Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Morning Meeting with Hillary

Well, I guess it would be more accurate to call it an encounter. This morning I met Hillary Clinton. A brief moment and a brief exchange. Regardless it impacted me. 

Hillary stands for a chance for all of us to be on the same playing field. She inspires me that an ordinary woman can be extraordinary. She has made her own way, not behind her man, but on her own accord. 

The energy waiting in a line wrapping the streets of Downtown La Jolla was exciting! There was a buzz of people and activity for blocks. I waited in the line with two friends with dramatically different political views. The conversation was friendly and filled with anticipation. The people surrounding us all had this same level of interest in their upcoming moment with Hillary. People talked about her just like that, "Hillary." No formal titles. But more as a woman they all know and admire.


Maybe it was the free stickers??? 
No. Definitely not. It was the anticipation of meeting someone amazing. 

Warwicks did a great job of keeping everyone organized and in motion. Hillary was engaging and very casual in her ways. She is of course a professional politician so this sort of thing is an old hat trick to her but it didn't matter. It didn't feel like that. She was at ease and happy to be meeting people. She was gracious. 

When it was my turn to get my book signed, I wished her luck on the keynote address she is giving this afternoon. She seemed surprised someone might be aware of her schedule. For me it was just a way to have a longer moment with her. She said "Thanks, I'm looking forward to it. It should be fun." 

If you want to read a review on her new book, Hard Choices, check out this Forbes article. My favorite quote from the article follows: "... (this book) gives us insight into one of the most influential women in the world. And while you may not agree with her on everything (especially in 700 pages) or may be disappointed in how she made some of her choices, there is no disputing that as a stateswoman (or man), the U.S. has no one more experienced." 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Birthday at Disneyland!!

Thursday was Hadley's 5th birthday. Wow. They all say time goes fast. It is these milestones that make the speed real. Here is a picture of Hadley on her 1st birthday. So sweet and adorable. I remember she walked just a couple days later. 

And here she is at 5. A happy girl in a matching yellow tea cup. What could be better??? 

Meeting Belle!!! Hadley was over the moon excited to meet Belle in person and for Belle to wish her a Happy Birthday. The whole Disney princess effect is HUGE! I must say the parks do an incredible job fulfilling and magnifying these dream into reality. During the Disneyland parade we must have seen 10 princesses (including Anna and Elsa) and 8 of them personally said Happy Birthday to Hadley. She was in awe. It was awesome. The joy on her face said it all and made the entire trip worth it. If you ever go to Disney near a birthday, the Happy Birthday pin is not to be missed! 

Before our trip I gathered some tips from my Disneyland pros. Here are a few worth sharing: 
  • Arrive early and get the fast passes for the rides that are the most important. We focused on Radiator Springs Racers and Soaring Over California. Both were awesome! Racers was sold out by 11 am. 
  • Use the parent pass option. If there are kids in the group that can't ride due to height then one parent can hang back and rotate back on after the first adult gets off without waiting in line. 
  • Check in at City Hall for a Happy Birthday or First Time or Anniversary button for a little extra love from characters. It works! 
  • Pack snacks. Start with the healthy ones first. 
  • With little kids, take advantage of all of the shows and attractions (like the parade) that don't require a line. 
  • For the parades, arrive about 45 minutes in advance and grab a spot on the shady side of the street.
  • Wear shorts with usable pockets. 
  • Download an app that shows approximate wait times for rides. 

 My tips: 
  • Do not tell your little girls they have the opportunity to meet Anna and Elsa in person. This line is insane and not worth it in my opinion. I only told Hadley about the float and she was so happy to see them! No need to wait 2-3 hours to "meet" them for 2 minutes. 
  • Bring a stroller. Even Hadley at 5 enjoyed a break from walking and it kept our pace up to get more in. Harrison at 3 took a solid hour nap. 
  • Leave the baby at home. Hannah was much happier napping in her own bed. If your spending a fortune to go to Disneyland spend a few more bucks on a sitter to actually enjoy it.  
  • Love the huge Tarzan tree house that used to be the Swiss Family Tree house. The kids had a blast exploring, climbing and seeing the park from above. 

