The brief, wondrous birth of Archibald Kevin


I didn’t mean to give up blogging completely during my cuarentena (literally, quarantine, and also the 40 day postpartum period). I know most of my readers have been introduced to Archie through my social media, but I had to write a birth story.

I loved going back to read Xavi’s birth story as those moments got lost in the day to day of raising an infant who transformed into a busy toddler. I also enjoyed hearing from other moms about how their experiences differed from their first child to second, third, etc. So, I had to record my own experience.


Six weeks ago, Archibald Kevin was born. We checked in to the hospital around 2. Archie arrived  at 5:13 pm. He was smallish at 6 pounds, 5 ounces, 19 inches long. Just like his big brother, he had a full head of hair.


Now, for the unabridged version.

I woke up on Monday, August 29th with contractions. It was about 5:30 am, a bit earlier than I typically wake up. The contractions weren’t too painful just yet. In fact, if I wasn’t 5 days past my due date, I’d think it was false labort. I tried to sleep through them, but was unsuccessful.

When Sean woke up, I told him I was having mild contractions. We went through the normal routine of breakfast and taking Xavi to daycare. Instead of going in to work, Sean returned to stay with me. Throughout the morning we timed the contractions, did a few loads of laundry, packed my hospital bag and watched a few episodes of Fresh Off the Boat. By late morning there was still no discernible pattern to the contractions and the pain was still mild.

I had a 12:30 midwife appointment. Since I was pretty sure I was in early labor, I called ahead and asked if I should keep it or just go to the hospital once contractions got closer. The nurse said I should go in to the clinic as they’d be able to tell me about how much longer I should labor at home before going to the hospital.

When I went in, the midwife confirmed that I was in early labor and 5-6 cm dilated and almost fully effaced. This surprised me given that I wasn’t in that much pain yet and the contractions weren’t even following a pattern.

“Do you have plans afterward?” she asked.

We were a little confused by the question.

“No, we have my hospital bag in the car,” I told her.

She suggested we make our way to the hospital and not delay too much given that this was my second child and I could progress quickly. She called the hospital and told them we’d be checking in shortly.

We went home, ate a little and called our parents to update them. Sean and I arrived at the hospital shortly before 2 pm.

I tried to go through the check-in desk quickly and was led over to a labor and delivery room. 

Once checked in, the midwife on duty and student midwife shadowing her came to check on me. They confirme that I was at 7 cm and  worked out a plan. I’d get the epidural, then they would break my water and hopefully things would advance fine from there.

By this point the contractions were definitely painful. I asked our nurse for an exercise ball to labor on while I waited for pain management. Sean put on some music (Mexrrissey and Juan Gabriel) to take my mind off the pain.

The anesthesiologist came in shortly after. While he did his work, he made small talk that fell flat.

“Where are you from?”

“Huh, what do you mean?”

“Yeah, are you from Ithaca?”

“No, I moved here from California last year.”

“Ah, California. The cereal state.”


“Yeah, it’s full of fruits, flakes, and nuts.”

I was a bit confused and annoyed, but it was probably because he was about to take a giant needle and stick it in my spinal column. I knew the whole procedure would be very uncomfortable even if worth the pain relief. I didn’t need him making dumb jokes.

I asked Sean to turn off the music, because I couldn’t focus on what the anesthesiologist was saying with “El Noa Noa” in the background.

I wish I could say the epidural worked like magic as it had with Xavi. Nope, there was no way I’d be able to nap or read a magazine this time.

Technically, the epidural did work and my legs felt tingly. But, I still felt a lot of pain from the contractions. It also didn’t help that I was required to be in the worst position for laboring and managing pain, on my back and then my side so I would continue to progress.

Sean told the nurse that I was still in pain, it didn’t seem like the epidural was effective. After confirming that it was working, the anesthesiologist said he didn’t want to make it stronger as it might interfere with effectively pushing. I wanted to argue and say that I couldn’t feel anything with Xavi and was able to push him just fine, but the idea of sitting still for him to redo it seemed even more painful. He and the nurse suggested pushing the button to get a boost of the medicine every 15 minutes and that helped manage the pain.

