Netflix Makes Parenthood’s Final Season Not So Sad

You know how most of the people on TV are pretty, skinny and reflect the so-called vision of perfection? And how we’re not supposed to want to emulate that?

Let’s be real. Not admiring them is easy to say, hard to do. But there’s one TV show that I don’t mind trying to emulate: Parenthood. Hubby and I love that show. If you haven’t seen it/don’t know about it, it’s on NBC and focuses on the Bravermans.

Parenthood is a "dramedy" on NBC that first aired in March 2010.

Parenthood is a “dramedy” on NBC that first aired in March 2010.

They’re a family headed by patriarch Zeek and his wife Camille. They’ve got four adult children, Adam, the responsible one; Sarah, the free-wheeling single mom with questionable judgment; Julia, the hard-charging lawyer; and Crosby, the artsy musician who’s married to a black woman.

Then there’s their nine grandchildren, and we’re introduced to those ups and downs. Living with Asperger’s, first loves, first broken hearts, bullying, racism, drugs, pregnancy, the show walks the characters through such challenges.

This is the final season of Parenthood, but thanks to the magic of Netflix, I can still watch the Bravermans. I look forward to reliving the good ol’ days between Julia and her husband, Joel. The perfect tone the writers hit in depicting a biracial family that looks like mine. The closeness between Sarah’s kids, Amber and Drew.

I feel like they have the perfect family in that their family bond is strong, seemingly impenetrable. They have big gatherings, they share each other’s business, they’re messy, they say the wrong things, do the wrong things, but all have unconditional love for one another.


To me, that’s what family is about. I like a recent scene where Amber told Zeek that she was unexpectedly pregnant. She was bracing herself for his judgment, but the only thing that came forth was his tears of happiness.

I like the intergenerational connectivity. I sure hope that my grandchild is comfortable enough to talk with me about such tough topics. I certainly never would have discussed that with my grandfather. That’s not a knock on him, he was one of the nicest, most generous souls you’d ever meet. I’d just never tell him I got knocked up, I’d be a punk and let the family rumor mill handle that one.

But with Amber and Zeek, it was a great moment and made me hope that one day I could have that. For it would mean I had a solid relationship with my adult children, and their own children and even maybe a great-grandchild.

I know that no family is perfect, but in my book, the Bravermans, especially with all of their flaws, are pretty dang close.

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Escaping to Hood River for the Hopsfest

It’s been too long. It really has. It’s been too long since I’ve written. My writing is the lifeblood of me and I’ve been too caught up in my busy-ness that I’ve been neglecting it and thusly me.

We were in Hood River this past weekend, seeking a nice respite from the demands on our time and attention. Hubby had been in India for nearly two weeks, and when he came back last week, he immediately jumped into work. I’m not sure how he does it, he was jet-lagged, but powered through his work day, soccer games and helping out around the house.

After flying solo for so long while he was more than half way across the world, I too was tired. I had a smattering of friends help out here and there, but no where near as much help as my life partner.

Hopsfest is a one-day festival where you can enjoy more than 65 draft beers.

Hopsfest is a one-day festival where you can enjoy more than 65 draft beers.

Once the weekend hit, we couldn’t wait to get out of Dodge to decompress and reconnect. Our reason for going that weekend is because it was Hopsfest, an annual celebration of beer. More than 40 local, regional and national breweries provide about 65 different beers on tap. We went last year and it mostly rained. We didn’t much mind, we find the Pacific Northwest rains charming, just a characteristic of the region.

A lot of people here are annoyed by or get angry at the rain. Lot of good it does them.

We got here on Friday about 5 p.m., Hubby had wanted to get here around 3 p.m. but I signed up to oversee our school’s biggest fundraiser and we’re in crunch time. I had to finish up a couple of must-haves with the school fundraiser and things related to our Cub Scout pack. (Yeah, we joined last year.)

You never know what you'll see at Hopsfest.

You never know what you’ll see at Hopsfest.

