Musings, Thoughts and Creations

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Benevolent Dictatorship

I’ve decided to become the benevolent dictator of California. I’ve realized that the US is far to big to save, so it’s going to have to be a state thing. Which is no small task either, given that California is probably bigger than most countries anyway.

First decree of my dictatorship, we follow our Hawaiian brethren (and a part of Arizona) and get rid of daylight savings time. There will be no more falling back. We’ll spring forward in March and stay that way.

That’s an easy one and now that it’s out of the way, it’s time to tackle the real issues. Healthcare, education, and the economy.

I’m going to need to hire a lot of experts, but ultimately I will make the decisions. I have some pretty clear goals, it’s just a matter of making the money work to achieve them.

1. We’re getting universal healthcare. It will be a statewide healthcare system based on the best aspects of nationalized healthcare in Canada and Europe. Conservatives, don’t worry about paying for illegals and uninsured – we already do. I guarantee this will all cost businesses and taxpayers less in the long run.

2. We’re going to need more medical schools and more doctors. We don’t have the infrastructure to support all these newly insured people, so the thousands of qualified applicants that are turned away from medical school admission every year will now get a chance. We’ll probably need more nursing schools as well. Throw a few more of those in there too.

3. Legalize and tax drugs. I’m not sure about all of them, but definitely marijuana. This will bring in additional revenue that we can use for our…

4. Brand spankin’ new amazing education system. No more will we be at the bottom of every list for spending and achievement. I’m taking a cue from France, we will take care of our children from the very beginning. Public day care centers for the tots, public preschool, and quality elementary schools. Vocational classes that teach skills to high school students tied to what businesses actually need. I could really go on and on about all the ways that our educations system will be better, but this post will never end. There will be a lot of very smart people devoted to making sure our education system works for children and families.

5. There will be less people in prisons. It’s going to take some time, possibly even a decade or so, but I’m a dictator, and not worried about reelection, so I’ve got time. With the improved education system, with improved health care (including mental health care), and without all the drug convictions, there’s just going to be less people locked up. This means less money spent on prisons.

6. How will I pay for everything? Well, healthcare will all even out in the wash. When you take out the bureaucracies and inefficiencies of private health insurance and the government run agencies, we can make our money go a lot farther. We might actually save some money in the long run. Which is good because we’ll need it to fix our infrastructure and parks and everything else in this state that’s totally whacked right now. I’ll be honest, even if I’m able to trim a lot of fat, I still might need to raise taxes. We have a lot of work to do in our education system and that’s going to take some cash initially. But, I think the improvement in our collective quality of life will more than make up for the pinch on your pocket. Also, this will be a short term expense. Sort of a spend money to make money theory. We have to invest in our state now, so that we can improve it and pay less taxes later.

7. There’s bound to be problems. I won’t promise perfection right away. But without a squabbling congress, problems can be solved swiftly. Remember I will be hiring lots of experts to keep an eye on things.

So that’s my general plan. Feel free to peacefully stand behind me as I take this big, beautiful state over and make it a shining beacon of what the country should be in the 21st century.


A bit of junk?

I was reading this blog post by my favorite blogger, Jason Good: and it definitely struck a chord. (Ignore the weight part of the title, it’s actually about junk food – I am not obsessed with weight, I promise).

So far we’ve raised Lily with the barest, tiniest exposure to sweets and junk food. Partly due to her milk allergy (easy not to have ice cream or pizza or cake or anything yummy), partly due to Rob’s medical school fear tactics, and partly due to the fact that we just want the best for her. The other day I made her a special almond milk pancake when I made pancakes for Rob and I. Rob wondered why I bothered since there’s little to no nutritional value in a pancake and syrup. My only defense is that I wanted to. I grew up eating pancakes on Sundays and when our family gets together. It’s a special meal with a lot of memories, that I’m good at making and I want to share it with my daughter. He really had no comeback after that.

But if you don’t count cheerios, other dry cereal products, and raisins, and one cupcake, Lily has had almost zero exposure to anything bad for her. The question is, how long should we keep this up?

She doesn’t know any better now. And these days she’s not eating quite as voraciously. If she’s going to eat anything we’d like the bulk of it to be fruit, veg, protein, and fibery grains (yikes, this sound so healthy) so she has the bare minimum of essential vitamins and nutrients, right? But eventually she’s going to want some chips, or Lucky Charms, or god forbid, soda. And I want to let her, within reason. I think.

