Am I doing it right? The struggle is real.

The days of summer can be long with two kids who have very “large” personalities, love to antagonize each other and have inquisitive minds. There are no more camps, one last vacation to Mexico before school begins and I’m trying to keep exploring with my little people.

Sawdust Festival, 2017.

Living in Southern California, there is always something to explore. The weather is usually close to perfect year round, the beach is down the hill from where we live, there are cultural events, museums and a vast art community near by.

One of our annual summer traditions is to go to The Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach. The festival features over 200 local artists who display their art, jewelry, photography and blown glass. The grounds are easy to walk around. Great food options for the entire family (think Mexican, burgers, sandwiches, ice-cream, beer). It has a sort of hippy vibe, typical of Laguna, with sawdust on the ground and people drinking beer and dancing to live music.

IMG_0935 (1)
The local Laguna artists on display.
FullSizeRender (11)
Live Music @ Sawdust Festival

I love seeing all the vendors work on display. We have picked up several pieces of art over the many years we have attended the festival. Before kids we used to walk around for hours, talking uninterrupted with the locals and listening to music all night. Well….times have changed! Leisure time is non-existent. That’s not a complaint, it’s just the reality.

Today the kids got to paint, dance to live music and make ceramic bowls and vases. They also indulged in some much-needed ice-cream and popcorn. Watching them today reminded me of how quickly time is flying by. There was a time not long ago where I had Sirous in a baby bjorn on my chest while walking around. Today, he’s his own little man who wants his own independence and no longer wants to come in to the women’s restroom with me. Ugh!

IMG_0888 (1)
Heart Warrior.
IMG_1045 (1)
Starting his ceramic project.
IMG_1055 (1)
Done!
IMG_1163
Finished product.

 

Then there’s Zara. A strong, vibrant, sometimes shy little girl. She doesn’t put up with crap from Sirous, but loves him with all her being. The two of them are thick as thieves. I am fascinated watching them interact, especially because I didn’t have any siblings. It amazes me how quickly they can go at it and then the next moment they are hugging as if nothing happened. I wish we all had this type of forgiveness in our hearts. Their love reminds me that I can be harsh and critical of people, instead of kind and compassionate. It’s one of my character defects. I guess being aware is the first step. I’m obviously a work in progress.

FullSizeRender (6)
The VW Van @ Sawdust
IMG_1083
Working on her bowl.
IMG_1103
My girl.
IMG_1071 (1)
Get dirty!

Part of what prompted me to write today was dealing with the struggles of being a parent in our highly competitive culture. Navigating through the journey of teaching my kids to be citizens of the world, letting them be who they are (not who I want them to be) and societal pressures. How much TV should they watch? Should they be in Kumon? TKD? Chess club? What level should they be reading at? How many chores should they have? With social media and all the “picture” perfect images of all the kids seemingly being the next Einstein, it’s a lot to take in sometimes. You also have the parents I call “One Uppers.”

Examples:

1) They make sure to let you know in every conversation that their child is doing XYZ and making gourmet meals for the family at seven years old.

2) I had a woman tell me her daughter knew the entire alphabet by 12 months old, even when she knew my son had had 2 open heart surgeries by that age and was behind in virtually everything he did. The fear and doubt that this created in my new mom head at the time was a lot for me emotionally. I wondered if he’d ever catch up or be where he was supposed to be. Well, guess what lady, I’m giving you the middle finger. He’s all that and then some. (See, my character defect has come out again….)

When I feel myself getting anxious or competitive, I am so grateful I get to verbalize it and not keep it in my head! I don’t need or want my kids to be robots. I don’t need them to be these perfect students who don’t think outside the box or read at 5.2 level in 1st grade! Can everyone just take it down a notch?

IMG_0870 (1)
Explore Little People!

I long for my kids to thrive in life, be excited about learning and loving! I long for them to be critical thinkers, contributors in society, kind humans and to have some sass. I want to be ok if my child decides to be an Arborist or Musician as opposed to a Doctor or Lawyer. I want to allow them to be their own unique person. So, that means I need to work on me being my own unique person. Not getting caught up in the academic game, or the look at me game or my life is perfect game. Let me tell you, my life is FAR from perfect. Dang! If only the world could see a glimpse of everyone’s imperfections, I think we would be much more compassionate and sensitive.

I hope some of you can relate to this post. I’d love to hear any feedback about how you struggle as a parent and what you’re doing to alleviate some of the pressure. We are all going to be ok!

Much love!

Z

 

 

 

He has my heart.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
My Warrior.

Yesterday, I got to spend the entire day alone with my son. No sister vying for my attention. Just the two of us, cruising around Lido Island. We walked along the docks, popped in to all the shops, met the owners, had lunch at Zinque and sat down in a quaint bookstore called Lido Village Books. As I watched him stroll the streets with confidence, greet people with a handshake and ask me a million questions, I had a glimpse of the man he would become.  I felt myself holding on to the moment so tightly. I wondered how much longer he would hold my hand as we walked? How many more times would he allow me to kiss him all over his face in public? Caress his hair as we sat down? I try not to get too far ahead of myself, but sometimes my heart beats out logic.

I also get that crazy mom thought of, “No woman will love you the way I do.” But one day, someone will love him that deeply and I assume I will accept that.

Until then, I am relishing in the moment. Loving him so hard, showing him bits and pieces of the world, watching his mind grow and enjoying the little boy he is today. I love you my warrior!

IMG_9329
He loves the sun.
IMG_9265
Lido Village Books.
IMG_9336
Lunch with a smile.

Heart Moms; “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” – Helen Keller

 

Heart Moms.

Just over 7 years ago my husband and I were told at our sons birth he had a grave cardiac defect called Tetrology of Fallot (TOF). He would need open heart surgery (OHS) within the first month of life, a second OHS at 8 months and his most recent surgery at 6 years old. If you’ve ever experienced having a sick child, I am here to say, I am sorry. The grief and sadness are very real. The complete devastation, isolation and depression can be too much at times.  I struggled at every turn after he was born. I felt as though I could break down any moment. My emotions were just under the surface of my skin. When I would share about our journey, I felt as if a layer of me was being peeled away. I could feel the emotion rise up in my throat and I would will myself not to cry. At times I couldn’t control it. The tears and grief would just flow out of me like a child who lost a parent.

When my son was about 1-year-old I discovered Hopeful Hearts Foundation, started by my now dear friend Terra Chez. Terra and her husband Adam started the foundation after the loss of their daughter Gracie. I picked up the phone and called Terra. When we finally spoke I felt a huge sense of relief…someone understood my pain. Someone validated me. Someone listened. The heart journey was just beginning.

Through Terra, I met an entire world of heart families. Parents whose kids had different cardiac defects than Sirous. Parents who lost children and somehow managed to wake up in the morning and persevere. Parents who knew what it was like to sleep in a hospital chair for days on end to make sure their child knew they were present.  Parents who questioned if their child would lead a normal life.

I found my people.

By allowing myself to be vulnerable, open and honest I met my “Heart Mom Squad.” We have been through some gnarly sh*t together. Rachel, Cecile, Danielle, Christa and Terra, you are my blood, my heart and you feed my soul.

Together we have walked through over 20 open heart surgeries, the loss of 3 children, cardiology appointments, many nights of laughter, crying and by God, fun! We’ve danced at dive bars, eaten some fantastic food, shown up at hospitals, delivered care packages, done spin at SoulCycle and hugged a lot.

Through it all we get to be ourselves. Completely and utterly flawed. Thank you for allowing me to know you. I wouldn’t want to walk this road without you all by my side. You will always be my Heart Sisters!

FullSizeRender (5)Sunset in Newport Beach

Sunset in Newport Harbor. Newport Beach, CA. OC Boat Rentals

Laguna Beach Sunsets

Often times I take for granted where we live. I drive by the ocean every day, see tourists so excited to explore our shoreline, yet I don’t walk along the beach enough. My kids seem to be the inspiration to get the sand on my feet.

Tonight after eating at our favorite Indian restaurant, Natraj, we walked down to the sand and watched the sunset.  The kids chased the waves, I snapped photos and my husband was watching while we laughed and played.  They give me gentle reminders to stay in the moment, enjoy the gifts and laugh a lot!

On the way home we sang songs, talked about our next adventure and discussed why we need the ocean to stay clean. I love these nights.

IMG_8476

Have a wonderful Saturday evening!

 

Venice: Where wall art lives.

One year ago July, my son Sirous had open heart surgery (OHS) to replace his pulmonary valve. For his cardiology appointments we head to UCLA to see his cardiologist. In an effort to create an experience that’s not only health related, we decided to make a weekend out of it.

Even though Los Angeles is only about 45 minutes from our house, we decided to get a hotel, explore the vibrant street art of Venice and have dinner in Beverly Hills. What kid wouldn’t want to do that? What adult wouldn’t want to do that?

When we arrived in Venice (Abbot Kinney) we had a spectacular meal at The Tasting Kitchen. The waffles with bacon inside, fried chicken spiced perfectly and the hand crafted beverages were to die for! It has a hip vibe, but not so much you feel put off. After filling up on brunch we headed out to the streets. Just walking up Abbott Kinney you feel like you’re in a different world. The art, the shops, the crowds. It’s a damn fun time! The wall I wanted to see was The Love Wall. It felt symbolic of our trip and I’m a sucker for anything heart related.

As you continue your journey on the street there are walls with animals, musicians and faces. It’s like being at an outdoor art museum! It was fantastic taking pictures of the kids, seeing all the locals and checking out the thriving coffee/food scene. I also like that you’re not in the hustle, bustle of Venice Beach. We got our Venice feel without being slammed by too many tourists. IMG_8208

fullsizeoutput_10ea7
Love Wall @ Abbot Kinney

IMG_8054fullsizeoutput_10eb3

Check out my YouTube video!