But Hopsfest was fun, Hubby went in the late morning for his VIP early entrance. As the beer drinker of the family he should maximize his time at the one-day festival. Me and the boys hung out at this sleek and sensible home built by an urban planner. I admittedly was emailing/texting/Facebooking for a couple of hours Saturday to iron out some wrinkles with my Scout responsibilities.

But soon I unplugged and we were off! The festival was fun, I did my usual swing by the Naked Winery booth. Since I don’t like beer, the festival is really pearls for swine when it comes to me, but I thoroughly enjoy the lone wine booth.

My favorite boot at Hopsfest, Naked Winery.

My favorite boot at Hopsfest, Naked Winery.

I also got lost in checking out the vendors and their wares. The Old Trunk had old album covers and neck ties turned into totes, and a different vendor had old children’s books rebound and filled with blank paper, transforming them into journals. What’s old was new again.

Album-covers converted to totes.

Album covers for bags.

But the best part was unplugging from the busyness and plugging into each other. We laughed, talked and acted silly.

Some of my favorite moments were:

  • While walking from the house we rented to downtown Hood River, we started singing. I swear this came well before the first drop of alcohol, but we began belting out one of Ethan’s favorite songs: Capitol Cities’ Safe and Sound. Soon Hubby found the song on his phone and played it while we danced and sang down the street. It reminded me a bit of the Whiz.


  • Logan and I had a long talk about friendship. How that just because he’s in Portland, all of his friends in Chicago are still his friends and when he sees them again, it’ll be like old times.
  • Listening to the boys laugh maniacally while playing in the loft.
  • Gasping for breath as the funniest man I know was cracking jokes. I’m glad I married him.

It was as if we were back in Chicago, like old times. What was old, was new again and boy did it feel good.



A view from the loft in our lovely Hood River home-away-from home.

A view from the loft in our lovely Hood River home-away-from home.



Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

BlogHer Recap: Growing your blog, kissing Piper and talking Scandal with Kerry Washington

I’ve sat down to write this post a few times, but there’s so much to say I’m honestly not sure where to begin. My journalism self demands: Get to the point!

And that in itself is hard. I recently went to the BlogHer conference and I learned more about my craft, was so inspired by my peers and reveled in the greatness of being without my Hubby and kids. Having time away from my everyday cleared space to think about where I want She’sWrite to go and how I can get there. I’m sure ya’ll don’t want to hear about my navel-gazing so I’ll share with you some of the conference highlights.

  • My friends. This undoubtedly is my favorite part of any conference. Who doesn’t like to reconnect with old buddies? I’m still homesick for Chicago, so this was an especially lovely treat. Plus I always love meeting new people, and the atmosphere at BlogHer makes it so it’s easy to find kindred spirits. I met a slew of them. The first post-conference blog that I wrote was about them. I’ll share that with you guys later this week.
My girls, Natasha from and Dwana from

My girls, Natasha from and Dwana from

  • Netflix. This wasn’t an official BlogHer activity, but as a member of Netflix’s Stream Team, we got to tour their oh-so-cool headquarters, ask executives questions and meet the real Piper from Orange Is The New Black. I even kissed Piper Kerman! #teamnoshame

Smooches! This is Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is The New Black.

This is Piper Kerman, a good sport and author of Orange Is The New Black.

  • Kerry Washington. She spoke at one of the keynote sessions and it was refreshing to hear her anxiousness on going back to work as a new mom as well as her passion for being politically active. That was instilled in her when she was young. Her parents even took her out to dinner to celebrate the first time she was able to vote.
The beautiful and humble actress Kerry Washington, well-known for her lead role in Scandal.

The beautiful and humble actress Kerry Washington, well-known for her lead role in Scandal.

  • VOTY! Voices of the Year celebrates some of the best blog posts in BlogHer Land. I always enjoy anything that recognizes quality, heart-felt writing. Last year I was one of the lucky ones who got to read her essay before the crowd and this year I was able to take in others’ soul-baring essays.
Meet Janelle, the mom behind Renegade Mothering. Besides being a VOTY reader, she was my insta-soulmate.

Meet Janelle, the mom behind Renegade Mothering. Besides being a VOTY reader, she was my insta-soulmate.

