Adiel, Eva and Leona's play date...
Monday, February 28, 2011
Adiel, Eva and Leona's play date...
Sunday, February 27, 2011
when i think about it, even though i’ve been through more than 3 decades of life experiences - it is only now as a mom to leona, that i truly appreciate the meaning of life; which is to give and love unconditionally. but i titled this “life before leona” so i will try to be brief about myself (& her baba) in order to move quickly to the introduction of her deliciousness a.k.a. "leona juliette mihail"…
to truly introduce leona, i will try to briefly explain the journey that has brought us to her.
i was born in saigon vietnam, and left as a refugee with my mamie around 1 years old.
when i was still in my mamie's belly, my grandmother (dad’s mom), forced him to leave saigon without us. he never made it (but i didn’t find out until i was pre-teen), so it was me and my mamie until i was 4 yrs old.
i grew up in montreal canada, learned french as my first language, then vietnamese. i met my a stepdad and stepsister around 4 yrs old.
my parents moved us to los angeles when i was about 9/10 years old to start their own furniture business. i grew up in north hollywood and was a mall rat kid. instead of daycare, i spent most of my time after school at the mall with my parents. i was a tomboy growing up because i played video games in the food court and only hung out with boys. my brother was born around this time, we are 10 years apart.
mike and i met at a sweet sixteen birthday party in 1995 and have been inseparable since. it's been a long journey for us as a young couple who met in high school.
when we were young, our challenges as a couple were about how much time we spent (or did not spend) with each other. we actually argued about it constantly! we went to different high schools and colleges, so we always made an effort to be together as much as possible (imagine if that were our biggest problems today?...oh how simple life can be at 16/17 years old!).
falling in love so young was wonderful. it was so simple. we used to write each other love letters and talk on the phone thru the night until we had to go to school in the morning. it was always a sweet love.
if you want to see more old and funny pictures of us throughout the 10 years of being together, here is our wedding slide show (warning it is 13 minutes long!)
eventually, our young love nurtured into our adult life of living together and then buying a town house in culver city and getting our first dog, athena. a few weeks after adopting her, mike proposed the night before our 10 year anniversary. i was completely surprised (as you can see from my red face in the picture below). the proposal was a coordinated surprise with a few close friends & family.
we did not rush into our wedding plans and had a two year engagement. after living in the townhouse with athena for less than a year, mike decided that it was time for us to move into a house with a yard. so during the real estate craze in 2006, we moved into a house in Tarzana, where we currently reside now. although we love our house, it was definitely an investment that we would later could not afford (like everyone else).
as we were planning for the wedding, we decided to go to pre-marital counseling. everything began to unfold for us in couples’ therapy as we talked about our hopes, dreams and family planning. it was not the same conversation that we used to have when we were kids. our hopes and dreams at 16/17 were so much different at 28/29 years old.
then the big greek/vietnamese wedding happened. we got married twice, the first time on our high school anniversary date (6.9.2007) - see picture to the right.
and then we walked down the aisles of lake shrine in the pacific palisades a week later (6.16.2007), it was a beautiful sunny june wedding. you can see the wedding montage below:
shortly after the wedding bliss, things got a bit rocky for us. there was a distance between us that we both knew, but could not explain at the time. marriage should have brought us closer but we were further apart for the first time in our lives.
so shortly after xmas, i discovered that mike had an affair. it broke me. it broke us. it was the most unbelieveable betrayal i had ever felt. i cried. we cried together. yet i was not surprised. i could go on and on… but we’ll save all the juicy and sad details for another blog post, if you guys want to know.
fast forward through a lot more couples' therapy, and eventually we forgave each other and started over. after we were able to mend our love, our love grew stronger each day as husband and wife. as our love grew stronger, so did our desire to start a family. that is where leona comes into our lives. she sprung out of pure love and hope from us. we wanted her more than anything.
