Sunday, November 30, 2008


It is terribly materialistic of me, but one of my absolute favorite things about the holidays is giving thoughtful gifts. When I am out and about and I see something that one of my loved ones will adore, it is so fulfilling to get it, wrap it up, have the anticipation of seeing their reaction, actually seeing their reaction, and knowing that they get the underlying message: I know you well, and I love you dearly. My partner is a no nonsense, get-what-is-on-the-person's-wish-list kind of shopper. That gets the person something they want and will love, but the surprise factor, the "I know you so well" factor, is lost. Over time, I have fallen more and more into the wish list category as life with kids has made shopping (and life) more chaotic.

This year, there is a much bigger issue than how to shop. It is that we can't shop. We just don't have the funds to spare for anything extra. We just can't give like we have in the past. I knew it was coming, so I have been making as many gifts as I can. I am really excited about what I am making. But, when I am out and about and I see something one of my loved ones would adore, I feel a physical pang at passing it up. Like I cannot afford to give the love I so want to share.

I know it is really about the love, not the gifts, but in my family, the whole tradition of surprise is huge.

There was the year I got a watch (a Swatch, remember those? that I REALLY wanted) in a 4 by 3 by 3 box... that's feet, not inches. There were rocks and bottles half full of water and all kinds of things jammed into the huge box to make it more confusing when shaken. By my much older brother. Who taunted me with it. Daily.

Many years, someone got a gift consisting of a card with a clue that lead you to search all over the house for more clues until you finally found your gift. One year my dad kept jokingly telling me all he wanted for xmas was a Rolls Royce. So I got him a key to a Rolls Royce and a clue describing where to find the car. Several clues later he found it. A 6 inch Rolls, in white. He didn't mention what size Rolls he wanted...

There was the time that I gave a riddle of a toy car and a deck of cards, and not until the riddle was solved would I give the real gift (a copy of Wheeler Dealers. get it?).

Yes, most of these were in the halcyon days of childhood, but still, they hold a mystical power over me.

Thoughtful gifts say something that words just can't. I have been working since August (maybe July?) to hand make presents for the people I love because I knew we would be pretty broke this year. I didn't anticipate that all this crafting work still wouldn't feel like enough. I know, I know, it is really about the connections, the love....

As I reflect on how I am feeling, I can see that it is the magic of the holidays... the magic the ADULTS created, that I miss the most. Buying gifts was the way I could help make magic as a child and I have never moved beyond that method. I really miss having adults to create the magic. What? I have to be my own adult? sigh. (We still haven't even decided whether to believe in Santa in this house. We do some crazy agnostic version, where they get presents from Santa but when asked, we say we don't know if Santa exists but we believe in the spirit of the holidays. yeah, yeah, I know.)

In reflcting on this, I can see that I have been amazingly creative in my gift giving for most of my life. Now I need to apply that spirit to my whole holiday, finding ways to bring the magic into it, sans money. Looks like I need to get out the lights and string up some magic.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The baby has been sick. I am getting no sleep. I am still tragically sad about my recent pummeling at the hands of a friend and the ensuing drama that followed when I reacted only with love. I can't seem to let this go. And, because it all happened on my blog, I find myself paralyzed about blogging. This is a space for my truth and to be judged on it feels more violating than I had imagined it could. I got called "a nut" by a dear friend because of my profession. I am stressed out about the holidays because, well, they are stressful. Fun, but stressful. Most of all, I am sad. As my existential crisis lingers on and on (and on, yes, I know, get over it), I feel like the people I can trust just gets smaller and smaller. I feel so alone so much of the time.


I have two amazing children that mean the world to me.
I have the best partner in the world. I would seriously pit her against anyone in a "being a good partner" contest. She would totally win.
I have a home that is safe and beautiful.
I have people who care for me.
I get to practice my career two hours a week which helps me remember the larger part of me so I don't drown in full time mommyhood.
I have family that loves me dearly and shows me the best they know how.
I am healthy.
I have time each day to relax and be brain dead for a while. Well, most days....
I get to be creative on a daily basis.
I get to raise my own children.
I have many many books. (That should go higher on the list...)

You see, I have so much to be thankful for. I will sit with the sadness and let it be tempered by my gratitude.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I wish I knew...

I don't understand
One day I am calm
And peaceful
In the face of tsunami storms
Wash over me
Through me
Past me
While within I am centered.