  • Arianna Huffington. I wouldn’t say this is a highlight of the conference, but it was one of the more notable moments. At a keynote she was talking about her newest book, “Thrive.” She was making all of these platitudes about women and how strong we are and we have to make sure that we’re well-rested before we do anything else. And for me it fell flat. Here was this woman who was advising a room full of sleep-deprived moms to rest. Most of us don’t lack sleep because we want to walk around like zombies. It’s a peril of the mom job. Not to mention we’re all bloggers and The Huffington Post does not pay its bloggers. I couldn’t get over that. How does a blogger “thrive” under such a pay structure? Still yet, many women were inspired by her talk, gave her a standing applause when she was finished and hordes of them scrambled to get inline for their autographed copy of her new book. So who knows, maybe I just wasn’t in the mood to hear her message.
Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post and Guy Kawasaki, an early Apple executive.

Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post and Guy Kawasaki, an early Apple executive.

  • I’m Enough campaign. I met a kickass rocker chic who had amazing shoes and a even-more-amazing perspective on what it means to be “enough.” She’s the driving force behind The Mrs. band and she plays the drums. I can’t wait to share more with you on their #imenough project.
Andra Liemandt of The Mrs. band, a rockin' group from Austin, Texas.

Andra Liemandt of The Mrs. band, a rockin’ group from Austin, Texas.

  • Celebrity sightings. OK. Confession time. I do enjoy me some vapid entertainment. After a rough day, instead of treating myself to something sweet to eat, I like to buy what I call “Mind Candy.” Those celebrity magazines. Anyway, Khloe Kardashian was there, the line to get a picture with her was astronomically long. I just took a few pics from the sidelines. I also got a pic with David Tutera, who has amazing eyebrows! But the best was Rev. Run. He was DJed a set at the closing party. All I kept thinking while shaking my groove thang was “There’s Rev. Run! There’s Rev. Run!”
Me and David Tutera, wedding planner extraordinaire. Khloe Kardashian waiting for pictures with her fans.

Me and David Tutera, wedding planner extraordinaire. Khloe Kardashian waiting for pictures with her fans.


Rev. Run at the closing party. Photo by CrunchyMetroMom.

Rev. Run at the closing party. Photo by CrunchyMetroMom.

Even though it was only a weekend, so much was packed into it, BlogHer felt like a week-long event. I’m still digesting all the little nuggets I learned and connections I made. Are you ready to come along with me as I work to grow my blog? I’m sure it’ll be a fun, quirky adventure.

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mom bullied at the beach for wearing a bikini

It was my friend’s first time in a bikini in 13 years. She was on the beach in Alberta, Canada with her two kids, relaxing under the sun when three people began to taunt her.

“It started with, ‘oh my god, look. Look! That’s f—— gross!’” Tanis Jex-Blake wrote in a private Facebook group we share. She opened her eyes to see what the commotion was to find two guys and a girl standing above her. They were talking about her body and specifically the stretch marks she’s earned for giving birth to five amazing kids.

My friend, a mom of 5, was taunted for wearing a bikini at the beach.

My friend, a mom of 5, was taunted for wearing a bikini at the beach.

Needless to say, my friend was crushed. Hours later she turned to our Facebook group that consists of moms who all had due dates of August 2007. She told us what happened, and shared her plan to post about it on Facebook.

Naturally, we were outraged. Not only that these three idiots hurt our friend, but because their behavior was disgusting. It showed a lack of knowledge and respect for women and our bodies and all of their beautiful shapes and sizes. How would they feel if someone did that to their mom? Or their sister?

It’s ridiculous that we’re so used to seeing picture perfect bodies on TV, the Internet and in magazines that we forget what real women’s bodies look like. Not to mention, thanks to photo editing, makeup and other tricks those women don’t even look like what’s depicted in the final product.

We’re starting to see more images in the public eye that reflect real women’s bodies. But we need more. Not to mention with all the hoopla over Hollywood’s latest baby bump, we need to celebrate all women whose bellies have been stretched to basically be studio apartments and whose breasts have nourished the previous tenants. It’s a beautiful reality of life.

Since Tanis put up her post,  she’s been overwhelmed by all of the positive feedback.

