Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Disconcerting News

My pregnancy was becoming more real to me with each day. We had seen the heartbeat at two visits, we saw the shape of the baby's body starting to form, we even got to take home some ultrasound photos. With each week though my vomiting got more severe. I started the medicine pump shortly after my 9 week check up.  It seemed to help within a day or so. It didn't take away all of the discomfort but I felt more like I had mild motion sickness which was welcomed.  I started to feel better. The medication stopped the vomiting...it also likely stopped the pregnancy.

When I went in for my twelve week check up, my husband and I joked about what color the baby's eyes might be, but I was distracted. Every appointment I had when I was pregnant was nerve-racking. I would hold my breath until I saw the heartbeat and heard everything was growing normally. When our doctor on this visit walked in and asked how we were, I actually responded by saying, “Nervous." He preceded carefully and began the ultrasound. His first word out of his mouth was "unfortunately" and the rest of whatever he said sounded like a slow motion, dizzying mess of words. I just remember my husband's arm around me, and that I grabbed my doctor's hand, as if to plead with him to give me different news. The next thing I did was to take off the port and pull out the needle attached to me. I didn't need this pump anymore. I hated wearing it, and so I wouldn't keep it attached to me one second more than I needed to. With a little time and a lot of questions, I learned that our baby's heart stopped beating just a few short days after the pump going in. Needing something to blame I gave all responsibility of this loss to the medication. It just seemed to obvious.

I had to have a D&C in the hospital because the fetus was too big to have the procedure in my doctor's office. This allowed me to also have a pathology report done on the baby. I learned that the baby was missing a chromosome and that even if it survived it would have been severely learning disabled and physically stunted. I looked at my healthy daughter and thought of how many miracles have to line up to create the healthy cells that result in a healthy baby. I was grateful that I made her and she was okay. My doctor said it was unlikely the medicine hurt the baby, and that it would be hard to prove anything if it did. I still wondered though. I researched some stories online and found one or two, but not many. After some time though, I set my sights on getting pregnant again. I wanted to move on, I wanted a baby, I wanted to get pregnant, and this time I would endure any illness without medication.

Once again I began getting sick, losing weight, and became dehydrated. Set on not taking Zofran, I agreed to go to my doctor's office to receive a fluids IV twice a week. My pregnancy wasn't fun, and it wasn't pretty — but I survived it. I also got a healthy seven pound baby boy, so with that I happily put pregnancy behind me. Forever. I never again thought about Zofran, because I didn't want to. It does re-open a wound though, to know that the medication could have indeed cost us a baby. Upon finding more out about a class action case against the manufacturers of Zofran, I decided not to participate in the law suit. I have everyone who I was meant to have in my family. Placing blame will not bring a baby back. I don't want a settlement check. I have my family now and I am more than content with that. I will however make it my mission to ensure that I speak out against taking Zofran while pregnant. It is still being prescribed to pregnant women, and I know well the desperation to feel better, but this is not a solution.  I don't know of any other ways to get through a rough pregnancy, but there is a huge prize at the end and it's worth waiting for.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Time At the Y

A few months ago I wrote about some wisdom my husband had gleaned from a yoga class at the local Y. I finally had some time to take a class on my own, since my boy goes to preschool there for a few hours. I couldn't fit in a yoga class that worked with my schedule, so last week I tried water fitness. I have done this in other places before, so I knew I was likely to be the youngest participant. But I had no idea what a wild class I was stepping into. Like anything else one tries for the first time, I spent half of the time trying to figure out if I liked it. Then I assessed if it is a good fit for my level of fitness, and then once those two things were decided, I commited to giving it a full chance. This class threw me though. I had such conflicting responses to whether I liked it, or if it was good for me.

Indeed I was the youngest person in the pool. Other than the obvious fact that water aerobics is not hard on your joints, I can't figure out why it mostly appeals to older people. This particular class was no joke. If done correctly this was an intense workout. We were making some waves (at least a few of us were). There were some delicate grandmotherly ladies in the pool barely making but a ripple, but the charisma around them made up for it. The diversity in this part of town is one of the things I love about it. Old, young, black, white, rich, poor, and fit and not -- it was all in the pool that day. Well, except for the young. They come to class after the seniors for parent and me swim, which up until a month ago is where you would find me in the pool. This class is a whole other world from that. Although I was welcomed by a grandma that used to take her grandchild to that class with me, she was the only familiar face in the pool.

I got a lot of funny looks by my classmates. One gentleman joked that I should stop being so energetic. I told him I would tone it down, and he said "Yes please, like the rest of us." Another woman told me that I was too skinny to be in the class. I guess she didn't hear the news that working out isn't just for weight loss anymore. A woman nearby the grandmother that I knew asked her if I were her daughter.  Someone else asked me if I would be coming regularly. Everyone seemed so shocked by me being there. I found this most entertaining.

The instructor was so bizarre though. If anything would stop me from going back it would be him. He was so intense. He was more like a preacher than a teacher. I wouldn't mind this if his sermon was a bit more inspirational but his message was delivered in weird phrases. For example, he kept saying, "You don't need friends, you need your health." I beg to differ. You most definitely need both of those things. He also said if you are sitting at home lunching with your friends that won't help you stay out of the hospital. Now I know his audience might take more trips to the hospital but still, lunching friends is crucial to one's health. He had enthusiasm, I will give him that. He definitely had me working hard, while entertained, those two things alone is worth going back for another try.

At the end of the class the mom's with toddlers began trickling in by the pool. My new senior pals cooed at all the little ones. They used to do this with me when I came with my son, but no one seemed to recognize me without him by my side. It's interesting how much less attention you get when you are without a child. It can feel lonely and odd, without my boy around.  There is only a short amount of time and many ways I can spend it, so I have to pick and choose wisely.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gifts We Give Our Kids

Getting in to the swing of the school year is uncomfortable for many of us. I still marvel at the kids who walk off to school on the first day with a new teacher, new kids and a new backpack then wave and walk away from their parent. That is not my child. Actually it might be my little one, but it is definitely not my girl.  She did better this year than I have ever seen her, but the first Monday back after the first weekend she was overcome with anxiety. She walked to her spot in the line and froze. She clenched my hand in hers and begged me to stay. When I said I couldn't she asked if I could get her at lunch, then maybe just 1:45, then she grabbed my hand harder and asked if she could please just come with me. She began crying then sobbing.

My first response is to try to calm her down, tell her it will be okay, and remind her that once she gets into the classroom she will have fun. We talk about the butterflies in her belly and that they can be there but they aren't allowed to take away her day of fun. She lets a few tears run down her face but does her best to walk into her room. I say goodbye and as I go towards the hall she screams after me out of her classroom. I hug her, calm her down, say goodbye, walk away again, and repeat. Twice she came after me, and it took so much strength on my part not to cry with her.

This is so familiar because this was me when I was a little girl. This is anxiety. It's genetic thus I have given her this gift and I wish I could take it back. I can't, so instead I am going to try my best to give her the tools that weren't given to me as a kid so that through her life she can feel like she can control her anxiety so that it doesn't control her. This is something I am still learning but as a team this family is starting to practice a bit more mindfulness, breathing and acceptance. It is absolutely a practice and not a magic trick but I am one determined mama. I can't take anxiety away from my child but I am without a doubt going to do my best to help her get through it. I want her to know she is not alone and that I totally understand. I want her to know I know how she feels because I still feel like that too sometimes. I have been reassuring her that worrying is an okay feeling, and that sometimes we worry about things that aren't real. I explained that it is up to us to figure out  the difference between what is really happening and what we are worried about happening. With her it is the moment she says goodbye she feels like the day will be so long and it will be too long before seeing me again. The reality is though when she gets into school she gets busy and time isn't an issue anymore when she is having fun.

