A Time to Mourn

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

For the past few weeks, I've been a bit melancholy. I've been watching films about natural disasters, shipwrecks, and the Holocaust. This is very unusual for a chick flick and comedy lover like me.  I've been pondering death and suffering a lot lately, and sometimes my imagination and dreams go to dark places.

Then I realized it's the 1 year anniversary of my Dad's death, of course I'm melancholy.  If ever there was a time to mourn, it's now.

Death is always difficult to process, but I think losing someone to suicide is especially traumatic.  Because suicide is taboo, it's difficult to talk about.  In fact, it almost seemed wrong to write this post.  Would people be offended or judge me? 

Suicide is so complex, and here's why:

  • the gruesome/painful nature of self-murder
  • the stigma surrounding it
  • suicidal people often have mental problems and their relationships are already messed up
  • because of this, the survivors may feel a sense of relief when they are gone--> immense guilt
  • the person who commits suicide is the victim and the perpetrator at the same time
  • if they leave a note, they have the last word
  • all the happy memories and accomplishments of that person seem worthless, since you know their life ended on such a tragic note
  • those who found the body may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, in addition to the normal feelings of grief
And of course, you can't help but wonder...
  • did i cause it?
  • could i have stopped it?
  • why wasn't my life and our relationship worth living for? 
  • can a person who committed suicide go to Heaven?  
  • what were his/her last thoughts? was i in them?
  • did he/she even consider the consequences this would have for the survivors?

I don't have the answers to all of these questions, but I do have the answer to the first two: "Did I cause it?"  and "Could I have stopped it?"  The answer is OF COURSE NOT.  I needn't give myself more power than I actually possess.  I cannot control people, make them happy, or force them to get help.  I can only love them, pray for them, and rest in God's sovereignty.  I started to heal when I was able to give those questions an honest "no", and be ok with leaving the rest unanswered.  Only God knows.


Sisi is 7 months!

Monday, August 29, 2011

This post is a week late, btw.

A LOT has changed in the span of 1 month.  In the beginning, the milestones are so subtle, like "unclenches fists" or "makes eye contact".  Now I feel like each day she does the coolest, most amazing things.  It's all just normal baby stuff, but to me she's a genius in the making :)

  • she's an expert army crawler, and now does baby pushups and bounces on hands and knees.
  • she can finally sit up!
  • eats a large variety of chunky foods (she'll squeeze it to a pulp then stick her whole fist in her mouth.  looks very satisfied if she gets a tiny morsel in there)
  • has 2 teeth
  • eyes are still blue, much to my surprise
  • sleeps through the night a few times a week.  heck, i'll take it! 
  • takes 2 long naps at exactly 9:30 and 1:30.
  • likes to play interactive games, like peekaboo
  • laughs at herself in the mirror
  • can stand by herself if holding onto furniture
  • says "blah,blah,blah,blah" a lot
  • starting to show mild stranger anxiety


Music Strike Is Over!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sometime in 2007, I went on a music strike.  I just didn't want to hear it anymore.  I tuned my radio to talk radio, classical, or silence.  There was too much going on in my life and head (brother was sick, I was planning my wedding, and starting my flower business.) To add music on top of that literally made my temples hurt.  This was highly unusual for me, a singer, dancer and lover of all musical genres, even cheesy 70's bands like The Carpenters. 

Also, right around 2007 is when I noticed how obnoxious music can be. 2007 was the year of annoying music. You know, songs that make your ears hurt when they come on (for example, anything by Akon or *Gwen Stefani.) Songs that make you feel like you have to be a defensive listener- always with one finger on the tuner button.

My music hiatus lasted about 4 years.  Once in a while I'd find a cd I could listen to on repeat for a little while (Beck, Pinback, Sufjan Stevens- mellow male voices I guess) but overall, I just needed silence.

For everything there is a season. My music strike is over!  Since the baby was born, I have a super intense reaction to good songs- they make me cry instantly!  When Sisi was first born, Joe would play opera for her in the mornings as I would quietly sob to myself.

I feel like life has slowed down a bit, and it's actually become a little repetitive (pretty unavoidable when caring for a small infant full time.) Dare I say it, sometimes my brain feels a little empty.  I can now fully embrace the stimulation of music. I want Sisi to be raised in a home full of music, singing, and dancing.  Now I make it a point to turn on oldies for her every single day.  She's even starting to bob her head a little to the beat.  It's soooo cute! 

Here's a little glimpse of life with a 7 month old.  We had breakfast for Joe's bday at the Penguin Cafe in Laguna Beach.   Of course, Joe had to play Penguin Cafe Orchestra on my droid while filming. :)

Has anyone ever gone through an anti-music phase or am I crazy?

*I actually love Gwen, just not her solo stuff.  


