Friday, December 19, 2008

what do you think of this one?

Click on the image to read the column. Yeah- just add "hearing it from your own parents" to the columnist's answer and you'll have a day in the life over here!

The thing that's left out are the wonderfully warm and cuddly moments. Such as Paloma singing "Twinkle, twinkle little star. Wonder... what... girl... DOINNNNNG!!!" (Her hilarious take on the song. She knows a star is a ball of gas, thankyouverymuch. The star must be wondering about her!) Anyhoo. On to the column. Thoughts?

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I've learned over the years that I'm a pretty physical person. Ehh, ok, so the past few years I've been pregnant or recovering from being pregnant. But in general, I'm happiest when I'm running or dancing or hiking. A lot.

I used to take dance six times a week with a notorious and fantastic drill-sergeant-y teacher, Reginald Ray Savage. This was years ago, but my body still remembers how good it was. More importantly, my mind still remembers the confidence engaging in that sort of movement. I still retain this comfortable confidence in my body's abilities because I survived those classes. And even enjoyed them. :)

So then I left the area to go to law school, and came back, got married, had kids, la la la. I went to dance in DC (where I went to law school) but it was not the same. I practiced yoga and I still enjoy that, but there's a different kind of physicality to that. I even tried surfing and also was an editor at Surf Life for Women (RIP). And being pregnant kind of thwarted my efforts (although it didn't have to-- there are tons of perfectly healthy pregnant women who take class).

Now I live not quite close enough to my old studio and am not quite in that era of life where I can go to class six times a week, two to four hours at a time. But in the back of my head, I was remembering that my brother in law Sam had said that the chase scene in "Casino Royale" had a name, that it was a form of martial art or a sport.

Why did this random piece of info stick in my head and float up now? Who knows. Anyhoo, a bit of googling revealed that the chase scene features parkour, which is about getting from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. It may also be known as free running, which has come to mean something a little more aesthetic, focusing less on the efficiency and more on the freedom aspect.

It also keeps a focused, committed, calm mindset front and center, which is essential for any physical practice I undertake. In fact, I associate this mindset with what I developed in Savage's jazz class and what I did in labor and delivery.

So that's why I'm interested in this sport that looks like it's just for 15 year old skater boys. It's simple, very physical and can be beautiful (see that Casino Royale scene again). Anyone else doing this? Interested?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I had my postpartum appointment today, which wraps up my hospital visits in connection with this last pregnancy.

Although the appointment went well, I felt a little sad and wistful. This is the end of an era, so to speak, since we're planning to have just two. The last postpartum appointment seems to mark that with such finality.

Maybe I'm just feeling wistful that pregnancy is over and postpartum is coming to an end, because I associate those times with feeling (if not being) liberated from outside concerns. Not that things like work and family didn't affect me, because of course they do! But just that I allowed myself to really honor my own priorities without guilt. Priorities that ranged from my health, happiness, my babies' health and happiness to my career, to D's career. I let my priorities shift as I saw fit, instead of feeling constrained by what others wanted or might have (or might not have) thought.

This is, I suppose, something I can continue. That was a great gift of pregnancy for me, to feel free to live life just exactly as I felt was most healthy for me at that moment. Now I just have to work harder to hold onto that lesson/gift -- without being pregnant! But what a wonderful lesson/gift. I do think this is one way, of many, that pregnancy and parenthood changed me for the better.

Monday, December 08, 2008

etsy review: woodmouse

Here I am, touting again. With good reason-- it's the best shopping on the nets. One of a kind, custom made clothes; vintage items; all sorts of well-crafted items.

This video is a beautiful window into the process of an artist at work. Amber, aka "Woodmouse" on etsy, shares her philosophy that simple, open-ended toys (i.e., toys that aren't made for a specific purpose but allow the child to decide how to use them) are best. Her toys are endearing wooden figures inspired by a child's crayon drawings.

They're also going *fast.* Her shop is very popular and is also closing at the new year. She probably has even more fabulous stuff in the works, but until we get to see what that's all about, grab your Woodmouse toys now!

Friday, December 05, 2008

well, obviously

I cannot resist posting this. Being hugely against Prop. 8, hugely for comedy and secretly for cheesy comedic musicals (of which there are far too few of quality), how could I not post this? Enjoy!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

your energy levels?

Ok, I'm in week 6 postpartum. It's going pretty well, I think-- my recovery in the past week seems to have picked up. I think the healing process is moving right along. I've got my postpartum check up in a couple weeks and I think, HALLELUJAH, I won't have to face the nightmare of silver nitrate on any leftover wounds.

(Last time, I had to have silver nitrate to close up some tears that persisted, and holy hell did that stuff knock the wind out of me. I seriously preferred the freaking ring of fire and childbirth to the burning of silver nitrate.)

I have no idea why I'm getting this energy spurt (you might notice my more regular blog postings!). Here's what I'm doing that might be helping:

- taking the prenatal vitamins
- taking an omega 3
- taking lecithin (to avoid plugged ducts, which haven't been an issue this time around)
- getting out and about little by little
- trying to stretch a little more
- keeping a list of things to get done and enjoying checking things off
- trying to maintain good relations with family

That last one might be the real winner of the list. It's requiring a lot of deep breathing and a complete and total embrace of Buddhist principles like lovingkindess and non-attachment, but maybe it's freeing up a lot more energy than I thought.

Hey, birth mamas out there: did you have a similar energy spurt postpartum? And *did it last*??

Honestly, I feel like right now I have more energy NOW than I did pre-pregnancy. ?! Whatever this is, I want to keep it going. (And give some hope to other mamas out there that it's possible to feel good postpartum!) Anybody else experience this? How do you all keep your energy up?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

blog props

Today's Blog Props go to:

Margaret and Helen!

If you haven't met these two bloggers, I highly highly recommend. I don't want to be like them when I get older-- I want to be like them right now.

They are best friends, in their golden years, smart, left-leaning, and *hilarious.* They say just what they're thinking (and because they're smart, it's good thinking). Lots of political commentary and state-of-the-neighborhood/state/nation/world ramblings.

Margaret and Helen get tons of comments, too. You get a sense of what people from around the country (that would include both Real America AND Fake America!) think. Their frank, honest, no-nonsense style seems to inspire the same in the comments. HOORAY!

Monday, December 01, 2008


It's gratifying and downright beautiful to see empathy developing and emerging in Paloma. The other day Derek was reading to her from her Clifford the Big Red Dog book. There's a part where someone throws a shoe at him. Clifford's feelings are hurt. Paloma's eyes filled up with tears! We were so moved by her sensitivity. It's such a good and healthy thing to see how she shares her feelings fearlessly.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Here's our simple Thanksgiving spread this year. We shared the meal with my parents, sister, brother in law and our daughters. We had:

- a Diestel turkey (organic, heirloom, local), brined-- a *fantastic* way to have turkey.
- artichoke parmesan stuffing
- spinach persimmon salad
- mashed potatoes
- roasted sweet potato cheesecake
- various pies from Whole Foods

(If you're a Sunset magazine reader, you'll recognize all these. They all came out wonderfully.)

It was a bountiful and delicious meal. But what I'm most grateful for is how well it went, how stress-free it felt, how everyone seemed to relax and just enjoy it.

She is indeed delicious, but I promise we didn't nibble her while at the Thanksgiving table. Sabrina is such a joy to mother!! She's totally easygoing, engaged, responsive, beautiful and wonderful.

Ah, and my brilliant, beautiful Paloma. Here she is in her tiger outfit, holding a portrait of herself in a mirror. (!) Tilt your head to your left and you'll see the face she consistently draws-- two eyes, two ears, a smile, and two legs. I LOVE how she draws people sideways. And encircling it and calling it a mirror was the piece de resistance for me. ;) I am grateful for this girl every moment of my life.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

All Aboard!!

