Friday, February 27, 2015

Barreling Toward Parenthood

{It's almost time!}
{37 weeks}
[Note: So, I started this post a week ago, and as per usual, I got distracted... As I write this now, it is Baby Cusi's birthday! Sleep was fitful at best, and I'm just killing time until it's time to leave for the hospital. My thoughts on the these final moments of pregnancy are here.]

The past two months have been a whirlwind of baby preparations. The holidays and our birthdays kept us busy and distracted, but ever since New Years came and went, it feels like we've been barreling full speed ahead into new parenthood. 

On the second weekend in January, Kelsey and Brandy flew in to celebrate Baby Cusi's impending arrival...
We met up in LA and then drove straight to Coronado since my mom and sisters had planned the most lovely shower - straight from my Pinterest dreams really. 

The shower had a travel theme and everyone was asked to bring a book, so I mean...they get me. 

They put together a delicious menu with food from around the world - spanakopita, chicken satay, quiche, caprese salad, and of course, sweet treats (which, apparently, are the only foods I took pictures of).

Everyone took onesie decorating very seriously...
 Especially Kelsey.

It was a wonderful day - Baby and I felt very loved!
{completed onesies and the beginning of Cusimini's book collection}
The next weekend, Barbara threw me a Wells Bring Hope shower - we're pretty lucky, this babe and I!

With all the parties out of the way, it was time to get down to business... There were classes that involved a selection of terrifying dolls.
There was reading.

There was lots of nesting. 
Tom put together the crib (and the dresser, and the shelf).
I did some crafting...

And eventually, we had a lovely place for Baby Cusi to come home to...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Space Between

We're having a baby tomorrow. Tomorrow everything changes. I'm beyond excited, of course, but I've been having a hard time describing, even to myself, the strange bittersweet feelings that I've had over the last couple of weeks. [If you'd like a musical accompaniment to this post, open this link in a new tab, click play, and then come back. I'll wait... Thanks to Tom for suggesting the perfect song to fit today's mood.]

Knowing exactly when our new player arrives has brought everything into sharp relief, made the line between before and after perfectly clear. It really does feel like I'm "sitting here in limbo/waiting for the dice to roll." I have loved the past six and a half years of being on this two-person team. Team Shackmano has excelled at spur of the moment adventures, late night shows, lazy weekend mornings in bed followed by mid-afternoon brunches, and wine-soaked nights on the couch. Tomorrow we add a new player to the team, and with that addition, everything changes. I know it's going to be an incredible, wonderful, heart-exploding change for the better, and I can't wait to see what new adventures await, but it's still a little sad to say goodbye to the old days. 

Just when I was starting to feel like I was just a completely hormone-addled crazy person, I remembered that I had read something a couple of years ago that described this "in-between" time of the end of pregnancy. Happily, I was able to find it again. I literally wept with relief and recognition when I read this piece by midwife Jana Studelska again.

The last days of pregnancy — sometimes stretching to agonizing weeks — are a distinct place, time, event, stage. It is a time of in between. Neither here nor there. Your old self and your new self, balanced on the edge of a pregnancy. One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world...

Ok, the reference to the heroic tales of Odysseus may be a smidge on the melodramatic side, but so am I at this point so it resonated with me. The whole thing is not too much longer than what I've posted here, and it is well worth a read. 

By this time tomorrow, I'll be holding our son in my arms. I haven't wrapped my mind around it yet, but my heart is already there.

The last days of pregnancy — sometimes stretching to agonizing weeks — are a distinct place, time, event, stage. It is a time of in between. Neither here nor there. Your old self and your new self, balanced on the edge of a pregnancy. One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world. - See more at:
The last days of pregnancy — sometimes stretching to agonizing weeks — are a distinct place, time, event, stage. It is a time of in between. Neither here nor there. Your old self and your new self, balanced on the edge of a pregnancy. One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world. - See more at:
The last days of pregnancy — sometimes stretching to agonizing weeks — are a distinct place, time, event, stage. It is a time of in between. Neither here nor there. Your old self and your new self, balanced on the edge of a pregnancy. One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world. - See more at:

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Now that we're halfway through February and I haven't abandoned them yet, I think it's safe to share my resolutions. With the crazy life changes we have coming our way in the next couple of weeks, I needed realistic, attainable resolutions.

