Thursday, November 29, 2007

Procrastinators Anon- Finish those crafts!!

If you're like me, you can meet work deadlines, but try to finish that beaded bracelet or the freezer paper stenciled (FPS) onesie, and suddenly there are fifteen other things that seem more important.

Well, it's that time of year! Time to shake off your mantel of humility (and/or laziness) and boldly share your crafty goodness with the world. Time, that is, to set a deadline and get crafting!

Here are my tips for getting from idea to finished product. I'm thinking of FPS'ing, but these can apply to anything.

1. Find your calendar. Write your crafting deadline in pen. If you can see when you need to have that shirt done and mailed for it to get there before Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa, you're much more likely to get it done on time.

2. Set aside five minutes to gather materials. Just five minutes! If you don't have everything you need, pen a trip to the store in the calendar too. Even if you're doing today, write it in. Then you can cross it off!

3. Here's the fun part if you're FPSing. Tear off sheets of freezer paper and lay them around the house! Put a sheet and a pencil near the computer, in the bathroom, by the bedside, next to the tv. Wherever you're likely to have a minute to doodle.

KEY: Don't worry about the item you're going to FPS-- just get your design down.

4. After you've doodled, gather your designs and cut them out. Collect them in one place and collect your items to be FPSed. Now it will be *much* easier to line everything up and do one big iron-on.

5. If you've gotten this far, painting them will be a breeze. The key here is, don't get bogged down picking out the perfect color! Again, especially when FPSing, (but also when knitting, drawing, ribbon-ing, or whatever) this can be a true drag on your creativity. Take the NaNoWriMo approach and just throw on whatever color your hot little hand comes upon. I promise it will be better than nothing.

And voila!!! You are well on your way to crafting yourself some fine holiday gifts. I'm off!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Perfect Spacing

Ok, you have a baby, and within minutes someone is asking you, "So when's the next one?" I remember thinking, "The next what? The next poop? The next feeding? The next nap? Because surely you did not mean the next CHILD. Oh no you couldn't have meant that."

But they *did*-- crazy, huh?

Which means that for the past year, and especially after Paloma turned one, I have been madly trying to work out what the Perfect Spacing is. (Fortunately for me, I knew I wanted two, so I didn't have to go through the whole agony of whether I even wanted to conceive again.)

Things I considered with The Perfect Spacing:
- would they be friends/play together/have anything in common?
- would I be changing two sets of diapers at once?
- would I paying for two college tuitions at once?

What's too close? What's too far?

And then I realized with relief-- nobody the hell knows!!!

Sibs who are two years apart or ten years apart may play together-- or may not. One might have an outgoing personality, one might want to hole up alone with a book all day and night. I've met people who love being 3 years apart, others who didn't get along with their 3-year-apart sib at all. Some who were friends as kids, drifted as adults, and vice versa. Some who were eight and more years apart who became very close. I think you just never know how the personalities and the parenting will all interact-- the best you can do is love 'em all.

As far as diapers, I think I want to avoid two in diapers at once, so that puts me at at least two years apart (which, when Minkie turns 15 months in 2 months, is a non-issue).

As far as college costs, people tell me that if they overlap you get lots of federal assistance, but I am not counting on even low-interest loans in this crazy political climate. As much as possible, I just want to sock away cash. And I suppose that makes it look like I'm going for a four year sib split.

But at the end of the day, what I decided is-- I'm going to decide to have the second the way I decided to have the first-- when I damn well felt like it. :) You know, that intuition thing worked out really well the first time. I see no reason to abandon it now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

the romantic scent of petroleum

I'll be the first to admit it-- when my Vanity Fair comes in the mail, I kind of *like* the sneeze-inducing perfumey cloud that envelopes my head as I tear open the plastic bag and flip through the pages. BTW, I'm one of those who looks at all the ads just to see if I can understand the art and story, but couldn't care less about what they're trying to sell to me. The perfume ads are always the cheesiest.

Now, I've heard about the petrochemicals that are in our favorite perfumes. I don't wear perfume, but I like the romantic idea of it. But toxins and petrochemicals are just kind of gross. The rise of chemicals in our lives is making people super-sensitive to exposures of any kind. So even though I only wear perfume like once every year, I wasn't about to start.

