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Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 [a quick recap]

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A year ago when I looked forward to 2011 one thing that never crossed my mind was how often I would get peed on.

It is an understatement to call 2011 a b-i-g year. Monumental. Wow! Holy Moly. Looking back on my previous 32 years of life I can say with 100% confidence that I’ve never had such year. Change of all variety has been the constant from January 1st  to December 31st, a majority of it was great and some of it was darn tough. As the year comes to a close here is a post to highlight and capture some of the events.

Elaine started January 2011 on crutches from a broken bone in her foot from an injury that happened on her birthday in November. The short version of the story involves a slip off the curb and me carrying her the remaining 6 blocks to our house. {The longer version is a better story}  By mid January Elaine’s foot began hurting less and she stopped using her crutches on the 21st. Just two days later I would begin using the crutches after tearing my ACL at a pick-up basketball game with my co-workers. {Also a good story}

Oh by the way, we were also engaged and planning an April wedding all during this time. Not that we need an excuse to sit on our couch, but the two injuries allowed us time to get crafty on the wedding invitations. There were some stressful times during the planning ($, how to make everything fit us, and who, what and where) but there were also some really great memories of creating our future. I remember thinking, ‘If we can get through January, we can get through anything’. We did get through January but 2011 didn’t let up.

February equaled Hawaii for 6 days with my parents. It was great to get away but the injuries made it a non-active trip. We had a lot of fun at a goat dairy farm, touring a lavender farm in the rain, and eating some good food. The trip was a success and a great vacation from wedding, couches, and crutches.

March was also a big month. At one of Elaine’s follow-up appointments for her foot we learned that she was pregnant. I think we both sat in the laboratory waiting room for a minute as our eyes got wide and laughed awkwardly. Thankfully the workers were in good spirits and were able to laugh with us. Not wanting to jump the gun too much we bit our tongues, held our breath, and our brains got rolling. The Westside Neighborhood Clinic will always hold a positive place in my heart.

The end of March marked the opening of a new housing program for my work that I had been helping organize. The program got 15 former foster youth out of bad living situations and gave them their own studio apartment and case management to help them reach further goals. Our team put a lot of work into it but it changed my work load and routine pretty dramatically. On top of that we are also counting down the weeks/days/hours until our wedding at the end of April. The multiple to-do lists were growing at incredible rates.

April arrives! I know I am biased but I believe that we pulled of the best wedding weekend ever. Friday evening was a rehearsal and dinner at the Blue Agave,  Saturday afternoon was our ceremony at the Courthouse and reception at the Canary rooftop, and Sunday included brunch at Anderson’s and a get-out-of-town road trip along the PCH1. The whole week was a non-stop whirlwind but it was amazing! It was perfect.

In May we moved across town to our current apartment. Although it is drafty, and ants love invading our space, it has been a great upgrade. May also allowed us to focus on baby dreams. The reality of being parent began setting in and we began brainstorming names, reading baby books, and collecting baby necessities via Craigslist.

I had surgery to repair my ACL in June. The month was a blur to get everything covered at work and prepare for surgery. Following the repair I had 7 weeks for recovery. The first few weeks were unbearable but slowly I was able to get more movement from my knee and a little more energy. By end of the 7 weeks I was able to move around crutch free albeit slowly.

During July and August it was fun to watch Elaine’s belly grow, go to her doctor’s appointments, and have baby showers in Orange and Santa Barbara. The entire pregnancy went by so quickly (at least for me) and I am so glad that Elaine didn’t have terrible morning sickness or any serious complications. Today I was looking at some of the photos from the our entire pregnancy and most of them still blow my mind- I  can’t believe that was us!

I view September as the baby count down month and it included a lot of free floating anxiety. Some of that probably can be found on early blog posts and others are only for Elaine’s ears. On October 3rd Mason was born and here we are… In some ways life makes much more sense and everything is clear, however I often find life a little more confusing. What makes a good parent? How do I give the best to Mason and Elaine while still taking care of myself? How do I raise a well balanced child? Life’s questions have gotten more difficult recently but what I’m learning is that answers appear just as easily as questions.

As you’ve seen from previous posts October was a blur, November was full of food, and December was full of Holidays.

