Checking In

Today I thought I might provide a check-in of sorts. There is so much happening right now, with spring being well underway, summer plans being made and the possibility of the world opening back up looming. This is where I am at, in Portland Oregon, right now.

So – vaccinations! I find every social interaction as of late must begin with the obligatory vaccine catch-up. “Did you get your first shot?”, “How did you get an appointment?!” “Pfizer, Moderna or J&J?” We talk about the complexities of getting an appointment, the side effects, the new Brazilian and British covid strains. We are beginning to hug our grandparents, see friends inside and officially stop wiping down our groceries (although WE only did this for about a week). Is there a REAL possibility that we will be inside public places with other people, not wearing masks and (horror of horrors) not social distancing??!

Returning to our places of work, to restaurants and stores, to concerts and arenas and Chuck-E-Cheese. It has me feeling some kind of way. On one hand, I am elated to throw it back to 2019. To waltz into a crowded Goodwill, sans-mask, footloose and fancy free. Breathing in the mixture of must, body odor and Jean Nate, unadulterated. I am excited to see the look on my daughter’s faces when they get to interact with their peers again. And the way my husband’s eyes will sparkle when he comes home from playing basketball. I cannot wait to share that morning cup of joe with my coworkers again. All of these things give me happiness to no end.

But also – there’s this: I am an ambivert. Or, as I like to call it an introverted-extrovert. I like a variety in life. But the past year has really thwarted that extroverted side of me. I have settled into my quarantine nest and the routines that go with it. And even though there have definitely been exceptions, I have loved being around my family everyday. I also finally found joggers in tall sizes (Old Navy!). The introvert in me has been thrust into the spotlight. She has gotten used to it. It has become homey and warm.

We have all gotten used to certain things, haven’t we? To the awkward “covid shuffle” around the grocery store, trying to keep a gap between us. To the absence of invitations to parties, game nights and play dates. To air high fives and chest bumps. I have gotten used to the glares in the park we sometimes get when Clara is not wearing a mask. Or the dirty looks from others when she is. I am ready to wave goodbye to these things, but not to others.

I am not ready to drop Clara off at day care again. To miss the sticky hugs I get each morning after her morning waffles, or witnessing the sheer pride she exudes from completed the whole alphabet puzzle. I am not ready to only see my husband between the hours of 7:30 to 10:30 pm on weeknights. I am not ready to say goodbye to my cozy work-from-home spaces, complete with a dog on my lap and no makeup on my face. Most of all, I am not ready to say goodbye to the calm of a more simplified life.

Can we keep all the good, but not the bad? Can we all continue to stay home when we are feeling sick? And wear a mask if we are feeling sick, but need to go out? Can we work from home when we need to, without feeling guilty? Can we tell people no if we’re not feeling it, without making 1,000 excuses? I feel like there is so much we have all learned about ourselves over this past year.

What have you learned? What do you hope our post covid world looks like?

It is a New Year.

I feel like this is the celebration 2021 deserves.

And honestly, it’s the Peacock app for me.

Yes, The Office moved to Peacock. And for us anxious people who despise change (especially when it comes to our #1 comfort show) liked Jim, Michael and Angela right where they belonged, on Netflix. The move to Peacock means we must now download a new app? Pay more for the no-ad versions? Dwight, you ignorant slut!

But it’s not just The Office. It is of course, the senselessness that went down at the capitol building too. And the turmoil that has ensued since. It is also my grow-out. The rain. The looming 89273 days of rain ahead. And the 40 more after that. My mom-guilt. The fact that my twice weekly trips to Goodwill are all I have somedays. Or at least, that’s the way it can feel.

But then I realize that my gorgeous husband downloaded the Peacock app for me. And maybe my grow out is a look. And oh! Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race just started! And there is a stash of E’s leftover Halloween candy in the way back of the junk drawer. And really, could Clara be sweeter?? See, things are ok.

