seasonal ADD

September was brutally hot this year. Lots of heat and humidity, and I was preparing to go to California, the land of the eternal summer, so I didn't let myself get into the swing of fall until I came back. BUT I'M BACK and elbow-deep in my fall decorations.

Saturday was a raining, 53 degrees. I loved it so hard. I wore my first sweater of the year and pranced around Trader Joe's, buying up their 69 cent pumpkins. They're now sitting on the balcony, and I can stare at them and the changing leaves behind them as I sit on the couch and drink my coffee.  James bought me a pumpkin spice latte, because I unabashedly love all things pumpkin spice, and my pregnancy hormones forbade me from indulging last year, so now I must over-compensate. I was made for Octobers.

Gracie wore her red corduroy overalls to church yesterday, and I made soup and cornbread for dinner. It's going to be 76 degrees today (I'd rather not discuss it), but I still whipped up some pumpkin spice (there I go again!) baked oatmeal and lit my apple candle this morning. I got inspired to pull out a few fall decorations, and as I grabbed my other fall candles, I got a whiff of my Christmas candles. I heard the ghost of Bing Crosby crooning as the smell of eggnog and nutmeg wafted through the air. I nearly put all the fall decorations away and went for the Christmas tree. I stopped myself, counted to ten, and took a whiff of my pumpkin candle. Reining myself in this time of year is so hard. I love the pumpkins and the leaves but SANTA IS COMING IN TWO MONTHS and I'm still a 5 year old at heart.

I guess this means I'll be continuing my tradition of celebrating Halloween by listening to Christmas music.


6 months

My child is 6 months old.

That's half a year. Another half a year until she's a toddl--STOP. I can't take it.

I could tell you how precious and wonderful she is, but I'll sum it up by saying that after declaring I would NEVER have another baby, I told James the other night that someday I think I might want another baby. She's wooed me into wanting a house full of babies. But then, she picked THAT NIGHT and the following day to scream nonstop for no reason, which she hasn't done since the newborn days of yore, so I have since retracted my statement, and her reign as only child is secure for now.

She is chunky and squishy and smiles with her whole entire body. I am so in love with her. Forget plastic or wooden toys, she loves anything made from fabric and yarn (my child!!!). Her favorite toys are blankets and pillows. Stick a pillow in front of her and she will kick it for hours. She kicks her legs nonstop. Whenever anyone comments on it, I want to say now you know why I was so uncomfortable while pregnant! James bought her a stuffed animal dog before she was born, and it's her best friend. Her legal name is Louise, but she goes by Puppy. She's also on the verge of making friendship bracelets for Raggedy Ann.

When we were in California, she started babbling "mama," and I physically cannot handle it. She sometimes repeats it back to me now, and I fall on the floor sobbing every time. She thinks our cat hung the moon, and she completely lights up whenever Noel walks by. She only tolerates baths when James gives them to her, and she calms down immediately when we sing to her. She loves when James plays his guitar and sings to her, and I'm currently reading the Little House on the Prairie books to her. It's never too early for a little Laura Ingalls Wilder!

She loves being outside and grins every time the wind blows her hair. She was the happiest baby on the beach in California, except she screams whenever the sun is on her face (that Irish DNA coming out). She looks just like James, and no joke, already has some of his annoying mannerisms. This is proof God has a sense of humor.

Being her mother is both harder and more wonderful than I ever could have imagined. Some days I feel like we're frolicking on rainbows, and other days we scream and cry together. Whenever I think I have her figured out, she switches things up again. Our life together is a game of trial and error. I'm constantly torn between my yearning for time alone to do what I want and then desperately missing her whenever I get it. I'm so glad she's mine. I'm so glad I spend my days with her. I can't wait to keep watching her grow up, as long as she promises to live with me forever.


I took a teething baby to california and lived to tell about it

Never in my life have I been so happy to be home. Traveling with a baby isn't a vacation, it's a work trip.

Gracie slept about 30 minutes on the entire 5 hour flight there. She was fussy, but not so fussy that people were throwing things at us. It was exhausting, but overall I felt victorious. When we got to LA it felt like southern Florida. I had the baby strapped to my front in the Ergo, a backpack on my back, I was pushing the stroller which held the car seat and pack n play, and pulling my suitcase all over the airport, loaded and unloaded it all in a shuttle, schlepped it all over the rental car lot, loaded it all into the rental car, and unloaded it at the hotel. Our god-forsaken GPS didn't recognize California and the Monday night LA traffic was so frightening I had night terrors for days. The air conditioning was broken in the hotel, and my insomnia kicked in again and I slept one full hour.

