34 things.

Thirty-four. That's the number of years that are now under my belt. And it's also the first time that I've actually felt ...old. Let me explain.

You know how when you were a kid, each birthday felt like an enormous event that required celebrating? How every passing year meant that you were that much closer to being allowed to do certain things that only grown-ups could do? How it felt monumental and colossal and above all else, it was the most important day of the year? As I get older, birthdays have evolved. Sure, there are still those milestone years -- 18, 21, 25, 30 -- and parties are planned with copious amounts of both friends and cocktails. And perhaps for some, every birthday is meant to be celebrated in that grand way. But for me, they've become more subdued, intimate. They're simpler and, to be honest, I'm embracing the whole less-is-more thing.

Wellllll...last week was my birthday and after a celebratory dinner of cheap tacos and boozy margaritas from the no-frills neighborhood family-run Mexican restaurant next door, I'm feeling all the feels as I embark on another year, another trip around the sun. And here are 34 things I've learned along the way.
  1. Try as you might, time stops for no one. The best thing to do is to keep up with it.
  2. Friends come and go and when they do, it's ok to say good-bye. In fact, it's sometimes necessary.
  3. I really hate doing laundry. Loading, washing, drying, folding, putting it away. All of it. I. Really. Hate. It.
  4. Listening to your kids laugh through a closed door is one of the best sounds in the world.
  5. There is an art to fighting fair. I am still trying to master it.
  6. Sometimes, parents disappoint you.
  7. One day, I will be the parent that disappoints my children.
  8. A glass (or, let's be real, two or three) of wine at the end of the day can do wonders.
  9. Cooking alone while the kids are napping and really throwing myself into a meal is my moment of zen.
  10. I shamelessly enjoy watching 'The Bachelor' / 'The Bachelorette' no matter how many unrealistic helicopter rides and tropical getaways they have.
  11. I feel incredibly lucky to love and to be in love with my husband.
  12. My children have tested my patience more than I ever thought possible. There are days when I literally feel like I'm losing my mind.
  13. After growing up in Florida, I thought it would be impossible not to live near a beach. It's not.
  14. I can sometimes be an anti-social extrovert, if that makes sense.
  15. I abhor traffic. Like, really really can't stand it. You guys have no idea.
  16. Coffee is far superior to tea. Always.
  17. I still don't think I could ever live in the suburbs.
  18. I crave living in the city.
  19. Politics have turned into an enormous shit show that I become more and more invested in the older I get.
  20. Exercise is actually so important.
  21. Carbs are NOT the devil.
  22. Everything in moderation; balance is key.
  23. Time alone is crucial for personal reflection and growth.
  24. I'm learning how to bake despite the fact that I'm not a desserts/sweets person.
  25. Lying down on a picnic blanket in the grass on a sunny breezy day is truly one of life's simplest and best pleasures.
  26. I believe in cosmic energy, spirits and otherworldly beings.
  27. ...but I'm not sure about one god and that one god being a man.
  28. Sometimes, building a blanket fort and hiding in it with your kids is all you want to do all day. And then you actually do it and it feels pretty amazing.
  29. I'm pretty sure (and by "pretty sure" I mean 99.99999999999% certain( that we are done having children; we already have a boy and a girl and two is great. (In all honesty, we just don't want to be outnumbered.)
  30. We are a fearless foursome.
  31. I have dreams of my family spending a summer in a sleepy Italian beachside town. One day, I believe it will happen.
  32. Music can completely change your mood.
  33. I'm braver than I thought I was.
  34. I'm more ready now for whatever happens in life than I've ever been before.
That might've been a little TL;DR, but there it is. It might just be my best year yet.


motherhood musings.

It's been raining non-stop for exactly one whole week in Atlanta now. I thought that seasonal affective disorder was kind of an exaggeration, but the greyness coupled with the incessant raindrops in the last week are enough to make me a believer. But honestly, it's not just the weather that's making me feel a little less than fabulous today. It's because I'm exhausted.

