Thursday, February 28, 2013


american women need no longer wait to exhale.

the violence against women act [vawa] has finally been approved by congress
& is off to the president for his stamp of approval.

first passed in 1994
& readily renewed in 200 & 2005,
congress has failed to reauthorize the law
since it expired in october 2011.

so, following 500 days of delay,
the u.s. house of representatives finally voted 286 to 138
to pass the bipartisan senate version of the bill.
all house democrats & 87 house republicans voted 'yea.'

the approving vote immediately followed a rejecting vote
by the house of its own republican version of the measure.
the house bill was voted down 166 to 257,
with no democrats & 60 republicans voting 'nay.'

which is a good thing.

because the proposed house bill would have
stripped protections for lgbt survivors of abuse,
not granted tribal courts new authority in some domestic violence cases,
& added new visa eligibility restrictions for abused immigrant women.

it also omitted two separate measures attached to the act: the safer act,
which helps law enforcement deal with a backlog of untested rape kits;
& the trafficking victims protection reauthorization act,
which targets human trafficking.

now, vawa will be reauthorized for another five years,
& $659 million will be provided for programs related to domestic violence.

president obama said he'll sign vawa back into law as soon as possible:
"today's vote will go even further by
continuing to reduce domestic violence,
improving how we treat victims of rape,
& extending protections to native american women &
members of the lgbt community."

amen, brother — & sisters. amen!

image source:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

boy-girl parties & tea-party parents.

i honestly didn't expect it,
but middle-age is hitting me kind of hard.

since turning 45yo last summer,
i've begun both peri-menopause & antidepressants,
i'm preparing for my oldest to begin high school [whaaaaaaaaaaaaa???],
& now, my youngest is ending his single-digit years.

yep. big boy's turning ten.

it's bringing me down, man. bumming me out, dude.
making me nostalgic, somewhat melancholy & a little weepy.
& i don't think it's the hormones. this time.

i am sad about the looming finiteness of our four-family togetherness.
i am sad about the loss of actual children around our house.
i'm worried about what the tween/teen years hold for both of our kids.

& i am sad about the growing gap between me & my parents.

how are these things related, as it were?

well, our boy is special. every child is special, of course,
but our boy likes girl stuff. always has. & always will, i reckon.

he prefers imaginative play over physical play.
he befriends mostly girls, & all of his very best friends have been girls.
he prefers girl characters, girl names, & toys & books marketed for girls.
& all of this has been true since he was a toddler.

at this point, we don't know what this means for his identity.
it might mean he's gay. it might mean he's transgender.
it might mean he's a straight boy who likes girl stuff.

but in our current culture, one thing it will surely mean is
he's going to get shit because of it. maybe a little, maybe a whole goddamn lot,
but he will be questioned & mocked & probably humiliated
& hurt emotionally & maybe even physically because of it.

so, as his mama, my mantra is: this house, this family must always be
where he can come & be utterly himself & be wholly accepted
& completely loved. period. no qualifications. no ifs, ands, buts, etc.

so, we threw him a dora-themed birthday party
when he turned three & again when he turned four.
we bought him the ariel nightgown he loved so much at disney world.
we sent him to fashion camp the past two summers.

we also get him plenty of building toys & puzzles &
animal-themed things, because he likes them, too.
we facilitate playdates with his close friends, boys & girls alike.
we talk about how different people like different things,
& how that's ok, because everybody's different.

last year, we threw him a monster high-themed birthday
party, & we're doing it again this year.
but in our family, ten is the magical age at which
you're permitted to have a slumber party.
so naturally, he wants to have one.

with five of his very best friends. who all happen to be girls.

he has been talking about it excitedly since october.
& i've been fretting about it slightly since october.

i fretted about the appropriateness of a 9-10yo boy-girl sleepover.
but then i realized that was my conservative upbringing talking,
that i knew there was exactly 0% inappropriate about our boy
& his girl friends & their feelings/intentions toward each other.

so then i fretted nobody would show, no other parents would
permit their girls to come for fear of inappropriateness.
& i fretted about the heartbreaking disappointment our boy
would experience if that happened.

but i can't control how other people parent their children,
only how i choose to parent mine.

so i sent an invitation via email to the moms
of the five girls. & toward the bottom, i noted
that ours will be the only boy at the party,
that the kids will be sleeping in an open playroom
next to our master bedroom, & that parental eyes & ears
will be alert to them at all times.

