Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Boys and girls


I've been thinking a lot about boys and girls. While staying with D's dad we found ourselves watching the news, something we don't really do at home. There was a segment that talked about an Indian actor named Aamir Khan (the "Tom Cruise of India") and how he decided to use his celebrity to start a talk show that dealt with some of India's most controversial but important social issues. One of the first episodes of his show was about the horrible and heartbreaking practice of female foeticide, act of aborting a fetus because it is female. This is a huge problem in India, to the point where sonograms to reveal the sex have been outlawed. Sadly, this law is not well enforced and there are stories of woman being forced to abort their babies due to the baby's gender. What fascinates me the most is the social implications. There are apparently villages of men of marrying age who cannot find wives due to the lack of women. But, even though they are living with the consequences of showing preference for male children, if they do get married they will want that little boy.

As a mother of a daughter I can't imagine not wanting my little girl. But, I live in a different culture. And as I think about the preferences of many Indian's for boys, I'm wondering if in the US we're seeing a subtle but present preference for little girls? I read this article over a year ago but what stayed with me is the lengths it described some families as going to in order get their little girl. And more recently this article was about yet another woman desperate for the daughter she imagines will relate to her and share her interests. Among the families I know I feel there is desire for girls. I have a member of my family who was very disappointed finding out her first child would be a boy, and a good friend who wanted a girl so badly she feels she willed her daughter into existence.

Of course this is the perspective of women I know (I know much fewer men who have stated a preference for a gender). But I wonder if other people are seeing this trend. It's hard for me to relate. I really had no preference for what gender our little one would be. I believe that either gender have their wonderful qualities and of course every child is also different. I assumed I'd be able to connect and hopefully share interests with my children regardless of their gender. If we are lucky to have a second child, it would be fun to have a boy. I'd enjoy seeing how raising a boy would be different from raising a girl. I'd love to see my husband pass on the values of being a good man to him. But, if we had another girl wouldn't is also be fun to see how my daughters would be different from each other? Or watch the kind of relationship they would form as sisters (something I didn't have).

The good news is I know that all parents love their children and even if they have desires or expectations, whatever their children end up being there is always lots of love there.

Image via.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!



Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays from a very cold and snowy Michigan. The song in the above video is one that's been rattling aorund in my head a lot this Christmas. I always love thinking  about the Southern hemisphere Christmases that take place in the middle of summer. Hopefully we'll get back to Africa one Christmas soon ans spend the holiday drinking white wine in the sun.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas traditions


This is D and mine's seventh Christmas together and we've managed to develop some of our own Christmas traditions. These are things that make the holiday feel like Christmas to us. We don't always get to enjoy all of them due to travel and such, but we do what we can to keep up the Christmas spirit:
  • Christmas cookies: This is one I got from my dad's family. My grandmother would always make sugar cookies, and then we'd do epic decorating sessions. And when I say epic I mean paintbrushes were involved. My dad even used tweezers one year to individually place sprinkles. The funny thing is that the recipe I think just came from the side of a Crisco can, but they are our cookies and we try to do them each year.
  • Norwegian meatballs: This one came from D's family. His mother's family is Norwegian so one of their family recipes are these delicious little meatballs. The first Christmas D and I spent together we made the recipe for a pot luck with our neighbors and they were a huge success. Since then, they've become a Christmas staple.
  • Eggnog: It's just not Christmas without a little eggnog and brandy :)
  • Opening presents one-at-a-time:  We like to hand out gifts slowly and watch people open each one. I've spent Christmas with families where everyone opens presents all at once and I found it chaotic, and over so quickly. Spacing it out means every gift can be enjoyed and appreciated.
  • Watching Elf: This is our favorite Christmas movie. It's feel good, appropriate for all ages, and everyone seems to like it. Increase the fun by using the bonus features after the movie is finished to do a carol sing-a-long.
And spending Christmas with each of my parents means a different thing. With my mom, there are always Christmas crackers and therefore everyone is in little paper crowns. With my dad, he's all about getting everyone (adults included) toys as presents. This means Christmas day is usually spent playing with things like little remote helicopters or nerf guns.

What are your Christmas traditions?

