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Preview: The Salad Days [chronicles]

The Salad Days [chronicles]

These are the salad days, of which I preminesce no return...

Updated: 2018-03-05T22:12:33.078-08:00




Hazel's bug turned into a full-blown ear infection, which kept her up until 2 this morning. After hours of crying and moaning and tossing and turning, we finally just got her out of bed and plunked her down in front of Noggin (24 hours! YAY!), while we dealt with the confusing maze that is our new insurance company. When push came to shove, the best they could do for us was call in a prescription for ear drops that we could pick up at the 24 hour pharmacy at 4 a.m. We passed. Hazel finally fell asleep, thankfully, and we got her checked out this morning.

The cold that I caught mutated into a nasty sinus infection while I was caring for Hazel in the wee hours. Have you ever had a sinus infection? This one's the first for me, and holy shit, I hope it's the last. The pain! The congestion! It feels like a 300 pound man is sitting on my head. I was treated for that this morning, as well as shiny new case of bronchitis! I truly don't think I have ever been this sick. It's nas-ty.

Will you pray for me, if you believe in such things? Because with two sick kids and a beast of an infection myself, I'm not sure how we're going to make it through the afternoon.

The Post in Which I Get All Political and Self-Serving


I've been asked to contribute to MOMocrats, the moms-for-Edwards website. I'm proud and happy to be part of such a great cause, working with brilliant and articulate women who have a lot to say. Check us out!

I truly believed that John Edwards would be a different kind of president - the kind who does what he says, says what he means, and means to get this country moving in the right direction. I am crushed that he has stepped aside, though I knew from the beginning that I was backing an underdog. But one of the positive things to come out of John Edwards' campaign suspension is my renewed zeal for getting the person who can do the most for our country elected. Which is why my post "The Feminist Vote - Why Hillary Rodham Clinton Won't Get Mine" is live for the world to see.

I was an early Obama supporter, until I started paying close attention to John Edwards' message. Everything he said made perfect sense to me, but most especially his commitment to end poverty and the corporate takeover of our government, and reengage with the global community on a cooperative level. I hope that Barak Obama takes notice of the chords that John Edwards struck with the people of this country, those of us who really do want things to change. And I hope he makes good on his promises, like I know Edwards would have. We'll see.



Hazel came into our bed at 3:00 in the morning, burning with fever. I dosed her with Tylenol, cuddled her for a few minutes, then carried her back to her top bunk, where she tossed and turned and hacked with a cough that came out of nowhere. She was perfectly fine all day yesterday.

Poor Hazel. She seems to get every little bug that goes around, and always has. Her immune system is challenged, I think (it runs in her family). Mike has been good enough to agree to make a Whole Foods run before heading to work - we need O.J., kids Emergen-C, those fabulous vitamin/zinc lollipops and tranquilizers (for me. I WISH.)

It's gonna be a long, grey day.

You Want To Know How I Know My Kids' Brains Have Been Disneyfied?


Because as I was getting out of the shower a few days ago, Hazel asked:

"Mom... how come Tinkerbell's boobs point up... and yours... don't?"

Um, because I nursed you and your sister for almost two years - each!?

Yeah. You're welcome.

Christmas Past


And it passed so quickly, and with so much fanfare and hullaballoo, that when it came time to take down the tree, the stockings, the lights and the decorations, we cried! It was that much fun. (Look at those happy girls!)

This year was the first year that both girls were really excited about the holiday. Hazel really "got it," and was very excited about making and giving presents to friends and family. She asked thoughtful questions about the meaning of Christmas and Chanukkah and Kwanzaa, and pointed out - very astutely - that they are all basically about being thankful for life as we know it. Can I just say that I love that she knows what Kwanzaa is?

As usual the girls raked in the booty, but this year, Mike and I made the conscious decision to get them gifts that they could play with together. They got art supplies, a rockin' new kite, a playhouse for the backyard, board games, and a few assorted other goodies, including a new dress and pair of tights for each girl. We opened presents, had breakfast, and then passed the rest of the day with friends, where a giant potluck dinner and basement karaoke party were lwhat made the holiday one of our most memorable as a family.

We rang in the new year in SoCal, which is always a good time. The time for us to move down there is drawing near, I think. Each time we go down there, it's harder to leave. We have such a great thing going on here, it's hard to even imagine leaving... and yet, the magnetic draw of family is pulling us in a different direction. Who knows what 2008 will bring?

Holiday Thoughts


I spent yesterday afternoon shopping for Christmas presents online, and all I can say is "what did we ever do before Amazon?" Good lord, it was easy. No crowds, no lines, no confusion; just type, click, buy. Almost pleasant, actually, as far as shopping goes.

When I was done, I took a few minutes to bask in the glow of being able to buy exactly what I wanted for the girls and our family, without worrying about whether or not we could afford it. I didn't get extravagant - our Christmas gifts are pretty low-key - but the very act of buying things always reminds me of how blessed we are to be able to buy non-essentials comfortably. It is a luxury that I am aware of, and grateful for.

