When She Grows Up

February 28th, 2012

Violet: “Where is William’s mom?”
Me: “She’s at work today.”
Violet: “Oh, because she grown up?”
Me: “I guess. What kind of work do you want to do when you grow up?”
Violet: “I want to grow butterflies.”
Me: “You want to grow butterflies?”
Violet:; “Yes.”
Me: “Like on a butterfly farm?”
Violet: “Yes.”

Stevel on Taking a Three-year-old to Baskin Robbins

July 3rd, 2011

“They should give away the ice cream for free and sell the napkins.”

Things I Shouldn’t Have to Say/Explain

May 25th, 2011


No matter how much you try to teach the snake to say, “Mama,” he’s never going to do it, I’m sorry.


Dumping an entire potted patio plant into your kiddie pool brings Mommy dangerously close to a nervous breakdown, so please—please—don’t do that again.

When Imitation Is Better Than The Real Thing, or “Where I Get My Food”

May 19th, 2011

I just got back from the faux-op, aka Trader Joe’s. I’m onto you, faux-op: I know you train your employees to be all the things that are great about hippies, without being any of the things about hippies that are hard to take. (I think the word “skippy” actually describes them better than does the word “hippie”.) I know someone in Corporate at Trader Joe’s has been refining the initiative to invoke just enough of that co-op atmosphere to make me feel like I’m buying the best for my household, even though I’m barely looking at the packaging, because I’m trying to get out of your crazy crowded-ass aisles and away from your skippies who are ringing up and bagging my items and acting like they have been my neighbors for 20 years, asking me about my weekend plans and telling me which items from the frozen foods section they like best.

And I love you! I LOVE YOU, TRADER JOE’S! I’m onto your gimmicks, and I still love you. I don’t find you an imitator at all; in fact, I think you represent an intelligent alternative. I like Whole Foods, and I go there sometimes, but the grocery industry is a money making industry, after all, and oh, Lord, have they made some of my money theirs at Whole Foods. It’s true, the 365 brand is affordable. It’s true that nothing else in that store is (for me, anyway).

I enjoy the Farmers Market now and then, but it’s gotten fairly corporate itself in places, and I don’t have the time or interest to get to know the people in the stalls to keep it all straight. Also, the prices are pretty high, and the crowds sometimes make me want to scrap it all and go back to the days (last Saturday) when I ate exclusively what was available in Aisle 11 of CVS. (If you lived across the street from a CVS, you might do this, too.)

As for the co-op, it’s great, and I do shop there, maybe once a month. I don’t want to badmouth it one bit. But here are five things I personally prefer about Trader Joe’s, versus the actual co-op:


The employees at Trader Joe’s are ambitiously efficient. They’re kind of dorks for efficiency, and they are nerds for groceries. The members working their shifts at the co-op are cooler than that, it’s true, but when I need hormone-free milk and free-range eggs, I need them stocked and scanned and in my car in the least amount of time possible. I don’t care how cool, versus how skippy, the people are who make that happen for me.


I feel constant co-op guilt when I’m there, because I did have a membership for a few years, and now I don’t, and maybe I should? I should support the co-op, here I am shopping at it, shouldn’t I let everyone who sees my keychain know I want it to be an option for all of us, always, like NPR and the Natural History Museum? Even if the savings don’t add up for me, shouldn’t I take up the cause? I hate feeling guilty the whole time I shop.


While Trader Joe’s may not have every brand I like best, they in most cases have an alternative that works. Where I prefer Prego, Trader Joe’s offers me its own brand of pasta sauce that tastes similar. Where I prefer Sarah Lee, Trader Joe’s offers its own soft whole wheat bread. But where I prefer Honey Nut Cheerios, the co-op offers me kasha. Or quinoa. Or a bin of brown nuggets I don’t want to dig into with the community scooper.


Sweets. Trader Joe’s has the world’s most awesome frozen cakes, pies, and such, and its selection of baking mixes and chocolates and candies is terrific. Not all of them are outstanding, but most of them are. At the co-op, the new baked good, box of cookies, or candy bar I decide to try always ends up tasting the way it smelled in GNC in the mall when I was a kid.