And before we move allll the way into this new year, let’s review the holidays. Because while they were covidy and weird, they were awesome.

For starters, I tried these KISS Jelly Fantasy Nails on my birthday and they stayed on for like 10 days!

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here in Portland. A pretty big change from years prior, but I have to say – it was SO nice being home. It was David and I’s first time doing the Santa thing and we had so much fun.

I received the below sweatshirt which is just *chef’s kiss*.

Then we went to the Tri-Cities to see my family!

We discovered Clara’s affinity for a pepperoni stick.

And then it was her birthday party! Mickey Mouse theme of course.

Check out my visor! An antique find from Auntie Amy & Shannon.

I did my first high pony in her hair and omg I die.

So far our new year has been spent hanging up our amazing holiday gifts:

Starbucks runs

The infamous matte black tumblers!

And donuts.

Happy New Year!

That Quarantine Life Pt. 2

First things first – BLACK LIVES MATTER.

If I did not use my platform, humble as it is, to speak this truth I would not be able to ramble on about the musings of skincare, my family, or Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. I think we can all take the time to listen, open our hearts and our minds, educate ourselves and fight for justice.

We went down to a day-time peaceful protest in Tualatin a week or so ago to show our support. I understand that this topic and everything surrounding it is controversial and personal.  It was the first time myself or David had done anything like that before. For us, it was incredible. Moving, sad, thought-provoking, just…good stuff.

And now, onto the sh*t show.

Things have been interesting around here. Like the rest of the world, I too have been experiencing life in a new way. And in the interest of brutal honesty, I switched medications and that has helped IMMENSELY. To any of my anxious and/or depressed friends out there, please consider therapy and medication if you have not done so already. What a game changer.

The quick and dirty of the past month – Both David and I are still working from home. School is now over (as of yesterday) and Clara is nearly 18 months old! Here’s the happs –

Just because it’s the time of the COVID does not mean I have to let cute clothes for Clara go to waste. Case in point:

Her shoes!

The June weather has been, in a word, shittay. It has only been hot enough for the wading pool one or two times. But guys, I have hope.

So much hope that I ordered them these:

The crappy weather has not kept us inside. E has become a bike-riding fiend and quite literally stays out all day riding around with friends, and sometimes her baby sis.

We even happened upon a drive-by birthday party with an alpaca. And now the bar has been set.

Our time indoors has also not completely gone down the toilet. Well…not literally. Figuratively? Maybe.

For instance…

And…

Ok, there have been some cute moments…

As for me? Well, I think I sprained my toe. And DON’T come for my long-ass second toe. It’s a sign of intelligence. FIGHT ME. It also means it’s the first toe to get stubbed.

I also caved and ordered myself a matching  tie-dye “set” ala errrr girl on TikTok (btw follow me @nataliekmichaelis). It has not arrived yet, but here is the one I ordered (I got shorts instead of sweats). I am pretty psyched.

I also decided to take FULL advantage of my quarantine grow-out and baby bangs and achieve my ultimate 7th hair goalz.

If your 7th grade self is also jealous of this style, its time for a night cream. AMIRIGHT!?

In culinary arts, things have gotten pretty exciting around here.

I squealed when David came home from the grocery store with this. Loudly.

We got a Crumbl Cookie near us! Another squeal.

We behaved ourselves and only got two.

This is Buckeye Brownie and Churro.

They weigh like 8 pounds each and are sooooo good. I mean, crazy good.

Lastly, I got another voxbox from my good pals at Influenster with the some goodies, including this Gold Bond Neck & Chest Age Defense Cream.

Pretty excited about this stuff. Such a neglected area for me! Btw, if you do not have an Influenster account and have a decent following on social media (Facebook, especially) – consider signing up. You get free things, no strings attached. It is amazing.

That Quarantine Life

Hi there my pecan sandies!