Photo of the Pepper from our early Xmas this year with my mom.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wes Anderson's latest



This new trailer for Wes Anderson's latest film The Grand Budapest Hotel makes the film look fantastic. I do enjoy Wes Anderson films. He has such a definite style that sometimes I want to rebel against it because I feel his work gets derivative of itself. But, I find if I just give over to it I can really enjoy his movies. I of course loved the Royal Tenenbaums, and was very impressed with the Fantastic Mr. Fox. But his new movie looks like it could be my favorite yet. The cast is amazing, as showcased from the new trailer that put them front and center. Tilda Swinton as the old lady looks genius and I love when Willem Dafoe does comedy. Whatever you think of his films, you have to respect a guy that can encourage actors like Harvey Keitel to get out of their comfort zone. And having just written that I eel I realize what makes me like Wes Anderson's work: I get to see some of my favorite actors explore new and strange environments.

Having a baby does make it hard to go to movies, which is hard especially when there are so many good movies out there right now. But, I can practice patience and wait for them to be in iTunes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Favorites from around the web...


1. Though it's a little out there, I can totally imagine living in one of these.

2. The choreography in this video is stunning. Tells such a beautiful story, without the use of words.

3. A sweet story of friendship.

4. This made the rounds a lot on facebook over the last week. But it is very true and therefore very funny.

5. This really boils it down. I think I'm clear on my opinion now.

6. Being born and raised in California, I can say I'm guilty of regularly using about 75% of these

7. These are amazing.

8. This really put things in perspective. A good reminder to be grateful for everything we have.

9. I found this to be very well written and thought provoking.

10. As someone with horrible teeth (tons of cavities all the time), I need to try this!

Photo via. We leave today for Michigan. Wish us luck on our long red-eye journey!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My relationship to fitness


I wrote a little bit here about my lifestyle and how fitness plays a part. But it's definitely changed over the last year or so with the addition of the Pepper to our family. 

D was actually the one who got me to devote myself to regular exercise. When we met he was going to yoga regularly while I was just relying on my youthful metabolism to keep me in shape. After watching him leave the apartment to go workout enough times, I finally decided to join him. And I loved it. I also started talking to people and doing a little research. The amazing thing is that exercise helps the body in so many ways. Not only does it make you look good but it helps with depression, anxiety, sleep issues, stress, PMS, etc. I decided that I wanted to reap the benefits and so I committed to getting regular exercise. It helped that I thoroughly enjoyed yoga class, and that D and I were doing it together.

Over the years D tried to get me into running (not my thing), and we did a stint where we incorporated swimming into our fitness routine. But mostly it was yoga. I would go to yoga 4 times a week, and then 1 day a week I'd do some straight cardio usually using the machines at the gym. That means I was working out 5 days a week which sort of sounds like a lot. But I believe it was keeping me healthy, and my body responded. I started feeling stronger, and more flexible. It was worth the investment.

Well, after a few years of that I got pregnant. While pregnant I kept up with my workout schedule. I still went to yoga 4 days a week and the gym 1 day a week. But, my workouts were different. I was taking it easy so that my workout time became more about moving and stretching. I had a fairly easy pregnancy and I don't know how much was because I exercised, but I like to think it had something to do with it.

After the Pepper was born I waited the 6 weeks and then got the ok from my doctor to start exercise again. Luckily D supported me in this effort and would watch the baby while I went to a yoga class or quickly popped out to the gym. I knew it was important for me mentally and emotionally to take that time to myself to get the blood moving and reconnect with my body. Over the last 9 months it's been hard to keep up with the yoga from a schedule perspective. Since I work I hate to take time away from the Pepper to go to yoga. So, currently I try to go to the gym 2 times a week, and yoga 1 evening a week. It's not as much as I would like but I know it's still a good amount. 

For me, exercise and fitness is about more than how I look or if my heart is healthy, it's about helping my emotional state. Even if you do just a little bit to start I highly recommend finding something physical that you like to get those endorphins going ;)

Photo via.

Monday, December 16, 2013

My Crunchy Scale


I laughed when I saw this and it's because it captures something so true about being a parent: the way you navigate talking about parenting techniques with other parents.

Based on Amber's post, I'd say I'm about a 3 on the crunchy scale. Which makes me not really that crunchy I guess :) We don't have a stroller so I  dobaby wear with a ring sling, we make our own baby food, we limit screen time, try to buy natural products, and we use a cloth diaper/disposable hybrid. But we also allow plastic toys, we supplemented with formula after a few months, and I didn't have a natural birth (epidural!), amongst other things.

There are so many ways to parent. There are a lot of choices to make based on lifestyle, priorities, work, availability. And parents can be very protective of their choices. Maybe it's because we love our kids so much that we need to believe that our choices are what's best for them. But, the result is that when you're a new parent, it can be awkward to discuss your choices with other parents. You don't want to feel judged, and you also don't want to judge others. So, you try not to engage in touchy or controversial subjects until you know someone well and know you're on the same page.