Another day
The waters are calm
But I am not.
The storm rages within,
And the most gentle wind
Somehow sets tidal waves in motion
And I am left to
Hold back the storm
Trying so hard
But failing so pathetically
To protect
Those I

The difference is within,
Not without.
This much
I know.

The rest is a mystery.
Depths I cannot fathom
No matter how I try.
Being gentle to myself
Does not come naturally,
But I try to
So slowly,
For the storms I weather
Within and

Friday, November 21, 2008

Get me some of that self-compassion!

Check out this amazing article. If you are one of those people who skips hyperlinks, then don't! Kristin Neff has written a beautiful article all about self-compassion, something we need more of in this world.

"You will encounter frustrations. Losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us."

She talks about ways to increase self-compassion and even has a cool website.

Good stuff, huh?

Have a good weekend, everybody, and let's all practice some self-compassion!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Peace comes to those who put aside their anger,
Put aside their frustration
And ask:
What can I do
to solve this?

Peace comes to those who look past ignorance
And violence
And ask:
What don't I know
that I need to learn?

Peace comes to those who resist judgment
And righteousness
And ask:
What would it be like
to be her?

Peace comes to those who live their lives
And ask,
Daily ask,
How can today's actions be part of
My long term dreams?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This is why I am a crappy activist.

We had a hugely busy weekend. We sorted roughly a million boxes (OK, maybe just 20) of kid clothes into categories: too little girl, too little boy, too big girl, too big boy, donating to strangers, giving to people we know, and of course, boy and girl clothes for this winter. It was a huge task.

This is ONE of the two rooms with clothes strewn about, at a point when it wasn't as bad as it got. See?

We did many other things too, like running errands, eating, etc. I was too busy to even turn on my computer. Finally, tonight, Pablo is in bed, and I have 13 seconds to myself. So I turn on the computer, check in on my scrabble games, and start reading yesterday's blog posts. Most are all about blogging against Prop 8.

Well, crap. This is something you would think I would know about. But apparently I was too busy chasing my crazy kids around to realize anything was happening. The funny thing is, my partner was talking about the protests this weekend, and I honest to god didn't realize she meant any official, organized thing. I mean, they have been blocking traffic in LA since the election, right? How was I supposed to know that Saturday was something extra special? No one told me a thing. Phooey. I mean, I would have at least posted something!

So here you go, too little too late.

Prop 8 is wrong. This country was founded on the principle of the separation of church and state. Now, I understand that we have never actually operated that way, but I for one think that this is the latest example of ultra conservative religious fanatics thinking they have the right to legislate their own version of morality. Apparently they do. But they shouldn't. Oh, why bother? Keith Olbermann said it best.

Join the Impact!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Who's your daddy?

My kids came from the magical combination of my body and an anonymous sperm donor. I have never really been curious about who that donor was, until now.

I have been trying to teach Beebz to say "Obama" since 1)she loves to say B's and M's and 2) I think it would be really cute. So imagine my surprise when I said, "Say Obama!" and she replied, "DADDY!!"

ummm. ok, she had never said that word before. Sure, "dadada" and other such baby ramblings, but never "Daddy." Could it be, deep in her genetic code, she knows something I don't?

Or maybe she just knows Barack Obama is to be a new father to our nation, bringing new hope and progress to our bedraggled country. Pretty impressive political commentary for a 10 1/2 month old, no?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some books are meant to be read...

...slowly. I just finished Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children: Becoming a Mindful Parent by Sarah Napthali, which was wonderful. But it was not one I wanted to rush through. I have had the book 3 months, a gift from the author (thank you again!) and I loved all that it had to say. It is parenting philosophy, Buddhism style, which is my favorite kind of book these days. It is a book that is meant to be sipped, not gulped. In fact, my intention is to immediately read it again because it is the kind of book that has many layers that only diffuse into your mind with multiple exposures.

Other books are meant to be wolfed down. The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums, and Tears by Elizabeth Pantley (another gift from the author, thank you so much!) is a perfect example. If you are struggling with parenting issues, this book has awesome down to earth TOOLS to use. There is little philosophy here. It is a tool box. I dividethe techniques in 4 categories: 1) tools I knew and forgot, 2) tools that never occurred to me, 3) tools I choose not to use (ie reward/punishment kinds of techniques... Alphi Kohn is right, even if he is depressing), and 4) the tools I was using but hadn't given myself credit for. Lovely. Many of the tools remind me of Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen, but this book is organized for the mom who is frantically looking for a solution. It came in very handy when I was freaking out a couple of weeks ago. We are currently trying to implement the "get your kid to stop interrupting you partially by noticing how often you interrupt others" one. eek.

