Category Archives: family


I like having my hair long.  I think it’s fun, and it exploits my hair’s natural tendency to curl, which used to manifest itself as tight ringlets (what I like to call “sproings” on my daughter’s head) but now, my hair being old and laid back, is usually no more than loose loop-dee-loops.

My husband likes long hair as well, but I know he supports whatever I want to do with my appearance, as well as in any other facet of my life.  Other advantages to length: easier to make it behave, makes me look younger, can have more fun with it.  

Sure there are disadvantages: a pain in the rear to brush, often looks scraggly unless I wear it up, can’t take a shower too close to bed time because it takes so long to dry.

But there is one major disadvantage that caused me to employ the assistance of my daughter plus the clippers to buzz my coiffure down to within an inch of its existence:  long hair is a haven for lice.

I know… gross.  I don’t know where we got it from this time.  I’m thinking it might be the kid up the street that my son started hanging out with about a month ago.  They sit on each other’s beds while they play each other’s video game systems.  

We had them once before when we lived in Oregon… well, twice, actually, because I don’t think we did a thorough enough eradication the first time and so we had a second round.  I had long hair then and it was hours and days of picking through every strand to get all the nits.  Sick.  Barf.  Completely grosses me out.

The thought of asking members of my family to lose entire swathes of their lifetime in a, literally, nit-picking pursuit was more than I could stand.  If you just miss a couple, just a mere fraction of the teeny, miniscule, nasty little eggs, then you’ve failed the entire mission.

I wanted to buzz so badly, but it made me sad to think of giving up my hair.  I was sickened not only by the bugs but also by my own reluctance to give up looks for practicality.  I hate to feel vain!  I hate to feel my head crawling and itching and still want to maintain the warm tangly ecosystem that the parasites call home.

I am proud of myself that I cut it off, even if it took five minutes of crying to pick up the scissors and make the decision irrevokable.  My time and my kids’ time is too precious to waste trying to make Mama look a couple years younger.   

I’m glad we spent the afternoon playing Monopoly instead of fretting over Mama’s infested locks.  Vanity be damned; life’s too short to be wasted worrying about being pretty.


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O Christmas Tree…

We went on a trek to a place called Santa’s Forest in Lincolnton, NC to pick out a tree.  It was a blast.


It was really kid friendly and had all kinds of animals for them to see.  Hank was crowing back at the rooster.


They had free hot chocolate, popcorn, cookies, and the kids got to find ornaments among the trees and turn them in for a pencil or candy.


Livi even made a new friend.


We got to go on a hay ride pulled by a shiny tractor!  The guy drove us across rolling fields until we got to a spot where we hiked through some trees and down to a beautiful spot by the creek where the water flowed over flat slabs of rock.  He told us how as a kid he would go down there and play all day, and I could imagine it being the perfect spot to beat the heat and let your imagination run wild.


And of course we paid to pick out and cut down our own Christmas tree.  I’m not really big on killing trees, or anything else for that matter, but on the flip side, we are supporting a local farm.  So, rock on.


And it makes our Christmas extra special.

I can’t wait to go again next year.


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The world is still spinning…

And I didn’t have anything to drink!  Just the whirlwind of vacation that leaves one needing a vacation…

Being around so much family made me want so much to bring it back with me somehow.  I am getting to know some people in my new area but my level of community is nothing like when we visit my husband’s family and I am surrounded by loving people that know me and accept me.

I always wanted that as a child.  My parents love me, I know that, but my family is a bit stand-off-ish, and there aren’t many of them (on my Dad’s side, that is, which is the only side I ever hung around with due to geographical proximity.)  As a child I didn’t even eat dinner with my parents, who preferred to pretend they were European and eat at 10 p.m., and I was an only child until I was 13.  So it was meal after meal alone.  You would think I didn’t know what I was missing, but I jonesed so hard for a big gathering.

Now I’ve got my own family of six to gather around the table, when schedules permit.  But Thanksgiving, with 30 plus people, is a dream come true.  Some part of my soul just gobbles it up like a starving wolf.

We need connections in this world.  I always come back to that.  I get inside my own head, I philosophize, I spend time with my nuclear family, I put out tendrils into cyberspace and into the folks who live in my area.  All this is satisfying.  But there is also a real need to be in a realtime space and see an extended group of faces where you belong, unconditionally.  A tribe, so to speak.