In that spirit, I am trying to be mindful of balancing all the girls' talk about receiving presents with talk about giving wholeheartedly, and being thankful for the many good things we already have in our lives. My local hair salon is doing a toy drive, and this Saturday Hazel and I will be taking a Dora sleeping bag in for a little girl who requested it for Christmas. Then we'll be taking a trip to Second Harvest food bank to make a donation there, and finally, we'll be taking some toys and clothes to the local women's shelter. I wish I was better about making donations and spending time at our local food bank and shelter year-round; we do it occasionally, maybe two or three times each year, but still... if I was the kind of person who made New Year's resolutions, making more time for giving back to our community would be mine this year.

I went ahead and made a "wish list" for myself as I was finishing up my online shopping yesterday, but it occurred to me later in the day, as I was putting away the week's groceries, that what I already have is more than enough: a home, a full fridge, a healthy and happy family - and more! No box under the tree can compete with that.

Violet in the Bathroom


V: "When I grow up I want to be a mama."

Mike: "Maybe you could be a German teacher."

V: "Maybe I could be a Hello Kitty teacher!"

Hey, it's as good a place as any to plan for the future. With her rampant use of toilet paper and excessive flushing, she's certainly not cut out for environmentalism or plumbing, so it's good she's exploring other options.

Project Life Change: I Didn't Fail as Miserably as You Thought I Did!


Although I completely and utterly ignored my own sincere pledge to update this blog more, I actually did accomplish the other goals I set for myself under the mantle of Project Life Change. Yeah, me!

Change #1 (sign Haze up for a class she'll enjoy) sort of backfired on me, so I crossed that off the list (N/A). I've blogged a little bit on the topic of Hazel's sensitive nature, which is a big part of our family dynamic, without going into too much detail about how it effects her as an independent person, or as a social being. The reason for that is simple: I don't feel that it's my right to go into the specifics of the how/when/why aspects of what it's like to live with a highly-sensitive, slow-to-adapt kid. Especially a kid who's learning to read, and probably wouldn't appreciate a mother who spills her personal beans all over the interwebs on a regular basis. Suffice it to say, Hazel didn't want to participate in the gymnastics class I signed her up for. My perception of "why" is that having to be "on" in kindergarten 5 days/week, every week, is enough activity for Hazel right now. Totally understandable. She expressed some interest in doing a class with Violet, so I'm looking into mixed age art classes for both of them.

Change #2 (sign Violet up for a class she'll enjoy) was a piece of cake. The local community center as a fabulous, age-appropriate gymnastics class that Violet adores. I've tried unsuccessfully to take posterity pictures of her during class, but it's impossible: she's a dervish, running from trampoline to rock-climbing wall to uneven bars, and I can't get her to slow down long enough to take a picture that looks like something besides blur of cuteness. Big bonus: naps are back! Thanks, gymnastics!

Change #3 (spend less time sneaking over to check email/feeds during the day) was also no sweat. I let my editor at Strollerderby know that I needed to slow down on my posting over there, and we worked out a compromise that resulted in me taking on weekend duty for S.D. A few posts spread out over the weekend, plus 1 or 2 during the week is much more manageable for me, and makes my weekdays feel more open and free. A welcome change that was easy to pull off, thanks to my awesome SD coworkers and editors.

Change #4 (complete tasks around the house regularly) resulted in us painting and setting up the garage/craftroom for general use! Still a few minor tasks to be done in there (installing shelving, freecycling old computer, hanging bikes from celing hooks), but nothing major. Next up: planting the winter garden!

Change #5 (update the blog weekly) is really the only play I dropped the ball on. I've been in decompression mode since scaling back on SD, and have been ignoring my computer almost entirely. It's been so nice! But I've missed blogging here, which is perhaps good: missing out is a big motivator for me.

Four out of 5 "life changes" accomplished. Not bad. Not bad at all.




Dear Hazel,

Five years ago you were a tiny, mewling lump of milk and gurgle. I could never have predicted that a few long and short years later, you would become the smart, sassy, prim, plucky, persnickety, perfectly Hazel-ish you that you are today. Five years old.

Kindergarten is helping nurture the side of you that loves to learn, and is driven to succeed. Going to full-time school, by yourself, all day, every day, has been a huge confidence-booster for you, and a challenge you have met head on. You are at the top of your class - a strong reader, a keen observer, always on task and agreeable. Your teachers love you, and tell you so. You take pride in the logic and reason and schedule of your days. You beam with pride and confidence as you march out of the classroom to meet me at pick-up time, and when I ask you how your day was, your answer is always the same:


Your dad and I had a hunch that kindergarten would be good for your soul, be we couldn't be sure until we sent you. So we all took the plunge together, and dove heads first into this thing called school - and none of us, not even you, could be more pleased with how you've taken to it. We are so proud of you. But what's even better is that you are proud of yourself. You are taking pride in accomplishing some pretty monumental achievements - like being dropped off every day. Not easy for you. Like learning how to read. Like trusting yourself, and solving your own problems, and all the while, becoming more and more confident that you can handle what comes your way.

It is a daily joy and privilege to watch you consciously take root in yourself - to watch you come to the realization, time and again, that you are who you are, you like what you like, and that is what it is. You may not be like everyone else, but you are you. Full stop. And absolutely nothing can shake your belief in that one pure, simple fact.