We have had much better days since Monday. She is getting a little system down of putting her backpack on the hook then coming back to me for a hug before heading into her class. Little by little, day by day this will get easier. I went off to college in London for a semester, and when I got to my dorm I called my mom panicked and asked her if she could come if I needed her. She assured me she would, then later confided to me that of course she wouldn't have flown all the way to London. She said as soon as I heard she would come my breathing relaxed over the phone. She may not have gotten on a plane for me but learning what I needed to hear in that moment helped me tremendously. If I can pass that on to my daughter then Oh the places she will go...Just not overseas, thats too far.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

American Girl

The doll that seems to be the "Cabbage Patch kid" for my daughters generation is an American Girl doll. No one is getting trampled outside Toys R Us like when I was a little girl, but little girls seems to want them just as badly. I was pleased when my daughter never seemed to notice them. She asked me once why there were older girls carrying dolls dressed identical to them, but it was more a "Isn't that weird, mama?," kind of question. That was before her friend from London (not American) came to visit us and brought her new American Girl doll. Since this little girl is my daughter's best friend, the doll suddenly got my daughter's attention.

The American Girl company was started by Pleasant Rowland, a former school teacher who wanted to create a line of dolls that represented American history. She started a small catalog-only business that was family owned. I read that she vowed to keep it that way as to keep it high quality and authentic.  Each doll came with a book that told the story of a girls role in that time period. The 18-inch doll was a success and history lessons were now available in a package that girls were excited about. After twelve years though, Pleasant Rowland sold her company. I guess vows get broken when Mattel offers to pay you $700 million dollars.

What was lost in that business deal was much more than a little catalog company. Little by little, the dolls gradually lost the historical richness they previously represented. A new line of friends were made. The idea that every girl in America could find a doll that looked like them was a marketing idea that Mattel ran with. The image of the company changes along with the look of the doll. You can always count on the Barbie makers to make the doll thinner than it was, the feet smaller, and the face more made up. A once female-owned company went to Mattel which has about eight board members and only one of them is a woman. So once again, a popular girls toy gets more focus on it's look and image than its empowering stories that made it appealing in the first place.

A friend told me that despite the company's issues the American Girl store is such a fun place for girls to go. She described it as warm and inclusive. I don't doubt that it is a dream come true for little girls to have a place to play and lunch with their dolls. The cost of everything in that store is anything but inclusive though. How does it represent America if only the wealthiest of people can afford it. The doll alone is $125. To get its ears pierced is $17 (which involves screwing a hole in its plastic head). The dolls used to be made out of high-quality vinyl, but are now hollower and made with thin plastic. The American Girl doll is also of course made in China. I have plenty of items made in China but it seems odd that a doll meant to celebrate American history would be produced in another country.

My daughter forgot about the doll for a few months but was reminded when she noticed another friend of hers had one. She liked how the had so many accessories and that she could care for them. I watched her with a Build-A-Bear doll that she got at a birthday party and saw that she actually played with it. I wondered if a I was depriving her of a doll experience. She had baby dolls but no dolls that represented her current age. She didn't want the doll for her birthday because she knew it cost so much and that she would only get that and that alone. She opted for a party. One day we went to Target for something else and she noticed the "Our Generation" dolls. They were the same idea as American Girl dolls but without the history part. I love the idea of learning history through play and especially if it is with the focus of a female story, but lets face it the American Girl company lost it's original goal years ago and what ti got replaced with was longer eyelashes and a skinnier frame.

When my daughter saw the dolls that were in Target, she really wanted one. I explained that they were not the same company but the same idea. She asked how much they were and when I told her that they were $27. She asked if she could have this kind of doll. I reminded her of the birthday present that she had already asked for and that if she wanted this instead she could have it. Or I offered that she could buy it with her own money. She went home counted up her coins and had over $40 in coins. I told her if we went to the bank to get papers to roll the money that we could return with the money to Target that same afternoon. When she returned to the store with her rolled coins in her hands she was so excited to pay for the doll herself. She handed the cashier her money and went home a very happy girl. That was over a month ago and she has played with that doll everyday since. When someone asks her if it is an American Girl doll, she says proudly that it is actually an Our Generation doll. Both products are the same height, the same concept and both give kids a lot of joy. She didn't end up learning much history, but she did learn a lesson in economics. It was the first time she learned anything about branding, advertising, and overseas production. She learned that consumers often buy into an expensive package and that you don't always have to. And that lesson is a valuable one.  

photo credit: Orit Harpaz

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

All By Myself....

I can't get that song out of my head. Except the words that follow, “Don't wan't to be.." don't apply as much in this case. Well, they kind of did this morning. This is my baby, my three year old baby's first day of preschool. I know, I will learn to embrace, appreciate and ultimately love three hours all to myself — but this morning was a shock. I have been with him, by his side, his whole life up to this point. He is a mama's boy for sure and we are pretty attached, so I wasn't sure how this whole first day would go. But he did great.

When I first introduced the idea to him, he asked if I was staying. Then when I said I wasn’t, he said he would be sad. I prepared him as best as I could and told him about new friends, teachers and things to play with. I read him books about little kids going off to school and saying goodbye and that the mama always comes back to hug and kiss them. Something clicked and my boy was so excited. He grabbed his lunch box this morning, put on his new little fox backpack and skipped his way out of our house. At school he smiled and said hello to everyone. My daughter walked him in with me and showed him that her new second grade class was right next door. We got to hang out for a bit and then it was time to walk her over to her class. I said we needed to say goodbye and he smiled waved and off we went. Shockingly, he was pretty chill.

I walked my daughter in and it was a well-organized classroom. We introduced ourselves to the teacher and on her own my daughter politely said, “Nice to meet you." She found her name on her desk and sat down. The parents didn't really stick around so I took their cue and gave her a hug and said goodbye. She was braver then I have ever seen her on a first day of school because I realized this is the first school she is attending for the second year in a row. She was excited to see her friends and start a new year. I walked out of the class and and let the tears flow.

It's hard to believe my kids are now going off to school together each day. He is only there for three hours so it isn't as if I can go start a new career or anything, but for the first time in almost eight years I am not pregnant, nursing, pushing a stroller, or holding a little hand. It is surreal and I did feel a bit lonely on the way home from dropping off. It will be an adjustment indeed but I have a feeling we will all get pretty comfortable soon.

Monday, August 3, 2015


Today is only the beginning of July and I feel like we have already gotten our summer groove going. For my daughter I signed her up for a few different camps. One week on and one week off until August and then we travel back to the East Coast. On the weeks off so far we have done museums, swim lessons, visiting friends and trips to the beach. It's been amazing to have a schedule that doesn't have us running out the door so early, and we are all really having fun.

I have to admit though I am tired. I keep my kids pretty busy in general and having two of them around is fun but exhausting. I like to swim and run around like they do, I just don't have the stamina to go for hours like they do. As usual, I am not great at leaving an activity when I should so we usually come home and I rush to get dinner going and then rush to get them to bed. It feels a little crazy and I need to slow down. After all, isn't that what summer vacation is all about?
Now it is August and the summer seems to be rapidly winding down. I am still tired but it has been a fantastic summer. We leave for two weeks for New York tomorrow and then the days are numbered before school begins. So this is my last bit of summer left to savor my two munchkins before the school routine pushes out the door every morning. Until then bring on the pancake breakfasts, beach days, ice cream and the sunshine. It's Summertime! For a few more weeks anyway.