 Things we missed that sounded great: 
  • Dole Whip 
  • Churros 
  • Character dinning at Aerial's Grotto 
  • The Magic Hour!! We will do this when the kids get bigger for sure. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Weekend Warrior: Art Supply Organization!

Hello All! 

Last week was a mad dash at work because I took Thursday and Friday off to do the birthday extravaganza for Hadley. More about our Disney adventure and the birthday bash soon. 

In the meantime, while the in-laws were in town this weekend I took the opportunity to do something productive ALL BY MYSELF. I cleaned out our entire kitchen desk area because we are planning to install new exterior french doors in that space. So to get a feel for what it will be like to loose that super functional desk, we are going to try not using it for a month. Seems like a smart idea. We will see how it goes. 

First things first, organized like items together. Paint with paint, stickers with stickers, games with games, etc. 

Then I fit it all into some of our laundry room cabinets and viola! 

I'm sure professional organizers can rival this accomplishment but I am very proud!! Come on over and I'll give you a personal tour. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Adorable... just adorable

Everyone loves baby things, right? A friend gave me the cutest little baby denim dress and adorable sock monkey lovey. I just had to share. 

Book Recommendations from Warwicks La Jolla

Last night I went to a lovely networking event at Warwicks in La Jolla. If you are a local, Warwicks is having a pretty exciting event on June 25th at 8:30 am. Hilary Clinton will be at the store in La Jolla signing books. I called this morning and pre-ordered Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton and I am really excited to meet her!! Regardless of your politics, this woman is to be respected. 

The event last night was sponsored by one of my clients for women in our industry. It was a great evening with light catered food and a talk from one of the book sellers of the store, John Hughes. John talked about a number of his favorite books of the year. 

Some of my main takeaways from the talk follow. Please do check out your local book store. They are RAD. They need support to stay alive. 
  • Funny Read: Crazy Rich Asians
  • Best Book of the Year: Natchez Burning - Southern thriller story that is the first of a three book series. This was my pick from the evening. 
  • Cultural Insights: Art of Ambition - about China; Russians - about the obvious! John spoke highly of both of these non-fiction books and the insight into each country and how the countries' evolution's have impacted the way they are intrepreted around the world. Also ties closely with current events so great for discussions. 
  • Make You Think: Think Like a Freak - book about how to ask the right types of questions to tie economics to almost any topic. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Inappropriate Work Questions?

Here are just a few inappropriate questions I have been asked in work environments. These come from clients, colleagues and general acquaintances in my work circles.

Awesome Question Mark print from PureType on Esty. 

"You're not coming back to work again are you?" 

"This is the last kid, right?" 

"Are you planning to have a family?" 

"Haven't you and your husband saved enough money so you can stay at home?" 

"How does your husband feel about that (me not staying at home)?" 

"Don't you miss your kids?" 

"Are you nursing?" 

"My wife would have never trusted anyone else with our kids. Who do you trust with your kids?" 

Granted, many of these questions are harmless. It just depends on context. When, where and who is asking these questions. Generally, I am very open, honest and straightforward. I love having real conversations with people instead of fake or surface level chats. But some of these questions just knocked me on my feet when they were said out loud. 

For example, the question "Are you nursing?" came up when I was on a conference call with a male client. We have known each other almost 10 years and I consider us friends. At the same time, he is my client. He is a family man and I believe his intention was to show interest. None the less, it was very uncomfortable for me. I just sort of shrugged to myself and replied "Nope. Just not my thing." For me, this is an intensely personal topic that I have struggled with. I tried with all three babies to nurse and was never completely successful. It is a sore spot. Plus, I am guessing his wife nursed all four of their kids. So maybe he believes that is the right choice. I don't know for sure. I certainly wasn't going to ask him about his family choices around nursing! 