& all five moms have rsvp'd with an enthusiastic yes!
[one girl might not spend the night, as she's wary of sleeping away from home,
but she's coming to the evening portion of the party.]

no questions, no concerns, no worries.
because they know us, & more importantly, they know our son,
& their daughters love him, so they do, too.

my mother, on the other hand, was appalled
we're hosting such a mixed-company soiree.
not that i really expected a different reaction.
hoped for, maybe, but not expected.

these are the same grandparents who won't give him
the gifts he wants most for christmas or birthdays
if they're marketed for girls. i must identify
clearly gender-neutral items for them to buy.

they are the same grandparents who think
homosexuality is a choice made against god &
who actively oppose equal rights for the lgbt community.

& they are the same grandparents who believe
our children are already going to hell because
we didn't have them baptized in the church.

none of which is to imply they don't love our kids.
they act extremely lovingly toward them,
they're generous & kind & playful,
& the kids love spending time with them.

& from their perspective, i'm sure their negative judgment
of our parenting choices comes from a place of love,
of wanting what's best for teen girl & big boy . . .
& of not feeling what we're doing is that.

hence, the growing gap between us.

when you're making choices as a mom, & you had good parents yourself,
it's only natural to go to them for their thoughts,
to talk situations through with them, & gather their
experience & wisdom as you weigh your options.

more & more, i feel like i can't do that with my parents.

likewise, it's only natural to want their thumbs-up,
their good-parenting seal of approval
on the choices you make as a mom, especially the hard ones,
to let you know they're behind you & believe in you as a good mom.

more & more, i feel like i won't get that from them.

what they don't understand is that their disapproval won't deter me
from doing what i know in my mama-heart is right for my children.
all it does is make me not want to share it with them.

& that makes me sad.

the last thing i want during their final years [dad's 80yo; mom's 79yo]
is for us to grow further apart, rather than closer together.

i've got a friend who wonders why i tell them about stuff
they're sure to react negatively to? just don't say anything, she advises.

but if i can't be who i am & my son can't be who he is
in order to keep the peace, as it were,
then that makes me sad, too. & inauthentic, which is
the exact opposite of what i want to model for my son.

& there's the aha moment, the lesson i'm learning from my sweet boy daily:

how to keep giving him unconditional love, acceptance & support
as i struggle with not getting the same from my parents
now that i've been brave enough to show them who i really am.

an open-hearted, open-minded, unapologetic yellow-dog-liberal feminist,
working to become my best self, to choose love over fear, to nurture connection,
who believes we are all children of god & should treat each other as such.

& who will do whatever's necessary to make sure my children have
whatever they need from me to realize their potential & fulfill their purpose,
as that is definitely part of mine.

period. no qualifications. end of story.

image source: me & big boy, ca. 2003.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

anti-valentine's? you've got options.

i, for one, love valentine's day.

much like hamilton wright mabie & christmas,
i believe a season which engages the world
in a conspiracy of love can't be all bad.

yet i understand the anti-val sentiment out there.

i come from a place of more love = more good,
but i get the bitter bad that can come from
a painful brush with the ugly underbelly of the beast.

this year, i came across some alternatives for
the luv sux crowd that are a sort of love redirection . . .
other options to consider for coming feb fourteenths:

v-day | one billion rising.

v-day is a global activist movement to end violence against women & girls worldwide.

through v-day campaigns, creative events raise
awareness & money to help stop
rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation & sex slavery.

for its 15th anniversary, v-day launched one billion rising,
a campaign to get one-billion women & their loved ones
to walk out, dance, rise up & demand an end to such violence.

why one billion?
1 of 3 women worldwide will experience violence in her lifetime.
that's over one-billion women impacted by violence.

that's atrocious. that's unacceptable.

i don't know whether one-billion rising will continue,
but v-day definitely will, & being a part of it
is a great way to show some love to the women in your life.

click here to like v-day over at facebook.

generosity day.

generosity day was launched five years ago by sasha dichter to redirect valentine's day.

it's one day of sharing love with everyone,
being generous to everyone, practicing saying yes.
it's about love, action + human connection.

the goal is to spend february 14th
cultivating your practice of generosity through simple acts of kindness,
creating more generosity out in the world & becoming a more open person along the way.

click here to like generosity day over at facebook.

occupy valentine's day.

