Archive for April, 2010

A Single Moment

April 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm 2 comments

Progress Report

Thought I’d update you on both going vegetarian in today’s post.  This is how cute a town I live in.  I mention on the blog that we’re going vegetarian and some good townsperson leaves 3 vegetarian cookbooks on our porch while we’re out lollygagging around.  Thank you, nice neighbor person.  Let me know who you are so I can return them in due time!  In the meantime, oh, such good ideas!

I’ve been asked what our parameters are for going vegetarian.  My hope was to not eat fish or eggs (in addition to the other vegetarian no nos like red meat, pork, and chicken) but I am not sure that I am brave enough to bake without eggs.  I was, at first, but then my friend Nikki (read her fabulous food blog here) walked me through why eggs are important in recipes (while giving me good advice about how to try to cook without them) and I got a little nervous.  So, eggs in baked goods are okay for now.  And dairy.  Dairy is a yes.  So dairy and eggs are yeses.  Fish is a no.  And the other rule is that I will not ask anyone to cook differently for me so whether it is book club or extended family dinner night, whatever is served is what I will happily eat. 

So what have I been eating the last few days? 

Monday’s breakfast was yogurt, Go Lean Crunch, and berries.  Snack was string cheese (because I stole it out of Happy’s bag).  Lunch was white bean, diced tomato and tortellini soup (made with vegetable broth which did not at all compromise the taste) and a salad of romaine leaves, artichoke hearts, avocado, carrots, cucumber, and goat cheese.  Afternoon snack was a piece of toffee (yeah, I know,  but I had to go to the PostNet right next to the chocolate shop and I totally support local businesses.  It was for them, not me).  Dinner was black bean and corn tortilla pie (We love this recipe).

Tuesday’s breakfast was the same as Monday’s.  Snack was an apple.  Lunch was black bean and corn tortilla pie and watermelon.  Snack was spinach and artichoke dip with pita chips.  Dinner was spinach ravioli casserole and green beans. 

Wednesdays breakfast was oatmeal.  Snack was an orange.  Lunch was the last of the white bean, diced tomato and tortellini soup and edamame.  Snack was white bean dip with pita chips.  Dinner was cheese pizza (it was pizza night with friends) and the same salad from Monday.

The cookbooks I am perusing these days are Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, Top 100 Finger Foods: 100 Recipes for a Healthy, Happy Child, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, The New Moosewood Cookbook, and Veganomicon.

Our vegetarian time coincides perfectly with the opening of the local famer’s market this Saturday.  My plan is to go there, shop for what’s appealing, and then come up with next week’s menu based on what I find.  I’ll definitely share any recipes worth trying!

April 28, 2010 at 8:42 pm 2 comments

It’s never about you

I am wrapping up my fourth semester of teaching in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  Teaching this seminar on body image has solidifed for me a few things that I felt were true regarding body image and self-awareness before I started teaching.   Item # 1 on that list:  It’s never about you.

You have a mother who laments your weight all of the time- no matter your size.  You can be at your thinnest and certainly, she feels, you could do better.  You could be at your heaviest, and she definitely lets you know it (because, for whatever reason, she has convinced herself that there’s no way you noticed on your own).  She says, “You would be so much happier if you just lost twenty pounds.”  The translation?  She would be so much happier if you just lost twenty pounds, but the truth is she won’t be.  Until she’s happy within herself, she’ll never be happy. 

Here’s the thing.  When people choose to offer commentary about your appearance, it is never about you.  It is about them, about the thing that paralyzes them, about the story they have told themselves, about the narrative they are choosing to live. 

“How can this be true?”  A thin, tall student asked me last semester, tears presssed into the corner of her eyes.  “A guy I worked with last night told me that I was too skinny.  That he could never find me attractive because of how skinny I am.   How can that be about him?” 

I turn to her, tenderly assessing her tears, hoping she’ll understand so that his words won’t wound her so badly anymore.  Just as I can’t wish away weight, she can’t wish it onto her reedy frame.

“What are you too skinny for?”  I ask her. 

“For him to think I am beautiful,” she answers, wondering if I have gone mad and missed her earlier explanation.

“That’s right, honey.  For HIS definition of beauty.  For HIS understanding of things.  He’s the one that has made it a rule to see beauty in just that one way.  He is the one incapable of admiring anything outside of the beauty box of his understanding.  He is the one that feels that beauty has to have such a narrow, unrealistic definition.  Not you.”

Her mouth forms a sudden O.  She gets it.  

Each semester, this adage is tested.  But always, we come back to the fact of it.  When someone tells you that you are not enough because of your hair, your eyes, your weight, your height, she is judging you based on what she believes to be true, what she has prioritized, what insecurities she nurses. 

