Why Can’t We Be Friends (Or at Least Pretend)

A while back CityMama wrote about mom judging. (I can’t find the post. We might want to think about a way to search the archive now that we are so prolific). I remembering writing some comment that was like “I don’t believe this is really a thing” (which is judgy and invalidating in and of itself—I can see that now). I was trying to make the point that my group of mom (and a few dad) friends are very welcoming and supportive even though we are all pretty different. I thought mom judging didn’t really exist because I hadn’t really experienced it.

Until this spring when I was judged online and in a public place by strangers. In each instance I didn’t know the mom and I think that detail paved the path for acceptable judgment.

The first offense happened online. I saw a family member post a water bead Pinterest craft. Since Calvin spend two days in the hospital to the tune of $12,000 I have been on a bit of a crusade against water beads.

This is what I wrote:
“I usually don’t put cautions on blast, but Cal spent 2 days in the hospital last month after eating these water beads. They really aren’t safe for kids. They look like food and since they absorb water they grow and grow if ingested. Although technically ‘non-toxic” they can cause obstructions that can require surgery. If you want a tactile bead try edible tapioca pearls instead. PSA over.”

Then a person I didn’t know replied:
“It is all about knowing your kid. If you have a kids that is still in the phase of eating everything then you are right this isn’t a good choice. You have to know your kid and make a choice from that information.”

She called my kid getting extremely ill “my choice.” Twice. I would never say this to a friend. Or to someone’s face. And that should be the rule of thumb. I fumed about this for days. I even wrote a reply all about being less condescending, and about how sharing information is the only way we can learn to be good mothers, but I never sent it because ultimately I don’t know this person and getting into online fights is a bad move for me. But it still makes me made because I felt called out and judged by a stranger who was able to throw their shade for the exact reason I felt forced to hold my tongue: we don’t know each other.

A few weeks later we were swimming at the pool. Both kids were in the water and I was keeping an eye on Ellis who can be on his own with a swimmy and Calivn who can’t. It was a zero entry pool and Cal stumbled in 18 inches of water. His face went under water and while I took the two steps over to him a nearer mom picked him up out of the water. He was startled, but not drowning. I was grateful for the village working the way it should in a public space. My kid trip in water, you picked him up. Thank you. I would have done the same. What I never would have done was return to my pod of mom friends and start talking about the other mom while pointing. I was stunned. Again a stranger did what you would never do to a friend. Talk about them and point at them. I felt embarrassed and judged. It really felt like an indictment on my mothering.

So here is my plea. It is time to start treating all moms like we are friends. If you wouldn’t say whatever you are tempted to say to your friends face, then don’t say it. A revision of the golden rule that we need if this broader village is going to function in friendship instead of hostile judgment.

Fire Drill

Fire season is a thing here in SoCal. I recently learned that it isn’t a defined set of months, but that it varies year to year based on when the fire departments staff up to handle the extra wildfire demands of our climate.

We’ve all heard that naturally occurring wildfires need to happen. And, I believe it. I took an environmental studies class during my semester in Australia and we spent a lot of time learning about plants that don’t seed unless the heat of a fire causes them to do so. Still, the horrid conditions of our draught and the carelessness of people leads to more fires than we care to see here on the west coast. Add to that the booming population butting right up against forest lands and it’s a recipe for disaster.


We live far enough away from open space that it’s not a threat to our home, but the air quality and conditions impact us all. Last week when my parents were visiting, we actually had to scoot out of Hollywood early because a fire along a freeway was spelling imminent traffic nightmares.


This weekend, we woke on Saturday to find that a small fire that had started Friday night had monstrously ballooned thanks to overnight winds. The picture above is the sky outside our house on Saturday morning. That same fire is still burning and the avid hiker in me is sad about the after effects and what it will mean for the foliage, plants and trails.

IMG_6718After quickly cleaning up the effects of the windstorm at our place, we dashed back inside to escape the bad air quality and the blazing heat of the weekend. Much like a snow day, we had to manage Luke and his need to get out energy in the best way possible.

We cuddled up and watched movies, which is something he’s only recently begun to sit through.

We did crafts. (Nothing like sharing our obsessions early.)IMG_6722IMG_6724

Eric made a second round of fish tacos with a spicy pablano cream sauce that I’ve been craving like crazy.IMG_6726

And, we made homemade Popsicles thanks to a mold I found at Ikea for just $1.99. Recipe here.


