The Haircut

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Since they were wee babes, I've been cutting Archer and Fable's hair myself. Well, mostly. I don't know why I feel the need to do this. Perhaps it's because my mother cut my hair when I was little or maybe I think, because I'm capable of trimming my own hair I should be able to trim my kids' hair orrrrrrrr it could be, because I have control issues never trusted walk-in hairdressers. Or maybe it's simply because I'm delusional.

Whatever the reason may be, after dozens of terrible attempts at cutting Archer's hair through the years (and later going in to get it re-done) I decided, out of the blue, the other day, to cut Fable's hair. We were having breakfast, the two of us, when suddenly it became undeniably clear that growing her hair long was a terrible idea. Clearly she was a short-haired pixie of a thing. She needed a bob. And I would give it to her. Right then and there as she sat eating her toast at the breakfast table. I abandoned my coffee and went straight for the scissors. Diving in without so much as a pause to consider my decision.

At first I was proud of the job I did! Her bangs were perfect! Which made sense considering I've been trimming my bangs myself since high school. And even though the back of her 'do was kind of asymmetrical, it was funky! Fresh!
It wasn't until later in the day that I became more aware of the havok I had wreaked on Fable's poor head. She couldn't care less, of course, but I became obsessed with the mess I'd made, spending the remainder of the day pulling and mussing and flipping and pinning and trying to fix via styling what I had clearly effed up.
What was I thinking? Why did I cut her hair! It was *so close* to ponytail length and I blew it with a stupid idea that I HAD to act on immediately without thinking and it wasn't even MY hair it was HER hair and my poor child now must suffer because of my stupidity and what gives me the authority to think even for two seconds that I have any hair-cutting wherewithal whatsoever! I don't even have hair cutting scissors! Just Archer's paper scissors he uses for homework assignments! Ah!

I appoligized profusely to Fable but she loved her hair short. No more hair in her eyes. No more pigtails. It was low-maintenance and totally her. Whatever if it looked like someone cut her hair while blindfolded.
"Where'd you get your new hair?" a friend asked Fable, the day after I cut it. Clearly she was laughing on the inside.

"From me. I know, I know. But I'm going to fix it! You'll see! You'll see."

Except, I couldn't fix it myself. I tried. Made it worse than before. (You knew that was coming, right?) I cut it too short on one side. Too short in the back. Etc. Etc.

Finally I took a friend's advice and made a hair appointment at The Yellow Balloon on the other side of the hill. I made an appointment to get Fable's hair fixed and instead of trying to cut Archer's myself (again) I made an appointment for him as well. The woman who cut Fable's hair not only did a fantastic job at fixing what I had royally screwed up, but awarded Fable with hot pink sunglasses, a hair clip of her choosing (she chose pink, obviously) and sprinkled glitter all over her hair as a grand finale.
Fable was in HEAVEN and surprisingly so was I. Who knew a professional hairstylist could cut my kid's hair better than I could? I mean...

Sometimes I make myself crazy thinking I should be able do it all. Maybe because I have it in my head that my mom could. That she still can. But then I take a closer look at the pictures of me when I was a little kid and I see that (what do you know?) she couldn't cut hair for shit either.
my first-grade school picture

You know what they say, it takes a village to style a child. And to teach a parent when to step away from the scissors.


Dollhouse Reincarnated

My great-grandmother's husband, Bill, built it for me when I was a little girl. He built furniture to match. Little beds and cupboards, built-ins and tiny logs for the fire. Twenty-years ago, the house was retired. To storage where it waited patiently for a new generation of children to ignore its broken stairs and peeling wallpaper... My plan was to restore the house. Glue new paper to its bathroom floor. Repaint the walls on which I once plastered Rainbow Brite stickers. But then it arrived. In its run-down glory, floors peeling like years gone and I changed my mind. Some historical landmarks need not be renovated, lest they lose their history. To restore it to its original luster would be to destroy its beloved stain, its haunting strange and lovable creep.
Ghostbusters, be gone.


Eat Well: Broccoli Leaf'n on a Jet Plane

The following post was written by my mom who, along with my dad came to stay at our house (with the kids) over the weekend while Hal and I had ourselves a threesome with Marilyn Monroe's ghost. Before we left, I pointed out the unfortunate truth that the broccoli plants in my garden were sadly, sans broccoli. "Oh, honey! That's okay!" said she. "Your broccoli leaves will make a delicious substitute!" And she was right, by golly! Anyway. Twas a little backstory for all you all. And now for the backstory of THIS backstory. Hit it, mom!
Last year was the first time in twenty years that I planted a cool season vegetable garden. We tore out our lawn in our back yard in the summer of 2009 and built four raised boxes framed with gravel paths and after the summer vegetables died off in the fall, I planted our winter garden. Tomatoes and beans, squashes and peppers are exciting to grow. They burst forth in the summer heat, offering their flashy bounty until they exhaust themselves when the nights turn cool. Buggy and bedraggled by the end of the season, there’s a sense of relief mixed with loss as the leggy vines and dead, dried-out stalks are pulled out to be composted. This is when most of the country takes a break from gardening. Temperatures plummet and winter blankets the earth. In spring, after the thaw, cool season vegetables can be planted… peas, cabbages and their kin, greens, beets, onions and other root vegetables. In Southern California, we grow these as winter crops.
Bounty from the winter garden
I don’t think there is anything more lovely in the garden than these cool season vegetables. The grays of the cole family are soothing. I now understand why the French call their loved ones endearingly, “mon petite choux,” (my little cabbage). It’s hard to look at a round head of cabbage nestled in the garden surrounded by its large gray leaves and not think of it as something to cradle with love.
...And there is nothing more strangely beautiful than a cauliflower. Then there are the sugar snap peas. They often don’t make it to the kitchen, eaten by the pound-full right off the vine.
Last winter, Rachel’s best friend from college, visited us for a few days on her way back home to Taiwan. I proudly showed Jen our garden and together we picked some arugula and lettuce. “None of the other vegetables are ready yet,” I explained. The broccoli and cauliflower plants hadn’t yet produced their crowns but were simply covered with huge dark leaves. Jen looked puzzled.
“But look at all of these broccoli greens! Don’t you cook them? In Taiwan, they are one of our favorite vegetables.” I was shocked. I had never heard of eating broccoli leaves, except of course the little ones attached to the stalks of broccoli. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that the rest of the plant could be eaten.
We picked a colander full of leaves and I stir-fried them for dinner. I had never tasted a more delicious green. More tender than collards, sweeter than chard, and better tasting than the stems and crowns that we usually associate with broccoli. They are now a staple in our diet.

