Whole 30 when you have been eating disordered.


10835168_10152659607565876_5416511026038435177_oThis summer my entire family decided to do Whole30 and I was definitely on board. Once I had Piper and was able to eat again I basically went crazy.  I was feeling sluggish and crappy and honestly?  I have a sugar problem. As in I was eating a big bag of Hershey Kisses a day. No exaggeration. So, primarily I wanted to do it to get that out  of my system. I knew I wasn’t eating well and I know food really DOES impact how we feel, think and behave.

I was in bad habits and wanted to change them, but as an eating disordered person I know this can be a tricky business. In fact one thing that snuck up on me was when I had HG and my neonatologist had be sipping protein shakes trying to keep them down I ended up switching shakes. The ones he had prescribed were the same ones I was on when I had to relearn how to have food. Without even realizing it I started thinking how great it was! I was thinking when the baby was born I would just keep eating ice chips and drinking the shakes. As soon as I recognized that thought pattern, I changed shakes and flavors and that helped a lot.

My point is that as far out as I am from eating disordered behaviors, the thoughts sometimes pop up.  And as I want to stay alive I do need to consume my addictive substance-food. I cannot quit it like a drug addict. I need to have my addictive substance while not having addictive behaviors. And for many eating disordered people, restrictive diets are an addictive behavior.

For me restrictive diets are both a good thing- they give me freedom from worry. I know what I am allowed and not allowed and like any structure I find comfort within them.  However, they are also a bad thing. Because I’m a bit like Crocodile Dundee and his “That’s not a knife” quote. That’s not a restrictive diet. THIS is a restrictive diet! And the next thing I know I am only eating 5 thin slices of apple and 7 almonds. That only can last so long before I will binge and purge.

So, I knew going into this I needed to be careful. Luckily for me I had already done a restrictive elimination diet before under a doctor’s care and knew a few things, like corn tortillas etc were fine for me. I went in to it with a resolve to focus on health and energy and not worry about weight. (Which was good because at the end of the  30 days I weighed the exact same) I made a few of my own rules, I had splenda in my coffee and non-dairy creamer. I already knew dairy was really hard on my system.  So was definitely cutting that out.

I realized several things during this month. One: my stomach was a lot smaller than I thought. Once I got over that omg I want all the junk food craving I was satisfied with decent sized portions and able to stop when I was full a lot easier. Two: by the second week the cravings were gone and I wasn’t feeling like I was being deprived. Three: I have a sweet craving in the afternoon and it was easily taken care of with almonds, coconut, and dried cranberries (get the ones from the salad toppings section, not craisins) Four: I felt GREAT! I had so much more energy, I was sleeping better, my skin was looking good. All around it was  a total win! Five: while I didn’t lose weight, it was like I depuffed. It was the weirdest thing!

Then we went to the beach and we ate our own weight in ice cream. And I puffed right back up!

My general plan is a 90/10 split. I want to eat whole 30 compliant most f the time but have the freedom to have a hot fudge sundae without feeling badly. I want to be vigilant, not only for me but for my daughter. I want to focus on being strong and healthy and NOT on weight loss or being thin. I will verbalize why i choose salads with protein over pastas….I simply FEEL better. But I will make sure she sees me indulge, she will see me enjoy ice cream and birthday cakes. Mostly I want her to see me honor my needs and actual hunger. I will grab a snack if I am hungry. I won’t say the word diet to her or to myself.

I almost died from an eating disorder and I will do my best to guard my girl from that experience.

It starts with being healthy. That’s my vow.

(You can read about my struggle with eating disorders here)

Five things that prove kids attention spans are just fine.

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We’ve heard it since we were kids. “Kid’s have such short attention spans these days!” and I suppose it’s true. Kid’s do, partially because things happen faster these days and partially cause they are, you know, kids.

But lest you worry that your kids will have the span of a fruit fly I want to reassure you with 5 things that prove kids attention spans are just fine.