Finally, there’s the customer base. This may sound judgmental, but I’m going to own it: I like it best, when grocery shopping, to be among people I feel are similar to me. By that, I don’t necessarily mean my own “demographic” 100 percent. I don’t mean people of the same economic circumstances or family situations or ethnicity (although let’s all be honest, no one wants to shop with Canadians, they’re like natives for God’s sake). What I mean is, I like not having to navigate around extreme nutters. And there are always half a dozen of these, minimum, in the co-op, like the guy in the yellow tie who told me the Russians are still dropping nukes on us. Or the woman who had an employee cornered by the hand creams for my entire visit, asking about ingredients and basically trying to squeeze an education in dermatology from this poor guy. Or the lady in line at the register in front of me who felt the need to include special instructions for each and every item, like “That’s a very ripe avocado, so please handle it carefully.” Don’t these people have text messages to send? Because I do, and I’d like to get done with my grocery shopping and send them.

This does make me sound like someone who isn’t very “in touch” with where my food comes from, and that would be a fair accusation, and one I would like to work on, in ways that suit me. I love the farm tours we have gone on and would love to do that often. I also want to get cooking more, even though I hate it … in all reality, what I would love most is if Stevel got cooking more. Until Violet is eight, then it’s Chore Time, and chores include duck l’orange (it’s from Trader Joe’s, Violet, so you can juts unzip the packaging, chuck that duck in the slow cooker, and head off to soccer practice, NO BIG DEAL. Earn that allowance, Missy!).

This is just to say …

October 16th, 2010

I’ve added some new photos!

Violet’s Wish for You

September 29th, 2010

Violet wants you … to whistle while you work. (There is no off button on this child!)

The Gum Can Suffer

June 28th, 2010

Yesterday I was headed downtown to drool over exhibitions at Dwell on Design at the Convention Center. On the ramp that connects I-10 East with I-110 North, traffic was stop-and-go around the big curve, as usual. The car in front of me hit the brakes. I hit the brakes and stopped. Guess who didn’t? Yep, the woman behind me with the dog in her lap. WHAM. She hits me. I look into my rear-view, see her look up from said lap dog, and WHAM, she hits me again, as the car behind her impacts us.

These are the things I’m grateful for:
- Violet wasn’t in the car
- No one was hurt
- My car seems OK, just minor bumper damage, I think
- The police report was smooth
- The doggie wasn’t hurt; since it was the only passenger without a seatbelt, that really could have sucked

The other two drivers’ cars were pretty smashed up. Windshield glass, fronts accordion-style, fluids dripping from under the hoods. A far worse day for each of the other drivers than for me. Still, it sucked the wind out my sails, and I went right home afterwards, skipping Dwell. Because I just wanted a hug, and I had a headache, and I was worried I might have a lot of phone calls to make about my car. (Turns out this process is a million times easier than it used to be, thankfully.)

It was only 10:30 in the morning, but if you subscribe to the superstition that morbid things happen in threes, I was covered: I stepped in gum while giving the police report statement, and I passed a dead kitten in the third lane on the freeway drive home. Hm. Covered, but possibly jaded? Did I just equate a dead kitten with gum on my shoe? I guess I hope it was quick for the kitten; the gum can suffer.

So drive extra carefully this week, please! Pay attention. Come to a full stop. Slow for that yellow light. Put your phone away. I’m talking to myself as much as to you. Want more convincing? Read this.

A Wonderful Mother’s Day Gift

May 23rd, 2010

My mom flew out for a visit the other week, and we had the bestest time. We visited Leo Carillo and Malibu Lagoon, shopped, and just basked in the fearlessness and fun of Vibble. Stevel and I took an overnight to Big Bear, just the two of us, which was a nice, lazy, relaxing getaway. Check out photos here!

Your Saturday Treat

March 28th, 2010

A little video fun!

Just some new photos

March 16th, 2010

From a fun day in Irvine—check ‘em out!

