Saturday, December 31, 2011

wrapping up the year

It's officially New Year's eve.

I love New Year's. I'm a resolution kind of gal. I like a fresh start. The house is organized and cleaned. Life neatly tidied up. Goals listed out in my head, discussed with Rich at the dinner table. It's a blank slate and I'm ready for the next chapter.

My #1 goal for this coming year is to be present. I've spent the last few years on hold, pregnant, grieving, reflecting and struggling with the newness of motherhood. I rushed the moments, hoping for the future date when my situation would be better / different / over.

Not anymore. The moments, good, bad & uncomfortable are part of my story. I need to dwell in them so as not to miss what is flying by at warp speed.

We've ended the year with a bang at the Phee house. We seem to be getting into a groove with this whole "2 kid thing". I even updated our blog URL to

Alice is growing and changing so quickly. Charlie is talking more & more . . . and loving on his "sisssss-er". Here are some photos to remember our December. I'll do a separate post with my favorite photos of 2011 sometime in the new year. When I'm fully present.


Christmas Eve, west coast style

first skirt

Christmas Eve nap, Rich

first sibling bath

Christmas Eve

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rich's perspective

Photos from Rich's iPhone.

This is one of my favorite things to do . . . comb through his photos, pick the best of the best, and share them here.

Rich's iPhone collection, November & December

Rich's iPhone collection, November & December 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Aunt Bob

I'm referring to Robin, Rich's sister in Chicago. Charlie couldn't (or wouldn't) pronounce "Robin" so he refers to her as Aunt Bob. Which I find incredibly endearing and fortunately, so does Robin.

Another incredibly endearing thing? That Robin sends us THE BEST ornaments every year for Christmas. It's a tradition we started a few years back. Instead of pricey gifts, we exchange ornaments.

Here is my 2011 ornament from Robin -

ornament from Robin_12202011_December2011 (1)

Click here to see the 2010 ornament.

Thank you, Aunt Bob, for always being so thoughtful and nailing this whole gift giving thing.

We love you.

ho ho ho

Christmas is in full swing around here.

Every single gift is wrapped and stuffed under our tree. Except, of course, the pile of presents that Santa is bringing for Charlie. Those are stashed in the bed of Rich's truck. Covered with a towel. We have to be so careful that snoopy and clever Chazzy doesn't find them.

ho ho ho

Speaking of, little man had a Christmas party today. So of course he rocked his Christmas shirt. (I don't do "dressed up". This is as fancy as we get around here.)

on his way to a Christmas party

Christmas party

I'm looking forward to this holiday (for a change). It finally feels right, being here in California on Christmas day, our little family of four.

4 weeks old

Miss Alice,

4 weeks ago today you skyrocketed into my life, into this world.

Alice, 4 weeks old

You are such a mellow baby. You cry for two reasons: dirty diaper or empty belly.

You don't care much for pacifiers, unless it's one of these gigantic Soothies.

Alice, 4 weeks old

Your belly button fell off 1 day before your 2nd week of life. Your jaundice cleared up 1 week from the day you were born.

Newborn diapers don't fit you anymore. You're very close to not fitting in your newborn size clothes and the 0 - 3 month fit almost fit you perfectly.

Alice, 4 weeks old

Time is flying by. I'm trying hard to remember what your little grunts and growls sound like when we feed you, how you are now sleeping in 3 hour stretches and the way you love a warm bath.

Alice, 4 weeks old

1 month in. A lifetime to go.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

2 adults v. 2 kids

This 2 kid thing has been an adjustment. Everyone warned us. Everyone said "it'll take some time" or "having a 2nd is like having 6".

They were right. I can't really explain why it's tough in great detail. The best explanation is that I feel stretched. Physically, emotionally, financially. Like everything else, it will become the new normal. I know this.

I also know how lucky I am. Two healthy children. A home, a husband, our health. All of that. But it's hard focus on gratitude when you're emptying shit-filled diaper genies or you're so sleep deprived that you  can't remember how to set the coffee maker.

Here's what I am focusing on . . .

My 3 year old. Who is so sweet and gentle with his new sister.

charlie tub_12182011 (1) edit

My 3 week old. Who is mellow and healthy as can be.
Alice, 3 weeks + 3 days old

My husband, who has been endlessly patient with me and has been keeping the Phee Ship afloat.
Rich and Alice 10 days old_12052011 (1)

I'm looking forward to the next two weeks. Charlie is on break from school, we are in full Christmas spirit here and there's lots of hunker-down-at-home coming up.

My blog posts will probably pick up steam in the next few weeks or so. Hope everyone is having a stress-free holiday and I love looking through all of the Christmas cards that are hitting my mailbox.

The Phees

Papa Dickie

My Dad flew in to meet his 2nd granddaughter, his 3rd grandchild.

This is the same age (just a few weeks old) that my folks came to visit Charlie after he was born. So I really appreciate my Dad carrying on this tradition. He spent most of the trip holding, feeding and burping Alice. Doing what a Grandpa should do.

Dad's visit

Dad's visit

Dad's visit

He also squeezed in some very special Charlie + Papa time. A quick trip to the aquarium in Long Beach.

Dad's visit

Long Beach Aquarium

Dad's visit

Just Papa, Charlie and me. Charlie would run through the dark exhibits yelling "Papa Dickie! Where are YOUUUUUUU?!?!" if my Dad strayed too far. It was nice to see my Dad relaxed, enjoying the exhibits on west coast prawns or diving sea birds. In years past, he didn't really take the time to soak up these things. I'm glad he is now.

Dad's visit

We even managed an adults-only dinner at a steakhouse. Big fat steaks and some funny conversation is exactly what I needed during this rough time for me emotionally. And my Dad knew that. I was anxious about leaving Alice but my Mama Bear Marina watched both the kids. And called to reassure me that everyone was fine 10 minutes after we dropped them at the door.

It was an otherwise lazy and slow trip. A trip to the park. Lunch at Mimi's. Lots of movies and couch time.

Dad's visit

Dad's visit

Dad's visit

It's hard living so far from your family. It's hard to say goodbye when you drop them at the airport and realize the next time you see them, your little baby will be crawling.

Dad's visit

But it's wonderful to live in a city I love with a parent who supports me 100%. Who loves me, who takes time to visit, who worries when I'm sad, who feeds and burps my baby or chases my toddler through a public place. Who makes the best chocolate milk ever to feed my soul.

I love you, Dad. Thank you for a wonderful visit.


Monday, December 5, 2011


He loves her.

He calls her "sweetie". He hands her his dinosaur or a bottle and says "here you go, sweetie".

He touches her gently. Pats her head when she cries and says "shhhhh, it's ok. I'm here, Alice".

They will be friends, enemies, close, distant, the whole cycle of siblinghood. But they will have love.


3 years old

My first baby, my boy, my Chazzy, is 3 years old. He is goofy, feisty at times, sweet when he wants to be. He runs, jumps, knocks things over. He smells like a dirty little boy, even after a bath.

He thinks he is Spiderman and is always shooting Spidey webs at us. The sweatshirt you see in these photos . . . I think we're 10 days straight on wearing it.

Three. Three years ago I was pushing him into the world. Scared, excited, overwhelmed. I couldn't begin to imagine him at 3 years old.

But here we are. Three. Not yet potty trained and refuses to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. But that's how he has been his whole short life. He does it in his own time, on his terms. A major streak of independence has hit him. Everything he tries on his own and we can not assist.

His 3rd birthday was spent at a park in Seal Beach. Watching my baby run and climb and jump. Watching time fly by.

 Charlie 3rd Birthday

Charlie 3rd Birthday

Charlie 3rd Birthday

Alice Linda Phee

11 days ago, Alice Linda Phee joined our family. She came into the world fast and furious but is a peaceful and quiet baby.

Below are some photos for your viewing pleasure while I adjust to life as a mother of 2 in a very chaotic, "not yet settled" home. I will try to keep up on blog posts but please know that we are all doing well here. Healthy, happy, soaking it in.

Her birthday.
Alice on birthday_11242011 (3)

2 days old.
Alice_112611_1174 EDIT

4 days old.
Alice_112811_1127 edit

Mad Alice.
Alice 11 days_120511_1221

11 days old.
Alice 11 days_120511_1281 edit

the Four Phees

Thursday, November 17, 2011

34 years young

Today was Rich's 34th birthday. Which brings me so much joy because for the next few months, we are the same age. He can't talk about how I'm "so old" anymore. Nearly 3 months of no age teasing.

November 2011

I try to make sure there's a photo snapped of each of us every year on our actual birthday. The photo above is the quick picture I took this evening. I wish it could've been in beautiful lighting with a nice background in clothing other than office attire . . . instead, we are in our night time routine in our very messy living room.

But that's our life now. Busy parents of (almost) 2 kids. Jobs. Responsibilities. Calendars always running in our heads.