I figured it was time to start writing about my experiences during this absolute bat-sh*t time.  Because once it’s all over and we’re back to normal (someone please reassure me this is going to happen) I am going to feel like I blacked-out. Like the past several months were just a bad dream. And, I KNOW. I know I am supposed to keep my chin(s) up, be #thankful for what I have and see the silver lining in all of this. But as I like to say, “first things first I’m a REALIST”. And the realistic part of me has nothing good to say about this…because it freaking sucks. It just, does.

Luckily, the other part of me loves a good meme. And watching people make asses of themselves on TikTok (I don’t care what vodka says, you still can’t dance).

So we laugh. We fight. We bicker about whether Mighty Ducks 1, 2 or 3 is the best (it’s 2). We make up new “house rules” due to shared unpleasant experiences. 4 people in a 1,500 SF house on a rainy day…need I say more? Especially when 50% of the people are scream-singing “Into the Unknown” or just plain screaming.

these are the rules so far

Whew. My back hurts. My whole back. Damn Ikea dining chairs don’t hold a candle to the ergonomic Herman Miller Aeron chair collecting dust at my office. GOD stop complaining Natalie. Let’s get to it.

Food and bev has been top-notch. Not because I have turned a new leaf and suddenly started to enjoy cooking but because my husband shares my affinity for Digiorno. And the Rite Aid down the street always seems to have Lib Creek on sale for $5.98.

I should have warned you that some high-quality photos were in store, my mistake.

The girls, well. Clara obviously could GAF what is going on. She is just living her best toddler life, toddling around, getting in to sh*t she shouldn’t and learning words like “No!” and starting to hit me in the face. (ps i don’t even care that she hits me in the face, i love her sooooo much she is my perfect babyyyy). E is weathering the storm too. Poor thing had to turn 9 during all of this and took it like a champ. Here is what has gone down with them:

New hairstyles

ok she looks a lil crazy here

E being forced to become bffs with someone 8 years her junior.

in the television daze

This killed me. E dressed them up in her Uma (from The Descendents) Halloween costume. Major Toddlers & Tiara vibes.

why YES that is homemade cornbread on the stove!

Fort building.

Floor puzzle construction in a dazzling art smock.

Here is the “double decker” pb&j that E made because she was “so hungry” when we only had one precious loaf of bread left.

she barely ate half

Clara’s 15-month well child exam with our amazing pediatrician. We could only send one parent (hence the FT) and temperatures were taken in the car before they could come in. LOVE it.

As for David and I…we’re hangin. THANK BABY JESUS for good tv, puzzles, alcohol, you know. We are both working from home and trying our best at being parents. We look SO forward to our 8:30 ish alone time where we recently polished off season 3 of Ozark (HIGHLY recommend).

my home is SO clean

As for me…I have had my moments. I have run the gamut of emotions. One moment I am perfectly fine and the next I am in the throes of anxiety. Depression has also crept in…yuck. However I take a little comfort in the fact that I know I am not alone. The whole world is feeling this. So if everyone else can do it, so can I.

Here are some things that have helped along the way…

I MEAN

owwwww

My mom gave us a bag of “girl books” from her house recently. I found a few gems from my childhood including this one. I opened it up, found this message and yep, ugly cried.

Man I miss my parents. And our friends. And TJ Maxx. THIS IS HARD.

How are YOU surviving?

Clara is ONE

WELL. It happened.

And I tried so hard you guys. I did everything in my power. And it still happened. I am not okay with this for the following reasons:

  1. The older she gets, the bigger she gets. And the bigger she gets, the less she will let me hold her. And ALL I want to do is be able to hold her forever. Luckily, I am a pretty big lady so fingers crossed she will let me.
  2. Also, the older she gets, the less it is acceptable for me to bite her thighs, kiss the bottoms of her feet and nuzzle my entire face into her neck to the point where she is upset at me.
  3. Basically there is nothing good about her getting older.

On the day of her actual birth, we had a low-key family day.