Monday, July 13, 2015


I take my boy swimming twice a week at the Y. This is the single activity that he does right now that is not shared with his sister. He has made his own friends from this class and has learned to be with his peers as well as to swim. He has three close friends there, but recently one hasn't been lateley. My son kept asking for his friend and I meant to reach out to his babysitter but before I could I got a message from the babysitter to call her and that she had something important to discuss.

This boy's family has chosen a great woman to care for their kids. She is strong, loving and respects the family a lot -- and it shows. When I picked up the phone to call her back I couldn't imagine what was so important and had hoped that they were still working together. The couple, in addition to the two and half year old, had a new baby. I thought perhaps it got too much for the sitter to care for them both while at the gym. I was making up all sorts of possible scenarios, but nothing prepared me for what she told me. This little sweet boy has cancer. He was completely symptom free until they found some bumps around his thoracic region. They took him in and found his kidney to be completely covered by tumors.

As I sat on the phone listening to this woman tell me how strong and brave the little boy had been, I lost my breath and my tears blurred my eyes. How and why should this happen to someone so young? Someone so full of life, and so little time to have experienced it. This child was jumping into the pool and laughing with my boy just weeks before and now is stuck in a hospital bed. It isn't fair. It is human nature to look for answers when something terrible happens. I thought back to a child I know of who has Leukemia and that in his particular case he may have gotten it from an X-ray being done when he had another infection in his body. The radiation caused the cells to multiply. I immediately wondered if something happened to this little boy that could have caused his cancer, but there wasn't. Cancer is random and doesn't always have a reason for showing up. This just doesn't make sense to me. You can be the healthiest person or the smallest most innocent person, and still get the most fierce of illnesses.

The family has asked that everyone say a prayer for this little boy and wish him the healthiest of recoveries. He had one kidney successfully removed two weeks ago but it seems that the cancer has spread to his lungs as well. He has a break now from the poking and prodding at the hosptial and will be home for a bit before starting chemotherapy. This boy's smile is thawing to the sadness that accompanies his story. I pray that his spirit carries his body as gently as possible to what lies ahead.

Please see attached link if you would like to help Jack's family.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Milking It!

There was not a lot with either of my pregnancies that went easily. From the time I conceived my daughter I was in pain. I had a small fibroid that was fighting for the blood supply from the fetus. It was an agonizing battle but after a month of nights doubled over uncertain if the pregnancy would actually stick, the fetus won and the pain went away. A week after that I began my Hyperemesis Gravedarum causing nausea and vomiting until week 16. At week 13 I had lost so much weight I went on a medication in hopes that it would stop the vomiting and help me gain weight. Instead it caused me to have jaw lock for a whole day. By then I was both dehydrated and exhausted. I definitely did not have the natural glow some women speak of during pregnancy. In fact I felt quite beaten up by the whole thing.

When I was pregnant with my son I knew what to expect so I didn't touch medication and I had an IV drip twice a week to prevent dehydration. I didn't have the fibroid problem, or have hours of jaw lock but I spent day after day throwing up. Each morning it felt like groundhog day and that time was not on my side. I developed much empathy for those who live with chronic illness or constant pain. Nothing in your life feels the same as it once did when you are distracted my the intensity of discomfort. I spent as many hours as I could upright with my then three year old daughter, and I took as much help as I could from friends and family. It was a difficult time for all of us, but I knew eventually it would end. Unlike truly ill people my suffering would hopefully result in something beautiful. With that hope I tried to keep my eye on the prize and stay as patient as I could.

I wouldn't say labor or birth was easy either time but they were relatively uncomplicated. Both babies took a while to get with the coming out part so I was late and labored long both times. It was challenging but manageable and I was able to have both births without pain medication. I wanted to avoid anymore medication complications since I seemed to be in the small percentage of people affected by all the warnings in the small print. I also wanted to try it naturally. It was not easy but I gave birth to two healthy children both of whom latched on to nurse straight away.  I am aware how difficult nursing can be in the beginning for so many new mothers, and I am sensitive to the feelings of wanting to breastfeed and not being able to, and how hard that must be. I did finally have one thing go easily and I was grateful, I was relieved, and I was in love.

Nursing was such a special gift of closeness between me and my babies. I loved how it was a built in quiet time several times in an otherwise hectic time of adjusting. It was amazing to me how my body was able to produce nourishment for this infant. I marveled at how calming it was for both of us during feeding times. I felt the oxytocin and it indeed gave me a wonderful blissful love for my babies. I was a big advocate for nursing and had no shame where I nursed. I didn't have the biggest boobs so I felt covered my my baby when nursing in public. I never had a fabric shade because I didn't want to hide my baby under it. I was proud and if anyone stared I stared back.

I nursed my daughter until she was two. I didn't plan on going that long in the beginning but as one approached I knew neither of us were ready to be done yet. When she was eighteen months I began to wean her. One feeding at a time and over the course of a few months she was weaned. My horomones post weaning went crazy and similarly to pregnancy I had a rare reaction. It took me a while to learn but I know now that my body is extremely sensitive to hormonal shirts. I should start praying now for what I will have to endure during menopause.

When my son turned two I began the same weaning process. More carefully this time and again with the knowledge that it might be challenging for me hormonally. I tried to drop a feeding and he was so resistant. I tried to change the times of when we nursed around but he was too stuck to his routine. I let it go to revisit a few months later. At that point I nursed him three times a day and no matter how many ways I tried I was unsuccessful at dropping one. We also kept moving then. Four moves in a year and a half so all the changes were excuses to keep something the same for him. Suddenly it seemed he was two and half. I was then ready to push for one less feeding and eventually got down to a single one before bed. He treasured that time though and no pun intended but he milked it. He would drag it out so long to the point that I was more than ready to end it. I was stuck for a while on how but with his third birthday coming I knew it was time.

My husband and I went away for a weekend. A necessary first for both of us, but a hard first for my kids. My son surprised us though. I prepped him and explained that he will be three when we get back and that he won't need to nurse anymore. I pointed out babies nursing and explained how they needed it but big boys got to eat real food and even candy. He was staying with my sister in law and nephews and when we called in to say hello he would say "I'm not sad, I a big boy." When we came home that Sunday he told us that he was a big boy and that he doesn't nurse. We were impressed but when we got home that night he went right to the chair to nurse and begged. It was so hard for both of us that night to accept that things change and that babies grow up. He pleaded, and determined to stay strong I explained that he was big now. He cried and said that he wasn't three yet and that his birthday wasn't yet so he was still two and half. So young and already so good at arguing. We made it through that night without nursing, and we haven't since. He is officially weaned. We both are doing very well. He still asks for it, but knows its over. I hold him and cuddle a lot now. We are both going to need a bit more time accepting babyhood is over. In the end I am proud I nursed as long as I did. As this chapter of my life comes to a close I will remember the start of motherhood sweetly and hope that if new mothers after me want to and are able to nurse I hope it will offer them the same joy.

Monday, June 15, 2015

First Grade Finale!

It's mind blowing to me how rapidly this school year flew by.  I can't believe my girl is almost through with first grade. She started out on that first day so afraid, and with tears in her eyes she braved the first day in a new school as the only new kid in her class. It took her a month or so to admit she liked it, but she would add not as much as last year. By December she admitted to be though that she liked her new school even more than last year.

It took me time to warm up to the school as well. I held the experience at our previous school in very high regard, so in the beginning all I did was compare the elements that weren't like that. I also came around to like this school better for many reasons but especially because of the sense of community. There is just something about Culver City that makes you feel welcome. I appreciated that being the newbies this year. The city itself has so many community events that are created with families in mind.

One thing that I was afraid we would never be able to replicate from last year was the amount of school spirit from the teachers and students. Last year there was an assembly every Friday and kids would wear their school shirts. I was disappointed to learn that at this school there would be an assembly only once a month. What I didn't know though was how many spirit days, and activities and events would be happening in between.

