Jun 23, 2014

little adventures-to the train yard

This past weekend moved at a slower pace--the kind of rhythm that lends itself to song after song request from little one, as she pipes in with newly learned lyrics, endless reading sessions with Daddy, the floor covered in impressive stacks of books from sunrise to sunset, and leisurely trips to taco stands and parks. In short, my ideal kind of weekend. We had the time to really see each other; to linger in extended cuddles, and to shower one another with a billion kisses. As our toddler grows at the speed of light (so it seems!), it makes me happy when we are able to consciously slow down, and be truly present.

We decided to go on a little family trip to a train museum, and it was amazing! Although it's basically an old train yard of sorts, the sense of history that these old trains emit is palpable. One of the old train cars is open to the public to explore. It's just an empty train car with clouded windows, and old sun-stained wood floors, creaking under the combined weight of our steps, but the air is thick with something haunting and unnameable. Strolling by these retired giants, we felt awed and wistful all at once. Back in their heyday, they must have been just beautiful to see, and exciting as heck to ride. Julie was in toddler paradise--she who loves any sort of vehicle, be it a crane, bulldozer, bus, or train---and could scarcely contain herself. Her favorite part was the ride around the park in a miniature train. Her little hands clung tight to the sides of the train car, hair whipping wildly in the wind, grinning madly, as she exclaimed over and over and over again--"This is so much fun, isn't it?!" It really was.

Jun 22, 2014


"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Her hair grows wilder by the day--it's unreserved and boisterous--but in contrast to her curls, she can be quite pensive and cautious in public, throwing deeply suspicious looks at strangers who offer her their greetings.

Jun 19, 2014

motherhood burn-out

It happened one day. It snuck up on me quietly, stealthily, cornering me with no remorse. And finally, I had to take pause, and admit that I was burned out. A raw, bleary and teary eyed, angry mama. Helping Julie to learn how to use the toilet at this time had only further chafed my already exposed nerves. At almost two years old, Julie is still completely unpredictable when it comes to sleeping. After nursing, she will often thrash around on the bed, until she finally falls asleep. But we are never guaranteed a set number of hours until she wakes, and the cycle begins again. Sometimes it's four hours, sometimes it's just one. Up until recently, I would fall asleep, sitting up against a pillow, cradling her in my arms, as I was just too exhausted to stay awake until she fell back asleep. I would wake up achy, unrested, weepy, and generally a grouch. James wasn't sleeping deeply either. Add to this, the fact that I can count on one hand the times that I have truly set aside for just myself since she was born, and the deep frustration and depletion that can come of ignoring our own needs, and there I was with nothing left to give. Clearly, something had to change.

In general, we try our best to follow Julie's cues when it comes to sleep, eating/nursing, and play. It's not always convenient. It gets criticized almost as much as it gets praised, but it works for us as a family, and we feel pretty strongly about how we are raising our little one. I am still learning so much everyday, and one of the biggest lessons is in loosening the need for control that I often feel. There is nothing that feels more frightening than the idea of not being in control, whether this is flying through turbulence at 30,000 feet, musing on all of the accidents that could befall the loves of my life, or feeling like we have completely lost our structure. In this way, having a child has been, and continues to be the biggest learning experience in my life.

Usually when I am fighting so hard against something (in this case, the lack of sleep, and the loss of balance in my life ), it's an indication that I need to do the opposite, and let go. Rigidity does not serve anyone. An unhappy mama makes for an unhappy family. Our little ones are so tuned into our energy, and they pick up instantly on this internal discord. When I am burned out, I have nothing left to offer my loved ones. I admitted to a friend the other day that I had forgotten to care for myself somewhere along the way. I read this recently, and it rang so true--"sacrificing oneself on the altar of motherhood". And as proud as I am most days by how how I parent her--following my gut, nurturing positive attachments, nursing her mostly on demand, being available and close at night--there comes a point when I have to pause and take stock of how I am caring for myself. Through this self care, we model it for our children--that they must love themselves enough to realize that their needs, too are important! That self-sacrifice can tip the scale of balance, if done with no replenishment of our own body and soul. Lesson learned. Although I'm sure that it is a lesson that I will learn and re-learn all through my life.