It’s never about you.  I promise.  And I hope you’ll remember that.

April 27, 2010 at 7:46 pm 3 comments

Close your doors, people.

A year ago today, we discovered an intruder in our house.  A stinky, slick intruder under the baby’s bed.  Of all the things I have blogged about in the last 3 years, this is the most read post.  Evidently, hundreds of people entire black rat snake in a search engine every week and, thus, get directed to this blog entry.  Many of you are new readers and so I thought I’d share the intruder story just so that I can be certain that you have had the public service announcement that you should close your doors.  And just so you know, BF’s commitment to close our door lasted all of three days. 
the black rat snake

the black rat snake

If you had asked me last week if I am scared of snakes, I would have told you that I wasn’t the kind of person to go running from a snake (well, unless my life was endangered).  And there is evidence of this— I have been around snakes in the past without absolutely freaking out.  But then this weekend happened, and, as it turns out, I am the type of person to go running from a snake, even if my life is not endangered.

Here’s the story:  We have four enormous oak trees in our yard, and BF is obsessed with picking up all the crap they drop every weekend year round (which, by the way, is totally fine by me as I have zero interest in picking up anything they drop and they drop a crap load of stuff). 

oak flower collected after just 2 minutes of sweeping the driveway

oak flower collected after just 2 minutes of sweeping the driveway

As he does this, he comes in and out of the house– getting water, changing his sweat-drenched shirt, etc.  You might recall that BF and I set resolutions for each other at the beginning of this year.  The resolution that I set for him?  Shutting the door. 

So on Sunday afternoon, BF was hard at work on his yard project, and baby was hanging with him in the front yard.  I thought I would use the time to do a little laundry in baby’s room.  Just as I rounded the corner into baby’s room, I happened to look down rather than keep my gaze at eye level.  And what do you know?  There is a snake crawling underneath baby’s crib.  A long, black snake. 

So, what did our heroine do?  Well, she ran out of the house like Phoebe in Friends.  Screaming at the top of her friggin’ lungs. I kid you not.  I know some of you don’t KNOW me, but, seriously, running out of the house like Phoebe screaming at the top of my lungs is so not me.  I am more of the I Can Rescue Me type.  Or so I thought. 

Anyway, in the yard, I found BF who asked why I was yelling. 

“There’s a snake under baby’s bed,” I screamed.  And he looked at me like I was hallucinating. 

“Can you get it?”  Then he looked at me like I was crazy.  Because BF– though he does not look like it– is the kind of person who would run away from a snake screaming, and he’s the first to tell you that. 

“No, I can’t get it.”  So I cajoled BF over to the neighbors’ house.  Mike, Carly’s husband, was in the yard, and I heard BF say, “How are you about snakes?”  And Mike said, “Not good at all, but Carly doesn’t mind them.” 

Sure enough, Carly, who is equally gifted with cupcakes or raptors, came right on over to our house (in running clothes and shoeless!!!), marched into baby’s bedroom all by herself and when she didn’t see the snake, looked under the crib to find where it had coiled itself into its smallest shape in the corner, reluctantly took the running shoes I made her put on to protect her toes, moved the crib  by herself because I was standing on baby’s bathtub (with a camera) and BF couldn’t even be in the house, picked up the snake, identified what it was, and then moved it across the street after holding it up on display and telling us all about it in the yard (‘he wouldn’t have hurt the baby, Rosie, I promise.  He just wants to eat mice’).  That, my friends, is a steel magnolia.  And I am absolutely confident that she will be baby’s favorite person while he’s growing up.  As Carly nonchalantly went back to her own yard chores, I hollered out to her, “You cannot ever move away from us, Carly.”  She laughed like I was a funny girl, but I am even thinking about asking her to spend the night.  It’s going to be a long time before I can go barefoot again in this house, and I cannot even think about what would have happened had I not walked into baby’s room just at that moment to see the snake making its home under his crib.  Yikes!

Carly picks up the snake

Carly picks up the snake


Carly escorts the snake out


Carly talks snake while showing it to baby.

Carly talks snake while showing it to baby.


On another note, snakes occupy not one iota of my thinking and, yet, coincidentally, this morning, I wrote an article on summer safety tips and one line that is sticking out in my head now from it is “don’t reach blindly into spaces where snakes like to hide” as they often retreat in the summer to places where they can cool down.  It’s 90 degrees this weekend in NC, and Carly’s sure that Mr. Black Rat Snake wasn’t expecting it to go from 60 to 90 in a day and moved inside, with the help of our open door policy, to regulate his temperature.  Close your doors, people.  Put your shoes on.  And don’t reach blindly into spaces where snakes like to hide which, I will have you know, is everywhere.      