All in all I’d still call the day a win. But, I’m hoping it’s not something we have to do too much more of this year. On the scale of problems from the fire, I’d take ours every time because I know it’s a lucky break compared to those whose homes were lost.

How’s the weather where you are Country Mama? Hot and muggy?

In the Knit of Time

Two of my favorite people are pregnant right now. City Mama and Michelle. They both are choosing to be surprised at the birth and wait to find out the sex. And they both happen to be excellent knitters. Both factors up the pressure on my customary baby knit.

I LOVE knitting for babies. I usually make a blanket, but I have made everything from sweaters, to mobils to stuffed animals. For two of my best knitting mamas I wanted to make beautiful small car seat blankets.

I have gifted both of the blankets so I am excited to be able to share them here now.


City Mama I made my favorite “rainbow” blanket for you. This is my favorite blanket for a boy or a girl because it has all the colors and it is bright! There is nothing babyish about this blanket, but it goes with everything. I made this blanket for a friend and every time I saw it I was envious, which was silly. So I made one for Cal too. I also love that this blanket is a sweet reminder of your rainbow baby (a baby after the storm of loss). The honeycomb pattern is also very similar to the interlocking cowl we made together a few years ago.

For Michelle I wanted to create something vegan (since Michelle is) so I choose linen and something that incorporated Michelle and Nukes wedding fabric. I had the honor of marrying Michelle and Nuke last year and they did one of the coolest things I have ever seen at a wedding. They asked all of the guests to create elements of their outfits using a coordinating fabric, so at the wedding everyone kind of matched in their own special way. I had yards of fabric left over and I wanted to back the blanket with this sentimental fabric. This blanket is knit from the outside in so the cast on is 800+ stitches, but it gets faster as you go.

I can’t wait to meet these babies in the next few months. I have had so much fun preparing for them.

California Scheming

Having never owned a home, I couldn’t understand when designers would talk about living in a space for a while prior to designing it. That always seemed like such willpower for a compulsive, impulsive person like me. But, I’m finding that I don’t really have too much choice because we’re so busy keeping up with life and Eric’s new business that time is passing faster than ever. However, this has meant that we’re able to really think through the design and furniture choices that we’re making, save up for them and price them out/get coupons/shop around.

For instance, we originally thought we wanted to order a new mattress set before we moved and have the mattress delivered on move in day. Yeah, that didn’t happen. But, after shopping around and saving up, we got a new sleep number bed during July 4th weekend and saved about a third of what we had originally planned to spend on it. (Sidestory: We’ve had the bed about a week now and I have to say, I’m becoming a big fan. Eric is happiest sleeping on the ground and I prefer to be so cushioned inside the bed that it’s basically impossible to tell if I’m lying in it or not.)

Back to the matter at hand…we really have two “immediate” needs that we have to address and everything else can be slowly parceled out over the months ahead.

The first is an indoor dining table (We have a gigantic outdoor eating space, which, being California we can use 99% of the time). Here’s a look at how the prior owners had the dining room styled.


We have a tiny dining room table that originally belonged to Eric’s parents. I actually love the turned wood pedestal, but the chairs have seen better days and we’re long overdue for an upgrade. This is our table, set for a summer party we hosted this weekend that was a combo housewarming/birthday/meet my parents/hang in the pool:


Also, gratuitous pic of Luke and I, more at my friend Ellen’s blog.


Anyway, we regularly have house guests and often have dinner guests…and with our growing brood, having more indoor seating is a must. I think I’ve looked at every furniture store in existence plus spend some time on Craigslist and I’m just not seeing anything that really captures what we want. Probably because I’m not that current or stylish but no one seems to be selling what I’m looking for.

I happened along Pinterest plans that Eric and I both like that he thinks he can easily accomplish and – hopefully – will come in substantially less than what we originally estimated paying for this piece of furniture.b8b85328d582a9ec972b75e9240567bd


This seems like a good place to interject a life theory that Eric and I talk about a lot. There are three ways people want things – fast, cheap, and convenient. And, you can usually only ever get two of the three things. So, we will have discussions about is this is fast, cheap purchase…probably going to pay more for it. Are we going to take our time? Then we can probably save some money on it. Anyway, hopefully these projects will fall into the cheap and convenient category because it definitely seems like it might be easier to drop some dollars and just get something delivered later today 😉

The second project is likely going to take time and thought as well. When you walk into the house, you’re smack in the middle of the living room which opens out to the deck/pool. It looks awesome but it’s really tricky to arrange furniture around because the room is long and large.