November 2011

34. Still gorgeous. Still generous. Still a wonderful husband and friend. He just has a few more labels added over the past few years. Namely, Dad.

Let's keep it real, though.

This is the t-shirt from Rich's friend J-dogg. Happy birthday, douche bag.

November 2011

The Ones Who Love You the Most

Thursday, November 10, 2011

rebel without a pumpkin

I'm totally snitching on Rich right now but I MUST share this.

We've had this pumpkin sitting on our counter now for a week. Rich keeps eyeing it up with a mischievous look.

A couple of nights ago, after Charlie went to bed, he stood in front of me holding the pumpkin and said "Do you think it would be really, really bad if I threw this onto [name of busy street by our house] so it could get smashed?"

Me: "Why?"

Rich: "Because I really want to smash this pumpkin".

Me: "Knock yourself out, bad boy". He goes outside.

5 minutes later he comes in and says "That didn't work out like I'd hoped" as he's getting paper towel & a plastic bag.

Me: "Are you going out into the middle of the street to clean it up?????"

Rich: "No, I felt too bad about throwing it into the street so I smashed it in our garage."

  rebel without a pumpkin

Yup, Rich smashed a pumpkin in OUR garage. Spewing pumpkin pieces all over his classic truck, the motorcycle, who knows what else. I sort of miss the good ol' days when he vandalized and terrorized public streets and strangers. Now my goody-two-shoes husband pulls stunts like tonight.

Oh, and complains when the local teenagers ride their skateboards after dark.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

tall and skinny

The title of this post is usually how I order my coffee at Starbucks. Random Marci factoid.

But really, the point of this post is how I'm feeling about the final days of being a mother of one. My Charlie, who spent most of the last 3 years in the average or squatty growth percentile, compact, solid, my little meatball. He has suddenly shot up, tall like his Daddy, skinny little rib cage and string bean build. It happened overnight, or so it seems.

He started to speak in full sentences on Halloween night. It's how he rolls . . . he doesn't ease into things. He just "does it" when he's ready. (Rich is like that. I am the complete opposite. I ease into everything I do. It takes me weeks to commit to a thank you card design, for example.)

Rich and I knew we wanted kids. We didn't talk about it much when we were dating or even first married but it was this known objective. We both came from close-knit families, those kind of child/parent relationships that were more good than bad. Family, for both of us, was a centering force for us - and still is. We just knew.

And from the moment I was pregnant with Charlie, I hoped & wished for a son. I wanted a boy that reminded me of my two brothers. Who could do father-son things with Rich because Rich and his Dad are two peas in a pod. My wish was granted.

The past 3 years have had their ups and downs. Life events interrupted my picture perfect vision of motherhood. The things that I thought would come naturally (like discipline), well, haven't. A once orderly life has become chaotic and at sometimes, overwhelming.

oldest child

I tried to soak it in, I really did. But I know I've fallen short of the soak-it-up goal many times. And now in the final days of being a mother-of-one, I am trying desperately to be present, attentive, to remember all these moments. Like total bed head and pjs in the morning.

November 2011

Getting him dressed in the morning, strapping tennis shoes onto his little feet. Deciding that brushing his wild hair would be a waste. Sitting next to him on the couch, him cuddling up to me, watching some silly cartoon on the iPad, his little face expressing every thing he's thinking about the classic Spiderman episode. The way he sprints down the hall on weekend mornings, straight into Rich's arms, to start the day. "I had a good nap in my special bed!"

November 2011

Heading out to our sidewalk four times in one night after the rain to look at a slug. Charlie reciting some story about that slug that makes no sense to us. Charlie dancing and spinning around the living room to Pumped Up Kicks every single time it comes on (and it's very overplayed right now).


It's going to be different, very soon, when the fourth Phee joins us. This single focus on Charlie will be splintered. The moments will get more chaotic, there will be need for more structure, routine. A tiny baby that needs so much so often. I'm worried that Charlie will quietly move into second fiddle. That I won't soak up as many little details as I have so far. I'm worried that I will blink and he will have grown up into this teenage boy that harbors some sort of Oldest Child resentment toward his little sister and his parents.

November 2011

But I'm also fairly confident none of that will happen. I think all of our lives will be just *this much* better because of our fourth. Odd made even, more dancing, more cuddling, more laughing, more love.

oldest child

Signing off, closing the laptop so I can sit next to Charlie and watch him chew his food. Because I'm weird like that.

oldest child