it took about 6 months for me to get pregnant (all stress related to our house, our finances…again, another blog post if you guys want to know the juicy details).
that’s it’s for now. the next post will be the birth story of leona.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I can't believe how much she can eat at one go! I guess I wasn't feeding her enough before. She'd sign (and say!!) more ('moe' with a soft r on the end) and I thought, 'really, she can't still be hungry,' and I'd sign and say 'ALL DONE!' But it dawned on me, SHE'LL stop eating when she's not hungry anymore. It's funny the things I don't realize as a first time mom. ;)
Well, I've been letting her go. This morning for breakfast she fed herself: 1 whole banana cut into chunks, 1/2 an avocado cut into chunks, 1 piece of whole grain toast cut into bites and several ounces of water! Later, she had two good sized snacks including our favorite, raspberries! Cottage cheese, 1 rice rusk and a few bites of apple. (I say snacks because she's napping at lunch and asleep for the night at dinner).
She loves to eat and feed herself :) She's doing so well and it's exciting that I can feed her basically what I'm eating for the most part. Yesterday, I went with some friends and their babies for Thai food and Ava had some Pad See Ew and some tofu from my soup. Mmmmm
She still loves to nurse... a lot... ;)
It's so exciting watching her grow up! It's happening so fast!
Lately, I've been even more overwhelmed with love for her. She's been more and more interactive and we've been having so much fun playing. We play chase. She crawls and I say, "I'm gonna get you!" and I crawl after her. She pants in her cute little baby pant while she high tails it away from me as fast as she can. I let her go for a bit and then I GET HER! and she shrieks with giggles. She's also ticklish... FINALLY! And laughs at funny faces and voices. I love it. I LOVE IT!
I'm madly in love with her. She's perfect. All our little ones are!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I'm mulling over these feelings. Wondering if I ever really felt them pre-baby, if I can remember back that far. Wondering what gives us the sense of empowerment, sensuality, passion. Wondering what MY dreams are anymore.
Oh God, wondering if I'm even ... (long pause... gulp) ... feminine.
I can go four days without time for a shower, but somehow I've managed in my quest for getting some assemblence of my body back, to find exercise four times!
I often rock my workout clothes all day, baby puke stains and last week, plenty of snot on my shoulder. My sports bra from pre-baby, not quite the right size, digs into my shoulders, strains my neck... but I'd rather spend my money and time on her than buy myself an appropriate sports bra.
I guess what's really getting me down is this pre vs post baby body. I still feel that empty feeling in my core. Not always, but often. There are days when I feel strong, and that gives me hope that those days will make way to a new and complete inner strength and healing, however the days I feel week and awkward are cruel.
The empty space in my core starts out small in the morning. I hear or read something about feeling like a woman, feeling strong and empowered and I feel that empty space stretch as I loose grasp of myself. I hear something about feeling sensual, maybe even sexy and the space gapes further open.
Or maybe it's all physical. I go to my exercise class and we try a new ab exercise and I'm only able to connect with that exercise for fleeting moments, if at all. I guess it's an opportunity to work on releasing that emotion, but there are days where it just seems to stick in that tight spot in the throat. Thank God that happy little face is smiling at me when I walk out of the workout studio at the end of class.
I'm lost in this empty space. I feel blue and pointless at moments. I feel like I should be able to do more than "just" be a good mom.
I have no doubt that I'm a good mom. I'm confident there.
I just look out at the rest of the world around me and wonder if "just" being a good mom is enough and I start to feel empty.
There is so much pressure on us as women to work or contribute in some way outside of our family. Is it enough to take care of a child all day, a little being that depends so greatly on us, as well as prepare all our family's meals, keep the house tidy and in order, keep the kitchen clean with the dishes done, plan outings and social get-togethers, buy and manage the groceries, etc etc etc
Then, our husbands want time with us, they have "needs" and while I'm covered in baby fluids, haven't showered in days, have BO and I'm exhausted from a day of baby wrangling, I'm supposed to feel sexy?
