Category Archives: Life

¿Que Pasa Weeks 21&22?!

These past two weeks have been mighty, pleasurable, intense, chaotic, celebratory, but most of all…very memorable. I can’t begin to describe what a joy it was to have my IM and GS1 little guy out for a visit for a couple days. Having them be able to share in the experience of the anatomy scan and getting to see our GS2 little lady kick around on the monitor was incredible! I know it was an amazing and emotional moment for IM. Expecting your second child (or third, or fourth) is by all means just as exciting as waiting for your first. There’s a brand new person cooking in there with their own individual likes and dislikes. Maybe they will have a goofy giggle or oddly shaped toenails (like my son, haha!) – who knows! All the things an ultrasound doesn’t reveal is what parents-to-be dream about. When you’re having your second or third or fourth however, you do have a bit of experience under your belt now and have a slightly better grasp on what you’re getting yourself into. Although, as a parent of 3, all from the same two DNA contributing sources, I’ll be the first to admit that surprises abound no matter how the genetic deck gets shuffled. The great news from Monday’s scan is that baby is measuring and growing right on track, everything appears normal with her cord, placenta and water levels, and my cervix is high and closed like a steel bear trap. My intended parents will be welcoming a very healthy baby this Fall/Winter – and with our due date, she could very well be a Solstice baby.

Their visit was a wonderful warm-up to the big show and I’m so thankful as a surrogate to have a close connection and relationship to my intended family. Not all surrogacies go this way, nor do they have to – it’s completely your preference to keep things strictly transactional or not. Surrogate and Intended Family relationships run the gamut from terrible and estranged to BFFs for life. I feel very lucky ours has developed into a close and special bond between both our families that IM felt comfortable enough putting up with our chaos for several days! It’s going to be so much fun having them back in December.

It feels like we’ve now entered the final phase for how things will go up to the birth. My older two have started back in all-day school. I go back to school early September. Appointments will start every other week come mid-October. Baby will keep growing (she was already one pound according to the ultrasound!) and I’ll continue to do my best to cook her as long as possible.

Heres a little glimpse of some of our adventures these past two weeks. I had some fun working on the florals for my Grandmothers 90th birthday. Floral design is sort of my day-job which I may have to pick-up more hours doing come the near future, but we will see about that. There’s  enough on my plate right now to keep me busy for a while.


Not much to report on today other than I have to say I am greatly missing coffee. I feel bad complaining about having to give up the liquid bean because so many women experiencing infertility give up SO much more just to even try to get pregnant, that me as a fertile whining “waaaaahhh, muh coffee” makes me feel petulant. But seriously, I really miss having my morning cup this time around.

One thing I find interesting about carrying a surrogate pregnancy versus my own is that I feel a stronger sense of duty or commitment for taking better care of myself than had this been potential kid #4 for us. Would I make the choice to drink that coffee? I probably would. Because I think I kept up caffeine consumption with kid #3 (and he’s turned out okay so far!). With my older two daughters pregnancies, I followed the rule book pretty closely – well, except for that whole travel to China for a month bit while pregnant with my oldest part, that might have been a bit risky – but I definitely halted the caffeine, the deli meats, the cat litter box cleaning, and the booze obviously for those 10 months.

Being pregnant and responsible for someone else’s child turns on the need for me to go above and beyond. I know my intended parents are reassured that I’m not some raging alcoholic floozy only in this for the comp money – but I do like to give them a sense that I know how much this little one matters to them, how important he/she is, because my own little bean sprouts are my everythings, and if I were in their position I would hope that the person responsible for growing my heart-outside-my-body would take just as good of care.

Anyway…I’m not peeing on any sticks until Thursday, when the pregnancy tests I ordered online are scheduled to arrive. I could go earlier, but at our grocery store they keep the pregnancy tests all locked up so you have to ask for assistance for someone to open the cage and I hate having to do that so Thursday it is!

I don’t want to speculate too much, but it’s Day 4 and this will be pregnancy #5 for me. Do I feel pregnant? Yes. I do. I would say that I am beginning to experience the all same symptoms in common with how all the others started. A heavier, bloated, “full” feeling in my uterus. The urge to urinate more frequently kicked in today. And when I accidentally brushed my hand up against my breast today, it was almost as if it yelled “hey, watch it!” at me. I know nothing is official until I get that BETA reading, which will actually be Monday the 18th. I thought they were going to do it next Friday so not having to wait as long is a nice surprise. But…if I were to bet on things after 4 babies and how my body has reacted at a similar time, I would say we have some good news coming our way. Thursday! Knowing my UPS delivery guy it will be a late in the day delivery. More waiting.