1. Take a hot shower. Go ahead, try it. Say you have reached that third day of no shower as moms sometimes do, and the kids have snacks and seem interested in an interminable episode of Dino Dan so you think I’ll just sneak of for a quick shower! Mere moments after the hot water hits your skin you will hear them at the door Bang! Bang! Mommy! MOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMY! And they will keep at it as long as you are in there. Now, don’t make the rookie move and get right out to attend to them. No, no. As long as they are banging on the door you know right where they are and what they are up too, this means they are safe. So listen young Padawan, now is the time to practice your mom ninja skills! With concentration the constant banging and mommymommymommy can be as relaxing as an Enya CD.

2. Food Struggles. I am not a member of the clean your plate club. Personally I believe that kids should be able to know when they are hungry and eat or not and don’t. So if my little ones only have a bit at dinner or scarf the whole plate- that’s fine with me! Plus sometimes kids just live on air. However there does a come a time, after several days of your toddler living on 4 goldfish crackers and half a sippie cup of milk when you have to insist that they eat something. Anything. A cheese stick. A Go-gurt. A slice of pizza, just ANYTHING. Because no one is hangry like a hangry toddler. (except possibly my husband, but that’s another blog post) So you insist they eat, they are going to sit at the table until they eat whatever it is. And they will, with single minded dogged determination refuse to eat that cheese stick. For an hour. Maybe two. No tv, no book, no distraction. They will just sit there refusing. Until you win. Because moms always win.

3. Bedtime avoidance. Sleep is so awesome, why do kids hate it so? I love sleep. We should all sleep. But little ones just want to be awake and nothing will make a kid slow down and pay close attention to a book than knowing that there is just one more until we turn out the lights and go to sleep. Personally I love this tactic of theirs…unless it’s Thursday and Scandal is on. Or Sunday and Downton or Walking Dead is on. But other than those two evenings, I love this. Because babies grow so fast, the time they want to snuggle and read the Tawny Scrawny Lion just one more time is fleeting. So snuggle down little one. I’ve got time and I know this book by heart, which means I can stare at your beautiful lashes slow blinking as you try to fight the inevitable.

4. Toy Search. 90% percent of the mess making in our house is taking out 500 toys just to find the one that they really want. And while this does create work for me (and them as they get older and we work on them cleaning up more and more after themselves) they can focus like no one’s business on finding that exact right Lightning McQueen or guitar or whatever it is. And we have 5 million Lightning McQueens, trust me. The focus on finding said toy is intense and singular, and they will take as long as needs be to find that one specific toy.

5. Three words: Disney Toy Collector. I am not sure what magical hold this woman possesses over our children. Really is watching neatly manicured hands opening toys while a slightly cloying voice narrates every move THAT interesting? Apparently the answer is yes. I am quite certain that at some point she will speak some trigger word or phrase and activate all our young to serve in her kid army obeying her as their Supreme Overload. Plus she made like 5 million bucks opening toys on youtube so eff her. The only time her voice will not keep your children glued to the seat is in the event you do sneak off to try #1, a hot shower.

But never fear, as they bang on the door and you take your time to shave your legs, think that you really are teaching your children that patience and perseverance will eventually pay off. As in eventually you’ll get out of the shower and put Disney Toy Collector back on their iPads.


And then they were gone…


I miss my sister so much. It remains the hardest thing about having left LA. Well, that and that I have to have snow here. We grew up in Colorado and I hated snow and moved to California as fast as I could, so although I now truly love Maryland…Winter makes me grumpy. Plus I ordered Duck Boots in APRIL and they still haven’t arrived. Stupid college students wanting in on LL Bean. File under first world problems.


I hadn’t seen my Heather in over a year, she hadn’t even met Piper!  Max, Huck, and Isaiah hadn’t played together in ages. It took a few hours but before you knew it those three were storming the proverbial castle and Heather and I were gabbing away. I wish we lived closer. We took the kids to DC, we took them to Port Discovery and they had a blast. Then we kinda laid low, roasting marshmallows, and watching movies. Finally we escaped for a maternity shoot…oh, did I forget to mention my sister is pregnant? Yes, yes I did. I am SO thrilled and I can’t wait to see Piper and little one so close in age playing together.
It’s like every childhood dream we dreamed.


We made a resolution to make family vacations together happen. We need to get all these kids to a beach for some fun in the sun!


I can’t wait to see them again, and meet the new baby. I love her already!


Three is




Three is a whiplash whirlwind. Three is fitting perfectly against my side and resting his small head in the crook of my neck. Three is hair quickly changing from angel fluff to real boy. Three is little arms losing their baby chub wrapping tightly around my leg. Three is I love you mommy don’t sing, NO MOMMY NO SINGING! Three is tiptoeing through a minefield tensely waiting for the next explosion, knowing it will come when you least expect it.

Three is frustration. Three screams for no reason. Three slaps and kicks and pulls hair. Three sometimes thinks that slapping, kicking and pulling hair are hilarious. Three spontaneously holds hands, climbs into laps and offers kisses. Three manipulates, controls, rewards and punishes. Three is possibly an abusive relationship that I cant, and don’t want to, escape.

Three is wild. Three is creative and independant and three needs his mommy right this instant and don’t you dare even go to the bathroom with out him again! Three needs stability and four books at night. Three needs Grer Bear tucked in bed next to him to cuddle at night.

Three makes grand declarations in half baby-half adult language. Three notices everything. Three can hear a candy wrapper being sneakily opened two rooms away.

Three is inspiring. Three is wonderful and terrible. Three is the sweetest words I love you mommy in an even sweeter voice. Three is exhausting.

And as of today, THREE is half over.

Thank God.

And also, can I slow down time? Because three is going too fast.

Princesses can be feminists, feminists can be princesses.

And they lived Happily Ever After…happily ever after

When I was four years old I wanted to be a fashion buyer for a department store and drive a tractor to work. I still think that would be a rad job, even if a tractor would make for a slow commute. I like the juxtaposition of the two. It also speaks to the child I was, that I not only wanted to dictate what I wore but also control the options that were available to everyone. I still do.

The other day Huck and I went to his very favorite place- Target- (I’ll take my parenting award now, thank you) and as a reward for some very good behavior he was allowed to pick one toy from the “partment”. It was a painstaking process. Would Legos win? Oh, look Power Rangers! No. No…new TMNT toys are in! Finally after about ten minutes of rumination he picked a real treasure. Pinky Pie, from My Little Pony. Or as he calls them La la pony. I smiled at him and handed over the $5.99 as he beamed at his treat. He is all boy, cars, wrestling and pink ponies. He defines who he is minute by minute, just as Max does. Max is all baseball and Beatles…and all about babies.

I like those juxtapositions too.

I hope my daughter will find her own as well. She will be free to define herself minute by minute too. Whatever she is into.

From the moment she was born people started telling me “No princesses!” “No matter what you do, just don’t do princesses!” and I have to admit that that hurt my heart a little because, well, I LOVE the Princesses! I can’t wait to share them with her!

I know, I know everyone hates the 1950’s the wedding is the ultimate goal of them all, and perhaps I was really dim as a girl- but I never took that away from those stories. I took many ideologies from them; you can travail over extreme obstacles, you can find beauty and friends in odd places. That there is evil in the world and that knowing who to trust is important. That optimism and perseverance can pay off. But scoring the man was not the main holdover for me. Perhaps it came from having a strong single mother. Toilet needs fixing? She did it. Want to rearrange heavy furniture? She’s doing it. I adopted that. It’s hard for me to wait even 10 minutes for help, I will just move that damn couch myself! Teach myself to use power tools so I can do what I want.  My daughter will learn that, alongside me just as I learned it alongside my mother.

By typical definition I am a “girly girl” and I love that. I love pretty clothes, jewelry, bedding…love it. BRING IT ON! I love looking and feeling like, let’s be honest, an aging Princess. And yes, my wedding was as Princess-y as I could get it. My gown was huge, my tiara glittered. I had one veil for the wedding and one for the reception. The location was as Castle like as I could find in all of Southern California. But so what? Does that make me less of a feminist?