Count on to come through! For those of us who want to occasionally (or regularly!) smell pretty without being a chemical dump (and having the accompanying skin rash), I give you Natural Perfumes. At the end of the short article, there are links to quality perfume makers who use-- get this-- ACTUAL flowers and herbs in their perfumes!



There's nothing quite as sweet as the feeling of your baby's soft hands stroking your chest during a nap, nursing or (the rare) quiet time.

There is nothing quite as painful as the feeling of your baby's curious little finger shooting up your nose and pinching with the grip of a sadistic lobster on steroids.

And there's nothing like parenthood to teach me new ways of appreciating balance.

Monday, November 19, 2007

a leaf in the hair is worth ten on the ground

Minkie had a day of quality yard time last week- front and back, both! She could not have been happier. She and Daddy played tag in the front yard. Her version is to run a little and then fall down, laughing like crazy. She then realized she loved rolling around in the grass. Her hair was a bit leafy.

I took her into the backyard and she quickly discovered a tiny, long-forgotten potted plant, some kind of succulent. It was dried and the roots did not hold it in the soil, so when she turned it over and shook it, the soil and plant fell out. I helped her stuff soil back into the little pot. Then she climbed into her play structure (about a foot off the ground, with a slide), sat down on the platform, and proceeded to dump out and re-stuff the soil into the pot. Her hands were covered with dirt; it was wedged under her nails.

I looked at my little nature girl. I had to stop myself from taking the dirt and pot away from her and brushing her off-- I had to remind myself to let her play.

I remembered when I worked one summer as a cashier at a Very Nice Department Store, in the Very Nice children's shoe section. A girl found a pair of sneakers she liked and ran around with them on, delighted. I liked watching her have such a good time-- until her mom or caretaker said sharply, "Come here and sit down like a lady!"

Minkie may have a leaf in her hair and dirt under her nails. There may be a time when I forget to relax and let her have fun; I may take away the dirt before she's ready, just because I've forgotten that fun is more important in that moment than perfect grooming. But that day, I'm so glad I remembered in time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

lip gloss review- Alba Botanica Terra Gloss

My lip gloss collection needed refreshing, and I decided I'm going all natural. I may still use the (sigh, beautiful) Clinique Black Honey tubes that I have, but will try to direct my dollars to the products with more natural ingredients. (Hope lives-- Jane Iredale's mineral makeup produces Babe, one of my favorite colors... though I'm not sure if it's got lead. Blah. Anyhoo...)UPDATED: I checked at the Cosmetics Database and it looks lead-free! Woot! Check your own brands-- many do have lead.

I give you Alba Botanica's Terra Gloss in Garnet!

Those of you who have read my lip gloss/makeup entries know that I will not suffer the wrong colors for brown skin- of which there are many to fear!!! You know what I'm talking about- the light pinks that look ashy, the jungle oranges that look trashy, the crazy purples that do not belong on any Earthly life form, yet are foisted upon brown skinned people since we're "so exotic!" Ick.

By the way- can someone explain to me what olive skin is? Olive to me is either green or black, and altogether delicious, but it is not a skin color. ?

OK- so I was wandering through Whole Foods (*never* a good idea, people! Do Not Wander through Whole Paycheck! You gotta be in and out or they'll getcha (or at least your wallet) for sure. Damn them and their organic local sustainable ethical... ethics. Even if their CEO sucks.)

And I saw the Alba Botanica Terra Glosses. They're different from the balms, and the colors are new. Which is good, because I tried the TerraBalm in Blaze and it was a fuschia mess on me. But the gloss in Garnet is *gorgeous.* It's quite sheer and hits that perfect red-pink balance, which is challenging to achieve.

The only quibble I have is the scent-- sort of this overly sweet, marshmallow-y bubble gummy ickiness.

But the fabulousness of the color won out. After all, finding the right lip gloss is a never-ending quest. Thus, I shelled out the $5.99 ish.

And I'm happy I did! This tube comes with me everywhere. I think it might be a new standard. Good stuff!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Grandma's hilarious addition to the Solemn Dialogue on Race

It's 8:00 PM. Minkie's gone to sleep and I just popped in a nice, relaxing, evening yoga DVD. I am hoping that no one watches me.

My mom makes herself a snack and settles in the glider behind me.

I am working myself into a shoulderstand when Mom says, "Is she Indian? She looks *just like you*!"