One night, I lay down next to my little love, rather than hold her until she fell asleep, so I could put her back in the crib in our room. She rolled into the crook of my arm, cheek nestled against me, dainty hands squeezing me tight, and fell straight asleep. Within seconds, so was I, and I awoke after the most restful sleep I had in almost two years. About a week after this change in sleeping arrangements, I talked to James about getting out to do things for myself. He was so excited for me, as he had been worried, and had been waiting patiently for me to start taking this time. I'm working on it--catching myself when I want to keep pushing, taking solo walks in the morning, going to classes, REALLY enjoying that cup of tea or wine, indulging in that long and decidedly silly book that makes me feel happy and carefree while I read it. It's the little things, isn't it? They add up to fill our soul reserves, to put that spark in our step, so that we can then give back to the ones who mean the most to us.

10 things i'm grateful for

1. EO hand soap in Lime-Coconut-Strawberry scent. It's a non-toxic and natural brand, but it also smells delicious. Like a daiquiri. So good.

2. Slow simmered pinto beans. I use my mother-in-laws basic recipe, which is beans, water, and salt, simmered for many hours. I add some kombu for digestion, and you can't taste it at all! They are so full of flavor, and just amazing!

3. The chance to be a student again.  I actually really like highlighting and dog-earing books, and the feeling of a completed paper. I'm studying photography officially now, and feel like a kid in a candy store.

4. Meeting new mamas--hooray to social networking. I'm bowled away by the friendships I'm making through Instagram. I guess it's the way of the future, and it still seems like something out of some alternate universe that we can meet people through this medium, but I am grateful for it. I've "met" so many beautiful souls because of it.

5. Pressure points. I am a big believer in Chinese medicine, and frequently use acupunture/acupressure to alleviate every symptom under the sun. I'm grateful for my receding headache at the moment.

6. The amazing healers of the world. There are a ton of different, beautiful healing methods, and I am blessed to call several kinds of healers both my friends and angels.

7. My sweet family. They are my everything.

8. Tahini. It is the most versatile thing in the world, and probably what I use in my kitchen more than any other ingredient. Puddings, raw cookie dough, a thickener, and that special, hidden ingredient in curries, stews, rice dishes, and dressings. Not to mention, it's full of iron and calcium.

9. Bucket bibs. I'm really not sure how we got by without them in the early days of feeding Julie. They make for SO much less mess and clean up woes. Plus, I recently discovered the flexible kind you can stuff in your bag. I'm probably late to the party, but they are such a game changer :-)

10. Riding the swings at the park. Have you tried it recently? I joined Julie today, and kicked my legs up toward the bluest of skies, remembering in an instant, that rush of freedom and exhilaration that I loved so much as a little girl.

Jun 17, 2014

the collective-2

This month I got to do another guest post for the two lovely mamas of Bugs and Peanut! They have a Collective, where I, along with a group of amazing women get to document how we fulfill those dreams on our bucket lists. This time around, I tackled learning to play the guitar--a long time dream of mine. Read the entry here! Thanks so much for following along!

Jun 14, 2014


"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014."

She wanted her mama milk, and she wanted it now! A smile changes into tears in the span of a heartbeat. It's amazing to watch.

what we ate

Today was a good food day--and by that I mean one with minimal fuss, thanks to left overs, and a toddler who actually ate the food I made her, and deemed it yummy.

Breakfast: Cream of buckwheat with vanilla almond milk, coconut oil, cinnamon, and cardamom, lime soy yogurt
Snack: Banana with almond butter, coconut water
Lunch: Lentil meatloaf sandwiches
Snack:  Green smoothie, flax crackers with tahini
Dinner:  Brown rice pasta with avocado pesto sauce (Julie), cabbage, daikon, and tofu Sukiyaki over brown rice and barley (Mama and Papa)
Dessert: Lactation cookies--or let's just call them what they really are--vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (Mama and Papa)

Jun 7, 2014


"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Wild, wild curls. Just like her emerging personality. She who will not be tamed.