This is my favorite coffee cup, by the way. As a kid growing up with an old lady name, it was very hard to find anything cool with my name on it amidst the many offerings of Jennifer and Jessica key chains and slap bracelets. When my parents finally found me a Helen something, at 8-years-old, I thought a mug was just about the most unthrilling gift ever. Now? I am very grateful for this personalized sacred stimulant vessel.



The Highlight Of The Day

I said to myself, “Self, you need to do a better job keeping up with this blog. Daily writing helps improve your skills and if you’re going to take this writing thing seriously, it’s time to put your toes to the grindstone, or something like that.”

But Self, the low esteemed doubter she is, thought, “but how am I supposed to make my life sound interesting when literally the majority of the time, nothing happens?”

Take for example the high point of the day. We started watching the Direct to Video sequel of Disney’s Aladdin, called The Return of Jafar – don’t judge unless you have a 4- and 5-year-old – which, by the way Disney, do you think you could maybe allocate enough budget in character development for a new villain? At least in Little Mermaid 2 Return to the Sea they invented a sister for Ursula. Try a little harder. Anyway, while tuning out after laughing at the poor VHS to digital image conversion quality, it slowly dawned on me that Robin Williams didn’t come back to reprise his role as the genie. Listening closer, I thought, “this sounds like…Homer Simpson doing a Robin Williams impression.” Go to IMDB the credits, lo and behold it WAS Homer Simpson doing a Robin Williams impression! I felt giddy, positively tickled pink, to have been right about that.

This is why I don’t blog everyday.

But I will go back to writing about food soon and talk about my recent trip to New Orleans and getting soooooo fat. To be saved for another day.

Helping Out

Apologies, readers, for not posting here as often lately. I’ve been on the road, traveling, eating in one of the greatest food cities in the country, and living for the first time in what has felt like a long while.

Anyway, I came across a sad story out of my old town. Maybe it’s because it happened right down the street from where I used to work or maybe it’s because I have a little boy almost the same age, but this absolutely broke my heart. I am sensitive enough when I hear about cruelty to small children to the point I become physically ill. So instead of turning catatonic and retreating into a shell to hide away from the awfulness of the world, hopefully by sharing, this baby boy can have the celebration of his brief life that he deserves. If you are able to help in anyway I know the family would appreciate it.

I wish there was more I could do to save children from being violently abused. I may not yet know what I want to be when I grow up, but for now, I think I’m doing a good job as a Mother. If nothing career wise comes around in the near future, I’ve given some thought to foster parenting. It would be a lot to take on, but perhaps a way I could help keep a child safe. Thanks, all!

On Insomnia

Night Owl. What a redundant characterization. Who ever heard of the Day Owl? If they exist, they must be a very confused lot. Evolution played a cruel trick on the elusive Day Owls.

The mind wants to stop racing but it is unable. There would be nothing better than to manually power down and drift off into the deep archival recesses of the memory. The Insomniac becomes self-aware of their condition around the age of 7 or 8. You can use vices and aids but you will never be able to change this fundamental part of the nocturnally amorous brain.

Had I been able to go to bed at the appropriate time, however, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the last 3 minutes of the wallpaper image of the day. Funny, now the date has changed and so has the image into to a busy, frenetic animation of a street in Segovia. Daytime. Time to try again, another lonesome lullaby.

The Milky Way over Capitol Reef National Park in Utah (NASA/Bing)

The Milky Way over Capitol Reef National Park in Utah

A Letter To My Oldest Daughter On Her First Day Of Kindergarten

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”

Shakespeare was onto something when old Polonius was doling out parental advice to his son, Laertes, as he’s about to embark upon a journey to satisfy his young man’s education in Paris: Keep the aphorisms short and sweet, lest they be ignored. On the eve of my eldest child’s commencement of formal schooling, I feel the need to share a few thoughts. She may not stumble upon these words until much later in her life. Maybe they’ll serve as a refresher for us both, somewhere down the line and act as a guide as she leaves home to begin full-time school.

My Dear Daughter:

Congratulations! You are about to start a new chapter in life. You’re five-and-a-half.  Things may not feel different from day to day, but pretty soon a majority of your day will be spent away from home; away from your dad, sister, brother, and me.  Instead, for most of the day, you’ll be with a teacher and other kids your own age. The next twelve years will be a primer for life.  Welcome to “Society 101.”  You may not be outright excited at this moment, “I want to stay home! Home is better!” but I am excited for you!

I’ll let you in on a little secret: nothing you do in Grades 1-8 really least not on paper. They don’t start keeping score until High School. Of course, your Dad and I will never tell you this, but it’s true. You could take a nap all the way up to 8th grade, turn it around in High School, and go on and lead a perfectly successful life.