I started it off with a rather dramatic cry. It just came out of me. Probably didn’t help that I listened to “Goodnight my Angel” by Billy Joel while I gave her a bottle.

Then I took her 1-year pictures in the chair and she was being so cute and funny.

Then, we got ready for her birthday outing! An afternoon at the Wiggle Room (a softplay center for babies).

Thanks to Auntie Meg for the matching hats!

And the next day, we threw her a birthday party. We did a Nutcracker/Land of Sweets theme and boy did Nancy go to town on the decorations! Clara is pretty lucky to have a Nana like her.

So adorable, yes?

I made her smash cake, which never got smashed.

I even bought an organic cake mix and used this bougie canned frosting that was like $6.99.

I am such a good mom, I know.

Clara Jane was just the sweetest she could be.

It was the best time ever.

We love this human so much. She has completely changed our lives and spreads the love where ever she goes. Happy birthday to our CJ!

Family Photos

WARNING! These were taken approximately 390834 months ago (or in early June) and therefore warrant the following disclaimers.

Disclaimer 1: I did not get my hair done prior to these photos.  I did have a haircut, but the color is REAL ROUGH. I know it’s bad and I’m sorry.

Disclaimer 2: The state of my hair is due to childbirth. If you are unaware, having a baby can cause hair loss. If you would like to know more or see additional unsightly photos, read this post.

I realize the first two disclaimers are about my hair. Believe me, there’s a reason.

Disclaimer 3: I did not look at this dress in a full, body-length mirror before these photos were taken. If I had, I would NOT have opted to wear an ill-fitting, unflattering garment simply because it was a nice brand in a nice color from the Rack for $14. Also, you cannot tell in the photos but it was stained AF. I made a poor, poor choice.

Disclaimer 4: I did not come prepared for these pictures. I did not bring a blanket, or any props or really anything at all.

Disclaimer 5: C and E’s outfits are just mehhhh. I chalk this up to my rampant indecisiveness that is a horrid symptom of my PPA. It came down to the wire on what they would wear and I just could not make up my mind for the LIFE OF ME.

OK, now that those are outta the way…feast your eyes!

Also, major hat tip to Liz Wade our photographer who was amazing, SO easy to work with, patient and talented.

After having lived through this experience (it was touch and go), I can now feel justified in offering up the following advice:

  1. Bring a GD blanket. Esp if you are taking outdoor photos.
  2. Before the photos, take care ‘ya business. Hair most notably.
  3. Dress up. This ones a personal pref, but I think photos look 823873 times better in more dressy clothing.
  4. Floppy sun hats are a YES for the littles.
  5. If your baby is still too young to sit up on her own, you best bring something to prop her up with! Or get yerself a GREAT photog like we did that can Photoshop out your hand that was holding the baby up (see pic of Clara sitting up as evidence, baby girl was being held up by David’s hand in this pic!)

Palm Springs Vacation with Baby

Greetings rainbow sprinkles!

And please excuse my lack of posts as of late (I mean I know you are all DYING to hear more about my v exciting life). Working 30-ish hours a week and doing all the things is not easy for me. I realize some people work way more, with more kids and more responsibilities and do it all with perfectly clean homes bedecked in lovely autumnal decor and find the time to NOT look slightly homeless. As I have said many times over, that person I am not. I can barely find the time and energy to go to Goodwill and find my daughter a Halloween costume (because I refuse to spend $20 + on something she will wear for a single photo). * I did find said costume. It was $1.50.

So a few weeks ago, David, Clara and I flew to Palm Springs for our first official vacation together. Let’s get to it.

Our flight departed around 9 am which was good timing for baby’s napping situation. We went through TSA with a pre-made bottle and I got a chuckle when I told the agent, “This bag contains breastmilk.” We took the stroller and her car seat all the way to the gate and pre-boarded the with all our sh*t and a cup of hot water from Starbucks to heat up her bottle. She was a little fussy as we sat there while everyone else boarded and was ready to eat. We wanted to hold off on giving it to her until we were literally taking off to ensure her ears would be ok. It was tough but she ended up drinking it through take off and did not seem to have any trouble. After about 30 minutes in the air, David took her to the back of the plane and rocked her to sleep (he is the best) and I held her for the remainder of the flight which is MY FAVORITE THING EVER.