Run, Vibble, Run!

February 13th, 2010

Just a few photos from the park today. :)

Photos Posted at Last

February 2nd, 2010

Thanks to Cindy for sending my left-behind camera … So if you want to see what the little ones of my college roommates look like, here are some photos from the trip. :)

Hot Kid

January 21st, 2010

Vibble had a fever the day before yesterday, and we were still recovering yesterday. It wasn’t a huge deal, just low-grade, but it feels so wrong to have her be so hot. We tried to keep ourselves in check this time—last time she got a fever we took her to the ER, where everyone working there was basically like, “Um, yeah. CVS would have worked fine for this.” But this time she wouldn’t take the Tylenol, just kept spattering it out. And she was over 102, which we read was the borderline for “low grade.” And, and … she was SO HOT. And so sad. Finally, we found good tips online for how to get medicine into a toddler, and I gave her a lukewarm bath in the sink, and it all worked like magic, and hours later she was her old self again. Whew!

Between my not taking her around other kids so as not to expose anyone to her sickness, and the news-making El Nino rains we’re having here, she has serious cabin fever, too. We’ve got a playdate this morning at a friend’s house nearby, so hopefully that will help.

A couple of weekends ago I went to Baltimore. I had a terrific trip, checking in on friends with a lot going on in their lives, and also relaxing and laughing with friends. Vibble, meanwhile, hung out with her Dad here at home, and the two of them had a fabulous time. She is more and more into what Dad is doing, and often leaves me in whatever room I am in to go downstairs or wherever Stevel is and hang out. She loves to sit on his lap while he is at his computer, loves to wear his giant headphones, loves to watch him play video games, loves for him to read her books. What an adorable pair.

I feel like we’ve gotten past a difficult stage with a lot of tantrums into one with only a few tantrums now. She has become extremely FRIENDLY as well, and waves hello to everyone, everywhere. She loves to walk up to new people and just launch into babble. And dogs, oh man she loves dogs. At least once a week, some dog owner tells me, “You’re going to have to get this kid a dog!” I think it’s dog-owner code for, “Can you please get your kid to stop stalking me and my dog?”

We are definitely seeing improvement in her interest in talking. Still not as interested as other kids I know, but again, she demonstrates she CAN say all sorts of words and phrases, from “awesome” to “happy” to “sad” to “night-night, Mom.” She just doesn’t seem to WANT to that much, but it is improving. Her favorite word is “apple.” She says it all the time, points to the Apple icon on the Mac, or goes to the fridge and gets an apple for herself and tells us about it. She has also taken to giving us clues about what she’s been up to when we’ve been apart. When I return from the grocery store, she will run up to me all excited to tell me, “Ball! Ball!” Because she has been to the park to play with her ball. Stuff like that. She still doesn’t use words to really ask for things or express desire for things too much, although on occasion she does. Definite progress every day, enough that Steve and I compare notes every evening about the new words/phrases we’ve heard her say and new ways we’ve heard her use language that day.

The funniest has been the sound effects lately. My favorite example is this: When Steve changes her diaper, if it’s bad, he makes this involuntary face and sound, sort of like “Ug,” but more revolted-like. So Violet has started pointing to diapers and diaper-pails, cat-boxes and even cats, and making this same face and sound. Hilarious!

For the Grandparents

January 3rd, 2010

Some new photos!

Ten Reasons Why Parents Get Uptight

December 1st, 2009

Before becoming a parent, I had often noted a change that occurs when people have children; overnight, they seem to become lax about some things that have always mattered, and at the same time, insane-o uptight about other things.

The laxness is easy to explain: I had (accurately) always assumed that with a kid in the picture, priorities naturally shift, and things that were of seemingly vast importance now matter little. The elbowed-over things vary from parent to parent, but a kid takes up a LOT of room in a life, and space must be made.