Before I get into it, let me put this on the table: having a brand new baby around is an amazing and beautiful thing. It tugs at your heart strings, tests every fiber of your patience, makes you question how good you actually are at taking care of another tiny being (let alone yourself) and leaves you bleary-eyed and foggy. It's a magical experience to witness their first smiles or laughs. To figure out what makes them happy and sad. To have your heart explode with love over and over and over. It's realizing that everything you thought you wanted suddenly is so unimportant or is less important because the needs of your child far surpass anything you could have ever imagined. And then they start crawling and walking and talking and before you know it, you've got a toddler who can hold conversations with you and use reason and logic to figure things out. It is mind-blowing and awesome. I wouldn't ever trade this life in for something else. I am a stay-at-home mom and I am proud of that. I'm thankful for the honor and privilege I have to be able to raise two kids while my husband works his ass off to make sure we have the lifestyle we have. I'm grateful that I can go about my day in pajamas or sweatpants or some combination of that repeated wardrobe choice. I can have dirty hair and no make-up and smell like some weird fragrance of breastmilk and baby poop and not worry that my kids will think any less of me. (I'm really selling being a SAHM, aren't I?)

Yet, despite the love I have for what I do, there are days when all I want to do is throw in the towel, hide under my blanket and quit. Were you expecting me to say that? Doesn't everyone hate their job at least sometimes? Surely, there isn't someone who loves what they do 24 hours a day. Right?

Real talk: raise your hand if you've had or are having a shitty day at work. I'll be honest. I'm having a one today, only I'm not at work. I'm at home with the kids. And this isn't a job. It's life. It's being a parent. But for the sake of keeping it linear and clear-cut, let's call it a job. I "work" in a place with two very demanding people under the age of five. I'd like to think I'm "self-employed" or that I'm their "boss", but who am I kidding? I'm actually working for them. I'm each child's personal assistant, chauffeur, nanny, nurse, chef, pal and teacher. It's not like they're super chill, either. Anaïs goes from zero to sixty in five seconds flat and Akira is a ticking time bomb when he isn't fed in a timely fashion. I can't take fifteen minutes of time to myself in a break room and have a silent lunch. And I'm left feeding one of them every 2-3 hours. Think about that for a second. What other activity in life do you have to do every 2-3 hours? A girlfriend of mine pointed that out and reminded me that we don't do anything for ourselves every 2-3 hours. Nothing! When one naps, the other needs my undivided attention whether its for help opening her play-doh, help finding a dress-up toy or just wanting me to sit with her to talk about everything and nothing at the same time. I don't walk out the door and blend in with the rest of the world and feel autonomous for a few hours a day. No, when I walk out the door to run errands, my "bosses" come along--one in the carseat that I'm carrying on one arm and a toddler on my other side constantly tugging at some part of my body. Along with midwives, doulas, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, who else is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? You guessed it: mothers! Then there's the constant cleaning. Oh, my god, the cleaning. It's like you are picking up and straightening up the house after an all-night rager that you weren't even invited to. All day. Every day. Not only do I have to keep both eyes on each child simultaneously (oh, it takes talent, trust me), the rest of our daily living still needs to be maintained. Dinner still has to be made. The laundry still has to be done. And the vacuum cleaner still has to be run.

It's a total cliché--feeling like the over-tired, under-appreciated, oft-overlooked mom. I see it. And I'm cringing as I write this. I never thought I'd actually sit here and write something remotely resembling this. I've read and enjoyed and related to many a post about being a SAHM. But I never thought I'd be one to join the circle of women who shared the same sentiments.