I don’t want her to be like Jason Good, gorging on crap when she’s 40 because we never let her have Skittles as a child. I also grew up in a pretty healthy household. Not that I never had dessert or fast food, but I didn’t have a lot of sugary cereals and packaged junk. So when I would go over to my friend Abby’s house. I would eat her Fruit by the Foots, drink chocolate milk with dinner, and have Lucky Charms for breakfast. I got my fill of junk before going home. But maybe Jason and I just have impulse control and a bit of a sweet tooth/junk addiction, and it was a good thing we grew up in healthy household or we’d be obese food addicts who finish off entire bags of oreos, regularly.

Food is also fun. There’s pleasure in Halloween candy, freshly baked cookies, and ice cream in the afternoon. A little too much pleasure, if you ask some dietitians. It literally activates the pleasure centers of our brain. I don’t want my daughter to be an obesity statistic, but we’ll never even come close to that with our nutritional diligence.

Hopefully in a year or so this milk allergy will go away and the poor child will be able to experience all the junk that the world has to offer, in moderation of course. At least she’ll get to have pizza for god sakes. Pizza sounds soooo good right now…

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The issue of weight

Most people would love to lose a few pounds, or these days, 100 pounds. I’m the annoying person that’s trying to gain weight.

In high school I was around 130/135 pounds. When I went to college I gained about 10 more, most likely because I went on the birth control pill, but it also could be part of the dreaded freshman 15. And I stayed that weight of about 140/145 for 10 years. I was fine with my weight. Of course I would have liked to be a little more toned, for my favorite jeans not to fit so tightly, but basically I was fine with my weight.

Right before I got pregnant with Lily I walked and exercised a lot to get ready for a half marathon I walked with my mom. I lost a few pounds doing that. Then when I was pregnant, I was nauseous and uninterested in food. I ate because I knew I had to, but I ate the bare minimum. At 10 weeks pregnant I was 130 pound, and had lost more than 10 pounds from my usual weight.

I have to say that when the nausea wore off, I felt what the media has programmed me to feel – I loved my new slimmer body. My bra size had increased, due to being pregnant, so I was thin and busty, the coveted perfect female form. It’s what’s in the magazines. It’s what celebrities diet and get plastic surgery to achieve. It’s not a realistic form for the majority of people, and took a collaboration of unusual circumstances to achieve. Girls if you want the perfect bod, just exercise, get pregnant and feel like sh&t for a month.

The issue of weight is big when you’re pregnant. You have to gain weight, but not too much. Some gain a ton, some just hold that basketball in front and never seem to gain weight anywhere else. Some lose the baby weight right away after the baby is born, some work to take it off, and some never do.

I think it’s a crapshoot. Yes, you can make healthy and smart choices while pregnant, just like any other time. If you eat lean protein, fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, and fiber-y grains (basically the diet everyone should have all the time), you probably won’t gain 60 pounds. But on the other hand, a lot of it has to do with genetics and metabolism. If your mom got big as a house with you, you’ll probably be the same. I knew women that threw up for six months and still gained a ton of pregnancy weight. And if you’re throwing up every day, it’s hard to make “smart choices” with food. You’ll just eat anything that won’t make you sick, and might keep you and the baby alive.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s annoying when women’s pregnancy weight is such an issue. My doctor was concerned when I was losing weight and then a few months later, raised an eyebrow when I’d gained something like 15 pounds since my last appointment. What?! My cousin said that in Amsterdam they don’t stress about how much weight a pregnant mother is gaining. As long as you’re gaining enough, you’re fine.

We have this obsession with weight in America, and yet we’re the fattest of anyone. It’s a very strange dichotomy. On TV everyone is a stick, and that couldn’t be more of a stark contrast to what is actually walking around in America. I don’t think either is particularly healthy.

When Lily was born I lost the weight immediately. I think partly because of breastfeeding, partly because I limited my sugar intake for the first two months because of a breastfeeding issue I dealt with, and partly because my metabolism increased. I continued to lose weight as Lily continued to gain. I got down to 120 pounds, a weight I haven’t been since I was 12 years old. Did I do this on purpose or work at it? No. And I got compliments everywhere I went. Compliments are nice, but I did feel like it was a little wrong. I knew lots of pregnant people in my circle of friends and family and through moms groups I was a part of, and there were those that lost the weight and those that didn’t. We were all breastfeeding. We were all trying to eat healthy and take care of our babies. Some just got lucky in their genetics and metabolism and some didn’t. All postpartum mothers should get compliments, especially the ones who are slow to lose the extra weight.

