Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Those Days...

I thought about writing these things last week after a couple of reeeeaaalllly crappy days--kids wise. And then I had a couple of really great days and thought, "nah, maybe I jumped the gun on complaining." And wouldn't you know it, those day(s) came back again, hopefully to be followed by some good days, because as I'm quickly learning, that is how motherhood--particularly of more than one--goes. Higher highs and lower lows.

One such moment seen below. Sweet J!

Let's just say this: if Dominic had been my first baby, I would not have been so hasty to have another. He really challenges us. But he actually does really great in the car seat and when we go out, so yes, I know I know, I should go out more, but that's an internal struggle to take both out on my own. But I know I need to way more often, because cabin fever is real, particularly for toddlers.

I can't remember what he was crying about, but it sure looks like he is making a cry for help to the outside world. Poor J haha.

But there have been some tender mercies, like J finally folding his arms for prayers. He did it literally right after I said to Victor that it feels like nothing is sinking in with him of me trying to teach him good behavior. Valuable lesson right there!

And then at the end of one of those crappy days with the infant, he finally cooed and smiled at me for a good chunk of time--his first real, non newborn gassy smiles, yay! Although I did find it funny that he chose to do it when Victor and J were out of the house, as if to say, "I'm happiest when it's just you and me, mom." Because seriously, he is. We joke that he resents not being the only child. Oh well. He'll need to get over it, because J will not let him forget! Thankfully, J seems to love having Dom in the house. He already tries to play with him in his aggressive sweetness, bless his heart.

Don't think that this post is to say I am miserable, because I definitely am not. I actually don't think I have been this happy before. But, like I said, higher highs, lower lows! That's life, and I'm learning to deal. Just so grateful for the highs!

Survival tips? Anyone?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ostler Family Pictures

Between living abroad (us in Japan, Camille in Guatemala), and among different states (us California and Jennifer in Arizona), we have not been all together with every single family member present since the beginning of 2013. You may recall our So Cal meetup a few months ago, but Melanie wasn't there because of her soccer team obligations. Anyway! This Christmas called for pictures. 

I had to plan it all--find a photog, location, etc., since we were in my hood and that was a pain, but it worked out! This little spot with this gorgeous cyprus tree is just a 5 minute walk from the cottage.

My mom's parents joined us for Christmas, so they jumped in a few pictures, and I'm so glad we have these pictures with them in them, because let's be honest, they are getting pretty old. My grandma is turning 90 in just a few weeks. So who knows when this situation will happen again. 
 At this point, J really didn't want to cooperate anymore. This is the best picture we got of us, which is a bit of a bummer.
 Then the Shields family with their adorable cooperative children.
 Then the singles ;) haha
The parents. I love these wonderful people so much. 
 Five sisters! (Referencing this if you haven't seen it you should)

The clan! Poor J. Never thought I'd see the day when he didn't pose for a picture :(
 The original Ostlers. Love them so much.
 Here is my post from the last time we did pictures. We've added three new people! But no new spouses. Get on that, little sisters ;)

Jesus and Squatters in the Desert

I heard of the place called "Salvation Mountain" a few years ago and when we moved to California, I had looked up where it was. About an hour off the interstate 10 in the middle of nowhere California desert. I wanted to go, but didn't know when I ever would. 

Then for New Years, we decided to roadtrip over to Phoenix to hang out a little more with my sister and her family. Victor obliged me and we took the big detour to check out this place. It made for a very memorable experience!

We learned that Salvation Mountain was created in the 80s by a local folk artist named Leonard Knight. He felt a surge of love for Jesus as he embraced religion and felt inspired to show it in this artwork in the middle of the desert. 
It is in the middle of nowhere. Actually it's right outside the creepiest little town with squatters hanging out in tents and trailers with their lawn chairs. It was like a scene out of Breaking Bad. This picture below shows how you are just out there in the desert with some campers in the distance. 

Leonard died just last year, but people still contribute paint for the upkeep, since the harsh desert makes it wear pretty quickly. And since we took this detour, it was faster to get to Phoenix through Yuma, so we got to see my grandparents. When we told them where we just were at, they told me that they actually had been there too. And they met Leonard and chatted with him a bit, since before he passed away he lived out there. They said his skin looked like leather, no doubt from hanging outside in the desert all the time!