She had crazy hair day, sports team day, pajama day, tropical day, jog-a-thon and hat day. She was in the school choir and they performed a few times throughout the year. They had several movie nights, when kids would come in PJ's and bring sleeping bags. They got to go on field trips, they had science night, game night, and bingo night.  Each grade focuses on a different social studies unit and for first grade they learned how to square dance as part of their unit. If that wasn't enough they had a family Sports day.  The school earlier in the year was divided into "families"grouping a teacher with a child or two from each grade giving the kids an opportunity to meet teachers and students from the whole school. On Family sports day each team wore a different color and competed and relay's and played games.

Her confidence has grown and her academic accomplishments have soared. She was student of the month the first month of school but what came after that was what was so impressive to me. Her classroom has a bunch of kids that love to read and that passion is contagious apparently. She will read sometimes two full chapter books a night. I have to go tell her to turn her light off so she can go to bed. She loves writing and math and comes home each day and diligently does her homework.  She worked hard each week on spelling words and as a result has gotten 100% on every test. She loves school and is sad that this year is almost over.

I was never like this and am so happy to see that my negativity and procrastinating leaning didn't rub off on her. She accomplished so much this year and I am so proud of her. I am beyond impressed with her abilities, determination and  joae  d viv. There is no lack of school spirit, not in my girl anyway.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Oh 3!

Today is my sweet boy's birthday. He can be such a joy. He sings Beatles songs at the top of his lungs. He loves trains, skateboards, scooters, cars and monster trucks. He loves to play in the dirt, and he loves to swim. He is so affectionate, he kisses and hugs, and won't let his sister start school each day with a big hug and kiss from him before she goes. He says "I love you" a lot. He is beautiful and we are proud. Most of the time.

He can be adorable but he is also a bruiser. He is that kid that you take over to someone's house to play and if someone snatches something out of his hands he will hit them. We just went to a little boy's house to play and when that boy didn't want to share his car, my boy took it from him and hit him in the head with it. Oh, and that's not all. He can be a screamer and a biter too. He wanted a gumball recently (he doesn't chew gum-he turned three yesterday) and I said no and he started screaming in the store. I lifted him up to leave after offering him some other toys, but he just screamed and then scratched and hit me in the face. We are not physically violent people here so he must have a touch of the devil in there somewhere.

I know so much of this is his age, and that he will out grow it (I hope.) I've been the parent who has to apologize for him at the park, and remind him that throwing sand isn't nice. I have read books, articles, asked advice from friends, and tried multiple tools to help him react differently. So far not so successfully. My husband and I are not used to this behavior at all. Our daughter is pretty much the most obedient kid when it comes to school. At home if she acts out inappropriately she pretty much only needs to be told once why what she did wasn't a great idea. There is no reasoning with our son though, no distracting, no negotiating, no listening.

Some of the things we have tried are saying that we don't want him to do that and that it can hurt someone. We have explained after he hits that he doesn't get to be with us when he hits and that we need a little space. Then we try to walk away but he doesn't let us. We both know that the worst things we could do would be to hit, bite or scream back, but somehow sometimes we just can't help it. He evokes some mean parenting in us to and we react. I don't like it nor do I think it has ever been effective, but it has happaned. I have screamed right into his face "STOP HITTING" and if anyone ever yelled like that at me. I am pretty sure I wouldn't ever hit again but not so for him. I fear the day he starts preschool, and all the new parents I will have to apologize to, but I have heard that starting preschool can be the single most helpful thing for kids who hit. They learn by being socialized what is acceptable for others, not just what us parent folks want him to do. So here is hoping that three brings on some positive change. I know three was pretty rough for my daughter but I am hoping since two wasn't so pretty for him at times that three will get better. We are only a few hours in and its not off to the best start but I hear three and a day can be magical!

Thursday, May 28, 2015


My friend ran the LA Marathon this year. She is 39 and it was her goal to complete a marathon before she turned 40. She is a runner, and a fast one at that, so this was not an unreasonable goal. That being said, it was still an extremely challenging task to take on. But she did.

She had a set time she wanted to achieve and as circumstances were that day, she wasn't able to obtain it. She is a competitive and determined person so it was disappointing that she didn't meet her expectations. Those expectations! This year the marathon fell on an extremely hot day, and her friend who was driving with her got stuck in traffic so they were running late. She had a nervous stomach so she didn't feel great, and when they finally arrived she was left with no time to stretch and just had to start. She felt sick for a lot of the run and had to slow down and walk a lot. She finished though and still in what I thought was great time. She wanted to do better though and so she will try again.

A few days before she ran, Twig ran at the jogathon at her school. It was also ridiculously hot weather. She had a goal of getting around the track 7 times. Each time the kids got a stamp to count the laps as they went. She was determined, and like my friend, she is fast and goal oriented. She met her goal and then some. She ran a total of 11 laps! We were all so pleased with that. She went back to class after that and probably hasn't thought much about it since.

Watching the marathon my friends and I had some very different reactions. We wondered why people would put themselves mentally and physically through such a difficult task. For some, the answer was obvious in that they were runners and so they run. Others ran for a cause and they were getting sponsors so they could donate funds they had raised. I suppose others just wanted to be able to say they did it. I'm not sure this would ever be reason for me to run. I feel pretty content with saying I have never run a marathon. I am confident in my abilities to accomplish some other difficult-to-obtain goals. Never the less, it was emotional to watch so many people out there running.

My friends who also watched that day joked about writing signs that said "You don't need to finish" --  in hindsight, it is funny because when you watch some of these people it looks like they are about to die. They wanted this so badly though and they worked so hard for this one day. It was hard to watch without getting choked up sometimes. I saw people pushing someone in a wheel chair with a sign saying they were running for him. Or a blind man running with a guide. Young, old, heavy and thin. All races, all ethnicities and people from all socioeconomic strata

I am usually so moved by big events like this that I was afraid I might be encouraged to put this on my bucket list. I wasn't though because I realized I have finished some pretty hard marathons in my life to date. I succeeded in surviving two pregnancies with Hyperemesis Gravadarom. It was no easy feat, but it took focus, stamina, and all my strength to keep my eye on the finish line.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I heard a story yesterday about a study about praise and children. They gave two sets of kids a problem to solve and when both groups got the correct answers they told one group that they were so smart and the other group was acknowledged for doing it but asked if they could try another problem. The one that what praised didn't try as hard second time around. Being told they were so smart made them feel they didn't have to work so hard. The group given the basic acknowledgment went on to try harder.

This got me thinking about all the different ways we can praise our kids. I often think about blending what I got from my folks and what my husband's parents got from his. My parents had the best of intentions and I think the encouragement I got from them was meant to be practical, but practical can often feel negative. I come from a family of worriers so "go for it", or "try it and see what happens" wasn't likely to be the response when I came home wanting to try something new. It was more a concerned "is that a good idea?" which as a result often made me question my choices. It didn't always provide me with the strongest self esteem but it does give me great tools for overthinking things out.

My husband was raised with so much praise and support that he really does believe he could try anything. His parents told them that they were amazing and could accomplish whatever they put their mind too. I get the sense that if he or his sisters felt the were wronged by another child that their mom would quickly come to their side as opposed to questioning if maybe they misread the other child intentions. I think this kind of support is wonderful but it does at times come with a price. The ego is a delicate thing and if one's ego is slightly inflated then criticism is often disregarded as opposed to taken constructlivley. I'm not saying this was the case with my husband but I see this reflected in the entitled generation that now is in their twenties.

