Living in Northern California can have an effect on you. More specifically, living in the Bay Area. After approx. 4 years here, I can state with full confidence that my wife and I have begun the slow but certain transition to hippydom. I doubt that we’ll ever be full-fledged citizens of hippytown but there have been many changes to our approach over time. They’re notable enough that I’ve been keeping a list and whenever I glance at it I giggle. Although I’ve been known to rock a billowy top and turquoise jewelry I’m talking about something deeper than that…a Bay Area frame of mind. Allow me to regale you with a few solid examples:
So there you have it. We’re living that Yay Area life. For a couple years now I’ve been looking forward to our next move to somewhere cheaper, simpler, closer to family. But I gotta say that I’m thankful for where we live at the moment; warts and all. I appreciate the influence & awareness that our one-of-a-kind city has bestowed upon us.
I mean, what can I say about my favorite food? Nay, my favorite cuisine? I remember quite keenly my first experience with Vietnamese food. Some years ago I had a co-worker who was Vietnamese but born and raised in France. Her taste in food was impeccable and she took it very, very seriously. The ritual of it, the importance of quality… and she had a reverence for proper form. She took me to my first authentic Vietnamese restaurant in SoCal. She taught me what to order (for a beginner: spring rolls and pho) and how to order it (rare steak on the side), prepare it (how to add veggies, sauces, etc.) and consume it (how to spool noodles onto the spoon and dip it in broth to get a mixture of all the wonderful flavors). I haven’t veered from what she showed me and I’ve had hundreds of bowls of pho since then. I don’t know what it is about the flavors of Vietnamese cuisine that resonate with me so deeply. The restaurants are often no-fuss with a “family business” type feel. The impact of each dish is based on how fresh the ingredients are – there’s no hiding behind subpar proteins, veggies and herbs. I have two bucket list items that pertain to this delicious food:
If I ever do either of these things you, my fair blog readers, will be the FIRST to know! Until that day, I slurp on.
* I wish I were clever enough to have come up with the title of this post on my own. But, I’m not. Holly gifted me a shirt that says Souper Pho-reak on it and it’s one of my faves.
** For those that have always been curious, it’s pronounced “phuh” not “phoh.” FYI
This year, we’ll be visiting family out of town for Christmas; so for the sake of tradition we wanted to make Jude’s first xmas holiday memorable while keeping things supes simple. Factoring in two rambunctious cats and a burgeoning toddler, our household decorations had to be somewhat fail-safe. We opted for a mini tree which I LOVE. We secured the tree stand to a table with putty and tape. We’ve taken no chances and it is paying off handsomely so far. All decorations remain in their rightful spots. This is an achievement that we’re proud of! Doesn’t take much these days, does it? [insert weary giggle here] We hung our brand new stockings on the mantle and put out a few bowls of Christmas bulbs throughout the house. We’ve also got our holiday scented candles burning on the regs to give our home that extra cheery oomph. It feels jovial and celebratory in our little apartment. I know that Baby J won’t remember how this felt but we sure will. Bring on the holiday season! xo
Our friends at Blueberry Photography were gracious enough to take a few photos of us as a family. Juju is about 8 months here…in all of this tubby glory. He’s so. damn. great. in front of the camera. I want a dozen more just like him!