It's a funny thing, you want to connect with other parents (members of your new tribe!). But you need to approach with caution and find "your people". I feel lucky that the moms I know are open and even if we have taken different approaches, we support each others choices. Because we do all need support.

Photo via

Friday, December 13, 2013

The technology balance


I'm always trying to find the right balance of technology in my life. And now that I have the Pepper, being balanced in my technology use feels crucial since I know I'm now modeling behavior for her. It comes up a lot for D and I. When the Pepper is playing on her play mat, I could quickly check instagram, but what I know is good for me (and her) is to sit there and be in the moment. And what about photos? When should I enjoy the experience and when should I get my phone and take a photo to remember it by?

This recent article made me think of something I heard George Clooney say in an interview. He was talking about how fan interactions have changed over the last decade or so. Before, what fans wanted to have with him was an interaction. They wanted to shake his hand, have him acknowledge them, speak to him. These days, what fans want is to snap a picture. They have a short period of time to have a moment with one of their favorite celebrities, and they spend it trying to get the best camera-phone pic. And to me, that seems to be a lot less than a real memory.

I hate to admit that I have to work to prioritize real experiences over the virtual ones waiting for me on my phone or computer. I hate to admit how addicting that instant gratification of a new post on facebook or a comment on instagram is. But I try and I mostly succeed in finding a balance I'm comfortable with. Because I know its important. Not only for myself but as an example for my little one. As technology continues to change though it could get harder and harder. I just need to remember to be in the moment.

I can't figure out where this awesome photo of Charles and Ray Eames is  from. If anyone knows please drop me a note.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Cards?


Do you send out Christmas cards? I never have. When I was younger I felt I didn't need to since my mother's epic holiday news letter made me feel that everyone heard from me. And even when D and I got married and formed our own family unit, I still didn't feel the urge. But now that we have the Pepper, I'm regretting not putting something together this year. I can't explain this sudden urge to participate in this tradition. What is it about having a child that makes me want to share? Maybe it's knowing that she'll change so much between this year and next and wanting to document that somehow. Maybe it's feeling the need for holiday traditions. Whatever it is, I think I'll have to find a way to schedule it into my holiday prep next year.

Then the question becomes, photo or newsletter format? I like the idea of both having a picture but also sharing family news. Though making it also concise is a challenge. At least I have plenty of time to figure it out :)

Update: the night after i wrote this post I had a dream I received hundreds of Christmas cards in the mail.

Photo via.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Favorites from around the web...


1. What I love about this is that it highlights how something so profound can occur so unexpectedly. I never thought of this part of space exploration before.

2. And to go along with the first one, these are a wonderful look at our world from a rarely seen perspective.

3. I'm not sure what the technology landscape will look like when the Pepper is older, but this is both interesting and disturbing.

4. This is funny because it is true.

5. This actually seems spot on. I'm a 5, D is a 7, the Pepper is a 4.

6. Love Actually is one of our favorite holiday movies, so I'm very tempted to try this.

7. This is such a fascinating phenomenon. It's interesting how these "fads" come and go.

8. This makes me think of how our modern world is changing the natural paths of our environment.

9. I so want to make myself one of these!

10. And while we're not at the pick eater phase, I just know there is truth in this hilarious story.

Photo via. I've always wanted to do my hair pink but now that I have a corporate job it's not really an option.

The art of the imperfect


As a new blogger I'm exploring this new medium and one of the things I think about is what and how much of my life to share. Recent blog posts by Sydney and Joy have me reflecting on this. One of the reasons I decided to blog was to feel part of the community of female bloggers. These posts by fellow moms are a perfect example.

What I got from these posts is that everyone struggles. We may not share all the details of our lives, and we may not talk about the darker times, as those are usually the most intimate. But these other woman have full lives as mothers, wives, friends, daughters, sisters, while also working in one way or another. The same things I try to balance in my life. And of course there is the time we all need for ourselves! There are days when I feel I am succeeding. And there are others when I feel I've gotten things completely wrong. Most days are somewhere in the middle.

I love being a wife to my husband. I love being a mom to my daughter. I hold my friendships very dear. And I value family. I appreciate taking time to myself (something that helps me deal with stress). I also enjoy working and being able to support my family. I try to focus on the enjoyment of these things in the moments I'm in them, and not think about what I'm missing while I'm focused on one and not the other.

