Monthly Archives: April 2012

I heart Piper


While I do love my little Miss Piper, I actually am writing to tell you about another little Piper. (Oh wow!  When I just went to her shutterfly page to add it to the bottom of this, I just saw that she is Piper Lee, just like my Piper Lee!)   A little girl named Piper who hasn’t even turned 2, and yet she is facing some challenges that the rest of us hope we never have to face.  Her parents always thought she was 1 in a million, and recently they have found out she is actually 1 in 10 million.  Little Piper is fighting a rare disease called Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome.  I don’t know this little girl, but I was moved by her story when I read it in the paper.  Maybe it was her name, maybe it was her age, maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t imagine putting myself in her parents shoes.  Piper’s parents are both teachers in Brian’s school district and over the weekend the local schools and community came together to put on a charity carnival.  We marked out calendars weeks ago for the big day, and Piper hung the newspaper article on her bedroom door.

even this picture makes me cry

The carnival was packed!  Volcom was there with a booth where the kids could silkscreen their own hats, college boys, from the fraternity that Piper’s dad was in, were there manning the blow-up obstacles and slides, the local high school started a club Pray for Piper which had a game booth, there was a food truck, professional DJ, I ♥ Piper t-shirts and bracelets, lots of sweets and lots of games.  Such a fun event and yet, I was on the verge of tears at least a half a dozen times.  Once when I saw this picture, because I think none of us ever imagine “it”, whatever “it” is, will happen to us  But also joy welled up in me as I was amazed at the outpouring of support.  I was in awe of the way that community looks when it comes together for a common cause.  There is no way Piper’s mom and dad could have pulled off such an event without the help and support of their personal and professional communities.

I came home that night and heard that another little fighter was given some bad news.  Miss Daisy Merrick has been diagnosed with cancer for the 3rd time in 3 years and she is 7 years old.  We have been praying for this little girl.  We have celebrated when the cancer went away and grieved when it returned.

cancer hasn't stopped Daisy from dressing up like a it.

All of this has made me thinking there are no guarantees.  We are not guaranteed a long full life, free of heartache and trials.  We don’t even necessarily deserve that.  My resolution this year was to “choose joy”, to look at situations through the “joy” lens.  No doubt that Daisy and Piper’s families are suffering in ways they never imagined they would.  But perhaps what inspires me the most is to see their parents’ hope and joy even in suffering.  Daisy’s parents talk about “peace in the midst of pain”, how unimaginable that seems!  While I hope that I never have to experience such a trial, I too, hope that I would be able to find peace.

To find out more about Daisy and Piper check out their sites:


Not so picture perfect


I try to be a good mom, I think we all do.  We all fail, we won’t be the “perfect parent”, we will make some of the same mistakes our parents made, as well as fail miserably in areas that they seemed to have perfected.  But still, I try.  Perhaps not any harder than anyone else.  My life isn’t perfect, and I hope that it doesn’t seem that I am portraying otherwie.  I am so incredibly blessed, but that doesn’t mean that I always realize it or dwell on it.  I look at pictures of when my mom was a child or my grandparents and everything just looks so perfectly captured on these small little photographs.  And now with the digital age our pictures can quite possibly be even more deceiving.  We can take 100, delete 90 and forever have memories of the best of the best.  Believe me, you rarely see pictures of me on my blog because I don’t want anyone seeing what I look like most days.  It’s scary really!  Did you read my post when I scared myself when I saw what I looked like? (okay, not totally what I looked like, the camera did have the bulge effect on, but still.  Click here to see.)  I want to wear makeup and cute vintage-y dresses, but I don’t most of the time.  I want to wear cute shoes, but more often I am sporting flip flops.  I want to have a clean house and wear and apron and greet my husband at the door when he comes home with a sheet of fresh baked cookies.  But that is a far cry from my reality.  My reality is messy, it is plain, it is comfy clothes and pony tails.  It is sometimes freshly baked goods, and with it a counter and sink full of dirty dishes.  That is the truth.  I woke up yesterday on the wrong side of the bed.  I am not sure why, but I think it had something to do with my crazy dog chewing on something he isn’t supposed to.  Then, it was Tatum pulling the eggs off of my egg tree and catching it before it came crashing to the ground.  And then after that it was a very interrupted 4 minute phone call with my mom.  I found myself closing myself in the bathroom and then what do you know?  The bathroom door opens.  I yelled, “Can I please be alone for 2 minute?!”  My fuse was short and I needed a personal time-out so that I could regain my composure.  And I got one.  I went to the gym and took a Pilates class, but not before yelling one more time.  This time I yelled at Piper, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”  She makes up nonsense words sometimes and we are supposed to guess what she’s talking about.  Well, this time I didn’t feel like trying to guess what her “broom broom” shoes were.  And she ever so calmly responded, “Well, somebody is in a bad mood.”  That is right.  That would be me.  Guilty.  And so I apologized, loaded them in the car, happily dropped them off in childcare for an hour to myself and picked them up refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day.  Though motherhood is sometimes ugly, the ugly voice comes out, the ugly clothes never get changed, the ugly mess sits around for way too long, we are not alone.   I am pretty sure that even though my grandma looks lovely in the old photos that I see, smiling with a baby on her hip and two small children attached to her legs, that she had her moments too.

I have this virtual life that you see that portrays some of my reality, my Christmas card life that portrays only a snapshot of my reality and then then there is the rest.  The rest is made up of laughter and tears, dirt and cleanliness, fights and making up.  Sometimes we are glad there are no cameras around, but it is those times that might even make us normal.

Terribly terrific Tatum Paloma turns two!


It is hard to celebrate Tatum’s birthday without recalling her grand entrance into this world.  I questioned posting my email to friends and family about her birth on here because now it is out there for all to see!  But I am going to do so.  It holds so many memories and while it may be a bit graphic at some parts, aren’t all childbirth experiences?  There are mistakes that I didn’t correct, what can I say, I wrote this from the hospital with a brand new baby.

sweet baby girl

Tatum Paloma Ristow arrived at 2:50 am April 14th and I will try to give you the scoop in a nutshell.

I had a gynie appointment on Monday and found out I was dilated 4 cm.  That was exciting, I thought, “wow, if only the next 6 cm could be this easy!”  I had no real signs of labor, but after that appointment I had a few contractions that afternoon.  Nothing serious, and then they went away.  Nothing Tuesday until bedtime and then I was having a few sporadic contractions.  I couldn’t fall asleep that night and Brian asked if I was okay. I said, “I am having some contractions, but that is not the problem.  I can’t sleep because I feel like she is dancing inside.”  Well, finally I fell asleep to be woken up by contractions at 1:20 in the morning.  I decided to grab my phone to start timing them as it was her due date and I knew that soon she had to be coming.  Maybe this time would be it.  My first contraction I timed, the was at 1:26, then 1:33, then 1:34.  “What?” I thought, “That was only 1 minute?”  They weren’t strong though, so I wasn’t that concerned.  I got up, got a bowl of muesli and figured I would just keep an eye on them and get up for a little while.  I ate my cereal, emailed back a friend and my sister, and then went on facebook.  At 1:51 I wrote, “I’m in labor!”  Still, very mild, just like cramps, but they were pretty regular.  So, at 2 I woke up Brian and I told him I think he should get up.  I said, the contractions weren’t that strong, but they were close together.  My midwife said I should go to the hospital when they were 10 min. apart because 2nd births are quicker.  So Brian got up and he said, “Do I have time to take a shower?”  I told him that was fine.  I was getting things together and calling my friend, Liza who was going to be coming over and staying the night.  Brian went to get Liza and I called my mom to tell her we were heading to the hospital.  At this point I was pretty nervous.  They were getting stronger and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do this drug free.  I knew it would be fast, but even 2 or 3 hours would be fast, and I didn’t think I could handle the pain for that long.  I quickly explained things to Liza while Brian emailed his sub plans and at 2:34 we were on our way to the hospital.  I said, “I am weak!  As soon as we get there I am going to ask for an epidural.  I don’t want to do this.  I am so afraid.  I am so afraid they are going to tell me it is too late for an epidural and they I will have to feel this pain for a long time and I can’t do it.”  So as you can see things went from period cramps to pretty painful in a matter of minutes.  Our parking ticket showed that we arrived at 2:47 and we pulled into a spot in the garage.  We rushed out of the car and I climbed 4 steps to the main level when I got a super strong contraction.  I had to stop and hold onto the wall.  I said, “I feel like I need to push, but I can’t I can’t push!” (sorry if things get graphic, but I am just going to tell you the whole story, okay?)  I knew I couldn’t push, because we were in a stairwell first of all, and second of all, I was afraid that if I pushed, that I would be pushing a poo out and I didn’t want to poop in my paints.  Brian said, “do you want me to get a wheelchair, I see one right inside” “Yes!”  As the urge subsided briefly I began making my way to the entrance, but i only made it about 20 feet.  I felt the urge to push again.  At this point, I am freaking out and Brian is doing great, but he is running around like a mad man too.  He is telling me “sit, sit, sit”.  “I can’t sit!”  I put my hands down my pants and felt the bag of water.  I told Brian, “get that nurse inside, the baby is coming!”  He ran inside and got this nurse who was on break flirting with the security guard he said.  When he ran back out I was on my knees holding onto the wheelchair.  Brian pulled down my pants and the nurse said, “no no, she needs to sit!”  And Brian said, “no this baby is coming!  I see the head!”  And then he caught Tatum, I heard her little cry and Brian kept saying “she’s beautiful she’s beautiful”.  Meanwhile the nurse was yelling at this man delivering newspapers to get help.  Apparently, he was too busy and couldn’t help, so Brian handed the baby off and ran inside again to call for more help.  Some nurses from the labor and delivery came down and one took off her jacket to wrap the baby and then I guess they cut the cord.  They asked what her name was and Brian said, “Tatum”.  That was when I knew for sure what her name was going to be.  It was my first choice name, but Brian’s was always Paloma.  I then said, “what do I do?”  I mean I had bloody disgusting pants around my legs and didn’t want to pull them back up.  I am not sure what happened, but they put a papery blanket over me an wheeled me upstairs.  At 3 o’clock Brian took a picture of the clock and we are up in a room and Tatum is laying on me and we are all safe.  Who would have thought?  What a crazy 30 minutes that’s for sure.  After getting stitched up, yes unfortunately, I still tore, I said, maybe we should give her a name that will help her remember her grand entrance into this world.  Brian said, “Parker” for being born in a parking lot.  So, I told him he could decide the middle name, and finally, today before leaving the hospital he decided on Paloma.  He really liked Parker, but was afraid if he used it, he might never get to use Paloma.  So, Paloma it is.  She weighed just under 7 lbs. 12 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long.  She is just perfect, and we have fallen in love with her.  I was really counting on her being quite different from Piper, because I hear that it is common to have your first and second be so opposite.  I am not sure there is room for 2 Piper’s in this world, but she looks a lot like Piper as a baby, but her head is not as round.  She is also quite feisty like Piper was.  If she is not sleeping, which she is a good sleeper already, but when she is not sleeping she is usually crying.  We will see, maybe it is just the shock of this new world. 

The Ristow Bunch

Tatum taking a picture at the spot where she was born (so close, yet so far)

And now we have a two year old.  How time flies.  She is kind of a crazy little kiddo and she makes us laugh all the time.  She does goofy faces and talks in silly voices just to be funny.  She runs away and giggles when I’m trying to change her diaper.  She throws herself down onto the bed, floor whatever is close when she sees me approaching her with a hairbrush.  She’s started talking a TON in the last month or so and she copies everything she hears.  Last year Piper couldn’t wait until she could understand Tatum and now she can!  Tatum is Piper’s biggest fan.  If I leave to go anywhere, even just the store, and Piper is with me she will start crying and calling for Piper.  If I take Tatum somewhere without Piper, she starts crying.  She wants to be doing everything her big sister is doing.  Tatum loves dancing, swimming playing at the park, and attempting to stand on her head, oh and airplanes too.