You know you're on the, ahem, Potty Train when your toddler jokes, "Chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga POO POO!!!"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pt Reyes Seashore Lodge

There are many beautiful places on the Pacific Coast from northern to southern California. You can stop pretty much anywhere on Hwy 1 (Pacific Coast Highway), even when it veers inland a bit, and enjoy the beauty.

One particularly beautiful place is Pt. Reyes, a little ways north of San Francisco. It's a meaningful spot for Derek and me-- we didn't get officially engaged here, but Pt. Reyes is where we talked about knowing we'd be a family. We've come back every year.

Pt. Reyes is wild and wonderful. Even the historic (and still-operational) dairy ranches seem un-fenced as you pass in the car, seemingly untethered from conventional farming practices (even if they're not). You can't even smell them! Probably due to the fresh ocean breeze constantly blowing over the land.

Our family of four (with a toddler and infant) stayed at Pt. Reyes Seashore Lodge. We stayed there two years ago, too, when we just had our five month old with us. Apart from camping, this is pretty much the only option that allows children this near the Bear Valley center, which is where lots of good hiking begins.

We loved the whirlpool tub in our room, which was amply sized. Our queen bed snugly fit all four of us, though we were offered an extra bed and/or crib. Tea and coffee were almost always available, and once we were able to catch fresh baked cookies as well. The continental breakfast was better than average, and the Illy coffee is, of course, the best. Also, the Farmhouse restaurant next door is fabulous. Completely casual and perfectly delicious in that Marin way.

The only blemish to our stay was upon leaving, which is unfortunate because that's the final impression I got. The woman at the front desk kept her back to us as we departed after checking out, and could barely be bothered to offer a curt "bye" when we thanked her and said goodbye. I can't help but wonder if she was glad to see the family with the two young ones leave.

Fortunately for us, we headed a couple miles north to Pt Reyes Station and had lunch at the Cowgirl Creamery Cantina. Do not miss it if you're up this way! Pt Reyes Station is all of two or three streets, so just drive around until you find it. Then order whatever -- you won't go wrong. We had a Niman Ranch ham sandwich with Red Hawk cheese (I think), an Asian pear and persimmon salad with Pt Reyes blue cheese dressing, and a ratatouille sandwich with fromage blanc. Just gorgeous.

dominoes, Paloma style

When you're two, dominoes is not so much about matching dots and/or gambling as it is about LAUGHING YOUR HEAD OFF.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Welcome Sabrina Sage!

We welcomed Sabrina Sage on October 20, 2008 at 5:09 AM after about 21 hours of labor and four minutes of pushing. Crazy ute....

GETTING GOING: On the previous Friday and Saturday nights, I'd had some regular contractions, but well-spaced and I could sleep through them. I had a burst of nesting energy, too, so we cleaned and I sorted through tons of baby clothes, and Derek arranged the two carseats in our Corolla (yes, it's possible to have a Britax and a rear facing Graco bucket in a Corolla! Yay!). That nesting energy is something else.

LABOR PART I: Sunday morning, I awoke to more contractions and seeing part of the cervical plug at 8 AM. I felt good and we decided to be out and about, which was great. It was a beautiful day, we saw friends. But I also had a *bunch* of work I'd intended to do in the coming week before my maternity leave. And so did Derek. So we came home and got down to it. He went to work for a couple hours and I did some stuff on the laptop.

By 10:30 PM, I'd finished what I wanted to and sent "I'm in labor!" emails to folks. Then we shut down our computers and went to bed. Or tried to. D, who is a professor and gets 4-5 hours sleep/night during the school year, really REALLY wanted us to sleep. I think we both were thinking that if I could sleep, we could just put this whole thing off until my due date. :lol: This is really different from my labor with Paloma, who came four days after her due date-- mentally, we were really ready for it and wanted to bring it on. This time, we had to let go of all those extra things on the to-do list! We told my parents, who were ready to watch P.

But I couldn't sleep. After about 3 contractions, I woke him up and told him that we were going to have to stay awake. ;) I sat at the edge of the bed and labored there, breathing through the contractions. Early in the evening, I was thinking "The ute is doing what it needs to do. I'm just going to observe it." That worked for awhile. Then I kept asking myself, "Can I relax the rest of my body while my uterus works?" That worked for awhile. As the night wore on, the little mantra turned into something less intelligible like "There is pressure and it's a privilege," reminding myself that it was a special thing to experience this. I also kept envisioning the work my uterus was doing, pulling up on the cervix to dilate it. It certainly feels like that to me, with the contractions starting low and working up the muscle.

LABOR PART II: It was really nice to labor like that at home, without monitors, so I could breathe at my own pace. At 12:30 AM we called our doula, who was there by 1 AM. I breathed and tried standing, which brought on even harder contractions. I just kept breathing. I forgot to low moan, which I did with P, and I wish I did that here. One thing that helped was panting-- I never thought of myself as a Lamaze kind of person, but I did pant and squeeze D's hand in time with the breaths which helped.

I'm a cookie tosser in labor, I guess-- I threw up dinner (and threw up during P's labor too). It's a good sign for me though, meaning that things are getting more intense. I sat back on the bed and had a contraction where I felt the need to stretch my legs forward and my body back against Mr.Z. I stood up again, labored some more with contractions where I was rising on my toes (feeling rectal pressure), then decided it was time to call the hospital.

We got there around 4:00 AM, I checked into triage and was at 6 cm (and had more brown tinged mucous plug), and went straight to the labor room with the tub. The midwife looked at me and said "She's having that baby before that tub gets filled."

I sat at the edge of the bed and they tried to get an IV in. I had NO idea that it took a few tries, but a couple days later I noticed all the bruises on my arm! I didn't even feel the needle sticking me. Then I couldn't sit anymore- I rose onto my feet, then onto my toes (this is definitely a sign that I was having a ton of rectal pressure), then just let go and my water broke and it was such a relief and I felt the baby all the way down in the birth canal. I FINALLY started vocalizing! (Should have done that earlier!)

PUSHING: The midwife and nurse were great and coaxed me onto the bed, at which point they couldn't check me because Sabrina was crowning. They just let me push away; I pushed like CRAZY because it felt so good after all that labor. Pushing feels like having the biggest, most satisfying poop EVER. (Don't tell my kids I said that.) I probably should have taken a break and not pushed continuously, but I really just wanted to birth her. I did take one break, while she was crowning, but the ring of fire thing didn't faze me because she was almost here and just a few more pushes... and four minutes after I started pushing, at 5:09 am she was born! Sabrina Sage is beautiful and we love her.

POSTPARTUM: The placenta came not long after in one push. I had a second degree tear just as with P. But this time, I had a really good, careful repair that already feels like it's healing. I take a daily sitz bath with postpartum healing herbs from Ladies, it is so important to make sure if you have repairs done that they're done well. With P, my stitches were still raw at my 6 wk appt and needed silver nitrate to cauterize-- I HIGHLY advise doing everything you can to avoid that! I did have some afterpains that I took Motrin for.

BREASTFEEDING: Because she came early and fast (some cheek bruising), she had a bit high bilirubin level. We had to feed her like crazy and bring her in for daily weight checks and heel sticks :( :(. I just tried to nurse her as much as possible but didn't pay enough attention to a good latch. Bad move-- it left my nips totally cracked, sore and feeling like knives every time she nursed. Very unhappy combo with the rest of postpartum healing. This is a great bf'ing video that has helped me improve my latch, and is an amazing bf'ing resource. Just wanted to share that and hopefully help others as you have your beautiful babies.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

chocolate review- Seeds of Change Isle of Skye

Let's say that the open wrapper and sideways picture is because this bar was so damn good I couldn't be bothered with a perfect shot. :) (Sorry about the lazy photography!)