Yet!! YET, (and please let me be brutally honest here) for all of those times that I've felt invisible, there are an equal amount of times (or more) when I've felt invincible. There are moments when everything just clicks and the days flow seamlessly. Those are the days that feel victorious. Those are the days that remind me of why I chose to stay at home. Those are the days that encourage me to keep doing what I'm doing. Those are the ones that make me feel like even though I'm not winning any bread, I am molding and shaping two humans. People. Members of society. Those are the days when I pat myself on the back for "doing a good job". I don't get a biweekly paycheck directly deposited into my bank account. I don't get a bonus based on performance. I mean, I don't even get a performance review (which, honestly, I'd love to get from my three-year-old). But I do get "paid" in hugs and kisses and love and everything intangible but genuinely heartfelt. So maybe I'm harder on myself than I should be because I expect to be able to just do it. I place those expectations on myself to be able to run a household and take care of children because it's what I want to do. It's what I choose to do. And it's what I love to do.

Except today. I don't love what I do today. And that's totally ok.


adventures in motherhood.

You guys. There is a tiny little boy napping. In his crib. In his room and I am actually hands-free and writing this post! Call me crazy, but that is a feat in and of itself. In our first week, we were thrown through the ringer with seemingly endless nights, wailing banshee cries, "threenager" management and getting our sea legs back at this whole new-baby-in-the-house thing. Not gonna lie, it's been challenging to say the least. Sleep deprivation and exhaustion are a pretty tough combination to live through fueled with lots of coffee, but something we keep reminding ourselves of is that this is temporary. This is temporary.

My friend Kaleen asked if she could take some photos of us as a newly formed family of four, so ten days into it, she came over and caught a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what our new life looks like. Don't be fooled by the peaceful beauty these photos evoke! Keep in mind that juggling a newborn and a toddler is complete and utter chaos. Yet, she had a way of making everything look dreamy, serene and magical.

Now, five weeks later, dare I say we're handling this new(ish) lifestyle like a boss? No, Akira isn't sleeping through the night yet. Yes, we are still tired beyond belief. But all of this is not for naught. All of this is what grounds us and makes us want to be better parents, maybe even better people. In the few minutes of quiet that we have between naps or feedings or both, it's what brings Jesse and me closer together knowing that we are in it together and making it all happen. Because you know what? These early days will eventually fade and it will all seem like a blur. Those newborn coos, that fresh baby smell, the absence of imminent sibling rivalry--all of that will one day disappear. No matter how difficult it feels in that moment, I know that we as a family are always about to turn a corner and reach some sort of milestone. For now, we just have to keep on keepin' on, one cup pot of coffee at a time.

P.S. I am now chronicling my Adventures in Motherhood over at Pregnancy & Newborn! Won't you read along? Find my first post here.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF KALEEN ENKE (follow her on Instagram!)


welcome to the world, little man.

Akira Fujiki Clark
12 August 2015 | 1:59 pm
9 pounds 4 ounces | 21 inches long

Say hello to the newest member of our small but fierce gang.
We are all so in love.
(Read his birth story here.)


31 weeks along.

Many moons have passed since making the announcement that our little unit of a family is growing! And as unbelievable as it is, time has flown by ridiculously fast and I am now in my 31st week before this baby boy (!!!) arrives. So, what's been happening since I last wrote?


I have been blogging for Pregnancy & Newborn magazine as one of their Knocked-Up Bloggers :-) It has been a thrill to be able to document this journey, revealing all the physical oddities, emotional stresses and everything in between.

Anaïs celebrated her 3rd birthday, which still blows my mind. This little girl is no longer a baby! She's not even really a toddler anymore. She's an actual kid with thoughts and opinions. She has her own voice that we encourage her to use and use often because she has things to say and share. She becomes more animated and so fun. Holy crap, she's just so fun to be around! And it's funny to think back at all the times I would say, "___ is such a fun age for a baby. They just ____, _____ and _____." The truth is, every age is probably a fun age. (If I'm being honest, I feel like I'm going to continue saying that until my children are grown. I mean, come on.) And to see her transition from an only child to the role of a big sister? I can't even. (Oh, and P.S., that pixie cut was entirely her idea. See what I mean?)

We took a family trip to New Orleans over Spring Break and enjoyed the sights and sounds, food and music. It was a heartwarming knowing it would be our last family trip, just the three of us. But how cool, too! I can't help but look to the future and daydream about the four of us on an airplane or train or road trip. Three's company, four's a crowd. That's what they say, right?

