Saturday, April 12, 2014


Another blog post lacking in a central theme


On the advice of my acupuncturist, I've decided to become gluten-free.

There are several problems with that statement, the first being I ate an almond croissant for lunch yesterday. I was running errands, hungry, and about to be late for a second appointment with the aforementioned acupuncturist. When presented with the choice between a bran muffin and almond croissant, I employed a special bit of mental arithmetic and arrived at the conclusion that a butter-based pastry, rather than a flour-based one, would be more in line with my new diet.

So maybe I am not gluten-free so much as gluten-avoidant. Only when it's convenience and definitely when it means I can select a croissant over a muffin.

The second problem with the previous statement involves the acupuncturist. Remember, I poison people for a living. I am not a primary care doc, a radiologist, or a endocrinologist. I don't prescribe medication that lowers blood pressure. I don't bring babies in the world. It is exceedingly infrequent that I encourage anyone to lose weight or change their diet. My practice involves therapy with the ability to denude the skin from your lips to your anus.

But now I see an acupuncturist, and, just as with every weird lifestyle and diet modification I make, this one is also because of migraine, a fact that doesn't make me feel like less of a fraud sitting in her office.

February and March were terrible headache months. I established with a new PCP who, in addition to prescribing nasal steroids and ovulation suppression, referred me to an acupuncturist. I've gone twice.

During our first appointment she took an impressively long history, looked at my tongue, checked my pulses, and declared mine to be "migraines of deficiency", as opposed to "migraines of excess" -  or those suffered by patients with high blood pressure and more ruddy complexions.  She jammed some needles in my hands, feet, stomach, and between my eyes, left me pinned on the table for forty-five minutes, then suggested I avoid gluten. I've enjoyed both our visits immensely.

I really want this to work. If it does I will gladly pay for additional sessions to continue after my referral runs out. But the only people I've known to undergo acupuncture (two for infertility, one for morning sickness, and one for insomnia) all say acupuncture didn't help their respective aliments. Maybe if it doesn't the new diet will.


It's been great having MIL with us for the last few weeks.  Aside from the extra pair of hands to help refill milk cups and mop up spills, MIL is far more interested in, and tolerant of, messy play than I am. She and Munch have made cookies, Playdoh and "high tea", all of which required various combinations of food coloring, flour, rainbow sprinkles, and the ladling of sticky liquids from one vessel into another. Munch and Wow are getting used to pancakes in the morning and cornbread with dinner.

She's also happy to watch Wow while we go skiing, and so we've been getting in the last trips of the season.



Last Saturday we got to the mountain a little after 9 and left at 12, which means we spent the same amount of time in the car as we did skiing. A storm had come in during the early morning and the conditions when we arrived were more of deep winter than early April. We made the mistake of taking Munch up the summit lift early, where visibility was near zero and the wind gnawed at every minor track of exposed skin. When we got of the lift she started screaming at the absolute peak of her lung capacity. These were not screams of protest, but of an actual, palpable fear. There could be no calming her down or reminding her that she'd skied this same trial a few weeks ago.  I wrapped my arms around her torso, locked my skis into a hard wedge, and held her between my legs as we chattered down the slope together.

But even on easier terrain with an improvement in the conditions, her screaming continued. Not quite at the same intensity as on the summit run, but persistent nonetheless. Gradually LD's screams (of frustration) matched those of the five year old and it was clear we needed to go. We ate our packed lunch in the car on the near-silent trip back home and did not stop for ice cream.

We had planned to go back up Sunday, but in the interest of preserving the family peace, opted for a morning at the Japanese garden,  an afternoon on the tennis courts, and an easy dinner.

We returned today, and I am grateful to report we will end the season on a high note.

It was a perfect Spring day. Munch sang Let it go and In summer with her arms in the air as she bumped down the slopes. We laid off the requests for FRENCH FRY and let her wedge when she wanted to. Instead of Tic Tacs, she got Starbursts. We stopped for lunch on the earlier side and when she started getting grumpy, we headed home. I think we've agreed on ski school for next year.



Munch got wait-listed at the French charter school. Her number is so high it's unlikely there will be a spot for her in the fall. She did, however, get into the private French immersion school. I think LD is relieved about the charter school and anxious about the private school. We wont hear about the Spanish program for a few more weeks.


I think those are all my thoughts. MIL, Wow, and LD left to join my parents at the beach after we got back from the mountain this afternoon. Tomorrow LD and my dad are going to surf while Munch and I are at Ben's birthday party. Tonight she and I went to the library to get more Ivy and Bean books, then had "girls night" which involved (another) viewing of Frozen and popcorn. I've been working on this post and eating cookies 'n cream ice cream since I put her to bed, which I have just now realized is not, in fact, gluten-free.

Friday, April 4, 2014


We still don’t know what to do about it. 

We could have gotten more house for the money if we’d looked east and bought into one of the few upscale urban neighborhood that are cropping up around New Seasons grocery stores and historic city parks, but let the school system - which included an elementary school with a Spanish immersion track, a French charter school, and one of the best high schools in the state - heavily influence our ultimate decision. 
Entrance to both the Spanish program and French school is by lottery – as a neighborhood family we have a 40-50% chance of getting into the Spanish program and a 25% chance of getting into the French school. But aside from the benefit of language immersion, the schools are just ok. The Spanish program in particular seems to benefit from an active and dedicated parent base, but by report has a number of teachers who do little but make the kids copy sentences during class time. Most of the kids would be like ours – born to middle class American parents and raised here.  The facility itself is bright and cheerful with well-maintained grounds, large play yard and is located at the end of a quiet suburban street. Munch and Wow’s friends would be the kids we’ve already met playing in the street outside or down at the park. The parents I've met of the kids in the English track are less happy, and those with the financial resources to do so are thinking about private school. 

I am more concerned about the French charter school. It’s about two miles away in an urban location and without its own playground or outdoor facility. Once a day the students get walked to the nearby high school for recess. The school has only been open for two years and the funding for the next few years isn’t guaranteed. LD didn't get a good impression of the staff, parents, or facility when he went for Kindergarten open night. But I’ve been in email contact with two mom whose kids go there, both of whom have had good experiences with the school. 
And finally, there’s this private school. It’s on 14 acres with nature trials, covered play structures, two art studios, a music center, and outdoor classrooms. It’s also a language school – the elementary school is French immersion and, starting in the seventh grade, each student selects a second language – German, Spanish, or Mandarin- to study. LD and I met with director and one of the teachers, both of whom presented themselves as highly skilled professionals, and were impressive in how they articulated the school's purpose and mission. Language is a huge component of the curriculum, obviously, but even more important than language is the emphasis on art, culture, curiosity, and global responsibility. Most of the teachers had participated in language immersion programs in their youth and spoke of what it was like, not to speak, but think in another language.  Many of the students were not American born and English was not always the language spoken on the playground. The class sizes are half what the public schools average and the grounds are more beautiful than most college campuses. Art, music, yoga, chess, photography were offered as part of the after-hours care program.  The school closed for one week every seventh, to allow students and teachers a chance to recharge.
And it’s ungodly expensive. The total cost of one year,  including tuition for two kids, extra fees, the added expense of the before/ after hours program, and care during those recurrent weeks off would be more than I paid for one year of medical school.
I could understand paying that price if the public schools were terrible or if she had a specific need that could only be met in a particular setting, but it’s a hard to say that the tuition could be justified on the merits of the school alone. 
I’d like my children to have an immersion experience, and I’m actually not that picky about which language it is, because – and now we are getting to the real issue – it’s something I wish I had had at their age and I can't teach them myself.  My Spanish is embarrassing, so much that I don’t share with people that I studied in Spain for a semester of college and I am overly hesitant to use what skill I have retained while traveling. 
If language can be a door or a window, in my life I've felt it as a door - a heavy obstruction between myself and experiences I'd wish to have had. For my children I'd like it to be a window, a second source of light in which which they could maneuver their thoughts and expression, a way to make the world feel smaller while it actually expands.

LD does not share my view on the subject. He prefers she get into the Spanish track at the neighborhood school, and if that doesn't happen, to have her stay there for the regular program.  As I mentioned before, he didn't get a good impression of the French charter school and thinks that our (over active?) Munch wouldn't do well with once a day recess. And that's a fair point. But we feel differently about the private school, specifically the relative value for its expense. 

It's a debate to be continued. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


This is Munch's third season on skis. And Sunday was her third time of the season.
first run of the day and super excited

Not that you would have suspected as much by the crying and moaning that took place during the morning's initial few runs. Even pink Tic Tacs and the promise of hot chocolate couldn't stem the tide of I HATE SKIING and I CAN'T DO IT and IS THIS THE CHAIR LIFT THAT GOES TO THE BOTTOM?, all of which was followed by her sitting back on her skis and collapsing into the snow. Mid-tirade she was hit from behind by a snowboarder who didn't see the shock of pink parked under a small lip in the run. I was certain that crash would be the end of the day and possibly the season, but, after whimpering for a few minutes in my arms, she got up, pointed her skis downward, and resumed her sluggish pizza wedge.

We are not terrible parents. She likes skiing. Really, she does. But LD had removed the clip that kept her skis from crossing in front of her and the new responsibility vis a vie ski alignment was seriously wigging her out.  LD and I both grew up skiing. We'd like our children to learn with the hopes it will be an activity the four of us share, especially during the tween years when hanging out with your parents isn't very appealing. And although I think she'll take to the sport more easily now than later, the problem with teaching any skill-based activity to a young child is that it's easy come, easy go, and so seems as if every time is the first. 

I'm not sure what we would have done if whining protestations had continued. I hoped she'd work through the fear and frustration, and gradually put the pieces together (MORE FRENCH FRY, LESS PIZZA). I'm from the parenting camp that thinks a little frustration is not a bad thing, as long as it's in balance with the self confidence that comes with the acquisition of a new skill. But I also didn't want her so aggravated that she gave up. 

It might have been a lot to ask of a five year old. But three runs into the morning, something clicked. She still wedged herself down the steeper and/or bumpier portions, but did so with more control over her skis ... and her fear. By the end of the day she was giggling, making PIZZA jokes, requesting more frequent tic tacs, and now comfortable on the intermediate terrain. 

The day was perfect - windless, bright, and blue. We ate lunch outside, pealing off excess layer from the morning and reapplying sunblock. 
It might have been a little too bright - in the mid afternoon I developed a headache that came on suddenly. I skied down to the lodge and so was not there for Munch's final run of the day. LD would claim that he took a wrong turn and "found himself" on a black diamond with Munch. My husband has the best direction of anyone I've ever met, so I am doubtful that this incident was anything but premeditated. But with the help of a hearty pizza slice and some small french fry turns, she got down without a problem. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


If you know any small female people you might have heard of this movie Frozen. 

The four of us went to see it over the thanksgiving holiday weekend. Wow hit his movie-viewing limit about fifteen minutes into the film, and so the two of us were in the lobby playing violent video games during an incident that LD would tell me about later. (We weren’t exactly “playing them” per se… I did allow him to crawl into a large video arcade that was shaped like tank and equipped with two plastic rifles set up in front of an over sized screen. He spent a good forty minutes playing with the rifles.  He did not, thankfully, pantomime any shooting or demonstrate an awareness of what the rifles, which were as long as he was, were used for.)
 (Warning – spoiler alert) Somewhere towards the end one of the main characters sustains what would appear to be a lethal injury.  In an otherwise silent theater, little Munch, unable to contain her grief, started wailing as loud as she could. People in the seats around LD and Munch would later tell LD that Munch’s crying was the most heartbreaking part of the movie.  LD held her in his lap, and, this being Disney, there was a happy ending that did not involve the death of a main character (I think, anyway, not having been there and all).
Although I haven’t seen it, I like what I know about Frozen. And, despite her mid movie breakdown, Munch is obsessed.
I have a lot less anxiety about the pretty pretty princess thing now than I used to. I’m fairly certain that old Disney movies are not the most influential factor in her upbringing and that she will grow out of this with time. To be honest, her new interest in Barbie (Mita….) is causing me far more indigestion than Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. And I think Disney got it right with a movie about positive female relationships (i.e. lacking in jealous, evil, and/or murderous step mothers, step sisters, and fairies) where the main characters wear clothing (I’m looking at you Tinkerbell, and you Ariel), try to accept who they are, and learn that surprise surprise love at first sight IS NOT A GOOD THING. I would have preferred there to have been a mother [a novel feature of Brave wherein (1) the main character is not motherless (2) that mother raises that daughter and (3) loves her intensely. So I’ll take it, Disney, even with the whole poisoning incident] but find this a forgivable point in the estimation of a movie about the importance of that other - equally intense, complicated, and frustrating - type of relationship between women: sisterhood.

But Munch doesn’t have a sister. So, Disney, if you can make a movie about brothers and sisters that’s as good as Frozen, I’m all yours.

On a totally unrelated note (and thus requiring its own font), although I am underwhelmed by the number of real comments left on this blog, I am overwhelmed by the number of spam comments. I'm turning back on the function where you have to identify yourself in order to comment. Sorry to you (few) who like to comment anonymously. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

five years ago today

five years ago, our last BC hours
 day one
 four years ago
 three years ago 
two years ago 
one year ago
and now. 
Happy fifth birthday my love. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

nosara, costa rica

Last Friday night we put the kids to bed at normaltimeish, cleaned up after dinner, watched an episode of House of Cards, and woke them back up again. I pushed shoes on over PJ bottoms while LD and my dad loaded the car with what I think is a family record for number of suitcases employed in the conveying four people's stuff from one destination to another. I vowed this time would be the first in my five years of motherhood when packing for my family didn't feature the omission of some critical bit of clothing or equipment - items that frequently require repurchasing at a painful mark-up when their absence was eventually noted. In Disneyland I paid more for underwear for Munch than I usually pay for my own.

A few minutes before midnight we boarded an overnight flight to Houston and a few minutes after takeoff, all four of us fell asleep. The problem with an overnight flight to Houston is that it's not actually "overnight" so much as "early night to later night", and when we landed, 3.5 hours later, no one was ready to function in the new day.

I blame sleep deprivation for a hazy recollection of what my children ate for breakfast that morning in the airport. There were definitely donuts. We met up with Jordan's family and boarded the second flight to Liberia, Costa Rica. We met Dan's family outside customs and climbed into a van that would lumber south for two hours before we finally arrived in Nosara, a sleepy surf town buried at the end of an unpaved road along the Nicoya peninsula's western edge.
And, with the exception of one afternoon excursion to Playa Pelada, we didn't leave Nosara for the eight days we were there. We talked about day trips to the nearby monkey sanctuary, wildlife refuge, a guided nature tour, or zip lining, but when it came down to figuring out the logistics and making reservations, it suddenly (and repeatedly) seemed preferable to just re-do today. Again. And then again some more, so that now, at the end of our week I'm only familiar with the bougainvillea-lined path between our house, the beach, the ice cream shop, and the treetop yoga studio.

Dan found the house on VRBO. The bedroom quarters were tall and narrow with a ground level living and kitchen space that spilled into a indoor/outdoor patio and pool area. The husbands got up with the daylight to surf while the wives slept in, shared coffee, and fed the babies.  Munch and Wow were usually in the pool before LD got back, and I’d leave the three of them splashing in their rash guards to go running on the beach while a morning breeze kept the tropical heat tolerable for aerobic exercise. White vapor rose from the thicket of trees that spilled onto the sand, and with the disappearance of the breeze and the vapor came the full effect of a blazing tropical sun.

When I got back, the moms (Debby, Steph and I) would bump along unpaved roads in a golf cart, park next to the "no parking" sign at the base of Nosara's Yoga Institute, and hike a short distance up to the treetop studio for a pre-lunch class in a canopy of palm trees.

It was as freaking amazing as it sounds.

There was more family to family variation in the afternoons, allowing for the different needs and nap schedules imposed by 1 year old Luk, 2.5 year old Jul, Munch, and Wow. And by variation, I mean

beach time

ice cream,

coconut water
or, not infrequently, all three.

I had never heard of Nosara before Dan and Jordan proposed it as a possible destination for a group family vacation.  Although Nosara is also known for its beautiful beach and relative safety, the main reason for this suggestion (and their wanting to return after a trip two years prior) was fairly specific.

Jordan and Dan
I'd warned Debby (Luk's mom) when we spoke on the phone and whom I haven't seen since we left San Diego 4 years ago, that we, um..there's um.. a lot of yelling that happens in our household and that I hoped living with us for a week wouldn't be too, um, intense.... She assured me it would be fine.

And it was. The four kids got along as best as can be expected. Luk got knocked over and roughed up a bit, Wow and Jul stole each other's toy cars and plastic airplanes, and took turns throwing them into the pool. Jul initially showed an interest in whatever Munch was doing, and she reciprocated this interest by developing an vehement hypersensitivity to anyone touching her crayons or watching her draw. Two seconds after Jordan yelled SLOW DOWN, Jul tripped, skid down the gravel, and took the skin off his forehead, chin, and knee cap.  Luk tasted his first ice cream, and immediately broke out into hives.  Wow cut his eye lid on the staircase, blackened the forehead on the coffee table, and within an hour of arrival, threw a toy into the pool, leaned over to retrieve it, and tumbled in. Very disappointing, young man.

So, in sum, when traveling with people who are not blood relations, I'd highly recommend the parents of other young children who are also in the middle of the are you kidding me with this? years of child-rearing.

But it was a lot of fun. Almost without exception the ten of us ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner crowded together around the patio dining table. Dan hired a cook and housekeeper to come in a few times during the week and off load some of the more chore-like aspects of vacationing with kids. Meals, whether they were prepared by us or the cook, were based on a framework of beans, rice, avocado, tortillas, and grilled meat. The kids got used to mango in the guacamole, coconut in the oatmeal, and papaya after almost every meal.

Wow fell in love with Steph.
Jul fell in love with Munch.
Munch fell in love with waves.
And Luk was just relived to be free of the Nor'easter storms, if only for a short while

(hives shortly to follow) 
When the sun set on our last night in Costa Rica, all ten of us were down at the beach. The boys were inspecting, and (eventually) releasing the small crustaceans they'd catch on the shoreline. Munch could not be enticed out of the water, and so she and I were the last ones still playing in the waves.  I wanted to watch the sun as it dropped towards the horizon, but had to continualy reassess Munch's location as she kept moving deeper and farther away from me. Another wave toppled her over and as her head disappeared beneath the white surf I thought for the zillionth time that day that I wished my children were just a little more afraid of the water.  I meant to chastise her again, but she came up with a smile on her face. She coughed, caught her breath, and laughed THIS IS THE FUNNEST DAY EVER.

Friday, February 21, 2014


There has been a lot going on, please forgive what I suspect will become an unwieldy blog post.

But first, because I know this issue must be forefront in your mind.
Friday LD and I left the kids with my parents and skied the first day of (our) season on our own. Rain earlier in the morning had frozen on top of a foot of powder. My new boots felt great, so much so that when my skis (purchased used ten years ago) chattered along the ice and fell into the powder below, a thought started to percolate through my brain. Man. New skis would be nice. Maybe next year.

We celebrated Valentine's day with drive-thru Dairy Queen blizzards on the way home. Sunday we went back up with Munch and Wow.

Wow and I spent the morning in the lodge, eating cheese sticks and watching Munch ski the slope outside our window.
Munch was, like, totally stoked about finally getting out there.

She did great, but I was actually more proud of LD, who wisely chose not to push too hard on the opening day of her ski season. They came in for lunch, after which she and I skied together for the remainder of the afternoon.
 And this, folks, is what winning parenthood looks like.

Truthfully, my first reaction to this
was to laugh. I bought that lamp at Target twelve years ago. It's been in the kids' room for the last few years, a time during which it has been peed on, knocked over, and dressed up - just like any other member of the family. And I love Munch's cartoons. But Munch and Wow have both been more destructive lately and I felt the need to come down on her for defacing (probably not the most appropriate word in this context) yet another piece of furniture. Last week Wow took a permanent marker to the parents' dog and Munch carved heavy lines into their dining room table with her fork. My mom didn't get nearly as angry at Munch as I think she should have, and so it was left to me to try to articulate Exactly How Much Trouble she would find herself in if she EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT doing the same to the dining room table that is scheduled to be delivered to our house next month. I think I went with something like I will seriously F-UP this dessert situation you've got going with your grandmother. So, in the interest of consistency (and the preservation the aforementioned furniture purchases), I had to call her out on this too. But.. it's still kinda cute.


