Monday, March 28, 2011


Came home from a girls' weekend away to find my handsome little man...hairless. Well, pretty much.

We'd already been talking to him about cutting his hair for the summer and letting it grow out again for the school year. He was very very VERY attracted to the idea of no tangles and no hair brushing.

And while I was expecting to return to see his Gladiator haircut from a few years ago, what I got was a bit of a shocker.  So much so, in fact, that I literally didn't recognize him from behind when I picked him up at school.

When he turned around, of course, all I could see were his gorgeous black-sea eyes.  But then, I honestly had to fight back the tears.  It was just such a dramatic difference, and it really caught me off guard.

And yes, I do know how silly that sounds.  And no, of course it doesn't change at all what I think or feel about him. That would be ridiculous. I'd love that boy if he was dyed polka-dotted purple and turned inside out.

His locks just a week ago
But man, it makes you think about what your hair says about you.  And how your hair makes you feel.  That hair revealed so much of his personality.  Or rather, warned people from a mile away what was coming.  It suited him.  It WAS him.  He was his long, flowy, untamed, easy going locks.  And he knew it, too. He rocked that hair. He did.

So now what?

He mentioned this evening that he missed his long hair, as he longingly ran his fingers across his newly landscaped plane.  He came right out and said, in fact, that he didn't really like how it looked on him after all, curling up his lip and scowling and everything, after which I promptly explained the concept of buyer's remorse.

He does still seem a little nervous about the change himself.  He chose a style he thought he liked out of a magazine, but you know that never really ever works.  Of course we told him how handsome he looked.  How we hadn't really seen his whole face like this since he was a toddler.  How it doesn't ever matter what he wears or what he looks like.  And that his hair doesn't make him who he is inside, to which he immediately responded, "Can I get a mohawk then and color it red?"

At school he took a little ribbing for looking like a stranger in the morning, but it seems to have dissipated by afternoon recess as the novelty began to wear off.  On the upside, he's totally taking advantage of the fact that his scar is now showing.  His sister rammed him into a bannister when they were about 4 or 5, busting open his head and leaving him quite the Harry Potteresque bolt on the upper left-hand side of his skull.  He's decided to randomly make up its origins instead, of course, and completely leaves out the fact that he promptly returned the favor, although it's not likely we'll be seeing hers anytime soon. (Knock on wood.)

The amount of attention he's getting hasn't hurt either.  Not a one of us, including his sister, can seem to stop rubbing his head every single time we walk by him.  So, although, he's not completely happy with it, he, like the rest of us, is taking a little time to get used to it and own it.

But it's a blank canvas, I explained to him.  And you're the artwork this time, Bubba.  And now, settling into the idea of it all, I'm finding that I'm really looking forward to seeing where he decides to let it go from here. 

So, how have you responded to dramatic haircuts in yourself or your children?  Or what if you or your child had to lose their hair due to chemo treatments or the like?  Do you think, like Samson, that we all hold onto the illusion of a certain unnamed power in our hair?  Or maybe that we even choose subconsciously to hide behind it?  

Hmm...maybe we could all stand to pull a Britney (sans the umbrella bashing) and shave it all off at least once in our lifetime to give ourselves a genuine opportunity to 1) see the real you, 2) actually find your inner beauty beneath that big sexy hair, and 3) squash the misconceptions of ourselves by others?

Or is it, in the end, maybe, just hair?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Always look forward to the weekend. Always. Always.

And then it gets here...

And, suddenly, your days seem fuller than you could've ever imagined.  And the time is passing you by so quickly.  And you don't know what you could've been thinking, planning such a ridiculously long to-do list.  And why did you ever think any of it would fall anywhere near the same category as FUN just because you were all together...all the time?

All. The. Time.

Because the being together, really does reach its peak eventually.  And it's usually right around that twelfth hour of non-stop ever-lovin' togetherness that the raw bloody derma just above the nerves with the neverending grating becomes painfully and fully exposed.  And perhaps if the little elbows in your ears and across your brow, and the knobby knees in your kidney and bladder all night long, and the toenails that are just a little too long and are now digging in behind your knees wouldn't have kept you awake all night, trapped in the cocoon of love that's only about two breaths short of heatstroke and suffocation.

Or...perhaps...that was why, so long ago, women used to go out into the themselves, for a week...all...alone. How can we reinstitute that universally.  And get employers to foot the bill, to boot?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Reyna mid-eye-popping incident
Not many people are aware that our little Reyna is actually also South Texas born and bred.