We drove up the coast the next day and stopped for lunch on the wharf in Santa Barbara and ate at the restaurant my parents used to go to on dates. Some tropical storm was lurking off the coast, making it feel like we were in the Caribbean. I hadn't packed my shorts because they're still a little tight and are only comfortable for short periods of time, and the forecast had predicted high 70s-low 80s. Completely doable in jeans. But the forecast was wrong.

After lunch, I picked up Gracie to feed her and saw that she had pooped all over herself, the stroller, her blanket, and my jeans. For the first time since she was born, I had forgotten to throw an extra outfit in the diaper bag, and we were roughly 2 miles from the car. We walked back as fast as possible in the sweltering heat, giving me blisters all over my feet. We cleaned up the baby and I changed into my sweaty airplane jeans a size too big.

We got to my grandma's house an hour later, and the temperature inside the house was hovering around 90 degrees. There wasn't enough room for Gracie and me to sleep there, but I was so deliriously tired I was completely unable to drive us to my other grandma's house 30 minutes away. My mom opened the window in the guest room, and I slept on the floor under it since it was the coolest spot in the house.

The rest of the week went by in a haze of sweat and sleep deprivation. It was 106 one day, and no one in my family has air conditioning since it's usually a very mild climate. I had to take cold showers every night before bed to cool off enough to sleep. I was perpetually drenched in sweat and constantly planted near any fan I could find to keep Gracie from getting too hot. Nursing makes me warm in general, and nursing in the heat is just terrible. And Gracie wanted to nurse much more than normal, so I was constantly wiping sweat off us both. The evenings and mornings are usually chilly and foggy, but with the heat wave it stayed sunny and hot with no reprieve. And all I had were jeans. I know people live like that all the time, but I wasn't prepared for it.

We did get to take Gracie to my favorite beach. It's been closed for a long time now, but it's where my grandpa used to take my mom as a baby and me as well. He died when I was a kid, but he's the coolest person I've ever known. He worked as an engineer for NASA and helped build and launch rockets during The Astronaut Wive's Club era. Vandenberg Air Force Base, where he worked, owns this beach and has it under major lockdown now. It used to be open, and I remember running around and collecting shells and playing with the kelp. It's wild and untamed and almost creepy. I adore it. The hills surrounding it are covered in radars and missile launching pads. My mom and dad spread his ashes here after he died. I'm so sad Gracie will never meet him, but we took her there and dipped her toes in the sand and the water on the tiny little patch you're allowed to walk on. There's another section of the beach open for a few months out of the year. It was scheduled to open October 1st, which was already close enough to bum us out, but we later discovered the beach opened early, the day after we were there.

It feels wrong to say the trip was hard when I'm posting pictures of the beach, but it's the honest truth. It was just hard. It was tiresome. I hauled Gracie's pack n play to various houses every day and begged people to just please stop yelling outside that door, can't you see the baby napping? And I had to keep putting my foot down about things so Gracie could go to bed, carried her out of restaurants when she was tired, looked for quiet corners to nurse in, tried to time bathroom stops on road trips so I could feed her, and looked for places to change her diaper. And the three hour time change! It made everything confusing, but she got so little sleep on the way home that I was able to put her to bed at her normal time and sort of get her back on schedule.

Gracie handled this trip so much better than I did. I was so worried about taking her out there, flying with her, and having her sleep in new places around new people, but she never missed a beat. She loved everyone she met, basked in the constant attention, and had no problems sleeping in a different place nearly every night. She was oblivious to the real reason we were there, to say goodbye to my grandma, and the subsequent family issues. Not to mention I had a constant introvert headache from going from being at home with just a baby to being surrounded by people all day long (even though it was completely worth it!). To be 6 months old again, you know?

There were some really good moments, though. I got out of the shower one morning to hear my grandma singing hymns to Gracie, and she helped me give the baby a bath in her 1950s kitchen sink that night. She and my great-aunt and uncle watched Gracie while my mom and I ran errands (and picked up the Mexican food that later made us sick). We took G to Solvang, the little Danish village, to get her picture in front of the windmill and in the giant red clog, pictures that everyone in our family has.  It was over 100 degrees, and we were all miserable beyond words. But it just meant I had to visit my favorite little coffee shop for a smoothie.

