Little Man: The One-Year-Old Update

July 21, 2015

How are you a 1-year-old already?

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It wasn’t so long ago when I would place you on your tummy and coax you to roll over. And now you’re running.

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It’s so bittersweet. I love how quick you move, how much you learn every day, your fierce and wild independence. Yet the faster you walk, the more I feel you pulling away from me. You’re becoming a little man already, and it stretches my heart out like salt water taffy.

Most everybody tried to warn me. “Enjoy it!” they said. “It goes by so quick!” Even perfect strangers said, “You’ll miss this when it’s gone!” I hated those people. But I was delirious from a lack of sleep, my body was sticky with spit up, and I often felt like I was stuck at the bottom of a long well with a purple eggplant. A purple eggplant that screams.

If I’d realized that someday you’d stop falling asleep on my chest, I’d have relished those long, lazy afternoon naps. If I’d known how you’d leap from infant to pre-toddler, I might have appreciated those early newborn days a little more. I still wouldn’t have enjoyed the colic, but overall I might have cried a little less.

Anyway, now you are one. But it won’t be long before you are two. And then 22. And then I will die, because ACK! Too soon. I can’t handle it.

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Frankie the Fox. Oh my god, do you love Frankie the Fox. In fact, one evening as I put you in your crib, your eyes searched the mattress, your breath quickened and you started to panic, right up until you saw Frankie in the corner. I thought, “This is foreshadowing,” and that very night your dad bought a backup Frankie for us to keep in reserves.

You also love playing outside. Your family. Lemon and Kung Pao Kitten. Duplos. Swings. Bruno Mars and Daniel Tiger. And books — it makes me proud to see how much you enjoy turning the pages to see what happens next.

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Favorite foods:

Watermelon. Kiwi. Mango. Banana pancakes. Homemade oatmeal “cookies.” Peanut butter. Sweet corn on the cob.



Bubble bath. Swim class. Diaper changes, which are like trying to pull the skin back on a snake after he’s already shed it.

You also weren’t crazy about your birthday cake, which made me happy. That’s your last taste of sugar until you turn 18. I hope you enjoyed it.

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The day love won

June 26, 2015

Today when I heard about the Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage, I tried to memorize the morning. The mug of French roast coffee. Michael Franti singing on my iPhone. My husband on the couch, reading sports headlines. A scroll of news on my computer. My 11-month-old son crawling on the floor, building a tower of soft blocks. It was so normal, so everyday.

And yet, it was extraordinary.

I wanted to imprint it all on my brain so someday, when my son asks about the historic day all Americans received the right to marry, I could tell him every detail: The pale haze that diffused the sunshine. The humidity that hung thick in the air. The whirr of a lawnmower. How history was just a moment after breakfast, when everything was the same and different all at once, and a cup of coffee was suddenly underscored with great importance, and I was joyful.

Then I realized my son might never ask me about this day at all — because he will have no reason to. He will grow up in a country where people just get married. No qualifier.

This is all he will ever know: That people love and are loved.




Thank you, America.


Secret Starbucks Drink Menu of a Marriage

March 29, 2015

Recipes for happiness.




Liquid Meet-Cute

– 4 shots of espresso over ice in a grande cup

– 4 pumps of white chocolate syrup

– Add one woman, fragile with fear and grief, and send her up in a plane

– Combine with one tender-hearted skydiving instructor who offers to skip the skydive and ride the plane down instead

– Jump anyway. Jump with this man, even when your hands shake and your stomach is in your throat. Make one skydive, and then make another, and make hundreds more after that. And when the instructor asks you on a date, say yes. Yes! You’ve already trusted him with your life.

– Drizzle with chocolate.



Warm Sugar Cookie

– White mocha hot chocolate

– Hazelnut syrup (1 pump tall, 2 grande, 3 venti)

– Vanilla syrup (1 pump tall, 2 grande, 3 venti)

– Sprinkle raw sugar on top

– Add the winter day on the steps of Immaculata Church, warming your hands on a thermos and watching the sun rise over Mt. Adams.



Amazonian Honeymoon

– Start with raspberry syrup (2 pumps tall, 3 pumps grande, 4 pumps venti)

– Add strawberry, orange, mango and very berry juice to the first line

– Fill with lemonade to top

– Spend days chattering with monkeys, rowing the Amazon and drinking rum on a sugar plantation. Fall asleep in a thatched rainforest hut, smeared with deet, bodies tangled like jungle vines

– Add ice and shake!



Stormy Days Tea

– Earl Grey tea semi dry misto

– 2 pumps vanilla syrup

– 2 pumps of caramel syrup

– Add one skydiving accident

– A move across the country

– One stolen car

– Your mother’s death

– Fertility issues

– Miscarriage

– Illness

– Moving. Three more times.

– Cling to each other because the world feels too vicious and sad to navigate alone.