But the uptight, at times almost righteous and in some cases even personality-altering, cloud that comes over parents when it hasn’t been there before used to TERRIFY me. Was this something hormonal, unavoidable that kicked in? If so, HOW AWFUL. Or was there perhaps something about parenthood that was essentially dissatisfying that made people succumb to this shift? These thoughts disturbed me much of my life. I suppose they were part of what had me convinced back in the days B.V. that I didn’t want to bear a child (well, that and my aversion to all things pregnancy and birth related, which is so intense that typing those words just now made me throw up a little bit in the back of my mouth). If I didn’t make the kid, at least the hormone part could be avoided.

Now, I’ve been complimented by friends and family on being a “laid-back” mom. I consider this an accomplishment on my part, and on the parts of the other moms I know who don’t sweat the small stuff. Because I have discovered it is not easy to keep the uptight monster at bay. I’m sure the reasons for its arrival vary from parent to parent, but here are some of the things that make my eye start to twitch now that I have a kid, things that were not issues before:


Hormones. They do lots of unpredictable things. Based on my experience of the last two years, I would not be surprised to wake up some morning with a second head growing out of my left buttock. I would just be like, ‘Oh. Yeah. That’s probably hormones causing that.’


Forces of DNA. (See also: Hormones.) I am now aware of forces in nature that are much more powerful than I am, forces like The Thing—some people call it “the clock”—which arrives in the night one day in your 20s or 30s in a vintage green Cadillac with darkened windows and punches you in the face real hard, and then as you reel whispers in your ear with its hissy hiss, “Yessssss. You want to have a baaaaaaayyyyyy beeeeee yesssssssssss.” And you can fight with it, you can fight until there’s nothing left in your arsenal of reason, but be it known you can never, EVER return to the blissfully naive days when you thought The Thing was mythical, and there is nothing you can do to stop the hissing except get yourself knocked the hell up.

And just when you think The Thing is the maximum of nature’s power, along come Labor and Delivery and Mommy Brain and the Breastfeeding Hormones and the Mama-Bear growl, all things you also thought were mythical, and none of which any medical professional, save for your psychiatrist, has enough sympathy for. Basically, you find yourself unpredictable and crazy and possessed and unable to locate an exorcist. This stuff can make you uptight, but it doesn’t, not really, because you are so in love with your new baby, even as you eye The Thing with awe and fear from the corner of your life. What CAN make you somewhat uptight is this new awareness that you are small and powerless in the grand scheme of DNA and Survival, whereas before you perhaps enjoyed carefree ignorance of these things.


The inhuman amount of patience required. I sleep most nights with someone who kicks me in the head for up to four hours and then needs me to be patient and loving as I clean up after her all day and write a blog entry in two-sentence bursts between fulfilling her demands. She is very, very cute, and I love her very, very much, but some days this is still challenging. (See also: Psychiatrist)


The constant—and I am not exaggerating here—life-and-death scenario in our house. There is a small person here whom I adore more than anything and for whom I am responsible, and she endeavors up to twenty times a day to kill herself in one of a thousand ways. Noose? Check. Dive from the dining room table? Check. “Hi, here I am sucking on a bottle of plant fertilizer from under my aunt’s kitchen sink.” Check and CHECK. The sincere seriousness of the situation could make me seriously serious all the time. If she didn’t balance this out with episodes wherein she wears a trash-can on her head or licks the couch, I might honestly die of uptightness.


The judgment of other people. It turns out we live in a society where a lot of people think it is OK to judge the parenting of another person, and then either say so to that person, or clearly demonstrate their judgment in other ways. “She’s too young to be out.” “I would never put my kid on a leash—she’s not a dog.” These are a sampling of some of the things people have said to/about me. I know other parents feel the judgments too, and I’m not saying I’m innocent of judging. I’m just saying a new parent is insecure and feels inadequate sometimes (See also: Suicidal Toddler), and the growing awareness of others’ judgments can really make you feel touchy, defensive, and, well, uptight, even with enough Psychiatry and positive reinforcement from a loving support network.