And even in this picture (with the arrangement that the sellers had) doesn’t capture an additional 3-4 feet of further to the right before you get to the kitchen wall which is just dead space otherwise.

Our end goal is a combination of these two pins, placed on left wall of the picture above:

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And, I love it for many reasons:

  • Our living room space is large with no great focal point and this both creates the focal point and shortens to room
  • It gives us great toy storage behind doors for when we’re hosting
  • Space for the TV
  • Custom to fit a space that an entertainment unit may or may not fill

I’m excited that we’ve landed on looks and design direction that feel right for us instead of forcing something that doesn’t feel quite right just to have it finished. Hopefully we are able to squeeze these projects in over time but until then, our house is really starting to feel like home.

How about you Country Mama, I’ve been seeing some great pins about kitchen inspiration coming from you…any remodel planning on your horizon?

Growing Up and Showing UP

Happy Birthday my friend.

Remember that day in our Writer’s in Print and Person class when we turned to each other (relative strangers at that point) and hatched a plot to go to the beach? We were on the road later that day if I remember correctly (quite a feat for teenagers without a car). We locked in our friendship that night when you let me cut your hair in the bathtub of the Tropicana.

Less than a year later we were fleeing DC again, this time to the safety of your hometown when things got too scary after 9/11. You introduced me to the delicacies of fair food. I haven’t forgotten the genius of waffles and ice cream.

I got to spend another first with you when your sweet husband crafted a 30th birthday surprise 4 years ago and Ellis and I got to watch his first fireworks with your family in PA.

I think the mark of true friendship is just being there. At this point we have amassed 16 years of these little and big moments. And “there” doesn’t always mean physical presence.

You have picked up the phone when you knew I was sending out a mayday signal. We have shared countless emails about the big hard things and silly texts about the small things.

I especially love how this blog has become a space for us to connect over the past year-and-a-half. Writing and reading the blog has been a great way to be there for each other. (It is worth it just for the “behind the blog” email we end up sending privately now).

Since our very first encounter you have shown up for me. You are a fantastic shower upper.

I am looking forward to another great year of connecting in print and person.


Changing Tides

I never expected my child to find a home away from home at his daycare.

Since he was six months old, Luke has been under the care of a team who has taught him, trained him and loved him as much or more than we have. He has classmates who have been in his room since he started and I am as invested in their growth, milestones and accomplishments as I am my own child’s. I consider them nieces and nephews of sorts that I want to see flourish and succeed.

The sad news is that with the countless opportunities and benefits our new home have afforded us, it means moving Luke away from his daycare. Even though we moved nearly two months ago, we felt that keeping his daycare consistent during the transition would be crucial. Officially, our contract expires at the end of August. But, our little man is now about to verbalize his discontent and his sweet voice asking to get out of the car, asking to walk instead of drive and singing to himself while we battle roughly two hours of traffic has taken its toll.

Most of the time, I make decisions in about 3.5 minutes. My success-to-error ratio coupled with the time I’ve saved in the course of my life has vastly solidified in my mind that this method is what works for me. But, in a marriage, especially when it comes to kids, my opinion is decidedly not the only one that matters. Eric’s thorough, contemplative approach to decision making has saved me time and again. While I used to fight it, I now really value it. This time though, I’m struggling and analyzing in a way that isn’t my nature. We’ve had to make a decision and it’s a great option — an option that, were it presented to us two years ago, would have made us delighted. But, it’s hard to leave something you love.

We’ve been researching daycares for a few weeks. There are exponentially more options in our new neighborhood. Not only in terms of more locations, but all of the locations have availability. When we first found our current daycare, we prayed and waited for a spot and luckily it didn’t take them long to fit us in.

I’m trying, hard, to focus on the benefits of the new daycare instead of seeing the things that are not necessarily better or worse but just different. I know my child will be happy, safe and learning while he’s there. I know he’ll love walking down the street in the morning — and dad and I will too–instead of hoping in the car. He’ll love the theme weeks. If we want, they will also have space for the baby when it comes time for me to go back to work. It will be good for Luke to meet new kids in the neighborhood that will eventually be in his school and, as an added plus, we’ll be saving bundle on the tuition thanks to the area having a cheaper cost of living.

My mom has assured me that this is a part of parenting. As your child is forced to move on, so are you. Maybe it’s the extra hormones from the pregnancy or all the transition in our lives, but I get teary every time I think about him saying good bye. Or about how he won’t remember all the fun he had there with people who took such great care of him. I guess this really is part of growing up.