Today is Her Day

Ya-ya’s birthday is today and in grand Thank You Everything tradition, here is my ode to her.

While I was growing up, she was more like an older sister, who was more hip and more popular. To give you an idea, I was visiting a very old friend and when it came to describing my mom, he told his wife: “She’s the person that all the girls whated to go shopping with.” I’m not sure if this was true in high school, but it felt like it. And as older sisters do, she did embarrass me. The most memorable red-cheek moment was on my tenth birthday. She displayed a nude baby picture of me lying on a sheep skin rug as part of a photo montage of me. I was mortified. She tells this story to this day. Never once have I felt like an only child because of this.

I like to think that I got my work ethic from her. She has always worked hard and has made sure that I knew the importance of doing things for myself. I started working at ten and with her help started my own company. Early on she instilled a business sense in me that I use to this day.

She taught me to suck it up. Throughout life curve balls will come at you and sometimes you will get hit. But if you keep your head down and keep plowing away, eventually it will get better. Yes, there are times in my life when I needed her to commiserate with me and she didn’t and it irritated me. But now that I am a mom this lesson has been invaluable because there are days that I just need to deal.

I love the way that she thinks an article I write might have been influenced by her. I laugh each time she brings up the article I wrote about how mothers influence their child’s body image. It’s cute. And it is one of the few things I can tease her about.

She sends birthday cards to my friends. I didn’t get this gene. I don’t send cards unless Plaxo reminds me and links me to the e-card site. She is so thoughtful.

She is a talented artist who needs to make time to hone her skill. When I was a kid, I found her journal of a trip she took to New York City when she was 16. It was filled with beautiful sketches of the Empire State Building, Washington Square and other things. Now that I am older and realize what a person with her talent can do, I wonder what she would be doing if she decided to go to art school.

Finally, (because I don’t want to bore you and mother’s day is only five months away) the gusto in which she loves Baby A is amazing and beautiful. She is more patient and nurturing with both of us than I remember most of my adult life. Sometimes I think that when I gave birth to Baby A, my big sister figure became my mom. And I like it this way.

Happy Birthday, Ya-Ya. (There are way more things that I am grateful for but I have an audience.)

P.S. This is your e-card this year.

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Today is Her Day

A Belated Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Baby A!A week ago, it was Baby A’s first birthday. I was too busy making preparations to post. I was a bad mommy.The day was pretty momentous. Not just because he turned one, but because a lot has happened over this year (LA to Phoenix and back, new jobs, new friends, new family). I would like to thank Baby A for a tremendous year and the things that he has taught me.

1. Smile at everyone. Each person deserves a smile to brighten their day. One from a baby boy is especially potent but even when I grin to passerbys and wish them a good day, I sometimes see moods change.

2. Laugh a lot.  Yesterday, he convince the greeter at our bank to play Uh-oh (he drops object, someone picks up object) with him. He started laughing—hard, deep chuckles. Within three minutes, Baby A had an audience of 10 people laughing with him. He and I giggle a lot over nothing, but his laugh was contagious to a bunch of strangers.

3. We all have untapped strengths. During the first week or so that Baby A was home, he was getting up every 90 minutes and I was recovering from the C-section. At some point, he kicked my incision. The pain was unbearable but I decided that this little creature still needed me and I continued to feed him despite it. In the last year, I have been tested in all sorts of ways and manage to get through each one, even when I thought I wouldn’t.

4. Patience. Before baby, I would see women in the suburb that we lived in yelling at their children (sometimes babies) for whatever reason. I was scared to death that I would be one of those moms. To my surprise (and to that of many of my friends), I am amazingly patient when it comes to A. Granted, I do have my moments but they’re nothing like the displays I saw in stores and parking lots around Southern Cal. (Deep breaths and sighs help defuse quite a bit.)

5. Life is more than just me. In a previous post I mentioned that I am an only child. I was brought up volunteering and caring for others so I’ve always known that I am only a small part in the wide world of others. Like others, I had gotten into the rut of wanting—wanting the latest shoes, bags, or jeans; wanting a bigger house; wanting to climb the career ladder. When I got pregnant, I knew that had to change; and now that A. is here, it has. Life just seems a bit fuller. Introducing him to all the experiences, places and people that this place has to offer makes me see things in a new light. He has reintroduced me to a whole new outlook and I am sure each year I will discover more. I can’t wait.

A Belated Happy Birthday

Brand New Shoes!

My New Shoes!
My New Shoes!

