Friday, April 29, 2011

Not So Tiny Tunes

Sabine, when she was first born, at Kaiser hospital in L.A.

Before I had Sabine, I would ride in cars with friends and their little ones, listening to children's music. I hated it. It drove me cah-razy. The music was bad or annoying. And usually the adorable peanut in the backseat wanted to hear the same song over and over again. I promised myself that I would never listen to children's' music while someday hopefully driving around with my own backseat nugget. I figured that if I stuck to my music, nugget would like it, never knowing what he/she was missing (at least for awhile).

I'm proud to report that I've actually achieved this for the time being. I'm shocked and grateful. Driving with loud music, the windows down and the wind in my hair is one of my most favorite things to do (and was greatly missed during my New York City subway-riding days).

Luckily, Sabine has always loved music. When I was five months pregnant, we took a family trip (with my in-laws) to St. Thomas. It was Carnival and Kadin's mom was super excited to take us to the parade. I was excited, too, until I arrived and saw there was no seating, no shade and a lot of walking in the hot sun along the parade route (Who am I kidding? I hate parades. I just never admit it because everyone else seems to love them and I don't want to be called "jaded." Again.). I was crabby and miserable until I felt Sabine start to kick inside my belly. It was one of the first times that I REALLY felt her kick. The other times felt more like indigestion than a growing human being moving around inside her little aquarium, also known as my gut. But it was as if she were kicking to the beat of the music. She wasn't really, but she was moving consistently and A LOT and she stopped when the music stopped. And since then, she starts moving her body every single time she hears music. It doesn't matter where she is or who is around, she starts dancing and smiling.

Now, remember my "What Do You Do All Day?" post, when I said that I would tell you why I was lucky to be Sabine's mama even though I went on and on about her insanity? This is one of the reasons. When we climb into the car together and I turn on music and roll down the windows, Sabine starts kicking her legs and moving her arms. She throws some clapping in there once and awhile and smiles the whole time. And when I stop at a light, I do the same thing and her smile grows even bigger. And we don't care who is watching in the car next to us. If we're in a store and hear a tune we like, it's the same thing. We dance as if no one is watching. And it feels really good to be that unselfconscious--that free--for the first time in my life.

Here's our current playlist (This is music we agree on. She's a tougher critic than I'd like her to be):

1. Sex on Fire--Kings of Leon (by far, her new favorite)

2. Annie Waits--Ben Folds

3. Zak and Sara--Ben Folds

4. I Feel It All--Feist

5. Sealion--Feist

6. Let England Shake--PJ Harvey

7. August Day Song--Bebel Gilberto

8. They Say Vision--Res

9. Sunday Morning--K-OS (definitely her all-time favorite)

10. Anything by Gorillaz

11. Breakdown--Handsome Boy Modeling School

12. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots--The Flaming Lips

...and if she's not into **THIS**, I will seriously lose it. Modest Mouse and Oukast? Found out yesterday and thought I'd died and went to music heaven.

Calypso St. Barth

Calypso St. Barth for Target is available on Sunday (May 1)! Happy almost Mother's Day to me. I remember living in New York and wandering around NoLita. I was obsessed with the shop there and everything in it (loose-fitting pieces in colors like turquoise, fuschia, tangerine and lemon with just the right amount of beading or trim or sparkle detail...making you want to run off to Istanbul or Morocco or the South of France or Portugal). Of course, I couldn't afford it on the slave wage I was making as an editorial assistant at Allure magazine. But now it's super affordable because it's at Target!

P.S. My special shopping secret that I really don't want to share but will anyway is at the Calypso St. Barth website. If you shop their online sale section but wait to purchase until they advertise for 50% off the sale price, you will seriously score.