Jun 5, 2014

little adventures-to the gardens

When I lived in NY I never got around to visiting the Statue of Liberty. In Tokyo, Tokyo Tower was merely a familiar face in the night, as the cab I was riding in flew by it, after a long night of drinks and endless, wonderful conversations with dear friends. It's all too easy to let these iconic landmarks pass us by, as we are busy with daily living. I think, for me, it's always been a case of thinking that I will get around to it at some point, as these places are in my backyard. And then I don't. Years later I get a little wistful that I didn't.

These days I live in another bustling city, complete with its own share of beautiful landmarks, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and culture galore. Now that life with my toddler is beginning to take on more of a stable rhythm, I'm thinking it's time to get to exploring, and see what magic--both hidden and on display-- the world has to offer.

We recently became members of a botanical garden. I had been wanting to do such a thing for years, and never taken that definitive step. It's the most beautiful place--lush, peaceful, and yes, filled with a certain magic. Julie sometimes has a hard time warming to local parks, especially when there is a crowd there. She clings to me, wrapping arms and legs around me like a koala, saying "No?" firmly, but pronounced like a question (as she does these days). But the gardens are different. Their magic works as much on her hesitancy as it does on my anxieties borne of cabin fever, and we are renewed and enchanted. She takes off quickly from my side, with her little drunken sailor gait, falling flat on her face, and hopping right back up with squeals of amusement. I settle on some aged bench, the marble cool and comforting, and say a silent thanks to this little adventure.

Jun 3, 2014


"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014."

I can't make up my mind this week, so here's two. She's so at home in nature, out where the breeze is delicious, and you could get lost for hours in the greenery.

Jun 1, 2014

from the bookstack

The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics--A Philosophy for Achieving a Radiant Mind and Fabulous Body
by Jessica Porter

This...This is the book that started it all--my transformation from junk food addict with a sick body, to healthy living enthusiast. I picked this book up at the local bookstore when I was at the end of my rope, and felt like I had run out of options when it came to my health. My thought was that nothing could hurt at that point, and there was just something about this book that called to me. That might sound a bit "woo-woo", but I have always believed in the validity of that sort of energy.

I read this book--first with curiosity, which quickly morphed into fascination, and then settled into hope and excitement that perhaps there was a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Add on to that the fact that Jessica Porter is a very funny lady, who can make even the complex ideas of yin and yang appealing in a way that most philosophy books can't quite manage, (at least I haven't come across this yet) not to mention a wonderful recipe creator, and this results in a book that is certainly the most enjoyable book on health that I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

Macrobiotics is deep. It isn't merely a way of eating, but it rests upon the aforementioned philosophy of yin and yang, incorporating it into everything from food preparation to lifestyle. I can't begin to cover this vast subject matter, but I can say that the idea of there being an in and an out breath, an expansion and contraction, and other opposite but complimentary forces in the universe makes sense. We see these forces at play frequently in life. When I began to incorporate these idea into my own life, the difference was palpable. It could be as simple as making sure to eat root vegetables, as well as leafy greens within one meal. It could mean deciding to relax and go the gentle route during menstruation, nourishing myself with more "expansive" or yin foods. After following the ideas laid out in this book, I was healed of all illnesses, major and small within six months. But that's a story for another day.

What I can say is that this book was the catalyst in my health journey. It launched me into the most profound period of my life, helping to shape me into the person I would become. I laughed and I cried as in all great adventures, and I put the book down deeply changed. If you are looking for a starting point to change your health, or at least break free from a paradigm of health that doesn't serve you well, please give this book a read. I refer back to this book when I lose my footing, want a dose of laughter and hope, or just plain want to make a delicious dinner that serves my body well. It is quite the amazing read.

I'd love any book recommendations you have. If there are any books that you adore, please do let me know!

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