No, really. This 3.53 oz. bar was about $1.50-$2.00 at Whole Foods. And it was THE BEST crispy chocolate bar I've ever had.

Now, I am not a Nestle Crunch fan. It's waxy and gross and cheap and also, Nestle is evil. I realize this makes me unpatriotic and all sorts of things to Nestle Crunch lovers. I know it's a staple in Halloween bags and at baseball games and what have you. But a fact is a fact, and that is not good chocolate.

But Seeds of Change-- this is good chocolate. SO good that they've changed my mind completely about crispy rice in chocolate. Their description: "Dark milk chocolate blended with crispy puffed grains."

At first I thought "puffed grains" was an overblown way of saying crisped rice, but they do in fact have a variety of crisped grains-- oats, wheat, rye, barley and millet. There's no strong (or even discernible) rye flavor. And the consistency of each grain is about the same, so you're not getting a big chewy barley pearl next to a delicate wisp of crisped brown rice. This is wonderful for getting very slight variations while sticking with an overall theme.

And let's talk about the chocolate! It is really such fine dark milk chocolate. I wish all chocolate were dark milk. It's the guilty pleasure of the creamy goodness of milk with the oh-so sophisticated delicious chocolate depth of dark. Ok, for a truffle, you might want something darker. But especially for a bar like this, it's the perfect ratio-- 40% cacao.

At this price, it's a very worthwhile buy. It can last-- I went through mine in a week. But I can see it going dangerously fast too. Either way, you'll enjoy it thoroughly.

Monday, October 06, 2008

loving the noodly appendages

If you think fighting hate with humor is a good idea, you'll love this story about what the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster cooked up to counter the notorious Westboro folks in Arkansas. Celebrating Talk Like A Pirate Day no less!

It all comes together here. Very worth reading.

Also, what's your Sarah Palin baby name? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Vote Early!


If you live in one of these 32 states, you may be able to vote early! AK,AZ,AR,CA,CO,FL,GA,HI,ID,IL,IN,IA,KS,LA,ME,MT,

Did you know you may be able to vote early or absentee in your state as early as today?

You are one of the lucky ones. Not all states allow early or absentee voting, but yours does--and you don't even need an excuse! You just need to be a registered voter.

The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot falls between Oct. 24 and Oct. 31 in most states, but apply early (as in right now!) to give your elections office and the postal service plenty of time to get you a ballot. Visit your very own Secretary of State's Web site to learn more about your state's specific absentee and in-person early voting requirements. You can get there from this link:

Also, tell your friends to vote absentee or early, too. But remember--you can only vote early or absentee if you're a registered voter. Some states also allow same day registration and voting on Election Day, but why wait?

The deadline to turn in your voter registration form is this week in 31 states! MomsRising makes it easy to register with our online form. Fill it out and mail it today.

To register, visit:

After you've registered, don't forget to check out if you can vote early or absentee in your state. This lets you vote when it's convenient for you, and avoid those long lines on Election Day!

Lots of us have good intentions of voting, but then the big day rolls around and our child gets sick, or we have to work late, or some other unforeseen event prevents us from making it to the polls. Vote early, and put your mind at ease. Then, if you have time on Election Day, volunteer to help other moms make it to the polls, perhaps by watching their kids while they vote.

This election is going to be very close, and moms everywhere are counting on you to exercise your right to vote--a right we sometimes take for granted.

Thanks for doing your part. Together we can build a more family-friendly America.

--Tracy, Laura, Katie, Kristin and the entire team.

P.S. Another great voting resource is:

chocolate review! Cafe-Tasse 77%

It isn't cheap, but it's not a fortune either. At least, not for a fabulous imported dark.

Cafe Tasse was recommended to me by one of the experts behind the counter at Bittersweet on College Ave. in Rockridge. If you haven't been to this cafe and you live in the area and you call yourself a chocolate lover, it's a must-visit.

I basically asked for an accessible dark, and she pointed right to this one. I can see why-- it has everything I like about a good dark chocolate and none of what I don't. Namely:

- it's got a rich, true chocolate taste that's, well, bittersweet, without being too astringent.

- it's not even a teeny bit gritty. Utterly smooth.

- it has a creamy quality in both flavor and texture, which is kind of a surprise at 77%, but a welcome surprise.

I'm not one of those dark chocolate lovers who completely snubs milk chocolate, but I will say that you can easily lose your chocolate bearings when you're lost in a sea of milk, milk solids, sugar, corn syrup solids, and all the cheap fillers that give many milks a bad name. So the creamy quality paired with the rich flavor at 77% was pleasantly surprising.

I think I paid around $5-$6 for the bar, which will last me a good long while. I don't buy this stuff very often (every couple of months, if that), so to me it's worth it to get the quality bar. Let me know what you think of it if you try it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

zoos and tree climbing!

Paloma is so active, imaginative and talkative lately. I feel luckier by the minute to be her mama!

Here are some action shots:

*In the wading pool at the local park (she has a swim diaper on under her swimsuit- that's the tag)

*At the beach with Mama and Dada
*Loving on baby Sparkle
*At her most content-- on the carousel
*Enjoying the view from a branch in the fig tree (p.s. Nana dressed her)

Colbert's got the Straight Talk

Hilarity ensues:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

fall is here!

I was dreading it and dreading it. The chill, the work onslaught, the shorter days. But today it's here, all of the above, and unexpectedly-- I'm enjoying it!

I'm thinking of apple pies from the bushels coming off the tree in my parents' backyard. The enormous turkey I plan to brine again this year for Thanksgiving. Hot chocolate, cookie baking, warm hats. (Yeah, the first non food item on there. I love the food items. The warm clothes aren't as much fun. Well, unless someone wants to surprise me with a fabulous new sweater.)

And there's the fun of having two beautiful children at Christmas. The paternity and maternity leave that Derek and I are both taking which means we will enjoy this all together. Fall's not sooo bad.


Daily, Paloma acquires more words. It is SO MUCH FUN! Today she said "One a day!" because I gave her a vitamin, which she finds delicious, and told her a few days ago that she gets one a day.

Still working on figuring out Sparkle's ex-utero name!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Kiss your babies!

Paloma is growing faster as she gets older, it seems. As she approaches two, every day is filled with new words, discoveries, games and ideas.

Obviously, that means cuddling with her parents is less and less interesting. But- I still want to kiss her just as much! Sigh, this is the constant practice of letting go of parenthood I suppose.

However! I have another baby on the way! We thought we kissed Paloma a lot. *This* one is going to be kissed 24-7!!! Every chance we get!! Mwah mwah mwah.

This is not the most Zen of attitudes, exactly. I get that my lesson is to let go as they grow. But there is another lesson buried in there, and I am raising it as a PSA for all new parents:

KISS YOUR BABIES WHEN THEY'RE BABIES!! Kiss them unreasonable amounts!!!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Community Organizers Speak Out!

Wow, the Republicans had a good laugh at community organizers.

It's time for a little education on who a community organizer is. (This is such a beautiful piece- highly recommended.)

Jesus, Gandhi, MLK Jr, Cesar Chavez, Harriet Tubman, and even PTA presidents were/are community organizers.

And just for more inspiration, here's that fabulous Tubman quote:

"If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If they're shouting after you, keep going.
Don't ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."

I heard the dogs last night (she called herself a pitbull in lipstick). And doubled my donation to Obama/Biden and the DCCC.

Jon Stewart breaks it down!

As usual, some of the most candid analysis comes from Comedy Central.

Monday, September 01, 2008

even Pat and Joe say no

Hours before the McCain-Palin ticket was announced, we heard this from Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan. Spread the news far and wide-- they were against her before they were for her! It's a pretty candid view of how they really feel.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Convention Watch! Obama's Acceptance Speech

Tonight, Derek, Paloma and I joined about 20 members for a Obama speech watching party. It was historic; I didn't want to be home alone for this. I wanted Paloma to experience what it was like to witness history with a group of engaged, smart, active people.

