Happy Christmas to all.

See you in 2011.


His point of view

This what it looked like, for him. For my little man who had to go to the ER today because his forehead decided to say hello to a brick patio and the metal car he happened to have in his hand, right at that very moment.

This is what it looked like, for him.

I don't always get to see what the world looks like for him. Actually, I rarely do. Sometimes when I end up on my hands and knees reaching for the ball that landed in the corner under the comfy chair, I catch a glimpse of his world: how tall everything seems. How the counter top feels like Mount Everest. How the refrigerator feels like the Empire State Building. How the sink feels like the Grand Canyon.

But today, this unexpected glimpse caught me off guard.

I was flipping through the pictures I took of the gash on his forehead and found this image - probably taken while he was allowed to flip through episodes of Thomas and a few key clips from Mary Poppins while we waited for the numbing ointment to take affect.

This image stopped me in my tracks.

It stopped the what-do-I-say-to-the-mom-whose-daughter caused the gash because saying "Eva don't push" isn't really working so well. It stopped all the have-to-get-this-done before the in-laws arrive tomorrow. It stopped all the frantic need to-do-ness before the end of the year is up. It stopped the brave and together mom routine that made everyone in the ER comment on how calm I was - seeing that this was my first, his first, and so on. It just stopped everything.

And I stopped and cried.


Man purse

I can't help it. This one, I just had to share.


Tired, again

I know, old story. I'm tired, you're tired, everyone is tired. So why the hell write about it again.

Because, it's the tired of motherhood. The tired that is different from the tired of corporate work or restaurant work or hospital work or entrepreneurial work. The tired that creeps into your veins from the endless yowling to do the exact opposite thing you want to be doing. The tired that seeps into your brain after tirelessly (no pun intended) repeating every request, desire, command and demand over and over and over again to a non-rational, big blue eyed little human. The tired that hits you right smack dab in the middle of the forehead while you are reading Goodnight Gorilla and makes you realize that all those things you were hoping to get done as soon as he fell asleep, would like yesterday, and probably tomorrow, stay not done.

But today, it's the tired that you get from tossing and turning restlessly until 1:30am, agitated by the tumultuous storm that reeked havoc on the neighborhood streets and it's partner in crime, the tornado that reeked havoc in my head. That tired, plus toddler tired, just kicked my ass.

Mostly, I don't want to accept that 24 pounds of toddler can take me out the way that they do. But they do, like no other work i have ever done in my entire life.

I don't want him to be any different than he is: no less inquisitive, no less clever, no less determined, no less certain, no less compassionate, no less loving, no less resolute, no less giddy about cho chos.

So, I am just going to let myself be tired. And go to bed at 8:25. And figure out a way to be less tired and more there, when it all starts again tomorrow.


Do you know Kickstarter?

Well do you? Because I didn't until yesterday. But that doesn't mean anything, since I am ever so delayed these days in what is cool, hip and rely on my younger brothers to keep me in the loop.

I won't ramble too long - the link speaks for itself.

So if you want to support a small, local business or you want to support young people or you want to support creativity or you want to support my brother or you just love this idea, support this project.

Because we all need a little help from our friends, at some point


Don't need me

Just for five minutes, don't need me.

Just for a day, don't need me.

That is how I feel right now.

It's Tuesday, not Monday. And since yesterday I have been rehearsing and pre-writing a post that I had wanted to write yesterday. It was about being that mom - that mom who gives her toddler that sweet-sticky-fruit-roll-up-type-thing so she can get through grocery shopping at Trader Joes, that mom who schlepps her toddler through IKEA and then gets annoyed when he runs out of patience and wants out of the stroller and then bribes him with episodes of Thomas on her iPhone, that mom who promised to go to the playground after IKEA and then drove right past because it was just too cold and she was just too tired.

But today I am over feeling bad about being that mom because we are all that mom all the time and the only thing the judgment of ourselves and each other is doing is making us miserable, depressed and alienated from one another. I realized today, that there is no "that mom", just mom and the sooner I really let that sink in, like really sink way deep down to that dark judgmental festering cavity inside, the more pleasant, rewarding and satisfying this whole mothering experiment will be. For everyone.

No today, I am okay with being that mom. I may even have embraced it. Instead, I just want to be that mom who isn't needed. Just for about 5 minutes. Oh, and the wife and daughter who isn't needed either.

After chaos and socializing and house guests and dinner parties and even a trip to the supermarket, I need quiet and solitude and downtime. In fact, I like being alone. I always have. I like food shopping alone and going to the flea market alone. I like eating alone and going to the movies alone. And these days, I am rarely alone.

"Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama." I love the sound of it. 98% of the time. He started last week to actually come and find me, wrap his arm around my knee and start to tug - with longing eyes motioning in the direction in which he wanted me to come, as if to say "I neeeeeeed you to watch me play with my train set." As I said, I am rarely alone.

We do quiet time and book reading time and time where we do separate activities, but we are still in the same room. My need for solitude is next to impossible to explain to a toddler so I don't try. Most grown-ups don't necessarily understand it either. Husbands included.

But tonight, after the nugget was put to bed, I did something differently. I made a statement. It went something like this, "I want to take my computer, get into bed, write a blog entry and then write a journal entry and then be asleep by 10pm, maybe earlier."

That was me, needing me. And you know what, it feels fantastic.


Simply grateful

...because this week should be full of all the things we are grateful for, no matter how small.

Happy Thanksgiving.

White plate found on Etsy at Paloma's Nest


Morning ritual

"Are you ready to meditate?" he asks.

Still half asleep I know that its sometime around 6am. He's been awake long enough to be mostly awake, dressed, teeth brushed and alert. I haven't even gotten out of bed.

I want to scream no. I want to roll my eyes. I want to say "Do I look ready to meditate?"

That's the ritual on weekday mornings. Doesn't really feel so great.

And today was no different, but instead of loathing the set up, I just got up and found my spot, no eye rolling in sight.

And then I just started to breathe.

And then I let my spaghetti brain of a to do list jump around in my head like children in a bouncy house. And I smiled.

And then I just started to breathe.

And then I just started to breathe again.

And again.

And again.

Until at one point the bell chimed, letting my boycotting brain know that 30 minutes had passed.

I'll try it again tomorrow.


The spot

Here it is. My new meditation spot.

And my new Zafu and Zabuton. Available here.

When we first moved into this house, this nook screamed reading corner for the nugget. So I filled the shelves with books and threw done some pillows. Turns out he's a little small and really doesn't need a nook just set.

So I claimed the real estate for myself.

And really, I think it's just right.


Nap time Recipe #2: Vichysoisssseez

image from here

Okay, so I exaggerated the name. Just be French for a second.

I branched into the Joy of Cooking this week - which for those of you who are a non-cook like myself, is so not the easiest cookbook. It assumes a lot. And I know little. Bad combo.

But when potatoes and leeks arrived in my CSA box last week, it was a no brainer that I had to try this.

And oooh, it was good. And it made the house smell good. And leeks are really easy to mince. And the leftover can be frozen. And all three of us liked it.

I think leeks may just be my favorite vegetable, there is just something about them.

FYI - I will be back next Monday. I have a special project that is brewing...which I will share next week!


A boy at the beach

The California Coast is not all sunshine and tanned beauties in teeny bikinis. In fact most of it can be dreary and foggy and damp. I grew up on that kind of coast, longing for the warmth and carefree life in the Southern California version of the beach.

But this time, this visit to this beach, where I watched my high-school boyfriend surf, where we scattered my dads ashes and where our beloved dog thought he was a seal and swam way too far off shore only to return to a beach full of nervous onlookers, this visit was different. It was the nugget's first time at this very special piece of the California Coast, and the damp, misty fog didn't bother him at all.

And I, barely even noticed.

Maybe that's what happens when you go back home, as a grown up.


Another I am a mom moment...

And then it happened. Just like that, without warning, I woke up the mother of a boy who doesn't eat his crusts.

I haven't decided what to do about it, because it only just happened today for the first time. I watched, as piece after piece got eaten, all the way to the harder border where the crust began.

How could this be? I LOVE the crust.

I grew up in a house where kids ate what and how the adults ate. No extra meals, no cutting off the crusts, no soda or boxed macaroni-n-cheese, no all-my-child-will-eat-is-hot-dogs. Then I started to babysit when I was 15 and the world of kids food habits unfolded one box of Kraft at a time. And here I am - as the parent. Bewildered, awestruck, amazed, confused and slightly entertained by the irony of it all.

So, what do I do?

And please, don't say cut off the crusts!


Day 1: Naptime Cooking Class

Recipe #1: Cream-braised Green Cabbage from A Homemade Life

My CSA box this week happened to be all about cabbage. One of the recipes that jumped off the page and whacked my taste buds upside the head was Molly's cream braised cabbage recipe. And can I tell you, it was my kind of recipe and the finished product was out of this world.

As this is not a cooking blog, I am not going to write out the recipe. Instead, each Monday is going to be another naptime cooking class, where I try something new and pay attention to what I learn about cooking, eating and so on and so forth.

So lessons from my encounter with the green cabbage:

1. Less than 5 ingredients is perfect for me. Ingredients like cream, butter, lemon and salt and pepper are simple, pure and give me confidence when working with them.