And now, here I am pregnant again, with twins. And I find myself in the position of needing to gain weight. A lot of it. Like 50 pounds. 50 pounds! I feel like an actress preparing for a role. It’s so method.

50 pounds sounds nuts, but it’s the best way to make sure I deliver fat, healthy, full term twins. That’s one segment of our society where it’s perfectly acceptable, desirable even, to be fat. Babies. Live it up babies, because once you hit a few years old, that baby weight better fall off or else.


I hate leafblowers

You know that you’re home way too much when small things start to drive you nuts. Every week, we have two sets of gardeners come to our condo complex. One tends the plants and borders of our condo complex and one mows the big lawn that is between the condos and the marina right below us. I’m not sure if the marina or the condo complex mantains the lawn and hires the gardener, but the guy who blows at the end of the day drives me insane.

So they mow, and edge, and do all the normal lawn maintenance. Not lovely noises, but it’s pretty expected and necessary. I have no problem with that part of the routine. But at around 3:30, just when you want to open up the sliding glass doors and catch the afternoon breeze, I hear the rrrrrrnnnrr rr rr rr rrrrrrnnrrrr… of the leaf blower. It goes on for an eternity (an hour).

As a general rule, I hate leaf blowers. Whatever happened to rakes? They’re quiet, they don’t require power, and let’s be honest, most people today could use the extra exercise rakes require. And they don’t disturb anyone’s morning or afternoon.

We’ve lived in the suburbs long enough to hear those damn things every Saturday/Sunday morning when someone does their own yard maintenance. Rob would get woken up every Monday by the gardeners who came to our duplex. But for a lot of the week, I was at work and blissfully unaware of all the blowing and edging and mowing going on.

Now that I’m home all the time, I hear it. All the time. And the worst is the blowing, because it’s so pointless and futile. We live in what has got to be one of the windiest places in California. Give it half a day and whatever lawn clippings or scant leaves (it’s June for God’s sake!) remain on the sidewalk will be naturally scattered away.

I think someone told this guy, “Hey go blow until I come pick you up.” So that’s what he does, whether it needs it or not. I will stand on the balcony watching this portly Latino guy blow 15 leaves around for 15 minutes. He blows whatever is on the sidwalk onto the grass or into the water. Because that’s better apparently. Efficiency or expediency is not the goal. I’m pretty sure the goal is to kill time and to look busy.

I feel so helpless against this scourge. I can’t ask the guy to stop – he’s just doing his job. I want to contact the manager. Tell them it’s not necessary. Save the time and money. But they’re just following the gardening protocol as well. I want to be annoying and go to the homeowner’s association and ask to ban all leaf blowers from the premises. Or maybe I just need to go to the ocean, achieve Blue Mind and get over it.


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Blue Mind

My mother-in-law sent me a link to an article, a little bio on a Santa Cruz resident named Wallace J. Nichols. In the article he talks about the concept of “blue mind,” which is the calm state you get when you’re in or near the ocean. The ocean takes away our “red mind” of stress and anxiety and just chills us out.

I completely agree with the blue mind idea. Every time I am at the beach, staring out at the abyss of an ocean before me, hearing the rhythm of the waves, smelling the salty air, it’s an immediate detox. But you have to empty your mind and just let the ocean in. If you go with your kids and you’re worrying about sunscreen and lunches and drowning, you might not get to relax. You have to just let it all go. No walking, frisbee throwing, or body surfing, just the quiet appreciation and mental takeover of the ocean. Then you can take a walk or throw the frisbee, or rub sunscreen on a child in your newly zen state.

I don’t think blue mind is limited to the ocean or bodies of water. You could also get blue mind at the top of the mountain, in a grove of trees, in the middle of a meadow, or looking at a lake. I don’t think it actually requires an ocean. It just requires a “quiet” place where you can sit and lose yourself in nature. When I say quiet, I mean quiet from the modern world and other people. The noises of nature – wind, birdcalls, waves, and water lapping – is welcome noise.

This is one of the reasons Rob and I want to make our final home, the place where we put down roots, (10 years from now?) near the ocean. Hopefully there we can live a blue life.


No writing :(

I really wanted to make it a goal to write something every day. And look I haven’t written anything in weeks. First trimester nausea/exhaustion, plus having the hubby home (which somehow makes us less productive as a unit?), plus a ton of emailing and computer work for the Benicia Moms Group, and of course darling Lily as the biggest time suck of all. All of this equals zero energy for blogging. Plus I want this blog to be about more than the day to day baby banalia (not a word). It’s wonderful in it’s own way, and I love it, but I have another blog for that (which I also haven’t posted on).