& finally, this much more casual-yet-fabulous notion
from brilliant writer anne lamott,
via a couple of facebook status posts:

"we are all so pumped about valentine's day.
you could cut the excitement around here with a knife.

my first plan was to celebrate by giving the kitty a flea dip & overeating,
but i think i've come up with a better idea.

. . . let's start an occupy valentine's day movement.

let's begin with the premise that another word for valentine's day is thursday.
& on thursday, as an act of radical self-care, we will celebrate the miracle
that a few people love us so much, that we can go on, & bear up, no matter what;
that even though they know the darkest, most human & intimate & disgusting stuff about us,
they still love us. in fact, they love us more and more through the years.
this is so wild, & is really my only hope. it is what salvation looks like.

let's celebrate that all you need is love; & that god is love & love is god; that love will heal all,
although unfortunately, maybe not on our time, i.e., by wednesday, right after lunch.
but it will. when all is said & done, love is sovereign on this earth.

so let's go crazy with love on thursday.
if we want to be filled with loving feelings, all it takes is to
do a bunch of loving things for others & ourselves. that's all it takes!
you take the action, & the insight will follow: that all you need is love. crazy.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

it's wednesday. i'm so happy just thinking about having stolen tomorrow
back from the maws of commerce & exploitation. we did it.
we get to have free time tomorrow, like in elementary school when
miraculously, you got a free 45 minutes to paint or read or simply catch-up.
tomorrow, we get to practice living as fully as we are able,
without having to eat chocolates that we begged people not to give us.
& at the same time, we can eat all the chocolate we want, because tomorrow is
our day. it's occupy valentine's day.

let the rumpus begin, the rumpus of radical self-care,
of eating what we want, when we want it;
of wearing the clothes we feel comfortable and most ourselves in,
instead of the clothes that somebody else loves to see us wear
because it makes them have better self-esteem.

tomorrow, instead of holding our breath to see if somebody remembered, or produced,
or honored our stated hope that we just receive a sweet card,
instead of sweets that we don't want or need,
we get to be love-crazy with everyone god or life puts in our path to love."

image sources:, v-day, generosity day, see jane work.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

i {heart} hearts.

sharing a collection of hearts
found amidst nature, from a broad spectrum
of unknown sources [mea culpa] . . .

to wish you a naturally & delightfully
happy valentine's day!

coral heart.

blowhole heart.

knothole heart.

tree heart.

island heart, argentina.

island heart, croatia.

cloudy heart.

mars heart.

snowy heart.

sweet heart.

hope today finds you with a happy heart & someone special to share it with!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

one million hearts.

tomorrow is valentine's day.
it's also the two-month anniversary of the tragic shooting /
mass murder at connecticut's sandy hook elementary.

a group called sandy hook promise
wants all americans to keep the community of newtown
on our minds & in our hearts.

& to let them know we've got them
by sending them one million hearts,
via sharing a valentine ala interwebs.

click here to choose & share your heart with newtown now.

sandy hook promise is a nonprofit organization
created by newtown community members
in response to the senseless gunning down of
20 children, 4 classroom teachers & 2 school administrators.

the group's mission is to support the victims' families, the survivors,
first responders, school teachers & staff, & the whole community of newtown
by providing financial & service support & help however possible,
for as long as it takes for each individual to heal.