You are a force of nature. You are a hurricane of personality. You are FIVE.

While you still retain many of the characteristics that you had even as a tiny baby - sensitive to sounds and smells, shy and a little quiet, a Mama's girl - your willingness to try and be new things is at an all-time high. An excellent example of your newfound adventurousness: you chose avocado rolls, miso soup, and brown rice tea as your birthday lunch. The fact that you chose boxed mac n' cheese, hot dogs and strawberries for your birthday dinner is a shining example of the wonderful dichotomy that is 5. That is you! Everyone who knows you is impressed daily by your wit and shine (you included). You are a silly little spark plug of a girl, a golden egg, a leggy blonde bookworm with a quiet, old soul and every time I see you, with your knobbly knees, your huge brown eyes and your flapper hair, my heart just about bursts with love and excitement.

Happy 5th Birthday to you, Hazel, and many more. Dad, Violet and I love you so much. We love who you are now, and we can not wait to see who you will be next! You are FIVE! FIVE years old!!



Project Life Change: Stop Being So Lazy, Alisyn.


My good friend Stefania has sent out a call, to mobilize and motivate people across the blogosphere to make the changes in their lives that they need to make - now. No more excuses. I really like this idea. For me, participating in Project Life Change isn't about doing a major overhaul, or making drastic changes in my life. It's about taking responsibility for the little things that I keep saying I need to do, or want to do, but don't. Allow me to elaborate. I am, by nature, kind of a hermit. I like puttering around my house, gardening, reading, drinking tea. I like laying on the floor reading to the girls, making furniture forts with them, doing puzzles. I derive most of my strength and pleasure from being in the comfort zone I've created for our family. I am comfortable in social situations - I like people, am good at making friends, and am probably considered pretty outgoing by people who know me. But I am one of those rare outgoing-yet-introverted hybrids, and often, I get stuck in my comfort zone, when I should be out and about. Hazel is a lot like me, in that she prefers to operate in her comfort zone, with people she knows well. But as she gets more comfortable in kindergarten, she's making more friends, and starting to show an interest in seeing them outside of the classroom. She's been coming out of her little shell, and I think she's reached the point where she can handle something like a ballet class, or a cooking class, some kind of outside-the-home-activity that is just for her, without getting too nervous. l may have to push her a little at first, because she really hates being dropped off anywhere, but once she gets into the swing of things, I think she'll be great. Change #1 - sign Hazel up for a class she'll enjoy. Stop thinking about it, and just do it. Violet is not like Hazel and I. I'm not sure if it's her age (2.5), or her personality - it's probably 50/50 - but she is not a homebody the way we are. She likes to be on the move, on the go, doing, doing, doing. She gets bored with all the drawing and reading and lazing about that we do a lot of at home, and tends to act out when she's feeling frustrated. She's also decided that unless she's in the stroller or the car, she's not napping anymore, so she's extra tired and grumpy in the afternoons. Signing Violet up for a toddler class - I'm thinking gymnastics - will be good for her soul. Not only will she be around kids her own age, she'll also get some of her energy out, and hopefully, nap a little more readily. Change #2 - sign Violet up for a class she'll enjoy. Stop thinking about it, and just do it.A major contribution to my hermitude is the fact that I work from home. And my job involves constantly checking my email, scanning developing news, and keeping in contact with my coworkers at StrollerDerby. I am incessantly flipping my computer open, and getting sucked into the vacuum of the virtual world. My girls notice this. And they don't love it. Even though I'm in the room with them, I'm not there, I'm not paying attention to them and we're not making eye contact. I notice it too, and I feel guilty about it, but I do it anyway. There's no way to avoid getting online throughout the day - it's part of my job, and it's how I stay connected with many of my friends. But I'm going to attempt to schedule my days better, so that I have a window of time open specifically for being online, rather than just stolen moments here and there. Change #3 - schedule a couple of chunks of time during the day for checking email, etc., and only open the computer during those times. When Mike and I decided to stay in California indefinitely, we outlined a plan for making our tiny little house a little more livable. We re-landscaped our front and back yards to maximize play space for the girls, [...]