Soon, the midwife and student midwife were back. I was a bit nervous when I was told that with my consent, the student midwife would break my water. I know medical professionals need to learn but wasn’t excited about being part of someone’s teachable moment. Luckily, with her teacher guiding her she did fine and I continued to progress. They told me that soon I’d feel the need to push and should let the nurse know so they could come back for delivery.

I was a little nervous I wouldn’t feel the pressure and need to push. With Xavi, I never felt this urge. My midwife just informed me that it was time after I awoke from a nap. Despite my fear, I had no need to worry. Less than half an hour after the midwives left, I was calling them back. They confirmed that it was time and prepped the room/bed.

Sean stood by my side. It was all happening much quicker and soon we would be meeting our child.

I did as instructed and pushed. They offered words of encouragement and told me I was doing well as they could see the baby coming. I pushed for six minutes and the baby was out.


They put a quiet baby on my chest, there were no immediate wails. Nor was there an announcement from the midwives announcing the baby’s sex as you see in the movies. I quickly checked as the baby was handed to me.

A boy! Sean’s intuition was right all along.


I cuddled him and was overcome with emotion and love. I felt a rush of adrenaline and accomplishment. I did it. He was here.


I felt like Xavi’s birth happened in a dream, but with Archie I was fully present. I felt everything despite the epidural. I felt more supported and encouraged by the midwives and nurses attending to me. I relied on Sean more too, especially as the pain got more difficult and I needed to hold his hands or for him to advocate for me.


A few hours after Archie was born and we announced to our immediate families, Sean went to pick up Xavi. They returned and a very excited Xavi came in to meet his little brother. I’d never seen him smile like this.


It was wonderful and I’m so glad Sean caught the moment on video.

All photos by Sean.

Forty plus one

I wrote these thoughts yesterday morning. I now realize there’s a few similarities between what I wrote on Xavi’s due date and what I feel on Bubble’s due date.

I seem to have skipped the nesting phase. I didn’t have it big with Xavi either, but there was definitely more prep in readying our home.

I’m glad baby didn’t come over the weekend. Xavi’s babysitter was out of town. She’s our plan for when I go in to labor. We don’t have a backup. Unless, of course, baby comes once my parents arrive.

My mom and dad will be here in a week!

I went on maternity leave just as the fall semester was starting. The transition from summer university life to fall has always rankled me and I’m not sad to skip it.

Despite being on leave I’m still doing work from home. A busy summer meant getting work done but not planning as much as I needed to for leave.

I have a prenatal massage today. I double checked with the spa to make sure that I wouldn’t be charged for canceling late if I do go in to labor.

Currently reading A House of My Own: Stories from My Life by Sandra Cisneros and it’s amazing. I’ve already cried about three times. She feels like my wise tía and such a poet in the sense that she writes what others feel.

Part of what bummed me out about Xavi being a week late was waiting through important days. I thought it would be SO cool if he was born on Papá Chepe’s birthday. As the patriarch of a big family he had no birthday twins and it was time for at least one.

Added today

Lots of people ask me if Xavi is excited about becoming a big brother. Before a few days ago, I’d say I didn’t really know. And if he was excited, it wasn’t expressed the way he typically shows (jumping, eyes lighting up in that “oh, boy, oh boy!” sense).

But I think the efforts we’ve been making have helped. He has books about becoming a big brother and having a baby in the home. He’s seen the apartment start to be populated with baby things. On Saturday, he attended a “siblings are special” class at the hospital. We pushed it by scheduling the class just a few days before my due date, but the previous date didn’t work for me due to work. Xavi got to tour the labor and delivery ward again (he went with us the first time we toured), saw a real newborn in the nursery, made a birthday poster for baby, and got to practice helping change a baby’s diaper.

40 weeks

During his recent speech therapy appointment his therapist brought a baby doll. She told Sean that Xavi did really well feeding the baby, brushing hair, hugging and singing baby songs. He was very sweet and gentle.

He’s also started doing a baby act. He does a “wah waaah” cry if we mention a baby and wants to be held in a cradle position. I ask him what baby needs. Diaper change? Feeding? Cuddles? A nap? And he just laughs.

And at a recent baby shower, he gave a 2 month old baby a gentle hug unprompted.

