August 31, 2011

What He Wore on Wednesday

Wednesday, Friendsday!
These days, Cruz likes things with a face.
Good morning, Tigger!
Long gone are the days when I could prop up Cruz and take a picture.
All action shots, all the time now.
Love these striped jammers. And yes, they are from Costco.
That's how we roll.
After a 2.5 hour nap (!), Cruz was ready for a hairstyle and a polo shirt. 

I was looking forward to sharing his evening pjs with you (planet-themed), but at dinner he laid his head down on the table and asked to go to bed early.
Well, who am I to say no to that?
So goodnight!

August 29, 2011

i wrote this while watching bachelor pad, so... there's that

today i was having all kinds of first world problems.
like, pine nuts were $8. does that even make sense?
and, do i counteract buying organic if i have to leave the car running for twenty minutes before going into the store because the baby finally fell asleep and nothing no nothing will convince me to wake him up?

i was walking through trader joe's on monday evening
which everyone knows is the worst time to go to trader joes.
there are no lovely elderly ladies who squeal over cruz toes.
it's too busy for the checker to volunteer to load my groceries.
i was mad about the pine nuts and the lack of old ladies.
i was thinking snarky thoughts
when suddenly i recognized that these thoughts were not pleasing to the Lord.

pleeeeaseeeee, i said.
make me think nicer things.

we got in line to check out and cruz was on the verge, the literal brink of his first public meltdown.
i was feeling desperate, martha!
and then, my old friend sarah stepped into line behind us!
friends, do you know someone who just beams goodness and light and fun?
that is sarah.
we lived next door to each other in college, and i was blessed to be her r.a.
cruz immediately turned on the charm (hello, lady!) and i got to reconnect with a friend. 
so it all turned out great,
even if we didn't get those pine nuts. 
yes, charming like this. even if we didn't take this picture today. 

August 26, 2011

Finding Love: Afterwards

and here's what happened next

this is how the story ends, but it's not how it began:
one mama, one baby boy
who just can't get enough of each other

after thirty-eight weeks of dreaming, wishing, hoping, blessing, sacrificing and
seven hours of labor
he was laid in her arms.
she waited for the rush of love and the bursting open of her heart that had been promised
and she waited and she waited

he was small, swaddled, a stranger

she felt nothing and she knew something must be wrong with her
she smiled and chatted and felt empty inside

going through the motions, trusting that love would come 
everyone else wanted to hold, to snuggle, exclaim
she just wanted a nap and a snack

how could she carry this baby for nine months and not know him?

she wanted to cry when he cried
but in secret
on the outside she wanted to hold it together 
so that the people around her would think she was a good mom
that she wasn't overwhelmed
or tired
or lonely without a baby in her belly
but she was

then after days and weeks of going through the motions
of holding it together
of practicing love when she didn't feel it

he found her eyes in the mirror and locked his gaze
he settled sweetly into her arms
he slept through the night
he smiled when he was fed
and loved going shopping

she suddenly realized who he was:

her heart began to grow
sizes in single moments

the shame she felt was replaced by grace
and by love
oh! by love

August 24, 2011

What He Wore On Wednesday

People often ask me how many pictures I take in order to get all the shots I need on Wednesdays.
A lot.
Like, a lot a lot.
I am no photographer, Martha!
Here is a sample of a shot that would normally not make the cut:
Here is my question-- how is one supposed to take a picture at 6am when the lighting is kind of beautiful but not really great for picture taking?
I have many, many friends who are professional photographers.
If only I could jump into your brains for awhile and learn how you make your magic. 

Here is how we've been finding Cruz in the morning:
He began chewing on the crib rails, so I bought a gummy crib-rail-protector.
Mr. Future Mechanic, however, laughs at my efforts and simply works his way under the protector and chews it all.
What are you gonna do.
Well, what we do is step outside for some fashion shots!
Love these prisoner jammies... love his smokey glare.

Today we discovered that Cruz has been growing some curls!

I don't think you'll be surprised to learn that this is just one of many soccer kits Cruz owns.
And he looks good in all of them.

I wasn't home to put Cruz Man to bed, but let's all pretend that he looked dashing. 
I hope your week has been full of blessing, friends.
With love!

