . . I only used it once a day.  You’re supposed to apply it twice a day but I am just not that organized.

I really did like the cream.  It easily absorbed into the skin and my eye area did seem to appear more hydrated.

But here’s the thing.  I didn’t really think it minimized eye-area puffiness (I don’t have much) or dark circles (I’ve always had dark circles under my eyes).  So I can’t recommend it for any miraculous results. Perhaps my expectations are too high!  But I do plan to use it until it’s gone because I liked it that much.  And I’m using it on both eyes now!

If you are looking for a nice eye cream that feels smooth and does not have any noticeable scent, this would be a good one.  And you can even get a discount using the code TENOFF.  You will receive $10 any product at (expires 12/31/11).

I really wish I’d tried the Firming Serum because doesn’t that seem like it would be awesome?

World Prematurity Day, RSV and you

My twins were born nine weeks before their due date . . . a scary thing when you understand the risks prematurity brings with it.  One of the scariest is the seasonal virus called RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) which is the leading cause of infant hospitalization in the United States.  The RSV “season” has already started and will run until about March, depending on your region.

My twins were lucky–they were born in April and managed to avoid catching RSV.

My next son, however, was born in February–just as the twins were coughing and sneezing and generally sharing all kinds of germs with my newborn baby and me.

I was terrified when my three-week old baby began to show symptoms of a respiratory illness.  I rushed to the doctor who examined him and told me he might have RSV.  It’s hard to tell for sure if an illness is RSV at first since the symptoms are similar to the common cold.  In older children and adults, it runs its course much as a common cold does.

However, in babies younger than age two, RSV can lead to a very serious illness, leading to hospitalization.  In my case, my baby turned out to have bronchiolitis, and recovered fairly easily.  Still, it was really scary.  Find out all about RSV Protection and your baby’s risk here.

Here are some things you should know about premature babies and RSV:

RSV Quick Facts:

  • RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
  • Certain regions have longer RSV seasons than others, with the season beginning as early as July (e.g., Florida) or ending in April.
  • Despite its prevalence, one-third of mothers have never heard of RSV.

Prevention is Key:

There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take the following preventive steps to help protect their child:

  • Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
  • Ensure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid large crowds and people who may be sick
  • Never let anyone smoke near your baby
  • Speak with your child’s doctor if you believe he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available

Be Aware of Symptoms:

Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
  • High fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty feeding

* * *

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

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