Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Extreme Christmas House

Once a year we visit Edmundo Rombeiro’s Christmas house. The Griswald house doesn’t hold an electric light to this one. When we drove up to it this year, my son remarked, “Wow, that’s a lot of Christmas lights. Maybe too much!” Out of the mouths of four-year-olds…

Not only is Rombeiro’s house decorated on the outside, but all rooms, save one bedroom, are totally decked out inside as well! My neighbor is Rombeiro’s cousin and she and her husband are there almost every night in December. They need helpers to make sure people don’t touch, or in one case, attack, the decorations.

Early in December she said they had 660 visitors in one night, and that’s not even the rush time. Tour busses, often with seniors, stop by regularly. The family keeps track of the amount of people by how many candy canes they give out each night.

My favorite room is the angel room. Although there are way too many angels to focus on just one, it has a calm and peaceful feeling. My neighbor has seen people enter that room and just begin to weep.

My son’s favorite room, of course, is the train room which we visited twice.

By the end of the visit we are always on sensory overload, but officially in the Christmas spirit.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Winter!

(Photo courtesy of my four-year-old.)

I hope everyone is warm and snug this winter day. Last night my family and I lit candles and a fire for the winter solstice. After the kids went to bed, my husband Mats was a trooper and went along with my little ritual of writing down everything we each want to let go of on pieces of paper, and then burning them in the fire. I learned this from my friend Joyce at her solstice celebrations.

After the "write and burn," we lit new candles and spoke aloud our wishes, desires, and asked for blessings on all our family members. One thing I asked for was "writing miracles." Today, the next day, I got an e-mail from an editor wanting to publish an essay I sent her six months ago!

In other solstice-related news, Mama Donna, one of the people I interviewed for my Whole Life times piece on the solstice, was written about today by the New York Times for her winter solstice celebration in Brooklyn: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/nyregion/22solstice.html?_r=1

Happy winter to all, and to all, a bright life!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

"P" Words

I’m happy to share that an article I wrote, "Good Day Sunshine" is in this month’s Common Ground magazine. It's about celebrating the Winter Solstice and was a fun topic to research and write about.

When I was working on it though, the fates seemed to be playing with me.

I summarize with the following “P” words:

Procrastination- I was determined to not do this, I wanted to get it done early. My plan, another “P” word, was to submit it to the editor an impressive week ahead of the due date since I already had some of the interviews completed. Thankfully I started early because,

Pinkeye- took hold of our family two weeks before the article was due. That meant laundry, laundry, and more laundry to try to avoid its spread, though spread it did anyway. It also meant both boys were home from school, but on different days as my eldest got it first, then my youngest. So the precious time I had planned to write was suddenly lost. And then of course, I caught it as well!

Potty Training- my youngest decided he was suddenly ready to enter the world of big boy underwear. No more diapers, only colorful briefs with fire trucks or comic heroes would do. We praised him of course, and it worked out since he was home sick and we could run to the potty at any time. But did I mention laundry? I think we’re up to twelve loads (no joke) by this time. Of course other "P" words apply under this topic as well.

Panic- Since a solid stretch of writing wasn't happening during the day, I sat down at the computer at 10:30 p.m., my official muse time. No sooner had my fingers hit the keyboard to put the finishing touches on the article, when my youngest cried out in pain, “Mama, my ear hurts!” Of course he wanted me to be with him, and I wanted to be there. So there I lay, and ultimately slept, asking the gods to help me get my article done the next day.

ublication- in the end I did get it done. Not a week early as I’d planned, but on the contracted date nonetheless. Having a plan to finish early was probably the best thing I could have done.

It was certainly a humbling experience to not have time I could count on, and I'm grateful for my husband who helped during the evenings and weekends so I could escape. But having a challenging time to create this piece ultimately made the final product that much more dear. (Analogy to parenting and childbirth anyone?)

So, back to the topic, do you have plans to celebrate the Winter Solstice?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Trying Not to be Debbie Downer

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. Suddenly the states of our schools, health care, and the world’s economy have got me singing the blues.

It started when we were rear ended by an uninsured driver on the way to the kids’ school in September. Thankfully we are all OK, the car is fine, and the guy didn’t have to get a call from me (not that his phone was likely working, he said his friend was maybe going to pay the bill that week.)

After crying from the shock of getting hit with the kids in the car, I sat with the guy on the curb and had a good old fashioned "talk" with him about personal responsibility (he was probably ten years my senior.) People that passed us on the road later told me they thought it was a married couple having a disagreement.

Once I was done delivering my "mom" lecture though, it was clear he had little money, and a small mark on my bumper seemed trivial in the larger picture.

But it freaked me out that bad things can happen. I believe that there is a higher truth (I avoid using the word reason here) to life’s events, but find it annoying how the lessons are not apparent when they are happening. If I were the Divine Organizer, I would have little asterisks next to life's unpleasant events that you could click on, similar to the Kindle's dictionary function. It would contain a brief synopsis about how, in the long run, this would serve you on the path to becoming a better (or at least wiser) person.

In the first few days after the accident, I tortured myself with “it could have been worse” scenarios. Tip: Don't do this. You just end up feeling badly for others in those situations.

I also found myself unable to blog. I didn’t want to be Debbie Downer.

So, I figured if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I watched a Debbie Downer episode that made me laugh until, well, I didn’t feel so down.

I hope you are feeling chipper today, but in case you are not, I recommend checking out this episode when Debbie meets Disney (and Lohan) and the SNL actors can’t keep a straight face: http://www.buzznet.com/tags/debbiedowner/video/

Happy viewing, and safe driving!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Once" again...

Two weeks ago I read at the Lit Crawl part of Litquake, San Francisco's literary festival. It was a fun and challenging experience as I had never performed in a bar before. The room was dark with little light for reading (luckily someone had brought a flashlight), the microphone had some issues, and the organizers were stressed because it had started late, and therefore the ones at the end (me included) were running over. But the audience of about 100 people were great, and clapped for us all. I feel I can read anywhere now!

Afterwards a bunch of us Writing Mamas went out for dinner and stayed until the restaurant closed. I rarely get to the city these days, so it was a fun night.

Below is what I read. It's the "Once" piece I posted earlier, but with some new material.

Happy November!

- Kristy


My sister recommended the movie “Once.”

It took my husband and me about three months to see it, meanwhile paying Netflix for the privilege of having it sit atop our television. When we finally saw it, I was struck by the movie’s simplicity.

It’s about an aspiring musician with a broken heart trying to start a music career, and a Czech immigrant making her way in Ireland. What touched me were how these two people, who had so little monetarily, were truly living their lives and pursuing their dreams in a simple, yet profound way.

It made me think about how much I have, and how I should try to live life fully in the now, instead of waiting for more. I often think, mostly unconsciously,

ONCE my kids grow up;
ONCE we win the lottery;
ONCE I get paid for doing what I love;
ONCE I have a successful book published;
ONCE I appear on Oprah;
ONCE we live abroad for a year --

THEN, I’ll be happy.

Not so long ago, I wanted to graduate from college, travel, get a job, find love, get married, and have children. I have done all of these things, yet, the credits never rolled with a moving soundtrack in the background when I got what I thought I wanted most.

I always find new things to covet.

I think it’s part of the human experience to yearn for more. As I start to feel the hunger pains for a future different than my present, I pause.

I try to notice one thing that I’m enjoying now.

As I was trying to write the other day, my four year old called out to me from the bathroom. He needed me to wipe. Not necessarily my favorite activity of motherhood, but part of the occupation nonetheless. I was trying to finish my thought, but after his third call, I rushed into the bathroom, feeling a little guilty. He sat there, perched on the toilet with both arms supporting him so he wouldn’t fall in. He looked at me, and said out of the blue, “You’re going to be mine forever and ever.”

That was a nice moment. I try to take these times in, they disappear so quickly.

Perhaps one day I will find contentment in the present; aware that everything I have is already a gift.

THEN, I’ll be happy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lost in Translation

My husband speaks Swedish with our boys, but when his parents visit, there are actual adult conversations going on. If what’s being said is one sentence like “Let’s change your diaper” or “Let’s build a train set,” I feel pretty good about my Swedish comprehension because I know what’s being said. When the discussion deviates to emotions, verbs, or anything above a two-year-old’s vocabulary, I become a bit lost.

I don’t like to tell people I attended adult ed night classes for five years to learn Swedish. They might expect something from me. Like being able to understand the language.

On a recent visit, my mother-in-law and eldest son Lucas were having a fun time playing hide and seek in our house. The noise of their laughter played in the background while I savored a rare moment of daytime book reading (The Italian Affair if you must know.) When Lucas jumped out and found my mother-in-law, she gasped and exclaimed, “Du hittade mej!” (My translation: “You hit me!”)

She seemed shocked.

I was also shocked, that was not something my son normally did. Now, I hadn’t seen it happen of course, but I heard what my mother-in-law had said. She didn’t seem to be reacting much, so I marched in there and told Lucas in a stern voice that it is not OK to hit Farmor.

Everyone stopped and looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.

It was then that I conveniently remembered that “hittade” means found, not hit. She had been feigning surprise saying, “You found me!”

I apologized to Lucas who looked more confused than anything else. In fact, I think he was amused that Mommy had made a minor fool of herself.

No major harm done, I humbly accepted my lesson: when translating on my own, it’s probably best to fact-check before reprimanding. Actually, that might be a good lesson regardless of the language being spoken.

Now when the kids get older and it come to Swedish curse words, well, I’ll be blissfully clueless.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wanna Ride?

After a local community meeting, a fellow member asked if I could give her a ride home. As we walked to the car, we spoke mama stats: she had two boys, five and eight years old. I belong to the boy club as well, ages two and four.

I always feel a bond with other mothers of boys. I asked how the five and eight-year-old stage is. The prognosis was good. I like it when people with kids older than mine say it gets better. I dislike those people that tell you it's still hard, just different. I don't mind if you lie to me, just tell me it gets better and easier, please!

As we get to my car, she says, "Cute!" as I have a butterfly pasted on the butt of the car. But as I look in the passenger seat, I realize there is a few days' worth accumulation of definitely not cute stuff. I know she's a mom, so I remind myself not to worry too much, but I tell her it's going to take a while to clear the seat so she can actually sit on it, hopefully finding a place for her feet as well.

I take off the first layer - everything we needed for a dinner at our favorite Thai food restaurant that night. A cooler-type bag of supplemental dinner options for the kids, two jackets of mine, one for each of the kids. I throw them into the back. The next layer was from my art class the day prior -- paper bags laid out to protect the seats from wet paint and a box of art supplies. They find their spot, sitting in the empty car seats in the back.

I'm finally down to the final layer. This was from three days prior when I got to my son's preschool in the morning and realized it was freezing cold and wet, and my son was in a short-sleeved shirt. This fact should have been noticed before we left the house, but somehow escaped my mommy radar until that moment. So I emptied the diaper bag, which had been recently organized, and pulled out all the extra clothes until I found a long-sleeved shirt for him to wear, pulling it over his head and finished dressing him in the parking lot.

As I tossed back the tighty whities (thankfully clean, these were from the spare clothes) of my four-year-old, along with unused diapers, jeans, shirts, and socks, she said honestly, "I guess you don't drive with other people very often."

I laughed. "Only my kids."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Top 10 Signs You Need to Attend Book-Buying Anonymous (BBA)

10. Every time you see an author talk, you promise yourself you will not buy their book. Even if the book is about worm cultivation in Zimbabwe, you walk away with a signed book.

9. When life finds you down, you turn to book buying. (Note: this is different than book reading, which you have little time for.) But who can resist buying Money, and the Law of Attraction on a day when the stock market dips over 700 points?

8. You borrow books on CD from the library, but then buy the same books in print so you can highlight your favorite quotes. Example: Anne Lamott’s Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.

7. You promise yourself to use the library more, but can’t wait for others to get their fix before getting yours.

6. You spread out your book purchases between different stores so that there is not an obvious large charge on the credit card to alert your spouse.

5. Sometimes you pay cash to reduce the paper trail even further.

4. You confess your addiction to the people working at bookstores as you know their answer will be an enabling message of, “There could be worse addictions,” or “I have the same one, that’s why I work here!”

3. You refuse to do the math of how long it would take to actually read all the unread books you own. (In recovery terminology, this is called Denial with a capital “D.”)

2. When your mom comes to visit, she firmly tells you that you can’t buy any more books until you have more bookcases.

1. You buy more bookcases.

* Disclaimer: this blog was written hypothetically. This in no way resembles me, my family, or anyone I’ve ever known. The local chapter of BBA meets Sunday evenings in the multi-purpose room of the All Saints Lutheran Church. Bring cookies.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lit Crawl 2008

I'm happy to announce that I will be reading a piece of mine (an edited and spruced-up version of "Once") at the Lit Crawl portion of Litquake, San Francisco’s literary festival. You can visit the website here: http://www.litquake.org/the-festival/lit-crawl-2008/

Our talk is going to be at the Beauty Bar, 2299 Mission Street and is titled, “Mommies With Brains: Literary Mama and Writing Mamas.” Please note that is their title, I did not name it! My title may have been, “Mommies who have lost their brains, but are optimistic of someday finding them through writing…” But they didn’t ask me.

My piece will be 2 minutes, or as my father-in-law pointed out, 120 seconds. I like the latter.

So, if you are hanging out in the Mission (and who doesn’t on a Saturday night?) on October 11th and want to say hello, please do!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


The funny thing about motherhood is that there is no warning when some mommy challenge is on its way.

They just sneak up and surprise you, like one did to me when I picked up my son from preschool. It was 101 degrees outside and my head felt foggy as I noticed my sons’ red cheeks and wet hair from perspiration. I was trying to take a sip of water to cure my headache. It was then, with my two boys playing in a shaded spot we’d named the “magic tree” that my four-year-old used “the word” for the first time.


He had broken a stick and said, “I’m going to shoot something with my gun, bang, bang!” My mind raced. What is the appropriate response to this? Before I could say anything, he turned the stick/gun towards me and said, “Now I’m shooting you!”

There was no malice or anger in his voice, just amusement with this new activity. I told him that we never aim guns, real or not, at people, only at non-living things. He asked if he could shoot the sky.

“No,” I replied, thinking back to the posters they have in L.A. bus stations around New Year’s urging people not to shoot their guns into the air as stray bullets can kill. I explained the physics of bullets and why we didn’t want to aim up.

Although I don’t like guns and think they are too numerous and easily accessible in our country, I loved shooting BB guns when I was young. My granddad would let us shoot them into the pillows in his living room. Maybe not the safest thing, but we had a great time doing it.

As my son got into the car, he said that he was going to shoot the seats. Not knowing what else to say, I told him, “I don’t like hearing about shooting. We can send each other love and energy instead.”

I am, after all, an energy practitioner. But I was aware that my words fell flat.

On the way home, he asked me to tell him stories about the magical train forest. He enjoys interjecting “train crises” – “Mom, look out, there’s a broken bridge!”

“Oh no,” I replied, “What are we going to do?” He sat for a moment and answered, “We’re going to shoot sticky balls from the gun!”

Shoot sticky balls at the bridge? Of course! They would fill in the gaps in the bridge, like glue, so the train could continue. At last, something I could agree to. Happily, I told him that it was a great idea.

Thankfully he hasn’t mentioned guns since. Maybe I should start preparing for questions about where babies come from. I'm hoping those questions will be easier.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Man On Wire

When the French tightrope-walking Philippe Petit broke through security in the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974, it was to create an act of rebellion, and of beauty. Although extremely self-focused (and what artist- and I put myself in this category- isn't really?) he had a band of friends and acquaintances who helped him to pull off the unimaginable task of stringing a heavy tightrope wire across the two towers and securing it so that he could walk across or "dance" as a police officer later described it in awe.

I thought I would come away from the documentary about this event, "Man on Wire," inspired to create, but Petit's change after his success soured me a bit. What struck me, however, besides his drive to want to tightrope walk a quarter of a mile off the ground with no safety net, was the story of the World Trade Center's birth.
Petit knew he wanted to walk across the towers before they were even built.

It almost feels like a sacrilege to admit this, but before 9/11 I had no fondness for the towers. Yes, I knew they were tall, but aside from that I hadn't give them much thought. But to hear the story from Petit and his friends and to see the early footage of the buildings, I felt that I was part of the historic erecting of the towers. One scene, hauntingly familiar to the ground zero footage, was of the very beginning of the building. I suddenly missed the towers as if they were old friends.

Trying to digest the movie afterwards, part of me wondered, as if critiquing my own personal essay, "What was the point of the story?"
This was the same question everyone asked Petit after his tightrope walk- "Why did you do it? What was the point?"

He thought this was an amusingly American point of view.

There was no point, he just felt he had to do it.

That I could identify with.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Latte-Lovin' Mama

As a sensitive person, I didn’t do caffeine.

The few times I drank coffee my rate of speech doubled, and I couldn’t sleep until a few days later.

(Maybe a slight exaggeration, but you get the point here.)

But now that Starbucks is in my local Safeway, I find myself indulging in a tall, one-pump chai latte.

They normally have three pumps.

The other day, sitting at the computer after drinking one, I shared in astonishment with my husband, “I really get inspired when I drink caffeine!”

He gave me his best “no, duh” look.

My husband often suffers the brunt of my health-conscious rants. No high fructose corn syrup, no food coloring, no soybean oil, and the list goes on. I’ve been on the anti-caffeine bandwagon since I met him. As a Swede, he began drinking coffee shortly after being weaned from his pacifier. Upon my ever-so-subtle suggestions, he eventually went off caffeine, surviving the withdrawal headaches for a weekend before they cleared.

But children-induced sleep deprivation changed that.

He’s back on.

And, apparently, so am I.

I’m finding it best not to be too “anti” anything these days. Any judgment or rigidity on my part seems to find me eventually eating my words.

Or in this case, drinking a latte.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


My sister recommended the movie “Once.”

It took my husband and me about three months to see it, meanwhile paying Netflix for the privilege of having it sit atop our television. When we finally took the time to see it, I was struck by the movie’s simplicity.

It’s about an aspiring musician with a broken heart trying to start a music career, and a Czech immigrant making her way in Ireland. What touched me were how these two people, who had so little monetarily, were truly living their lives and pursuing their dreams in a simple, yet profound way.

It made me think about how much I have, and how I should try to live life fully in the now, instead of waiting for more. I often think, mostly unconsciously,

My kids grow up;
We win the lottery;
I have a successful book published;
I appear on Oprah;
We live abroad for a year --

THEN,I’ll be happy.

I wait for these things today.

Not so long ago, I wanted to find love, get married, have children, and buy a house. I have all of that now, yet, the credits never rolled along with a moving soundtrack in the background when I got what I thought I wanted most.

I always find new things to covet.

I think it’s part of the human experience to yearn for more. As I start to feel the hunger pains for a future different than my present, I pause.

I try to notice one thing that I’m enjoying now. Today, it was my boys jumping and splashing in the little blow-up pool in our backyard. Yesterday, it was my youngest son “stealing” strawberries off the counter faster than I could cut them up.

I continue to have an insatiable craving for something new, different, more, than what I already have.

Perhaps one day I will find happiness and contentment in the present; aware that everything I have is already a gift.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Olympic Sport

I’m beginning early with the training of my boys. I believe in following their interests, and thus support starting a new sport: The Couch Jump*. These pictures document the new Swedish-American team (although their uniforms admittedly look Jamaican.)

In case you want to start a new league in your neck of the woods, the rules are:

1) No jumping when your fellow athlete is lying on the couch.
2) Performance-enhancing props such as pacifier and blankie are permitted for athletes under the age of three.
3) Spotting from the coach is permitted so the athletes don’t fall off the arm of the couch pre-jump.
4) Jumping on top of your fellow athlete is terms for disqualification.
5) Winners are awarded one marshmallow as their medal.

* Please play at your own risk. Many head bonks were barely avoided on this first night of the sport.

What future sport do you propose?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Writing Mama Dilemma

It’s 10:30 p.m., and inspiration hits. Stories flow into my head, and I can see and hear how they are to be written. The dilemma: do I write when inspired, or do I go to sleep in an attempt to get eight hours like I’d promised myself I would try for one week. Yesterday I went to bed early and my day was definitely better because of it. My two Energizer bunny sons do not yet have snooze buttons, at least that I’ve been able to find.

I’ll choose sleep this time. Maybe I can train myself to be inspired during the day when I’m at home, ready to write.

(1 hour later…)

Scratch that. I tried to just write a few notes to remember what had inspired me, and an hour later I’m finishing up. Writing won out this time. I’m happy with what I wrote. It’s about my not-so-smooth (forgive the pun) introductions to love and sex. No more about that, gotta wait for my book for those words.

Or one and a half margaritas and a designated driver.

(Photo by Mats.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Influence

OK, it’s been 2 days without Häagen-Dazs ice cream. And I exercised again. Yep, that’s right, it’s the Olympics. Seeing these athletes who have worked so hard, and sacrificed so much seems to have subliminally inspired me to remove my butt from the seated position. So far the stories of the athletes’ workouts have not shown them sitting on a couch eating ice cream. Although I bet they’ll do that after the Olympics. I would.

But it seems I’m not the only one influenced. The pool that I take the kids to for swim lessons was packed on Tuesday. All the members (we’re visitors) were talking about how it was the busiest they’ve ever seen. I bet Michael Phelps is the reason.

So my journey to the prize continues. Some are working towards gold. I’m working towards my jeans not cutting off the circulation in my middle area. You gotta have goals…

P.S. This freelance writing thing isn’t easy. I keep sending stuff out, but sometimes it’s hard to keep motivated. Just thought I’d let you all know.

P.P.S. Due to the above sentence, I just treated myself to a few bites of Häagen-Dazs. I bet there are a lot of athletes out there that didn’t make it to the Olympics that are doing the same thing. This one’s for them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lose Weight the Jon Lovitz Way

On the finale of Last Comic Standing, comedian Jon Lovitz explained, “I discovered the secret to losing weight…As you all know, muscle weighs more than fat. So if you really want to lose weight, you really have to get rid of all that muscle.”

I think I’ve been on that plan lately. With both kids in preschool for the past three weeks, my body is changing. Where I used to be constantly on my feet, wiping bottoms, cleaning up spills, and running after bikes during the morning, I’m now happily seated, sedentary, rarely moving, in front of the computer, writing.

I’m loving my time, don’t get me wrong, but my butt seems to be enjoying it as well seeing as it has grown a bit. I haven’t gained weight, but my pants don’t fit anymore (except for stretchy yoga pants thankfully.)

And no, I’m not pregnant.

I’m happy with my body as-is, but would like to be able to wear my non-sweat pants again. So I went for a run/walk today. It felt good to exercise again. And I’m going to yoga when I can.

Of course, my nightly Häagen-Dazs habit doesn’t help. But a girl has to have at least one vice in her life.

What is your exercise routine? (or) What’s your vice?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Impromptu Trip

If there is something Mats and I have not been since having kids, it’s spontaneous.

We love to travel. Or loved to travel, I’m not sure which tense to use these days. Traveling with kids is different. The sleep and exhaustion factor are always there.

But on Friday night, for perhaps the first time in over four years, we decided to take a weekend trip with the kids at the last minute. We left at 9 p.m. and arrived at my parents’ property in Central California at midnight.

The boys had a blast. Lucas was Grandad’s little helper the whole weekend, a title he was quite proud of. He even got paid a quarter and wants to buy something with it. The second night we all slept well. Mats and I went for a hike at the Pinnacles National Park, sans kids.

It was a great trip.

Arriving home today we were all a bit out-of-sorts, but we survived. And we have more memories than if we had stayed home. Time to start traveling again!

Lucas says he wants to go down next Saturday. OK, maybe we’re not that ready.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Another Prius Lover

After preschool today, I was loading both boys’ bikes into the back of our Prius. A man walking his two dogs stopped next to our car. He was a big guy with large biceps and a bald head. Normally I’m used to getting comments about the kids’ bikes, etc. from fellow parents, but he wasn’t looking at the bikes.

“How do you like your car?” he asked. I explained how much I love it. He asked how often I fill up the tank. I said every two weeks, but I actually have no idea. I fill it up when it’s close to empty. But I told him it gets about 45 miles a gallon. This I knew.

“Nice.” he responded, nodding approvingly like guys used to do when eyeing trucks on top of large wheels or some vintage Chevy. I’m not a car person, but I felt “cool” in that moment. It makes me happy that fuel-efficient cars are attracting attention.

Buddhism teaches that positives come from a negative. This is how I feel about gas prices right now. Yes, they suck. But they are making us look at gas consumption in a new way. I really wish my kids’ school was within biking distance. Maybe in the future.

As for the guy in the picture above, that’s my Swedish lover I sometimes hook up with. For more on that, click here. Just kidding, there isn’t more on that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gyno Gratitude

Yesterday was my annual OB-GYN appointment.

I was filled with such gratitude for the doctor who brought my boys safely into this world.

Without her, the outcome of my first son’s birth may have been different. During the twenty-four hours prior to her entry into my son’s birth story, the other doctor and nurses were expecting me to make important decisions and lead the birthing process.

I didn’t know what I was doing -- this was my first time!

When they gave me medication for nausea, I couldn’t keep my eyes open so they let me sleep. The next doctor took her shift. I was awoken from my slumber with her shrill voice filling the room and demanding, “What? She’s ten centimeters! Why isn’t she pushing?”

I had never met this woman, but my people-pleasing desire kicked in and I started pushing.

She made a crucial decision in the last minutes of labor by calling the specialized neo-natal team "just in case." When Lucas was born in a bit of shock (and who wouldn't be, really?), they were there to help him in the first few minutes of life. How can you thank someone for such an impact?

I've told her many times that she’s intuitive, but she would never call herself that. She's about five feet tall, dresses in fun clothes with artsy glasses and is probably the most energetic person I've ever met.

Her office is bright with pinks, yellows, and greens throughout, and cool quotes painted on the walls. I was happy to hear that she has hired a midwife. Almost makes me want to have another baby.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Save Shouka

There we were- the four of us at Marine World. We’d gone on the Thomas the Train kiddie rides, and our next stop was to see the show starring Shouka the whale.

My husband got lunch, and we sat there while they entertained us with environmental trivia and advertisements. The male announcer was handsome in his polo shirt. The female trainers were cute and energetic in their wet suits. The music pounded.

And then Shouka came out. She is 13 years old and 16 feet long. She weighs in at a slim 4,000 pounds. She was wearing what’s “in” right now- black and white.

She did one swim around the stadium, and then went back to her private area in the back. Finally she emerged again and did what they wanted her to- waving to the crowd with her fin, splashing an unsuspecting visitor with her tale, and jumping high to reach the suspended balls.

All of a sudden I found myself crying. It totally took me by surprise. I hadn’t gone in there thinking, “Oh these poor animals…” I had been looking forward to seeing a beautiful whale. But seeing her do these forced human actions and realizing how small the aquarium is versus the ocean, I just felt so sad. I imagined being confined to a small area for my whole life. The feeling was suffocating.

The sadness seemed to have a life of its own. I wasn’t thinking about the whale, I was feeling. I held my two year old close to me as I donned my sunglasses. I wanted to run away, but I didn’t. Everyone else seemed to be happy and clapping to the nauseating music.

My husband later asked why I’d been sad. I told him I felt bad for the whale being cooped up and having to do these stupid tricks. “You aren’t going vegan are you?” he asked.

It was a fair question, but no, I’m not going vegan.

I want to believe that these animals are ombudsmen, teaching children and adults to care for the earth and its inhabitants and therefore their captivity is worth it. Or that if they are not born in wild they don’t know what they’re missing.

But I don’t buy it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Injuries, Tears and Butterflies

Monday afternoon my boys were begging to go outside. They didn’t want to go in the backyard where they can play independently, but in the front yard to ride their bikes.

I needed to unload the grocery bags first, and then empty the dishwasher. That doesn’t sound difficult, but with cleaning up accidental spills and refereeing the sharing of toys, it looked like it might take us three days before we’d get to see the sun.

Finally, I told them we would visit the bathroom and then go outside. When Henrik, my two-year-old, was standing by the bathtub, all of a sudden he fell straight down, hit his chin on the bathtub, ricocheted back to hit his head on the toilet, and then lay screaming on the floor. Lucas, my four-year-old, ran to his room to hide since he hates the sound of his brother crying.

I picked Henrik up and saw he’d split his chin. It was so sad to see that I started crying along with him. He calmed down and looked at me confused. "What’s that?" He asked, touching a tear rolling down my cheek. “Mommy’s crying,” I answered.

Lucas was listening from his room and yelled out worriedly, “Mama, are you crying too?” “Yes,” I called back, “but it’s OK. I’m just sad that your brother hurt himself.” Henrik then pointed at his tears. “Rerick cry too!” he said, making the connection.

Then we were all outside, the boys riding their bikes like nothing happened.

I called my mom for advice on making butterfly bandages to close the cut on his chin. With five kids, she has lots of experience.

Two days later, his chin has already healed. It’s amazing how quickly young bodies bounce back.

And I survived my first butterfly bandage application.

I hope we have many butterflies, but very few bandages, in our future.

(Photo by Mats.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guru Costner

My good friend Kevin Costner came for breakfast Sunday morning. OK, not in real life, but via Parade in the SF Chronicle. I was having one of those days where I think the world is mad at me, and I wonder if I should even continue with writing since if everyone is mad at me, they won’t want to read me, etc.

Do I really want to put myself out there?

What if people don't like me (yes, to be read like a whiney 4th grader) or what if I fail? Blah, blah, blah.

Annoying, really, but these thoughts had taken residence in my brain.

While I tried to Zen these thoughts away, something in large print caught my eye on the kitchen table. It was a quote from Kevin Costner, "Don't Let Fear Hold You Back."

OK, sign noted, so I read the article. Truth be told, I'm not a big follower of movie stars, I’d take a run-in with Allende or Lamott any day.

But Costner was my guru for the day as he said, “We’re afraid of a lot of things in life. It’s part of the human condition. What do we fear? Love? Failure? Telling the truth about ourselves? I think we don’t show people all we truly are because we’re afraid that if they actually know everything about us, they won’t love us. I’m as guilty of that as anyone.”

His words comforted me.

We’re all in this together (not to be sung like High School Musical.)

Ugh, now that song's in my head. At least it’s not “Kumbaya.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First Pubs in Print

Check it out!

I'm grateful to announce my first 2 publications in print are out now. The June edition of Whole Life Times (Common Ground in the bay area) includes my essay "Breathing Room" about a mom searching for a sense of space, and the events that unfold when two boys are unsupervised for 5 minutes. You can read it here: http://wholelifetimes.com/2008/06/lue0806.html

And my piece "Real life snapped between all the Kodak moments" talks about the different perspectives of my family's photographers, and the moments that get captured when children are behind the camera. It is featured today in the "How it is" column of the Marin IJ newpaper: http://www.marinij.com/lifestyles/ci_9606904

Thanks to everyone for all your good thoughts and support, I couldn't have done it without you!

Love, Kristy

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Welcome Note

Welcome to my blog...

Well, it's been a long time coming, but similar to awaiting the birth of a child, here's my new baby blog! My intention is to share my (hopefully humorous) and sometimes spiritual journey of life and motherhood, while on the path to being a gainfully employed writer. Who am I kidding, I'd be happy to just pay for half my children's preschool tuition, but I won't limit myself...

Thanks for being part of my community.

Love, Kristy