Like everything else I think a balance is needed for encouragement. There are so many new schools out there today. Private, charters, magnet, specialty and regular public schools. You can find a school where your kid can go to a cool off corner with no shame, as opposed to being sent to the principals office. I wanted to send Twig to a Warldof public school where she learned at her own pace in a non traditional way. It didn't work out for us geographically and in the end she is in the perfect place for her. When I say perfect I need to stress that no place is perfect, but a traditional academic school challenges her and she likes that challenge. She also thrives on the structure and the need to assimilate to what her peers group is doing. That doesn't mean she is a robot and can't express her creativity because she can, but it means that she has to figure out how to navigate safely and comfortable within the setup of the system. So many people are looking for that outside the box establishment but at some point it is helpful to learn how to succeed within the box too.

I will definitely high five my kid when they do something well, but I will also say how can we do this differently next time if there is room for improvement. A child doesn't need to be the best but they do need to be their personal best. It's so individual, and thats why I think a balance is so crucial.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Old Friend

I got a random email last week from one of my closest friends from growing up. He and I used to be so close. Having him as a friend proved the point that you can have a best guy friend...until you can't.
I met him in third grade, we were a year apart in school, and he always felt more like a brother or a cousin than just a friend. Our friendships sustained from elementary school through college, and even through our twenties. When I moved here to LA he stayed in New York, but we continued to visit each other. There was never any chemistry between us -- we were just really good friends, until he met his wife.

I think we were in our late twenties when he met her and he knew pretty quickly that she was the one he would settle down with. He was that type of guy, the settling down type. I was not that type of girl then. So I think I was conflicted about him getting there so fast in his life. I met her twice and the second time I met her I made a joke about them getting married so soon. She didn't think it was funny. In fact, she didn't take it as a joke. My own feelings for losing him as the kind of friend I knew him to be caused me to stir the pot a bit with her. I think in hindsight I was sad to see him settle down so fast. It meant the end of a phase of having vacations, or taking him as my "date" when I was single. I wasn't quite ready to lose him. She wanted me out of his life though and I could see that pretty early on.

I tried to remedy our situation when I went back to live in New York one summer. He came to meet me for lunch. It was the summer before their wedding and he told me she didn't want to invite me to his wedding. He said if I wanted to be there though I should come. He has never cared much for ceremonies himself and chose to not attend his own college graduation, so I knew he meant it when he said the actual wedding day was more for her than for him, I decided that since I knew it would hurt her for me to be there that I couldn't do that to someone on their wedding day. That day at lunch though I had a hand written apology for her in my bag. While we were having lunch I asked how I might be able to fix things and he said she asked if I would apologize. On cue I took out the card for him to give to her. I never heard anything from her, and I never saw my friend again after that day.

Time has past though. I believe that was over ten years ago, and I have tried to reach out once or twice. I didn't hear anything from him but through his mom I learned they had a son and a daughter. I had hoped with the news that I had gotten married and had children of my own that we could let it all be water under the bridge. When I think about how close we were it makes me sad not to know him as a father. He is probably a great dad, since he had such a fun spirit and really enjoyed life. I was pretty surprised when I got an email for him. We filled each other in briefly but made a time to talk on the phone. We caught up as much as we could with details but nothing about what had happened in the past or if we would ever see each other in the future. He said he would send me some photos of his kids but I never got them. We were talking while he was driving back to his house on a Sunday afternoon. When he got home he seemed to have to get off pretty quickly. I wonder if his wife is even aware he reached out to me, and if I wonder if I will ever hear from him again.

My daughter is now about the age that I was when I met my friend. She has a bunch of close girlfriends but this year she also has made two very good friends that are boys. Watching them I hang out and play together it makes me happy that she gets joy out of all her friends gender aside. I do wonder though if they grow up together and remain close will some relationship later get in the way of friendship. Obviously some people can handle change and accept new people, but in case they can't I will be here for her to say "I understand how you feel." Having to lose a friend is not as painful in as having your heartbroken but often a heartbreak goes away. A loss of what I thought was a lifelong friendship seems to stay with me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Nanny

I am know I am not the only woman in LA who has chosen to be a stay-at-home mom but yesterday felt like I was. I took my boy to a story time at the library and there were only ten other kids there. Belonging to those kids were one grandmother, one mom with her small baby, and eight nannies. It was one of those activities where I spent most of the time wondering what I was doing there. My son was happy dancing around to kids songs, counting to nursery rhymes and being read stories, but I felt out of place. We went on from the class and walked over to the playground where again I was one of the only moms there.

Week after week I see these nannys. I am friends with many of them frequently during the week when they bring kids to the playground, swim class or story time. It just seems lately that the ratio of moms to nanny is so uneven. I realize that it is not a choice for every woman to be able to stay home or go to work. I realize that it is mostly out of necessity that a woman has to go back to work. I have been extremely priveledged to have the opportunity to stay with my children in these early years. I just happen to move from an area where not only were most of the women not working but they also had help, just because. Now I am in an area where most of the women do work and so it has got my wheels turning.

In the fall my boy will go to preschool and I will have a bit more time on my hands. I will probably start working part time, and this window as a stay-at-home mom will be closed. In the meantime I will soak it up and enjoy as much as we can together. I think I will stay away from story time though. It is challenging not to go down the whole of "what am I doing playing with my two year old" when there is no one else in your peer group doing the same thing. There is no easy decision as a mother. If one works they often feel guilty for being away. Every mother strives for balance and it is not so easy to come by.

Coincidently, my daughter came home from school yesterday and said the teacher asked how many of the kids wanted to work when they got older. My daughter said she was the only one who did not raise her hand. This was not the example I was trying to set when I chose to stay home with my kids. I ended up having a whole conversation with her about what I did and who I was before I had her. It was good for her to hear that what I am going now is considered work and what I did then was considered work. She asked some questions and listened to some stories, so I am thinking in the next few years it would be great if she didn't just hear about who her mother was but instead see who I can be now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Our Hike!

Last week was bit challenging. My daughter got moved up to the next level in gymnastics. She was so excited to into her new class but it didn't go quite how she expected. Dang! those expectations.
We are at the type of gymnastics studio now that is less nurturing and hand holding than her last one was. It is a Russian gym and they mean business, in that they take more money from me and they really train my kid. On her first day Twig was the only new comer to this level. All of the other girls had been taking it a while, so most of the skills were new to her. She was definitely the weakest in the group and she felt it. She couldn't quite get a couple of things and her frustration mixed with nerves got the best of her and she began to cry mid class.

She is six years old so hard core training and the idea that completing is the next step has made me reevaluate. As a former skater I love the idea that she has something athletic to focus on and to build her confidence, but I wasn't six when I began competing. I also don't know that I want a sport that requires so much stress on her little body. Not to mention that it is up there with figure skating on the highly competitive list. She has a natural talent for gymnastics. She is tiny but strong and loves nothing more than to hang, swing, and jump. She is definitely good at this, but that doesn't mean this will be the only thing she will be good at.

She woke up the next morning after class and said she wanted to stop going to gymnastics. I explained that when something is challenging and scary that is not when you give up. I told her we will keep going until the end of the session and that we can see how she feels then. When I took her back this week though she cried on the way and twice during class. She finally succeeded in the skill that she was afraid of and came running to me at the end of class saying it all got easier. We talked about how she didn't give up and it paid off. She is doing a unit on this very subject at school right now, and so when she got in the car I shared with her an email I got while she was in class. I submitted a piece of writing for a show and it didn't get chosen. I read her a very well written email that was sweet and complimentary but still a "better luck next time, and do try again." I told her that sometimes when these things happen I feel like giving up too but that the only thing that makes me feel better is to try harder. I told her I let myself be a bit sad about it and then make a plan for how I can do better.