Oh, the irony that a group of Focus on the Family folks tried to pray for rain on the Obama stadium speech. Perfectly beautiful weather tonight-- but it looks like a hurricane is about to hit the Gulf Coast just in time for the Republican convention. Doing a heckuva job!!! (And I'm just going to say it. They're great beach volleyball players, but Misty May and Kerri Walsh sounded like idiots with their "Yay Mr. President! You're doing a great job!" They are completely clueless. To be expected-- they've been focused, laser-like, on the important task of winning a medal at a beachy sport. Super duper.)

Back to the speech: I cannot tell you how grateful I am to Obama for FINALLY TAKING BACK patriotism for progressives! I am done, all done, with Republicans/conservatives claiming to be patriotic. With people who fear questioning and fear thinking so much, they cannot imagine that those of us who say "America can do BETTER than this" are patriotic.

"The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first."

I am ready to be proud of being American, but like Michelle Obama, it has been a LONG FUCKING TIME since I've been proud of this country. The past eight years have been about shoddy governance, sub par education, a weak economy, a broken health care system, an illegal war that had ZERO to do with terrorist attacks, and in general the moral strength of a newt.

Republican platitudes like "freedom isn't free! Keep our country safe and strong!" make no sense with their style of governance. Can they not see that the country is less strong than it was eight years ago? Without the kinds of common sense positions Obama advocates, there's no way to "keep our country safe and strong!" Keep praying for rain...

But let me end with this from Obama:

"This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what - it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time."
Paloma is wearing a hilarious (yet effective!) life vest-barrel thing in her way to the pool. Check it:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Convention Watch! Lilly Ledbetter's speech

Just watched Lilly Ledbetter's speech. I'm glad she got a chance to tell her story on this stage. Those of us who are a part of know it well-- as a Goodyear tire manager, she spent 19 years making less than her male counterparts for the same job, at which her performance was praised.

The Supreme Court denied her back pay (though it was awarded by lower courts), saying that she should have filed suit 180 days after the first instance of discrimination. But at Goodyear, like at many companies, it's against company policy to discuss wages. And who would ask that of new coworkers in the first six months on the job anyway?

Lilly mentioned that her case was filed on behalf of everyday working people who face this inequality all the time. For women and people of color, unequal pay is almost a given. Congress had a chance to right this wrong with the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Unlike the weak rhetoric against the Act claimed, it would NOT increase frivolous lawsuits (that's the same tired argument that gets rolled out all the time against legislation that helps consumers and working people). It only reinstates the same rights we had under the Civil Rights Act of 1964-- you wouldn't have to find out about discriminatory pay after only 6 months at a new job!

Lilly keeps up the fight- and so should we. When the Fair Pay Act comes around again, let's make sure that every Congressperson hears from us. Including the ones who abstained from the vote the first time around, including the ones who voted against it.

As a family woman (Lilly's a grandmother), Lilly knows all the needed expenses that extra income (that she earned but did not receive) could have gone to. Any of us who have faced wage discrimination and are caregivers know-- there are health care expenses, groceries, gas, and all the necessary expenditures that go into that little job of raising the next generation.

I wonder how her message will be integrated into the two candidates' platforms.

Convention Watch! Michelle Obama's Speech

Getting into the spirit of the BINGO game early, I decided to tune into Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention. There was quite a line up of speakers, from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Senator Ted Kennedy to Caroline Kennedy to the woman of the hour, Michelle Obama.


Maybe it's my third trimester hormones since I'm not usually a teary type, but when Michelle's mom starts narrating the slideshow of Michelle's childhood in her gentle voice... well, I can't help but think of the generations of mothers and children who came before. It's such a great window into the values and determination of this family.

Then Michelle's speech starts, and her first words are not about policy, the economy or the war. (And she could have delivered a passionate engaging speech on any of those things.) Instead, she talks about family-- and not in the abstract. She talks about her own experience as a sister, wife, mother, daughter. She talks about her close relationship with her dad, who suffered and eventually passed on from MS.

From there, her speech eventually does mention the economy, the war and health care, but she does it squarely in the context of family life in the United States. Instead of describing what's wrong with the system, she describes how families deal with the impact. It's a really powerful rhetorical style. She talks about parents kissing their kids good night before taking that extra night shift; about a student working nights to pay for her sister's health care; several mentions of people, especially young people, foregoing flashy careers because they're needed back in their own communities.

Michelle ends her speech where she started it-- with her own family, her daughters, her husband's desire to be the best father he can be. I came away feeling like she meant what she said, and that as a hands-on parent who has experienced what it's like to struggle a bit, she'd need no explanation of what MOTHERS on our BINGO card means.

I'm looking forward to listening to some more speeches in the next couple of weeks, during both conventions, with my BINGO card handy!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympics withdrawal?

In previous Olympics years, I didn't mourn the end of The Pageantry, the Ecstasy/Agony/John Williamsian overwrought theme song. It was just another TV event that passed.

This year, I think I'm experiencing a bit of withdrawal. But when I think about it, the end of the races and the medal ceremonies is a small part of it. I think what I'm really going to miss is that peaceful nighttime ritual Derek and I had, snuggling on the couch together to cheer on some athlete or another. Laughing at the ridiculous ads. Cursing as yet another midnight passed and we couldn't tear ourselves away to get to bed.

We're not TV watchers in general, but I'm thinking we should institute a regular movie night or pick a TV show to follow, just for fun. Suggestions?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

PSA and cloth diaper review

If you're a cloth diaper user, I just found out about two great sales!

Cotton Babies did a big clearance a month or so ago. As usual, everything got cleared out in hours. But I just noticed that the BumGenius organic one size all in ones are on sale in butternut and white. $17 a pop is a great deal for these, which normally go for $24.95 each. I tried these when the sale came around the first time and liked them so much, I wished I'd bought more. So I just did. :) Whatever stitching problem they claim exists is hard for me to find. Of course, I've never used a first-run version of these, but they really work well.

The biggest pluses here are:
1. They're one size. They'll work from newborn up to 30 lbs! Talk about savings.
2. They're all in ones. No stuffing, no folding, no separate cover. This is as easy as disposable. And lots nicer.
3. They're organic. The pesticides that go into growing cotton account for a HUGE percentage of pesticide use overall, so going organic for cotton products makes a big difference in the world (and for the workers). Also, the quality of the cotton is spectacular. I've never felt a softer diaper.

Some people have reported trouble with the velcro tabs coming undone in the wash, but I haven't had that issue in the two weeks I've been using them. They get laundered once every two to three days, and they've been great. I noticed a tiny bit of lingering odor today, but I never have before. Maybe I should have washed in warm rather than cold. I dry on one regular dry cycle, then put them out in the sun to complete the drying. I washed them with some prefolds I use as wipes, and everything came out fine.

No stains at all, by the way. And no leaks! (We'll see how newborn poo goes...)

Kissaluvs is also having a big sale at their outlet store. Everyone I know who uses these loves them, but they do require a cover. However, since they're so apparently so good at keeping in messes, you shouldn't need a ton of covers. I haven't tried them, but if you're building up your stash and have tried one of these and liked it, now's your chance to stock up.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What's so great about sporting achievements?

It's Olympics season! I have a stunning fact for you:

* Dara Torres is 41 years old. This secret has been kept tightly under wraps, but you deserve to know.

!!! It's a revelation!!!

Yes, there was no escaping the fact of Dara's age during the Games. I truly think the NBC commentators were under contract to say that she's 41 every time they said her name. Trying to beat me over the head with this fact to make me watch her compete was really, really annoying.

But I am going to ignore the annoying aspects of NBC's coverage (and they are legion) because what's so great about sporting achievements anyway? How does this help anyone?