“I think it’s resonating with so many people, because all of us have been judged at some point in life, with by ourselves, people we know, or strangers,” she said. “And I’m sure every single person who has ever been bullied has thought ‘I should have said this, or I should have said that.’ Well, I did, albeit after the fact. Also, I’m just your average person, my body isn’t perfect, but it has done some amazing things.”

She’s even decided to team up with some other moms in her area to host a post-baby bikini sit-in to encourage moms to be proud of their bodies. I’m certainly proud of my girl. Tanis, keep on, keepin’ on.

Below is her original post:

“This is an open letter to the 2 guys and 1 girl who decided to skip work today in Sherwood Park where they were building a house, but instead decided to come to Alberta Beach to relax in the sun, enjoy the water and some beers.

I’m sorry if my first attempt at sun tanning in a bikini in public in 13 years “grossed you out”. I’m sorry that my stomach isn’t flat and tight. I’m sorry that my belly is covered in stretch marks. I’m NOT sorry that my body has housed, grown, protected, birthed and nurtured FIVE fabulous, healthy, intelligent and wonderful human beings. I’m sorry if my 33 year old, 125 lb body offended you so much that you felt that pointing, laughing, and pretending to kick me. But I’ll have you know that as I looked at your ‘perfect’ young bodies, I could only think to myself “what great and amazing feat has YOUR body done?”.

I’ll also have you know that I held my head high, unflinching as you mocked me, pretending that what you said and did had no effect on me; but I cried in the car on the drive home. Thanks for ruining my day. It’s people like you who make this world an ugly hateful place. I can’t help but feel sorry for the women who will one day bear your children and become “gross” in your eyes as their bodies change during the miraculous process of pregnancy. I can only hope that one day you’ll realize that my battle scars are something to be proud of, not ashamed of.”

Posted in Appetizer for Life, Health and Beauty, Motherhood, Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Best friends at the beach

Best friends on vacation in Netarts Bay, Oregon.

Best friends on vacation in Netarts Bay, Oregon.

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Doing the ‘big chop’ to start my natural hair style

Well I did it. I chopped it off. I’ve long been wrestling with the issue of whether to rid myself of my chemically treated hair and grow it natural.

I’m going to back up just a smidge to drop some knowledge for those who don’t know much about black hair and why going natural is a thing. I liked how this piece in The New York Times explains it in the context of updated Army regulations.

OK, so for a few years, I’d stopped getting a relaxer that straightened my hair and opted for a texturizer which loosened my natural curls. I loved my texturizer. I could wash-and-go letting my curls air dry, or I could invoke the power of the heat and straighten my locks. I had a fantastic hairstylist in Chicago (Cister to Cister Salon) and under her care, I was the happiest I’ve been with my hair.

I'm in the front to the right with my texturized hair but curly.

I’m in the front to the right with my texturized hair but curly.

Here's my texturized hair straight.

Here’s my texturized hair straight.

Fast-forward to my move to Portland. Not known for being a mecca for black people, I began looking for a black hair salon the moment I found I was moving to the Northwest. I knew the hair thing would be a challenge, especially with all of the rain.  I got some ideas from Yelp, and when I got here, I noticed that many of the black women I saw were wearing naturals. Should I do it? How would I look with closely cropped hair? Would it make my face look fat?

I wasn’t ready to do it. Shortly after the school year began I saw a black woman with wavy long hair walking her kid to class. I literally chased her down, dragging my 2-year-old behind me and bewildering my 6-year-old. “Excuse me!? EXCUSE ME!!” I shouted breathlessly. Then she turned around and I could tell it was a wig. Damn.

Turns out she was natural too, but she recommended a black hair salon that is in my area. Months later, my hair was looking like who-did-it-and-what-for, so I needed to go in. I got the texturizer, but the woman left the chemical on too long and it really was like a virgin relaxer. Basically my fun, springy coils were just wavy blahs.

My chemical-free hair, wet and curly.

My chemical-free hair, wet and curly.