So if you're ever in Southern California and feel like taking a drive, this place is a memorable place to visit!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Dominic's Blessing Day

The Sunday after Christmas was Dominic's blessing day. It was great to have the whole family there for it. Just like J's blessing, we kept it simple with only family coming over after, and frankly, now that I had two kids to have to get ready for church and myself, that stressed me out enough for the rest of the day. I'm not trying to sound dramatic, but this little baby is definitely more dramatic than my first. He gets fussy easily and wants to be held most of the time. Not sure if it's something I did, or if he's just being a regular baby, meaning that J was an abnormal baby haha. 

Anyway, thanks to my dad for snapping some family pictures of us that day. 

And then he slept the rest of the day from all of the excitement. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Christmas at the Cottage

My entire side of the family, including my maternal grandparents, journeyed to Monterey for Christmas. Since we didn't plan to travel with a three week old baby, it was so great that they came to us! Did I mention this was the first time the whole family has been together since 2012? So that was exciting. We sure have changed a lot since then. My sister, brother in law and kids stayed here at the cottage, and everyone else was at the nearby hotel, since the cottage is entirely too small to accommodate everyone. It was pretty crazy when we all gathered for meals and Christmas festivities. 

To be honest with you, I wasn't the best host this go around. My mom and sister totally picked up the slack for cleaning and cooking, and most nights I would retreat to my room early with baby Dominic to get some quiet. That's how my postpartum self handled things haha. Luckily people were understanding. I'm grateful for my family!

Christmas Eve: Our traditional family concert and reading of the Christmas story. This time we added a live nativity with all the babies.
 Joseph ready to go. In the background you can see Mary riding in on her donkey ha!
 Mary and Baby Jesus played their parts perfectly. Can't say the same about Joseph!
 Melanie was one of the angels--thus the bedspread. It was a hastily thrown together production.
 Then we opened our Christmas pajamas. Love these cute babies.
 On Christmas Day we opened gifts and had breakfast.
 Ahhh, the post present mess.

We then went to see the new Star Wars, and luckily Victor had already seen it, because J was an absolute crazy during the movie. I think his movie seeing days are done for a while. We had a good run.

Hope you all had a great Christmas. For us it felt different since Victor and I were used to always traveling for Christmas, and having a brand new baby is always a crazy time, but overall it was great. Nothing like appreciating the Christmas story to a new level like having a tiny newborn in the house. It made it special. He was my Christmas present this year! (literally, because Victor forgot to get me anything! I'm not mad about it I promise ;)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My 2015 Steinbeck Reading Resolution

When I found out we were moving to Monterey, I made a goal to read all of John Steinbeck's novels in anticipation of visiting the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, the town where he was born and raised. I didn't read all of them, but I did read a few key novels and doesn't that count for something? Please say yes, because I need something to show for this past year as far as reading goals and resolutions are concerned. 

The novels I read in order of favorites:

East of Eden: technically I already read this a few years ago but it's still my favorite Steinbeck novel. Even he considers it his masterpiece. It takes place in Salinas and Steinbeck spends a good chunk of time describing the beauty of the Salinas Valley, and I'll tell you what--when I drive around the farmlands ours there I realize just how good of a writer he is because his words come alive. 

The Grapes of Wrath:
There's a reason this novel is what everyone else considers as his masterpiece. This novel sparked outrage at the time it was published because it makes Californians look like complete a-holes regarding how they treated all the migrants from the mid west during the Dust Bowl. 

Cannery Row: not like his other novels but still fun because it all takes place in Monterey and it was pretty cool reading his writing about places I know now from living in Monterey. 

The Winter of our Discontent:
Doesn't take place in Monterey but it brought up interesting themes.

Tortilla Flat:
Takes place in Monterey--kind of a weird read, honestly!

So now that I'm looking at it, I really didn't read as many as I'd like, so this is carrying over into this year. But, I did get to visit the Steinbeck Center when my friend Lindsay visited, and it was something I had been looking forward to since high school, after I had read East of Eden for the first time for Oprah's book club and she held her show on the lawn of his house. I'm such a dork. 
My little pregnant belly. Seems like so long ago. 
The main theme of East of Eden: "thou mayest." Meaning you always have freedom of choice. So beautiful. 
Now the house he grew up in is open to the public as a cute restaurant where you can eat. It was such a treat! I loved every second. 
Downtown Salinas.

So anyway, I look forward to reading more and visiting the Center again. Does anyone reading this actually like Steinbeck? I hope so. I am kind of a fangirl. I even tracked down the house he lived in in Pacific Grove (also near Monterey) and it's just a regular house. I wonder if the people living in it now know that they live where Steinbeck did some of his major writing. Lucky!