So anyway, tired or not, even if all my plants are dying of thirst, and the dishes are stacked up, I am going to write. I have about one more month of this shitty nausea, but I’m not going to let it bring me down. I am going to write in this blog every day for a month. Even if all I manage is a haiku, it is happening. I can haiku on my phone if have to and post from there.  : )

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Double space

When I learned to type I learned to double space after a period. I think that was a holdover from when people typed on a typewriter. But now with basically all typing done on the computer and new fonts, etc. it is no longer necessary to double space after a period, and most people and publications don’t. Rob has told me this several times. And I want to stop. Why waste the time and space with that extra tap? But it is really hard. I think my thumb has muscle memory that it cannot overcome and it must tap twice. (I’ve done it for every single sentence I’ve written). So now I have to make three taps. The two that I cannot control and do automatically, and one delete to erase the extra space. (getting better, two sentences in a row I have not double tapped for). I’m 30, not 80. I’m adaptable. I can do this.

From here on out, I will end all my sentences with three taps and one space.


Riverdog Farms

We have been wanting to subscribe to a weekly box of produce for a while.  My cousin has been getting one in Amsterdam, and it looks like so much fun.  I like how it sort of forces you to try new things, and of course, it’s wonderful to support local farmers, to eat fresh, organic produce, and to add healthy veggies to our diet.  Rob looked into it and we decided to get our box from Riverdog Farms.  We also liked Shooting Star CSA, but it was slightly more expensive and limited, so we thought we’d try Riverdog Farms first.  I think it was also their pictures of chickens scratching around in the fields that swayed me into picking them.

There’s so, so much that I love about all this.  Okay, first off, health.  I don’t think anyone is surprised that eating vegetables is good for you, but with Rob attending lectures and reading all these studies about cancer and heart disease, we just get that message over and over again.  Vegetable, exercise.  Vegetable, exercise.  Not only will eating your leafy greens decrease cancer risks, and improve heart health, it will also allow you to punch burly villains named Bluto through a wall.  We’re paying for this box, so by god we’re going to eat it.  And we’re going to be reeeeeeallllllly realllly healthy as a result.

Second thing that I love is the farm itself.  They have the crops, but they also have chickens and pigs.  The chickens eat the insects and grubs that would harm the crops, and the pigs eat the scraps of food that aren’t sellable.  Then we eat the chickens and pigs.  You’d think with all that free food around the farm, they would cost less, but apparently such well raised animals cost more.  I’m going to guess because they are so delicious and good for you.  We will have to test this theory one day (but not every week or we will no longer be able to afford iPhones. Priorities.).

And finally, I love how fun it is.  Some might be skeptical that a box of vegetables could be fun, and maybe it’s just my own quirk, but it feels like getting a present.  One that I pay for and pick up myself, but exciting nonetheless.

Looking forward to the first fruits of summer in the box and saving up for that $25 chicken (heads and feet still attached – bonus!).

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Hello world!

This is the title of the default first post WordPress creates for you.  I kind of like it.  It’s like Hello world!  I’m here and I have something to tell you.

That’s kind of the point to this blog.  I DO have something to say.  Several things actually.

I started another blog when I got pregnant to chronicle that new part of my life.  Now that my daughter is a year old, the blog is 95% about her.  It’s a way for my friends and family to keep up with her antics from afar.  It seems like no matter how banal the story or long and boring the video my family loves them and asks for more.  I am happy to oblige.  But the blog is really for other people.  I want this blog to be for me.

Why not just keep a journal?  This is the question I ask myself.  If I’m writing for myself, then why would I post it publicly?  For a couple of reasons.  First of all, I have never been very successful writing in a journal daily.  I’ll write for a few weeks and then never return.  (kind of like exercise)  I don’t know why it’s so hard to stick with something that I have every intention of doing.  I guess I get busy doing other things and I just never go back to it.   I’m hoping that by posting to a blog, and possibly having people read and comment, it will encourage me to keep writing every day.  They say if you want to be a writer, you have to write.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be a writer, but I’ve always had that dream, and life is long, you never know.  At least if I write in the blog, I’m keeping my options open.  And finally, when you write something that only you will read, you can get pretty self indulgent.  If I write and make it public, I edit myself, hopefully in a good way.

So stay tuned for all my thoughts opinions on motherhood, books, movies, politics, and life.  And maybe even some things I haven’t thought of yet.  ; )