PS:  BF has now fully committed to closing the door.

April 26, 2010 at 5:02 pm 16 comments

You’d be so pretty if…

In the last few weeks, I’ve been moving through my to read shelf and I have one book that I want to share with you from a body image perspective. 

Dara Chadwick’s You’d Be So Pretty If: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies- Even When We Don’t Love Our Own starts “I grew up listening to my mom bemoan everything from the size of her thighs to the shape of her eyes.  So you can imagine my dismay the first time someone exclaimed, “You look just like your mother!”  

And if you think that is the only time where Chadwick’s words will flash recognition in your own mind, you’d be surprised.  With a mission to help mothers change the body image legacies their daughters inherit from them, Chadwick helps readers understand their own body image history while educating them on how they help the girls in their lives avoid a body image crisis.  It’s thoughtful, honest, and helpful and a great tool for moms who do not want to do to their daughters what was done to them.

April 25, 2010 at 7:35 pm 1 comment

I Got My Hair Did

Funny that Friday’s class is on Alterations to the Self.  We’ll be looking at the ways we alter our bodies (tattoos, piercings, weight lifting, steroids, hair dying, and CERTAINLY hair straightening) and how those things impact our body image.  I’ve had straight hair for the last 3 hours and I don’t know that I’ll feel any different than I usually do– right now, I just feel like I had my hair cut (because I always have my girl straighten my hair when I get it cut since I don’t have the patience or talent to do it myself).  It’ll be interesting to see if this process gives me manageable hair everyday and if it does then if and how that impacts how I feel about myself.  More on that later. 

For now, I’ll give you the play by play of the process. 

Woke up, showered, put some hair product in, actually got the diffuser out (I had forgotten that I owned one) so that I could dry my hair the RIGHT way and make sure that I was still down with the straightening (I was although when BF walked in and said, “Ah, I am going to miss the curls,” I faltered for a moment.  And then just wanted to smack him in the rump because, seriously, I’ve been having stress hair dreams for a week that I have told him about every morning and he choose TODAY- THE DAY- to tell me this.  I didn’t (smack him) and I didn’t change my mind)

Thus, I began my day with hair that looked like this…

So, I got to my appointment and my girl washed my hair with a Keratin clarifying shampoo that stripped my hair of any products that were on it and just got it down to the essence. 

Next, she dried it like she normally would and then she applied 2 oz of Keratin straightening product all over it (in small little sections) with the type of brush she would have used to paint hair color on if I were getting color done.


The product itself sorta smells like suntan oil (Bain de Soleil circa 1988.  Don’t use that stuff, though.  Use sunscreen).

So here is my hair all gooped with Keratin.  Then, she put a shower cap on it and I sat there to let the stuff soak in for 15-20 minutes. 

Next, she blew my hair out.  And this was the crazy thing.  There were flakes flying around and I was like, “Do I suddenly have the world’s worst case of dandruff?”  It turns out I don’t.  The product just does that as the hair is blown out for the first time.  And then it is done with that phase.

After the blow out, she divided my hair into 1/2 inche sections and flat ironed each section 5-7 times.  90 minutes after she started, she did the last section and I was no longer a curly girl. 

The end result…


So, here’s the company line from the Keratin folks…

This treatment will reduce curls by at least 80%, frizz by 100% and make one’s hair humidity resistant.  You can’t wash your hair for 3 days after you have the treatment done and you can’t put barrettes or pony tails in during that time either (I am going to be looking FLY come Sunday).  The treatment washes away over time so the less you wash your hair, the longer it will last.  And you have to use Keratin shampoo and conditioner to wash it (which came free with the treatment).  My hair dresser did her hair in the fall and took her about 4-5 months for her curls to come back and they came back un-frizzy and not quite as wild.   So, we’ll see what it looks like the first time I do it (although my very first experiment is going to be to just wash and go since that is my dream, really) and we’ll see what it looks like each month as the curls start making their way back.  I’ll definitely keep you posted.

*  Thanks to Poppy and BF for hanging with Happy so I could go get my hair did.  I appreciate both of you!

April 22, 2010 at 6:23 pm 6 comments

Random Bits


The little kid is making friends.  By force.  When we arrive somewhere friendly (the YMCA, a birthday party, etc but not Target) of late, he walks up to the people he doesn’t know, shakes their hand, hugs them, and then tries to coerce them  into holding hands with him.  This is cute at 20 months.  May not be so cute at 20.  Hopefully, this will wear off by then.  For now, I am loving it and thanking all the nice folks who play along with Happy’s grand friendship scheme. 