It’s your choices in life that matter.

Choose wisely, choose fearlessly, and choose often.  Sometimes you will get second chances, but such opportunities are never guaranteed.  Just focus on what you can control, ignore what you can’t, and make choices you can stand by.  I have no doubt you will do this.  You wouldn’t allow others to choose for you, and we’ve known that for a while.

From the time you were two years old, you have gone forth and forged your own path. Here’s an example: about 3 years ago, I signed us up for a Mommy-&-Me ballet class in the rich neighborhood of town. All the little girls looked downright precious in their tutus and slippers, and the teacher was so sweet and flexible, considering the age cohort of 2-3 year olds. While the other girls dutifully followed the instructions of the teacher, I watched as you ran serpentine around the studio and swung upside down from the barre for the duration of class. We quit ballet after the third week.  This was an early indicator of your feisty nature.

I’ve pored over many an internet article titled, “Raising Your Headstrong Child With Love” and looked into “Taming the Spirited Child Without Taming Their Spirit”. You know what, though? None of those labels matter. You are strong-willed, inquisitive, and blunt (but in a good way). You would make an excellent lawyer someday, although you say you want to follow in your Grandfather’s footsteps and join the medical profession as a “Broken Bone Doctor.” On the eve of your entry into formal schooling, you have room to change your mind. Your Dad and I are here to support you.

That being said, all the support in the world can’t keep you from making mistakes.  It’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, I hope you DO make mistakes. Screwing up is part of life.  It’s the only way to learn new things. I grew up in the era of parents who believed in Self-Esteem. This was (in hindsight) a well-meaning social experiment played out in the aggregate, the results of which were mixed at best and social corrosive at worst.  Parents inflated their children with constant, empty praise all the while protecting children from experiencing failure.  Every parent thought his/her child was “so smart,” and never hesitated to holler it from the rooftops for the most fleeting and banal of reasons. This is not a path we will walk with you. You have true gifts.  On their own they will do nothing and take you nowhere.  Combine them with your dynamic personality, fuel them with hard work, and you could literally change the world.  The teachers you will meet in the years to come can point you in the right direction, but no one can walk the path for you (no matter how smart you are).

And you are smart, kid…but there’s a lot more to life than just smarts.  Be kind to others, always. You may only be five, but there will be many children whose paths will cross with yours, and some of them have been through things no child should ever have to go through. Demonstrate compassion. Your peers may not remember every lesson they learn in school, but they will remember every single person who treated them with kindness.

I love you, and I am here for you every step of the way for the next twelve years. You will always be the rainbow jewel of my heart.



Places Google Maps Has Sent Me: Lottie’s Kok Cafe, Hammarstrand, Sweden



Are you so reliant upon technology, you need a “smart” phone to dictate your every move? Does GPS more closely stand for Going Places Securely, else you end up lost, alone, somewhere along the Rio in Tijuana? Well, I am you and you are me and we are all together. If this is indeed the case, you may be familiar with the occasional glitch in the matrix that happens when you type your intended location into a MapApp –  be it Google, Bing, Apple, whathaveyour device –  and you end up someplace completely different from where you mean to go; as in thousands-of-miles-away-on-another-continent-different.

I think this is fun!

This accidental happenstance has brought forth a new blogger-ary adventure series called “Places Google Maps Has Sent Me”… because, honestly, life is too short to actually go the places you’re supposed to.

What is the thought process behind choosing a vacation destination? Travel and resort marketing professionals must have a better insight into this, but I want to know why people jet-off to the places they choose for a holiday, when not visiting family or friends. A totally solo venture with you or a partner/travel buddy. What exactly is it about a location that draws a person for R&R, sight-seeing, or broadening their cultural horizons? Do you spin a globe and declare, “wherever my finger sticks, there, with the grace of God go I.”

When I think back to my wild, child-free jetsetting years (all four of them), each country outside the US I visited was chosen deliberately, however, there was a small percentage of pure randomness thrown into that choice for good measure. China, 2009? The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century took place and that was something pretty incredible to witness. I read about it happening in a news article and decided, “hey, that might be cool to see.” So my friend Jessica and I spent 4 weeks backpacking across the Chinese countryside. We did end up being there for the eclipse, however, it was raining and overcast in Shanghai that day.

It is that bit of randomness I wish to explore in this blog series. Now, as a parent to three curious children, I very much desire to expose them to as many different cultures as possible. I get all Sancti-Mommy when I come across other Mom and Dad bloggers who practice and preach insular parenting. Homeschool. Small Town Religulous Lifestyle.  Why? Why shelter your children from the reality of this beautiful and diverse planet? Would they have chosen such a lifestyle when they themselves were children?