More Baby Headbands!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sisi's monthly pictures are great motivation to make more baby headbands.  No matter how busy I get, I know I'll make at least a few new creations each month just for her. 

I know bows and flowers are pretty typical baby adornment.  Why not stick other random objects on baby's heads?  

Like a nest...

fuzzy yarn nest with pearl eggs
Or peas in a pod...

Cotton covered beads in a felt pod.

I had Sisi wear the bird's nest headband to church today to test the response. Even though to me it's clearly a bird's nest with pearl eggs, I needed to make sure other people don't just see a big brown fur patch.  Everyone knew right away that it was a nest, except one of the Pastors, who thought it was actually Sisi's hair tied into a bun on top of her head.  Like a samurai?  Whoa, craziness!

More 7 month pics to come :)


What is Normal?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Joe's been going more and more au natural lately.  All the organic bath and cleaning products I use aren't good enough anymore- he makes his own concoctions out of coconut oil, peroxide, baking soda, and vinegar. He would go barefoot all day if he could.  He fights colds with raw garlic and cayenne pepper instead of nyquil like the rest of us.

 I usually find his crunchy habits pretty amusing, and enjoy hearing the science behind them.  Some of them I've actually embraced, like drinking raw milk and making our own kefir.   But things get a little heated when they involve the baby's health.  I happily breastfeed, and make her organic baby food from scratch, but I'm NOT going to put egg whites in her socks (Joe's idea) or spread coconut oil all over her, thank-you-very-much! 

The most emotional Sisi debate we've had is over formula.  I have plenty of breastmilk to meet her daily needs, but I don't have any extra to leave with babysitters on occasion.  Not a drop.  Trust me, I pumped 3 times yesterday (evening, middle of the night, and morning) to make a bottle for this weekend, and got maybe 1/6th an ounce. Barely a sip.  So frustrating! 

So I assumed we could supplement, on rare occasion, with Earth's Best Organic formula.  No biggie, right? 

Wrong.  Joe thinks some of the ingredients are questionable, and wants to make his own baby formula from scratch using this recipe.  A recipe that calls for rare ingredients that I know we can't procure and test out before this weekend.  After going back and forth about it, Joe agreed it would be ok to give Sisi the Earth's Best formula on rare occasions.  So I gave her 1 oz with her solids today, and I actually cried.  I felt so guilty and sad, like I'd failed. She is no longer an EBF baby.  I know, it's totally silly to feel this way, as millions of babies raised on formula turn out great.  Heck, I was a formula baby and I turned out alright (I think!)  I don't blame Joe for these feelings, since he is never forceful or stubborn about his opinions.  I blame mostly my perfectionism.

I watched Sisi carefully for any negative reactions to the formula, and guess what?  She still has 10 fingers and 10 toes.  I think we'll be alright :)

Back to the topic at hand.  The other day, when Joe was acting especially crunchy, I asked, "Do you do ANYTHING normal anymore?" 

And to that he responded, "What is normal?" 

Hmm, good question.  I guess I know how the typical American eats, how much TV he watches, and how little exercise he gets. Maybe normal isn't always a good thing.

And anyway, I didn't marry Joe because he was normal, I married him because he's passionate, intelligent, and not afraid to look like a weirdo sometimes.   Or a lot of the time :)



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My high school reunion is at the end of the month.  Yes, I'm going.  I was part of that "high on school spirit" crowd, and they'd be upset if I didn't go!  Like anyone preparing for the big reunion, I took a long look in the mirror and did a little "hmphh".  What would my classmates think of me now?

In high school, I was very concerned with my physical appearance, to an unhealthy degree.  I didn't have time to sleep, but I did have time to roll my hair in paper towels each night for that perfect spiral curl.  I don't think I even owned a pair of flat shoes because I felt so short and stout. No matter how much I dieted, or planned out the perfect outfits, I was still insecure about my looks.

2001, when the cool hair style was 1/3 curled, 1/3 straight, and 1/3 crimped.  Gee thanks, Britney! 

Oh how I wish I could tell my little high school self to be content!  Had I known I was in my "prime", maybe I wouldn't have complained so much about my "fat knees" and my "short legs" and my "wide nose".  What I wouldn't give to have that wrinkle-less skin or that METABOLISM back! 

It all went downhill after high school, and I blame 3 things:  1) Attending Berkeley, a school where pajamas are perfectly acceptable attire, 2) zero peer pressure from my sweet husband, who thinks I look beautiful no matter what, and 3) I worked through a lot of my perfectionism issues, which is a good thing!

Although I'm so relieved to be free from that obsession, I do want to make sure I look presentable on a daily basis.  I had a baby 6 months ago, which means no one can expect me to have it all together.  But it also means enough time has gone by that I should look presentable. So I think it's time to set some very attainable ground rules.  Here they are in order of importance.