There are few things that make me truly excited—brand new running shoes do. After two years, I’m retiring my Asics 2120s for 2140s (pictured at left). My old shoes served me well and it was time. They carried me across the finish line in two Nike Women’s Half-Marathon (2007: the week before my wedding and 2008: three months after Baby A was born), helped me train for the later race and somehow managed to fit my extremely swollen pregnant feet for nine months. Yes, it was definitely time.

So for my birthday (see July is the month of b-days), M bought me a new pair. And that night I christened my shoes with a four-mile round trip walk to UCLA’s Drake Stadium where I ran the blechers.

Brand New Shoes!

Sending the Best

I love getting birthday cards, especially in this age where everything can be done digitally. When you receive one, it means that the sender went out of his or her way to go the store, read through the thousands displayed, pick the right one for you and then actually mail it in time for it to get to you on your birthday.

My mom is one of those people who remembers everyone’s birthday (even my friends) and makes sure to send him or her a card. I have never been this person. I’ve tried. I’ve made numerous resolutions about it. The closest that I have come is having Plaxo remind me (and now Facebook does too), but even then I don’t always get around to sending a card either by email or snail mail.

To all of those who send birthday cards, continue to do so. They are more appreciated than you know.

Sending the Best

Here’s to the Ya-Ya’s

My parents moved to sunny southern California after helping my Aunt Jo transplant her family from Chicago to Palm Springs. It wasn’t right away, so I missed the infamous incident where my father apparently took the lights off of a Jack in the Box drive-thru with the moving truck. But after at least four years, they packed me up and left the brutal winters behind. My grandmother followed us. I was her baby’s (my mom is the youngest of six) baby and apparently she wanted to be around to watch me grow up. And here is where the randomness of this post starts.

Today my mom arrived to take care of Baby A so I could get some much needed work done. She drove through the craziness that was the Michael Jackson Memorial in downtown LA to be here. Even to me it seems like crazy lengths of loyalty to play with an 11-month-old. But I guess that is what Ya-Yas (Greek for grandmother) do.

So this post is to celebrate the Ya-Ya’s in my life. Today is the birthday of my grandma and my Aunt Jo (the first woman I knew to be called Ya-Ya). As for my mom, I appreciate that these women raised her. Recently I wrote about my grandma in The Wheel Watcher. She passed when I was seven so my memories of her are few.

My Aunt Jo stepped in for her. My fondest memory of childhood was playing dress up in her shoe closet. She had been a shoe model at Imagin and had fabulous shoes as a result. My favorite were a pair of silver glittered heels that had her name in them—first in the left; last in the right—that were designed especially for her. I loved those shoes and when I grew out of them (at the young age of 10) I was so sad. Her closet definitely was the impetus of my shoe fascination now.

So on this July 7, I wish my Auntie Jo a wonderful birthday, remember my grandma and appreciate Baby A’s ya-ya (my mom).

Here’s to the Ya-Ya’s

Happy B-day, Luna!

My friend Luna is smart, funny and driven. She is one of my closest friends and has been since college when we were waiting tables at the Chart House in Marina del Rey. Because of her, I made Westwood my home three times, cheer for UCLA football and basketball, run/walk the Nike Women’s half-marathon each year, and know that it isn’t a bad thing to be a woman who knows what she wants. She has helped me ride the rollercoaster of life and luckily hasn’t made the same missteps I have. (See. I told you she was smart.) Today is her birthday.

Luna, for you I wish all of the happiness, success and love that this world has to offer. I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of it.

Happy B-day, Luna!

It’s His Day

Today is my father’s birthday. The last time I celebrated it, he turned 45. I remember us going to a restaurant in Newport Beach’s marina, I don’t remember much more except that he was happy we were out. That was 18 years ago. If I would have known that he was sick and it would be our last dinner together I would have devoured every last detail.

Unfortunately, it’s the month after that day that is ingrained in my memory: Days in ICU units, discussions of cruises that would never become reality and a decision that I hope my son will never have to make. My dad’s optimism during that time stands out the most for me. That is the person that I honor today and is the man that I choose to treasure.

I remember hiking in the canyons of Palm Springs, watching  lightening storms over Tucson and having bonfires on the beaches of Orange County. I appreciate his 20-foot Christmas tree decorated with white lights and white doves, white roses on my birthday, and lobster for Easter (when he really wanted rack of lamb). Then there are the things that will always make me think of him: Cuba Libres, cooking shows, 501s, Oldsmobiles, ridiculously large portions of prime rib and the smell of Aramis.

So, on this day, I toast my dad—the man who helped mold the person I am today.

It’s His Day