August 22, 2011

Breakfast with Cruz

There is a lot of buzz about dinner being the family meal
but that just doesn't always work for us.
Tov is usually done working after Cruz goes to bed,
and I like to eat with my husband.
So for this season of life, the family dinner is hard to come by.

But breakfast, sweet breakfast!
"Jesus said, 'Breakfast is ready.'" 
That's in the Bible, y'all.

At around 7am you will find Cruz and I sitting at the table together.
I eat cereal or Greek yos.
He eats banana and oatmeal.
We talk about what we'll do that day.
I make our to-do list.
We turn on a great music playlist or maybe catch up on The Daily Show.
When I give my opinions about world, Cruz agrees with everything I say.
He's cool like that.

Breakfast has become our sweet morning tradition. 
That and the resulting bath that breakfast seems to necessitate. 

August 17, 2011

What He Wore On Wednesday

Wednesday Friends, Cruz and I are back after being Down For The Count over the last few days.
Needless to say, this isn't going to be the most fashion-y post ever.
But it's still pretty cute.
My little scholar!
If you think these jams are dirty here, you should have seen them after I let Cruz crawl around the backyard all morning. 
No, no you shouldn't have seen them.
During middle school, my girlfriends and I read a Seventeen magazine article about "icy blue and chocolatey brown" being the hottest color combo for the season. 
I don't really know why, but something about that struck our funny bone.
Was it because they tried to sexy up two super normal (boring) colors?
Was it because the idea of a color combo being hot is kind of ridiculous?
Was it because fashion was not the high point of the mid '90s?
Who knows. But Cruz is definitely rocking some icy blue and chocolatey brown today.

I have a feeling that I'll be taking a lot of action shots from now on.
Whenever I place Cruz on the ground and then get in position to take a picture, I hear a "slap slap" of little paws hitting the ground and then I get a big faceful of this:

I love everything about this picture.
The sweaty nap hair.
The bum and belly that are straining against the clothes.
The Andy Bernard dress alike contest that Cruz is apparently entering...

Time to say goodnight!
Regular kisses from me, and slobbery open-mouth kisses from Cruz...

August 15, 2011

the kind of day

the kind of day in which:
 i go from jammies to sweats to leggings unapologetically
 i realize that there is no calling in sick anymore
 cruz and i fall asleep in the guest room watching early morning television 
i am thankful that God created drive-through coffee shops, and am humbled that i used to make fun of people for using them
 i specifically head to trader joe's when i know it will be empty, only to dodge the client i recognize (see above, leggings)
capital letters are too much effort
my son bursts into tears when i fish not one but two half-eaten dog kibbles out of his mouth (baby-led weaning, y'all!)
i am thankful that there is nothing more pressing on my to-do list than "watch the bachelor pad at 8pm"

but it does turn out to also be the kind of day in which i catch cruz giving himself kisses in the mirror...

August 10, 2011

What He Wore On Wednesday

Cruz Lovers, this is not the outfit he wore to bed.
Yes, we had a jammie change at 4am.
In fact, to minimize the time we were awake, I changed his pjs while he nursed.
It is my single greatest feat of motherhood so far.

And a good morning to you!

Enjoying a playdate at the swings.
(Those pants used to be so long on him!)

Relaxing with some sportswear.

I hope you can see the sheer mess he made eating chicken and squash tonight.

As much as it has complicated my life, I can't get over the sight of Cruz standing up! He is so strong and independent. Not to mention curious and fearless. 
So often I want to keep him little...
But my heart swells seeing him grow like this.

And this one, for the love. 
I can only think of cheesy things to write with this photo, so I'll quit while I'm ahead. 
XOXO to you all!