And where do I fit in this equation?
This morning, as I shower, I pondered my meaning and what it means to be a mother and a wife at this stage of my family's exsistence. I was so deep in thought as I got out, dried myself off and got dressed. I put on the underware I had layed out for myself, then went to my drawer and got out another pair and put them on over the first set! And reminded myself to smile.
I know I'm in the process of getting through this. Finding my meaning. Working out my emotions. Strengthening my body. I need to feel good enough. I need to allow myself to feel meaningful. I need to allow myself to believe that even if I haven't found my center yet, I'm still a great mom, a good wife and a wonderful woman. (Ugg, why was the second half of that last sentence hard to say?)
Saturday, February 12, 2011
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
"Wow, my little girl is enjoying this!" We're at the zoo and she's interacting and enjoying it!
I kept thinking to myself how big she's become in these short 9 months. These babies don't mess around, these little sponges go through some major changes in 9 months. From curled up, sleepy little newborns, only knowing how to nurse and poop; to delightful mini-children, eating fistfulls of puffs, chicken, veggies- you name it, she eats it and yeah, I guess still pooping, but on top of all that, moving at mock speed causing mommy to chase, splashing with purpose in the bathtub, signing 'light' at every light seen, trying to speak, imitating the sounds, cruising furniture, standing briefly alone before sitting gracefully on her bum, taking a snack and a drink with mom and dad at the zoo without stopping to nurse!
The last one really gets me. I thought I'd never see the day Ava didn't need to nurse! She's still in love with the boob and nurses plenty, but she's also really excited for snacks and solids, sips from her cup and nibbles from her hands. I rarely nurse beside waking, naps and bedtime on most days!
Anyway, a bit off track... the zoo...
Then came the lions! We've been working on animal sounds with Ava and her favorite is "the lions ROARRRRR!" because she can roarrrrrr! And does she love to roar? YES! After seeing the lions, Ava RRRROARRRRRRed the rest of the time we spend at the zoo!
It's such a joy to share these experiences with her. Everything new and fresh, each experience taken in with such awe and wonder. Watching her learn and grow, knowing I taught her and she looks to me to teach her. It's humbling. I'm in awe watching her. It brings me great joy, my heart doing flips, each time she demonstrates something new. The way in which we humans learn is incredible and watching someone each step of the way, day one, fresh little person to 9 months... to 1 year... to however many blessed years we are granted together... I'm in awe.
This past week, Ava has started signing and also roaring with the lions...
My heart grew so huge this past week.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
I am horrible at beginning things... So I will jump into it by introducing you to the reason there were US in the first place, and now we are THREE of US :))). So here I am, sharing the song that always melts my heart, and brings tears in my eyes. Orde played it for me after the first night we really met, had the first all night long walk together, holding hands and magically growing into one another through the neverending conversation that lead to listening to this song at sunrise... The first piece of music we enjoyed together...Well, since then - no more shall we part :)))
Ever since she has separated from my own body, I am divided in two: One of us is all ears and eyes and hands for her, the other is all the thoughts and feelings for her. The other one grows exponentially as the time is passing… The first one admires her closeness… Looking at her, my eyes are all joy as I am experiencing the new worlds inside me that are spreading to infinity. I find some deeply buried images and sequences of my childhood coming back to life again through her existence.... Even the smell of it is here now… My mind is visiting forgotten places and suddenly is disturbed by lots of existential questions that float ever since we, the big journey sisters decided to share a story about our life before our firstborn ballerinas.
This is silly, but it comes to my mind as a mama joke sometimes: Did I really live before her??? Was it me who was born at her birth???