A Summer of Firsts


I took the summer off, as it turns out. And now that it's over, I've come to realize that it was a monumental season. The girls have grown and changed so much in the last couple of months. It's been the 3 of us at home together all summer, which I thought was going to be a nightmare, but actually, ended up being kind of fun. Most days. A recap:First Bee Stings: Hazel was running through the grass barefoot when she stepped on a bee and let us all know it by screaming bloody murder. About six weeks later, Violet did the exact same thing. So did I, about 25 years ago.First Babysitter: What the effin' eff took me so long? Sara'i is the girls' new favorite person - she does their hair, she paints their nails, and she lays on the top bunk with Hazel til she's asleep. Hazel says, "Mama, sometimes I wish Sara'i could be our Mama, and you could just come sometimes." Awwwwww. First Funeral: A milestone, to be sure. Hazel was relieved to know that Great Uncle Frank would not be a skeleton for a very, very long time. First Over Nighter: The girls and I took a 2 week vacation to SoCal, at the end of which, Haze decided that she wanted some "alone time" with her grandparents, great grandparents, uncles and auntie, so she stayed behind, while Vi and I had some alone time of our own. Three days, and I missed her. First New Bike: The last new bike I can remember having was metallic navy blue with a banana seat and those little beads that make noise in the spokes. It may or may not have had pegs. My new new bike - the first I've purchased - is white, with pink walled tires and silver and pink flames. She is called "The Betty." She is one sweet ride, and I'm addicted to her. First Garden: We totally re-landscaped our back yard, with the help of my brothers, and not only do we have flowers and shrubs and a gorgeous new emerald green lawn, we also have a planter box. Growing happily in that box are two kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, lemons, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, zucchini and herbs. The girls and I water, weed and talk to our plants, and they love us for it. Hazel snacks on cilantro that she picks herself. Violet strokes the baby cucumbers lovingly.First Day of School: Hazel started kindergarten last week. Let me repeat that: Hazel started kindergarten last week. It simply blows my mind. She has made the smoothest transition possible, from going to preschool with friends she's know her whole life, to going to real school, alone. All day. And loving it! My heart is bursting with pride and love for my big, brave, smart, wonderful girl.First Day of Daycare: Violet calls it "preschool." I call it "sanity saver." It starts tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.First Bunk Bed: It's from Ikea, it was a free hand-me-down, and the novelty of the slide has yet to wear off. Priceless.First Friends: The girls really turned a corner this summer, and went from barely tolerating each other, to actually liking each other. They can, and sometimes do, play together for hours at a time. They still get impatient with each other, and they get on each other's nerves, but for they also share, joke, help and giggle a lot. They play mama-and-baby, doggy-and-person, doctor-and-patient (guess which is which?); they play hide and seek in the backyard; Hazel makes tiny bird eggs out of clay and Violet smashes them gleefully, one by one. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the two of them conspiring against me, or helping each other, or cuddling on the couch, picking each other's noses. If I had to sum up the summer quickly, I'd say it was long, hot, and a lot of fun. Not necessarily in that order. Check out the updated pictures![...]

Hazel's New Joke



You wanna hear it? Sure you do.

"Knock knock."

"Who's there?"

"Mickey Mouse."

"Mickey Mouse who?"


Hazel's on to what Mickey's hiding in those sexy little red shorts, and she wants the world to know it, too. Between her and Violet, I'm lucky if I make it to 7:30 a.m. before hearing the words penis, scrotum, vulva, ovaries, anus or boobs, haahahahaahahahaa!!!!

Yesterday at the park, some old dude giggled under his breath when Hazel enlisted Molly's help in telling the "Mickey Mouse's PENIS!! HAHAHAHAHHA!" version of the joke, and I had to laugh too.

What else can I do? They are funny.

'Mell My Winger


Here's one for the baby book.

Violet's new favorite game to play? 'Mell My Winger. Otherwise known as "Smell My Finger," a game that, though highly inappropriate and totally gross, fascinates and delights her. Endlessly.


In the car, on the way to pick up Hazel from preschool:

"Mama? You 'mell my winger?"

"No, Violet. That's rude."

"You 'mell it, Mama? It 'mell like my BUTT!"


In the car, on the way home from picking up Hazel:

"Hazel! 'Mell my winger!"

"Okay!... EWWWWWW!" (Falls for it every time, agrees that this game is hilarous).

"It 'mell like my ba-dinah!"

"Yeah! It does... hey Violet, say 'vulva.'"


"Mama! Violet's talking about her private parts not in private!"

(Guess who's really into the "All About My Body" book?)


Now that she is wearing underwear during the day, access to her girly parts is free and unlimited. There's a lot of, um, exploring going on. Especially in the car, where there's not much else to do. We've had the "private parts" talk, but that means absolutely nothing to her. She's going through her naked phase, and discovering her body, and I'm cool with that. I get it. But it's startling, and not a little off putting, to look over my shoulder while changing lanes, and see Violet mining for gold down there.

It's a good thing she doesn't wear rings. It's also a good thing that my car's windows are tinted dark black; if people could see what was going on in the backseat, they would.... well, they would change lanes, at the very least.

Bathing Suit (A Happy Post)


I've had bathing suits on the brain lately. It's about to get hot, and I plan on spending a large part of the coming summer in the water: at the toddler pool, at swimming lessons, at the beach. So I've been assessing my options.

I've been salivating over this suit for a couple of months now. It's sexy and sassy and it's the kind of suit that makes a woman wish she had the curves to fill it out (I am fortunate in that department). But I just can not bring myself to pay $100 (with shipping) for it. I realize that this is the going rate for a suit not purchased Target, Old Navy or the Gap, but I am just too inherently cheap and guilty to pay that. I could get suits for the whole family with $100! God, I sound just like my mother. (No offense, Mom. You know what I mean). I've been scoping out Ebay and local vintage clothing shops for something similar, but haven't had much luck.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I walked into Marshall's on a bra run, and ran smack into a black, halter neck, retro-flavored skirted suit in my size. I grabbed a few of the other 1-piece options for good measure, along with my bra selection, and headed for the fitting room.