August 8, 2011

finding love: welcome, baby

this is part five in Finding Love. need to get caught up? 
finding love
from a broken heart
jury duty and domino's pizza
i will never feel fully comfortable in anthropologie ever again

it is 9pm and i am wheeled into the labor and delivery exam room.
with her calm, cheerful manner, nurse nicole becomes my new best friend.
however, even after eight hours of steady contractions, i am pronounced to be not really in labor.
we walk up and down the quiet halls of the hospital
we joke about baby names
and jersey shore in between contractions.
i lean on the wall, my back gets rubbed.

it is 10pm, and i am still not really in labor. 
so they say.
crestfallen and in pain, we begin to pack up my things to head home.
the nurses monitor my baby's heart rate and it echos around the room.
strong, full of life, coursing his way into the world.

it is 10:45pm and nicole will be back in two minutes with our discharge paperwork.
she apologizes that we aren't having the baby tonight.
i ask tovi if he thinks i should miss work the next day.

it is 10:47pm and the moment nicole leaves our room, i feel the powerful release of my water breaking.
the nurses cheer and get our delivery room ready.

it is 11:30pm and someone better bring me a snack and an epidural.
my contractions pile up one on top of the other until i can't think.
there is no relief, no pause
i remind myself that this cannot kill me.
i imagine that i am running, that your hand is stretched out and i push to reach it.
even now, during his last few hours in my belly, the baby makes me throw up.

it is 4am and i have just woken up from a nap.
tovi is stretched out getting his last rest before our baby comes.
i sit in the dim light of the monitors and watch my contractions on the screen.
i am giddy
i am nervous
i am unbelievably hungry

it is 5am and nicole tells me that i can push whenever i feel like it.
now, i tell her. it's time now.
i think about the baby, but i also think about the large breakfast i'll earn at the end of this.
they tell me three pushes, i give them four.
i want to do a really good job.
baby, it's been a long nine months, but i finished strong for you.

it is 6am and he'll be here in one more push, says the doctor.
i focus so hard and give it everything i have.
she holds him up
he raises one eyebrow at me and talks up a storm
not crying, already babbling.

early morning light streams in through the windows
the world goes still and blurry around me
we say his name for the first time
"cruz justin. this is cruz justin."
i hold him to my chest.
so small, so perfect
calm and knowing

welcome, baby

August 7, 2011

good morning and a new blog look to you!

cruz has been exploding on the baby-development front lately.
dr. sears, my trusted friend, warns that when babies develop at a quick pace, their sleep will suffer.
dr. sears, testify!
cruz and i slept terribly last night
and everytime he woke me up, i had been dreaming about blogging.

i think i need some cooler dreams.

but i guess it was all for good reason, because the new blog look launches today!!!
i feel as though kelly looked into my brain and transformed by incoherent ideas into exactly what i wanted.
thank you!!

writing and sharing with all of you has been such a gift to me these last few months.
thank you for allowing me to share this journey with you.
thank you for your comments,
for your emails,
for being willing to participate and share your own stories. 
i am grateful to each and every one of you.

August 3, 2011

What He Wore On Wednesday

It's Wednesday... ladies...
These jammies were my faves when Cruz was a tiny lad of the 0-3 month range.
And now we have them in 9-12 month size. Swoon!
It seems like everyone on both sides of our family has been to visit Brazil this summer.
We have not.
I guess I'm feeling saudades for the motherland, so Cruz is rocking his Brazil jersey from Auntie Amy and Uncle Parker.
And also rocking some Blue Steel.
We think anytime is a good time for Cheerios.
Doncha think so?
Hanging out in mommy and daddy's room before bed.
Cruz and I have invented a hilarious game where he sucks on his paci...
And then I snatch it away and suck on it!
He's about to lunge at my face here. 
I am absolutely going to regret inventing this game.

Well, that's all the Wednesday I have for you today.

It's Me, Nine-Month Old Cruz

Oh hey, guys! It's me, Nine-Month Old Cruz.
Actually, I've been nine months old for awhile,
but I'm kind of hard to pin down these days.

I crawl.
I climb.
I eat chicken and Cheerios.

We have done so many fun things this month!
We went to Monterey, San Diego, and had lots of fun days playing with my best buddy Rand.

I am really curious about everything.
I like pulling things out of drawers and off of shelves.

I'm a pretty normal guy; I just have one weird thing.
If you are eating an apple, you better give it to me or else I will scream my head off.
Don't try it, I'm not joking.

Geez, my mama can barely get a picture of me! Click faster, woman.
Here's some video to really capture what I'm up to this month:

Well, until next month!
- Cruz

August 1, 2011

Guest Post: Confessions of a ...

When I started posting my confessions, it was one of the most cathartic experiences of my life.
Here I am, World.
Raw. Vulnerable. Unvarnished. 
It's terrifying and terribly freeing at the same time.
Today our guest blogger confesses what it's like to be single. 
It is raw, unvulnerble, unvarnished.
Dear Ones, let's share some love with her. 