First, I am resolving to embrace the chaos. I am trying to limit my expectations as much as possible, accept that I know and can control very little, and get very comfortable with the chaos that will surely accompany living with and caring for a tiny human. This whole concept is coming into play sooner than expected since Baby Boy Cusimano is breech. His butt is nestled pretty securely in my pelvis and his head, feet, and hands are up under my ribcage, and it looks like a c-section is in my future. 
Maybe he's mad because he still doesn't have a name?

It sounds weird to say that I had been looking forward to going into labor, rushing to the hospital, and having Tom coach me through contractions. Of course, I knew that it would be painful, but I have imagined having that experience ever since I started imagining myself as a mother, so I wanted to do everything possible to try to get him to turn. I hung off the side of my bed, laid on the ground with my hips in the air, and scheduled an external cephalic version. 

Tom and I spent most of the afternoon in the hospital yesterday, and my OB and a nurse spent about thirty minutes contorting my belly, trying to get the little guy to do a somersault. Long story short, I think he's trying to help me with my first parenting lesson - things don't go as planned, and as long as everyone's healthy, all will be well. Embrace. The. Chaos.

Second, I am going to really work on patience. Patience with myself as I adjust to this new role, patience with my body which I know won't be back to normal any time soon, and patience with my partner as we navigate parenthood together. Patience, also, with this babe who is already demonstrating something of a stubborn streak. I'm not a patient person, but I'm workin' on it.

Lastly, I decided that I needed to address the fact that I think I read like four books last year. I love reading; I always have. I've always considered myself "a reader," but in recent years, I haven't dedicated much time to it. I read a lot of short pieces on the internet, but I have found my attention span shrinking by the day. When I saw a method for tracking a daily habit, I knew it would be the perfect motivation.


One of the blogs that I read regularly featured this goal-tracking calendar, which you can download here, and it has totally helped to keep my honest - I've read four books so far this year. I'm sure that this will get a lot harder once Baby makes his arrival, but - it's there right on the tracker - "Shoot for progress, not perfection."

And, since it's Valentine's Day, here is this week's appropriately festive belly photo.

Friday, January 16, 2015

32 Weeks

First of all, this whole nine-month pregnancy thing that I've been hearing my whole life is total bullshit. Forty weeks is clearly ten months. Still, I'm not complaining - it's been eight months, and I'm still kind of enjoying the whole pregnancy thing. 

I mean...I'm enormous, and apparently the baby is going to be gaining a half a pound a week from now on, so....  I have to pee every ten minutes. Sleep and I are on awkward terms (at 2pm, sleep's all, "Let's do this!" but at 3am, sleep's like, "Let's party, and by party, I mean think about all the shit you have to do before the baby arrives! Also, pee again."). And I miss wine. Like, really miss it. However, I have been incredibly lucky - I feel pretty great overall, and feeling this little guy tap dancing and barrel rolling (I assume) inside of me is kind of the best.

Also the best? Everyone just has to accept your weird food habits when you're pregnant.

People keep asking me what I'm craving, and I'm never really sure what to say. I've always been a pretty big fan of food, and that hasn't changed. However, lately I cannot get enough of Trader Joe's Spicy Ranchero Egg White Salad, which looks disgusting but tastes magnificent. I'd say I have that for lunch at least three times a week - with extra hot sauce stirred in because the trader and I have different definitions of spicy.

Also - hot chocolate. Every afternoon, without fail.
To be fair though, the hot chocolate is mainly a way to legitimize my mini marshmallow consumption... I may or may not add a second layer of mini marshmallows after the first one is gone. Who can say?

In other food news, Tom took me for an ice cream tasting last week that almost made up for the lack of wine...
Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Freckled Woodblock Chocolate, Gooey Chocolate Brownie, and Salted Malted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough? Salt and Straw gets me is what. So does my husband, which is a huge bonus.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Well, That Was Eventful

Adios, 2014!

Sooo, 2014 got off to a less than auspicious start when Tom lost his job with Yamaha in late January. Happily, things turned around pretty quickly. By the first week of April we were sitting on the beach in Oahu celebrating Tom's new job. On June 20th, my adorably perfect nephew Finnian was born, and a week or so later, we learned we'd be welcoming our own adorably perfect bundle of joy.

I didn't accomplish everything I had hoped to in 2014, but it will always be the year that we learned that our little guy was on his way, and for that reason alone, it was a perfect year. It was also the year that I really came to know that Tom and I can get through anything. I've never been more in love with my husband than I am right now, and I'm sure that feeling will only continue to grow as I watch him rise to role of father. 