I love every single memory I keep from my preEva life… Of course I do have a selective memory though! I am a perfection slave! :D
I was running through endless wheat fields, I remember the most beautiful green grass, and most beautiful lake waters, scented magical springs, high gorgeous mountains – unforgettable snowy winters…. The sound of those dry red and golden autumn leaves on the tiny streets, I remember one looooong wide boulevard of linden trees – the smell of my childhood precisely…. It is the boulevard of happiness… Whenever clouds are heavy on my black and white head, I would take “THE WALK” on that linden trees boulevard, and by the time I take 3 breaths, the world and my mind comes back to the colors…… I remember my mother and father calling out my name in panic while I giggle with my first love on the highest branch of our neighbor apple tree, reading erotic comic book stolen from his dad’s library… I remember my first violin lesson when I was supposed to just hold the violin for 3 minutes, every 5 minutes…the longest hour of my life… I remember every solo concert I had, my sweaty shaky hands, thinking of jumping from Niagara Waterfalls I saw on TV to calm down by thinking of the feeling of cold fresh water surrounding my skin… I remember loving math, writing poetry, dancing, painting, discovering the science behind the sky and the stars and the sun and the moon I was always amazed by, even if you can’t see any of it when everything is grey… I would be fascinated by the grayness, turning everything into dreamy experiences… My interests were spreading in lots of directions. They still are, but I think that is what life is for :)
Being the perfect kid at home and the wildest rebellious girl outside. I lived two parallel worlds since I know about myself… Never liked the attention really… Wanting to be on my own, with people I am gonna be choosing to be around me… Always running away from family gatherings, sneaking out without anyone knowing, happily coming back, so happy I was not discovered, so happy I was enjoying myself alone or with strangers... I was studying for my own satisfaction and thirst for knowledge, I felt powerful when I would learn something new. But still, I was stubborn and rebellious and driven only by my own interests that didn't last forever and were shifting between arts and science very often.... I was very disappointed I was not allowed to go study music high school as a violinist because it was in another city, and I was 14 years old girl... Despite all the bitterness, I was always a great student even though after that twist in my little life, educational system I knew lost meaning for me because I was separated from what I wanted from the bottom of my heart. Very often I was dreaming of having my own violin and playing at the beach in the dark stormy night with the ocean roaring in the background, and the big orange shiny moon hanging in the sky...... I have that dream even now, nothing is changed.. I tried to play again, but all the years of separation left my hands paralyzed for the violin. I do play keys tambourine and gjembe :)))
After the highschool, I still didn't know where to put myself in, which direction should I choose, I felt like I am about to be put in box that is too small and I will lose the air that I need... So, trouble has its new name: me... After I dropped off a pharmacy faculty (my parents wish) I attended a Computer Science Faculty (my compromise to continue studying in Macedonia). The truth is everything was too inviting and I was reaching for anything I felt I need. I dropped off before I graduate. The search for myself is still on, despite anything I have found so far, I am still looking for "something else" out there.
Something you can find in abstract worlds. Philosophy… Books… Music... More music…New music, Old music… My music...
I publicly announce that I am worshiping my ears that bring all the pleasure one can take, I am totally addicted to music, and I am indeed MUSIC SLAVE.... So, I have let music define my personality and take me for a ride that hasn't finished yet. I would love to share one of my most beloved timeless tracks...