Yesterday, Sean and Xavi went to pick me up at the spa. Xavi asked Sean if they were going to the hospital to get me and baby.

He still doesn’t say, “yes” if you ask if he’s excited. But I think he is.

As for how I’m feeling? No signs of labor starting — that’s what people really want to know. And okay, but uncomfortable as one would expect a woman to feel late in pregnancy. I took long walks while waiting for Xavi but won’t be doing that because it’s hot and humid. Plus, I’m just not that comfortable.

Enough: On reaching milestones

When he first smiled as a tiny baby, I remember thinking, this is amazing. It was enough. And then he laughed and I wondered, how did I ever know how beautiful life could be before I heard his laugh? And then he clapped and showed his approval when I sang and my heart felt like it was going to burst. It was the best compliment I’d ever received and I wondered how I even knew he liked the songs before he clapped and smiled approvingly.

Each of these little milestones floored me at the time. They were all enough in the sense that I didn’t think, “I can’t wait until he’s doing X.” In that moment, they were exactly what I needed and wanted as a new mom. My son was happy and healthy and, like the nursery song goes, he was showing it with his clapping and smiling. And yet, when he added something — words, songs, dances, expressions, his own jokes — it became even better.

How does it just keep getting better? This is the way it’s designed to be, right?

One day I’m singing the lullaby and then the next he’s singing along. One moment I’m leading bedtime prayers for his grandparents and other family members. The next he chimes in that he wants to pray for his iPad and Grandma Eula’s iPad. While Sean suppresses giggles, I call him a joker. Xavi doubles down with the banana, banana, banana, orange knock-knock joke. But it’s only the orange part, his favorite. When he clamors for songs from his favorite musical, Hamilton, I object because cabinet battles get him too riled up, not something conducive to bedtime. So I go with the lullaby, “Dear Theodosia.”

As I sing “and you’ll blow us all away, some day, some day” he joins in. It’s harmonious and perfect. He’s a good little singer. He gets it from his grandpa, my dad.

And I thought, this is amazing. He’s no longer a baby, but it’s still the best feeling. I know from just three years and a week into this that there will be many more of these moments (si Dios quiere), but they’ll catch me off guard. My response will likely be the same. I’ll be awed, amazed and bursting with love and pride.

I don’t yet know what it will be, but it will be enough. It always is.

Xavi is three


Xavi has been in speech therapy in Ithaca for less than a year. However, Sean and I have already met with a number of professionals in early intervention who consistently ask us to describe our son. The last time we did it was in a meeting with school district officials as Xavi’s impending third birthday meant he would age out of early intervention services through the county health department and his speech therapy would be handled by the local school district.

“Tell us about your son. What are his strengths? What does he like doing? What does he need to work on?”


Despite having to answer this question in some way, a number of times, the inclusion of “strengths” threw me off. I suspect Sean felt the same as he was silent longer than me. I read and write evaluations all the time at work, but didn’t want to feel like I was doing the same for my son.

Still, I answered.


I told them that at five days shy of his third birthday, Xavi was still enamored by all things related to trains (“toot toots”). He’s expanded his fandom to other forms of transportation. He loves anything that moves. Cars are fun to play with, he loves to ride the bus and gets excited when he sees the diggers at the construction sites around town. He asks to go to the airport too.


I told the two women who work with the school district, our current coordinator of services with the county and Xavi’s new speech therapist (his first one in Ithaca moved away a month ago), that Xavi likes books and puzzles. Since his exponential word growth began in March – same time he began going to a small group home daycare full-time – he’s added in singing. He sings “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” stealing my job as we go through the bedtime routine.


He’s very affectionate and loving, he gives the best hugs and sloppy kisses. He’s friendly and very good at remembering all the people in his life who love him tremendously. He’s taken more to pretend play with his toys. He loves bubbles, running and jumping on the bed, in puddles or on dad. Sean added that he’s great with directions and can probably lead you to any train table in Ithaca as well as Dunkin Donuts.

Xavi the Hamiltot

I forgot to brag that he knows his alphabet, can count to ten, knows his shapes and that he’s a Hamiltot, a toddler who has joined the Hamilton fandom (“Hamilwin” to him). [Look at my son! Pride is not the word I’m searching for, there is so much more inside me now!]