I wish there was a clear way to know what level of personal questioning is appropriate. No clear cut answer. Everyone is left guessing what is appropriate for other people. As someone who asks a lot of direct personal questions, I am hesitating a bit. I never want to be someone who makes someone else uncomfortable. I also don't want to avoid building personal relationships in the office environment. We all spend a lot of time there, and it is so much more fulfilling when the relationships with colleagues, clients and associates are real. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Party Mixer

Last weekend Mike and I went to a great party. They had a get-to-know-you mixer. I am usually skeptical about these games but this was proved to be very interesting. I plan to use it at a future party. 

Here's how it works. 
  • Everyone fills out a simple questionnaire during the beginning of the party. Here are sample questions.
    • How long have you known (insert host name)?
    • What city were you born in? 
    • What is your dream job? 
    • Who would you want to meet (dead or alive)? 
  • Distribute the completed questionnaires randomly. 
  • Everyone must find the person who's answers they  have. 
This was really fun. It was also interesting because not only did I learn a lot about everyone at the party but I also learned a couple new things about Mike. And he learned some new things about me. Just goes to show you, no matter how well you know the people at your party, there is always an opportunity to connect at a different level. 

Just in case you are interested... Mike's dream job is to be a first baseman for the San Francisco Giants!  Tidbit about me: I would LOVE to meet Madonna! Wouldn't that be rad? She is such a powerhouse. Anyone want to introduce me? ;-) 

    Monday, June 9, 2014

    Damage Done

    Shopping alone basically never happens anymore. Shopping with a baby is like bliss these days! A glimpse at the damage done on Sunday afternoon.

    Anthropologie always has the best unique home items. I picked up this beautiful baking dish and yummy fancy soap for my kitchen.

    While I was at it, I stopped at Sur la Table and got super lucky. They had this knife on sale for half price with a great cutting board. I also picked up some Maldon sea salt which has an amazing texture and clean taste. The little glass pitcher was a request from Hadley so she can pour her own milk in the morning.

    Last stop was just to browse the new Madewell's in our neighborhood outdoor mall. I saw these great casual to dressy sandals and just had to have them! Don't they look great with Legos???

    Here is another view, courtesy of Madewell. I must say they are pretty cute!

    Gotta love I did all this damage in under an hour. POWER SHOPPER!

    Friday, June 6, 2014

    Part 4: Birth Story – Labor

    Here we go. Labor. This is what a birth story is about, right? The labor? Or no? Do people want all the pre-labor stuff I shared in Part 1: Birth Story, Part 2: Birth Story - Anxiety and Part 3: Birth Story - Breech Baby ? Who knows… it’s just what felt I had to share to get to this point.

    Hannah and Mike about a two hours after she was born. 

    After all of the exploration, I was determined to avoid an epidural for a myriad of reasons. Emotionally I prepared myself by reading a pretty extreme view book Hypnobirthing The Mongan Method. For me, the point of reading this book was to expose myself to the options used by people who prepared for a natural medication free birth for months. I needed a frame of reference. I only had three weeks to gear up. 

    I was due with baby number three on December 31, 2013. Not exactly the most ideal timing for a baby. I was determined to have the baby between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Logically and fiscally, having the baby in the same year made oodles of sense. From an all-natural approach, this was in direct conflict. Both my doctor and doula shared their concern over my conflicting goals.

    Good thing I am damn lucky. I went into labor the evening of December 28th. The full day before I had very scattered strong contractions but nothing regular. Then the afternoon of the 28th, I was pretty sure it was going to get started soon. Ann, my doula, made a personal visit to check in with me. She confirmed she thought we were headed that way but it would still be a while. So I continued about my day. That evening, around 6 o'clock, my contractions started to heat up again but were still not consistent. My mom came over to help Mike with the big kids. Ann and I decided she should come over since it was my third baby and they can come very quickly. My labor remained irregular but quite strong until around 10 pm. Between 10 and 11 pm, I started to become very uncomfortable and contractions became regular but spaced apart more than 5 minutes.