If you read any blog about motherhood, the issue of food and the overwhelming prospect of feeding offspring comes up a lot. I try not to write about it too much because, and I am just being honest here, I don't find reading about other people's food that interesting. I'm not that into food blogs and have never once followed a recipe I saw on a blog or been inspired to feed myself or my children differently because of a posting. And if you tell me you are a "food person" I will smile politely and immediately think less of you. Again, honesty.

This is not to say we don't dedicate an exhausting quantity of intellectual and financial resources towards the recurring, gaping question What Are We Making For Dinner Tonight? because, although I don't want to spend a huge amount of time making dinner, it's important to me that my children eat home cooked food. (for context, please recall I've also referenced Dairy Queen in this post) I remember as a medical student interviewing a patient with roaring diabetes.  He was in his forties, morbidly obese, and running a Hgb A1C in the low teens (for you non medical people think VERY BAD). We were in the endocrinology clinic and I was seeing him for his routine DM check up. I didn't know where to start, so opened with the question "So. What's your vice? Why do you think your sugars are so high?". He thought for a minute and replied that he really liked candy bars and averaged one a day.

Now a candy bar a day is probably not great for general health, but it's not going to make most of us into a morbidly obese diabetic. I gently suggested that this was not likely the reason for his current situation and, after a few more minutes of questioning, he shared that he ate 90% of his meals from AM/PM.

It was definitely one of those "aaahhh" moments for me, not just for understanding this patient better, but for understanding the enormity of the problem that faces health care in this county and the coming generation that doesn't know how to, or value, home cooked food. Because the truth is you can't control your blood sugar (or lose weight or prevent advancing atherosclerosis) when 90% of your meals come from a convenience store. But he blamed the candy bar.

It's also a daunting problem to try to fix. I've tried telling patients with heart failure that they can't eat anything from a box or a can, only to have the resultant expression of incredulity convey that I might as well advise they eat nothing but stardust and sunray.

This patient didn't have a wife and came from culture where men don't cook. His was a problem for which all the insulin in the world was not going to help. You have to cook your food. It doesn't have to be fancy, but you should be doing it yourself. It's something I hope my children learn by watching us prioritize it for our family.

I miss the CSA we had in Davis. It arrived in a sticky, beat-up box that we were expected to return empty the following week. Because so many of our neighbors subscribed to the same farm, it delivered the boxes to our neighbor's carport, where they had erected a large shelf specifically to receive the boxes, distribute them to the neighbors, and collect the previous week's empty boxes. In truth we became tired of winter greens and squash, but got in the habit of chopping everything up and roast it together. We all ate a lot more vegetables, albeit with what I will euphemistically refer to as "coaxing". We wanted to find a similar CSA here and subscribed to one based on a friend's recommendation. The one we subscribe to here isn't farm based and feels more a like an organic delivery service than a true CSA. But it keeps us eating vegetables.

Feel free to interject But wait. You just knocked food bloggers and now you are blogging about food.

True. Consider it my snarky b way of saying it's important. Not just what we feed our children, but how we do it. And I've been thinking about it a lot.

So, without further ado, I present my blogging recipe debut (that rhymes if you say it aloud, and I do encourage all of you to read my drivel aloud)

weekday vegetable bubble and squeak
1.  get out a large cast iron oven (or, like whatever you cook in)
2.  heat up some olive oil on low temperature
3.  chop up an onion
4.  or two onions. yeah, make it two
5.  rummage around for some vegetables. cut those up too
6.  put it all together in the pot
7.  salt
8.  pepper? cardamon? cinnamon? go nuts
9.  what's in the freezer? FROZEN PEAS! Yes. Put those in too
10. veggie broth
11.  ........
12.  .......
13.  .......
14. I am now bored with my own recipe
15. .....
16. left over rice? couscous? quinoa? lentils? whatever will absorb some of the broth
17. cheese. we eat a lot of cheese. grate it on top? serve on the side? your choice
18. bread. we also eat a lot of bread. it taste good with cheese. And olive oil

Serve it to your kids, sit down, and eat with them. If you aren't yelling by the end of the meal, you didn't do it right.


I've now run out of time, which is too bad because I haven't actually gotten to what it is that's been keeping us so busy. For future posts (1) LD joined a squash league (2) I've been running with Tia's friends (3) Kindergarten. Holy hell, what are we going to do about kindergarten.