"No she doesn't," I grunt, watching as Hemalaya, the teacher, rolls out of the pose.

Mom isn't blinking. "Yes she does! That's you!" She is excited.

"Mom! I look like a lot of Indian people!" I tell her. I have been told all my life that I look like the quintessential Kerala female. I was born and brought up in the U.S., so I just take that on faith.

"Do you know her?" Mom asks.

If I didn't know it was my mother sitting there, snacking and chatting behind me, I would have *sworn* it was a white lady from NotDiverseLand. Nope- my own mother, born and raised in Kerala, India, immigrated in her early thirties, is asking me if I know the Indian woman in the tv doing yoga. Because we look so alike.

And that is your parenting moment of Zen for the day.

weigh in! the mommy haircut

I think everyone has one-- their idea of what a Mommy Haircut is. Whether they *want* that cut or not is another story.

I have been thinking about going for a new 'do. Depending on the day, I want to do something drastic or something similar to what I have. I do have an idea of what a Mommy cut is: anything that makes me feel boring and "meh," and I don't want to plunk down lots of money just to have a "meh" haircut, so.

Bangs? Bangs are a maybe. I look at how cute Sasha Cagen looks in the blogger video of her (I think it's on amazon, too, on the page with her new book of To Do Lists). But bangs can go horribly, horribly wrong. Or at least look boring. They need upkeep (as does most interesting hairdos).

Then there's the short pixie, which I love and used to have, but feel like I'd like to shed the last few baby pounds to fit into it. Also, I like the feel of my long hair.

Just not the boringness!

Some days I covet the strong bangs and bob look, sort of harkening back to Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Chicago." I think it's such a sassy and stylish look.

And yet! How soon it would grow out and become a mess.

Am I talking myself out of this haircut? Ack! Weigh in! Tell me the looks you love and save me from hair oblivion.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Minkie is a brave girl. She was playing in a bookstore and fell and scraped her cheek on a cardboard box. My heart sank and I held her tight as she cried (and she does this extremely heartstring-tugging thing where if she's really hurt, she'll cry, then have her mouth open in a shocked silent "O" for a minute, then really scream. Oh the tears!). I cared for the scrape and then, while I still felt bad about it, she was off and playing.

Talk about being in the moment. I don't know if the pain was still there, but the sudden shock of the injury was in the past, and she was on to the next. She reminds me not to rehash too much, either physical or emotional booboos.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

another take on mornings

D came home very late last night from work. This is not unusual for him- if only his students knew!

At 10:30 PM, I heard it on the monitor: Minkie awoke briefly, cried out, fell back asleep.

At 11:30 PM, I could not keep my eyes open; I could not wait up for him. I went to bed where Minkie was already asleep in her crib. I am in the process of nightweaning her. Also, due to our circumstances in suburbia, we are sharing a room. Thus nightweaning is a challenge.

At around midnight, D slipped in.

At 1:30, Minkie awoke, cried out, listened to me to talk to her soothingly from our bed, settled back down.

At 3:30, Minkie awoke, cried out, listened to me to talk to her soothingly from our bed, settled back down.

At 4:45, Minkie awoke and cried out. I decided her night was officially over and brought her into our bed to nurse and nap.

I fell asleep, and she shifted, and I awoke. Usually I'm so groggy at this point that I can't see straight. But today I noticed the intense, flame-orange streak in the sky- sunrise. It's not the first sunrise I've seen, especially as a relatively new parent, but it's the most vividly colored.

In about two minutes, it had faded to a nondescript pink, a washed out blue. It's the first morning in a really long time that I felt lucky that my baby awoke me at that hour.

Friday, November 09, 2007

the leaves have changed

Yesterday I took Paloma into the great outdoors that is our little suburban front yard.

She *loved* it. There is no end to the circles she can run, stopping to pick up crunchy leaves or squeeze a couple of rocks or just fall down laughing.

I noticed that the leaves have changed from the brilliant hues of early fall to the serious, crackly, dry brown indicating winter. She stood leaning against my legs for a minute, and we just stood there.

I thought about things-- an Amy Winehouse song, my dad's oral surgery-- and then I realized I could be thinking about nothing at all, just standing there and observing the moment. And I did that, and it was really a beautiful fall moment-- clean and austere, and a little bit lonely, except for the little girl standing with me.

What's this blog about?