Perhaps we will traverse these places one day. With the time, and the money, I would really, really like to. Being that opportunities to engage in such unfettered jet-setting are in my rearview mirror, at the very least I can leap up this haphazard roll of the proverbial dice and learn a thing or two about Inner Scandanavia…or South Africa…or Kansas.  So, without further ado, “Places Google Maps Has Sent Me”; far-flung, randomly selected corners of the world I hope to see someday.



Lottie’s Lounge, Seattle, WA – a homestyle-food, comfy café, perfect for a weekend gathering with friends


Lottie’s Kok Café, Hammarstrand, Sweden

Let’s explore the things we know about Sweden. IKEA…Fish…Meatballs…Penis Pumps? OK. Check. All sensuously go hand over ‘is zee pressure too hard?’ massaging hand said country is also known for. Sweden and its Scandinavian neighbors are all up there on the places I am highly anticipating a visit to one day. So if Google Maps is going to send me to a restaurant in rural fucking Sweden, I AM ALL ABOUT THIS. Let’s go!

What, and where, is a Hammarstrand?


Hammarstrand is a city (locality) in the midshaft of Jamtland-cannot-write-umlauts County, North-Central Sweden. The county is dominated (dominated! hah!) by the Swedish Social Democratic Party and the Swedish Rural Centre Party, which is unique in Sweden, but corresponds to the situation in the bordering Norwegian county of Nord-Trøndelag. Which, thank you Wikipedia, but this explains nothing of said “situation” in the bordertown along the Norwegian side. Drug and gang violence? Political murders and corruption? Do the opposing factions scatter stealth landmines throughout the heavily thicketed forest? Because of Wikipedia’s ineptness, the world may never know the scandalous and tenuous situation taking place this very minute along the Sweden/Norway border.

Röd Trip!

Röd Trip!

Hammarstrand is about a 5 hour drive from Stockholm. Presumably, Stockholm is the Int’l hub airport one flies into. Rent a Volvo, epic road trip. Although, according to the never-confusing GPS, Klarastrandsleden becomes Blekholmstunneln followed shortly by Blekholmstunneln becoming Klarastrandsleden again…shit!  I don’t know what this means, but I securely leave my life in your hands GPS. I’m sure some friendly locals will be able to help us on our journey North. Swedes seem to be quite competent English speakers, more so than quite a few native English speakers I know.


What’s the first thing you do when you get Hammarstrand?

Go to Lottie’s Café, of course! You must be very hungry after a long day of driving. Look at the quaintness! Oh mein Gott, can you get any quainter?

lottie's café via facebook

lottie’s café via facebook

The empty chocolate paper wrappers may not look satisfying, but the dessert popcorn should satiate you!

lottie's café via facebook

lottie’s café via facebook

I loaf you times three!

lottie's café via facebook

lottie’s café via facebook

This mystery meat in a jar, however, I do not trust.

lottie's café via facebook

lottie’s café via facebook

It’s okay though, if this puppy is the Café Mascot in residence, all is clearly right in this world. Oh my goodness.

lottie's café via facebook

lottie’s café via facebook

We’ve eliminated our hunger, enjoyed some provencal Swedish cuisine, and loved on some puppies. Where are we going to stay? There appears to be at least one hotel in Hammarstrand…Hotell (double L) Hammarstrand, motto: “Camp Wild Life”!

Wild, and absolutely gorgeous.

hotel hammarstrand via website

hotel hammarstrand via website

How do you feel about camping in the wintertime on a pillowy blanket of snow in an IKEA-grade cabin? Hammarstrand provides.

via TripAdvisor

via TripAdvisor


*It is the site of a retired World Cup bobsleigh and luge track. Curves 9 and 10 of the track are named “Ding” and “Dong”, respectively.

*It’s latitude and longitude coordinates are 63°06′N 16°21′E.

*The Zorb Center for recreation has giant inflatable hamster balls you can climb into and attempt to run in, as if you were a spazzed-out hamster in an inflatable golf ball. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a pretty good time.

*There is a giant sign mimicking the famous HOLLYWOOD landmark which greets you upon entry into Hammarstrand. What more do those cheeky Swedes have in store with a welcoming such as this?!


Thanks to a propitious glitch, I now have a reason to visit rural Sweden. Planning vacations to places Google Maps sends you may be the modern day equivalent of spinning a globe and ending up where your finger lands, usually middle of the Indian Ocean. It does, however, make me smile to zoom out, zoom out some more, and exclaim, “oh, that is definitely not what I wanted, but wow! Sweden! Okay!” Suddenly there is a new place to discover which never would have crossed my radar before. So who knows…with a little more time and money, Google maps may actually send me to Lottie’s Cafe after all.