2. My eagerness and impatience make me prone to mistakes. I was too fast and too eager and forgot to brown the second side before adding the cream.

3. My impatience makes me prone to mistakes. I know, I said that already but this just became really apparent.

4. It's not fun making something so divinely heavenly without someone to share it with. My dear husband ate his wedge in support, not in joy. I'll have to dry this one out on another crowd.

5. It's the mess of cooking that gets me anxious. So clean as I go is necessary but I don't have the timing thing down yet.

6. All in all, success!

Recipe #2: Red Cabbage from The Joy of Cooking

So lessons from my encounter with the red cabbage:

1. I took on too much. Two new recipes was not such a good idea because I ran out of steam and enthusiasm.

2. How on earth you do finely shred cabbage?

3. Fennel seeds and apples make a difference. Without it, kind of blah.

4. Its hard for me to take a compliment if I don't like the outcome - husband and brother's girlfriend both loved it!

5. Do this dishes before you go to bed. I broke my rule and cleaning up cabbage mess the next morning was terribly unpleasant.

6. It wasn't my Oma's Rotkraut, but it was a start.

Stay tuned for next week...


A Homemade Life

My path to the things that influence and affect my life is far more circuitous than straight. It has always been that way. You can see this in my colorful cornucopia of a resume, the now fading stamps in my passport and perhaps even in the topics of this blog, if you have been reading for longer than a week. This latest influence, that has struck a deep and buried nerve, came to me through GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle blog. A while ago she featured her favorite foodie blogs and as I am in the midst of embracing my own cooking inability and transforming it into something that can nurture this little family of three, I paid close attention. And what I found well, it may have changed everything.

Amongst the many gems of accomplished food blogs, something about Molly Wizenberg and Orangette caught my attention. As did her book, which I ordered immediately and have been devouring ever since. And today, in my forced day in bed gifted to me by my runny nosed toddler whose cold/flu has passed much more quickly than mine, I finished A Homemade Life.

One reviewer is right - you don't know whether to run into the kitchen and try to recreate the recipes like the cream-braised green cabbage or lie in bed and dream of these heavenly creations. I, well, I read the book, ear marked the recipes that seem doable (for me) and when ready, will give my first one a try.

But for me, the book hit a different kind of nerve. It hit the dad nerve. The part where my dad died too early, too soon. The part where I would have to get through my wedding day without him. The part where he was quirky and at times strange, but more full of life than anyone I have ever met. The part where he would buy diamond earrings for his girl at an estate sale and forget about them. The part where he served up sardines on saltines with diced onions and pepper to my 3rd grade friends and I wanted to crawl under the nearest large object and hide forever. The part where we had to eat his french toast and eggs and bacon on Thanksgiving morning because you have to stretch our stomachs for later on. The part where when I think of food, I think of my dad. The part where when I try to make food, I don't know how and he's not around to ask.

I have been dancing on the edge while reading Molly's book. That edge between the joy of remembering and the despair of loss, when tears can fall with effortless ease. That edge between wishing the past could have been different and actually accepting the present is here because of that past. That edge between staying small and embracing ones true greatness. She has both given me the kick in the ass to get over my "but I don't like to cook" attitude and the inspiration to simply start to write. To really write. And to put myself out there. And to just see what happens.

I may not ever be able to say that I love cooking and I certainly won't hold Molly's book responsible. But I am my father's daughter and I have to trust that in my gene's somewhere is the ability to at least like it. And just maybe, I can learn to make a mean chocolate cake.

By the way, Molly, if you ever read this, I bought an oven thermometer yesterday. It's still in my purse, but for now, that's exactly where I need it to be.

For more about Molly, her writing, her restaurant, visit her blog Orangette or follow her podcasts at Spilled Milk



I've started to read Part III of Momma Zen. And true to form, the first chapter met me at exactly the right place.

I have been thinking a lot about schedules. Craving one, making one, making another, not following one, and so on and so forth. New motherhood is about unpredictability - there in lies some of the uncomfortable and sometimes irritating forced personal growth. But then one day, naps start to happen at the same time. And play dates. And bath time.

And then it all changes again. What you counted doesn't happen. What you planned doesn't work. And there again, lies some of that forced personal growth.

As if parenthood isn't hard enough, we get caught in the fire of opposing philosophies - sleep schedule vs. no schedule, timed breastfeeding vs. on demand feeding. Each family has their go-to method and stand feverishly behind it. Before having a child, I would have said that I fall into that "spontaneous, natural, let it happen organically" life rhythm. And for some things I am that way. For others, I have become the warden of timekeeping.