I really appreciate experiencing a moment of peace in the day. You too?

I'm a mom of a one year old, working from home for a nonprofit, saying "yes" to more volunteer gigs than I should, squeezing every second of time with my spouse as possible, and basically keeping lots of plates spinning.

Sound familiar?

Join me (nearly) daily for a moment of Zen with Minkie (the nickname for my daughter), or without her, discovering the little (sometimes hidden!) moments that make parenting a beautiful endeavor.

I write from the context of my ever-evolving roles of mother, daughter, wife --and career woman, and jazz and opera lover... I'm bringing it all to the table in the hope that where I find and share a moment of peace, you will too.

Natural cleaners giveaway!

Ok, for you Crunchy Domestic Goddesses out there, here's a blog post giveaway you'll love. Lily's Garden Herbals are apparently a new natural brand to join the likes of Seventh Generation and the humbler Simple Green (and the even more humble baking soda and vinegar). I haven't tried it out yet, but this blog is giving some away to a lucky reader. It sounds pretty good-- effective, nontoxic (blargh, unlike Aqua Dots or Thomas) and she says it's relatively affordable.

Hallelujah? Maybe. I'll have to try it out. Anyone out there with experience with this stuff?

the leaves have changed- Parents' Moment of Zen

Yesterday I took Paloma into the great outdoors that is our little suburban front yard. She *loved* it. There is no end to the circles she can run, stopping to pick up crunchy leaves or squeeze a couple of rocks or just fall down laughing. I noticed that the leaves have changed from the brilliant hues of early fall to the serious, crackly, dry brown indicating winter. She stood leaning against my legs for a minute, and we just stood there. I thought about things-- an Amy Winehouse song, my dad's oral surgery-- and then I realized I could be thinking about nothing at all, just standing there and observing the moment. And I did that, and it was really a beautiful fall moment-- clean and austere, and a little bit lonely, except for the little girl standing with me.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Never forget

We promised at the end of WWII to "never forget." We wanted to remember the atrocities of which humans are capable. I suppose the hope was that if we remembered the horror, we would be less likely to do it again.

So in keeping with that promise to never forget, I'm copying a message from Human Rights First, from a US Army General against torture.

Dear Anita,

I taught prisoner of war interrogation for 18 years to U.S. Army soldiers. Neither I nor the Army taught torture: it's morally wrong, it endangers our own troops who may be taken prisoner, it undermines our values, and it does not produce reliable information.

I've listened to some of our current leaders say that we should use torture - what they call "enhanced" interrogation techniques - to combat terrorism. Abandoning our principles is never the answer. An expert interrogator needs to be clever, not inhumane.

Today, one year from the presidential election, I am adding my name to the petition to restore America's honor. By signing, you've already told the presidential candidates that you expect them to pledge to put an end to torture and cruel treatment. Now I'm hoping you'll forward this message to at least five people, asking them to put their name next to mine.

In one year, we could be celebrating the election of a leader who understands that torture is un-American. And you could be a big part of the victory!

Join thousands of other Americans for Human Rights and sign Human Rights First's petition to the presidential candidates asking them to commit to ending policies that have led to torture and tarnished the United States:

Click here to put your name with General David R. Irvine's on the petition.

Elect to End Torture 08 is a nonpartisan campaign to make sure that the next President puts an end to policies allowing torture and cruel treatment and adopts a strong national security policy that is consistent with the laws and values of our nation.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Amazing stories put out a call for Halloween-- what's scary about being a mom? Lo and behold, did people ever have stories to share. 172 comments and counting-- people sharing their frustrations, worries, and bewilderment at the state of parenting in the United States today. It's amazing how quickly these stories were gathered-- everyone had something to say about how to wrestle a job's demands and a kid (or elderly parent!) while hoping for supportive family leave legislation.

When says "working to build a family-friendly America," we mean it. It's not empty rhetoric. It's so easy to see how sorely REAL action is needed, how empty words singing the praises of family while cutting back where families need it most (healthcare, family leave, flexible workplaces, affordable daycare) is so staggeringly wrong.

Check out these stories, and please post your own (you can do it anonymously, or you can give permission to MomsRising to use your story-- you may even get a call from a reporter wanting to hear more about your story!).

We're parents and we are not alone-- 82% of American women become moms before age 44. It's time to get organized, and this is how we're going to do it.