She's one of the 3,000 spawn of my brother's family's chihuahuas, Dot and Li'l Boy.  She was shipped to us via Southwest airlines from Corpus to Seattle, at only 2 months old, a good two years before the monsters were even born.

When we moved from Seattle down to Cali a few years later, she was back in the air again, racking up those frequent flyer miles.  And although she travels well, this latest trip was not nearly as fun. For any of us.

Here recently, she and Ryce, our Weimaraner mix from New Orleans, have not been seeing eye to eye.  Literally, it would seem.  But Ryce is 13 years old.  Apparently, that's 65 in dog years. [I know, I know, I always thought it was just their years multiplied by 7, but evidently there's an actual formula you can use to figure it out. Or you can just plug their human years into this handy dandy calculator and not have to think.]

So, in her golden years, our Ryce is getting...well...a little bitchy.  She's lost most of her hearing, and her hips are beginning to weaken.  She has no time or patience for a chihuahua of any age.  But you might be surprised to hear that it's not Ryce that's doing the bullying 'round here.  It's the littlest diva and her apparent intolerance for the aged.  We've caught her several times snapping at Ryce, and although we have no proof of it, we're all pretty certain, that it was some variation thereof that led us to this latest incident.

After the kids had just experienced a pretty rousing and emotional movie in The Last Lions, watching a tiny water buffalo calf being taken down by a lioness, and, without spoiling the rest of the film, some other pretty brutal wild animal, survival of the fittest, only the strong survive experiences, we get home just in time to find Reyna running around with her left eye all bloodshot and popping right out of its socket.

Both kids screamed.  The timing seriously could not have been worse.  They were right back there in the movie theatre, crying and pointing and turning away from the scene, unable to process what was happening and why.

But I scooped her up and we were off to the vet immediately.

Proptosis due to ocular trauma, like a hard hit to the head or some larger jaws squeezing down on her face, perhaps, is evidently pretty common in smaller dog breeds.  That it had not happened before this was surprising to the vet.  To so much.  We were all perfectly happy with both her eyes set properly into their sockets, thank you very much.

Reyna $950 later...
But they anesthetized it and gave her something for the swelling before resetting it. She had to stay there overnight, but then could come right home. The vet said it's highly unlikely she'll be able to see out of that eye ever again (which immediately sent the children into a renewed round of tears and sorrowful cries), but there's still a chance that we may not have to have it removed completely if the eyeball is still viable.  We won't know that for a couple of weeks, though.

In the meantime, the kids are wondering if we're gonna be able to call her "Silver Eye," like one of the lionesses in the movie who also lost a battle she'd started.

Other than that, our little diva seems pretty pleased as punch at all the attention and extra treats she's been getting.  The kids try to show her affection, but it's like they're holding a 10-foot-pole. They don't wanna get too close.  They don't want any of the nasty goop that's dripping out of her eye to get on them.  And they don't want to even see the sutures, let alone hear me talk about them or watch me clean them.

And you know, I just don't think I ever really knew how skittish they were about these things.  And it's not something I'm really all that comfortable with, I'm finding.  In fact, it took just about everything I had not to yell at them to just suck it up and think about how the poor dog feels for one tiny second.  Well, yeah, okay, maybe that part did come out. A little.

But my goal this weekend is to get my brand new 8-year-olds to learn how to help me change her foot bandages, clean her eye, and apply warm compresses 2-3 times a day. City mice or not, these monsters are gonna need to strengthen their backbones.


"Okay, Mama," she says this morning over breakfast. "Here's my list."

"What list, baby?" I ask as I plate their Leprechaun Burritos with Blueberry Sauce.

"My birthday wish list," she says, very intuitively choking down the "Duh!"

Leprechaun Burrito
with Blueberry Sauce
I'm certain my mouth dropped open. But just as certain that that didn't stop him for one second from following her clearly genius lead, as he promptly handed me his own extended version of said list.

"You DO realize your birthday is tomorrow already, right?" I say.  "And you also realize that your Mommy and I are NOT Santa Claus, right?" (Just go with me on this one.)  "And nevermind for the moment that you should already know that you just don't ever ask for a specific gift."

And I could see the dreaded "why" beginning to shape on her lips.

"You just don't!" I preempted. "It's just not polite.  And you should always be grateful for whatever you already have."

Last-Day-Being-7 Lunch
But they were unconvinced.  Totally sold on the theory that if you don't ask for what you want, you're gonna get what you must return, or donate, or re-gift.   Can't imagine where they got all that info from. Really.