This weekend she wanted to go on a hike right near our new house. We see people on the hike with kids a lot but haven't braved it ourselves. She really wanted to go though so I explained to her that she had to actually walk the hill herself. She agreed and we decided to go. I carried my boy on my back in a carrier and my husband hiked ahead with her. She impressed us so much. She was strong and determined and found out she shares a love of hiking like us. She saw a little rabbit, heard birds, saw the most amazing view of the city, mountains, and the ocean. As we hiked back down we witnessed the beginning of a beautiful sunset. I think we all felt pretty strong and accomplished. I carried a 25 pound toddler up and down, and she did the whole hike herself. I stopped her toward the bottom though and told her she didn't keep her word about walking the whole time. Most of the hike she ran.

There are many things she can do and do well. There will also be things that don't come easilly or that just get challenging along the way. Hopefully this school unit will teach her to keep trying in case my message to her isn't loud enough on it's own. This is an ongoing lesson though. Just this morning she fell off her bike on the way to school. She wanted to go home and call it a day then. She said she wasn't going to school and this was the worst day ever. I have no idea where she gets such a flare for drama. I made her get up tears and all and continue riding with me to school. She was not happy about it and this might be stamped in her memory as her worse day yet, but she did it. There will be harder days to come but she is learning. As we all are that life is work. The pay off is great but it isn't all easy!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Words of Wisdom from the Y

We joined the Y a few months ago. My husband, who I like to say has a seasonal interest in fitness, got very enthusiastic about the possibility of working out there. The first week he took a yoga class. In the ten plus years we have been together I have only been able to take a class with me once, and I teach yoga! I was perplexed but also proud that he went on his own so I keep my mouth shut. When he came home and said how great it was I smiled. When he quoted the instructor, I must have looked confused. At the end of the class when everyone was relaxing on their backs she said "thank you for just one more day." My husband is the thoughtful sensitive type but still it was completely out of character to be moved by something as simple as that but he was. Don't get me wrong it is a beautiful sentiment and we should be grateful for everyday we have here, and everyday that we are healthy and take care of ourselves we should take inventory. It just goes to show though that it really doesn't matter where or how you get spiritual enlighntment, just that you get it.

It is easy to forget to take pause and count your blessings as "they"say. I went on Facebook later that day and my husband had posted the quote from the instructor. I poked fun at him for how very moving a yoga class at local Y can be. We laughed about it for a bit. Only this morning though I understand how when a words are timely for someonw it really doesn't matter how the words find you. I just read a story recently about this older woman who would write letters to her grown daughter about how beautiful the details of her day to day were. From the outside her daughter said that her mother's life would seem quite opposite of beautful since her parents were growing broke and  her father was a raging alcoholic, but her mother was able to look at the tiny details around her and see how much beauty there was. After reading that I tried that on a particularly down day and I felt it nearly impossible. I saw incredible nature around me but I felt all the sounds were singing for my ears to hear that day. Perhaps a different day, but that day I felt blocked. After some more attempts I could see and here beauty a bit more but it was still pretty challenging.

I now make it habit everyday to pay attention to the details. It's not that I wasn't doing that before with my children, but I wasn't doing it for everything. When I do look at what is truly around me there really is more beauty than I expected to find. I remember a very spiritual friend of mine used to say, "Look for miracles everyday." I think I was always looking at my kids and stopped looking after that. My kids are amazing but it is not all about them, nor can I base my happiness on them. In my darkest period a few years ago when I was really down I remember that same feeling of not being able to see anything good around me. I could see the world moving but I didn't feel in sync. I could see people smiling but I couldn't remember how to feel happy. I had my then two year old with me day after day and although I knew I loved her more than I thought I could love anything, I still couldn't feel connected to her as I had in the past. The feelings scared me, and fortunately time healed and I was able to come out of that time and reconnect to the important things.

It's been quite sometime since I have gone down to the dark side as I can say now, but I feel so much more equipped for how to handle it. I feel like I keep myself in shape so to speak, by paying more attention to the details. This morning when my son woke up and then put his head on my shoulder and fell back asleep I didn't move. Eventually I was able to gently move down to the floor where I rested next to him while he slept. His arms were still around my neck and I just listened to him breathing. Dare I move and risk waking him, I stayed there for almost and hour. It was amazing! The sound of his breath made me realize how lucky I am to have this healthy boy and that thought just flowed into other thoughts of how lucky I am. It was a pretty perfect way to start the day. So the next time I decide to poke fun at where my husband gets his most moving sentiments I will remember this morning, because I too am grateful for just one more day.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Little Fire

I'm really tired, and when I am tired, I feel old, and when I feel old I feel like time is running out and I better do something important with my time before it runs out.

A bit extreme maybe but I need a project. My son is 2 and a half and I said I would hire a sitter when he turned two so I would have some time to myself -- and well, that didn't happen. We moved, I got overwhelmed, he is my last baby and I want to be with him. There are myriad excuses but I haven't taken any time. And well, now is the time.

I had a dream a few nights ago that I went back to do a job, when I had a bit of a career and when I got there I didn't know how to do anything anymore. When I woke up I realized it's not that far off from reality. It's been a long time since I did anything outside of parenting and writing this blog. I am rusty! Now starting over again is a bit more than I can chew, but observing a class, or taking one, might do the trick. I just can't muster up the energy because I am so tired, which makes me feel lazy and then like the clock is ticking, and so on.

It would help if I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but since it is not clear I am going to use this post as an opportunity to jot down some ideas that excite me, no matter how big or ambitious, I will not censor. I would like to do something that helps other people, through example, discussion, or film-making. I would like a health and fitness-related job again, that combines health, fitness and food. I would like to write more and have people other than my family read it. I would like to work in a group setting, where ideas and inspirations get bounced around.

Thats what I hope for. I will do some brain storming and hopefully come up with some first steps to take. In the meantime I am going to take a nap. Got to start somewhere.

Monday, March 2, 2015

I'll Be The Judge

Parenting and judgment ride along side each other more often than they should. As a former babysitter I should go back and apologize to my old clients for the judgment I had of the parenting styles they all had. I of course never expressed any of my opinions to them, but internally I had my own ideas of what they should be doing. Then of course I had my own child and quickly learned that this responsibility was no joke.

I had many friends who after having kids were running for the bookshelves to read every book on parenting out there. Some chose methods that resonated for them, and then by that book followed all the rules. I had others that seemed to do whatever seemed to feel right and if that meant chocolate chips for breakfast they seemed okay with that. I felt and still do feel somewhere in the middle. I have some styles that I connect with but nothing enough to go "that way or the highway." I also feel the right to change my mind as a I go along.

I was curious to see how my friends saw me as a parent. Without a negative judgment but more a comment on styles I feel I could peg which one of my friends raises their kids most similarly to me. I can also see what I don't do, and see what I wish I could do more of. Some people would think I am a little granola in the way I parent. I breastfeed so long, the food I feed them which more often than not is a plant based organic homemade meal, or that they don't get a lot of screen time, or most recently people think I am anti-vaccine, because I haven't given my kids all of the recommended vaccines.

Not a single one of these things though is a hard fact about me. I do breastfeed a long time but not on principal. I am glad my kids have been breastfed but if I couldn't I would have had to choose a formula that would have sustained them, because thankfully there is formula when one can't nurse.  I do have thoughts on the dairy industry and that milk might not be so good for humans, but in true non judgment hypocrisy we like cheese here! Plant based organic is a fancy way of saying mostly meatless and without pesticides please. I love cooking and yet I am not a huge fan of cooking meat. On occasion though you will find us knawing on slow braised ribs. And on the vaccine thing, I am not and have never been anti-vaccine, I just did it slower than most everyone I know.