No. Princess Stephanie rocks the feminism and true feminism is the opportunity for all women to have equal rights and opportunities to do with as THEY choose. Stay at home mom who wants to do nothing but be a quiverfull member? I might think you are crazy…but GO YOU! No kids, two doctorates in physics and kicking ass at work? That’s way beyond me ..but GO YOU! Or like most of us, we fall somewhere in the middle. We are stay at home moms who miss work and long for adult conversations and activities that don’t involve Caillou. We are stay at home moms who feel completely fulfilled just as we are. We are working women who want kids but not yet. We are working women who have kids. We are single moms, we are married and child free by choice. We are ALL women with all choices. That’s feminism. My personal brand of feminism involves creativity, pretty clothes, tiaras, power tools, fighting for reproductive rights and marriage equality and yes, I hate to break it to you; Princesses.

As a special bedtime treat my mother would sometimes put my read along Cinderella record on my turntable and we would act out the story. She being Prince Charming and of course I was Cinderella. I remember this vividly, one of those childhood memories that are snapshots of happiness. Several decades later I stood in a recording studio with a contract from Disney and narrated that very book for a new read-along. It was a dream come true for me. Cinderella. My favorite. I nailed it. It was beautiful. But my voice choked on one sentence so that we had to do several takes. Emotion bubbling to the surface as I spoke “and they lived happily ever after”

That moment was a happily ever after for me. Perhaps to some that phrase was the end of the story but to me it always seemed the beginning of infinite possibilities. My possibility involved a full circle from listening to the book to being a part of perhaps some other little girl acting out her story. Perhaps MY little girl acting out her story. I hope she will know Happily Ever After isn’t the end, it’s just the start, or perhaps it’s the middle. Our real lives aren’t over when we get married why would the Princess’s be? It might be the start of the Princess taking her throne, and a new phase of her using her power to effect change in the world. In her world whatever she defines that to be.

I am a feminist wrapped up in Princesses and that’s okay.

So don’t come down on my kid if she likes princesses. Don’t tell her no. Because if she is anything like me, she will kick your ass while wearing that glass slipper.

And on this the *cough cough* day of my birth…



Every year around this time, we indulge in several of my favorite things…apple ciders, scarves, boots, and you know, it’s also my birthday. (I like my birthday. Who doesn’t like a day where everyone you ever met sends you a facebook message wishing you a good day!) Every year as I wrap myself in a scarf and scroll all the internet shopping sites for the perfect pair of caramel leather riding boots that aren’t more expensive than my van, I think to myself this, this is the year I am gonna get my shit together. 

Then another year passes and I am still sipping my hard apple cider, wrapped in a scarf, looking for this years perfect boots and my proverbial shit? still not together.

At what age do I manage to learn how to master the illusive task of washing, drying, folding AND putting away all of the unending laundry? When do I know what I want to be when I grow up?

This year is not a big birthday, but yet another year has passed and I feel as if I have been treading water for a while now.

Now I fight both acne and ‘fine lines’ and how is THAT fair? I no longer want to pay a lot of money to look fashionably homeless and disheveled, but I am not ready for the ever present cruise wear tunic of the ‘women’s department’. I am somewhere trapped between the juniors and seniors and struggling to find my way.

My new fashion rule of thumb is Am I pulling an Amy Poehler in Mean Girls? Cause if so…then no. 

I am done having children. Still in the thick of baby and toddler boot camp. I am more concerned about what is in my kids food and products. I am frightened by how we keep saying we’ve made all this progress and yet it doesn’t really seem we have… I am guilty for feeling so thankful that if someone sees my boys on the street in a hoodie their first thought probably won’t be ‘thug’, and I worry about their friends who aren’t afforded this privilege.I am worried my daughter will be as insecure and sick as I was, that she will turn her insecurity on herself in destructive ways as I did.

I am hopeful they will  come out the other side of all that pre-teen and teen bull unscathed…or at least only gently scarred.

And I hope this is the year I get my shit together. I’ll start by folding the laundry.

One of the weirdest things about motherhood…



When Max was a tiny cherub of a breastfed baby, I swear to you his tiny baby poops smelled like roses. Everyone thought I was crazy but I swear it was true. (Recently my very brilliant friend Stefanie remarked that baby poops smell like roses and that validated my theories) Anyway, Max had poops of roses. Sweet and precious!