I remember buying records without ever having a record player – to be desperate pretty soon and switch to cassettes you could have gotten for cheaper and actually listen to the music… Now, that is the point when everything kinda turned upside down… Music totally has gotten my whole brain, washed it in a weird way, It became a filter for friends, filter for boyfriends… Filter for seeing my future self. It became my only happiness and my silent killer… It was amplifying my highs and my sorrows to endless proportion, I felt messed up very often. Curiosity really kills cats! I even had a phase in my life I was trying to answer some questions through faith, I even invented faith inside of me to discover later that my brain can not chew on anything religious. So, I went back to my empiric self, spiritual only in a the way of not knowing…I got my computer and was totally consumed by all the music software I have found. I was focusing on playing with sound libraries, there were some loooong days and night and weeks and months of music making, I was completely obsessed with my freedom moments to create, put everything I was feeling into music. I was playing a lot with my dear computer called JINX…. We had fun… Music, Wine, Dancing. At one point I decided I will no longer build relationships, and I was dedicated only to my computer, that I even married one drunk lonely night! When not with him I probably was looking for love, sometimes even finding love, then throwing love away, rejecting love. “Chasing conversations around the table” at some bars or cubs.…Nothing really mattered outside my room.…He was my perfect escape, my best friend who I was making music with without having have to deal with people… I am so happy that now it built a professional sound designer out of me!!! I never loved any computer after he decide to just die, just like that…I lost all the music I have made, and was desperate for a while…. But yes: It took shifting between many different jobs that I have never found myself in.. My profession is probably the only thing I am missing during these intense exclusively motherhood days.I need the time to be able to get back there, auditioning...editing mixing and mastering sounds..
Anyways, let's go back...
Talking of humans now, after 18 months of a relationship with myself only, we decided to break up because there was this man I have found, my mind and body were simply screaming to get him closer to me. It was a very tough ride for both of us, since it was kind of a forbidden love. After a few months we calmed down the storms on each side and we were sailing on quiet waters, that were disturbed only by loud laughter and happy screaming. And for the first time I admitted to myself I got all the love I could generate outside of me… We were traveling a lot. Lived in Serbia one year while we worked together on a feature film as Visual Artists. It was also the year of my greatest loss. My mother passed away, leaving a hole in my heart for lifetime.
The next year was the year of my greatest life event:
Me and my man got married!!!
The most beautiful part of the ceremony was the party we had, with the greatest Macedonian band ever – Foltin performing for us!!!
It was a blast!!! The bride didn’t know her own name nor felt her body parts for a while after the wedding party. It was total hedonistic madness. As a couple we lived in many places, our Nomadic life was paused after settling in Los Angeles, 2007… I was all alone suddenly. I Lost connection with every good friend I had, crushed… I had the Ocean and endless coast to walk, so I connected very strongly with California. Venice Beach was the cure for my soul, all the freedom in the world is there I think… I remained happy, being away, at the end of the world with my Chosen One after all. I graduated at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, worked as an Audio Engineer… He is a Visual Effects Artist…. Together we make a perfect movie, no?! :D We have been to every concert we wanted to enjoy together.… Music festivals, art exhibits, parties, road trips, boat trips, bicycle rides…. Once we decided to fly around the world, USA – Australia – Macedonia. That was the first time we went home in 3 years. We had one unforgettable fiery passionate night… We have broken a bed in our friend’s apartment… In the morning I felt weird, I thought that something inside me started to grow. I felt her, from distance. He couldn’t believe me, but we enjoyed in the jokes for a month and then enjoyed in the truth and the excitement that expectation brought straight into our everyday living. I feel like she has always been with me in a very strange way… I mean she was indeed my egg all this time, hahahahahahaha, but I mean HER… Oh, I was such a happy preggy!!!!!!!!! I talked to Eva every day and night, lived in a lullaby!!! My belly was growing so nicely, I loved it! It was padded and adored every moment of those 10 months. And He took us on a preggymoon in Hawaii, we were on the most beautiful road trip on the Big Ireland, Eva was moving like crazy, I thought she must be endlessly happy. She was 5 belly months old then. So, I met my journey sisters after we came back from Hawaii… And it is the greatest pleasure to know these couples that very soon brought 4 Eva’s friends into this world. Isn’t it amazing to have friends even when you are unborn????
I left my pregnancy delivering a precious little pearl on June 08, 2010. We named her Eva Sofia.
Wow…. It was nice to make this time to be slightly poetic, while you have a little wild girl cruising around you, hanging on your pants, giggling and standing so proudly. My Little Precious Eva!
I love you all, thank you for the patience to read the story of my life before Eva… Stay tuned, cause NOTHING REALLY ENDS!!!