So then the bugging started up again.  The same 3 questions they've been badgering me with all week, ever since I set myself up for it completely by dropping that teaser out there that we'd be doing something special on Wednesday if they could keep all their fingers and toes inside the ride til then.

But I am a rock.  I tell them nothing.  And they whine and huff and puff all the way to school.  When I pick them up at noon (short day today), man, were they ever RARING to go. Like...really really raring.

Last-Day-Being-7 Lunch
We head out to Berkeley and find a great little diner because the monsters decided, without hesitation, that they wanted a burger and fries for lunch.

Every two bites or so, they asked where we were going, and made some pretty good guesses.  But, let's face it, people, I'm the Mama. There was no breaking me on this one!

Off to the frozen yogurt shop for healthy yummy goodness.

And then...finally...finally...SURPRISE!...we walked over to the movie theatre right next door. And they both immediately scowled.

"A movie???" they said in unison.  "How is that special?" (Spoiled rotten ungrateful little monsters.)

Frozen Yogurt Heaven
But we'd never been to this one before, I reasoned.  I was guided there by my new favorite obsession, Groupon, through which I snagged three $5 tickets to see the National Geographic movie, The Last Lions.

And...oh, my is absolutely my new favorite theatre.  Plush, oversize sofas and rocking seats.  And as we were leaving, I think I even saw a sign outside the attached lux lounge that said you could take your drinks into certain theatres. Internal woohoo moment.  New Orleans flashbacks.  Filed way for later.  Kiddos in tow today.

But then, as if it wasn't awesome enough already, we had the balcony ALL. TO. OURSELVES. (Which, of course, they thought I'd arranged special -- and no, you just don't argue those things -- it's not polite. Or something.)

So the movie begins. It's immediately scary and a little violent, in the way that real life animal documentaries tend to be. But what makes it more difficult to digest for the kiddos is that there is a really enthralling storyline, and we're following the unbelievable tale of this one mother lioness. It gets a little graphic and gruesome, and there's a TON of heartbreak -- so much so, in fact, that at one point he unburied his head from beneath my arm to tell me that this was NOT a great birthday gift.  After which, we were graced with a close-up of a bloody nostril chunk hanging off the face of an embattled water buffalo.

So, it's not like their reactions were completely uncalled for. I cried, and shuttered, and gasped quite a bit, too.  But what it did mean was that I would have to go into hyperexplanation mode quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Because our kids, if you happen to be new to the blog, are mega-talkers. TALKers. And with movies, especially, as every single moment MUST be dissected, every motivation explored, every possible alternative discussed. Right there. In that moment.

No, I don't know where they get that from either.

And so it got emotional, and a little loud.  And I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the theatre who was grateful we'd chosen the mid-week 2pm show.

You, too, can text
LIONS to 50555 to
donate $10 to help
save the lions
But once it was over, they wiped away their tears and clapped, and said what an awesome movie it was. And as the credits began to roll, they both tugged at my arms, sat me back down, and yelled at me to pull out my phone and text the number on the screen.

"SAVE THE LIONS, MAMA!!!" they squealed.

Which, of course, I did.  At which point, their sad and frightened faces transformed into nothing but teeth. Smiles and hugs and thank-yous.

I mean, come on, people, I'd only just emotionally tortured my children for an hour-and-a-half in the hopes they would understand a little more about what it means to be so blessed and so loved and so protected. The least I could do was donate 10 bucks to save the lions in exchange for such a traumatic lesson in gratitude.

And as we walked back to the parking garage, arm in arm in arm, still talking about the movie and what a great afternoon we've had, I suddenly realize how tall they are.  How easily they can slip their little arms through mine now.  How I don't have to strain my C1 and C2 just to look down at them anymore.  How, any day now, they'll be taller than me, not clinging to my arm, and walking in the other direction. How much they fill me with joy and heartache, with hope and frustration, with more than I ever could've imagined, and still somehow less than I'll receive tomorrow.  And I feel myself stand a little taller, my gait lengthening, my strides purposeful and strong.  And I imagine what I wouldn't do, what I wouldn't give, what I wouldn't be for my little cubs, too.

That night, as I tucked them in, I told them the story of the night before they were born.  "This exact time, eight years ago..."

And curled up beside me, eyes all wide, cheeks all aglow, the only thing that mattered to them in that moment, was that today, Mama saved the lions.

Monday, March 07, 2011


So...I read my kiddos the first chapter of my book tonight.

She was sitting at my feet, arms folded across my right knee, her chin resting on her elbow -- wide-eyed and raising her hand every few sentences to get the definition of a word.