The veggies are in the ground, they are being watered, and we’re hoping that despite Happy and the neighbor dog who plays in our yard a lot with Lola, that we’ll still have something to harvest come June, July, and August.  We’ll see. 

I don’t get to do it all that often but I love putting Happy down for the night.  We read two books, I sing two songs, and he gets two kisses (one from each of the mamas in his life) and then as I rock him into relaxing, I just quietly compose a letter to his biological mama in my head, telling her how he is doing, sharing everything I wish for her to know about him in my heart.   Seriously, might be favorite parenting moment right there– it grounds me and reminds me of what a special gift we have. 

The hair straightening is today (Thursday).  I’ve had hair nightmares.  In one, Happy throws up on my head, and I can’t wash it for four days (this comes from the fact that they put keratin in your hair for the straightening and you can’t wash your hair the first four days).  Nice, eh?  Hope the real thing is less nightmarish.  More on that soon!

I’ve been doing a water running class at the Y that I love (as I have a self-diagnosed stress fracture in my foot.  I imagine I should go to the doctor for that, but as other mom’s know, it takes a village for a mom to get to the doctor and I am fairly certain that he’ll just tell me to stay off of it as much as possible so I am self-treating at home by always wearing my Danskos and water running instead of real running) and it makes me STARVING.  When I leave there, I want a McDonald’s hamburger (not a quarterpounder, just one of those lil’ burgers with the chopped onions and ketchup in ample supply).  I am fairly certain that is a counterproductive desire since I run to help my heart by healthy.  And I can’t help but wonder what I will be craving once I well into my vegetarian phase.   

The little kid is 34 inches tall.  That is more than half my height.  At almost 20 months.  Go little beanstalk, go!

April 21, 2010 at 9:08 pm 1 comment

Going vegetarian

As you know, one of the things that I am interested in doing this year is eating in a way that manifests and sustains my energy (because parenting the spirited child that is Happy requires a whole lot of energy) and improves my wellness.  I’ve tried to up my fruit and veggie intake and I am doing better with that but I am thinking that I might do even better with it if I spent a concentrated amount of time just eating vegetarian.  So I am going to do a vegetarian focus with my diet for two weeks.  On the other side of it, I am hoping that I’ll have learned more ways to eat a balanced diet and that I’ll also be inclined to go vegetarian more often than I do now just because I’ll be out of the mindset of thinking “meat and two sides” with my meals.  We do a fair amount of vegetarian now– I rarely eat meat for breakfast or lunch and we have at least 2 vegetarian dinners a week but this will just push the envelope a bit further.  This week, I’m doing lots of reading (although some of the books I wanted from the library are on a wait list) and planning to figure out the two week span (I am thinking about starting as early as this coming Monday) and the meals that I’ll make during that two week span.  BF and Happy can still have their normal diet (although Happy isn’t really all that interested in meat but he can still have what he wants which will likely include some egg and dairy like yogurt), but I’ll be making vegetarian dinners for myself and whoever wants to share them. 

Got any great vegetarian recipes to share? Advice to give?  Books to suggest?  Bring it on (especially recipes).  I’m filling up my head.

April 20, 2010 at 9:13 pm 6 comments

Yoga Homework Continued

Here’s the end of the yoga homework (ie: gratitude list for 2 more days) for the week…

Friday:  the awesome running mix one of my best friends from childhood sent to me (It had Widespread Panic and Young MC on it.  Thanks, Laura!), Happy’s shrieks of sheer joy when he heard Walkin’ on said CD- oh, I was shrieking with joy, too,  a frolicing good time at the playground with Happy, a McDonald’s hamburger for lunch (Jenny, I relented), great guest speakers in my class, great guest speakers for a Circle de Luz program, getting a big chunk of grading done, a really fabulous new dinner recipe that turned out perfectly, cracking open a new book, a great spring night   

Saturday:  planting veggies, the volunteers who make our Circle de Luz art class possible, jamming for the second day in a row in the car with Happy, sweet Carly the Cupcake Maker and Snake Wrangler coming over with vanilla bean, double chocolate, and choclate peanut butter cupcakes, Happy’s long nap, the sweet way Happy opens the door (from the confines of his crib and even though it has a knob guard on it) calls out MAMA! when he wakes up from his nap, too many good books to pick from, a great night reading on the porch with Lola at my feet, Puddin’- the dog next door- who is Lola’s new favorite playmate, the library  

What has made your gratitude list the last few days?