Life is profoundly different then last New Years. Last year we got together with friends, celebrated responsibly, and went to bed well after midnight. This year we are home, Mason is already asleep, and Elaine is explaining an article to me about how a group of women organized a breast feeding nurse-in at a Target. 2011 had a lot of challenges and I don’t know if I could have done it without Elaine. She has been nothing but lovely, supportive, and inspiring. Plus she teaches me a lot about current events that involve breast feeding.

I wouldn’t change this year’s one bit.

Happy New Year and be safe. Love, Mark


I’ve always wanted to be a person who sent out Christmas cards.

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This was our bookcase come Christmas Day: christmas cards

Filled with lovely photo cards from our friends and faraway family.  Many more now than even a year ago.  I think that getting married and having kids inspires people to get their Christmas card act together.  Except us apparently.  Slight Christmas guilt lingered over the fact.  But heck.  One more thing on the plate this season was just not what our sanity required…  But I did come across this article, and felt right at home in it.  My favorite line:

“My kids are cute ya’ll! Just as cute as the kids whose parents organized their labels and pictures and whose photos now decorate my mantle.”

We may not have sent out Christmas cards… but we will at least get our Christmas post up before the year ends!  So just one short hour before the New Year rings in… here’s a small visual offering of what was probably my favorite Christmas ever.  With some just the four of us (Ruby too, of course!) time in the morning, some Arkin/Martinez/Gutierrez family time throughout the day, a Christmas walk through a nighttime Carpinteria, and a Solvang trip the next day… There was just the right amount of bustle and not too much hustle.

Christmas Weekend

And some of my favorites in a little series.  (Line1) Natalee making Mason talk and smile.  (Line2) Cousins posin’

Hope you all are enjoying your New Year’s Eve!!

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas

Take joy in the gathering.

Sweet memories are being made.

Love to all of you,

Mark, Elaine, Mason & Ruby

Mason St.

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Photo taken on 9/14/11: Mark

{this moment}

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{this moment} – A SouleMama Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

. . . . . . . .

dare alla luce

This is supposed to be a post without words… but this photo reminds me of the italian translation of to give birth, which is dare alla luce.  The literal translation is “to give to the light”.


Easy as Pie

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tofu pot pie

I just have to share this yumminess that we devoured in two evenings. Maybe they’re not for everyone… but I’ve always been a fan of pot pies. Chicken, beef, veggie. Love them all. I came across a recipe for tofu pot pie a while ago on pinterest and just saved it.
We actually used it last week as my last ditch effort to rescue a soup I had attempted (no matter what I did to it… added salt… chili powder… let it sit for a while hoping the flavors would jive a little more with time… nothing worked.  It just turned out oh so boring).  But reinvented into a pot pie! Yum!

The actual recipe is here. but it’s as simple as this:

  • Saute some veggies (bare minimums: onions & garlic, but if you want, any other veggies: mushrooms, carrots, celery, etc) and tofu (or chicken or beef if you prefer)
  • Stir in a handful of flour (recipe says 1/3 cup) for thickening
  • Add some herbs (de provence are perfect)
  • Add 2 cups of any of the following: water, broth (veggie, chicken, or beef depending on your culinary leanings) or soup!
  • Let everything boil and then cook together for a few minutes
  • Pour into pie crust #1, top with pie crust #2 and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees

One of the simplest things we’ve made and LOVED.  If you really wanted an even easier way to the finish line… I suppose you could also get a can of soup and boil that with some flour to toss in a pie crust…

Either way, we ate an entire half of the pie one night, and the rest of it the next. So delish!

A Two Month Post (quick, before he turns three months!)

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Because almost all spare time this month has been spent Christmassing… we forgot to put up a Two Month post!

We took our little man to his two month appointment on December 12th and he is officially

  • 2 feet tall (24 inches)! 🙂
  • 13 pounds, 6.5 ounces
  • 41 centimeters head circ.