Do you have something to confess?
email it to reliasen{at}

Dear God,

I am really angry at you. And sad. Do you want to know why? Probably not, because you don’t
seem to care about what I’m going through, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I have been asking
you for something for 15 years, but I’m done now, because you haven’t delivered. I change my
mind all the time about everything: college, grad school, career paths, places to live...but there
has been one thing that I’ve wanted my whole life: a man to love me. But none does, and never
has. There have been guys who wanted me for my body and nothing more, guys who wanted
to be my friend but didn’t want to love me, and guys with so much emotional baggage that they
don’t know how to love anyone.

So I’ve had to watch all my friends get the things they want and deserve: boyfriends, fiances,
husbands, honeymoons, and houses to share. These women all get to know what it feels like
to be loved and cherished, while I am rejected and alone. Always. Every time. And I don’t
understand why. I’m just as deserving as they are; no better, but no worse, either. You trying
to teach me a lesson? Because I get it. “You have to be happy and complete with yourself blah
blah blah.” You know what? I know I’m worth it. I’m smart, attractive, fun, and I have a lot of love
to give. Sure, I can SURVIVE my life if no one ever loves me. But who wants a life like that?
is that really all I can hope for? Don’t I deserve more than just survival? I want to share my life
with someone, to have a partner, a teammate, a lover. To have someone to laugh with, eat with,
and build a home with. Is that so much to ask? Seems pretty simple to me, but apparently it’s
too much for you to lift a finger and help me. Year after year, first date after first date, I think to
myself, “maybe this is it. Maybe I’ll meet him soon.” But you know what? Hoping has only led to
pain and disappointment. So has praying. I have journals full of unanswered prayers, enough to
fill a library. So why bother?

And to add insult to injury, my perpetual, unending singleness puts a wall between me and my
friends who are loved. Because they’ve entered a world I couldn’t hope to understand. Because
I’m jealous of them. Because I feel left out when everyone around me is married, engaged,
or dating. Because couples get to plan couple-y things together: vacations, dinner parties,
camping trips, and double dates, whereas I have to go everywhere alone and pretend that I’m
oh-so-secure and confident. Because I hate being the only single one, whether the husbands
and boyfriends are around or not. Because they have someone to greet them at the end of the
day; they are someone else’s priority. Because I never get to feel special. And because it’s
embarrassing to be single at this age, like getting picked last for kickball, but about 100 times
worse. My friends have someone to tell them they look beautiful, and someone who wants to
spend a life with them. I have never had any of this, and my life is smaller for it. Oh yeah, and
going to church alone really sucks too.

People say that they experience You through the love of others. Well, if that’s true, then why
don’t you want me to experience that love? Sure, I have family and friends who care for me
I guess, but it’s not enough. You say you can do anything? Well, you could fix this now by
bringing me a caring, honest man who wants to love for me--truly--forever. Don’t I deserve to
be swept off my feet? I’m never going to be fully content without him, so if that’s what you’re
waiting for, you might as well give up. I didn’t realize perfection was a prerequisite for love and
marriage. What’s more, no one else has to wait “to feel complete in themselves” or any of that
other b.s. before they are given someone who loves them. Maybe he’s not ready, you say?
Fine: either make him ready or find someone who is. It’s been 28 years, that’s long enough.
The Bible says men and women are made for each other, so why are you letting me live an
incomplete life, day after day, and year after year? With every month that passes I have less
and less of my life to share with someone, less time to feel the joy of communion with another.
I’m not getting any younger, either.

So guess what? Pretty soon, I’m going to start doing things my way. Those “Christian” guys you
want me to date? They treat me like a leper, and most of them have no idea how to engage a
real live woman. It took that one guy nearly 5 and a half months to work up the courage to hold
my hand. That’s just sad. But those “non-Christian” guys? They make me feel feminine, they
aren’t threatened by success or assertive personalities, and they actually, you know, like to date
women. So what are my choices here?

I’m waiting, God. Not only for someone to care about me, but for you to prove you’re not a
vindictive jerk who takes pleasure in seeing me disappointed, hurt, and rejected over and over
and over again.

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