    Mike took a nap.

    I wanted to hit him. Ann encouraged me that it was good for him to rest so he could be more helpful when I really needed him. He was pretty lucky Ann was there otherwise there certainly would have been NO NAPPING.

    Around 11:30 I wasn't so sure I wanted to do a medication free labor anymore. I did my best to focus on breathing, my affirmations and my goals for this baby and this experience. I still was really reconsidering this choice. I wanted to know where my body was at in the process. So Ann agreed to us going to the hospital to get an evaluation of how far dilated I was.

    We arrived at the hospital around midnight. Got checked in and they evaluated me at 6 cm dilated. I labored. I begged for an epidural. Ann continued to remind me of my goals. Mike held my hand. I begged again. Ann told me we would talk about it between contractions.

    At 2:15 am, I was 7 cm dilated. So the theory was I would be in labor another three hours before pushing would begin. I wasn't willing to labor without an epidural that long. I just was really having trouble managing. So we all discussed (very quickly) the options. I decided with input from the nurse, my doula and support from Mike, to have the doctor break my bag of water.

    At  2:50 am, the doctor broke my bag of water. Then the insanity began. And ended in a flash. The baby was born and in hand 14 minutes later at 3:04 am. That was the most intense 14 minutes of my entire life. It all happened so fast. It is completely vivid and surreal at the same time. At one point, I was hugging onto Mike and he was wearing a very large puffy black jacket. I was so hot from the physical work and hormones I screamed at him to get the “damn jacket off” and he promptly removed the coat. Within moments, he was sharing “It’s a GIRL!!” as our baby arrived. It was amazing. It was a miracle. I did it.

    The Pride. The Joy. The Love. It was incredible.

    Reflecting on the experience has been a journey in itself. I haven’t even touched on the most amazing aspects of a medication free labor which is after the madness is over. When the calm sets in. Our baby girl was alert, engaged and perfect. I was aware, in love and so ready to be present with her.

    Here is a super short video of baby Hannah on day one. Amazing. Simply amazing. She was curious from the start. She was calm and had peace. 

    The difference between a medication free and epidural experience is completely in contrast. Both are miracles.

    People often ask me if I have another baby would I do it again. Yes, in a heartbeat. I would do a medication free birth again. It is intense and a sacrifice in many ways but absolutely rewarding. 

    Thursday, June 5, 2014

    Kindergarten: Tip From An Expert

    Hadley starting Kindergarten this fall is so exciting. It is also so sad. My first baby girl is getting so big. It is happening faster than I ever imagined it could. 

    Hadley and me at her Hanna Fenichel "Race Day" at Fletcher Cove. 

    This week Mike and I did a parenting session with Susie Walton of Indigo Village, a wonderful educator and coach for parents on positive parenting techniques. She is also the author of  Key to Personal Freedom: How Myths Affect Our Family Lives

    We are having a few challenges with our crew as we do from time to time. So we set up one-on-one sessions with her so she can refresh us, motivate us and give specific tips to the specific challenges in our family circle. 

    During our chat, we obviously touched on the upcoming transition to Kindergarten. She took a deep breath and said "Just don't start telling her how fun it will be. Stay neutral." She continued to explain that Kindergarten is a big change for little people and that the month of October is very busy for her. In October, she is helping parents with kids who are all of a sudden saying "I don't want to go to school." There is so much hype from parents these days about school and the transition fro kiddos to this new world is tough. Kindergarten these days is academic. It isn't all play. So it is key to not make a big deal and a ton of excitement for Kindergarten because it is bound to be tough at times.

    For Hadley, this will especially be true because she is coming from a wonderful loving and very emotionally in-touch preschool, Hanna Fenichel. This little nursery school is special. It is a community on so many levels. Each classroom has a mini community with connections to the broader environment and then the parent involvement is extremely high. The school is amazing. It is a place that embraces play, exploration and is lead by the kids' interests. I am really going to miss her days here. 