And they told us where he landed percentage-wise amongst other babies his age.  He’s in the 78th percentile for height and weight and 66th percentile for the size of his head.  He’s a little bean sprout is shooting up so fast!

waiting for vaccinationsHe had his first vaccinations at that appointment too.  Doesn’t he look like he’s worriedly awaiting them?  One squirt of sour oral vaccination (he puckered his tiny lips after tasting), and a shot in each of his poor little legs, upon which he let out an immediate cry of pain.  Break my heart!  They recommended feeding him after his shots to distract and soothe him, and they checked on him  ten minutes later to make sure there was no reaction from the shots.  He was totally fine, except for being a bit more fussy, and spent most of the rest of the day looking like this:after vaccinations

Dr. Hamdani gave us a ton of food for thought for the coming months.  Lots of handouts on vaccinations, development language stimulation and introducing solid foods to his diet, which we won’t be starting till about 4 months (I think Mark flinched when she reviewed the sheet and got to the part about introducing him to meat… a topic which has not yet come to completion in the discussion process).  I think it sent both of our heads into a whirlwind, realizing that while he may not be at the point where he’s eating real food or speaking actual words yet… those days are close enough that we should be preparing for them!  Blows my mind everyday.

Here are some photos of him at two months (and a couple days).  Look back at this post if you want to compare him to previous months 🙂

two months1

two months2

two months3

two months4

I think that this is the month that I’ve noticed the most pointed changes in awareness and interaction.  It seemed like the day he hit two months, all of a sudden he discovered new abilities, and is more interested in what’s going on around him.  At two months, Mason…

  • Only cries during diaper changes now when he’s also either tired or puppy kisseshungry.  Instead he gurgles, coos, smiles, furrows his brow or bats away Ruby kisses (which he hasn’t quite decided whether he likes or not)
  • Will not only look at us from across the room… but will look for us when we call to him, watch us when we leave the room and still be looking towards the door waiting for us when we come back (unless he’s found something else more interesting in the meantime)
  • Has outgrown most of his 0-3 month clothing and is even fitting into some 6 month onesies
  • Is already in medium Masonsized Gdiapers (which opened us up to a variety of new colors!)
  • Has a little bald ring around the back of his head, we’re guessing from turning his head from side to side countless times when he’s trying to (or resisting) falling asleep
  • Is a rockstar at tummy time and will keep his head up for a few minutes at a time and will even roll onto his back on a pretty regular basis
tummy time1 tummy time2 tummy time3 tummy time4
  • Has about 10 times the control over his head that he’s had in previous weeks.  He has such a strong little neck that he’s this close to not needing any head support from us at all
  • Now looks at himself in the mirror… which he never did before hitting two months.  In fact I just caught him staring up at the mirror above the swing, babbling to himself
  • Mark talked about his various “words” now… definitely so much more talkative!
  • smiling faceSmiles galore, we can usually provoke a string of smiles and encourage them once they start coming.  He wakes up smiling most of the time (kid is definitely a morning person), he even smiles in his sleep on occasion
  • He seems to enjoy being read to! Which is a huge excitement for me, given our very first attempt! But now he looks at the pages more often than not, he’ll talks back to me while I’m reading, and will sometimes even stop fussing if i pull out a book and start to read to him.  So rad.reading time
  • This one makes me a bit sad… but he doesn’t snuggle nearly as much as he used to, and he only falls asleep in our arms now when he’s very, very tired.  (I used to breathe in those newborn moments when he was sleeping on my chest, knowing it wouldn’t happen forever… no one told me it stops so soon!)  He’s far too interested in what’s going on around him now to lay his head down now… that’s actually one of his sleepy cues, we know he’s getting tired when he starts to nuzzle.
  • Has become much more predictable with his napping and waking routine.  Both Mark and I getting more and more in tune with his sleepy signals and he’s often out like a light with the help of his little lamb swing
  • angry faceIf we don’t take advantage of the signals he sends us that he’s tired… he’s a giant pill to get to sleep.  We have to hold his hands down to calm him when he flails and keep sticking the pacifier back in his mouth when he spits it out or plucks it out with his newly found hands
  • And his hands… oh how he loves his hands! His hands are another thing he found as soon as he hit two months.  He looks at them with fascination and loves to suck on his hands with gusto, sometimes plucking out his pacifier to replace it with his fingers.  Sometimes one finger… sometimes three… sometimes both hands into his tiny mouth at once!  Oh the slurping involved 🙂
mmm hands
I gotta tell you… watching and helping this little dude to grow and learn is pretty much one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced.