Monthly Archives

February 2015


Three for three

February 27, 2015

As the third born in my own family, I know the perks and pitfalls of being the baby better than anyone. Yes, the masses dote and fawn over your adorable little personality and thigh folds, but you also get two older siblings within earshot plotting your fall from favor. You get carried around for an obscene amount of time, but once they put you down, it’s all farts to the face and baby doll beheadings.

As we near Sloppy Joan’s 9-month mark in our family, I couldn’t help but notice the third-child tribulations are already turning up.


[1. I mean, who could blame JoJo? Those cheeks are just screaming for a squeeze.  2. This is an actual picture that sits on my desk. Spike was 2 by the time I finally set up professional family pictures and if I’m going for transparency here, it will likely be a few before that train pulls around again. Flashbacks of the desolate pages of my own baby book. For now, a dear friend provided a Post-it Sloppy Joan that makes me smile, and the group whole.  3. Ugh, older sisters. They never want to play with you and when they do, it always looks something like this.]

Tune in Today, Wanderlust

With boots on her feet

February 26, 2015


Tune in today to see if she can … find hiking boots.
Like a million other women, I pulled back the cover of Wild and awakened a sleeping bear in the form of extreme wanderlust. As I read the autobiographical recount of days on the Pacific Crest Trail, I realized that I, too, want to walk until I exfoliate my suburban, mundane surface and expose feelings that typically hibernate under a warm blanket of daily to-dos and small little humans. I want to turn off my cell phone (I mean still take it, of course, just power it down.) and get lost in tall trees and winding trails. Honestly, the more I try to keep everyone on schedule, the more I really just want to get lost for a few days.I waxed poetic to my husband about the pages and pages, and steps and steps, that heroine (who did heroin) Cheryl Strayed took and how I felt like we should totally do that. We should be showing our girls that they should do that. I must have really sold it, because every birthday, Christmas and Valentine’s Day gift since has been an accessory to backpacking, including an actual backpack.
With my arsenal building, I have just a few essentials left before I go full-blown granola. At the top of my list is a pair of hiking boots. I have very few requirements. They must: 1) Have traction and ankle support because I,
like my Mother, am in a constant cage match against gravity. And, 2) Take me to places that change me.One more thing. I’m not a shopper. I hate driving from place to place and price comparisons and sales people and back orders and all that business. I buy – usually online – based on star ratings and alt shots and I am, basically, an E-Commerce director’s wet dream.
So, now we’re all caught up. I’ve been randomly dropping by REI’s site for months and have the field narrowed a bit, with options from the straight-up Cheryl Strayed style to total forest-chic.

I welcome trail testimonials, tales of fallen soles and tried-and-true recommendations. Help me lace up and chase my Wild side.

Until next time …

So Says Sloppy Joan

Baby [“mama”] talk

February 24, 2015

Tonight, my sweet Sloppy Joan said her second word. (All three said “Dada” first. How quickly they forget the landlord at their first apartment.) It’s one of my favorite milestones, and well worth the wait.

Once more for the folks in the cheap seats …

I love this time when the sound of them calling for you is so precious and it doesn’t make your ears bleed or your reproductive organs jump up into your throat to hide.



Then came Sloppy Joan.

February 23, 2015


Have you heard of six word stories? Literary legend claims the phenomenon began when Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a memorable short story in six words. His read, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Boom. Genius. But in recent years, it’s become a thing. Smith Magazine has these amazing Six Word Memoirs and there are various tumblrs with similar content. It’s one of those down-the-rabbit-hole situations where you start reading with CBS Sunday Morning on in the background and stop when the kids ask for dinner. Anyway, I bring these up because our third little blessing is a three-word story: “hairy and happy.”

We always wanted three kids. Maybe it’s because we’re both children of three-sibling families, or because we have a four-bedroom house … It just always seemed like the “x” on our treasure map. When we told the older two that Mommy had a baby in her belly, Spikey said, without pause, “Let’s call it Sloppy Joan!” Like all nicknames, we should have known it had legs. About a week after the initial announcement, I made sloppy joes for dinner, thinking that was the connection. It wasn’t. And they didn’t eat them. I still don’t know what part of her brain served it up that night. 

I’ve never been a glowing, peaceful pregnant woman. I mean, unless “glowing” means sweaty and “peaceful” means paralyzed by weight and general lethargy. But as I came into the final turn and the homestretch in this, my (most-likely) final pregnancy, I suddenly wanted it to slow down. Realizing s/he would soon be here and then I’d blink and s/he’d be 3, I started baking a layer cake of anxiety. Of course wanting it to last longer sent me flying into labor.

JoJo was born on May 1, and Spike on August 1, so we joked that it would be convenient if Sloppy Joan followed suit on June 1. Unlikely though, we thought, considering my due date was the 8th.  June had a sunny start, and on the 1st we went to my niece’s birthday party. I floated in my brother’s pool for a solid 4 hours. I was a Killer Whale who’d finally been able to be weightless, thanks to the water. Every strained muscle had finally relaxed. At 10:30 that night I laid down and got a shooting contraction. “Ouch.” Five minutes later, another. Then five minutes after that, then three, three, three, three … “Shit!” There’s always that moment on the drive to the hospital, no matter how ready you are, when you think, “I really don’t want to do this,” referring to the human coming out of your body part.

I labored through the night to the tune of a Friends marathon on TVLand. A few quick pushes before the sun rose the next morning and she was here. The first time you set eyes on your child is such an out of body experience. With JoJo, it was like I couldn’t focus on her face. With Spike, I couldn’t comprehend that all that baby came out of me. And with Sloppy Joan it was the hair. Oh, the hair. She was our smallest, coming in at 7 lb. 8 oz. and only 19 ½ inches long, but I’m pretty sure that at least 1 pound of that was her generous dark mane.For reference, depending on your generation, I would liken her to either Dudley Moore or Harry Styles, respectfully. But oh my gosh, was she sweet.

And is sweet. Her smile can light up a bear cave. She’s never quick to cry and very accommodating with her “helpful” big sisters. But to those who don’t know her, the poor girl’s hair will always trump her delightful demeanor. Going to the grocery store on Tuesdays (Senior Citizen Day) was always the worst. “Oh. My. Goodness …” – here come the hands – “Would you look at all that …” – please, no – “I mean, have you ever?” – Get back, Grandma! “Seen such a head of hair?!” And then they would reach out and move the strands, already covering her newborn eyes, across her forehead. It was a weekly occurrence I found simultaneously heart-warming and stomach churning.The third time around is certainly charming. She is a joy and 8 months in, we’re finally getting out of the weeds. And, I mean, this face … c’mon …



Four ways to Whole30, family style

February 20, 2015

Tune in today to see if she can … feed her family healthfully for a whole month without igniting an uprising.

Considering most eaters under the age of 10 (and often well beyond that) would rather sit through a marathon of The Lawrence Welk Show than eat a sweet potato, one is safe to assume that  month of massively healthy meals is going to go over like a pregnant pole vaulter. Not that I blame the kids, really. There are certain foods that are only acceptable to eat in that window between your first day of kindergarten and the first time you have to go to the grocery store and shop for your own sustenance. Things like Fruit Roll-Ups and tiny pieces of French toast made into cereal and candy sticks that you lick and then dip into granules of more sugar. They’re complete poison, but so much fun to eat!
In an ideal world – one where homes are installed with motion-sensored vacuums and muffin tops are just a sweet, starchy side – your kids would willingly devour the whole, natural foods you set before them. But in my house, anything other than a hot dog is met with a degree of distaste typically reserved for shots or “grown up shows”.With two rounds of the strict paleo Whole30 prescription behind me, I’ve acquired just shy of a handful of helpful ideas that might just buy you some slack (and hopefully success). That’s not to say these are gospel, but 60 percent of the time, they worked all the time.
1. when they deny, modify.
I liked to think of meals during those 30 days as a main course Mr. Potato Head. The base is the same for everyone at the table – say, it’s an actual potato in this case ­– but the accompaniments can be, to some degree, open to personal discretion. Let them dress their spud in shredded pork tenderloin, bacon, sour cream and cheese, while you pile on ghee, pork tenderloin, bacon and chives.more modifiable menu items: tacos or carnitas – Give them all the fixins, but make yours a salad with pico, guacamole and plantain chips for the crunch.burgers – Bypass the bun and play with some alternatives to sandwich your grassfed patty. I’ve tried giant mushrooms (good but messy), roasted sweet potato rounds (probably my favorite) and straight up with a fried egg.

chili – Compliant soup ingredients are often easy to find and comforting during colder months. Add plantain chips (tell yourself they’re Fritos) to your bowl while the kids nosh on a grilled cheese and oyster crackers with theirs.

eggs – Go for breakfast-dinner as a treat. Roll up their scramble in a flour
tortilla, but plate yours with a flavorful salsa, guacamole and approved bacon.

2. know your dealers.
It’s sad but shockingly true that eating healthfully, especially for a family of five, means paying more. Crap is cheap, apparently. In an effort to avoid blowing the budget, I had to source some of the good stuff outside of our neighborhood grocery.

Costco – Great for eggs, marinara, bacon, coconut oil and nuts (This post is great.)

Amish grocery store – Great for unsweetened coconut, dried fruit and dates, tapioca starch and almond meal

Vitacost and Amazon – Price check between these two for all oils, bars and
coconut flour

3. how they and your garden grow.
Start in the spring and plant the seeds, both literally and figuratively, with your kids. Put them in some old jeans, supply a small shovel and take them to a box of dirt. Do a quick search online and come to the great outdoors packing some killer, very careful not to be mundane here, factoids that turn their veggie-eating frowns upside down. It’s as simple as, “This is a bell pepper plant. Bell peppers have vitamin C, and vitamin C keeps colds away.” You smell what I’m steppin’ in.


If your thumbs are more Shellac than green, take the lesson to the produce section. Same concept. “This is an avocado. It has omega 3 fatty acids and those are good for your heart.” [Hand to side of mouth] “Plus, who doesn’t like a side of guac with their weekly marg, right? Am I right?”

Over the past five years, I’ve learned a few undeniable truths about these little folks. They always have to pee when the food comes. They have impenetrable selective hearing when within a 2-mile radius of anything animated. And they really, really want to grow. Tell them something will help them get big and strong like ___(insert favorite princess/superhero)____, and suddenly broccoli is their jam.
4. just try it on.
It’s tough love at its finest. They can not get up, watch a show, play with toys, have dessert, whatever gives them their jollies, until they at least try everything on their plate. Don’t put a big ole’ pile of sprouts on there. You’ll blow it. Just a few, entirely manageable pieces … nothing to freak out about. We go by age; five bites for JoJo, three bites for Spikey, etc. As soon as they comply, even if gagging ensues, we go ape shit with praise. Of course, it must be said, we do have about a 60 percent success rate here, with 35 percent abandonment and 5 percent actual vomit. Maybe put some newspaper down first or something.

Until next time …

Next came Spike

February 18, 2015


There are times it feels like our second daughter just dropped into our lives as a hilarious, button-pushing, booty-shaking, crazy-haired, firecracker of a 2 year old. That’s not to say I don’t remember the night she was born. You tend to recall when a doctor presents a 9-pound Thanksgiving turkey of a baby, tushy toward you. It’s more speaking to how her facetious, force-of-nature persona over the past few years has eclipsed any of her earlier work, including first words and moving on to solids.She was a pudgy, perfect chunk of a little lady, who, after coming into the world, folded her hands gently under her chin and looked at me, almost as if she were inquiring, “What now?” In just 18 months she would be walking proof that God does, indeed, have a great sense of humor, which He sometimes shares through tiny little messengers with sparkly brown eyes.


But first, the name. It began, I suppose, when the meager Mohawk she was born with stalled, and she was left with, for a very long time, a sparse, short strip of strands. Looking back on it now, more than 3 years after the fact, it’s hard to say who started it, but we began calling her Spike. Eventually, after those first follicles gave way to uncontrollable ringlets, it stopped being about her hair, and started being about her general demeanor.You see, Spikey only cuddles when she’s sick, and only says she loves you when you absolutely aren’t expecting it. She wiggles what her mama (me) gave her often, and always to the beat of her own drum. And while the Lord dealt her stubbornness in spades, she’s even more blessed with wit. The kid is funny, man. She’s known, all along, when people are laughing with her and how to work the crowd. She has clown sauce running through her veins, and I’ll be the first to admit, it’s been her saving grace on more than a few occasions where her unwavering will met me at the end of long work day.

Her self-soothing strategy consists of rapidly moving her head back and forth, as if delivering repetitive flashes of a firm and insistent “no” to whoever looks on. A signal that she’ll soon be asleep, the ritual also results in the most matted, bird’s nest of a mane you’ve ever seen. I liken it to a ball of tangled Christmas lights, fresh out of the attic. But her, she’s declared it her signature look. “Leave it crazy, Mama,” she says. “You know, I like it when it’s wild.”