P.P.S. Sabine tried to eat coffee grounds, a quarter, and a tube of my favorite fuchsia lipstick while I was writing this.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mountain Climbing

Before I met the man who is now my husband, I planned a three-week trip to Peru. The idea was to work and live in an orphanage for two weeks and then hike the Andes for four days to see Machu Picchu. I was interested in volunteering at an orphanage because I was in my late thirties, boyfriend-less and felt destined to be a lonely, old and childless cat lady. The orphanage work (caring for the kids and helping to repair the building, too) was in preparation for a possible future adoption. I really wanted to be a mom (and figured that if there was a motherless child out there, maybe we could be less lonely together). The hiking to Machu Picchu idea came about because I was writing and editing for an architecture magazine and wanted to see what a mountain-high, fifteenth-century Inca compound looked like. But I almost died getting there.

Here's most of a post-trip letter I wrote to my fellow Cusco, Peru, orphanage volunteers (who were smart enough to daytrip via train to Machu Picchu):
...I'm still trying to pull it together after returning to CA. Haven't unpacked yet. Still need to develop my pics. AND I need to go to the doctor to have my ankle looked at. Why? Because I sprained it on the treacherous, life threatening, can't-believe-it-was-that-difficult, pushed-me-over-the-edge (literally and figuratively) damn Inca Trail. Man, it was by far the most difficult thing I've ever done. And it was as mentally taxing as it was physically horrible. It rained most of the time. There were loads of rocks and mud which meant it was difficult to keep your footing. I, of course, fell down the side of a small cliff and inherited loads of bruises and cuts and blood all up the side of my body. I got dehydrated one day. And on the last day, I sprained my ankle. Someone lent me their walking stick, since apparently two legs weren't enough for me. So the stick helped me hobble to the finish line on that last day, when there was an obscene amount of rain and it was pitch black because we left at 4 a.m. I'm pretty sure that I literally crawled a portion of the muddy, rocky trail on that day. Dignity is overrated. I was so bruised and exhausted and shower in four days...and my guide, Jose Titto, still kept trying to make out with me. Geezus. It was funny and scary and amazing and beautiful and overwhelming and impossible all at the same time. I hiked my ass off and still kept a good pace (was never last) and was one of the only people who carried a pack the whole time. I was trying to be tough/authentic--everyone else hired a porter to carry their packs for them. Silly me.
The people in my group were fun but did not even come close to being the kind of human beings that the five of you are. I'm so privileged to have spent that time with you. I'll never forget it.
And lastly, it seems almost absurd that my boss expects me to now sit at a desk and perform for eight hours a day. My attention span is completely shot and I can't sit still for that long. I keep trying to explain to him that in Peru you work for four hours and then sit for at least two hours while someone runs out and gets supplies or moves scaffolding. Eight hours straight? Ridiculous.
So I hope all of you are're in my thoughts...I'll send pics/CD's, notes, etc. soon.
Lots of love,
I'm just going to be honest and tell you that climbing the Andes felt a lot like childbirth and my first year of motherhood. One took four days; the other took about thirty seven hours and 365 days.  Either way, I highly underestimated both experiences. While I felt as though I should be beaming with joy and wonder, I instead questioned how or if I would make it to the end. And there were times, too, that I felt completely alone. I hiked the Andes alone (I was with a group, but every person was in a pair: couples, friends and family, who helped each other up or down the mountains and slept together in their tent each night.). And even though I have the most wonderful and loving husband and child I could ever imagine, there were times during my first year as a mom that even he couldn't help me and she took so much from me that I wasn't sure I could go on.

But I did make it. And I'm happier and stronger than I have ever been. Sabine gives back about a thousand times more than she takes now. So much so that I miss her when she sleeps and can't wait to see her each morning. There's a light at the end of what can be a dark tunnel of the first year of parenthood. And no, I did not have postpartum depression. That year is just f*cking hard. And everyone is too busy telling you how great having children is that they forget to tell you that it's also terrifying and a lot like careening down a dark road with no brakes, road map or SLEEP and the weight of the world on the hood of a car that you've no idea how to drive. But there's a light. I promise.

The Steez of a Lady

There's a deliciously cute bag I'm currently jonesing for. It's at Lady, a most stylish and hipster-y boutique in Eagle Rock (part of L.A.). Lucky for you, Lady stuff is available online, too.

This chic tote is so architectural and reminds me of a mid-century modern pattern (for the editors in the house, I KNOW that "mid-century" and "modern" are redundant, but the term is colloquial and I'm all about accessibility). It's wonderfully if you're a mama, you'll look cool carrying the diapers and wipes...and snacks and toys and extra clothes and jacket and blanket...okay, so you need a small suitcase. Well, this bag stylishly--and affordably--does the job.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Hunting

I've never much been into the Easter holiday. I was when I was little. It was then that my mom still put baskets out for us (I have three siblings) and I believed in the whole bunny idea. But as I grew, she stopped doing baskets and made us sit in church (I was raised Catholic...and I mean RAISED: Catholic grammar school and an all-girls Catholic high school) for what felt like a week in what was usually a too-girly dress for my liking.

But for the first time in about twenty years, I had a different feeling about Easter this year--thanks to Sabine.

It was ridiculously fun watching her hunt for eggs. She has never been so focused. She found more eggs than the other kids and wouldn't stop looking for them even after the hunt had ended. And she didn't even care about the fact that there was candy inside of the eggs. Long after the hunt, she stumbled across a pile of opened and empty plastic eggshells that the older kids had taken the candy from and discarded. Sabine thought she'd hit the jackpot. She started pointing and speaking Sabine (nobody else speaks this language so we have no idea what she was saying) and falling all over herself to put the brightly-colored shells in her basket as quickly as she could. Of course, there was no rush since no one else wanted them. But I didn't tell her that. I think she's smarter than anyone else. Because when you are old like me--or young like Sabine--you realize that in many cases, the hunt is way more fun than the find. The thrill is trying to get there...and the heart-pounding feeling and the hope and the lofty imagination of what it will be like when you do. Because when you're actually there, it's over or gets old quickly. It's another piece of candy and you've a stomachache from eating too much of it.

Ikea Adventure

Last week, Sabine and I tripped through Ikea in an effort to modestly refresh her room, which is light blue, red, black and white (a layered look inspired by a summer collection by Ralph Lauren Home from two years ago). We wound our way around that maze of a megastore and Sabine unmade the beds, climbed on top of tables, sat in drawers, hid behind draperies, ate a few meatballs then fell asleep in her sling (my arms) in the checkout line.

Here's what we took home:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What Do You Do All Day?

Photo by John Broeckel

I'm a stay-at-home-mom to a nineteen-month-old. A surprising number of people ask me, "What do you do all day?". It's almost never a person who is currently a mother to a baby or a small child. Because if you were, you would NEVER ask such a thing.

Maybe the curious cat who is asking said absurd question has seen me walking behind Sabine as she totters down the sidewalk. And maybe it looks like we have all the time in the world; nowhere in particular to go; and not a single care. When it comes to Sabine, that's exactly what's happening inside her blossoming brain. In my case, that's a big fat lie.

What do I do all day? Today, I woke up at 6:00 a.m. with a huge headache from the two glasses of celebratory almond-flavored champagne I had yesterday. It didn't matter that I needed more sleep and felt like dog vomit because Sabine was ready to start her day. Her dad goes into her room and plucks her out of her cage, uh, I mean crib, changes her diaper and carries her into our room. She's yelling (seriously yelling, foghorn-style), "maaaa, maaaa, maaaaMA!" the entire time. He puts her on our bed with me and I offer her a water-and-juice cocktail. She takes a gulp, THROWS the cup over the side of the bed and starts pointing to my chest yelling, "mi. mi. mi. MIIIIII!" demanding the breast milk that I am trying so desperately NOT to give her anymore. I try to distract her with Sesame Street while I run downstairs and grab her a cup of yogurt that Kadin can feed her while I take a shower. My warm shower is lovely for the first two minutes, until Sabine notices I'm gone, comes into the bathroom and holds the shower door open so that water pours onto the floor. Soon enough, her pajamas are soaking wet and I am freezing cold. I rush the rest of my shower and towel off the soap I didn't have time to rinse.

Then I try to get dressed. Since Sabine wants to do whatever I'm doing, she tries to get dressed, too. This means she pulls all of my clothes out of every drawer she can reach, then runs around the room with a bra or pair of underwear on her head. She then decides she's tired of being upstairs so she starts throwing toys, or any object, down the stairs so that we will (and she will be allowed) to go down and stay down. I try and stall the descent by offering her toothpaste and a toothbrush (she loves this activity for some reason) so that I can put away all of the clothes she's dumped out.

Now we're downstairs (husband is upstairs getting ready for work, which really means he is reading the newspaper online and watching TV), where I proceed to get Sabine dressed, feed her what she wouldn't eat upstairs, change her diaper at least two more times (during which she runs away and sticks her hands into her own poop, getting it everywhere, which then leads to changing her clothes again and/or a morning bath). In addition (and this is all happening before 9:00 a.m.), I TRY to make myself some coffee, eat a protein bar, put on a little makeup, brush my hair and brush Sabine's hair--always a highly dramatic event. Again, picture lots of running way, crying out and lopsided ponytails.

We are outside fairly early and Sabine is running down the sidewalk. I run after her the whole time, making sure she doesn't run into the street or pass a driveway as a car is coming out. Or step in dog poop or try to drink from puddles on the sidewalk--both of which she does all the time. Since she refuses to ride in the stroller, I usually end up carrying her (Kadin always tells me to stop because she weighs as much as "a small safe." He's not wrong.). The rest of the day includes feeding her lunch, much of which she spits out or throws on the floor; changing many more diapers; putting back the contents of the drawers and cupboards she empties; removing her from tables, chairs and bookshelves she's scaled; and busying her with as many activities as I can think of...all of which she tires of  quickly. If we color or use playdough, she eats the crayons or the dough. She rips the pages out of the coloring books.

For naptime, I lay down with her until she falls asleep and then sneak out. Before falling asleep, she destroys her room. She pulls all of the books from the bookshelf and takes all of her diapers from her changer. She hides in the closet and throws all of the pillows from the bed and the rocking chair onto the floor. She empties her toys chest and the contents of her play kitchen. When she finally passes out, I try to write. The respite lasts no more than two hours so I get very little done.

When she wakes up, we have a snack, more outside time and short-lived activities until her dad comes home. I then DEFROST dinner (thank you, Trader Joe's). I hate cooking and by dinnertime, I'm exhausted. I'd like to order takeout and drink a glass of wine while I wait for it to be delivered  but Kadin and I agreed that I would "make" dinner three nights a week (he makes it two nights, and we eat out on the other two nights).

Sabine empties more contents of the kitchen while I do dinner because she has to be where I am EVERY SECOND. This frees her dad up for more leisurely laptop time. Lucky him. But dad gives her a bath and puts on her pajamas after dinner (and a little TV time) and I get to relax for a whole twenty minutes. Then it's story time, and finally--bedtime! Again, we lay with her until she falls asleep and then transfer her to her crib. Kadin usually falls asleep before Sabine, which means she can't fall asleep because he snores so loud that I want shove a fork into my eye socket. Or his nose so that maybe he'll stop snoring. She eventually drifts off like dad. I put her in the crib and gently wake him up so we can tiptoe out.

It's now just past 9:00 and if we are lucky, we can keep our eyes open long enough to talk and spend a little time together. But sometimes we can't. 

So that is what I do all day. It's more exhausting and requires more patience and dedication than working at any of the major fancy, glossy, 9-to-8 magazine jobs I've had. And though I joke, it's also a hundred times more rewarding, interesting and thoughtful. I just detailed all of the gruesome parts in an an effort to explain how laborious this ginormous job is. But there are so many wondrous and hysterical moments that accompany the crazy ones.