Bedtime is at 7pm, 99.9% of the time. That is how our nugget started to sleep through the night - every night. I paid attention to his rhythms and patterns and slowly this organic schedule emerged, that I simply gave structure to. And follow, almost religiously. But I do smile when I hear myself saying, "No he can't join the party - he goes to sleep at 7" because the creative and loosey goosey side of me wants to let him be with us and explore and enjoy his uncle's birthday celebration. I 100% believe that this simple adherence to his natural tendency to go to sleep at around 7pm is the reason that he is as pleasant and well adjusted and social and clever. He knows what to expect - there is no reason to fight it or hate it or rebel against it. At least for now.

And the reason I know how beneficial this is for him is that I know how beneficial it is for me. When I spent ten days at a silent meditation retreat in Thailand, I was certain that the structured schedule of the day would test the "don't want to follow your rules" girl in me. But you know what, I LOVED it. I LOVED LOVED LOVED it. Every minute of it. Why? Because for 10 days, I knew exactly what was expected of me, where I needed to be, what I needed to eat, when I needed to sleep. I didn't have to make any choices. And out of that most controlled and structured environment came the most profound sense of freedom I have ever felt. Ironic, right?

Our rational minds don't buy it. But it is true. Out of this structure came freedom and clarity and peace. And the most sensational bursts of creativity that I am still tapping into today.

Once again what is good for me is good for him, or vice versa. Wherever you are on the continuum of time - think about it for a moment. Think about your relationship with time and what you are teaching your children or what they are teaching you. Ms. Miller may have summed up my advice for new parents and especially new moms in this one sentence, "She became predictable when I became predictable.", in case anyone ever asks me.

As part of creating a ritualized schedule for myself, I have committed Monday nap time to my dwindling and in-need-of-attention-mindfulness practice. I will sit first for 30 minutes (in my newly appointed meditation corner), then read an unread chapter in Momma Zen and then let my writing simply follow. If you are interested in joining me, let me know. Would love for you to join me - wherever you are. No meditation skills required.

Above image found here


Go Giants!

I, am not a baseball fan. I never have been. I grew up in a house with brothers who played soccer, a dad who dragged them to the regional rugby tournaments and a German mom who loved Borris Becker. You can see that we weren't really the typical American household. In spite of that, at one point I learned the difference between a ball and a strike and I know all about the 7th inning stretch and what it means if the bases are loaded but that pretty much covers it.

But as someone said, this is not about liking the game of baseball - its about pride for our city, our team, our stadium.

So when our friend invited my husband to watch the 1st game of the World Series aboard his boat from Covey Cove on Wednesday night, I responded with "Oh you have to go - I would even love that!"

And so, this un-baseball fan got to join the boys and I am oh so very glad that I did!

The weather cooperated, my Dramamine cooperated, last minute grandma as babysitter cooperated and well the team, they did more than cooperate.

Who knows what lies ahead in Texas - for me, it really doesn't matter. For now, I can only say "Go Giants! Well done!"


The two J's

Again, I tell you that I am a little behind. I have no idea what movies are in theaters right now, I am not sure who is dating who or who the latest Hollywood drama queen is. So, a post about Julie & Julia is so past due, but I only just watched it last night.

And it was sweet. It was sweet and a bit melancholy - as I relate so dearly with both heroines. Clever and witty and talented and loved but ever so slightly lost. Lost only because one's passion has not yet been discovered. For both Julie and Julia, food brought them to life or back to life. It brought their gift to the table shall I say, one bœuf bourguignon at a time.

It made me think about writing and blogging and creating and completing. And it made me think about how excited I get when someone comments or when someone says they really like my writing. It made me think about the word narcissism (the way Julie did in the film) and if this is the "Alex show" and who the hell wants to read about me, me, me. Makes me kind of feel like Eloise for a moment. But for now, this is about me and if it ends up a bit self-indulgent, I am okay with that.

As for the movie, well, it was nice treat for a Monday night.


Clearly the winner

This is what I get for not having a tv - I am the last to know about Emily Henderson.

But I really don't have an excuse because all HGTV shows are available online and Design Star just happens to be my all time favorite. So Emily is the recent winner of the Design Star contest and she is in pre-production for her new show. And, I can see why. Her apartment is wonderfully eclectic and livable and real. I haven't seen any of the contest episodes, but I am going to go back and let myself devour every one.

The rest of the photos on Fish Food are lovely. Go see the rest - really!


Perfectly imperfect

I have this great t-shirt from Old Navy. Across the chest it reads "I'm the perfect imperfection". Sadly it's in the box of "these clothes don't fit my had-a-baby-18 months-ago- body" so I can only think about wearing it right now.

