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.

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A Belated Happy Birthday

Dry Heat 101

There’s been a lot of complaining from my friends on facebook and twitter about the temperatures reaching triple digits. And yes, 100-plus is hot but know this: if it’s a dry heat it feels about 10 degrees less.

I grew up in Palm Springs and the most miserable summer I endured was the first one I spent in the San Fernando Valley. (It even beat the summers I spent in Chicago. At least there you could possibly get a breeze off the lake.) I’m not sure if it was the smog or the humid or both, but it was 110-degrees of gross. In the Coachella Valley, it was only really unbearable when it hit 120. Otherwise, you could still breathe and go outside. But that seems to have changed. Now that there are more golf course and more green grass, there is more humidity and the summer really can suck. That is why when it’s hot you want it to be truly dry.

In Phoenix, it’s dry. Landscaping is more brown—sand, cacti, palos verde—than green—trees, grass, planted flowers. All of the latter need water, and the more of those things are planted, the more water is in the air, and the more humid it is. Our first (and last) weeks in Phoenix were spent in 95-plus degree heat. It wasn’t bad. Actually it was quite lovely out. The same temperatures would have felt like the middle of hell in the San Fernando Valley, specifically Woodland Hills.  It’s amazing what a lack of water can do to temperature perception. That’s why I’ll take a dry heat any day.

Dry Heat 101

The Phoenix Five

Last Friday, M., Baby A and I moved back to Los Angeles. And while I’m happy to be back in LaLa Land, there are some things that I appreciated about living in Phoenix.

1. Uncle J and McFriends — When we moved to Phoenix, we knew we had family there and J. was the best uncle my son could have. I’ll miss our Sunday night dinners with him and seeing him on a regular basis. As for the McFriends, they embraced and adopted Baby A. They will miss him more than M. whom they saw everyday. How can you not appreciate those who have so much enthusiasm for your child? I enjoyed visiting with each one as they cooed over him. I will miss my lunches with them, especially S.

2. Storms—We arrived at the end of monsoon season and left during the first week of it. For thunderstorm junkies like M and me, the thunder, lightening and hail that we experienced were highlights of our time there.

3. Jackrabbits and quail—Where we lived there were tons of jackrabbits and quail roaming around. There was something very relaxing about co-existing with these animals in the same place (except when the bunnies decided to take a swim in our pool). The quail families running around with their chicks were beyond cute. Imagine the opening credits for the 1970s television show “The Partridge Family”— Momma with her chicks following in a single file.

4. Paradise Bakery and Café—In California, we have Panera. It is no PBC. (Same company, different restaurants). This place makes sinful muffins, delicious cookies and a friendly staff (at least at the Biltmore, Scottsdale 101 and Desert Ridge locations that we frequented). Their prices are reasonable and you could eat there nearly everyday, M. pretty much did.

5. Lifetime Fitness—I’ve written about this gym before (see “A Ride to Nowhere”). This 10,000 square foot gym is awesome. And while I’m sure that we will find a comparable gym in Los Angeles, the one in Scottsdale will hold a special place in my heart since it is where I worked off 50 pounds of baby weight over nine months.

The Phoenix Five

Desert Rain

A few days ago, Phoenix had the luxury of rain. It isn’t quite monsoon season here, but lightening lit up the sky and water fell from it. When it first began, there was just enough water for everything to soak it up. The only evidence that it has rained was the smell—a wet, earthy one.

I remember it from childhood. I also remember how much I didn’t like it. But now that I’m older, there is something intoxicating about it. Maybe because it symbolizes nature being replenished or the air being washed of pollution. Whatever it is, I miss it. Because since the rain is gone, so is its scent.

Desert Rain

A Hot Weather Survival

I grew up in Palm Springs, where the mercury rose to a breath-taking 120 degrees F in the summer. So you would think that a week or two of over 100-degree temps for me would be no big thing. Wrong. Living near the ocean for nearly 15 years spoiled me, so now that I call Phoenix home there are some things that I’m thankful for to get me through this dry heat.

1. Iced green tea. I drink it by the gallons; especially because the water here is so hard. I’m a bit addicted to Starbucks and this cool beverage doesn’t help. I’ve even tried brewing it at home and pouring it over ice. It just isn’t the same.

2. Drive-thrus. And, I’m not talking fast food. (Well, unless you count Starbucks.) There is virtually no reason to get out of your air-conditioned car. Nearly everything here has a drive-up window: the bank (ATM and teller), the dry cleaner, regular restaurants, etc.

3. Own pool. For me, this is a flashback to my youth. Every house I grew up in had a pool. There weren’t as many community pools as I saw in Los Angeles. There’s something very relaxing about swimming when you don’t have to contend with the neighbors and their kids.

4. Ceiling fans. I hate air conditioning: the way my skin feels after days of being blown on, the way it coups you up in the house, and the noise it makes. But ceiling fans allow for the air to move, the rooms to remain cool and most importantly the air conditioner to run less frequently.

5. The gym. When it’s nearly 80 degrees F outside at 5 AM, it’s hard to get a run in. The Lifetime Fitness where I go is open 24 hours a day. It allows me to get my workouts in and never mind the temperature. And this is good because it keeps my cabin fever to a minimum.

6. Finally, Misters. These tiny sprinklers that mist the air in shopping centers and restaurants make it seem like it is 10 degrees cooler than it is. Believe me, there is a big difference between 92 and 102.

I realize that I’m probably missing a few things and will update as I discover (or rediscover) things. In the meantime, desert-dwelling readers tell me what makes these sweltering temps bearable to you.

A Hot Weather Survival