Today's blog post is birth control. In one of the next ones, I will tell you why and how lucky I am to be Sabine's mama. And assuming you can make it through the first sleepless year, you will want to procreate and over populate this country just like the rest of us with a little monster similar to Sabine.


Our Apple iPad came yesterday. It's so shiny, thin, light and feathery to the touch. And it's capable of more than anyone or anything I've ever met (movies, photos, books for us and for Sabine, newspapers, magazines, general internet cruising, writing). I think I'm in love.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Obama's Mama

Last night I read The New York Times article by Janny ScottObama's Young Mother Abroad. If you haven't read it yet, you should. It's fascinating. And sad. And illuminating. And honest. And thoughtful. And inspiring. Here is one of the photographs from the article that, in addition to Scott's story, got me thinking:

Barack Obama with his mother in Hawaii. Image is from The NY Times article mentioned above. It was lent to the newspaper by Friends and Family of Stanley Ann Dunham.

First of all, can you stand how adorable he is? You can just feel how excited he is to be dressed as a pirate. He's bursting with unadulterated joy. Man, how the trials and tribulations of his American presidency have sucked that simple, untouched, happiest kind of happy right out of him. And still, he remains more composed and graceful than I would ever be in his position. But lucky for this country, I would never be in his position. Dude, if you think the budget is screwed up now? Math is not my strong point. And neither is multitasking. Or details. Or a long attention span. Or keeping my mouth shut/holding my cards to my chest. Or staying focused. On that note...

Here are my top ten all-over-the-place thoughts in numerical order of how they popped into my head last night while reading the article:

1. Really? Barack's grandparents named his mother "Stanley"? Cruel, but ballsy, too, and somehow interesting in a unique kind of way. Will Sabine hate me one day for choosing "Vincent" as her middle name? I hope not. I love it. It was my mom's middle name (she passed away before Sabine was born) and my dad's nickname for her.

2. Stanley Ann Dunham was NOT "stout" or "sturdy." Look at her! What is wrong with people? Whomever uses this description for her needs to eat a taco and free their mind.

3. I can't help but gaze at this photo and marvel at how completely different they look and wonder how she felt about that. It puts me in the position of passersby who see me and Sabine walking down the street together. Of course people wonder if she's mine or if I adopted her (see yesterday's post). Even though I understand this fact, it still sucks. And is painful. I can't yet articulate why.

4. It's sad to me that Stanley sent Barack to Hawaii to live with her parents and wasn't so present after that point.

5. It's beautifully generous of Barack to put himself in his mother's shoes and accept and love all of who she was and the choices she made:

"But he did not, he said, hold his mother’s choices against her. Part of being an adult is seeing your parents “as people who have their own strengths, weaknesses, quirks, longings.” He did not believe, he said, that parents served their children well by being unhappy. If his mother had cramped her spirit, it would not have given him a happier childhood. As it was, she gave him the single most important gift a parent can give — “a sense of un­conditional love that was big enough that, with all the surface dis­turbances of our lives, it sustained me, entirely.”

6. I'm relieved that it's no longer against the law to be in an interracial marriage (and this is part of why I am pro marriage equality and gay marriage.

7. I'm thankful that Sabine will hopefully never have Barack's Indonesian experience:

'"After lunch, the group took a walk, with Barry running ahead. A flock of Indonesian children began lobbing rocks in his direction. They ducked behind a wall and shouted racial epithets. He seemed unfazed, dancing around as though playing dodge ball “with unseen players,” Bryant said.'
8. I read about people questioning whether or not Obama is a terrorist and labeling him Muslim (which people, sadly, seem to think is synonymous with being a terrorist) or going on and on about how he's not "from here" or is a "foreigner," like that's a dirty word and this somehow makes him less worthy. I  read these things and I think it's as if he's still getting rocks thrown at him because he looks a certain way or because people can't wrap their heads around where he's from. And he's still handling it better and more gracefully than I ever would.