I thought of it today as I read Lisa Quinn's book Life is too short to fold fitted sheets. I had the utter joy of hearing her speak in person this past week at a local Speak to Me event. And, she was as real in person as she seems to be in her book.

She is cleverly serious and frank, that it is time that we (women) lowered our standards, embraced imperfection and just chilled out! I agree with her and I salute her!

That is not to say that we raise heathens with no manners or ourselves become lazy in our generosity, gratitude or passion. It's just that we relax when life inevitably looks more like mac n cheese in a box than glazed duck with cranberry confit.

I was talking with two of my mom friends last week and we were talking about play and being fun. I chimed in with, "I am fun when the dishes are still in the sink, the clean laundry is piled up on the dining room table ready for folding and dinner is our favorite pizza margarita from tony's down the street."

It made me think about what impacts the nugget more: a fun mom or neatly folded jeans.

So I have been trying it out - leaving the clothes on the dining room table, getting to the dishes when I can and busting into rhyme with the empty paper towel holder before it landed in the recycling bin. Made the nugget look twice and then explode with laughter...and you know what, I couldn't help but laugh myself.



I got to see one of my favorite people on the planet last week. She makes my heart happy. And she makes me laugh. And she makes me smile. And she has been doing that since we met over some sort of cake escapade in the hallway of our freshman dorm. She's known me through the worst time of my life and was certainly there for some of the best. And I don't see her as often as I would like and I don't even talk her as much as I would like but she is in deep down in my heart, where only a handful of people reside.

I mention her because I have been thinking about the conversation we had: the one in which we both admitted to feeling like our lives were on pause - as we intentionally and with full awareness navigated raising our children as stay-at-home moms. The irony here is that our lives are certainly not on pause - they are on go, do, go, do, go, do. And she has two tiny people under the age of 3! And its living - no doubt, everyday. More accurately what is on pause are our passions and dreams and work - and I have to wonder, if for the two of us, that is such a wise thing.

It was in the car ride back home that I was struck by the thought - "Yes, of course, my blog, it's called pause and I never really knew why...but now it all makes sense...that this feeling of my life on pause is so perfect...because it is...and that's exactly where I need to be in order to figure out what the next step is for me...and maybe that next step is just being comfortable with the pause and making the best out of it...and embracing it...and not fighting it..." Let's just say that line of mental acrobatics got me all the way back home from Sacramento.

With this hazy clarity, I committed to myself to change the about blurb on this blog. Do you know how hard it was for me to type stay-at-home mom in relation to something about myself? I just realized - I hate the term stay-at-home mom. The reasons why are endless. And full-time mom, ooh I so don't like that one either. Mothers who go back to a job or a career either out of choice or necessity are certainly not half-time moms - I am pretty sure no matter what you do, you are full time.

So that is what is going on - my Women's Studies minor self and for a time opinionated Feminist self are holding on for dear life, fighting against the words that haven't changed, the roles that are differently complicated and my participation in the cliches, that I once promised myself would never be me. It was the promise of a naive 19 year old, but it was the promise that I would do it differently or not at all.

Pause is therefor my attempt to do it differently, with a more mature outlook and the reality of actually being a mom and a wife and a creative and a visionary. It will be bumpy and not perfect but it will be me, figuring out how to embrace what is and keep plugging away at what will be.


Be inspired.

image from She... by Kobi Yamada

I have been thinking a lot about being inspired lately. You know, the kind of being inspired that rips you out of bed in the morning and keeps you up at night with wild adrenaline. Yes, that kind.

Yesterday morning, I woke up well rested before the sky had fully awakened. Not just well rested, but alert and excited, almost jittery with potential. And I have no idea why. My husband was still asleep, the nugget was still asleep - the neighborhood was still asleep - it was Sunday morning for crying out loud. And do you know what I did? I sort of got my self presentable, put on my rain jacket and went outside. And then, I pruned our lemon tree. And then I got the brilliant idea to use the dried out oak tree branches laying next to the lemon tree for our entry way Halloween decoration. And then...

Well, the rest of the day just kept riding that wave. The Halloween decorating is done and I am completely happy with the results, on the first try no less. Even in our first heavy rain showers and a soggy wet Waldorf school festival, I was inspired. I even introduced myself a few times with "I write this blog about..."

And then this morning, I woke up: tired and uninspired and twitchy eyed.

What the hell?

I don't know what I did or didn't do to wake up the way that I did on Sunday morning. And I don't know what I did to wake up the way that I did today. I suppose my practice is to not get attached to either one - but to respect both as part of life. My life.