Spoken like a true immigrants' daughter, right?

I was never encouraged in sports growing up. Well, not true- I had Indian immigrant parent-approved tennis lessons for a year. I had ballet for a year at age 5, then got dance lessons again when I begged in middle school through high school. But it wasn't something encouraged, discussed or explored much in our household. And I was a skinny kid, and probably didn't show much competitive spirit.

But studies, that I knew for sure was important to my parents. And I liked school pretty well, so you know, I did that school thing until I was, oh, through law school.

And even Derek, a decent sports enthusiast, had to agree that going to the Giants game just sucked. (Sorry Giants fans-- the drunken assholery was just stupid). So I haven't been feeling like I've missed anything huge.

Until, well, the Olympics. Strip away the ridiculous pageantry-- or wait! Before you do-- The architecture of the Bird's Nest and Water Cube is stunning, and I'm no modern/post-modern lover. And the drummers of the opening ceremony were awesome.

Ok- now strip away the ridiculous pageantry, and you've got a group of the most single-minded, driven, beautifully achieving people on the planet. I've realized that despite the values I'd been taught that didn't place much importance on sports, there's a great value in focusing everything you have on something positive, and working to achieve it in a way that transcends any previous achievement.

Why? Because every time a world record is broken, we can see what humanity is capable of-- in a good way, not a Darfur or Guantanamo kind of way. FOR ONCE!! I think this is also why lots of people are fascinated by David Blaine types of stunts-- challenging the notion of what is possible.

You might even say that Nobel Prize winners do this in their fields as well. I'd say that. It's just not as pageantrified as the Olympics, and the achievements aren't as easy to understand. NBC can't market it the same way, so there's not as much public adulation and glory. But still, same heroics, in my mind.

Maybe if we all approached our work (paid, unpaid, volunteer work, etc.) with the same focus, the same drive that Olympians bring to their work, our society would be very different. I don't mean that we'd all work at frenetic paces; I just mean that we'd all be more thoughtful, mindful about what we're doing, how we're doing it.

Maybe reminding us that we can develop that mindset is the real gift of sports achievements.

Friday, August 15, 2008

PVC- free Back to School!

Ok, so I don't quite yet have to enter the back to school fray. But I know a lot of you out there do, whether or not you're caring for a little one or shopping for yourself. Hooray for lead-free stuff!

(Oh, and while we're celebrating, HOORAY for passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act!! Usually I wouldn't be so excited about any bill that Bush signs, since we know that his double speak means that the Clear Skies Act= Coal-Spewing Protection Act, etc. But this is the strictest law in the world, banning lead and phthalates in products for kids under 12. Trustworthy people were excited, so I am, too.)

It's kind of mind-boggling that there's still so much lead out there to get onto hands and into mouths, eyes, noses, etc. But as long as there's PVC, there will be lead in it to stabilize it, and voila. Your daily dose of neurotoxin.

But there are alternative materials out there that are great. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice did a great job compiling some sources for back to school gear. The usual suspects are on the list (Ecobags, Fleurville) and some surprise big names (Targus, Nike) to make shopping easier.

Happy shopping!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the apples will not be eaten

Paloma had her introduction to death in the animal kingdom yesterday. There are a lot of deer in the regional wilderness area behind my parents' house (it's CA scrubby, not a magical forest, unfortunately). We often throw fallen fruit from my parents' trees over the fence for them. Paloma wanted to toss some apples, so we collected some.

As we approached the fence, I could smell something and heard flies buzzing and kept thinking that something must have died but couldn't see what it was... and then I saw a baby deer curled up by our fence.

P pushed a tiny apple through the wire, then another. And she said, "Up, up?" And I knelt next to her and told her, "No, honey, that deer isn't going to get up. The deer is dead, so he doesn't eat apples anymore." And she said, "Up, up?" a few more times, and we went through the explanation a few more times. Then we went to tell Grandpa and to play in the sandbox.

A few minutes later, a group of three deer had gathered by the back fence. I was surprised, thinking they'd all avoid the area for some time. But there they were. So I asked P if she wanted to gather more apples to give, and she did. Then we went through our Q&A again: "Up, up?" And she'd point to the dead baby deer. "No honey, that deer isn't going to get up because he's dead." And she'd point to the deer who were munching her apples, and I'd say, "Yes, those deer are alive and still need to eat apples." This exchange happened about 20 times.

I think it was a good introduction for her-- a part of the wildlife scene behind the house, an animal she recognized but not a pet, no entrails strewn or anything (I think it succumbed to the heat and drought). I think of death as a part of life, something all living beings experience. I wonder what, if any, memories of this Paloma will carry.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mindy Kaling is hilarious

Everyone needs a break for a laugh! Here's yours. Mindy Kaling has such a knack for making me laugh.

Ad Review!

My favorite ad so far is the Chanel ad. The model's mod haircut and FANTASTIC tights make this photo for me.

The Calvin Klein ad at the very front reminds me, yet again, of 1992. Why, oh why, are we revisiting this? Is this, plus the supermodel ad, plus the Kurt Cobain retrospective in Fashion Rocks, VF's (and the fashion world's) way of saying we're heading back to the Year of the Great Democrat in the White House? Or is there less than that in these ads?

I am NOT enamored of any of the handbags advertised. They all look too slouchy, too print-y or textured, too ... well... they're tacky to me. To each their own!

Anyone else think David Yurman jewelry looks like costume pieces from grandma? All the chain links and heaviness.

Tiffany ad was gorgeous, and I love the yellow Versace dress and purse (yes, texture-y but beautifully built).

More to come!

blast from the past- but why?

I love the new fat VF, but not sure what I think of the supermodel thing. Specifically, the timing feels odd to me. Why revisit 1990's supermodels now? What's fresh about that? Anyone have insight on that?

girl prefs, boy prefs?

What do girls and boys prefer? Well, if my sample size of one says anything, it's that it's hard to say what they prefer!

Paloma **loves** trucks and trains. (She's too busy inspecting it to be in the shot.)

Paloma loves shoes (even on the wrong feet). (These are darling Morgan and Milo sneaks.)

Paloma loves purses. (And playing with my wallet and cards.)

Paloma loves flowers.

Paloma loves getting piggy back rides (and giving them to her stuffed baby bear). Here she's on Aunt Beni's back.

Paloma loves football-- or any ball! She loves climbing things, and loves birds. She loves sparkles and blocks, dresses and her swimsuit. She loves reading books (especially books about new babies-- and dump trucks). Paloma LOVES swinging off any horizontal bar she can find- she has fabulous triceps. She loves singing and dancing to pretty music.

That's my well-rounded girl!

Monday, August 11, 2008

K's "Urban Amish"!

My friend K writes a great blog (pssst... I can link it if you want, K!) and the other day, she wrote about being "Urban Amish." She's an awesome mama, cook and photographer. Being artsy like that, she makes fabulous home cooked meals and such.

I *love* the idea of being urban Amish! I take it to mean being crafty and nontoxic. :) I love baking bread and I've wanted to get into yogurt making forever. I use white vinegar or some water-plus-essential-oil for cleaning everything (this has actually worked to get rid of My Ultimate Nemesis, ants). And I also have wanted to make some soft stuffed toys for Paloma and Sparkle (sidenote: how cute is it that Paloma calls the baby in utero "Parkle baby"?!! I melt every time she says it.). And I'm signing up for sewing lessons stat.

So fun to get crafty. (And if you haven't visited etsy, I apologize for being your enabler.)

So in that spirit, here's a link to my friend's Make Baby Stuff website. It's fabulous. It's totally feeding my dreams of making toys and things for Sparkle and Paloma.

