January was a welcomed, slower month for our family.

It began with a program to help Shia (all of us, really) get some much needed full-nights of sleep. I was convinced there was no way it would work, but within the first 48-hours he was sleeping two long naps and 12-hours through the night. As the month went on, I grew confident in his sleep capabilities and my anxiety, particularly around naps and bedtime, decreased significantly. This felt like an enormous win.

On the other hand, I struggled with the reality that we live in Los Angeles. Not because I don’t like it here – I do. I am obsessed with the sunny weather, endless acai bowl options, hiking, watching the sunset over the ocean, and so much more. I just don’t have my family here, or our former foster loves, or affordable housing (so that we don’t share walls and throw money down the drain by renting), or the luxury and convenience of a lot of things, including but not limited to: having your own vehicle and bathroom sink so you don’t have to share with your spouse.

I hesitated writing this down in fear of looking/sounding like a spoiled brat with so much privilege, but I want these posts to be as real and raw as I truly am. So if I seem like a brat, I might be. Or maybe I just miss full-sized Target and having family a short drive away. Let me have this moment. 


Shia really took off this month and is super close to walking. He is crawling everywhere, pulling himself up to stand on every surface, and takes a few steps while holding onto things. He is such a curious and observant explorer. He’s becoming more fun by the hour. I genuinely feel so lucky to be his mommy!

It was an odd thing going swimming outdoors in the dead of winter. But twice a week I took Shia to swim lessons and it was awesome. Despite my skepticism, what Angelinos said turned out to be true: 70’s and sunny nearly everyday! Shia loved splashing, kicking, and “falling” into my arms off the side of the pool. If we do stay in LA, I would love to see our boy surf!

This was the month of having Shia home with us since we pulled him from daycare. This made work more stressful, but because his sleep improved so much and he consistently napped twice during the day, it was doable. However, as planned, we searched for a new nanny and thanked God when we found a great fit. She is not only a nurturing caretaker for Shia — she’s also my first real mom friend in this city. We already had a park playdate that led to sex talk and up next is a sushi date, so I think I’ve found a good egg.

E and I also started going to counseling again. We discovered a therapy practice, filled out the forms, paid for a consultation and received the intake therapist’s recommendations for us. He’s doing individual counseling with a therapist at the practice. I’m doing individual counseling (specifically somatic therapy) with a different therapist. And we’re doing couple’s therapy with another person. Let’s just say this place is getting to know us and all our junk from every angle. I have to be honest… the financial investment of therapy always feels like a burden initially, but once I realize how helpful it is (typically after just a couple of sessions) I’m reassured that there’s no better way to spend my money.

We hosted my mom (she comes every month) and Granny for a long weekend visit. They got lots of quality time with Shia, went to our church with me, and watched as the waves rolled in at sunset. It’s always nice when family comes to visit, and there’s something so pure and sacred about watching your son play ball with his great-grandma.

As far as writing and my work goes, there’s not a ton of newness to share. My book is complete and we had a marketing meeting to gear up for the launch, which gave me so much energy. There is a lot of work ahead if we want to get it into the hands of as many people as possible, but I’m up for the challenge. The way I see it – I didn’t write an insane amount of embarrassing stories and confess my sins publicly for nothing. I believe in this book and I’m risking a lot by putting it all on the line so I might as well champion it proudly.

On the very last day of this month we traveled, so Shia flew for the 17th time. It was a very quick Indiana trip for work and family purposes. He did great on the flights and seemed to be in awe of the snow. I cannot believe he turns ONE next month!

My hope is to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night for the month of February… we’ll see if I can be disciplined enough to make it happen!

Love & Cookies,


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Manda's weekly letters on faith, marriage, motherhood, soul care, social justice - and occasionally the collision of it all. 

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