For now, I will remind myself of what in fact inspires me, so the next time I wake up tired and twitchy eyed, which could possibly be tomorrow, I have something to reference:

new uses for old things : natural curiosities : authenticity : children who build boats out of Styrofoam and string : Waldorf education's innate ability to truly capture childhood creativity and foster its development : simple abundance : making something out of nothing : real farmer’s markets : a good use of space : groups of women working together : travel : young people who are fearless : my nugget who is mimicking everything that I do

So what and who inspires you?



"I was jealous. I was jealous that he could respond, so agile and free, to his own urge. I was jealous that he could begin the day, eat a meal, leave a room, have a plan, and mind his own business. But mostly, I was jealous that he could go to the bathroom whenever he wanted."

- Karen Maezen Miller in Momma Zen, pg.55/56

I've been on edge lately. It looks like this: Pleasant with a razor sharp edge under the surface. Do you know this place? This place between sunshine and despair, joy and sudden tears. I am keenly aware of it, mostly because the recipient of my edge is my husband and at some point he let's holds up a mirror and I usually don't like what I see.

Unaware of why I was really feeling the way I was feeling, I picked up Momma Zen and read 2 more chapters. Its one of those books that sits on my nightstand waiting. Waiting got me to need its wisdom and permission. And there, in the chapter entitled No Exit was the gem I was looking for.

Unpleasant, green, festering jealousy for his {my unsuspecting husband's} assumed freedom - to eat his breakfast in peace, to shower without needing to have childcare or nap-time and to leave the house and join the rest of the adult world, for at least 8 hours.

I suppose it is the constancy and alwaysness of motherhood, and perhaps more so of stay-at-home motherhood, that is feeling constricting and soul deadening. Yes, soul deadening, I said. And now that I have said it, I can move away from the dramatic tone of that sentiment and be more proactive in finding a way to embrace my life as it is right now.

I am not always grateful for my circumstance to stay home with our son. What was intended as a year has now become it just "makes sense". With childcare costs, an entrpeneur husband whose company is very much in start up mode, a list of grown-up to-dos that need a project manager AND the desire to actually raise our child in the way that we want, there is no better place for me. And most of the time, I feel okay with it. Not great, but okay. But then the "me" voice slithers in between the cracks and I meet women who are living their passion and I enter the dark tunnel of "when is it my turn". And that, that is just not a pretty place to be because then motherhood and wifehood starts to feel like a cage that I want to get out of - because it then doesn't feel like a choice. When in all irony, everyday, every moment, every thought is my choice.

Still in No Exit, Ms. Miller writes, "Motherhood is a club you cannot quit, a job you cannot shove, a prize that is non-transferable. You're in it, and you can't get out."

Yup, that is how its been feeling. And yup, that is why I have been one unpleasant person to the one person who at the end of the day is team mate, my partner in crime.

Again I was reminded that my whole internal dialogue and my seemingly intolerable circumstances and my "woe is me" dilemna, is not as unique or special as I was hoping it would be. Nope, not alone. Nope, not special. Nope, not even unique. And knowing that, instantly and always makes me feel better. I just need to figure out a way to not forget that in the first place.

For now, I am printing this out and putting it on the refrigerator, right there on the door, to read every morning, until the assignment is no longer an assignment but simply my modus operandi:

"Today's assignment is to drop the woebegone wishes and daydreams, the ruinous comparisons to the paradise lost or aspirations unfulfilled. Tomorrow, drop them again. When you need a change, make one. When you need a break, take one. When you need help, get it. When it's time to work, work. When you need to go to the bathroom.....Free at last."

All quotes from the book Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller



Sometimes he makes me crazy. Sometimes he makes me laugh. And sometimes he reminds me to just stop and sit and watch the world pass by.


Lonny's out

Have you seen it the latest issue of Lonny?

I have less patience for stuff these days - and that transcends into my ability to devour fashion and home design magazines like I used to. I flipped through Lonny's Gift Guide and the required advertisements without much thought. But, then there he was: my favorite textile designer of all time with a view into his Connecticut home. And I had to swoon and get lost in the images. For the whole spread on John Robshaw, click here

I have been a fan of his textiles, his design, his inspiration, his ethos. You get the point.

To check out the whole magazine, click here


Get to work

There is a movement - intended to inspire and empower and encourage us to take action, however small or big.

And that movement started today.

Weeks ago when I read about 10/10/10 for the first time, I was enthusiastically driven to take part. I starred the blog post that mentioned it and than I methodically planned my next steps. Then last week, when I actually went to the website and saw that the action is a grassroots movement for climate change, I was at first disappointed. My assumption had been this was an effort to get people moving, get them to commit to something that inspires them, get them to ask for help, get them to engage others - get them off the couch and to work. And as I thought more, I realized that it is. And that this small and humble project of ours is a baby step towards my part in helping our planet.