    Hadley's elementary school is wonderful too. But different. Very different. So I am heeding Susie's advice and going to stay very neutral about what is on the horizon. It will be wonderful and new and such a needed challenge for Hadley. Postive thoughts. xoxo 

    Part 3: Birth Story - Breech Baby

    Apparently writing a birth story takes some time. Some commitment. So if you are interested, you can read Part 1: Birth Story and Part 2: Birth Story – Anxiety.

    Continuing on... 

    At 35 weeks, I went to a regular check-up for the baby and the baby was still breech. Yikes. This had never happened to me before. The doctor said that if the baby was still breech at 36 weeks, she strongly suggested I consider an External Cephalic Version, referred to as a ECV.  I was scared again. (Here is a link to a success story of an ECV.This procedure is done in the hospital and is considered routine, but can cause stress to the baby and induce labor. So I asked about other options. She outlined that if the baby was still breech a c-section would be the clear choice. After having two babies vaginally, the last thing I wanted was a c-section.

    Photo from Apple Blossoms Family in Vancouver

    So I did all sorts of crazy things to make that baby turn. I did weird positioning from Spinning Babies. I did moxibustion (basically burning your little toes) with the help of an acupuncturist and partner. I used light, music and ice packs to try to draw the baby to the right position. I tried everything I could find that might help. I delayed the decision to do the EVC until my 37 week appointment to buy more time. The day before that appointment, I went to see a special chiropractor, Bridget Chelf of Ocean Wellness, who practices the Webster Method, for turning breech babies. She was amazing. The next morning, I woke up and my belly was sore and shaped differently. The baby turned!! I knew it. I was elated.

    After about a month of meeting with many mother-earth women in all ranges of professions, I decided to try to have an all-natural medication free labor. I hired Ann Fulcher, a doula who was highly recommended by my doctor. Ann is a woman who has been present at over 500 births and clearly was more experienced that me at this crazy concept of labor without an epidural!! With only three weeks before the baby was due, I didn't have time to take classes and completely devote myself to a particular method of labor. Thankfully Ann was very open, supportive and had confidence I could do this on my own.

    More again tomorrow. I promise to finish tomorrow. I must finish this. 

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

    Part 2: Birth Story - Anxiety

    Since I am short on time these days, I am continuing my thoughts on yesterday’s post Part 1:Birth Story.

    Since I had past challenges with early day bonding, the high emotional anxiety I was experiencing before even having baby number three made me very scared. My doctor strongly encouraged me to consider taking anti-depressants before the baby was born. This scared me even more. There is lots of research on the limited risks of anti-depressants during pregnancy and I do believe this could have been a good choice for me in many respects. Before doing that, I really wanted to explore other methods to control my emotions. So I made some changes to my life immediately. I really didn't have time to mess around. If I wasn't able to control my emotional stress before the baby came, how would I do it after the baby arrived? And these medications take time to take effect. So it was a NOW issue. No time to dilly dally.

    I started going to yoga almost daily. I started transferring parts of my work projects to co-workers who would be covering me during my leave. I began seeing a massage therapist to help me physically relax. I rested more. I spent time alone trying to understand what was at the root of this stress. I saw specialist to discuss anti-depressants, the impact on the baby, the impact on me, the timing of the impacts, the plan for before and after the baby was born. I set up a plan A, B and C. I wanted options that were well thought out and supported by medicine. I wanted to be happy. I wanted my baby to be healthy. During this exploration, I found a lot of information on the positive impact for baby and mother to have a natural medication free labor. I was intrigued. Could this be the solution to the bonding issues? The breastfeeding issues? The emotional stress? I began to explore having a doula alongside me during labor.

    With all of these factors in motion and more information in hand I was actually feeling better. I was feeling more in control. I'm not sure why control is so important to me. I probably need a lot more therapy to get to the root of that!