Both books I consider must reads, and my top 10 will just have to expand. And in the mean time, I find myself wondering: does everyone writing mom blogs get books sent to them, or am I just speshul (as in, "oh my gawd we need to help this poor woman" kind of speshul...)? I think I will just assume that my honesty and wit draw a literary crowd who are both wise and generous. Yeah... that's it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

NAET and other news...

Pablo started NAET today. It is an allergy elimination system that uses exposure and acupressure. I could describe it better, but at this point, that's pretty much all I know. It came highly recommended to me by many people, and I am really excited about it.

They told us that when kids are exposed to the allergen, they may react in all different ways. Pablo opted for being a whirling dervish, and acting as insanely hyperactive as I have ever seen him. The trick is, I didn't know he had the allergen, so I just thought he was being wild for no reason at all. Pink spots appeared on his cheeks, and he was literally bouncing off the walls. And the door. And the table. And, and, and....

It looks like to get everything done, we need about 8-10 weeks going 2-3 times a week. Fun, fun, fun. But seriously, this is going to be kind of scary. I have to take him, by myself, and with the baby, to a place where they expose him to things that make him act like a maniac. Wheeeee.

At the end of it all, he should be allergy free. The doctor said the effects are amazing. I can't wait to see.

In other news, we went to the Renaissance Festival this weekend. Everyone got tired of it way before me, but then again, part of me wishes I could be an artisan gypsy and travel from fair to fair etc. It is so magical. Maybe the baby will love it and she and I can make it a special mama thing when she gets older....

And finally, to k, who has so publicly judged me and my parenting, thank you. I was rather forcefully reminded today just how painful it is to be on the receiving end of cruel and judgmental statements. I sat with it. I was very hurt by your comments about my bad parenting, and the insults to my son. In sitting with my pain and feelings of betrayal, it occurred to me that I sometimes cause this pain in others through my own judgments. The tenet that is the backbone of my moral code is "Do as you will, and harm none." Thank you for reminding me how much pain judgmental attitudes cause, whether said out loud or kept in our minds. I will be more mindful to always choose the best interpretation I can for people's actions and words rather than judging them. I can never walk in another person's shoes, so I will never know why they choose the actions they do. And if you think that I am not trying, every day, and in every way, to be a better parent, then you aren't reading my blog that closely. It is the air I breathe. As much as I wish I could be a perfect parent, I am a work in progress. But I am trying, with every ounce of my being, to evolve.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Gross National Happiness

Bhutan has a new king. I heard on the Rachel Maddow show (love her, and yes, I am WAY too news obsessed these days. I am hoping that I will chill now that I know the nation is in safe hands again.) that the 28 year old has just been crowned. For those concerned about his age, experience, etc, he assured citizens that he will be continuing his father's policies and keeping a high priority on the gross national happiness.

You read that right. Gross national happiness.

Apparently in Bhutan, the health of the nation is not considered exclusively in economic terms. It matters as much to the government that the residents are spiritually and mentally healthy as they are materially sound.

Rachel made kind of a joke about it, but I think it may be the coolest thing ever. Can you imagine a country that considers itself poor if the people are unhappy? If they are not peaceful with one another? If they have needs (beyond material ones) that are not being met? What a sense of community they must have here. What momentum to feel that every person's actual happiness is of concern to the powers that be.

The scientist in me is dying to know how they measure it, and whether each person gets to define their own happiness. I can see many ways this could go wrong in real life, but the ideal is something to live up to.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


For the first time in a long time, I have hope for my country. I am so very excited and touched by the outcome of the election. I am so very grateful. Obama is truly a great man, and I know he will change so many things about our country, and teach Americans how each of us can be better individuals.

I had hard things to explain to a 4 year old today. Why people would dislike his mamas. Why people would discriminate against people of color or gays and lesbians. I did my best. My favorite line was when I was trying to explain Prop 8. I told him that gay is when two people who are both women or both men love each other. He looked at me curiously and said, "But Mama, I love everybody... what does that make me? " Innocent, kiddo, and I hope you stay that way. His next comment, after some thought was, "Why does anyone care who anyone loves? Love is always good, right?" Yes, honey, love should trump everything else. I wish everyone else saw it that way.