You see, by trying to live a life with less waste, less packaging, less consumption, more community, more creativity and more generosity, I can only hope to make a small dent in my little part of the world.

So I in the spirit of getting to work, I introduce to you...

click on image to go directly to the site

Today, on Global Work Party day, this is my effort, my work and my commitment to changes in my own home and life.

Perhaps it will inspire you to do the same, one re:purposed project at a time.


This sort of says it all.

I am taking a pause, from blogging that is. Just until October 10th, so that I may free up some important mental space for some very important family and financial decisions that are brewing and need my attention.

And, to get some clarity and some focus, in order, like the image says to begin.

So come back on October 10th...


Born at home

our nugget, born at home

Sometimes it just takes a deadline to get things done.

First it was his first birthday. Then it was June 1st. Then it was while I was in Germany. Then I simply gave up and said by the end of 2010. But it took an outside deadline for me to actually finish writing his birth story, all 2000+ words of it and I got it done, right on time.

For me, it was important not to tell another home birth story, but to share how we arrived at that decision and the meandering path we took, one that started years and years before.

So if you are interested, the story in my words and in its entirety, is here.


"Sleep is one of our most intractable attachments. We claw and clutch and crave it. We adorn and worship it. We four-hundred-thread count it. It is our sovereign domain. We hide out there; we fantasize and burrow there; we think we can't live without it. You will see that you can live without it - just enough."

- Karen Maezen Miller in Momma Zen, chapter called Night Watch

I am no longer the mother of a newborn, and yet sleep or perhaps more lack of sleep is a topic that is never too far from my consciousness.

Take yesterday. It was a bad day. I was a bad mom. Short tempered, short tongued, listless, hot, irritable, unpleasant. We have our normal Indian Summer at the moment - but 90+ degree weather is not what I bargained for. Plus a toddler with a cold/cough and an emerging willfulness, made for a terrible, no good, very bad day.

At the end of the day yesterday when I was longing for a cold beer and some time to not be a mother, I started to think about what was different yesterday than the day before. And what I realized was that I was suffering from a great attachment: that of scheduled and predictable day time naps.

What was once solid and set in stone is now fluid and amorphous. And I don't like it. And I am realizing how inflexible I am in moving with the changing times. I LOVED nap time - for the quiet and the solitude and the productivity. And now, I am at the mercy of chaos, and the organized and determined parts of me are fighting it. I am clinging to the need to feel productive and successful, outside of my responsibilities as a mother or at least have the chance to sit quietly and re-charge. So when my day needs to be spent at the playground because 15 minutes of sleep is all he seems to need, I feel ambushed. And I unfairly blame my tiny little man who doesn't have any idea why I being so unpleasant.

One of my favorite blogs, nonchalant mom, recently posted a lovely take on back to school. I re-read it just now. And it remained me that I can be patient and grateful - for I do still have a little one and before I know it, it will be me dropping him off and then there will be this day, empty and ready to be filled.



I don't many buy magazines anymore. I let my dedicated subscription to InStyle run out and Domino folded on me. I even gave up buying the trashy magazines that I allowed myself on airplane travel. I miss the ritual though, of sitting and flipping, carefree and undisturbed through the tactile pages of those glossy things.

So I let myself buy last month's Yoga Journal. Something about this ethereal computer generated cover of Sarah McLachlan caught my eye. She is real - but the rest is true fabrication. There is actually a short explanation as to why and how towards the end of the magazine.

But that is not what I am writing about. She has had a yoga practice for 13 years - and she attributes her discipline for the practice to her teacher and the fact that she is in position to have twice weekly private instruction in her home. It made me think of my non-existent practice of anything at the moment and how much more disciplined I can be when there is a class, a classroom, an instructor and a scheduled time. But what gets in the way of that guided discipline is the unbelievable cost of a maintained yoga practice in a beautiful space in the Bay Area.

I have always been a tad envious of those women around me who are disciplined with a self practice of yoga or 5am gym visit. So it has made me think about this word and the excuses that bubble up in its place.

What does the word discipline mean to you?


My turn...

I am going to do it - I am going to talk about women and work. Actually I am going to talk about this woman and work, because that is the only truth I can tell. This is simply my experience and if yours it not the same, I honor it as simply another part of the myriad experiences that women have in working, loving, learning, mothering, creating.

It's always the first question when I meet another mom: "Did you go back to work?", asked sometimes with envy, sometimes with judgment. It always opens the floodgates of the meaning of work, and my self worth, and the fact that the arduous and sometimes monotonous tasks of being a stay-at-home don't count as work. At least not the kind that is an acceptable answer to that question.