For the first time since puberty, I tried on a bathing suit, and I smiled. That's how awesome this suit is. The halter top is flattering and supportive, the little skirt is flirty and hides a multitude of sins, and the overall look is '50s and fun. Exactly what I was looking for. That never happens!

I am always afraid of looking matronly in bathing suits, (why do bathing suit designers assume that only grandmothers want 1-pieces?) and have always avoided the skirted kind for that reason alone. But this suit has nary a whiff of mothballs, and I figure the tattoos help in that department, too.

So, I am positively giddy over my $40 Marshall's windfall. I guess I have to stop talking shit about the place, now. I wish you the same luck on your bathing suit quest this year, because every woman deserves to smile in the fitting room.

To Violet, On Her 2nd Birthday


Dear Violet,Today you are two! TWO!! When someone asks you how old you are, you hold up five fingers and shout "two!" Then you whisper, "I eat marshmallows!" That's all you want for your birthday: Marshmallows. And I can't wait to give them to you. The day you were born, it was sunny and gorgeous, just like today. I told you that two years ago to the day, you came out of Mama's belly, a tiny, black-haired little squiggle. And you said, "Noooo - I not a squiggle! I Violet!"And we laughed about that.--------------It is two days past your actual birthday now, Sunday evening. We had all our friends, plus grandparents, uncles, and aunties over for a celebration. You ate your weight in marshmallows. You were a kind and flirty hostess, and you had a great time. I want to thank you for being so sweet-natured, Violet. Your even-keeled temperament and generous disposition are by far your best qualities (and you have a lot wonderful qualities) - they stand out, even to strangers. Thank you for welcoming all your friends and family into our house with a smile, and sharing all of your new birthday toys without even getting a chance to play with them. Thank you for letting Hazel help you with the wrapping paper. Thank you for being you. The last few months have been a time of great change - before our eyes, you have become a bonafide kid. You speak in 10 and 12 word sentences now, run like the wind, and have no fear. No fear. You stomp around the house singing "OOOOhhhhh, the life of a pirate for me!" and are happy to play Captain Hook to Hazel's Peter Pan. You read quietly in the corner. You sleep peacefully with your beloved polka dot blankie jammed in your nose , and when you wake up, you beam like the sun. You want to swing "supah high!" at the park. You want to go to preschool with Hazel. You are in love with Wallie. You count to 20 and you sing your ABCs. You love Diego and the Little Einsteins. You love to help me make dinner. You finger paint like a badass. I am amazed by all the things you can do. It's hard not to think of you as my baby, even though you went so far as to potty train yourself last week, just to prove your independence. "I no want weah dipuh," you announced, after using the potty for the first time on Thursday. So you just... stopped peeing in a diaper. And by Friday, we were taking you around town with no diaper, and no accidents. Who does that?!? We've pumped about a pound of marshmallows in you to as "incentive," but you don't need them. Cuz you're awesome. -------------------It is now Monday night. Three days have passed since your birthday, and I am just now getting around to writing about it. I'm sorry, Vi. Sometimes things slip through the cracks, and you don't get the attention I'd like to give you - even on this blog. But I love you so very, very much, and feel so blessed and lucky to have a daughter like you - so peaceful and funny and smart and sassy. I am grateful for you, and unconditional the love you've brought to our family, especially your love for your big sister. You care for Hazel in a way that is miraculous to me, and I thank you for that, Violet. It means more to me than you will ever know. Seeing you imitate her, be patient with her, hang on her every word, and share your treasures with her, melts my heart. Seeing you two girls scheme and giggle and shriek makes me think that I must be doing something right. Happy Birthday, Violet, and many more to come. Dada, Hazel and I love you so very much; more than you love marshmallows! And that's a lot. Love,Mama[...]

My Genius Children


Hazel is learning how to read: sounding words out, learning which letter combinations make which sounds. She knows what "ch" sounds like, as well as "ou" and "sh," etc. The one that confuses her is "oo" because as often as it sounds like "scoot" it also sounds like "book." You know? Yesterday, she asked:

"Mama? Why does "b-o-o-k" spell "book?" Why doesn't it spell "bouquet?"

Get it?




Violet decided she's ready to start pottytraining. She's been walking around the house diaper-less for a while now, and asking for a diaper when she's got to go. So, she's got the physical part down. Yesterday, she decided that she had the mental readiness, too, so she sat on the potty and peed. Twice. And twice so far today.

She's not even 2 yet! (7 more days)




After an exceptionally mild winter, it is pleasantly surprising that spring has sprung so early in the season. There are flowers and trees in bloom all over the neighborhood, where we've been making the most of warm days with cool breezes running through them - my favorite kind. A light sweatshirt is all we need when we take our evening walk thorough the park. The girls pile into the wagon with their jammies on, and have fun pointing out the cherry blossoms, magnolias, poppies and roses. Our neighbors have fun pointing and smiling at Hazel, who has been wearing bunny ears all day long for the last 3 weeks.

We dyed about a million eggs with friends at a backyard party on Sunday. Hazel and Violet each tried eating one for the first time. I taught them how to peel off the shells, and grind a little salt and pepper onto their plates, to roll the eggs in before chowing down, like I did when I was a kid. We ate some of the eggs sliced on toast points with tapenade last night, and tonight we had a kick-ass salade niçoise. Have you tried Trader Joe's Caribbean popsicles yet? They make a most excellently messerific dessert. We had some of those tonight, as well.

Our next door neighbor is a landscaper, and as Mike and the girls were walking home from the park while I was making dinner, he asked if we would mind taking some of his leftover sod off his hands. I think that was a landscaper's polite way of saying "Please let me help you with your jacked up lawn so I don't have to look at it anymore." So while the girls and I ate our salades and popsicles, Mike and our neighbor installed a new front lawn. It looks really nice. Perfect for kickin' it at dusk, people watching, and popsicle eating.

I love this time of year. Everything seems so fresh and new and full of possibility.


Home (A New Leaf)


We have been considering leaving California for so long now. Years. It's just so expensive - not just the real estate, but gas, taxes... it takes a lot of money just to be here. Now we know why. We get it now. California is amazing. I have a special place in my heart for Northern California, especially, having come here to go to college (1994), then settling here for good in 2000, after traveling around and "finding myself." But I really feel like I've been taking it for granted all these years. I complain about it all the time - how expensive it is, how I've been here "too long," how I hate Silicon Valley "mom culture." But I realized, after our trip to Rochester, how lucky we are to be here.Nothing against Rochester, of course. It's a lovely town. But it's not for us. If Mike had loved Mayo Clinic, we could have made the city work for us. But he didn't. If we had loved Rochester, but the job prospect was just so-so, we could have made the job work for us. But we didn't. And it took several thousand miles and hours squeezed on an airplane for us to realize that we are home. We have everything we need right here.Flying into San Jose airport, from flat, brown Minnesota, the fog was rolling off the ocean and into the valley. The sky was blue-gray tinged with red, and the sun had just set. A few stars twinkled in the sky, and the south bay cities winked at us, all glittery lights and stretched out streets. The grass on the tarmac was electric green, and everything felt so bright and fresh and clean that it brought tears to my eyes. I realized I have been thinking of California in terms of what it's keeping from me, rather that what it has given me, what it gives me still. I realized that I had been thinking that renting, not owning, our house was a kind of personal failure. I think it goes back to having certain expectations of "adulthood" that were arbitrary and naive, yet somehow still burned into my brain. Get married, have kids, buy house, be happy. All of that has happened, except for the buy house part... but for some reason that's been really stressing me out. It seems like it's a uniquely American thing to stress out about. Thousands of people are defaulting on the mortgages that they stretched themselves to the limit to take on, filing bankruptcy left and right, and yet housing prices are still astronomical. (For all you out of state readers, to wit: the two bedroom, one bathroom, 900 square foot house two doors down from us is currently on the market for $775K. It will sell for more.) By contrast, looking at houses in Rochester seemed like it was too good to be true. We looked at a 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom house with 2 yards and a finished basement for under $200K. I could almost justify uprooting the girls and high tailing it to Minnesota just for that house. It was gorgeous.But here's the thing: we'd be giving up everything, and everyone, we love, for that house. The best, and best paying job, Mike has ever had. The best friends in the world. Proximity to family. Year round good weather. Diversity. Access to museums, live music, gorgeous hiking, beaches, and two cool cities (SF & SJ), each within 30 minutes of our front door. The rare and, to us, important culture here, that accepts everyone, not matter what their color, background, or fetish. We are so lucky to be raising our girls here, to be a young and active family in the Bay Area. It is truly one of the most vibrant, diverse, exciting, forward-thinking, and beautiful places in the world. Long story short: we're staying. After much soul-searching and deliberat[...]

Our First Vacation In Five Years...


... without the kids. Five years! And we're going to Minnesota. Where it will be snowing and in the 30's. And you know what? WE. DON'T. EVEN. CARE!!!

Mike's flying out a day ahead of me to check into a possible job in Rochester, which, by all accounts, seems like a pretty cool city: Less than an hour from Minneapolis/St. Paul, home to the Mayo Clinic, tons of really cool and affordable homes, and lovely people (if the people we know from Rochester are any indication of how kind the townsfolk are). I fly out on Friday, and our plan is to tool around the town on Saturday, check out some houses, and have dinner with friends. Sunday morning we'll brunch and tool around some more, then we'll come home late Sunday night.

Short and sweet, I know. But honestly? The flight alone - six blissful hours with only my book, my iPod and unlimited cocktails - will be a vacation for me. My mom is in town to stay with the girls, and I don't think they'll even notice we're gone.

But I will.

Letter To A Sick Girl


Dear Hazel,

Today you are sick. Your cheeks are bright pink with fever, and you have a cough that sounds so bad, it makes my chest hurt. You had to miss your preschool's Chinese New Year celebration, which really disappointed you - you were really looking forward to those chocolate coins and dragon puppets.