When the Pepper was still very little, I spoke to a dear friend recently after I went back to work about the guilt of not being with her more. My friend, another working mom, said that guilt was just going to be part of things now. But, she also assured me that I was doing a great job and that even though I was going to feel guilt, it wasn't something I needed to feel. It was so understanding and accepting and honest. When I have moments of doubt I think back to that conversation, and to all the women struggling to find balance in their lives.

Friday, December 6, 2013

LACMA: An LA favorite

Walking through the Urban Light exhibit

This last weekend we visited one of my favorite places in Los Angeles: LACMA. It's a wonderful museum that has so much to offer, especially for a family with a little one. The Pepper loved it! We started the day with lunch (and drinks) at Ray's, a restaurant and bar with lovely outdoor seating. One of the best parts was that they have lounge seating so we were able to secure a nice big couch for the Pepper to crawl all over and roll-around on. She even flirted with some older boys (5 year olds) that were eating with their family on the other side of the couch.


This installation is something I knew would be fun for everyone. At first the Pepper was a little overwhelmed by being surrounded by all the long yellow things. But she then embraced it and walked all the way through to the other side.


The elevator at the BCAM (modern art wing) of LACMA is pretty amazing. It's huge! And a bit slow. But at least they give you something interesting to look at while you wait.


I'm a Richard Serra fan and it's always a treat to get to walk around this piece. I love that the museum gave it it's own gallery as the it allows you to enjoy the space and movement that Serra was exploring.


After exploring some more galleries we of course had to take a walk under the infamous Levitated Mass. I personally find this piece a little underwhelming but from eavesdropping on other visitors many people do get a thrill from walking underneath such a large suspended object.


It was such a lovely day. And we only experienced a small part! I want to come back for the James Turrell exhibit before it's over, and revisit the Medieval art collection which I haven't see in years. And we didn't have time to visit the Calder sculptures on this trip. But we'll certainly be back soon!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

My thoughts on the "post-baby body"


I've seen a number of articles on the web lately about post-baby bodies. There seems to be a trend of woman posting their amazing looking post-baby bodies, and then a wave of discussion about if it's fair or if it's fat-shaming. I don't know how I feel about the trend. But I can share how I think about the female body during the changes it goes through when creating, birthing, and then nurturing a baby.

The way the body handles pregnancy and then post-partum differs for everyone. There really are 2 factors that contribute: genetics and lifestyle. One you have no control over, the other (to be honest) you have minimal control over once you also have a baby to take care of. I suppose medical issues would be considered a 3rd factor though not having experienced that I won't touch on it. To speak to genetics...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What determines success?



I enjoy reading the Free Range Kids blog written by Lenore Skenazy. While I try to to subscribe to one parenting philosophy, I like a lot of the principles of Free Range Kids. It's basically anti-helicopter parenting. It's about trusting your kids abilities, and not letting fear dictate how we parent. It's about teaching kids responsibility and self reliance. I feel I was raised this way and some of my fondest memories are of when I was alone and exploring. The Pepper is still young so I can't say yet how I'll feel as she gets older, but I will try to hold onto these principles and help them guide the choices I make as her parent.

This recent post on Lenore's blog caught my eye. A woman was questioning her free range parenting choices. She seemed to feel that kids who were helicopter parented were "succeeding" over her kids. Getting better grades, getting into good colleges, getting jobs. This questioning distressed me and I was prompted to add a comment which Lenore highlighted in it's own post today. What I wrote was:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Discovering blue cheese

I've never been a blue cheese fan. But lately I've discovered that even if it's not something I enjoy on it's own, it's a wonderful addition to a recipe. It adds a great little tang. Plus, it's always nice to do something a little different.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Favorites from around the web...


1. These kids portraits are beautiful. I love the simplicity of incorporating flowers.

2. This reminded me how much I love the movie Good Will Hunting.

3. I wonder what modern day derby dolls would think of this.

4. As an Art History major, I thought these were funny and also sort of accurate.

5. I normally don't go for this sort of thing, but this had me laughing out loud. His laugh is so genuine!

6. So intrigued by this that I went out and bought one. I love the look of lipstick but find it to hard to maintain. Maybe this will be my answer!

7. My mom is from Zimbabwe so I appreciate this refresher!

8. This is a wonderful way to have architecture interact with the vastness of the desert.

9. This plant (and story!) would be a nice addition to our home. I have to see if I can find any in LA.

10. Yummy. And fun!

Photo via. How I felt after a wonderful 4 day holiday.