The constant judgment of the Little Boss, who is mad at me right now because I won’t let her have endless servings of chewable vitamins. Throughout the day today, she will repeatedly and loudly let me know she is unhappy with my performance, sometimes in public, and I will have to fight not to get uptight about it. Right now what helps me in this fight is to say, “Your comments have been noted by the Complaint Department.” Maybe this is cruel, but if you think so, WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE ME!


The compulsion to compare. Violet is fast, faster than most of her peers. She is also strong. She also doesn’t say very many words. And she doesn’t always eat enough. The kid she plays with every afternoon is four months younger. He eats like he wants to GROW, and he speaks two languages and yesterday said Violet’s name. His head circumference is in the top 5 percentile or something. Is Violet’s head too small?? You see how this goes. Many of you KNOW how this goes, because right now, you’re thinking, “Hm, [you're inserting the name of your child here]‘s head is in the 40th percentile … is my kid smarter than Violet? Does my kid eat enough? What if my kid doesn’t eat enough???” And you know everything is FINE, and that you shouldn’t do all this comparing, but you are burdened now with the compulsion to do it, and fighting this compulsion all the time can make you uptight. Right?


You, and only you, know the severity of the outcome if certain seemingly “anal” conditions are not met. There often comes a moment when, if my child does not have food she LIKES in her mouth within 30 seconds, and then if she is not ASLEEP within 12 minutes after that, she will morph into a horrid screeching worm, and we will all suffer, but mostly her parents will suffer, because everyone will be looking at us like, How come you’re not good parents, don’t you know your kid is screaming, make her stop. But if these conditions have not been met, there will BE NO making her stop. It is a Point of No Return. So when you’re with people who don’t understand this, and you start insisting everyone accommodate the schedule of a small being who at the moment seems perfectly fine, you can encounter a certain resistance that makes you UPTIGHT. It’s a lot like being a superhero, or the head of the C.I.A., in that you have information the public does not have that justifies your behavior, but since the public doesn’t have this information, they don’t realize why you’re acting the way you are: My God, People, you are trying to save the world!


The inability for any human to keep up with the financial drain, laundry, diapers, dishes, and sour milk spills of an army of children wrapped into one. Right now as I look around, I am so confused. How many people live in this house, anyway? Because if I didn’t know better, I would guess FIFTEEN, MINIMUM. I don’t know about you, but it makes me uptight to live in filth and chaos.


The blessings. As they pile up on you, the reality of the loss that would be represented if anything happened to them is not like anything you have ever experienced. When I was 25, I worried about losing one of my parents. And yes, that would be extremely hard. If I lost my child? I just can’t imagine any recovering from that. And the thought of her losing a parent is unthinkable. It makes me incredibly appreciative of life, and tenaciously protective of it in ways I never was before.

This is all to say how sorry I am that I was unforgiving in the past of parents’ I know occasionally being uptight. And to say how thankful I am for the patience and positive parenting feedback I get from all of you. And to acknowledge that I fight the good fight against the uptight and sometimes win and sometimes lose. And winning and losing are individually defined. I hope we can all find balance in this … to relax and enjoy, while being “on top of it” enough to get these kids through to the other side of childhood with as little damage as possible.

Went to the Park Today

October 13th, 2009

Nothing big, just a few new photos.

Some Hilarious Comics by My Ol’ Co-worker Stowe

August 10th, 2009

Nutshot 3

Nutshot 9

I love how now that we’re parents, we just do what we do best, and the kiddos provide the content/ideas. Some days I just feel exploitative. Sigh. But then I change some Huggies.

Just some new photos

August 6th, 2009

Woodbridge Lagoon Day

Hell Week

July 8th, 2009

Vibble and I leave Friday for Atlanta for a week, and from there we are on to Tybee Island for a week. Packing, planning, all while trying to accomplish a hair-brained house-wide reorganization of our junk. Spent all day Monday in the attic, and all day yesterday on the couch recovering from having overdone it. Vibble is not getting much Mom time this week. Thankfully, Patricia and David are making sure she has playmates.

June 29th, 2009

Oh God so tired. So much howling and writhing. She was fine. FINE! All day. Then at about ten o’clock … I need a night.

« Previous Entries