In the days and weeks that followed the election, my family went through a grieving process. It took about 3 days just to break through the numbness and shock to accept that this was the leader that our country selected. Well, half of the country anyway. Holly worked on election night but Judah and I walked downtown to meet up with some friends for a watching party. The place was crowded but we had seats. I ordered a glass of wine hoping that it would calm the nerves but as the night went on and the counts rolled in, I could feel myself getting very warm and increasingly frenzied. I found it hard to keep up with casual conversation happening at the table and my attention was glued to the giant projector screen above our heads. I stepped out of the cafe a couple of times with Juju in my arms to take some deep breaths. Around 8p I started to get frightened about the results and had to get out of there. I apologized, blamed it on Judah’s bath time and bolted home. Walking home through downtown Oakland at night can put you on edge. It doesn’t feel 100% safe, ever, which is why I don’t do it often. Somehow though I felt like the massive, overarching issue of potentially electing a mysogynistic, narcissistic demagogue to lead the free world overshadowed my immediate fears; like I was walking in a bubble. That’s how powerful it felt to me. And I sensed that every person I passed that night had the same concerns and the same worries on a much larger scale than what was presently in front of us. For the rest of the evening at home, I tried to maintain our nighty-night routine as best I could. I had the TV tuned to CNN so that I could hear it in the background. That night, Judah didn’t fall asleep in bed like usual; he fell asleep in my arms as I paced back and forth watching the election unfold. I wish I could say that holding my child close to me and trying to soothe him had a calming effect on me that night but it didn’t. I was horrified when all was said and done. I’m still horrified. No matter how many think pieces, articles, well-intentioned and likeminded comments of support, tears, petitions, conversations with loved ones I’ve read/had/consumed there’s still a gigantic neon WHAT THE FUCK??!!!! sign flashing inside of my brain. This loss feels devastating. I won’t sugarcoat this. And I’m not just talking about Hillary, bless her. I’m talking about what it means to wake up and feel like you live in a foreign place that you don’t recognize. In a place that doesn’t seem to represent everything that you thought it did for your entire life. Sure, you may think that my analogies are extreme or overly dramatic but FUCK if I care! Predictably H and I have had the conversation about getting out of dodge but my British citizenship isn’t going to get us much different. They’re going through their own messy pile of shite. So what do we do now? Now that we’ve accepted it (Well, partially. We’ve still got teeny tiny hopes that the electoral college will save us from this disaster!)? We’ve tried to find the smallest silver linings possible. For example – our first lady is an immigrant. Awesome. Also, Trump was a democrat for a very long time…perhaps some of those notions will pop up here and there? Lastly, we live in a resilient country. It’s not unbreakable despite what many people think, but we’ve weathered a lot in our 240-something years and will hopefully continue to do so. For now we try to find silver linings and we wait. We give thanks for our little corner of the world where people share our sentiments and aren’t afraid to speak out. We wait some more. We try to understand the intentions of those that felt like Donald was the best choice, it helps a little. But still we wait. We wait for the worst. We hope for the best. We wait.
May I speak freely about breastfeeding here today? If you’re not interested in the subject, you may want to scroll right along to the next post. If you’re a judgey mommy looking to compare I’ll say the same to you: move on, pleaseadnthankyou. My breastfeeding journey lasted about 6 months which was the perfect amount of time for my son and I. When I was pregnant I always expected that I would breastfeed for at least a year, that was the goal that I set for myself. I’m familiar with all of the mumbo jumbo about the benefits and the bonding and the pumping, etc, etc. I’d done my research. Now that I’m on the other side of it I have quite a lot to say on the matter. Firstly, I didn’t love it. I know that there are a lot of moms out there that really get a lot out of breastfeeding their babies but I’m just not one of them. There were appreciative moments, peaceful moments, fulfilling moments but I never sat there nursing at 4am and thought to myself “I could do this forever (or even a year!).” Nah. Jude took to breastfeeding easily when I used a nipple shield and I always felt like he got plenty to eat. You wanna know something naughty? I never stopped using my shield. He latched onto it so easily and I never got any clogged ducts or cracks or anything. I accredit that to using a shield consistently for the 6 months that I nursed. Yes, I’d been chided by a few lactation consultants to keep practicing without it. But I was tired, and stressed, and it worked. Time continued to tick-tock by and I just kept using it. Eventually I just kinda said “fuck it.” Was it an inconvenience to shuffle around in the dark at night to find the shield? Yes. Was it a pain to keep them sterilized and easily accessible, sure. But it worked for me and I have no regrets.