We drove down the Pacific Coast Highway on our way back to Los Angeles, and it was gorgeous. We drove past Point Mugu during a Blue Angels show I watched from the car. I saw them as a kid and they were just as amazing to watch as an adult. We stopped in Malibu to hang out at the beach for awhile. I was the girl in jeans surrounded by girls in bikinis. I fit right in! Gracie loves being outside, and the beach was no different. I am so proud to have birthed a beach baby, especially since both her families are from opposing coasts. It was so bloody hot I wanted to dive into the water head firstNext time! Next time.

I used to think LA was the most exciting place in the world, but no more. It's just exhausting! Everything feels so frantic, and it felt more stressful to me than NYC did. Why do people choose to live there in that traffic? I couldn't do it and retain any semblance of sanity. At the same time, you can't hate a place that has posters of John Stamos plastered all over town, ya know? But every time I looked at the sea of cars around me, I felt like Dwight Schrute when he said there are too many people on the earth and we need a new plague.

On the drive from Malibu to the hotel in LA, Gracie decided she was done with the carseat and screamed bloody murder. The Saturday night traffic picked up around Santa Monica and it was gridlock for the next hour. With a screaming child. We got to our hotel and discovered the air conditioning wasn't working right in our room, which was the exact reason we had changed hotels to begin with. And there wasn't any hot water. At that point I chose to laugh because WE WERE ABOUT TO GO HOME.

Miracle of miracles, our flight home wasn't full and we got a row to ourselves. We put the baby in the middle seat to play and nap (for only 30 minutes, again--SIGH). I was able to change her diaper right there and didn't have to battle the airplane bathroom again, and during turbulence! I'm still waiting on my award for that one. It should be in the mail any day now. Our flight was full of Eastern Europeans and a man identical to hitler. Identical. It was unnerving. I came home to fall temperatures, a clean house, and Chipotle waiting for me. I was so happy to sleep in my own bed in an AIR CONDITIONED room that I cried.

I learned something really important on this trip: I love Ohio. California is my homeland, it's where I'm from, it's where generations of my family have lived and farmed and worked. But Ohio is my home. It really clicked for me while I was there. I felt heartsick for the changing leaves and cornfields. I know that sounds ludicrous when you're surrounded by palm trees and gorgeous beaches, but it's just the truth. I know a lot of it is due to the heat, stress of family problems, and the worrying about a baby, but I was never able to really relax on this trip and just enjoy being there. I remember flipping through a book in high school about the states and the kind of people that live in them, and the section on Ohio said something like "Ohioans are just really excited about Ohio," and it is SO TRUE. It just confirmed that this is my home and where I want to keep putting roots down. I can't help it, I'm just really excited to live in Ohio. It's chilly and raining this morning and there's nowhere I'd rather be.

But ask me in February when I'm buried in snow and I may have a different answer.



Does anyone out there remember the bubble shirts of the late 90s/early 2000s? They were approximately 1 square inch and expanded as you put them on. How it didn't constantly fly back up to my face I'll never know, but I do remember having to pull it down constantly. They were a big deal for a small slice of my awkward adolescent past, which means you'll probably see them for sale at your local Forever 21 in the coming months.

The bubble shirt goes down as one of my biggest fashion regrets, accompanied by pink frosted eyeshadow, bleached L.E.I. jeans, and watermelon scented roll-on body glitter from none other than Bath & Body Works. I made the fantastic choice of wearing a purple bubble shirt for my seventh grade school picture. My adolescent skin is shining along with my matching frosted eyeshadow, but neither are to be outdone by the gleam of my braces. It's topped off with a haircut I had gotten a few months earlier, before we moved to the humid Midwest where I learned that I actually have frizzy, wavy hair. My hair fell a few inches above my shoulders. It was sleek at the top, and got wavier toward the bottom, where it spastically frizzed out at the ends. My head was a triangle. Slap on a necklace from Claire's and you should have a pretty good mental image of why the 7th and 8th grades have been blocked from my memory. I would post a picture, but I have blessedly lost my middle school yearbooks and can't find them anywhere. But this picture will give you a good idea of the kind of awkwardness I possessed.