I vowed to never return and searched for more hair salons. I also began to look into natural hair options. I found a woman named Amber at Conscious Coils, who specializes in chemical-free hair. She is a pioneer of sorts here in Oregon. She led the push on easing regulations on natural hair care, opening the door for her and business owners like her to practice their trade.

But what struck me is that she offered consultations. That’s what I needed, someone to talk this over with who was an expert.

I could read all of the blogs, watch YouTube videos, talk with my naturalista friends, but everyone had their own take. After my consultation with Amber, I  had a good outlook on what was ahead on this natural hair journey and was sold.

I wasn’t going to be as cool as one of my besties about going natural. She had just had enough of her hair and had her husband take his clippers to her hair. She said she was crying during the process, but as soon as it was done felt just a freedom and weight lifted off her shoulders. It sounded intoxicating.

But I’m not as ballsy as she. I decided I would cut off a few inches and then use protective styling via weaves and braids. From my weave-wearing days in Chicago, I still had a couple bags of hair, so Amber gave me the contact for the go-to place for weaves in Portland, Studio Six 9 Hair Design.

My stylist Jerry was a nut, but in a good way. She rocked a thick, tousled mohawk that was red, purple and had shaved her sides. Usually that would have given me pause since our hair style choices are obviously so different, but I figured, I’m getting a weave and having her cut off an inch or two and that’ll be it.

My chemical-free hair straight.

My chemical-free hair straight.

As I’m sitting in the chair, she starts to cut. I got curious.

“How much of my natural hair is there?” I asked.

“Oh you’ve got a good three, four inches.” Jerry said, snipping away an inch here and there.

Should I cut it off? This wasn’t part of my plan to do it right now, but I’m really tired of feeling blah and I needed a change.

“What if we just cut it all off?” I suddenly could relate to Britney Spears in her head-shaving moment.

“All the relaxed hair? Are you sure?”

I am so effing done, I thought, let’s just do it. “Yes.”

Jerry began to invoke her inner Edward Scissorhands and a few minutes later I had a nice puffy little fro. I was so stoked, I sent my girlfriends a group message to announce my new ‘do. They were so excited, I got ballsy and put pics up on Facebook.

I thought about taking a pic of the piles of hair on the floor, but thought, nahhh, that’s gross. So I looked at it and was reminded of what it meant. All of the swimming-pool concerns when I was a kid, the awkwardness of a gheri-curled tween, the panic-inducing rain as a career woman. All of that, was no more. It was headed to the garbage where it belonged.

Getting my weave sewn in.

Getting my weave sewn in.

Then… I looked at the pile of weave on Jerry’s desk and questions swirled in my mind. Should I just forget the weave and rock my new hair? I don’t even have any products and I’m leaving for BlogHer in the morning, do I have time to get it all together? Do I want to be getting acquainted with my new ‘do while away?

I decided to stick with the plan. (My Type-A personality doesn’t often allow for deviations in plans, but it’s something I’m working on.)

So I’m rockin’ my weave and it’s a big change. When my 6-year-old first saw me, he dropped his jaw and Kindle simultaneously, which is a miracle within itself. “Whooooaaaaaaa!” My Portland bestie got out of the shower and met me soaking wet in only her towel just to get a glimpse and my neighbor didn’t even recognize me.

But it was when I later read the numerous comments on my Facebook page about my metamorphosis into a naturalista did I have a twinge of regret about not rocking the ‘fro from the beginning. But I won’t have the weave forever and once it’s out I can begin getting to know the real me, the natural me.

This is me.

This is me.


Posted in Health and Beauty | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Visit to Oregon’s Cannon Beach

“Let’s go to the beach, each!” That line from the Nicki Minaj song had been running through my mind since I had the idea to slip away to Cannon Beach, Oregon for a couple days.

My mother-in-law was in town from Norway to help me take care of the kids while my husband was galavanting in Brazil at the World Cup. Seriously, he was at the World Cup. More on that later.

So our summer had officially begun. We finished our soccer season first, a couple weeks after that we were done with Cub Scouts, then our baseball season ended and finally, school was over. To celebrate, I thought it best to get out of Dodge.