"we are committed to making newtown be remembered
as the place where we came together, both as a community & as a nation,
& decided we must do everything we can to prevent
tragedies like this from happening again."

you can help by signing the sandy hook promise here:

i promise to honor the 26 lives lost at sandy hook elementary school,
& do everything i can to encourage & support commonsense solutions
that make our community & country safer from similar acts of violence.

& liking the sandy hook promise facebook page here.

but if nothing else, then please, just share a heart today.
let them know our hearts are still with them.

image source: share 1million hearts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

malala goes on.

last october, a taliban terrorist
boarded 15yo malala yousafzai's pakistani schoolbus
& shot her in the head
because she spoke publicly about
the right of all children — girls
included — to an education.

malala survived.

& now, she is following through with
her project to create an organization
to get girls worldwide out of domestic labor & into school.

the malala fund has been established
on behalf of malala & her family, &
is working together with supporters —
including the united nations foundation
to realize malala's vision of education & empowerment
for all girls everywhere.

here's malala her own amazing self, talking about it:

the first grant of the malala fund will provide
a safe educational space for pakistani girls,
resources for a positive learning environment
& an incentive program for families.
following a needs evaluation & final design,
the project is expected to be up & running this spring.

malala survives, she thrives & she continues to give.
you want to give like malala? no gunshot headwound necessary.
just click here.

image source: the malala fund.

Friday, February 8, 2013

jump for love.

marilyn monroe.

as part of my three-word manifesto for 2013 –
dream. realize. shine!
i'm reading three pieces of personal-growth inspiration each month:

you: staying young: the owner's manual for extending your warranty
by mehmet oz & michael roizen

happier at home: kiss more, jump more, abandon a project, read samuel johnson, & my other experiments in the practice of everyday life
by gretchen rubin

one bite at a time: 52 projects for making life simpler
by tsh oxenreider

host dick clark.

i read a piece of each at the beginning of the month,
write notes about it & ponder whether or how to
incorporate some of the concepts into my life.

one of the suggestions included in this month's chapter of
happiness guru gretchen rubin's book is simply to jump.
deciding she needs to literally put a spring in her step,
rubin resolves to jump every day:

actress janet leigh.

"i jumped in a silly way to make my daughters laugh,
i gave a secret skip on my way to the drugstore,
i hopped up & down in my office,
i did jumping jacks after i wok up in the morning,
i jumped down the last few stairs.

journalist mike wallace.

the sheer goofiness of it always made me feel cheerier,
& the energy of the gesture made me feel more energetic.
energy creates energy.

actress brigitte bardot.

rubin also refers to the work of
american portrait photographer philippe halsman,
who became known for his exhilarating snapshots of
famous people mid-air. quoth halsman:

host ed sullivan.

"when you ask a person to jump,
his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping
& the mask falls, so that the real person appears.

actress audrey hepburn.

philippe halsman's jump book, published in 1959,
contained 178 photos of celebrity jumpers, & a tongue-in-cheek discussion of
halsman's philosophy of jump photography, jumpology.

37th u.s. president richard nixon.

it's love month, y'all –
jump for it!!

the duchess & duke of windsor.

images source:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

handmade holiday, part two.

continuing to share some of the gifts i put together
to save cash & sanity during the 2012 holiday season . . .

cozy toes kits.
for girlfriends.

the inspiration: this pinned post over at our best bites blog.
the how: bought fuzzy socks, matching nail polish & jingle bells, designed & printed matching labels [using the template at the blog post, but with my own design], packaged into cellophane bags with ribbon.

the spend: 5 pairs socks @ $3 each + 5 bottles nail polish @ $1.50 + 2 packages jingle bells [4] @ $5 each = about $7 per gift [5 total].
the resources: target socks & jingles, walgreen's sinful colors nail polish.

seasonal art.
for couples friends.

the inspiration: this blog post over at young house love.
the how: bought packages of laser-cut felt ornaments & white frames, glued ornaments on scrapbook paper & framed in pairs.

the spend: 4 packages ornaments [4 each] @ $1 + 12 frames @ $2 each + scrapbook paper [already had] = about $5 per gift [6 pairs total].
the resources: michael's laser-cut felt ornaments; ikea white 4x6" ribba frames.