9. Stanley Ann Dunham was an incredibly brave woman, who had Barack when she was 17 years-old. Sabine has rocked my world and I can't imagine having that much responsibility at that age. Let alone being...

"...a girl with a boy’s name who grew up in the years before the women’s movement, the pill and the antiwar movement; who married an African at a time when nearly two dozen states still had laws against interracial marriage; who, at 24, moved to Jakarta with her son in the waning days of an anticommunist bloodbath in which hundreds of thousands of Indonesians were slaughtered; who lived more than half her adult life in a place barely known to most Americans, in the country with the largest Muslim population in the world; who spent years working in villages where a lone Western woman was a rarity; who immersed herself in the study of blacksmithing, a craft long practiced exclusively by men; who, as a working and mostly single mother, brought up two biracial children..."

10. Stanley and Barack have the same chin! So pointy, right?!

Elopement Style

Photographs by Shannon Corr.
Inspired by a super stylish short wedding dress post by A Cup of Jo, I decided to post a picture of my own wedding, or rather, elopement outfit (we ran off to Oakland and San Francisco, where we first kissed :)). The dress is French Connection, the shoes are by Manolo Blahnik, the bracelet is Ralph Lauren, and the fur capelet was my late grandmother's (her initials are embroidered into the lining...and to all of the fur haters out there, I didn't buy it and never would).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not the Nanny

Every time I take Sabine to the park, someone assumes that I adopted her or that I'm the Nanny. Ugh. So frustrating after growing this child in your belly for nine months and undergoing Guantanamo Bay-style sleep deprivation (as in torture). But not just that. It's also frustrating because I feel with every bone in my body that she is a piece of me, which means that I feel a kind of love and attachment to her that is too big, beautiful and scary to tether with words. And when someone doesn't think that she's my blood, it somehow nullifies my 36 hours of labor, emergency c-section (heroin-addict-like adventure of being strapped to a surface and vomiting three times in reaction to a ridiculous amount of medication) and a mind-blowing connection with her that's as physical as it is emotional.

With that said, I've nothing against nannies and I've always aspired to adopt. I think it's a whole different kind of beautiful. It's a side of motherhood that I can't speak to because I haven't experienced it, but it's something I imagine to be so grand and delicate that your heart might explode. Note to self: find a blog by an adoptive mother to see what her shoes feel like.

And with both of those things said, the reality of my situation is that I am always going to have to, or get to, face the world with a daughter who is almost entirely different from me (uh, I've been hanging out with me for more than thirty that would be boring). Her skin color is different. So her experience will be different. People will react to her differently (than they react to me or her father). And I will never specifically know what her--my child, my blood--experience feels like. The good news is I will be able to lend her some support when it comes to navigating life with a multi-racial identity (see my "ABOUT ME" for our racial make-ups). And we can compare notes, albeit different ones.

The $28 Vacation

J'adore this hand-poured Capri Blue candle from Anthropologie. I have them all over our apartment. The "Volcano" scent is richly exotic. I light them, put on some Sigur Ros or Bebel Gilberto and pour a glass of wine while husband (Kadin) gives Sabine a bath (my break time). The blue glass gives the room a moody glow and makes me feel like I'm on vacation even though my arse will not see another airport, road trip or hotel for another year. Sabine hates my most favorite pastime: travel. She's reliably destructive like that.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wanna Sponsor?

If you'd like to sponsor All Mixed Up, and help me help you, please email me at

I'm currently averaging 3,775 page views per day. Pricing and cost are still being considered, so we can discuss, and possibly negotiate, once you've made contact.

We can work together to make sure your ad fits the look/style of the website. And hopefully, the content (which will be carefully selected) does, too.

Thank you, and I hope you have a beautifully mixed up day.



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