Pablo, in trying to understand this whole crazy election things, is now obsessed with the red and blue map. We printed a copy and he has been coloring in the states red and blue, and he just can't stand it that he doesn't know what color to make North Carolina yet. He is also now pretending to be Barack Obama. I get to be Joe Biden, and the baby is stuck being McCain. All that's left is Sarah Palin. Yep, you guessed it. My partner in an updo.

It is so nice to feel such relief. I feel stronger about facing my own little issues in the wake of knowing the many difficult times ahead of Obama. If he can turn this backwards country around, then I can get it together and raise my kids to be happy and healthy.

Yes we can.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Can't Type. Praying.

I truly believe that if every vote were to really get counted, Obama would win by a landslide. But since the republicans have literally stolen the last two presidential elections, I am filled with anxiety about it. We know they are up to their usual tricks, but we don't yet know if it will be enough. It kills me that the republicans are all about American values but they cheat in every election. Please, please, please, let us win. Please?

Monday, November 3, 2008

he's allergic to soy. and corn.

We discovered today that Pablo is allergic foods in his staple diet. Soy and corn. This is a kid who drinks soy milk and eats soy as his main protein source. This is because of two things: we are vegetarians, and he is an amazingly picky eater. Beans are a no, as are eggs. Of course he doesn't like cow milk (which is how we got to soy... he also doesn't like rice milk or almond milk or any of the other ones). I am panicking but at the same time I am glad to know, because now we can do something about it. But eliminating these two will be the hardest two things we could possibly eliminate. Except for air, I guess. Seriously, check your bread. Soy flour. Check pretty much anything. Soy flour. argh.

We plan to make an appointment with a NAET specialist as soon as possible. For those not in the know, that is an allergy elimination specialist. Because why have allergies if you don't have to? But in the mean time, we are supposed to completely stop all soy and all corn. After the treatment, we will have to be more careful with them and not use them daily.

In the mean time, we have told Pablo that he needs to become an adventurer with food and try all kinds of things he has never tried before. I reminded him that at one time, he had never tried artichokes or strawberries. He is excited about this "adventure." (In my back pocket is a sinister tool: I had started him on a new vitamin with superfoods in it and he doesn't like the taste. I told him why he needs the vitamin, but that I understand why he doesn't want to eat it. I told him that if he eats the new foods, he doesn't have to take the vitamin, but if he isn't getting enough healthy foods, the vitamins will be the only way to get him the foods he needs. Bribery, free and clear. I feel bad about it, and I hope I won't have to actually employ the method.) Right now he is into the whole adverturer thing, which I really hope will work.

I feel so overwhelmed about making the change, but also so hopeful. He has lost so much of his usual focus, and if this helps him, it will be worth all the trouble (and money)it will cost.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I don't know why...

but I am in a slump. Everything seems so hard, and such a fight. Even things that should be easy are getting overwhelming. My partner and I are in one of those yucky spaces where it seems like everything each of us says gets taken the wrong way and we both end up hurt or upset. I feel more and more tired every day and getting up the energy to do even normal stuff seems impossible. It is Sunday and I feel like this. Yes, we had a busy weekend, but when don't we. So I start off the week feeling like all I want to do it crawl in a hole and hide.

I have been reading Alfie Kohn, which is always depressing, but that can't be all of it. You know all those plans I made to deal with Pablo's energy and focus? Well, that all got called off in favor of taking Pablo to the dentist twice last week and then feeding him lots of candy. Not really lots... a piece a day. Woo hoo for Halloween. And throwing a party. And having our pictures made (MANY thanks to our friend the photographer who took the time to chase our family around the most beautiful park I think I have ever seen while trying to talk Pablo into anything resembling cooperation!).

Tomorrow we will get seriously serious. Tomorrow we go to the chiropractor so Pablo can be tested for allergies and we can get cracking on any environmental issues he may have. (Sorry, the chiro joke couldn't be resisted. I know, my humor needs an adjustment. Oops, did it again.... I really could go on, but I don't have the energy.) And we will follow our plan... and hopefully I will get an attitude adjustment. Cause right now I just want to cry. Even my own puns don't make me laugh, and if that doesn't do it, pretty much nothing will.

Breathe. That's all I can do.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Ok, so I am a day late, but it has been uber busy around here, what with making Stuart Little tails and getting Pebble's hair just right. We have had a stressful, but wonderful, Halloween. Trick or Treating last night, followed by a small party today... thank the gods it was small, since that meant I got to hang out with almost everyone for a good amount of time. I am exhausted from cleaning and cooking and costuming etc, but we had a great day.