Jesse and I celebrated our birthdays in May and I had a bonus celebration with Mother's Day in the same month! To say that this year has been eventful is quite an understatement. Feeling all of these things and experiencing all of this change and love that is continuing to happen right in front of me reminds me of how real everything is and that life just continues to move forward and stops for no one. It keeps me grounded and pushes me to keep doing what I'm doing. It shows me that everything I've ever dreamed of is attainable and turns into my reality because I believe in it and have an amazing partner and husband with me every step of the way.

Now that summer has arrived, we are now just weeks away from our little boy making his appearance. Anaïs is currently down in Florida spending some quality time with her grandparents as Jesse and I have some alone time to ourselves. We planned a little babymoon to Charleston, South Carolina and just got back to Atlanta tonight. Going through some of these photos just makes my heart swell. And let me tell you, it was exactly what we needed. I think couples who are pregnant should plan a mini getaway before their baby arrives. It doesn't have to be fancy or big. But some time away alone, just the two of you, is something that I feel will bring you closer together. It's a weird thing to say, right? After all, if you're already having a baby, you'd think that you were as close as you could possibly get. In my case, I've never felt a sense of disconnection with Jesse. However, I will say that after this trip, I feel even more connected to him. It essentially reaffirmed the fact that we are on the same team, that we are on the same page. I fell in love with him harder than I think I've ever fallen in love with him before. Sigh. It's amazing to think about how much our lives have evolved independently of one another and then now as they're intertwined. It's the stuff of dreams, you know?

We have one last weekend alone here in Atlanta before Anaïs gets back. I cannot wait to see that little girl's face and to squeeze her again! For now, though, we are enjoying our quiet time together and unwinding before everything turns into the inevitable magical chaos that it will be.


enjoy the welcomes.

Oh, hi. Hiiii. We are well into 2015 and I'm embarrassed that it's taken me this long to acknowledge the new year. So, hello again. I hope your year is going well so far.

What's new with us? Well, let's see. We saw Kishi Bashi play on New Year's Eve. We took A on a streetcar and train excursion around town. We've been staying in a lot hoping for a snowmageddon to arrive (like the two last year), to no avail. Seems pretty ordinary, right? Nothing to see here, folks, keep it moving. But wait. There is something to see. And it's great and fantastic and amazing and we are so so so excited to share. So why don't you just watch the little movie we made and see for yourself? :-) Enjoy the welcomes!


thread and jewel.

Ahem. It's December. December. Which means it's the twelfth month, which also means it's the last month of the year. And that means that Christmas is, oh, only exactly three weeks away from today. But who's counting, right? Yikes.

After having just moved for the billionth time this year, we [sadly] broke the news to our families in Florida that we would not be making it down for the holidays. We have a boatload of boxes still waiting to be unpacked in our living room. We just got back from Thanksgiving in Florida. Taking a road trip with a two-and-a-half year-old kid is no easy feat. The list goes on and on. The flip side of that is we'll have each other in the comfort of a new space to get settled and start fresh. But I digress. This post is actually about something else that could be related to to the holidays. Sort of.

You see, I have a friend named Zuri who is (for the lack of a better word) sublime. She's fierce and intelligent and creative and stunning. She has grace and courage, wit and brawn. She's also a mom to two bright girls and has a blog. Not only is she all these things, she also believes in social justice, teaches yoga and even curates a line of jewelry (designed by herself!). I mean, please. So when she asked me if I would be interested in [hand] modeling some of the pieces she has for sale, I jumped at the chance.

Say hello to Thread and Jewel. Aren't these rings beautiful?

Now...going back to Christmas. While trying on (and ooh-ing and ahh-ing) these baubles the other day, I couldn't help but think they'd make a lovely gift. So, if you're feeling stumped on what to get your girlfriend/bestie/wife/mom/sister/aunt/cousin, you surely can't go wrong with one of these. Amiright or amiright?