On days like today, when you are achy and tired and extra sensitive, I am reminded of how little you truly are. You seem so mature most of the time, so full of opinions and ideas and youthful exuberance. But today you are wilted and pale. Today your big, brown eyes are glassy, instead of sparkly. Today you said, "Mama, will you please hold me?" So I did.

Because you and your sister are both napping everyday again, we had to go out to buy a pack n' play this morning. Getting you both to sleep, in the middle of the day, in the same room, has proved to be impossible. You were a good sport about shopping, but instead of skipping ahead of the basket like you usually do, you sat inside of it, legs crossed, quiet. When we passed a display of cowgirl boots on clearance, and I saw a tiny spark in your eyes, we both smiled. You sure can work a pair of black and teal butterfly cowgirl boots, girl, I'll tell you what.

When we got home, you went peacefully off to sleep. When you woke up, you felt well enough to watch a movie and drink some tea. By the time Dada came home, you were feeling well enough to go out for a "flashlight walk" in the dark. So we did. (I'm sorry the flashlight batteries were dead). You wore your princess nightgown, stripey tights, your new cowgirl boots, and a purple headband with a giant red bow tied on the top, Minnie Mouse-style. We could tell you were feeling better because you skipped a little. And you told me about how "cowgirls ride horses and horsegirls ride cows."

Sometimes it's hard for me to remember how little you are, because you are such a huge presence in my life - your chirpy voice, your loud, crazy outfits, your jokes and songs and made-up games ring in my ears from sun up to sun down. But days like today, when you are soft and still, I see how vulnerable and tiny and new you are. And the love that I have for you rises up in my throat, and catches behind my eyes, and I ache from its intensity. For you, I have a love that is so deep and wide, I'm not sure where it ends and I begin.

I hope you feel better soon, Hazel. But if you are still sick tomorrow, and you need me to rub your back, or make you your favorite noodle soup, or read you an extra story, I will be happy to do it. I will be there. Always.


Happy Valentine's Day!


Ahh, Valentine's Day. That media induced holiday which dictates that my hubz buys me some flowers and the girls get jacked up beyond belief on candy hearts and chocolate kisses.

We don't really make a big deal of V-Day in the Salad family. Mike tells me that he loves me at least 5 times every day, and I don't need no stinkin' card to remind me. So, the girls and I will be making this for our very low-key Valentine's Day dinner. And I'm just going to pretend that they didn't get a year's worth of sugar at the preschool V-Day party this morning, and make some triple fudge brownies for dessert. Then Mike and I will settle in with a bottle of wine to watch this, and then.... well. We'll see where it goes from there.

Wishing everyone a lovely, lovey, Valentine's Day!




I never identified as a "hipster," until yesterday.I do not define myself through what I wear, or what I buy, but just like everybody else, I am guilty of wearing and buying things that fit my definition of "cool." But we live in a consumer culture, and while I rail against it on the inside, I fall victim to it more than I care to admit. I wear Chuck Taylors. I buy Gap jeans. My kids wear funky, crazy tights, Misfits onesies, and get pushed around in a well made stroller. By its current definition, that does make me a hipster. Okay. I've been called worse. Yesterday, I was attacked online, both personally, and as a contributing writer of Strollerderby. Called names. Made fun of. Insulted. And I felt compelled to defend myself, and my choices. I could've just ignored the comments, and jibes, I suppose, but I chose not to. I jumped into the altogether pointless and downright mean "conversation," because I felt like I was being accused: accused of being a bad parent, of being a thoughtless consumer, and of being less that what I am. I spent the better part of my day yesterday thinking about who and what I am, exactly. And all I could come up with is this: I am more than just one thing. I am more than a lifestyle or a demographic. I am bursting with contradictions, opinions and passions. I am less than perfect. I am a beautiful mess.I can see how someone who does not know me in real life could get an impression of me by reading Strollerderby. I write snarky posts about celebrities, and make fun of stupid people for being caught doing stupid things. But that's my job. I get paid to crank the sarcasm up, and engage readers in conversations like "New Mom Jen Garner Thinks She's Fat: Discuss!," and to debate things like a federally mandated HPV vaccine for young girls. I like my job - but I'm more than that. I can see how someone who does not know me in real life, but reads this blog, could form an opinion of me based on what I write about my life as a woman, post childbirth. Let's see: I breastfed my kids until they were almost 2; My 4 year old daughter only recently stopped sharing a bed with her parents; We had a loving pet pit bull in our home for 6 years; We take our kids to protests and concerts; I swear a lot, and sometimes, I ignore my kids in favor of spending a little quality time alone. Depending on what your take is, I could be called a hippie, a hipster, an attachment parent, a careless parent, a mommyblogger, a pushover, a lactivist, a foul mouthed knee-jerk liberal, an asshole, a freak, or housewife. But I'm more than that.Some people call Salad Days "an exploitation" of my children, a way to get attention, a badge of my status as a (insert insult here). I call it a chronicle of this amazing time in my life, and my family's life. When I started it, no one read it but family, and the word "blogosphere," was not in my vocabulary. Through it, I have made friends, shared heartache and joy, told intimate secrets, learned some valuable lessons, and discovered pieces of myself that I didn't know I had. Yes, I am a blogger, and proud of it. But I'm more than that.Yesterday's discussion of the TIME piece, and Strollerderby, and me, took me back to high school. It was bizarre. It took me back to a time when everything and everyone was labeled and categorized - if you were this, you weren't that, and if you weren't that, you had to be this. There was no grey area, no room for more than one interest, belief or defining chara[...]