Late one night I hopped online to try to find a place for us to stay. I know it’s the summer season, but figured surely *something* was available. I got a list of the top accommodations for kids and families in Cannon Beach. It was nearly 11:30 p.m., but I started calling places anyway. I mostly got the resorts’ voicemail, except for one. The Waves.

I got excited when a woman answered the phone. I quickly told her what I was looking for, a two-night stay for two adults and two children and had an oceanview. Turns out they had a property called The White Heron Lodge that fit the bill.

♦             ♦               ♦

A couple hours after Logan left first grade behind, we all piled into my Jeep. It was me, Farmor (The Norwegian word for father’s mother), Logan and Ethan. An hour and 15 minutes later, the GPS said the White Heron Lodge was just 5 minutes away, but we were still deep in the lush forests of Oregon. How could the Pacific Ocean be anywhere near here?

A winding turn to the right and a zigzag left and poof! We were in charming downtown Cannon Beach. The mainstreet, Hemloch, is lined with all kinds of boutiques, eateries and galleries. What’s cool is that once you walk along the stores facing the street, you will see snaking alleyways between some of the shops that reveal more back-to-back boutiques. Shopping is clearly alive and well in Cannon Beach.

We didn’t know what to expect when we got to our property. Online the pictures looked great, but we all know how pictures can be deceiving. Thankfully this place was even better than I imagined. There was one bedroom, a full (but small) kitchen, bathroom with a jacuzzi tub, a living room and dining area that had an expansively gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean.

♦             ♦               ♦

Farmor and I lugged all our bags inside and she quickly began unpacking everything. That’s the thing about Norwegians. They’re crazy practical and efficient. I had unpacked only half of my 3 year old’s clothes and she already had her clothes in the drawers, our jackets and shoes properly put away in the closet and was half way through unpacking the kitchen. I was floored. She was like the Unpacking Ninja.

For our first walk on the beach I put the kids in rain boots. I guess the Norwegian practicality is contagious. I felt a little silly because others were barefoot or wearing flip flops. But when the boys started splashing in the cold, sandy puddles, I no longer felt silly, but a little proud.

The water was cold, but Logan was determined to try it out. And I couldn’t blame him, the ocean is so lively and mesmerizing. It’s impossible not to dip at least a toe or two in. Well at least for Logan and I. Farmor decided to stay on the nestled on the couch with her book and a glass of merlot.

The straightest shot from our suite to the ocean required that we cross a stream called Ecola Creek, that fed into the ocean. We were all kind of nervous because we didn’t know how deep it would be.

Another family was standing along the banks of the creek considering a walk through it. Collectively, we decided to send their teenage son into the waters first so we’d know what to expect. He waded in, it went up to his knees, and he looked back saying that it wasn’t too cold. After he made it ashore, his parents followed.

I lifted Ethan while Logan grabbed onto my elbow. We waded in and Ethan started hollering: “I want to go back!” “Take me back!” In the pool, Ethan is like a fish and that he was afraid of this creek struck me as funny.

The water was cold (that teenage boy lied) and against Ethan’s demands to go home we kept trudging through. When the water reached my knees and Logan’s netherly bits he tried to climb me like a tree, sending Ethan to scream louder and switch his call for help to “Farmor! Farmor! I want Farmor!” Meanwhile I howled with laughter.

After crossing the creek, we spent some time walking along the shore, uncovering partial sand dollars and crab claws. It was lovely and I’m instantly envious of anyone who lives on the sea.

The rest of our time in Cannon Beach we hit up some of the local restaurants, windowshopped and enjoyed Haystack Rock, which is a 235 feet tall sea stack. You guys might remember it in a couple scenes from the movie The Goonies.

And then, it was time to go. As my SUV snaked through the forest and back toward Portland, all of us were a little calmer, happier and excited for the next time.

Posted in Travel | 2 Comments

Wild Kratts and National Geographic on Netflix feeds my son’s hunger for all things animal

I’m writing this post as a member of the Netflix Stream Team and have been compensated for it, but as always all opinions are my own.

My son loves science. Anything dealing with plants, animals, rocks, the ocean whatever it is, he just eats it up. One of his favorite things on Netflix is the National Geographic documentaries. There’s the Amazing Planet ones, a dinosaur episode, but the most popular in our house is “Predators At War.”