cranberry pecan breakfast bread with orange glaze.
for helping-hands friends.

the inspiration:all mine.
the how: bought ceramic miniloaf pans, found a couple of recipes i thought might combine tastily, baked & wrapped.
the spend: 12 miniloaf pans @ $1 each + grocery store ingredients + wrap & ribbons = about $2.50 per gift [12 total].
the resources: michaels ceramic miniloaf pans; martha stewart bread recipe here [substituted craisins for cherries, eliminated streusel]; orange glaze recipe here.

candy cans.
for teaching friends.

the inspiration: this blog post over at young house love.
the how: bought mini paintcans & various holiday m&ms; filled cans with candy; designed & printed labels; put it together.
the spend: 2 paint cans @ $1 each + $5 of m&ms = about $3.50 per gift [2 total].
the resources: michael's mini paintcans; target holiday m&ms.

custom calendars.
for anyone.

the inspiration: this blog post over at young house love.
the how: researched inspirational quotations from some of my all-time favorite women, designed & printed onto white cardstock, trimmed & clipped.
the spend: white cardstock + printer ink + binder clips = awfully dang cheap!
the resources: michael's white cardstock; office depot printer ink & binder clips.

want one of my 2013 custom calendars for your own? just post a comment
including the magic word & your e-address, & i'll send you a pdf you can
print onto 8.5x11" cardstock, trim along marked lines, clip together & enjoy the rest of the year!

Monday, February 4, 2013

handmade holiday, part one.

yes, i realize christmas happened six weeks ago.
i just thought i'd give everyone a brief break from
the jingling & caroling & all-consuming event that begins
around hallowe'en & continues through new year's.

so now that we're well along our way to the next hallmark occasion,
full of love & hearts, doilies & babies with mad archery skillz,
i thought i'd share some of the gifts i put together
to save cash & sanity during the 2012 holiday season.

mexi-cocoa + mono mugs.
for some long-distance relatives.

the inspiration: this blog post over at young house love.
the how: found a recipe & mixed up a little spicy cocoa, designed & printed labels with instructions, packaged mix into cellophane bags & stuffed them into monogram mugs.
the spend: 4 mugs @ $6 each + grocery store ingredients + bags = about $7.00 per gift [4 total].
the resources: anthropologie monogram mugs here; food network mexican cocoa recipe here.

ginger bones for good dogs.
for four-legged family members.

the inspiration: all mine.
the how: bought a couple of boxes of holiday dog treats, divvied them up, designed & printed labels, & repackaged them into cellophane bags.
the spend: 2 boxes @ $6 each + bags = about $1.50 per gift [9 total].
the resource: world market dog treats here.

initial ikea heart ornaments.
for other folks' kids.

the inspiration: all mine.
the how: bought a few boxes of warm & fuzzy heart ornaments, bought some sparkly iron-on letters, added hot iron & ta-da!
the spend: 3 boxes of 4 ornaments @ $5 each + 1 package of iron-on letters @ $5 = about $2 per gift [10 total, with 2 leftover for me].
the resources: ikea ornaments [some crazy swedish name i neglected to note; available only during holidays]; michael's iron-on letters.

cafepress photornament.
for parents & siblings.

the inspiration: cafepress e-coupon.
the how: designed & bought aluminum photo ornaments at cafepress website.
the spend: 4 ornaments @ $12.50 each/$10 holiday sale + $12 coupon + $6.75 s&h = about $11.50 per gift [3 total, with 1 additional for my family].
the resource: cafepress personalized photo ornament here.

perfectly she pendants.
for the amazing women who inspire me.

the inspiration: beth quinn designs.
the how: a friend & i spotted these necklace-making goods at a scrapbooking show; we bought a kit to split, plus some extras so we each had enough supplies to create 8 necklaces. i designed, printed & glittered the phrases, & added charms.
the spend: $15 half-kit + $23 extra ball chains, silver trays & glaze|glue + $12 charms = about $6.50 per gift [6 total, with 2 leftover for later birthday gifts].
the resources: craft fantastic tray pendant kit here.