Back to 2015. The last time I got my haircut was 2 weeks before Gracie was born. I've been going to the same girl since I moved to Columbus, and while she's not my favorite, she's never failed me. I haven't bothered to find anyone else to cut my hair, because the risk of being butchered by someone new is too scary, and a risk taker I am not, so I make sure I have an allotted time to go straight home afterward to trim my bangs and restraighten my hair before going anywhere else.

Since I'm about to see relatives I haven't seen for years and my shedding post-partum hair is 40% split ends, I decided to get my hair done Friday. I even had some extra cash to grab a coffee after. A MORNING OUT ON THE TOWN. I was so excited I even wore a dress. I had to be appropriately dressed for my new hair. I didn't have anyone around to watch Gracie, so I took her with me since she's usually content to hang out.

I showed my hair dresser a picture of what I wanted and specifically explained it as well even thought it was a glorified trim. She showed me how short my hair would be after she trimmed a couple inches. I gave her a thumbs up. She started cutting, and Gracie started whining. Then the hairdresser turned on the hair dryer, and Gracie screamed the way I would if someone took my chocolate away. She's transferred her fear of people to loud noises. If she hears a lawn mower while we're out on a walk she goes into hysterics. It's been a lot of fun! I put Gracie on my lap to calm her down while my hair was blow-dried. All my energy went to keeping her calm. I was so flustered that I barely even looked in the mirror to check on my hair. No matter what I did, Gracie continued to scream. I was bouncing her on my hip as I handed over my debit card. As I put it back in my wallet, I realized I had forgotten to tip her, so I reluctantly handed over the cash I had been saving for my coffee. I ran out of there as fast as I could and got Gracie situated in the car where she immediately calmed down and happily played with her toys. Of course.

When we got home I realized I hardly even knew what my hair looked like, so I walked in the bathroom to check it out, and what did I see but my 7th grade yearbook picture staring back at me, minus the frosted eyeshadow, braces, and bubble shirt. Instead of trimming a few inches, she had chopped 6 inches off. She styled it so that the ends were poofy and curled under, creating the dreaded head triangle I sported for ages 11-12. Was this revenge for bringing a fussy baby? Was a frumpy haircut my induction to motherhood? I had had insomnia all week and was severely sleep deprived, I was still flustered from Gracie uncharacteristically screaming in the hair salon, and disappointed I had lost my coffee money on a tip for someone that had butchered my hair. I lost it. The picture I had given her could NOT be more opposite than the haircut she gave me.

I called my mom, and after she saw a picture of my hair, she immediately said "Michelle! It looks like your 7th grade yearbook picture!" And I laughed so hard that she had the same reaction I did that it made everything a little bit better. I fixed the poofy ends and straightened my hair again, and it looks much better, but I swear it looks shorter every time I look in the mirror.

I've accepted it and all is well. My hair might not be the way I had wanted it, but at least I have things I didn't have 15 years ago: a flat iron and non-expandable clothing.

Well, unless you count my maternity clothes.

Maybe things haven't changed as much as I thought.


stream of consciousness, vol. 7

Life lately. Where do I begin? So much going on, yet nothing at all. At least that's how it feels. Sarah and her family visited over Labor Day weekend, and it was so fun. Last time she came I was approximately 30 weeks pregnant, our guest bathroom flooded as she was on her way over, and her car was broken into while we were out to dinner. Instead of spending our evening relishing the fact that we were hanging out in person, I was helping her file a police report while James taped a trash bag over her broken window. I'm very impressed and honored that she dared to come back.

We introduced our girls to each other, who are one year and one day apart. Last time she was here, Annabelle was crawling around, and just seeing a baby in my house gave me the vapors. Now she's a toddler, and seeing that preview of Gracie's future is equally as unnerving. Annabelle is the sweetest little dumpling, and I'm so glad she and Gracie will grow up only 5 hours apart now. I'm determined to make them best friends for life. Gracie was unsure when I carried her downstairs to a house full of strangers, but she quickly warmed up. I had been preparing Sarah that Miss Stranger Danger would probably scream at first sight, but she proved me wrong. She screams whenever anyone she doesn't recognize makes eyes at her, and every time I think "hey, that's my DNA at work!" She loved Sarah and her whole family and after awhile couldn't stop smiling at them. Either she's growing up or is just an excellent judge of character.