You can live without it.  I did for most of my life.  I feel so blessed that now the very intimate and personal connection that my husband and I have has led to so many other important relationships that feed my soul: a blossoming of our nuclear family, time and resources to develop cyber companions as well as maintain connections with my childhood nuclear family who are all far away now, a new group of friends in a new town, as well as the huge extended family I always wanted.

Thanksgiving is over but there is still so much to be grateful for…


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Tragic End to a New Life

I read a story online at CNN this morning about a baby who died from being shaken.  Normally I try to avoid these tragic tales because I empathize so deeply that it colors my whole day a dark depressing shade of gloomy.

But in this case I feel the need to give testimony from my own life that I wish would prevent this from happening to anyone else.

I remember among my life lessons with my first baby, stuck at home all day with this little being that depended completely upon my good will, the first time I got violently angry when she wouldn’t stop crying.  I remember there came a point when an clear image popped into my head of me throwing her against a wall.  I was just at the edge of losing control.

I wish I could tell new parents, this is okay.  This moment does not make you a bad human.  You are probably going to feel this angry, these feelings are normal, they happen, don’t freak out.

Somehow I knew to do the right thing.  As soon as I saw that image, I put her down where she was safe and I went in the other room.  She was still crying, but I knew she was safe, so I just sat by myself for a minute and tried not to be scared at how mad I was.  When I felt a little calmer a couple of minutes later, I went back in to her and I tried again to soothe her.  

I don’t feel proud of myself that I’ve never shaken or otherwise injured a baby, I just feel lucky.  I  know how strong the feelings of anger and frustration are, and I know how hard it is to be alone for extended periods with a baby.  To the people who have succumbed to the violent feelings, I feel the deepest sympathy.  I feel like it could have been me.

But no one ever talks about this.  No one ever admits to young parents how there might arise violent feelings, and how to just let them pass, which is not easy.  No one ever talks about how unnatural it is for a parent to be isolated with a young one; we are supposed to live in a tribe, are we not, with people all around to help us when life threatens to be too much to handle?  But too often we are separated in our own little box, expected to be independent and deal with things on our own.  

I am so sorry that this ever happens.  I cannot express that strongly enough.  I don’t feel like an ad campaign by the Department of Social Services is going to do the trick (I’ve seen the posters), though it might get the ball rolling.  I feel like we all have to talk about it, give genuine support to new parents and tell them the truth.  Not laugh and say, “Well, you’ll never get any sleep now!  ha ha” but tell them about the real frustrations, and let them know that we can offer advice and support if they’d like.  

I can’t stand to see this sort of tragedy happen and know in my heart that, if we behaved as if we were all in this together, we might prevent it.


Filed under family, society

Name that motor vehicle!

My husband and I have a tradition of naming our cars.

It officially began when I first met my husband, who at the time owned a white Ford Escort (I was a carless cyclist).  Though we hardly knew each other at the time, he loaned it to me while he was away for Thanksgiving (an omen of good things to come.)  I was given only two instructions: 1. Talk sweet to her.  2. She likes to be called “Abby.”

Growing up, my parents had a more offhanded approach.  My mother, when coaxing a temperamental vehicle, would always refer to it as “Nelly Bell” with plenty of affectionate encouragement, no matter if it were our rusty old pick up or our little Mazda GLC.

To my father, any vehicle that was acting up always earned a moniker that began, “Son of a…”

But my husband and I like to acknowledge each car’s individuality.  Maybe it’s our writers’ minds seeing character everywhere: the thrill of anthropomorphization (How often does one get to work that word into a post?).  When Abby gave up the ghost we bought another Escort, this time forest green and named “Bonnie.”  She’s been a good girl, taking us up and down the West Coast and across the continent to a new life in the South.  But since our fourth baby was born, Bonnie, who seats only five, bless her heart, just hasn’t been big enough.

Therefore, to visit my husband’s relatives last Thanksgiving (now I get to come too!) we had to rent a van.  An Uplander, it was a sweet ride and I got quite attached to it.  Within hours of pulling out of the rental agency we named him “Carl” and he made a ten hour roadtrip with four kids actually enjoyable.