If I get cracking, I will post pictures of things I make as I go along.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

holistic parenting in suburbia! And Review of Pangea Organics massage oil

So, while we're planning our Great Getaway from Suburbia, we do have to make a life here. Even though it's not our permanent home, we have enjoyed lots of things here-- the community swimming pool just around the corner, the parks, the many trails nearby. Ah, if only the neighbors would talk to us! Sigh. Well, can't have it all! :)

But I did find this group a few months ago (ok, half a year ago). Has anyone ever attended a meeting of these folks, the Holistic Moms Network? They look great. I met the area chapter leader at Whole Foods months ago-- she approached me because of my t-shirt.

If you belong to a great local moms' group, I'd love to hear about it. And if you know about Holistic Moms, defs leave a comment.


I tried to get a fabulous nontoxic mani-pedi at Panache Spa in Berkeley but they were closed today! :( Darn. But I did manage to get to Elephant Pharmacy and pick up some Pangea Organics massage oil (on clearance sale!) as a treat for after I give birth in a couple months.

Lavender and cardamom are supposed to be calming, clarifying and warming, which sounds perfect, especially when it will be chilly out- and I'll be sleep deprived and probably in need of some calm clarity. The packaging is minimal and you can even plant the box it comes in! The company is committed to fair trade as well as organic practices-- I feel good about supporting them. And I think the oil massage will be really beneficial. After remembering what a challenge postpartum is, I'm looking forward to all the pampering I can get!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

three thoughts for the day

This is Paloma in the woods at Mt. Tom in MA, taken with my sister's camera phone. She's growing!

1. We just returned from a trip to MA and CT. It was wonderful, and Paloma is a great traveler. She loves being on the airplane, even for a cross country trip! It's kind of amazing.

Anyhoo, we finally disembarked for the final time and Derek says, "Do you want to be a pilot?" And she says "Yes!" "Want to be a dump truck driver?" "Yes!" "Want to be a physicist?" "Mmm... noooo. Blah, blah, blah!" I nearly fell over laughing.

2. Thinking of baby names... I've got some ideas for this new little one but haven't settled on anything yet.
******If you have names that make you think of being joyful, playful, brave, feel free to put 'em in the comments!

3. Maple sugar candy from Vermont is teh redonk. (That's my Internet speak for the day.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

because you can never have enough Colbert

Damn. MoveOn and ColorofChange really know how to do a petition delivery! Over 600,000 petition signatures in protest of Fox News' ridiculously racist coverage. Nas got so much coverage for this, it's amazing. And to top it off with a Billboard #1 AND an appearance on Colbert... Weds was a good night! Colbert was in top form here. And I have to say Nas' line that was approximately "I watch CBS and I see BS. Makes a brother wanna invest in PBS" was pretty great.

the comedy continues

The McCain campaign continues to be better than the Onion. Yesterday I could not stop laughing-- as Obama gave a speech before 200,000 in Berlin, McCain was also paying tribute to Germany. At the Fudge Haus in Ohio. The FUDGE HAUS.

This morning, he looked quite presidential posing at the sausage factory under the sign "Best of the Wurst." I'm telling you, The Onion staff might as well close up shop because reality is running circles around satire right now.

Giraffe Potty Magic

So, I told you below how Minkie has this fascination with giraffes pooping and I thought I'd leverage that into some potty action.

Um, it worked.

So, I put the giraffe by the potty and then showed her the giraffe pretend-pooping into the potty a couple times. This morning, we were playing the giraffe-potty game and cheering like mad for the giraffe. And also swinging her back and forth (which she ADORES-- she says, "Mama whee? Mama whee?" to ask if I'll swing her. (We don't swing her too hard or around in circles to avoid pulling out her shoulder.)

So I got inspired and said, "You sit on the potty JUST LIKE THE GIRAFFE and Dada and I will "whee" you!" So she runs over and sits on the potty (wearing her diaper). Then runs over for a swing. Then makes her giraffe do it, and asks for the giraffe to get a swing.

We do this a couple times, cheering like CRAZY every time she sits on the potty. Then I ask her if she'd take off her diaper and sit. She reluctantly agreed. But she agreed! AND SHE SAT!!! Then cheered like you have never seen two adults cheer before, and we swung her. And we did it oh ten more times.

This is a breakthrough! Here is the same girl who only yesterday Absolutely Refused to get near the thing without a diaper. She barely would sit on it fully clothed and not if the lid was open.

I heart that giraffe.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

three thoughts for the day

Mr. Giraffe...

1. My Plantronics Bluetooth wireless headset is COMPLETELY HORRIBLY FRUSTRATING because the thing WILL NOT STAY ON MY HEAD. My ears are apparently too small for it to hang properly and snugly fit. I do not have freakishly small ears. I Hate This Headset.

2. Minkie loves giraffes. Specifically, she is fascinated by pooping giraffes ever since she saw one at the Oakland Zoo. I'll admit that seeing a giraffe pooping, seeing all that poop fall from so high, is unforgettable even for an adult. For a 20 month old-- well, "poop" and "giraffe" are now inextricably linked.

So I got this for her from a fabulous Etsy seller.

I think it should be quite the motivator sitting next to her potty.

3. David Sedaris' Barrel Fever is good in print but even better on CD. The library is your friend for audiobooks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Finally- peaceful mothering!

It has happened. My mom is off on her five week trip to India. For all the hand-wringing about how-will-we-cover-childcare, it has turned out GREAT. Know why? Because I can put a dress on in the morning and not be told I look a lot less fat in this one than yesterday's. Because I can feed my child - and myself- whatever the hell I think is good and not be second-guessed or criticized. Because I can walk around without a fight being picked every ten seconds.

HALLELUJAH!!! My mom is out of the country, y'all!!

Yes, it is that bad. I'm slowly realizing how much utter crap I've been putting up with for years now, but especially the last months when we've been living here in the 'burbs with my parents to save. Financially, this is going to be worth it. We're planning to buy a home in beautiful Berkeley, which is still ridiculously expensive and utterly worth it to us. Not everyone loves Berkeley, but I'd venture to say that many people also don't really know it.

For those who don't know Berkeley, or only know of the Free Speech Movement or the campus area-- it is beautiful, and kid-friendly, free of tacky-ass McMansions but with homes built by real architects, and easy access to SF, fantastic bookstores and truly fabulous clothing and shoe boutiques (I don't want Nordstrom or other big boxes when I can get one of a kind quality goods at boutiques like Riki, Lava 9 and Earthly Goods. One of a kind artisan quality is also why I'm a huge window shopper at

I could go on but suffice it to say this is where we want home base to be. Yeah, there's crime, self-important asses, fog, and parking hassles. Yet, here in the 'burbs is where my car got broken into, not in Berkeley. (!) There are way too many self-important asses everywhere. The heat can be HORRID (and gives my mom the excuse she always wants to keep the every single window SHUT, every shade pulled, and to sit depressedly in the dark- yeah, it sucks). And it's nice to live where there are too many fun places to eat and shop and not enough places to park, than where there's too much parking for a few crappy strip mall stores.

Ok, SO! Four more weeks of freedom. Then dear readers, who knows what will happen. Perhaps she'll return from India transformed. Perhaps not. All I know is, at least I'll have this sweet sweet memory.

Monday, July 21, 2008


ACK- it has been a busy month! I traveled to the Omega Institute last weekend for a workshop. It was great- we have such smart, talented members. In between our sessions, we could take free yoga classes, or meditate, or walk the grounds, or eat local organic ice cream in the cafe, or enjoy fab vegetarian meals...

Everyone was genuinely friendly, and when I say genuine, it's a good thing because there's a way in which these hippie enclaves can sometimes feel, well, fake, exclusive (especially if you're not white), and way too woo-woo. But this seemed like a grounded place with nice people.

And whatever woo there was, was grounded in thousands of years of yogic and other teaching, so it wasn't just pulled out of someone's karmic butt. I appreciate that.