April 19, 2010 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

An homage to the curls

The high school years: when the curl was more loosely ringleted and reasonable

My sister tells this story of me as a little girl that I just love.  I am two years old and have a crazy tangle of curls lining my face, halo style.  I am the sweetest of kids (that might be my embellishment) who doesn’t cry or fuss or make demands.  The only time they ever see tears, they only time they ever see resistance from me is when someone pulls out a comb or brush.  With that, I cover my head with my two little hands and the tears start streaming. 

“No comb no hair, Mommy,”  I cry.  “No comb, no hair.” 

Little girl, more than 30 years later, I totally feel you. 

The college years: getting a little tighter (the humidity on this trip to Puerto Rico certainly helped)

My hair is a hot mess.  Not as hot a mess as it was when I came home from a month without conditioner in the Brazilian Amazon (my own version of Survivor).  I talked to one of my good friends half- way through the trip, and she asked if there was anything I needed for when I came home.  “Yes,” I told her, “a massage and a hair appointment.”  We went to the salon straight from the airport where my hairdresser gingerly cut out the dreads that my hair had curled itself into during our last week living on the river and swiming into work each day from the little boat that we lived on (I told you it was my own version of Survivor). 

This is the boat in Brazil. Not my curls.

So, it’s not that hot a mess.  But it is still a fairly hot mess.  Call it age, call it hormones, call it stress, call it short hair, whatever the cause is, my hair has just fallen apart.  It’s wholly unreliable.  And these days, where I shower and get ready mostly in the YMCA locker room (because that’s the one place I can work in a shower while my child is being watched), I need for my hair to be a little more reliable and a lot less maintenance.  

The post-college years: big on bottom, flat on top. I'm talking about my hair, people.

I guess I should be honest about my maintenance at this point.  It goes a little something like this: wash, condition (with sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, at least), comb, squeeze in product that may or may not be right for my hair, and go.  With this strategy, I knew my hair didn’t look great, but I certainly didn’t think it looked bad.  Turns out it looks bad.  Really bad.  How do I know this?  I saw video footage of it on a day that I would have said was an average and NOT a bad hair day.  Turns out, it wasn’t average.  It wasn’t even bad.  It was awful.  Ooops.   

In grad school: short and fun. And the whole reason, I thought it was safe to go back to short. Except, now, it's more like short and sad.

And so, while I had entertained the notion of straightening my hair before, I had resolved to NOT do it.  The fear of the unknown was a big deterent- I have never done anything to my hair and what if the absolute straightness was worse the erratic half-curly, half wavy, totally flat on top challenge of my hair now (but, seriously, after reading that descriptor, how can it be?).  And my curls are, in many ways, a manifestation of my personality– or they were, when they looked full and fun and not so sad and neglected.  When I saw the video, I thought, “there has to be an intervention” and I made the straightening appointment.      

With the babe on day one

When I made the appointment, my hairdresser was explicit with me,  “Look, you are going to need to DO your hair.  Yes, you won’t have frizz (could this possibly be true?), but you are going to need to put product in, you are going to need to use a blow dryer some, you have to TRY.”  So, I’ve been trying the last few days to get ready for the MANE event (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).  And you know what happens when I try?  I have the attention span and desire to do it for about 5 minutes and then I am done.  Done.  Done.   Which actually makes my hair look worse than if I didn’t do anything at all because it usually means the top layer of my hair is straight and the underside is curly (well, curly on one side and wavy on the other).  Hot mess, I tell you.  

The ultimate goal with the straightening is that I will get a grip on my hair.  Seriously, I am in my mid-30s.  I should know how to do my hair.  That little girl who cried No Comb, No Hair, Mommy certainly didn’t expect that this would be her battle cry for life.  And, yet, it has been.  It’s a bit absurd.  So I am taking over my hair, thank you very much, which means that I have to make it as easy for a girl- this girl- to do as possible.  The appointment’s on Thursday.  Hopefully, I’ll remember to take my camera to snap shots of the process along the way.

Peace out, curls.  I’ll miss you (I think).

April 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm 2 comments

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In a Bookstore Near You

What does it mean to be beautiful in America? For years, pop culture has insisted that beautiful women are tall, thin, and blonde. So what do you do if your mirror reflects olive skin, raven hair, and a short build? Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina offers a provocative account of the struggles and triumphs of Latina forced to reconcile these conflicting realities. Rosie Molinary combines her own experience with the voices of hundreds of Latinas who grew up in the US navigating issues of gender, image, and sexuality. This empathetic ethnography exemplifies the ways in which our experiences are both profoundly individualistic and comfortingly universal.
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