My reasons for choosing the path I did with vaccines is because when there is some evidence that there are some children that have been affected negatively with timerasol, mercury and other preservatives used to stabilize vaccines, I was hesitant to put that in to a newborn baby. So we waited until our baby was a bit older and stronger. We also had an off-the-charts smaller infant and toddler so again, we waited. Luckily for us more and more evidence came out over time that some of these preservatives could be harmful so they were removed from vaccines. I don't want to stand on principal or on a soapbox about this topic. I do believe parents have the right to choose for their child within reason. What I think is reasonable compared to some extreme super liberal mom or some super conservative mom will be different though. I do know that when the envelope is pushed too far extreme situations happen, and diseases returning to threaten our children after decades of being gone is extreme.

There is my "trying so hard not to judge" rant. I am pretty okay being labeled as whatever type of parent you want after reading this. I will try and not label anyone else out there and I leave an open mind to how one wants to parent. I have a hard time believing any parent can knowingly keep kids unprotected, so there must be a lot I don't know about. I'm okay with the level of ignorance I have right now, since I am also okay with what I know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Once A Week

Every Thursday I take my son to a class that is held at my friend's house. The class is called Outside The Box and it truly lives up to it's name. Today midway through the class I was sitting with my son under a moon blanket, which is basically the silver safety blankets that I have always seen wrapped up but never opened. We had it wrapped over us like a tent as we played with two light up balls. We watched the colored lights reflect against the silver blanket. It was in that moment that I had one of those "I love this class"-feelings. This happens almost every week with this class.

My son, the second child, really only has this one class that I take him to. The rest of the week is spent toting him around to gymnastics, school and play dates for his sister, or running errands and the occasional park trip if he is lucky. I signed him up for a library story time which we have missed the last two weeks. It is okay but it is really just me and the nanny crew. I don't mind skipping it but Thursdays I go out of my way to take him to this class. It is a bit of everything all in one. There is singing, sign language, art, tactile activities, physical activities and some new surprise every week.

Octavia is the owner and I remember when I had my daughter, I had a leinthy talk with her on the phone about her classes, how she started them and, how they benefited the kids. I was fascinated. Little did I know at that point how special this class would be to my kids and to me. I took my daughter to a class that was given at a private house that someone hosted. When I walked in to this woman's beautiful class I realized pretty quickly how familiar she looked. Turns out we had met at a hospital tour and then again while interviewing a pediatrician. She and I have been friends ever since.

My daughter loved class and it was by far my favorite activity to bring her to. You never knew if you would be watching your kid swim (or in my case eat) a vat of jello, or learn how to count to five in five languages. The begining and end of class was always consistent and the part in between was always a surprise. I made such great friends with these women and we kept the class going until our kids went to preschool. The friendships lasted though and we stayed connected. Many of them went on to have second children two years later. They started the class up again for the siblings and I hadn't really been aware of it since I waited a bit to have my second. When he was one though my friend told me to bring him for class. When I walked in and saw so many familiar faces, in the same place, with the same music,  but with new kids, I felt a little emotional. It was so familiar and comfortable except that the babies we originally did this with were all in school.

The first time I brought my boy he was a little too young for the group but then we tried it a few months later and he his completely holding his own. He absolutely loves this class. He walks in the door, grabs his key (which is a weekly part of the class to give the teacher your key at the beginning shows that you are ready for class), and then he sits down on the rug and waits. He understands how this class works and feels comfortable in the group which allows him to be himself.

With all the moving we have just done and will continue to do, this class is not close to us anymore. I thought the last session would be it for us, but when it came time to sign up again, I just couldn't resist doing another session. I couldn't actively decide to take something my child seems to enjoy so much and stop doing it. In the first few weeks when I was trying to adjust to our new surroundings I had spent so much time without seeing any of my friends. When I walked into class that Thursday I realized how important it was for both of us to be in this class. In a time when our home keeps changing, its nice to walk in and feel right at home in this group.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A New Year

A few of my friends have had a pretty bad 2014. Some for lack of income and some for lack of luck, either way they wanted to do everything to insure that 2015 was going to be abundant, or at the very least a lot better than last year. One of these friend's is an atheist and the other is pretty spiritual. So while one sets her intentions and hopes for the year the other one is pretty sure it can't be as bad as last year and so it's inevitable it will be better.

In the past I would have leaned more towards the spiritual side and "put it out there" that I want to see certain changes come to fruition. I would have wrote a list, maybe burned an orange candle, I would have visualized myself in the place I would want to be in the future. I haven't entirely stopped believing in positive thinking, I just feel less positive of what to visualize these days.

I keep a daily list of five things I am grateful for everyday. I write these things right before I go to bed. Sometimes the list is longer than five and sometimes I count to four and can only come up with "I am so happy I am in bed now" as number five.  Perhaps it's a combination if being aware of how abundant I really am, in conjunction with how busy that keeps me from pining after a different life. Sure there are some things I would like to tweak, but my present day complaints are so fleeting because they are related to my ever changing children. That fact alone makes me realize how precious the here and now actually is.

If I had to quickly answer what I want for myself these days, it would be more sleep, more time to work out and a few creative successes -- a year to make me feel like I have some semblance of a career.  It doesn't take me long though to realize that two out of those three will come so fast. I am in the thick of toddlerhood with my little boy. He is on the verge of not being so dependent on me. With each day I see the struggle that he and I both have with these big changes. There is also my six year old who comes home form school everyday a bit more mature. She lost her front tooth a few weeks ago and now when I see pictures of her smile pre toothless gap, I get a pang of sentimental sap for my little girl that is growing up so fast.  A time will come that I will pine for the mess, and the noise they are making and the time they are taking from me.

So instead of a list this year, or an image of myself balancing a job and two kids, I want to practice more acceptance of what is than what isn't. There is a lot on my plate, and I have never been amazing at multi tasking. So I know what it is I do well and right now that is being full time entertainer, chef, nurse, sleepwalker, room parent, present wrapping, chauffer, servant extraordinaire. I still have someone who wants me to hold him all the time, so before I wish for more free time on my hands to do other things I need to hold him a bit tighter, a bit longer, and bit more whole hearted. For my little girl just went back to school after two weeks off and I almost cried. We had such a great winter break, filling the time with a mixture of fun activities and staying in our pjs later than usual. I loved having her around that it was hard to say goodbye that first Monday back. I have my work cut out for me with these two, but I can see that these are the good old days happening right now, so that alone makes it a very happy new year!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Innocence Project

Lately, I have been listening to Serial like the rest of the world did a few months ago. My husband and I started it together but after a few nights of listening he lost interest. I had to hear the rest of the episodes but haven't had much time since I am limited to times when my kids are not awake, or my husband and I aren't watching something else on T.V. I am learning to squeeze in listens on headphones at odd times. When I am making lunch for my daughter, cooking, and getting ready for bed. I figured out that if I turn it up loud enough I can hear it while using my electric toothbrush. Thats two minutes right there.

I sometimes question, what would be ok for my son at two and half, could hear since he only understands so much. I can still play talk radio in the car for short periods of times because I think most of it goes over his head. I thought about listening to Serial with him around but I am not willing to take a chance that he absorbs any violence, plus he wouldn't let me enjoy it. The window has closed for my daughter to listen without understanding. She picks up on a lot these days, and has a lot of questions which brings me to how innocent she actually is right now.

At six and half, she can understand a lot. She has pretty deep conversations with us and there are quite a few things in the world around her that aren't pretty that she is aware of. I realize though how much is kept from her too. She knows a lot about the sad in the world but very little about the bad. She sees her fair share of homeless people and knows that they don't have a place to go at night that is warm, and that they are likely hungry. She is thoughtful, sensitive and giving when people are needy around her and often encourages us to share food or money when we can. She knows a bit about natural disasters and what has happened to people when disaster strikes. She knows about Martin Luther King and knows that racism existed before he came and fixed it all. She doesn't know it still exists. She knows sometimes life isn't fair and that people don't always get what they want. Well, maybe that last one is a work in progress, but she understands it to be true at least.