Granted many of these would not be appropriate for all 6-year-olds. We have decided it’s OK if Logan gets to see nature at its most beautiful, where string rays gracefully glide through the rocky coral reef and its most gruesome, such as a shark’s bloody attack of a sea lion.

Martin and Chris Kratts created a funny cartoon series starring themselves. Through the brothers' adventures kids learn about the lives of animals.

Martin and Chris Kratt created a funny cartoon series starring themselves. Through the brothers’ adventures kids learn about the lives of animals.

Something that’s much more child-friendly is Wild Kratts. It’s the story of brothers Chris and Martin Kratt. They’re nature lovers who have combined that with their love of filmography to create this animated series. Each episode features an animal who is in trouble, whether it be because of a villain or a real-life issue such as the affects of deforestation. Then the Kratts and their crew use only-in-cartoon technology to save the critters all while sharing interesting facts about the animals.

The Kratts seems like fun guys, a little dorky, but in a charming way. That’s a good thing because as an adult I too find their banter entertaining. After the cartoon portion of the show, there’s a brief unanimated segment on other animals and it shows the real Kratt boys talking about animals.

I also like all the animal facts they present and the info seems to stick with Logan because out of nowhere he’ll go: “Mom, did you know that crocodile’s bite has 3,000 pounds of force?” or “Mama, did you know that honey badgers are the most ferocious animal because they have to face other predators like cheetahs, lions and hyenas?”

The answer is always no. I didn’t know that.

Maybe if I keep watching one day I’ll be able to answer with a “Yes” and spit back some other impressive knowledge like: Did you know that the monarch butterfly migrates south about 2,000 miles each year for warmer climes in Mexico?

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who says you can’t talk about race, religion and gender?

How do you guys feel about book clubs? I’ve never really belonged to one, well at least not beyond reading the first book. Since moving to Portland, I’ve been checking out different groups to meet people to build up my tribe.

It’s important for me to have a tribe, a group of good friends who are there for you, are honest with you, even if it’ll make you mad, and really just love you unconditionally. My friend Patti mentioned she was going to ask her book club if I could join it because she thought I’d like the ladies.

Our book club Skypes with author Jessica Null Vealitzek about her new novel.

Our book club Skypes with author Jessica Null Vealitzek about her new novel.

Turns out the group had a lot of educators in it, they read my blog about my opinion of Oregon schools and felt I’d be too “hostile” for their book club. C’est la vie, Patti and I started our own, called Not Your Mama’s Book Club.

I got to choose the first book, naturally I picked Jessica Null Vealitzek’s The Rooms Are Filled because it’s a great book and she’s a treasured piece of my Chicago tribe. About a dozen of us met at my house, the ladies brought really, really good food and drinks. My favorite was when a sweet little coffeecarafeblonde showed up with a huge container of coffee. It was practically bigger than her, you’ve seen them before, they’re the ones caterers and restaurants use. I kept thinking about how my rabid Chicago coffee-loving friends would bow down to her brilliance. (Ahem, Coffee Lovin’ Mom.)

The group of ladies came from different experiences, some were born and raised here, others grew up on the East Coast or had hopscotched across the U.S. We had stay-at-home moms, corporate moms and folks like me who are working part-time. We all gelled naturally and spent a lot of time gabbing away.

I didn’t want to stop all of the chit chat because it was fun, but it was a book club so I felt we needed to talk about the book. Plus Jess graciously agreed to appear via Skype to talk with our club and answer questions.

We used our smart TV for the Skype session and though there were some connectivity issues (which I always have with Skype) it worked pretty well. Since our TV’s quite large, the dork in me imagined that my Jess was sitting in the living room with my new gal pals.

At the end of the Skype call, our conversation took an interesting turn. It started as we discussed intolerance, which is a prominent theme in the book, and soon I was answering their questions about my thoughts of being black in the Pacific Northwest. And in my typical fashion, I was honest in expressing my feelings. Some of you are aware of my frustrations tied to the lack of cultural diversity here and how that affects us, so it was good to talk it over with these women.