We had a party for the girls last month, but we had to do a little celebrating on her actual birthday.  It actually started the night before when she spent her first night in a big girl bed!  The girls’ room is so tiny and I was anxious to get Tatum out of the crib and get a trundle so there would be one less piece of furniture in the room.  We got a beautiful trundle from some friends and prepared the girls for their first “sleepover”.  Tatum has never slept in the bed with us, and has gone to bed every night and every nap in her crib or possibly pack n play, but never a regular bed that didn’t have her trapped inside.  It went amazingly well.  Piper rubbed her back and sang to her a made up song about staying in her bed and not getting up and going to sleep (such a good big sister).  And off to sleep they went!


Then on Saturday, we woke up, picked up some breakfast burritos and headed to a parking lot that backs up to the airport to watch the airplanes take off and land.  It has become a Wednesday morning ritual for the me and the girls and Tatum loves it.  So, we thought we would take Daddy along, and Grandma too.  Tatum loved watching the airplanes and the noise but not as much as she loved her cupcake.  She has a serious sweet tooth.  She even has tried to pick gum off of the curb!

After that we came home for a nap and when she woke up her Nana and Papa were here.  We decorated our new fort with little flags and birthday signs and a candle in a special #2 vase and enjoyed another cupcake!  Some days call for two cupcakes, what can I say?

the "downstairs"

Tatum and Nana "upstairs"

And then it was time for bed.  But this time it didn’t go as smoothly.  Perhaps it had something to do with having two cupcakes, who knows?  Tatum figured out how to open the door and as she walked out with her sleepsack on looking like Maggie Simpson as her feet seemed to slide across the floor she didn’t want nothin’ to do with going to bed.  But she finally fell asleep and when we went to check on her we found her on the ground, face covered and her foot propped up on the wall.

And that’s how we celebrated the terribly terrific Tatum Paloma.  Okay, one more picture of her in her new itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini that she wants to wear all the time now.  I apologize for the poor quality pictures lately, I seem to have misplaced my camera charger, so I’ve been snapping away with the phone.

She always loves to put her glasses on upside-down

Spring Break!


Palm Springs used to be the Spring Break destination.  I am not sure why that is.  Sure it is hot, but why not go to Hemet?  Hemet is hot and has probably the same percentage of senior citizens and is about an hour closer.  No more crazy spring breaks for me.  Now we are a family of five.  Yep that’s right, I said family of five, and no I am not expecting a third.  However, having a puppy is seriously the equivalent to having a terrible two year-old.  We were thinking about going to Big Bear to enjoy the last snow of the season, but we opted out and decided on just relaxing and staying home.  We hosted Easter at my house.  Thirty-five people and my house is less than 1,000sf.  Thank goodness the weather was great and we were able to be outside the whole time.  But after that, I definitely wasn’t looking forward to packing up and making the trek to the mountains.

I don't make my kids wear swim caps at the beach, really. Piper just likes to and so naturally Tatum wants to as well.

So, instead we enjoyed a day at Crystal Cove,

took some family walks (sometimes with two kiddos in a single stroller),

This was taken they day they hatched!

worked in the yard and have been enjoying our new feathered friends,

built a super fun (and slightly dangerous) fort

and went to Griffith Observatory!

And last, but definitely not least, we celebrated Tatum’s 2nd birthday.  But that deserves a post of its own.  I’ll work on it.

