Watercolor in 30 Days.

So I failed miserably at the Whole30 challenge. Clearly I've been lacking in the whole self-care department for months now. If not food, then maybe art?

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I pre-ordered Everyday Watercolor earlier this year, thinking it might help me turn around my creative dry spell. I mean, the only written words I've managed to eek out have been I'm so exhausted. And when every journal entry for weeks have started out that way, it's time for an injection of inspiration, ya know?

November, I'm coming at you with watercolors. I'm stocked up on supplies: cold-pressed paper, Princeton synthetic sable no. 2 brush, no. 6 brush, no. 16 brush, and a starter paint set. I have practice time scheduled (5 a.m. – it's fine) and my accountability partner, Instagram stories. If this isn't setting myself up for success, I don't know what is (#famouslastwords).

 

 

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

The Nordstrom Anniversary sale is one of my biggest weaknesses. I added a billion things to my wish list during Early Access (I don't have a card at Nordstrom – too dangerous), and somehow managed to narrow down to a few things that I had been meaning to buy anyway (I tell myself): high-rise jeans with the raw hem that I loved on my favorite pair of maternity jeans, a packable but warm jacket for work trips to San Francisco, a set of chubby sticks because I am always misplacing my fancy lip balm, and Somme transport pads that came highly recommended by my sister. 

What I bought (with Dave's blessing, of course):

Here's what I didn't buy, but added to my wish list (FYI, my wish list was waaayy longer, but things have sold out so fast!):

So now that I'm plagued with consumerism, I'm done. Happy Friday!

Merry Christmas.

Nativity scene 2014

I wonder what Christmas would be like if we stripped everything else away. I wonder what Christmas would be like if where were no presents that needed to be bought, wrapped, or given out; if there were no holiday parties and no Christmas cookies, no Christmas lights or extravagant traditions. I wonder what Christmas would be like without the full stockings on Christmas morning or the presents under the tree, waiting until December 25 to be unwrapped. I wonder what Christmas would be like if there were just one light, shining in the darkness, onto the manger scene.

This Christmas season has been the simplest one we’ve had together as a family. I don’t even think we’ve been to one holiday party this year. Our gifts were mostly for Noah, mostly keepsake items and things that we would have bought for him anyway in the coming months. Honestly, though, I can’t do without traditions. I’m not a stickler

we’ve passed on seeing

It’s a Wonderful Life

 at the Lido Theater this year because I’m not about to smuggle a newborn into the movies. There was no fancy Christmas brunch, no cinnamon rolls or mimosas. For dinner, we had soup. But there were Minted cards, a glittery, shimmering tree, monogrammed stockings,

Silent Night

 by candlelight.

Most of all, I can’t do without tradition of advent, or without worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, and interspersed throughout the season, in those quiet moments as we sip hot cocoa or candy cane green tea. Sharing those moments with my husband and my baby boy have been the most beautiful part of this season for me.

There is nothing like the joy and anticipation of Christmas morning, being woken up by a precious baby who you can’t believe is your own. There is no celebration like the celebration of gifts given to and from loved ones or the meditation of preparing meals from scratch, breaking bread and sipping wine. I will always hold onto the meditative tradition of singing

Silent Night

 by candlelight, our faces lit up by a warm, tiny flame as we sing.

I love traditions for their groundedness, their familiarity, the repetition. Traditions anchor my soul and prepare my heart. They’re a respite from the heartbreak and the violence. They are stepping stones leading to the manger scene, solid and illuminated

. Merry Christmas. 

28.

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So, I’m 28 now.

When I wish someone happy birthday, I usually wish them the

happiest birthday yet

 or

the

best year so far.

My birthday is usually my favorite day of my favorite week of my favorite month of the year. Usually.

On Sunday, I had my first birthday as a mom and also my first

mom

 birthday. Moms, you know what I mean. Or at least, I hope you do, and that I’m not the only one. By

mom

birthday, i mean that I had to make my own breakfast, and we capped the day off by going grocery shopping. Of course it was amazing in its own way in that every day with my precious baby boy feels special to me, but no outsider would mistake me for a birthday princess. Most tellingly, I did not get a sushi dinner at Nobu, which I’ve been telling Dave is the only thing I wanted, since I’ve been pregnant and sushi-less almost this entire year.

Then Dave flew out to Florida early Monday morning and came back late Thursday night bringing a suitcase of dirty laundry and stories of unlimited drinks and all-you-can-eat lobster. I missed my free Sprinkles cupcake and my Anthro birthday party, which, to be honest, I’ve kind of been looking forward to all year. I’m just thankful that my mom was around or it would have been a full-blown pity fest. I would have Solly-ed Noah all the way down the street to our village market to buy overpriced pints of Jeni’s ice cream, and then I would have eaten them all, in spoonfuls between diaper changes. Instead, I made salad.

Friday was no better. Overcome with disappointment, I held back tears at the Corner Bakery where we picked up my free birthday treat. I held back more tears at the Nordstrom cafe where I bought a mint steamer, trying to drown my sorrows in that milky creme de menthe goodness. And again, this morning, I held back tears after the Mermade Market as we sat at a diner, waiting an excruciatingly long time for a breakfast bowl made with warm, plain yogurt and bland melons.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful. I have a beautiful, healthy baby and a husband who loves me (

most of the time…

 I think). I live only a few miles from the ocean, and I have six saltwater pools at my disposal. I am grateful. These are no small blessings. But I’m also wondering when the longing ends, if I’ll ever get to the place where I feel settled.

I feel like I’m inching scarily close to the edge of

no where left to move

. That I’m teetering on the brink of

stuck

. That’s the scariest thing about twenty-eight. It’s not terribly old or terribly young. It’s just the age I thought I’d have it together. I’ve been through so many iterations of myself; I didn’t know, before twenty-eight, that it was possible to fail as many times as I have failed. I am so envious of people who have found their path, people who have a path at all, who know what the next step is and who know exactly, numerically, what targets to hit in order to get there.

I’m learning that the waiting, and the growing, and the becoming is excruciating. It feels like I’ll never get to the place where I’m supposed to be. That I’ll keep waking up at 4 am, unable to go back to sleep because that’s when the worry hits. That’s when I reach out for the tiny chubby perfect hand next to me, with fingers like miniature taper candles and a palm just big enough to cover my lips. That hand is everything.

Tomorrow is a new day and the beginning of a new week. It won’t be my birthday week anymore, and for the first time in my life, I’m relieved. Tomorrow, I’ll look for the beauty in that tiny, clammy hand. I’ll try to find my joy in the little things, like a latte that is extra hot and not too sweet, and a doughnut that that melts onto my tongue. I’ll find joy in twinkling Christmas tree lights and in advent readings. When I wake up again at 4 am, I’ll stay awake to watch the growing glow of the winter sunrise. I’ll keep being grateful for these things because that’s what 28-year olds do.

two years ago.

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re-living a part of our Shanghai experience at the new Din Tai Fung in Costa Mesa | 36 weeks

What I’m thankful for today: that we’re not in China anymore.

Exactly two years ago was our first night in Shanghai, a city where we would live for the next year and a half. We left California with our four suitcases laid flat in the bed of my dad’s red pick-up truck. We landed, just the two of us and some stuff. It’s an experience that I still can’t fully process, but I know that where we are now is so much sweeter because of it.