1.  Wear actual clothes.  Not pajamas or sweat pants.  A real outfit.  It needn't be fancy- a sundress or a  tank and jeans will work.  I find that wearing something embarrassing to bed motivates me to get dressed first thing in the morning, since I wouldn't want the mailman to see me in a nightgown or giant tie dyed t-shirt.

2.  Wear makeup on days I leave the house.  Just some powder foundation, lip gloss and curling my eyelashes would be a big improvement.  Some red lipstick if I'm feeling fierce :)

Laura Geller's Balance-n-Brighten baked foundation is amazing for lazy people like me.

3.  Basic hygiene.   Clean shaven, heels pumiced, toe nail polish unchipped, nails trimmed, smelling good.

4.  No more librarian buns. Sisi loves to pull my long hair, so I'm in the habit of putting it in a super dorky bun every single day.  I like the simple hairstyles here, especially twisting bangs to the side or doing a loose fishtail braid.

5.  Accessorize!  Punch up basic outfits with cute earrings (I'm stocking up on studs as baby likes to pull my danglies) or a fun necklace.
Betsey Johnson studs.

6.  Wear my corset.  I have minor diastasis recti from the pregnancy, made worse by all the bending and baby rocking.  Thanks to breastfeeding and being too depressed to eat, I was able to shed the baby weight in a month.  But my belly still looks about 4-5 months pregnant.  I purchased the squeem corset to help tighten the muscles, and now I just need to wear it!  It's annoying to deal with during the day, but at night (when it's most beneficial) I fall asleep and don't even notice it.

Also, please help!  What do you wear to a reunion at 12 noon at a sports bar? 


Throwing a Baby Shower

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Using my best friend Angel's blog post about how to throw a baby shower, I got to work planning my friend Aime's baby shower.  I've never really spearheaded any type of party.  I like to decorate- give me some tables and I'll make them beautiful.  But coming up with a budget, food, invites, and knowing where to place something like the gift table is daunting.  That's why I became a florist and not a planner!

I went with a beachy/surfer theme, since Aime was born and raised in Hawaii.  Best part, it's gender-neutral, and she's not finding out the sex until the big day.

Aime's dear mother in law offered her lovely home as our party spot. Thanks Carla for everything!

I was on a budget, and managed to scrape everything together for a few benjamins and some change.  What I found myself doing a lot was envisioning something super fancy and fabulous, calculating the cost, FREAKING out, then figuring out how to do it myself for cheaper. Champagne taste, beer budget, fo sho. For example, I picked out gorgeous letterpress  invites online, but ultimately turned to etsy to buy a customizable template, and print them out myself.

At first I pictured dozens of beach balls and flower pomanders that look like beach balls hanging from the trees... then I remembered I'm afraid of heights and have no assistants to help me, so I threw them in the pool instead.

For the table decor, I used containers left over from my old florist days- bamboo plates and mismatching recycled glass vases, accented with coral and starfish.

The day before the shower, I went to Mayesh to pick out some tropical flowers. Tropicals are striking in small amounts, and I wouldn't have to worry about them wilting. 

As Sisi and I strolled through the mart, a florist had rented out space there to prep a wedding.  She was slaving away on hundreds of delicate hydrangea garlands. IN 90 DEGREE WEATHER!  I could just feel the stress.  One of the hardest parts about being a florist was keeping the flowers alive in the summer.  So much is beyond your control, and you're just praying that the thousands of dollars worth of flowers are still alive by the time you arrive on site. In the moment, I did not feel at all jealous.  I'm happy just to be a flower dabbler for now.

 I facebooked asking for fun, kitschy tablecloth ideas.  Thanks Melissa for suggesting beach towels!  It added the perfect pop of color and texture to the tables.

Notice the little Hawaiian rubber duckies! Aime had actually registered for these after I purchased them as decor.  A happy coincidence!

This was a late morning shower to avoid the blaring California sun, so we served simple brunch fare- quiche and pecan sticky buns from a local bakery, fruit salad, green salad, and yogurt parfait.

Our friend Jen's mother in law created these hilariously cute cake pops as party favors.  This woman is truly a supermom- she's a lawyer AND a nurse AND a Martha Stewart Jr.

Although I had my mind set on fancy cupcakes from Sweet and Saucy Shop, I had to go the more modest route.  I made these brownie/cupcake combos and decorated them with tropical toppers. 

Here's me and the adorable preggo!  She's using the same midwives as I did, and I know she'll be an incredibly graceful mama.  Cheers to Baby Nagel (who is probably a boy, as predicted by all the Asian ladies at the nail salon.)

*photos by the dad-to-be, Corby.