    Hmmmm... More on this birth story again tomorrow. Are you bored yet? 

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

    Part 1: Birth Story

    Birth stories have never really been my thing.

    Whether they are your thing or not they are a standard topic of conversation for women. Probably because giving birth is such a miraculous event that only women can truly relate to. Men who have been by a women's side in this experience have a glimpse into the unique strength each woman has emotionally and physically but can never completely understand.

    My brother Alex, Mom and me at about 34 weeks along.

    Regardless of C-section, vaginal or combination stories, all birth stories are so very personal. A dear friend of mine, who is moving away, strongly encouraged me to share my most recent birth story. I asked her why. She replied, "Because I think you have a nice way of having a strong opinion on something without being judgmental. You have made me wonder if my next baby should come a different way."

    So I am going to follow through and share my birth story with Hannah. I will do my best to share the story and my choices without being judgmental. In advance, please know, if you have or plan to give birth, the most important part of the experience is to remain true to yourself and your goals. Be honest with your expectations and be easy on your heart as it is the hardest thing you will ever do.

    After having two kids I had a pretty good idea of what pregnancy, labor and the early days were going to be like. Also, really wished there were things that could be different/easier. For my first baby I really had trouble bonding, breast feeding, adapting to motherhood emotionally and settling in. It took a very long time physically and emotionally for me to be whole again. For my second baby, bonding and labor was easier but I still really struggled with breastfeeding and emotionally getting back to a level state.

    My approach to having my third baby was intended to be much like the first two times. Go into labor, go to the hospital, get an epidural, have a baby and move on with a new bundle of joy in the family. I hadn't put a lot of thought into making any dramatic changes to the plan.

    Until I was about 33 weeks along.

    It was about then that I started to get a lot of stress, anxiety and this constant pressure feeling on an emotional level. I had one weekend in particular when I felt like I was at breaking point. Would I be able to survive three kids? Would I be able to bond with this baby? Would I be able to breastfeed this baby? What will my relationship with my other kids be like? Will I be able to handle the stress of everyday life? I was a wreck.

    Yikes… I think this might be a long topic. I will have to circle back here again tomorrow. 

    Monday, June 2, 2014

    Sounds Like a Commercial

    This weekend was great. It was hectic but great. Yesterday in the craziness, we managed to get all of the kids to take a nap at the same time. Miracle. Until Hannah woke up, followed by a whiney Hadley and of course Harrison wakes up as a monster after a nap. It was good until it lasted! 

    I was in a fog, sitting on the couch feeding Hannah a bottle and Mike said "It's like a Southwest commercial." I looked up at him and was like "Huh?"and he replied "Wanna get away?" 

    Yes, yes I do. I wanna get away. So we booked a mini trip! We are headed to Portland, Oregon. Just the two of us. I am SOOOOO excited! We are going in August. I think we might stay at The Nines but curious if it is a good pick or not. 

    Tips anyone??? 

    Friendship: Lots of Little Things

    Isn't it great that friendship is about a culmination of little things and not just a one-shot wonder? Today I had a friend make me smile with a little thing and it reminded me that is what it is all about. 

    Here are some examples of the little things that came my way this morning. I'm writing this all down to slow down a minute and have gratitude early in the day. Last week a friend shared a ritual she has every morning to focus on all the good before she gets the day in motion. I think her concept is awesome and wish I had the discipline to wake up before my kids start my day for me!!! Regardless, now is as good a time as ever. 

    I am grateful for these little things already today: 

    • Seeing my niece Lauren in our home 
    • Hugs and kisses from all my kiddos 
    • Cup of my favorite coffee from my hubby
    • Seeing Hadley sing "Mister Golden Sun" at school 
    • Play date favor from a friend
    • Nothing Bundt Cake surprise... actually 2!  
    • Birthday party drama reduced without a fuss 
    • No traffic on the freeway (because I was very late! But that's okay.)