I noted that even though he is WAY more verbal than he was at this time last year, he can improve on his pronunciation. For example, he says “pip” rather than “chip” despite having no problem with “cheese.” The speech therapist called this fronting and stopping. Although Sean and I understand him about 75% of the time, he’s intelligible to those who don’t know him about half the time. When he talks to himself during play time he’s even less intelligible.

When we finished, one of the school district representatives, “Wow, you really know your son. He’s lucky to have such involved parents.”


Really, I feel lucky to be Xavi’s mom, to get to see him grow and change – while still being just as cuddly as ever – in everything from hair to speech to having a little brother or sister.



Today is Xavi’s third birthday. We celebrated over the weekend in Long Island. My mother-in-law invited family, neighbors and friends from church. When it was time for the cake, Xavi was so excited. He even sang “Happy Birthday” along with his guests.

The only downside was that we were rained out, but I don’t think Xavi minded because there were balloons, new toys and cake.

Happy birthday, Xavi!

Most photos by Sean [Flickr]. See his favorites from the past year on his blog.

The crying room

On Sunday we changed up our normal schedule. Rather than go to 10:30 am Mass at the church a few blocks away we chilled in our pajamas a little longer and opted for the 11:30 service across town. A plus of waiting would be that the second church has air conditioning and it was close to the mall so I could get a pedicure afterwards. Work has been very busy and stressful and I wanted to treat myself after the successful ending of two high school engineering summer camps for 89 juniors and seniors.


We arrived to church a little late and sat in a pew close to the door. Throughout the service, Xavi was a little noisier than usual. It wasn’t crying or screaming, but noticeable if you were sitting near us or if the church was quiet. Typically, we bring toys, books, crayons and snacks to entertain him. Still, some days he’s more active and noisy. No one has ever commented on his behavior.

Except Sunday.

Just as the priest was starting the Eucharistic Prayer (in a Catholic Mass, it’s shortly before Communion, everyone is standing and the priest is the only one speaking), Xavi crossed to the other side of our pew and walked in to the center aisle. I walked over to ask him to come back and he resisted a little as I pleaded. Just then, an elderly lady crossed the aisle to whisper to me, “You know, there’s a very nice children’s room.” She nodded back toward the children’s room, also known as a “crying room” in older churches.

I might’ve said, “Yes, I know.” But I’m not sure. I just wanted get back to the other end of the pew where Sean was standing and bring Xavi with me.

The comment stayed with me and made me more upset. Tears of indignation started to well up and I was noticeably sniffling. Sean tried to comfort me, but I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom to try and calm down. When I returned from the bathroom I told Sean I wanted to leave and we left right away. (I hate being an angry crier.)

Sean asked what the lady told me and was indignant too. “Xavi was hardly the only kid in there making noise.” He also noted that she had looked over at us several times.

Since I didn’t talk to the lady, I don’t know her intention. She may have thought she was being helpful, but I felt shamed especially given that she wasn’t sitting near us and went out of her way to inform me of the children’s room at a particularly quiet/reverent point in the Mass. Xavi was just being a toddler and Sean and I were doing the best we could. It also felt weird since we don’t usually go to this church and I’ve never used the “crying room”. I’ve peeked in through a window and it looks fairly small and like a place nursing moms might want to go to for more privacy.

I’m not opposed to choosing to use a room for families with small children. St. John Vianney — the church I grew up in — was fairly modern and didn’t have a separate room. St. Augustine, the church we attended in Culver City, was many years older and had a children’s room. Once Xavi was more mobile, we’d sit in there most Sundays. It was often nuts and sometimes the sound system didn’t work so as adults we barely heard anything except the kids. I also didn’t like being separated from some of the more active parts of the service, like singing. And there was that one time when older kids were not nice.

I see children’s/crying rooms like a nursing cover. No one should make you use one. If it’s your style, then go for it. It’s illogical to expect all parents of small children to hide away. We wouldn’t even fit in there!

I’d rather not use a children’s room these days. I like that Xavi participates in his own way in the service. On Sunday before he started getting more antsy, he tried to sing along to the hymns. It was cute.