When it comes down to it, I simply have to make peace with my choices and my decisions, and see them now as a choice instead of an obligation because I am a woman who has chosen to have a child. I suppose I just fight against how cliche our scenario gets sometimes and the gender roles I so vehemently rebelled against as a freshman in college in my first Women's Studies 101 class. In my mind, the triumph of Feminism and the Women's Movement is my right and ability now to choose.

I have been thinking a lot about our life before baby. I suppose it comes from the fact that we consciously decided that I would not return to the outside workforce in the first year of the nugget's life. For financial reasons and parenting reasons, this was the best choice for our family. The nugget's 1st birthday in March was this deadline in my mind that has now come and gone.

I think that as a woman and mother, when you return to work outside of the home, whether by choice or necessity, you are forced rather quickly to confront the role, lifestyle and person you were before having a baby. And from what I have heard, the confrontation is either tremendously pleasing or disastrously torturous. For me, the process of regaining parts of who I used to be is now approached with excitement and joy. There is this geyser of possibility and creativity bubbling at my core but I am constricted by the irony that I can not seem to find the time to nurture this next step that belongs to me, not my baby or my husband or our home.

So yes, it is with envy that I watched as some of the moms I knew returned to careers outside of their homes that bring them joy and accomplishment. It is with gratitude for my situation that I watched others return to jobs out of necessity. And it is with intrigue that I listen and watch some of the rest of us, wishing or longing for part-time work that engages our minds, fosters our creativity, expands our adult vocabulary, aligns with our greater passions and purpose and has nothing to do with being a mother, but allows us to be the mothers we want to be.

Maybe I should have used I instead of we, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I don't think that I am alone.



from Body + Soul magazine

Not sure if these are really secrets.

Perhaps there is some nugget of information here that you can use. Pick one suggestion a week and see if it makes any difference in your crazy, over-scheduled life.

I am starting with Write it Out


Letting go

I have been thinking a lot about me. Not the selfish me, well maybe the selfish me, but more the me who is part of a bigger picture than our party of three in our little house. I have been thinking about purpose. And whenever that comes up, it gets very introspective around here.

All of my life I have been told to just "Let it go". "Let it go in one ear and out the other." "Don't let it bother you." Do you know how easy that is for some to say and how impossibly hard that is for others to do?

Well, its incredibly hard if you have no idea how to do it. What I have realized is that I am a sponge. That's the word that we have come up with. When I was little, when things got uncomfortable or people were cruel, I took in their emotions, their feelings and could never let it go. It went in one ear and then got all mixed up inside. Now as a adult, I have realized how detrimental this sponging is to my own mental and physical well-being, but a million people can tell me to "Let it go" and I still have no idea what they are talking about.

I have never had a reference point for it. Until now.

I don't remember where I found these images or how long they have been stored on my hard-drive but I "saw" them for the first time the other day and immediately said "That is letting go".

As I meander these thoughts of purpose and next steps, I am going to visualize these images, so that I can stay focused and calm, not distracted by the many emotions, needs and feelings of others that I tend to internalize.

I just had to smile - because that sounds really good if I can actually do it. Its easy to write it as I am alone, sitting at my computer, doing exactly what I want to be doing.

But only time will tell. And only practice will make the difference.


Being well

image from etsy dazey chick

In my mind, the five pillars to maintained well-being are:

1. Eat breakfast
2. Get enough sleep
3. Drink water
4. Get up and move
5. Calm your mind

Don't get me wrong. I totally don't do this. Figuring why is the solid question, but I'm working on that. So in the meantime, I do my best because my reality is that if I stick to this somewhat simple plan, I feel good. If I don't, I feel bad and then everything turns bad - my mood, my relationships, my body, my spirit.

So then motherhood happened and gets in the way of all of it. The eating well, the sleeping well, the calming the mind. And the worst part is that not taking care of myself means that I not only feel bad, I then can't be the type of mother that I want to be. What do I do?

For now, I have been trying to do at least one well - If I end up eating breakfast standing, while emptying the dishwasher, then I try to do some sort of meditation later in the day. It's not perfect, but I realize that feeling bad about adds a layer of quilt on the whole thing that certainly doesn't help in any way at all.

There was a bumper sticker on a car ahead of me yesterday, it read "Kindness is everything". Maybe if I start with kindness to myself, then drinking enough water, asking my husband to watch the nugget so that I can go to yoga class and actually getting to my meditation pillow won't feel so hard.

I am guessing I am not alone. What do you do? How do you take care of yourself?