We're leaving for California in just over a week. But here's the kicker: we have to fly in the evening, during bedtime. It was the only flight available during our timeframe, and I'm terrified. I am going to be that person with the screaming baby, I just know it. She gets so fussy when she's overtired (but so do I!) and doesn't usually fall asleep in my arms these days, not to mention that we're currently in the throes of teething. I'm hoping the motion of the plane will knock her right out. If you see a headline of a mother who was tarred and feathered upon arrival to LAX, it was me. I did buy her some jammies with palm trees on them to help soften the blow. The logistics of flying with a baby aren't stressing me out quite as much as the thought of a 3 hour time change. Some days I feel all loosey-goosey-go-with-the-flow-it-will-all-work-out-peace-and-kumbaya about it, and other times I'm ready to don myself in all black to mourn the loss of a bedtime and routine. Whatever. It will all work out. When I start to stress, I think about In-N-Out and fresh ocean air. And MOUNTAINS. Gasp.


It's just starting to turn to fall here. Some of the leaves are changing and it's going to be in the 60s (THE SIXTIES) this weekend. I am overcome with anticipation and will be burning my fall candles accordingly. It's hard to run headlong into fall's embrace when in a week I'll be heading for the land of the eternal summer. All I want to do is put my 5 (sigh) summer shirts away and dance with my sweaters, but instead I have to try to squeeze my baby weight into a pair of shorts I've had hidden in my closet so they'll stop taunting me.

I'm so tired of the humidity and the bugs. I was outside for a collective 20 minutes on Monday, but I'm covered in mosquito bites and going crazy. I have three giant welts on my forehead that are testing the limits of my sanity. Nothing stops the itching. I had to go to bed with a cold compress on my forehead last night because it was the only thing that helped me stop clawing myself. I look like I have smallpox. The strap of my shirt keeps rubbing the bite on my shoulder and it's sending me through the roof. These weren't just any ordinary mosquitos that bit me--they were hell-bent on revenge, probably for all the ones I've killed this summer. You're welcome for letting you in on this very trying time in my life.


I rarely have the TV on during the day (unless it's nap time and I need something mindless on), but I watch I Love Lucy every morning at 7:30 while Gracie nurses. There's no better way to start the day than with a little Lucille Ball. Anyway, sometimes I'll watch a little Good Morning America or The Today Show afterwards, because if I don't watch how else will I learn the BREAKING NEWS that muffins have sugar in them? I kind of hate morning shows...they're so damn peppy and fluffy (I will never ever care what so-and-so wore on the red carpet) and nothing important is ever said, but they're occasionally entertaining.

Anyway, Justin Bieber was on The Today Show this morning, and I have some thoughts on the matter. I realize I am no longer a hip teen but am rather a (still hip) stay-at-home-mom with a yarn stash who is getting dangerously close to 30, but I've never liked that scoundrel. Why do people still fawn over this guy? Is he on drugs still? He couldn't have looked more zoned out if he tried. His songs sound almost monotone and he looked like he would've rather done anything but perform. Is smiling no longer trendy or something? I couldn't understand a word he was singing. E-NUNCE-EE-ATE. His new bleached hair makes him look exactly like Miley Cyrus. I didn't turn the TV off because it was all so ridiculous I couldn't look away. I feel like the proverbial old man wagging his finger and yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. Get off my TV, Bieber. Get off my radio, all pop music. Just go back from whence you came before my IQ drops any lower.

Lest you think I'm atop my high horse, I assure you I'm not. Had this been the early 2000s and The Backstreet Boys were performing, I would've fainted dead away at the first glimpse of Nick Carter. I almost needed some smelling salts to revive me when I saw Justin Timberlake two years ago. But I think we can all agree that Nick and JT > Bieber. If not, get off my lawn.


I would write more, but someone is back to 30 minute naps (Lord, help), so this will have to do. I think I might have to go get myself some pumpkin coffee today so I can cope.

I feel like I'm ending this on a downer and I don't mean to, so here are some happy things so you don't think I'm going through the day with a perma-scowl: Watermelon Kiwi La Croix makes me weak in the knees, tacos for dinner, mug cakes, James has the weekend off, it's going to be in the 60s (THE SIXTIES), Gracie has a mullet.

No, really:

But at least it turns into adorable pigtails.

I'm so proud that this is my contribution to society.