He was curled up right next to me on the sofa, grabbing onto my arm with both of his, pulling me in tighter and tighter as the story began to build, and watching my mouth as I read.

When it was done, they both said, "Is that IT???"

It was only the first chapter, I said.  And explained that I was still tweaking the rest of it. They scowled.  But when I asked them what they thought of it, what they honestly thought, they were just about the best things I ever could've hoped for.

He thought the chapter was just a paragraph too long, that it should've ended here instead of there.

She thought some of the visuals weren't clear enough and asked for more descriptives around a few different scenes.

Overall, it was a very productive meeting.  They loved the direction of the story.  They found it entertaining and found themselves wanting more.  :)

Think I may have found my editors after all.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


Eating out this past weekend.

Saia commenting about Chago being a vegetarian, and how he can't get away with picking and choosing his veggies anymore.

He's a vegetarian now, she says. Therefore, by definition, he must eat ALL veggies, she says. Even the yucky ones, she says.

Out of arguments, glaring at his green beans, he gets that distracted look on his face that always tells us he's totally checked out, he's somewhere else, he's off in Chagoland...

"Ohhhhhh," he says suddenly, the epiphanic lightbulb glowing blindingly above his head and that sly smile spreading across his face.  "So nowwwww I understand what a humanitarian is."

Thursday, March 03, 2011


Really fascinating story emerged this week about a grassroots mothers organization connecting new mothers unable to breast feed their babies with lactating women willing to donate their milk via Facebook.  The title of the article, which is exactly why I followed the link, referred to it as Black Market Breast Milk.

But, as it turns out, it wasn't about that at all.  I mean, it was about breast milk, but there was nothing underground about it. No overly engorged women being knocked out in hotel rooms in Vegas and having their boobs unwittingly expressed, only to wake up and find they were back down to a size A cup and awash in a strange sense of physical relief.

It was, however, about how some women who have chosen to nurse their babies in order to provide their little ones all the proven benefits of breast milk then find they are unable to do so, have found an affordable alternative.

I nursed the monsters til they were 2, pumping at work, and pumping in between feedings to keep up my production. It's not an easy thing to do, but once a woman has decided that this is the best path for her child, just step the hell aside, for pete's sake. Seriously.  She will do whatever it takes to get it done.

But aren't there already breast milk banks for that, you ask?  

     Yes, but it costs almost $4 per oz to have it screened and pasteurized (fyi, babies typically need 2-4 oz every 2-4 hours), and many women can neither afford the exorbitant fees nor the travel costs associated with getting to the nearest milk bank.

     Ideally, breast milk banks would be housed in every single hospital in every part of the world, filled to the brim with donated and screened breast milk, but, hey, they aren't.

So then how do you know the milk you're getting is clean and safe?

     Any lactating woman can have her milk screened by a medical professional and should be able to provide that confirmation sheet to the recipients. When women donate to breast milk banks, they are carefully screened and documented.  Some experts say that home pasteurization of breast milk (which, apparently, also destroys many of the nutrients and enzymes that make breast milk liquid gold) is also possible.  I am not an expert. But I'm sure you can Google them.

So, if it's not from a breast milk bank, where's it coming from?

  • Craigslist, of course.
  • An the Eats on Feets Global Facebook group.
  • But I would highly suggest avoiding driving to a seedy motel and taking it from a woman who hands it to you behind her back in a paper sack.

Haven't men been donating their unregulated sperm [that makes me snicker -- or is it snigger?] to women looking to get pregnant by a known donor for ages already?  And they sensibly discuss it and reasonably agree that he gets tested and checked and prove that he's clean before they take his junk?

     Yes, but clearly that's different. No, I don't know how.

And haven't we had wet nurses around for, like, thousands of years?

     Well, yeah, but they were usually relegated to the wealthy. And everyone knows those rules don't apply to just ANYone.  Also, 'black market' just gets waaay more hits than 'wet nurses' does.

Wasn't there some huge controversy about a woman breast feeding the baby of a complete stranger at a women's conference recently?

     Yes, and Her Bad Mother, Catherine, is still one of my greatest heroes of all time for writing about it in the very real, very raw, very truthful way she does.

So, for me, it seems to come down to making informed choices and decisions for you and your family.  It's not that I can't see the slippery slope that the unregulated selling of bodily fluids would thrust open. It's just that I think, ohforchristsakes, people, is it really not possible for us to treat each other like the community of human beings we are while still managing to take responsibility for our own decisions?

But if you still need more information to help you determine that this is really a decision between the woman who wants to feed her child breast milk and the woman who is willing to provide it, there is also an: to the comments section we go...