After landing, we took an Uber to Aunt Sandi’s house (our pad for the week) and…immediately jumped in the pool!

I did a bit of research before we left and decided to try this pool floatie for Clara. It ended up being absolutely wonderful! It was a tad big for her, so we just stuffed a towel down in the seat so she was up a bit higher. She loved the toys attached to it, kicking her feet in the water and splashing around.

The next day was David’s birthday! This year I got him a whiskey of the month club membership because I am running out of Blazers jerseys that he does not already own.

That morning, he hit a bucket of balls at the driving range.

Then an afternoon of swimming.

C is sporting her $4 swimsuit from Kohls.

For dinner that night, David’s parents and Aunt Sandi gave us a gift card to a delicious Italian place in Palm Desert called Castelli’s. Highly suggest if you are in the area!

Our reservation was for 5:30 pm because baby and we had a great time.

I was obviously feelin’ myself on the way there but upon closer inspection the baby hair breakage is abundant in this photo.

Dinner dates!

David’s steak was NO JOKE.

Check out the sky behind us!

The next day I made two astonishing discoveries:

  1. Coachella is not just the name of the music festival but also a town (face slap)
  2. We were about 20 minutes away from it

Curiosity got the cat and we decided to check it out and see what all the “fuss was about” (said in grumpy old lady voice).

Turns out Coachella, the music festival, is actually held at a polo club…and when it isn’t “Coachella” it really is just a polo club. And this one in particular was pretty amazing.

First of all, this is in the middle of the DESERT. Everyone’s lawns are rock gardens and cacti. So to see this giant, expansive grass and palm tree oasis in the middle of BROWN is pretty impressive.

The surrounding gardens were beautiful and nobody cared that we were just pushing our big ass stroller err whurr.

I also wanted to get a James Charles-esque picture before we left, so we explored the grounds and finally found a good spot.

We could have hopped the fence you see in the photo of me on the right to get closer to the rainbow windows building. But I wasn’t feelin’ it. You get the idea.

Then we had lunch at a Tavern on the property where Clara spilled a large glass of ice water directly into my lap and it went allll the way up my backside. However, all was redeemed by the saddle seats they had, especially after snapping this photo:

The next morning we were up bright and early with Clara so we went for a walk and happened upon this little gem: (had to take a pic for Nan)

Then we got the baby ready and drove into Palm Springs for some shopping! BB OOTD: (She dazzles in fruits)

We found her a pair of those Baby Hipster sunglasses but she hated even though they were evvverything.

Then I breastfed her in the back alley of sus lunch spot we tried because there was shade. You can take the girl out of Spokane but apparently you can’t take Spokane out of the girl.

I also had to try on the spandex bike shorts that everyone is wearing these days.

Hahahaaa jk I just wanted to take a pic in them as a joke to send to my immediate family. All I need is a pair of those hideous chunky Filas.

The next day we went to the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert! Baby girl wore her finest jellies.

JK these lasted .002 seconds before being promptly discarded.

The zoo was amazing! Especially…

The giraffes!

The petting zoo portion because GOATS.

And these amazing rainbow chairs that we snapped this adorable pic with:

On one of our last days, we decided to go to J.Tree and the weather was perfection.

Don’t freak, David was holding her in this pic.

And I was holding her in this one…

The flight home also went very well. We did the exact same thing as we did on the way there, except instead of pre-boarding we waited until literally THE LAST second to get on the plane. That way, we did not have to sit for 40 minutes while everyone else found their seat and baby got restless. It worked out way better for us that way and she slept most of the way home once again, in my arms. Bliss.

The whole thing really. Was bliss.