Huck came crackling into this world a little sparkler of a person, long and lean where Max was round and chubby. His poops did not smell of roses, oh no. Rather they smelled of hot buttered popcorn. I promise you this is true.

Now, Piper. Precious, sweet a mixture of both of them. Quickly leaving her tiny newborn-ness behind and assuming full blown cherub status. Her sweet little breastfed baby poops smell neither of roses or hot buttered popcorn. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they smelled like.

Finally I remarked to my partner in crime, Max, that I couldn’t place the smell but that it was familiar. (are you jealous of the conversations I have with my children?) He said with utter certainty “they smell like wine.”

um….what? But here’s the thing; they DO. They smell like a good red wine.

Now lest you go thinking I am sort of lush, I didn’t eat roses with Max and popcorn upsets my stomach. I have had a grand total of 4 wicked apple ciders and one Summer Shandy since Piper has been born. There is no more reason that her poops smell like wine any more than Max’s smelled like roses.

As for how Max remembers the smell of wine? Well, we did let him take a whiff when we were having a glass like ages ago. That kid does have a hell of a memory.

But they do. So sayeth Max. So sayeth us all.


Motherhood is crazy.

The dance of motherhood.

I dream at night of being a ballerina.

suzanne farrell holding onto air

I am lithe and long as I glide across the non-existent stage. My arms slender and pale, ethereal. I am so thin and so very strong and there is no shame; everything is exquisite. The arch of my foot tells the story. The the soft folds of my ballet dress float as I turn, pirouetting. I am Suzanne Farrell. I am Gelsey Kirkland. Long dark hair trailing behind me as I spin and jump, so free. It is my ascension to heaven.

I wake drenched in postpartum sweat, feet aching from unconsciously pointing in slumber to nurse the new baby.

My great grandfather was a bit of a scum. He was run out of town and went on to have an entirely different and separate family. My great grandmother, not one to suffer fools, bravely filed for divorce in a time when that simply was not done. She had four children and worked so hard, standing such long hours her uterus prolapsed at work. She was strong, but she was not lithe.

We met this other family once. A meet up of my grandmother and her half-sisters, one thrilled to have more family and one very put out that Daddy’s Girl has a girl before her. Never mind that he walked away and abandoned that very girl. I myself was always desperate for family and wanted to know them. Wanted to be with them. Wanted them to love me.

They didn’t.

They shared stories of my grandmother’s absent father and of his other grandchildren. I had cousins, they said. And they danced. I love to dance! I told them, all of 13 and full of dreams not yet unrealized. I thought we are the same, those cousins and me. Scoffing I was told no they dance. Ballet. With Balanchine and Baryshnikov, who’s poster hung on my wall above my bed. My heart soared. Maybe I could meet them? Maybe I could just glean a touch of that world from them. They had both left NYC Ballet and moved on to be Ballet Mistresses of their own companies by then. We never saw my grandmother’s half sisters again. One meeting was all. I don’t know if they kept in touch, perhaps my mother does.

I saw a ballet once in San Francisco listing my cousin’s name as Mistress. Was she in the building? Were we close? I imagined her perfect, strong.

The baby has violent hiccups and I dance my own dance of bounces, sways, and rhythmic pats until she quiets, giving a shuddering sigh and relaxes her wisp of a body fully into my arms. Gingerly I kiss her cheek, she still smells of heaven. She settles into her bed and I crawl back beneath the covers and try to rest.

I am not thin. I am not strong. I am not even a success anymore. I feel sad for myself that I haven’t accomplished anything of great worth. No real goals achieved. When you are small years seem to take forever to pass and suddenly you blink and your thirties are gone. And here I still am, tied to the ground. Heavy. I miss the theatre. I miss my old friends who smoked on the fire escape at intermission. I miss the stories they told. It’s as if I missing a limb.

But truly I am happy here and now. There is no music more beautiful than my children’s laughter. There is no ballet as intricate as their play, beautiful and painful.