I even made some signficant strides of my own, reading (yet again) Pema Chodron's Wisdom of No Escape (which I can't recommend highly enough to people who are about to give birth and/or become a parent- even if all you remember is the title, it will help!).

Here are some pictures of the lovely weekend.

Welcome! The lovely dining hall is just behind this field.

My shared cabin.

Pond next to the stairway leading to the sanctuary.

Monday, June 30, 2008

camping and wedding!

We spent a lot of time in the woods recently. Two weekends ago we were cabin camping in Sonoma, at the beautiful Valley of the Moon camp. And last weekend, we were in the mystical woods near Shelter Cove, way up on the Lost Coast, for the gorgeous wedding of one of my dearest friends. Minkie did beautifully in both situations-- she's a versatile girl!

It's really fun to parent Paloma as she grows and talks more. She's saying "Nooooo" and "Yeah!" in totally appropriate ways! It's really exciting to communicate like this. I've said it before, but... parenting really does get better and better. At least, when you're finally getting full nights of sleep again, it gets saner!

SIDEBAR: People who say, "Oh, you'll regret it when she talks back to you!" can shove it. (Can you tell that my pet peeve is parents who say "Just you wait" to me? Seriously, people. It is so annoying when parents/grandparents stealth-complain or condescend to me. Have you run across this?) Also, in positive news, I've also had total strangers come up to me on the street to say that parenting keeps getting better, even with their teens. Yep.

Into the woods!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

the butt-erfly!!!

I totally forgot to post the picture of the butt-erfly we did for Father's Day! I traced her butt on a piece of paper after a bath, and we colored it in for Dada. He loved it. :)

parenting not in a vacuum

As Paloma grows, I can see that there will be many, many times when she's exposed to things I wouldn't have said or done in front of her. Gasp- different ideas!! I know, I'm sounding sooo over-protective.

It's just that I just had a little bit of a knee jerk reaction when I heard her playing with two slightly older girls (10, 12) who came over (they were all being watched by my mom while I worked). Their mom is a conservative Christian, and they sang her "Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes" -- but ended it "All for Jesus!"

Ok, which isn't some terrible weird message, and we're Christian too, but we're not the crazy weirdo right-wing anti-intellectual media whore kind. If you know what I mean, and I think you do. So anyway, it made me raise an eyebrow.

But I realized that as she grows, she's going to come into contact with all sorts of wacky folks and people who tell her, straight to her face, the wrong things. When you have a physicist dada and a law trained mama... well, let's just say we share valuing the truth above all else, including our own egos. We're quick to admit we're wrong when the other is right (this is easier to do when both spouses do it!). And that's all to say that we want to raise her with these values too-- a commitment to truth, facts, compassion, hard work, etc. Not just believing whatever she hears.

So I'm hoping that she learns to think critically and remembers what we teach her, what values we hold dear. Not that we're always going to be right, but... you do the best you can as a parent, and hope it sticks at the needed time. So when some other kid, other parent, even a teacher or random stranger tells her something totally off-kilter, I can still be comfortable that, one day a few years from now, she can figure out for herself what's real and what isn't.

She's currently only 20 months old (my baby!) but she understands everything, at least on a literal level. Which is what concerns me... it seems like such a formative time in her brain. But at some point I have to let this go, let her absorb everything as her brain is wont to do at this point, and accept that a loving and thinking atmosphere at home will help her become the person she's meant to be.

Paloma lately

It is so fun to parent Paloma as she grows. I really think parenting gets easier (at least physically) as they grow. And it is a lot easier to deal with the emotional ups and downs of growing up if you're getting a full night's sleep! There are things I love about infancy, but it really takes a ton of energy. Also, there are all the questions about how best to deal with career moves. I'm keeping the faith that it all works out somehow.

Paloma is into identifying "girls" and "boys" ever since I pointed out the difference earlier this week. She gets it right about 75% of the time, I'd say, and to be fair, it's not always totally obvious one way or the other anyway! It's funny-- I only said something about girl/boy once, but she immediately picked up on it and started labeling.

She also sorts people into mamas, dadas, nanas (grandmas) and babies. Anyone under, oh, 7 or so, is a baby. Anyone who looks older than around 50 is a nana. All others are mamas and dadas. Interesting!

And she LOVES singing, dancing and playing her tiny keyboard (attached to a songbook). Sometimes she does all three. I've tried to take a video of this, but once she notices the camera, all she wants to do is get behind the camera. One of these days I'll post a video!

Until then, here are some new pics:

In the second one, she's holding on to a couple of stuffed sea creatures (starfish, seashell) that a friend made for her. They were SO cute!! I'm totally inspired to make a bunch of these things. She's a really fun child, but she has her serious side. As you can see. :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

terrrrst fist jab!

This is HI-larious. I mean, really. I was laughing and laughing. FOX "News" can be entertaining! That is, when the lazy opinion pieces and careless "reporting" aren't so galling as to raise my blood pressure. When they hire people who can actually think deeply and carefully, I might tune in for info. But until then-- I give you yet another way the Obamas are plotting to bring down the US! The victory fist bump!!

(Don't worry, that's a link to the UK Guardian.)

I'm sorry. I just can't type this without giggling. Man, when I need a break from intelligent news sources like CSPAN and Gwen Ifill, I know where to turn!

beautiful film for Father's Day

Ok, it's not the whole film. It's just a trailer for a film coming out in a couple years. But the trailer is so beautiful, I had to share. If there's a dad/father figure in your life whom you love, and whose parenting you admire, you'll want to share this.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

quick elegance on a dime

Just the article I needed-- how to create an elegant living space without spending a fortune. I'm not into shabby chic or Ikea, but I find that our mishmash of stuff might say to the untrained eye, "I'm a shabby chic freak who dabbles in Ikea worship."

Ok, we're not that bad. I've been intentionally kind of draconian about not buying or even accepting donations of crap. So, yay me, good first step.

But it's nice to find a useful article with pointers. Nothing's new, but the advice is put together in an easy to use, non-threatening way. The fundamental thing here is to eliminate clutter. So basically, to achieve elegance:

Step 1: Remove all clutter. Even things you don't consider clutter, remove. The walls should be stripped bare, everything small removed. Only large furniture remains.

Step 2: Remove drapes (especially if old, musty, out of date). Paint a wall (or use these awesome wall decals).

Step 3: If you must, bring back a few things you removed. Group like things-- three photos together, a few candles. This looks less like clutter and more like an intentional collection.

NOTE: Do not bring everything back!!

I'm going to add the necessary but unmentioned Step 4: join freecycle and get rid of all the stuff you realized is subtracting from your overall elegance.

I realize this is just a variation on the old "remove clutter" theme. But I think it's useful, and it does help pare down to the nicest things we own-- a gorgeous yellow vase from a DC antique shop, a handcarved wooden box, a laptop and lots of empty space is ideally all that would be on my desk.

And it was, after an interior decorator had her way with my home office. Now it's creeping back toward clutter-- not much, but enough so that I see that this is an ongoing task. Yay!

p.s. The photos suck, so don't look to them as an example. They represent the best in 80s decorating...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Panties for Burma!

This is hilarious. And it also sounds effective- so I had to share!

Women friends-

Your panties are needed for Burma! Women of Burma are tired of all the nonsense that has been happening with the military dictatorship-it is beyond ridiculous...peaceful protest, military resistance, diplomacy...all have been attempted and have not succeeded and so outrageous means are now necessary.

It is believed in Burma that contact with women's undergarments will rob men of their power. General Than Shwe-leader of the regime is especially fearful of women's undergarments. For more information visit Panty Power and the Panties for Peace campaign intends to bring down the regime one pair at a time and you can help now!