I wish I hadn’t let that lady get to me so much, that I would’ve just forgotten her words. But that’s never been my style. I’ve always gotten too emotional and now that I’m pregnant and a mom who wants to protect her son it’s worse. Plus, being homesick and missing the younger, more diverse church communities we were used to adds another element.

But people are going to judge whether it’s in a church that has couples promise to raise their children as Catholic, in a restaurant, airplane or mall. I should probably develop new coping mechanisms or retorts.

This time around

I say/write “this time around” a lot these days when talking/writing about my pregnancy. I can’t think about what’s happening now without my reference point of 2012/13.

It’s all feels so different and that amazes and baffles me. How could it have been so easy just a few years ago? Why am I still feeling morning sickness/nausea at the end of the 2nd trimester?

The big — and most important — things are still the same. Once again I’m experiencing an uncomplicated rather “easy” pregnancy and all signs point to carrying a health baby. I can’t complain.

But I still think I should write something, just so I have it for reference to look back on. If these kids ever want to know what they were like in utero, I can go to my archives and say, “Xavi, we called you Meatball and you didn’t kick me until 23 weeks! I was totally freaking out. And ______, we didn’t find out if you were a boy or a girl. Your nickname was Bubble and you began kicking/punching around 18 weeks.”

Bump and Xavi photobomb

What’s the same:
Relatively uncomplicated
Carrying “small.” I haven’t gained much weight, but ditched my pre-pregnancy pants around 20 weeks.

Seemingly everything.

Health care
Since we moved states and I have a new employer, I have different health insurance and new healthcare providers. In LA I had Kaiser Permanente, a large HMO. I was assigned an OB/Gyn after my first same-day appointment at about 5 weeks just to confirm I was pregnant with a blood test. My doctor was pretty awesome and my prenatal care was truly “covered.” I never had a co-pay for any visits or anything diagnostic such as a test or ultrasound. In fact, the only thing I paid for was parking until delivery/hospital stay which was a reasonable co-pay of $250. We did pay for optional labor and newborn prep course. All labs, ultrasounds — which I had every single visit — and breastfeeding support was covered. I never even saw a bill from Kaiser.

This time I’ve found a local practice that has both midwives and ob/gyns. I’ve opted to only see the midwives as I’m comfortable with that. Instead of seeing the same provider every four weeks, I see whoever is available when I schedule. So far, I’m happy with my care but grumbling about co-pays, co-insurance and prenatal care that isn’t 100% covered as I thought when I chose my benefits plan. I was pretty confused when I got my first bill for the first trimester blood draw to test things like my iron level. I know I’m fortunate to have insurance and we can afford the costs, but it’s still much different. As for quality of care, gone are the days of seeing my baby at every appointment. I took that for granted with Xavi, but was so excited for the 20-week anatomy scan because I’d get to see baby again! The baby’s profile looked so much like Xavi and I can’t wait to see what he/she looks like. I do have competent, kind and respectful caregivers. They don’t treat me like I’m ancient just because I’m 35 years old or push extra tests on me.

Xavi and Bubble

I had it pretty easy with Xavi. I tell people that on the same day I went in to labor at 41 weeks I took a long midday walk hoping it would help get labor started since I was scheduled for an induction the next morning. The walk was more of a hike since the 5-mile route is pretty hilly. I didn’t run, but I did stay active through walking and generally felt okay. I had my weird dizzy spells, but was able to get through them okay and never actually fainted. As for nausea/morning sickness, it was fairly mild.

Bubble is kicking my butt. My morning sickness in the first trimester was much worse than with Xavi. I was happy on the days I kept all my meals down. Once the fatigue and nausea let up in the second trimester then the constant colds started. This coincided with Xavi starting daycare. I got whatever he got, but worse and for a longer period. The congestion made my symptoms worse. All the sickness has probably contributed to slower weight gain. I also have more aches and pains. It’s probably a combination of second pregnancy, age and being heavier than I was in 2012/13. I’m also feeling the effects of being less active. I get tired walking short distances or being on my feet a lot. I know with the Ithaca heat and humidity I’ll feel more uncomfortable.