Good Things


So far, 31 is a nice age to be. Everyone in the house is over their cold/ickyness. Mike is home from Japan, and over the jeg-lag. And we got a new reading chair in the living room, which is bright red, which I love.

I'm blogging a lot over at Strollerderby, and really enjoying it. It is strangely liberating to have a legitimate excuse for ignoring the kids. Also, after four years? It feels pretty good to bringing home some bacon. I'm loving Babble, too - even if I wasn't working for them, I'd be reading it every day - it's just cool. A little (self-promoting) taste:

The Family Bed: I'm Over It - And Now, So Is She!

Personae Urbana

Katie Holmes Is A Freak

I'm also going to be posting at Silicon Valley Moms Blog and Maya's Mom, soon - so check them out! This blogging gig is suddenly, unexpectedly, turning into something more than just a pleasant diversion; it's something I love to do. I didn't realize it, but I'd been missing that. I've missed having, and doing, something that's for me, that's mine. All mine.

Hazel's preschool class has started dividing into "kindergarten groups," doing more concentrated and specific activities involving simple math or comprehension skills, in preparation for kindergarten. She loves it. She says "it's more like real school!" which tells me that she may be more ready for kindergarten than we thought. She has grown visibly taller than all but one of her friends, and is trying to grow her hair down to her butt. She wants to start taking singing lessons. She's so... big.

Violet's vocabulary has exploded; she's speaking in 4 and 5 word sentences now! She makes little jokes, and sings songs. She comes to me crying and says "Bonk my head, Mama," and she comes to me laughing, saying "'Hazel hide, me seek!" She refers to her self as Violetta ("Dilleta") and she says something new, and charming, every day.

Right now, life is really good. Mellow, quiet, restful. Everyone is happy. And that's a good thing.

Three Days In Review, Three More To Go


Dan Zanes concert Saturday. Awesome.

Hosted dinner party Sunday. Fabulous.

Mike left for Japan Monday.

Both girls come down with colds.

Got 4 hours of sleep Sunday, and five Monday.

Blood in Sadie's poop.

Visit to the vet.

Cat has colitis. Or is stressed from living with nutjob and her kids.

Either way - $150, please.

Violet stuffed a raisin in her ear Monday afternoon.

Visit to the emergency clinic.

Sorry, no room.

Visit to other emergency clinic.

Either the raisin is lodged in kid's brain, or she liiiiiiiied to me.

Good friend visited from Baltimore. I accidentally locked him out Monday night. He slept outside in the car. It was 42 degrees.

Dishwasher still full of dishes from Sunday night dinner party.

Girls haven't bathed since Friday night.

Barely got friend to the airport in time for flight home Tuesday morning.

Love that carpool lane.

Dropped girls off with equally tired and frazzled mama friend for 2 hours. Went out for coffee and Wellbutrin. Exhaled.

Plan for the next three days:

"Snow day" at preschool.

Buy some fucking mittens.

Check up on raisin situation with pediatrician.

Dose Sadie with monster pill.

Treat scratches/bites I am sure to receive.

Babysit equally tired and frazzled mama friend's kids Thursday.

Have dinner with other tired, frazzled friends Thursday night.

Flake on Thursday night dinner plans Thursday afternoon.

Pick Mike up Friday morning.

Turn 31 on Saturday.


From The Mouths of My Babes


The girls and I just returned from a six day SoCal extravaganza. I'm happy to be home - the girls don't sleep well when we're away, and when they don't sleep, I don't sleep, since we share a room at my parents' house. And we all really missed Sadie, too - I swear, she's grown noticeably in just six days. But it's always so hard to say goodbye to our family. No visit is ever long enough. I miss them already.

We flew down to visit with my brother, Wyatt, who has just returned from his first Marine deployment (he was in Asia). It was so good to see him (and speaking of growing, guess who's seriously buff now?). We had a fun, relaxing time. I forgot to take my camera, and missed countless adorable moments with the great grandparents, the Saint Bernard puppy and the uncles, but I stored the verbal highlights of the trip here in the Simm card of my brain.

Hazel to Violet, on the flight down, really, really loudly
"Violet, sit like a lady, so everyone can't see YOUR VAGINA!"

Violet, to me, while knocking on Uncle Kyle's bedroom door, sadly:

"Unca Ky-ah, wuk. Home tsoon?" Translation: Uncle Kyle's at work. Is he coming home soon? Note: Longest sentence ever!

Hazel, to me, on the flight home, really, really loudly:

"Mama, are toots hiccups in our BUTTS?"

Violet, to no one in particular:

"'Adie, home. Mitt huh." Translation: Sadie's at home. I miss her.

Hazel, to me, about Violet's outfit:

"She looks like a happy elf waitress!" Note: An inspired description of Vi's outfit, indeed. I'll wash it and post a pic soon.