Bring it on 2015 - I can't wait!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas, Baby!

Merry Christmas, Baby,
You still don't have a name - I'm sorry! I promise we'll have that settled by the time you arrive (just don't come too early), but for now you're still "little guy." you will learn, this is my absolute favorite time of year, and it has been even more special having you around. Your dad and I keep talking about how Christmas is just going to get more and more fun from here on out.

You are almost always on the move, and everyone can see you moving through my clothes. Sometimes, I'll curl up behind your dad at night and press my belly into his back so he can feel your break dancing too. Your dad plays music for you every night too. We're working our way through the alphabet - we've covered Alison Krauss and Allen Toussaint through Dire Straits and Dr. John. Next up - Elton John and Eric Clapton. 

It's starting to feel very real, this whole becoming a family of three thing. We can't wait to meet you, and we spend an inordinate amount of time asking each other, "What do you think he'll be like?" We generally settle on awesome. Only ten weeks or so until we get to confirm it. Ten weeks until our lives are changed forever. And we can't wait.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

23 Weeks

Wicket's kicks, punches, and general acrobatics have removed any doubt that I am in fact going to have a baby. I am still trying to stay fuzzy on the fact that this little guy is going to have to exit my body somehow. Neither of the options seem appealing, so I'm going to put off thinking about that for as long as possible. 

I don't want to good mouth it, but so far, so good. From what I hear, this second trimester is the real highpoint of pregnancy, so I'm sure things will get less pleasant the further along we go, but for right now, I'm kind of enjoying this pregnancy thing. I'm definitely enjoying never having to suck my stomach in...

Interested in the minutae of my daily life and how I'm feeling right at this moment? You're in luck! I have seen this on other blogs, so I can't claim to have invented this particular variety of navel gazing, but here we go...

Feeling sick, but just with a cold. No pregnancy-related ailments to complain about!
Wanting my husband back. Tom's been gone for over a week for work, and he doesn't come back until Monday... Man, I miss that guy!
Wearing a lot of yoga pants and not a lot of make-up. What with this cold and the aforementioned absence of the husband, I've been letting things slide over here appearance-wise.
Eating Fudgcicles for days. I melt them a little bit, push them off the stick, and stir in some almond butter. What? Is that weird?
Drinking tea and more tea.
Reading reviews of baby gear in an attempt to decide which car seat, crib, and bouncer is most likely to keep Baby Cusi alive and happy.
Listening to Serial. Damn that crew from This American Life, they have created another podcast that I can't get enough of. I am so hooked on this.
Watching a lot of garbage TV. Again - sick and husband-less. Bravo is my constant companion.
Loving feeling the little guy kick, somersault, and generally dance around in there.
Not loving how it's dark at 5pm. Although, it has helped me feel better about getting ready for bed at eight o'clock.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Forcing Fall

I know it's incredibly unoriginal, but - brace yourselves - I love fall. Shocking, right? To me, it feels like even more of a fresh start than the first of the year. I am sure that goes back to school days - freshly covered books, unblemished notebooks, new classes, and all of that.

If not for the appearance of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the racks of Halloween costumes, it would be easy to miss fall around here because it doesn't look much like those back-to-school autumns that send the leaf-peepers flocking to New England. Still, if you squint (and ignore the thermometer), it's beginning to feel downright autumnal around here.

I've been ready for fall for a while now. Despite the fact that we still needed round-the-clock air conditioning at the time, I bought these as soon as we flipped the calendar to September.
{Fear not, I removed those hideous stickers immediately after taking this picture.}
A couple of weekends ago, the temperature finally dipped below 80, and I convinced my incredibly accommodating husband that spending two hours each way in the car to go to an apple orchard was a great way to spend a Saturday. 

To be honest, the cider donuts are the real draw. These things are well worth the year-long wait...

Despite my how much I miss the first fire of the season, the crispness, and the actual legitimate need for boots and sweaters, there is so much that I love about Southern California in the fall. The tourists clear out, the Santa Anas swing through, and citrus returns to the farmers market, but the absolute best thing about fall in Southern California is the beach - the beautifully empty beach.

So, point is, whatever it looks like, fall is the best. Now we begin the wonderful slide into the holidays...hurrah!