Anniversary Cake Frappuccino 

– Vanilla soy frappuccino

– 2 pumps hazelnut

– Add 1 beautiful, boisterous baby

– Toss in 2 teeth cutting baby’s gums

– A broken dryer and a clogged kitchen sink

– Burn the pancakes and forget to make the coffee

– Call the babysitter

– Drive away giggling because the dishes can wait and the laundry will air dry, but this is your anniversary day

– Go to the movies and hold hands for two hours, as though you just met

– Get massages to work out the kinks

– Kiss in the car

– Never forget how lucky you are

– Add whipped topping (optional)

We are a family

March 4, 2015

“When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.” — Dian Fossey, Gorillas in the Mist

Dear Everest,

Once, on drizzly Rwandan morning when the Virungas were swathed with mist as fine as cotton candy, I hiked into the mountains to follow a family of mountain gorillas. To get there, I sliced through tangles of vines and branches with a long, solid machete. When the mountain got particularly steep and slippery, I used the machete to carve steps into the mud. Finally, after a few hours and a lot of sweat, I reached the gorillas.

They were remarkable. Truly. Gorillas aren’t aggressive unless threatened, and I think this group knew they were among friends. The silverback walked past me and put his enormous hand on my shoulder before moving on. He paused at the edge of a clearing and surveyed the landscape.


There were other adult gorillas. Some male, some female, although I didn’t really know how to tell the difference. They were gentle and kind. And there were babies, joyful baby gorillas, who plucked ripe berries from the bushes, scratched their heads, and awkwardly tried to swing from one tree to another.


I watched as the gorillas nurtured their young, the babies riding on their mothers’ backs or nestled in the crook of an arm.


One of the adult gorillas flattened some of the foliage into a nest and placed her baby there to rest. When the baby was good and comfortable, the mama perched nearby where she could keep watch. They were so much like humans.


Even so, I remember thinking, “Nope. Not me.” I didn’t think I could ever care for a child in that way. I didn’t have that capacity for selflessness, and when I searched within myself, I found zero maternal instinct. I was a woman who wielded a machete in the mountains, after all, not the type to nurture anyone.

Even when you arrived, I was unsure about this arrangement. I spent the first few months struggling to figure out how to make room in my life for a baby. Your bassinet was shoved between my bed and my nightstand, and it always felt like I was trying to wedge you into someplace you didn’t belong. Someone said to me, “I guess you’re done traveling now,” and I wondered if that was true, if my world was shrunken and small now.

But somewhere along the way, my world didn’t just stretch to accommodate you — you completely expanded it.


In fact, I suspect now that everything I’ve ever experienced, every skydive and every sunset, every place I’ve ever been, every trail I’ve ever walked, it was all leading me to you. And everything I have yet to experience, it already seems bigger and brighter because I’ll be experiencing it for two.


I get it now, this primal drive to care for another being. All I want to do is build a nest for you, a place to keep you safe and warm while I stand watch. We are a family.


Love, Mama

Fifty Shades of Meh

February 14, 2015

Well, I saw the first screening of “Fifty Shades of Grey” this morning. Nothing like a little BDSM to dominate the breakfast hour!



This is the big-screen adaptation of the best-selling E.L. James novel, the story of young college student Anastasia who falls for kinky billionaire Christian Grey.

What I liked: 

• The soundtrack contains “Beast of Burden” and a decent cover of “I’m On Fire.”

• Christian Grey has a very nice bathtub.

• Helicopters! And ultralights! Actually, I would have preferred to watch two hours of just helicopters and ultralights.

• 100% fewer scrunchies than in the book.





What I didn’t like:

• I thought I’d finally escaped the book’s crimes against punctuation. Then Ana and Christian began an e-mail exchange in the film, their messages popped up on screen, and there were all those dumb ellipses again. Come on …

• Christian Grey has an entire closet of grey ties. Who knew there were so many grey ties in the world? But what else would you expect from the CEO of Grey Enterprises, located at Grey House, where they apparently manufacture pencils that say “Grey”?

• The book’s stilted dialogue comes off even flatter in the film. Every time Christian Grey said, “Laters, baby,” I wanted to spank him. And not in a BDSM way. In a schoolmarm way. And not a sexy schoolmarm. Like, my fourth grade teacher at Our Lady of the Rosary who used to throw rulers at kids.

• Do college graduates always shake the hand of their commencement speaker? That’s weird, right?

• I knew going into the book that it was Twilight fan fiction, but somehow I compartmentalized it as a separate piece of work. On screen, however, this is the Twilightiest thing that has ever Twilighted. There was one scene in particular where I expected Christian Grey to sparkle like a Stephanie Meyer vampire.

• At one point, Christian leaps on top of Ana and bites a piece of her toast. (Yes, toast. That’s not a euphemism.) I got very angry about this on Ana’s behalf. The bondage and slapping is one thing. But eating the food out of this poor woman’s hand? Have some boundaries.

• Christian’s safe words are basically Homeland Security threat levels.


Major oversight:

• There’s absolutely no use of Devo “Whip It” anywhere. Not even ironically.


OK, but how was the sex? 

• The sex was not very sexy. I have seen perfume commercials that are sexier than this movie. Heck, I’ve seen Swiffer commercials that are sexier. The sex here felt entirely clinical, and not at all inspiring, steamy or even interesting.

• Seriously. Old episodes of “Moonlighting” are sexier. Go watch those.

• What is the opposite of sexy? Because that’s what this was. It was as if I’d packed up my lady bits in a snowsuit and sent them off for a trek around Patagonia, that’s how distanced I felt from my body. I was dead inside for a good two hours.

• “The Thornbirds.” Way sexier.

• Has someone done “Fifty Shades of Greyskull” yet? Because I started writing that film in my head during the sex scenes.

• I’d say even “Die Hard” was sexier.



• I thought it would be worse.