We also talked about race and having conversations about race with your kids, and how it’s different for each family. Some of us have biracial children and we discussed how that has shaped our experiences. The race talk then shifted to gender issues.

Gender in terms of family members who are gay and how they were received. One mom also shared the story of someone in her extended family who is transgendered and the challenges she faced as she and her family worked to accept her as a woman.

There was even a time at the end where we talked about religion. I couldn’t believe we were delving into all these topics at our very first book club meeting.

I can’t capture the magic of the evening in a blog post, but you’ll have to trust me when I say it was beautiful to have substantive conversations on sensitive topics. I promised them that each book club meeting wouldn’t always be filled with such weighty topics, because it’s clear these girls, like me, love to have a fun time. Still yet, it was refreshing to stretch the boundaries of our understanding about the human experience.

Thanks Not Your Mama’s Book Club, I’ll never forget it.

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Motherhood, Am I Doing This Right?

I’m sitting here at the top floor of my first blogging event in Portland. I was excited to cover the BabyFest Northwest because it was one where they reached out to me, which made me feel like I was starting to gain more ground on the local social media scene.

But now that I’m here, all I can think about is the unhappy guy at home, my sweet Logan. He woke up to find the babysitter already in his house and with the news that in about 20 minutes I would be leaving. It was a sad goodbye where he was crying and was begging me not to leave. (“Don’t LEAVE MEEEEE!”)


Keep in mind, Logan is six going on 16. He was in daycare starting at 7 months old and continued until Kindergarten. He usually isn’t this dramatic when it comes to departures. But today was hard. My theory on how to approach such situations is to rip off the bandaid and once the parents have left, things get so much better. Usually this is the case, but shortly after I arrived at the shower, the sitter called.

It was Saturday, so Logan had a baseball game. Since neither my husband nor I would be home, I arranged for another family to take him to and from the game.

Being the forgetful mom that I am, I left the house this morning without setting out his baseball gear. The sitter called asking if I knew where his equipment was. It dawned on me. Oh no, it was in the back of my Jeep.

The sitter passed the phone to the dad who was going to shuttle Logan to baseball. The dad wanted to know if I wanted him to push Logan to go.

By now I’m standing in a back storage room of the event space, finger in one ear, phone in the other. “Let him decide what he wants to do, but make sure he understands that once he makes that choice, he has to stick with it.”

Then I get to talk to Logan. He’s nearly hysterical and blubbers to me that he didn’t eat the bacon I made him for breakfast because he was still mad at me for leaving. *sigh* We talk about the baseball choices, he says he’d rather stay home. So home it was.

We hang up the phone. I just take a pause.

I’m sitting at this babyfest surrounded by, well, babies and not only is it hard not to get baby fever as all of these wiggle worms are all strapped to their mommies, but knowing that my baby is not doing well at home, I’m thinking. What am I doing here? Didn’t I quit my full-time job so that I wouldn’t have to choose between career stuff and my family? Freelancing and blogging were supposed to make this juggle less hectic. Even though it’s much better than before, am I making the right choices?

Sure today is just one event and it’s not like he’s going to be scarred forever for the time I didn’t remember his baseball equipment. But it’s funny how in motherhood you’re always asking: Am I doing the right thing?

If I had skipped the event, I would have regretted it and wished that while folding laundry or picking up toys that I was networking with businesses and other bloggers. So either way I guess I would have had regrets.

I suppose that the best thing is to have fun with the choice that I made and know that in the end, everything will work out fine. I truly believe it always does.

*I wrote this while at the BabyFest Northwest. After feeling conflicted, I found some quiet space amid nursing mamas and decided to write out my feelings because it’s how I process things. After that last line, I snapped my laptop closed and started networking. I have to say I’m so glad I did, I met some really inspiring people who are doing exciting and innovative things. Not to mention I clicked with a lot of folks and they gave me their number so we could go have coffee sometime. Also, Logan had a great day hanging at home. See? I was right, everything did work out fine in the end.

Posted in Blogging, Motherhood, Parenting, Portland, Women, Working Moms | 4 Comments