I didn’t feel Xavi move until nearly 23 weeks. It stressed me out. When he did move, I never felt it was uncomfortable, no sharp kicks or jabs. It was most amusing when he had hiccups. I’ve felt Bubble move since 18 weeks and he/she is pretty active. It’s nice to be in the middle of work and be distracted by Bubble dancing around in there, but sometimes it just feels weird. 

We also don’t know the sex. I liked knowing with Xavi. Since we were preparing a nursery and my family was planning a big baby shower, it gave some guidance on how we wanted to decorate or what gifts family/friends might want to buy. I know that’s not necessary, but gender neutral clothes is harder to find than it should be. Once we found out baby was a boy, it made things more concrete and helped us move forward on the name.

With Bubble we are not setting up a new nursery and already have all the key baby equipment. If the baby is a boy, then he’ll have tons of hand me downs. If a girl, she can wear Xavi’s clothes too and I know her grandmothers will go nuts buying her new stuff.

With Xavi we had a shortlist for boy and girl names midway through. We had a front-runner by 6 months.

I’m not sure we even have a shortlist yet. (Update: Sean disagrees and is lobbying for his first choice boy name. He’s also convinced we are having a boy.)

B&W party pre-pic

Emotions, excitement and stuff
I’ve read about other women not connecting as much to a second pregnancy. I can relate. It’s not that I’m not excited, but a lot of the preparation we did for Xavi isn’t happening this time around for space/logistics reasons.

Being away from our families and almost all our close friends adds another layer. In LA, my mom and sister would be oohing and aahing over my bump and friends would ask the standard questions, “Do you know what you’re having? Any names?”

Here, few people actually know I’m expecting and if they do they’re not asking questions which I think is a factor of age. From my previous experience, I knew that college/grad students aren’t that excited about babies. In LA it seems like everyone is pregnant. Four of my cousins have had babies this year or are expecting and a few close friends have also had babies.

I did feel some of the excitement when I was in LA recently for Adrian and Alexis’ wedding. It seemed like all my tías and cousins had an opinion on the baby’s sex based on how I was carrying (low vs high) or if Xavi was clingy/jealous. I also got to meet/see some of the new babies in the family/friend group. Xavi even held his newest baby cousin, 2.5 month old Zack, and it was adorable.

I definitely feel Bubble and think about him/her, but I have a lot less time to just sit around and contemplate this baby and think about how our lives are going to change. I already know what labor and birth is like, though I know better to expect the same. This goes for newborn life too. When I get home, I’m not reading my baby book or pregnancy blogs. I’m playing with Xavi, doing the dishes with him, reading to him or trying to get ahead on work for the next day. And I’m thinking of how to prepare Xavi too.

The womb where it happens

This is how I wanted to announce my second pregnancy. Because small Hamilton obsession.  (Nope, still haven’t seen it.)


Sean didn’t even like me joking about waiting a month to tell him just so I could use the line from That Would be Enough. I didn’t. He found out right away, not that I could’ve kept it a secret. Yay first trimester nausea and vomiting (worse this time around). Now it doesn’t make sense because I’ve known since before Christmas. 

I have to admit that Sean’s pregnancy/pop culture mashup announcement is better. It features big-brother-to-be, Xavi, required when announcing a second pregnancy via social media.  And Star Wars may be a bit more recognizable than Hamilton. 

Enjoy the video

Oh! I’m due mid/late August, currently 20 weeks. We don’t know the baby’s sex despite being able to know rather early due to a blood test for chromosomal abnormalities. Since they look at chromosomes they can tell the sex with 99% certainty. No need to wait until the anatomy scan or for baby to be in a showy mood. I took the test at 14 weeks, but didn’t look at my results. The midwife just gave me info about the relevant results for baby’s development and health. We will likely wait until birth, much to the chagrin of the grandmothers. They don’t like that they’ll have to Wait for It.

Tips on preparing Xavi for his transition to big brother status are welcomed! 

Apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda for bastardizing his song title. 

The first Ithaca winter

Earlier this year I tweeted.

I made it a mini goal.