Now we must get a grip, stop our small car idealism and purchase a van.  In case you hadn’t noticed the pattern, we’ve been naming in alphabetical order, so our next set of wheels must be D-something.

I pondered for days and finally came up with the perfect name: “Dixie.”  Friendly.  Sweet.  Acknowledges the Southern community we are now a part of.

And best of all, until we finally find her, we can appropriately sing… “Well I wish I was in Dixie!”

(No offense, Bonnie!)


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Giving Birth

This blog is addressed to any parent who is interested in natural childbirth.From what surfing I’ve done, it seems a popular topic is blogging about pregnancy and writing up birth stories. This is great.

I do become concerned when I see a perpetuation of the normalization of traumatic birth. If all you knew of birth came from movies and tv, you would “know” that every woman screams in agony, curses horrible things at her partner, and is at the mercy of the medical staff. If you add to this the testimony of people who are voluntarily steeped in modern medicine exclusively, you will end up with the conviction that childbirth has to be the most painful thing ever, that epidurals are necessary, and that whatever can go wrong probably will.

I want to put my testimony out there as respresenting a large community of women who have given birth naturally and lived to tell about it joyfully. It can be done, and you do not have to be superhuman to do it. You can be a big wimp like me and it is still possible. Continue reading

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How depressing is it to watch this generation have to go through the same internal tortures and external conflicts that we went through. I remember being a teenager, it sucked ass, pardon my language but such a state of being requires strong language, in my opinion. (One of the most nightmarish songs I’ve ever heard is by Nirvana and has lyrics something like, “You’re in high school again…” NOOOOO!!!)

I remember being a teenager and vowing that if I had kids, when they were teenagers I would be perfectly understanding and that would keep the strife down to an absolute minimum. Fat chance. It is not enough to be understanding when someone’s job is to get out from under your absolute control, find their own way, their own interpretation of the world, to become independent of your approval. The strife is, perhaps, unfortunately, a necessary component of this job.

I swore I would let my kids make their own decisions, let them take their own consequences, let them shape their own lives. This is a noble aspiration, totally realizable when they are 18, but how much before then? When you know that you are legally and morally responsible for someone’s well-being, for giving them the best possible start to their adult lives, which mistakes do you let them make? How serious can these mistakes be? You as the parent can claim that the consequences are theirs alone, but really, everything is your responsibility until they are truly adults. Certainly, midnight of their 18th birthday is a random and essentially meaningless moment for this advancement to magically happen, I acknowledge this, but if not then, when?

In what other job besides parenthood does the person you are “working for” despise you when you do what you truly believe in your heart is the right and good thing?

It is difficult also for me to accept that, to this young person, my more experienced perspective as an adult and a parent mean precisely shit. I have suffered and struggled, thought and reasoned, felt and hurt, and to have that all be of no use to anyone is sad and discouraging. But looking back, I didn’t give a crap what my parents had learned, what they thought, or how any of that would shape my life if I let it. Again, the necessary move to independence.

I truly believe that the village should raise the child, and the child should have a lot more exposure to (safe, known) adults who would be more compatible, both in interests and temperament, who could act as mentors. Because children are not going to listen after a certain point to their own parents, this is contrary to the primary project of their development. And so we are all stuck, Mommys and Daddys in a box, with our own naturally rebellious children, with no healthy interchanges between families and generations, because we are so afraid of our neighbors and so attached to our idea of the nuclear family, even if it blows up in our faces.

I saw an elderly lady at Walmart yesterday and she cooed at my 5 month old for a few minutes, and she said, “I wish you lived next door, then I could rock you and sing to you.” I thought of all the times during the day when the kid is fed, changed, fully attended to, but still cries for interaction while I stare at the dishes piled up, laundry reeking, books unread, older kids scrambling for attention, and I thought, if only. If only I could hand the baby off to a grandma or grandpa person for an hour or two, both of whom are dying to coo at each other while I am dying to get things done. If only teens could go over to someone’s house who could teach them some skill they wanted to know, and maybe learn how to live at the same time. If only we could all, babies, adolescents, adults at all stages, be there for each other and get what we need from each other, besides just a passing moment in a stupid store. If only.

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Filed under family, kids, Life