So clean out that underwear drawer ladies, write a message to the junta PEACE NOW!, DEMOCRACY NOW! (or whatever you wish)-or glue one of the military generals faces provided on the Lanna Action Website and send them off to the Embassy of Myanmar Address:

The Union of Myanmar. 2300 S Street, NW, Washington DC 20008. Telephone: (202) 332-3344

Please also take a picture (of the panties and/or you sending them off) and send to me so I can share with friends in Thailand-I know the instigators and was lucky enough to be involved when the plot was hatched! (NOTE: I don't know who the Kristen is who wrote this up. So, no need to send Wordydoodles your panty photos! :))

Women in Thailand, England, the Philippines and around the world have already taken part and now is time for the US step up our panty diplomacy! Circulate this to all who you know who wear panties-post it on your blogs and websites-send early-send often!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

butt-erflies for Father's Day

Ok, I know you're just dying to find the Greatest Father's Day gift there is. I have an idea for you-- if your baby daddy has a sense of humor, and your kid is still small enough for this to be not breaking some kind of law.

People, I give you-- Butt-erflies!! Yes, a very crafty (and hilarious) mama who participates in an online mama forum I'm on came up with this one. She paints each of her young kids' butts, then has them sit on a piece of paper. Then decorates it and makes it a card. Have a butt-erfly card for Father's Day! Watch it grow year to year!

I think P would not stand (or sit) for this, so I'm going to try tracing her butt on a piece of paper and making our butt-erfly that way.

Don't say Wordydoodles never did anything for you. ;) Come on, this project is worth about fifty-six thousand four hundred and two laughs, which will bolster even the strongest marriage/partnership.

Funny variation-- you could keep this and compare it to one you do after Thanksgiving, because, you know, forget about the turkey made by cutting out your hand tracing. Everyone knows the best new thing this Thanksgiving will be Thanksgiving butt-erflies!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Carousel or bust

You will probably never see Paloma smiling on a carousel. At least, I haven't yet. It's not because she doesn't like them. No, Paloma *loves* carousels. She loves them so much, with such deep intensity, that when one is near, all her focus is on it. When she's strapped onto her animal friend, her anticipation is so ridiculously focused, she could probably power a laser. The girl isn't interested in wasting energy smiling for me or anyone-- not when there's a carousel needing her undivided attention.

And let's not talk about when the ride is over, because it's heartbreaking. For me! I have never, ever seen her sign "more" more frantically than yesterday, when her beloved panda gave out on its bounding circles. Derek was standing next to her, and I was at the sidelines taking pictures. The look on her face was disappointment the likes of which you may have seen, oh, in the Olympics. Maybe on a passionate- but losing- soccer team. A team who thought they had won-- but then had their medals stripped. For a technicality. Then multiply that by eleventy billion. That was the look on her face.

Open mouth crying, tears pouring down...this girl is a dedicated carousel connoisseur. Since March, she's ridden carousels:

- in a random mall on the drive to Santa Barbara. (Her first time ever. She was terrified at first, then cried when it was over.)
- Park in Santa Barbara near the beach (it was historic)
- Tilden Park, Berkeley (another historic one)
- Kennedy Park, Hayward
- Oakland Zoo

Not bad!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No More Sneezing in my Salad!

You know how it is when you're sooo excited to eat some delicious naughty thing, maybe fast food or maybe just at a restaurant, and then you see your server sniff mightily? Wipe their nose on their sleeve? Sneeze as they walk from your table?

And then you think, "Do I eat this? Crap... I paid for it, I'm so hungry, I'm going to take a chance here, but..." and then the fun of it is all drained away and you're just hoping that your immune system is in full working order.

Well, if most workers had paid sick days, they wouldn't chance your health OR their own by coming in to work. They'd be able to stay home, get well and not worry about losing their wage or even their jobs. And you wouldn't have to worry about gross germs spreading in your food (or by your kid's daycare provider). Sounds reasonable, right?

Except that most workers don't get a chance to earn paid sick days. BUT we can change that right now!

Here's the latest from MomsRising (this is the CA version but here is the version for the whole country, supporting the Healthy Families Act):

Dear California Member,

Great news! Thanks in part to the fabulous orange-o-grams you sent to your California legislators, the Assembly Appropriations Committee reported the Sick Days bill out for a full vote by the California Assembly! This is a tremendous step forward.

Things are moving quickly now. In fact, the California Assembly may vote on the Paid Sick Days bill today, and they need to hear from you!

Ask your representatives to vote YES now!

Why are paid sick days so important? Two big reasons -- public health and family stability. Did you know that 86% of service sector employees (that includes cooks and waiters) don't have a single paid sick day? And, all told almost 6 million workers in California do not get a single paid sick day.

For parents without sick days, a child's ear infection or case of the flu can mean no money for rent or food on the table...or even losing a job. This is why day care centers and other workplaces are hotbeds for spreading disease-- when people get sick, they have no options. This legislation also covers victims of domestic violence who could use paid sick days to care for their physical, psychological, and legal needs.

The bottom line is that California's working people need paid sick days to recover from illness and take care of their sick kids without endangering public health or risking their jobs.

The more of us who let the legislature know we need this policy, the better chance we have of passing it. Forward this email to friends and family today so they can take action too.

And, don't forget to tell your Assemblymember to vote YES on Paid Sick Days today!

Thank you!
--Katie, Kristin, and the Team

P.S. Check out this great piece from the Sacramento Bee about the benefits of Paid Sick Days

makeup and your kid

I love EWG (Environmental Working Group). (BTW, that's a link to their site for parents.) They are the ones who brought us the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which is just awesome if you're looking to find out what makeup and personal care products are *really* the best ones for you (and which are just a sham).

They have this sensible little blog post on letting your kids play with makeup. They're going to be curious about it... especially if they're like Paloma, and have seen adults applying lip gloss and the like since, oh, about hour one of their lives.

So how to ensure they're not swallowing/absorbing all the lead, phthalates and whatnot? Come up with clever substitutions of course (wouldn't be a bad thing for me to keep in mind, either). Don't be fooled by cosmetics labeled "for kids." It's not safer.

It sucks, but there is zero regulation on most personal care stuff, and most companies can and do put all sorts of truly bad chemicals in there to make the product "perform" (e.g., causing the product to penetrate your skin more deeply, or be more sudsy, etc.). It's not like the stuff vanishes... usually it gets absorbed.

I still use lipstick, gloss, sunscreen, lotion. I firmly believe we have to live in the world and not be paranoid, but the facts are the facts-- some of this stuff is linked to cancer, most of it was *not* around when we were in utero or kids, and none of it is regulated. So get smart, consumers! Some brands are better than others. As usual in the US, yer on yer own (Clint Eastwood squinty eyes). But if you can read and have access to that Skin Deep database, you're ahead of the game.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I don't have a shoe fetish, but apparently my daughter has quite an interest. And I'm starting to catch it, so I tried on (and bought!) these beauties at a lovely small Berkeley boutique:

They also have (well, had until I wore them) these awesome soles:

And she came right up and poked them and said "OooOOooo!" She's really into shoes. It could be because we have her wear shoes outside, so she associates putting them on with getting to go play.

I also got her a new pair of sandals. They're See Kai Runs (the most delicious kids shoes), style Jacob. (Yep, they're for boys, but totally look gender neutral in orange and green. And they went beautifully with her clothes!)

Here she is in all her funky, fabulous glory:

I realized I like shopping at small shops much more than at big box dept stores. There's often hand made things of gorgeous quality. At riki in Berkeley, one of the buyers was there and talked with us about the designer who owns the store. She knew the artists who made the jewelry and the people who made the clothes. And the stuff is just more interesting. Obviously, one can't buy a ton of stuff (unless one is super wealthy), but I'd rather buy one thing I totally love and will wear and feel good about than a bucketful of crap. If there's a lesson for Minkie in all this, I'd like it to be that.

Or, if we're skipping the lesson for today, I'm just glad she's out and about, enjoying playing in her gorgeous, comfy new sandals.