Oh Happy Day


Easter was truly amazing this year.  Francis Chan spoke at the Pacific Amphitheater and my aunt, uncle, cousins, sister, niece, nephew, parents, in-laws, ex-in-laws and foreign house guests all came along!  And what a joyous day it was.  Last year, the message was super powerful and we watched hundreds of people go down and get baptized right there on stage.  Some who were planning on it and others who went down and got baptized in their Easter best!  And so this year, we hosted Easter and invited the family to join us for Easter service.  Francis Chan said, “some of you don’t know it, but in just a few minutes, you are going to be down here getting baptized”.  He talked about the old self dying and being made new in Christ.  He gave an fitting illustration of how it is the work of the spirit and not his words.  And while I just sat there and listened something was going on in the minds and hearts of those around me.  He called people down to come repent, and be baptized.  And at that moment, my sister’s ex-husband, hopped out of his seat and went down to be baptized. It was truly a celebration as we sang and worshiped and applauded all those that were being baptized.  I went down to take some pictures along with my mom and when we came back, my step-dad told my mom, “you’re mom went down there!”  And so back down the steps we went to witness my grandma be baptized.  Seventy-five years old and dressed up for Easter, she took the plunge into new life.  I asked her if she wanted a black t-shirt and she said her dress was wash n’ wear.  She hung out at our house and enjoyed lunch and watched the kids do the egg hunt and never fixed her hair or changed her clothes!  That really is so unlike my grandma, she is always reapplying her Wet n’ Wild lipliner.  What a joyous occasion and such a memorable Easter!  I love my grandma and even though I am one of her 57 or so grandchildren (including great grandchildren), she always makes me feel special and even the fact that she came out from Arizona to celebrate with us meant so much.  I have so many special memories with her, but this definitely is the cherry on top!


a good laugh


Part of the joys of being married to a Special Education teacher are some of the stories my hubby shares with me when he comes home.  I thought I’d pass a few on in case you found them as humorous as I do.

One boy, apparently a smart little lad(compared to who, I don’t know), who lacks social skills (and some basic common sense it seems as well), sat down next to a fellow student for lunch and asked, “So how many legs do you have?”

A girl student was writing about their trip to Home Depot where they made a project.  I am sure her mom would have wondered what they were teaching her at school because she wrote that she made a penile box.  Penile and pencil, may look similar, but not two words you want to mix up!

And Brian being the conscientious citizen that he is takes public transportation to work.  That is not normal around here, we live in an area where every household has at least two cars and so the people that are on the bus can sometimes be quite interesting.  For instance, yesterday Brian sat across from Raggedy Ann apparently.

She looks like a balloon lady, but she wasn’t even that normal.  She didn’t talk and communicated by notepad.  She handed Brian a note that said, Wallgrens?  Brian proceeded to tell her that he didn’t know where there was a Walgreens and when she got off the bus at his same stop it looked a bit like Will Farrell in Elf, completely bewildered by her environment.  I am not sure if I would have been able to keep a straight face (and it seemed neither could she, she wore a perma-smile on her face the whole time according to Brian).

And if you have never checked out you totally should.  These make me laugh…

No blue skies


Quickly, I just wanted to share a few pictures from my sister’s shower.  And seeing that it was a shower, I guess it only made sense that it literally was showering the whole time.  The color theme was grey and yellow and the morning of, my sister texted me that she had nothing to wear.  And so, I had this dress in my closet that I picked up at a garage sale a while back for maybe $2 at the most and it looked totally cute on her and her belly.  My mom seemed to find some coordinating clothes as well, and me…not so much.

Big brother and sister

Not everyone would have enough tea cups and saucers for 30+ guests, but for some reason my mom does.  She made little desserts and served them in the tea cups.  My sister Tamara, who lives in Arizona made the diaper cake for a shower she threw her last month.  So, we used it again this time around!

chicken salad sandwiches, quiche, fruit skewers and salad

Everyone got a succulent to take home.

the decorations

A few sheets of scrapbook paper goes a long way!  I picked up some cute paper at the scrapbook store, made some flags and paper roses, and ta-dah, you have some color coordinating decorations!  And to my surprise, I lucked out at the dollar spot at Target and picked up grey and yellow thank you notes that everyone addressed when they arrived and we later picked a winner.  And also grey and yellow pencils that we used for the games.

This sign was my little creation using some newspaper, twine and some strips of fabric for the sun.  I figured it would match the shower and I could find a home for it afterward, maybe in my girls’ room.

newspaper and tissue pom poms

How cute is this tree?  My cousin had it for her center piece at her wedding a couple of years ago.  My sister switched out the flowers and painted the pot.  Each guest wore an old fashioned clothes pin with her name on it.  Cute huh?  One of the games that we never got around to was going to be for everyone to draw a baby with their opposite hand.  They would hang their paper from a line with their clothespin (name backward) and my sister would pick the winner.  So the clothespins were supposed to have two purposes…next time.