Secondly, I loathed nursing in public. If you don’t know the word “loathe” it means that you feel intense dislike or disgust for <insert thing here>. That’s a strong word, and in this case it fits. When presented with the idea of having to nurse in public I felt nervous energy rocket through my body and I would sweat. I felt supremely uncomfortable. I was anxious. Why? Does it really matter why? I did it when I had to but I also did what I could to avoid it. The fumbling inconvenience of it all. Just, no. Not for me. Which leads me to the third thing…
I wish we would’ve added formula to the equation a lot sooner. My wife fought me on this when I decided that I needed to feel less tethered to JJ’s feedings. Nursing him around the clock for those first few months was a beast. I tried pumping extra so that I could catch a break and somebody else could feed him. But I just couldn’t pump enough. Also, pumping is time consuming and cumbersome in case nobody done told ya. Even though it took some time to pin down the right formula for Judah it was so worth it once we did. It gave me the freedom and the extra shut-eye that I desperately needed.
When I felt ready to wean JJ off of the breast he simultaneously became very noticeably interested in our food. Impeccable timing, this kid. Since he was already on formula half of the time the weaning period was inconsequential. He’s been an amazingly adventurous eater ever since. Yes, it really was that simple weaning this kid. I got lucky.
Lastly, here I am…haven’t breastfed in about two month and I s t i l l. h a v e. m i l k. Why?? I’m so ready for these babies to return to their former glory. Can somebody please tell me when it’ll go away? You’ve done your job, girls! You can come on home now. I’ve missed the old yous.
And you, momma readers? How was your journey?
This air plant installation on our bedroom wall was one of those projects that we were supposed to complete a year and a half ago. I ordered these ceramic hanging cups on Amazon and they continued to sit in the box under the desk for way too long. We’ve recently made some changes to the layout of our bedroom (more on that later) and thought it was finally time to get this ish done! We went to the Oakland Flower Mart and bought an array of beautiful air plants and some fake moss. I thought the diamond-shaped design would make it look more like art and we really love how it turned out. Holly just gives them a quick spray with the water bottle once per week and they thrive.
The Jackson’s got extra nasty this year – we rose early, we voted, we drank delicious coffee and ate our favorite hand-filled doughnuts. Emotions and anxieties are running high in our house today. A woman could be elected President of the United States. This sentiment isn’t wasted on us. This is major. We’re a proud American family and we’re completely, totally, unabashedly with HER. Now c’mon Hills let’s win this thing! We’re counting on you!
I recently had the privilege of being M.O.H at my life-long friend Jessica’s wedding in Austin, TX. It was a whirlwind 4 day trip in one of my favorite (food) cities. My Ma was able to join us there and we stayed in the most charming Airbnb not far from downtown. The wedding was at a venue on Lake Travis – about 30 mins from Austin’s city center – and it was beautiful. And oh so FUN. Seriously, the most fun I’ve had at a wedding ever. Jess & Greg’s circle of friends were all young, hilarious and in great spirits. We had such a blast chatting with everyone and meeting the family. The wedding also served as a mini reunion for my family and Jessica’s family since we haven’t really seen each other in years. In the days and weeks leading up to the wedding I had such terrible nerves about giving my speech and how my dress would fit…but it all turned out okay. Better than okay, fantastic! I only had my iPhone to capture the memories though so here’s my best effort. The snaps above are from our Airbnb, the Bridal Brunch at Irene’s, the Rehearsal Dinner at Z’Tejas, the wedding itself and our evening putzing around South Congress. Whenever I leave Austin I always have the feeling that there’s so much more that we could’ve done. That town is so alive, and I feel alive when I’m in it. We flew back on Halloween (which is also my birthday!) but we were so wiped from our amazing time in Austin that we tucked in early that night. Sorry Judah, your first “real” Halloween will have to wait until next year, bud. Until next time, Austin.
In line with our new travel tradition we purchased an Austin refrigerator magnet and took a few shots of Jude with it. He’s 7.5 months here. My little adventure baby.
On one of Holly’s days off we tried the new Oaxacan restaurant in Uptown Oakland called Agave. We’d had quite the busy day before-hand so this dinner held the purpose of relaxation and enjoyment for the family. The food was quite good and so was my cocktail. Needing to be comfortable yet stylish, I wore this camel colored sweater dress that I thrifted. Originally from The Limited, the material is super cozy, almost cashmere-like, and the length and cinched waist make it flattering on my work-in-progress physique. What’s not to love?