The sun rises, as it always does and things look brighter. My sons and I pour love over their new sister, kissing her head to toe while we wonder what she will like. Princesses they say assuredly. And baseball. I hold her impossibly tiny foot and she points. A good arch. I smile and wonder will she want to dance too? Will she want to act? Whatever she chooses I envision her strong and ascending upwards to her dream.

Perhaps motherhood is it’s own version of Ballet Mistress. My company my brood of babes. Warm ups are Yo Gabba  and the Wiggles. The music the Beatles and Green Day and Sophia The First. The steps are wild and unpredictable. More Twyla Tharp than Balanchine.



And just like that, you are six.



I’m not going to lie, six was tough on Mommy-err-MOM. I am no longer Mommy, and I am just settling into my new moniker “mom”. I knew mommy would be short lived, as it is meant to be, but you ceremoniously announced, as you do when you’ve been thinking about something for a while that I am now plain old mom. Daddy is now just dad. I admit that stung a little, but that is the bittersweet joy of parenthood. If I do my job right you need me a little less every day until you are ready to fly out of the nest.

I treasure the closeness we share. I remember distinctly one late night back in our apartment in LA when you were maybe a month old and realizing that your legs were now long enough to drape off my lap and rest on the mattress as you nursed. I look at those same legs now as they straddle first base or scramble up the climbing wall, as they perform great feats of rock n roll stage jumps and bounce to the heavens on the trampoline and I think one thing:

You are a marvel.

You still sleep in bed with me, it’s simply easier if you wake up anxiety ridden at night, and I frequently wake to find your arm wrapped around mine, your little (but not as little as it once was) body pressed close to mine. I know eventually you’ll be ready to sleep in your own room, but with Huck and now a new baby I know we both enjoy our time together in the evenings. We have some of our best talks cuddled in bed after a little Phineas and Ferb. I admire how honest you are with me, your friends and especially with yourself. You continue to vocalize your feelings, what you are scared of so we can process that together, and even more gloriously your victories. You had a friend spend the night for your birthday and it was indeed a big deal that you slept on the couch and you celebrated it. I was so proud of you.

You had attempted a sleep over at a friend’s house but decided to come home, and we were proud of you then too. Proud because you took the leap and tried, even though you were scared. Proud because you know yourself well enough to say “I am not ready, I want to go home”

Knowing your comfort zone and your readiness and being able to assert that is a tremendous ability and will serve you well in the coming years. I promise to do all I can to nurture and support you in that.

You are such a character, all of our friends love to see what you’re going to say next. One morning you woke up and announced with a heavy sigh “I haven’t been on a canoe since I was a lad.” (You’ve never been on a canoe in this life!) You performed Kool and The Gang’s Celebration for Miss Jackie’s birthday at the pool and everyone cheered. You are a mix of don’t look at me but let me perform for you! It’s wonderful.

Oh yeah, you know everything. You know EVERYTHING. Don’t bother explaining anything to you because you know it ALL. You test your boundaries, you get in trouble and instantly say sorry, sorry. If you’re really in trouble you fall to your knees clasp your hands like your praying and look up at me with the saddest face and beg forgiveness. It’s so dramatic and adorable and funny, it’s hard to stay mad even  for a second.

This summer your anxiety has eased and we have started building you up for kindergarten. I am so grateful you will be going to school where your grandmother works, just this fact of knowing she is near has helped immensely and we focus on the fun things you will do.

 You are holding steady in your love of the Beatles, Green Day and baseball. But there is nothing you love more than Huck and Piper. Nothing in this world. Right now Huck is having a hard time getting used to the new baby, but you are a pro. You love her and can’t wait to see her and hold her. Your heart is one of the biggest and most generous I have ever known.

Despite being the first born and the star of the show, you are always willing to share the spotlight. After months of asking we finally signed Huck up for soccer. Did you ask if you were doing it too? Nope. You said “Oh good! Huck’s watched me a lot, now I can watch him!”

My God, you are the coolest person I know.

Happy Birthday to the one who changed everything. To the one who used to call it his Happy Day and be scared of the Happy Birthday song. To the one who smiled the biggest smile as we sang it to you this year. I love you to Pluto and back (as you say)


You can read my other birthday letters to Max here: Five, Four, Three, Two