She doesn't know about hate crimes, school shootings, suicide bombers, 911, the holocaust, Bosnia, Rwanda, the KKK, Skinheads, ISIS, and many many more. This past week when terrorists walked into a meeting at Charlie Hebdo and murdered a room full of satirical cartoonists it was all over the news. Saturday when I took the paper out to read she sat down next to me. Her love of reading is amazing to us and opens her up to the world. Most of the time this is great, but this time, I wanted to keep her sheltered. The front cover showed a picture of a fire caused during the aftermath reactions and during the hostage situation. She began to read the headline and I insinctvly pulled away the paper. I gave her the real estate section with pictures and asked her to look for a house. She didn't want to play along -- she wanted to know about the fire. Like most humans, she was attracted to the taboo shocking stuff. I somehow deterred her, but soon enough she will learn and she will know.

Our little boy likes foxes. He can't pronounce the x sound though so he says "fuck" which is hilarious to us of course. Twig will laugh along and also repeat it, which already sound more disturbing coming from her mouth than his. She is of the age where some of her peers are aware of curse words, again she is still innocent in this department, and again not for long. I clearly remember learning about some of the violent acts that took place in our history. I remember specifically seeing pictures of lynchings in the south and also when I watched footage from the holocaust. I remember sitting with my dad and the weight of it shocking me. I remember standing up because it was to much to bear sitting down. I asked him repeatedly as I watched thin naked bodies being buried in piles, how could anyone have let this happen. How did it get so far?  At times my ignorance today isn't that far from my daughter's, because if we walk around thinking things like the holocaust don't still exist than we are all in the dark.

I pray that the world grows more peaceful as my children grow up but history shows that the world as beautiful as it is has some awful dark sides too. None of us truly know how to make it better, but we do what we can and try. For now, when I go in to kiss my girl goodnight I have to pause the Serial coming in to my head until I walk back out again. I want her to remain innocent as long as possible. Once she learned all of this, the world will always look different to her. What she will do with this awareness will be interesting to see, but I am going to keep that at bay as long as I can.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


A little over ten years ago I anticipated my 30th birthday with such ambivalence. The impression I got of most thirty year olds was that they had stopped messing around and were beginning to settle down. My twenties were bumpy and although there was a sense of adventure surrounding them I wasn't exactly pining for more twenty-somethings drama. I wasn't quite ready to grow up though either. Sure I wanted to find my future husband, get married and have kids but at the time it just felt so far from what my twenties were about that it was hard to fathom.

When I was 29 I met my husband. I didn't know for sure but I had hoped then that I could stop looking, when we started dating. My friends threw me a party and we went away, just me and three girlfriends. I remember it being so much fun and I felt so loved by the three of them. To this day those friends are still so important to me. Over the course of my thirties I did indeed get married, get pregnant (not exactly in that order) and went on to having two amazing children. My thirties have given me everything that I hoped they would and so saying goodbye to them is less ambivalent and more bittersweet.

I've heard that forty brings contentment. I feel pretty content. I definitely gave up a career when I had kids but I don't miss it at all right now. I know it will be there in a few years and I know my kids won't. Time with them is fleeting and I will be twiddling my fingers wondering what to do in no time. For now, other than my son waking up too early every day and my daughter whining a bit too much, things are going pretty swimmingly. On my fortieth birthday my husband took me away for a night. It was the first time in six years that we went away together overnight. I don't think I realized how badly I needed it until we got there.

It took me so little time to pack my own bag, after packing for three all the time. We went to Laguna Beach, and it was so beautiful. Our hotel room looked out right over the ocean. We had no set nap time, school, pickup or anywhere else to be. We hung out and read, went out to lunch, went to the beach, the only schedule was a late dinner reservation. He and I had longer conversations since no one interrupted us, we were affectionate, and when we weren't looking out on the ocean and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude we were laughing. That was pretty much all we did. It was perfect.

The next day he surprised me and had over 20 friends out to celebrate. My birthday lasted all weekend and it was so much fun. I couldn't have asked for anything more. I was pretty tired by Monday, and I forgot to put my drivers license back in my purse from the clutch I used at my party. When I went to buy beer at the grocery store the cashier asked for my ID. When I couldn't find it it he took the beer back and said I couldn't buy it. Hello forty! I was also told by some random woman that forty is young and that for women they are in their sexual prime so Happy birthday to me! In the same day I saw a black cat that afternoon that was about to cross my path but when he saw me, he turned and went the other way, so maybe forty will be pretty lucky after all.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The English Project

Like a tear drop from my heart. That is just about the sappiest thing I have ever written but it's the only way I can describe what it feels like to watch my children pass from one phase to another. Some days that tear is of the wrenchingly beautiful kind of sentimental, and sometimes that tear is the pain of frustration, anger and impatience with having to deal with two small imps. Either way it seems having children will have me crying quite a lot.

It seems lately I am a bit fixated on communication. I wrote about the words my son uses now and how one day they are destined to change into correct pronunciation. It seemed like just after I wrote that, he overnight began using sentences. I don't remember it being so dramatic with Twig but perhaps it was. Not only has his communication increased, but his capacity to express emotion as well. He suddenly seems empathetic, sympathetic, understanding and caring. He will share with other children in a way I didn't think was possible a few months ago. When someone sneezes, he will say "bess you." If we give him something, he will say "tattoo" for thank you. He calls his sister "Aya" and when she hurts herself he will ask, "Ok Aya? Ok?" and then go look her in the eyes waiting for her answer. If she says no he will say "awww, torry Aya" and top it off with a kiss.

Meanwhile at home my girl seems to have forgotten her communication skills a bit and has regressed back to whining and pouting. It's been a challenging week or so for six year old meltdowns here. I have come up short when I try to use new tools and tactics to help from spiraling into a weepy rag doll about any and every little thing that doesn't go exactly right. As of today though I have a new theory as to why. She told me a story about something that happened at school and I think she has just learned how to be such a mature, sweet, smart and together kid. It is really amazing but when she comes home she allows herself to step back and fall apart so to speak. That isn't as pretty.

One day when I picked her up at school the first grade teacher from next door to her class told me that Twig had a project. She took it upon herself to befriend Yvonne who has recently moved here from Germany and can't speak any English. She decided she would teach her. Each day for several weeks she taught her a new word. She forgoed playing with her other friends at recess in order to achieve this. When her friends wanted to play with her she said only if they would play with Yvonne too. Each day she would report back to me the new words that she had fought Yvonne.

This past Monday on the way home from school, I asked her who she played with at recess. For the first time she mentioned children other than Yvonne. When I asked her if Yvonne was absent she explained that she felt it was time for Yvonne to play with other kids now. She relayed how she explained this to Yvonne, and that she was careful to explain it so her feelings wouldn't be hurt. She told her that she was tired of teaching, and that she just wanted to play. She walked her over to some other classmates and said you are ready to play too. The way she explained this was more articulate than I can convey but basically she expressed herself so confidently, and carefully as to not hurt her friend. I was so impressed and so proud of her.

I'm watching her find herself between the little girl, who sometimes cries when she thinks I don't understand her, to the girl who can have full-on thoughtful conversations with me, and I am amazed. It is a privilege to be with these two and witness the changes. They both surprise me everyday. I don't want to freeze time. I look forward to watching them grow, I just want it to go a little slower. There is a lot to savor.