I had three key reasons. First, weather posts on social media seem a bit lazy. There are so many other things to post about. Second, I wanted to avoid any responses from friends and family in LA gloating about the 70-80 degree weather in the winter months or the “I told you so” comments. I don’t need reminders of how nice and warm it is in LA this time of year, I see it all over social media. Last, I wanted to avoid the “welcome to real winter” comments. As an LA/Southern California booster of sorts, I chafe at comments that my hometown doesn’t have a “real winter” or seasons in general. Why does northeast/midwest winter count as “real winter” when the country (continent, planet, etc) is home to a variety of climates? It’s silly to think winter much closer to the equator and at sea level would be as cold as it is several degrees north. Plus, someone always has it worse. I’m sure Canadians laugh at what a NYer calls cold.

Running around in the snow

All that said, I haven’t had much to really complain about. Winter hasn’t been that bad. Ithaca/upstate NY avoided the big snowstorm that hit NYC and the mid-Atlantic about a month ago with record snowfalls. The temps have been mild for the region, especially compared to last winter, so I’m told. Ithaca and the university are really good about dealing with the snow we do get (max has been a few inches/day). The university doesn’t even do snow days. I don’t drive to work so I don’t need to deal with brushing off snow or waiting for the car to warm up each morning. I don’t need to spend much time out in the elements because the bus stops are 4-6 blocks away (max) and 1 block away (minimum). And we don’t have driveways or sidewalks we need to shovel or maintain in the winter.

Long coat status

Of course, I had to upgrade my winter gear. I bought a short down coat (Nordstrom Rack, for the win). This replaced my every day wool blend coat that no longer closes (this one). My generous in-laws gave me a long and very warm down coat for Christmas that is perfect for the days it’s in the 20s and below. I haven’t had to buy any additional underclothes to keep me warm under thin pants because the coat does it’s job. Sean and I exchanged snow boots as Christmas gifts and my sister hooked it up with warmer gloves.

Exploring the Children's Garden

Xavi is still adjusting to Ithaca winter. He has fleece-lined jeans, snow pants and a few puffy coats. We try to get him to keep his hats and mittens on, but he/his hair have their own ideas. He insists on being carried when it’s colder than the 40s, but otherwise he’s happy running around.

Wind chill warning

Sure, there are weekends when I just want to hibernate. See above. (I didn’t even know wind chill warnings were a thing.) Sean was the only one who went out that day and it was only for very quick errands. It took him longer to get dressed than to run the errands. I didn’t think Xavi needed to experience what -22 feels like. That weekend was an exception.

Overall, we’re managing, but I do miss hoodie weather and almost all things LA (not traffic though, Ithaca is nice in that regard). But what’s new?

2015 Bookishness in Review



75 books overall. CHECK.

10 books from my bookshelf. I read 7/10 in this category.

24 books fulfilling the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge criteria. CHECK.

6 books meeting the What’s in a Name Challenge criteria: CHECK!

  • -ing Word: Late-Talking Children: A Symptom or a Stage? by Stephen Camarata
  • Color: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
  • Familial relation: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
  • Body of water: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
  • City: Still Water Saints by Alex Espinoza (got creative with this one as the fictional city in the book is Agua Mansa which translates to “still water”)
  • Animal: 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

5 books from NPR’s 100 Must-Reads For Kids 9-14 list: CHECK.

  • A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

52 books from Pop Sugar’s Reading Challenge. CHECK with tons of overlap.


Thanks to Melissa/Feminist Texican for the idea to use to organize my reading.


Top ten favorite novels (alpha order):
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Still Water Saints by Luis Espinoza
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henríquez
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kawn
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Young adult and middle grade novels:
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson [poetry]

Short story collection:
Night at the Fiestas by Lisa Valdez Quade
We Live in Water by Jess Walter

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle
Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar
Late-Talking Children: A Symptom or a Stage? by Stephen Camarata

Memoir or essay:
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Favorite new (to me) authors:
Louise Erdrich
Angela Flournoy (best debut)
Celeste Ng
Roxane Gay

Lived up to the hype:
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Most over-hyped:
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Favorite covers:
All the Light We Cannot See had a neat sheen to the cover and even though I read The Buried Giant in ebook form, I still checked it out at a bookstore and it looked pretty.

Dinnison Doerr

Ishiguro Sloan

Woodson LeeOmalley