Today, as I write this, Rachel is going to Taiwan to visit Jen. Jen lost both of her parents in November, four days apart, both from different terminal illnesses. No one at 23 should lose a parent—but both parents? It’s unfathomable. Yet she has handled this devastating experience with both bravery and grace. She left the University of Michigan the day after graduation last spring to care for her sick parents, travelling back and forth between her mother, who was bedridden at home, and her father, who was in a hospital two hours away. For seven months she held their hands, listened to their stories when they could speak, told them about her dreams, and let them know how much they were loved.

In November, Jen’s mother went into a coma after her air tube was replaced. A few days later, her father passed and a few days after that, her mom followed. Jen said that her father was a gentleman to the end, passing first so he could be there to welcome his wife on the other side.

I couldn't stop thinking about Jen today as I was puttering in this year’s winter garden, picking broccoli leaves for dinner. And as Rachel boards the plane tonight to join her, we'll be giving a toast to safe travels and to Jen—in love and gratitude for the inspiration she has given us.


Six great ways to cook broccoli greens:

1. Stir fry with or without other vegetables. Season with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Or, stir fry in sesame oil with ginger and garlic, splash with soy sauce or Ponzu, and add toasted sesame seeds on top.
2. Roast them. They get crunchy and delicious this way. You can roast with the broccoli, cauliflower, or just plain. Toss with olive oil and roast at 350 until brown.
3. Steam them. Toss with garlic salt and herbs and drizzle with olive oil (try mushroom infused or Meyer lemon!)
4. Put them in soups whenever chard or kale is asked for. (These work great for the Green Soup recipe I talked about last week).
5. Put them in quiches or omelets. (For these, I take the stems off and either blanch them first or stir fry them).
6. You can take the raw leaves (remove tough stems first) and put them in a really good blender (like the VitaMix) with the fixings for a smoothie and your kids will never know they are eating greens!

Have you ever cooked with broccoli leaves? If so, have any recipes to share?



Both of my kids have a special "favorite song" (that when we're alone in the car together) they insist on listening to over and over and over. And over. And over. Every few months the song changes. Because even a two-year-old understands song overkill. (ED: Phew to that.) Fable's last two "favorite songs" were Lady Gaga's Paparazzi and the Beyonce + Tom Petty (DJ Earworm) mash up, If I Were a Free Fallin' Boy. (All Hal, that was.)

For the last three weeks, however, it's been nonstop Sprawl II. On repeat. At full blast. Because there is no such thing as "volume" to Fable. She likes her female vocal stylings LOUD. You go girl (snap, snap) loud.

Yesterday as we were on our way to pick up Archer from school, I caught view of Fable in my rear-view mirror, sunglasses on, hands in the air, singing her version of the song with a juicebox microphone. It reminded me of when I was young... er. Actually? It reminded me of me. Now. As in, I still do that. Except my microphone is a floral SIGG bottle and her sunglasses are bigger than mine. Not by much, though.
When did my two-year-old become twoteen? Don't answer that. In fact I'm deliberately closing comments so you can't answer that.

The following is the live version of Arcade Fire performing Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) which isn't quite as pretty sounding as the original but a fantastic performance nonetheless. Especially if you're Fable and your favorite thing is people kissing. I was the same way when I was her... uh... That makes two of us.

85. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by: Arcade Fire


Sixth Anniversary, Sunset Tower Hotel

For our sixth anniversary, Hal and I treated ourselves to twenty-four hours at a local hotel, blocks from home, a thousand miles from our everyday.
We could see our house from our suite on the eighth floor, Griffith Park Observatory and the snow-capped mountains, downtown and the ocean. Los Angeles is beautiful from above. Gorgeous from below as well, but sometimes a new perspective on an old place can do wonders.
Our room had been upgraded as a surprise, a gift from Hal's parents, who six years ago, pitched in with my parents to pay for our room at the MGM Grand, where we spent our wedding night. They also sent us champagne and strawberries. (Thank you, Sue & Norm!)
We raised our glasses, sucked them dry...
...Ordered room service and ate french fries in bed, clad in robes.
And eventually, got ready to do up the town...
We ate somewhere we had never been as a couple before. Ordered appetizers and drank more champagne. Held hands at the valet booth, kissed in the elevator. Whispered sentiments that we would have written down in cards if either of us had remembered to buy them.

... On years well spent together, even the hard ones, even the bad ones. Watched the piano player from the lounge of our hotel. Built in the late 20's, the Sunset Tower was the first earthquake-resistant structure in Los Angeles. A fantastic analogy for our marriage thus far. With all its quakes and tremors, broken pieces, new repairs, here we were, six years later, still standing. Renovated in new clothes for the occasion and a new perspective for life. (Or as long as we agree to have each other.)
"To us," we toasted again, his Old Fashioned against my dirty martini. (Hey, now.)
Later, we went back to our room...
And talked...
... And stuff.
In the morning, we brunched poolside, feet tangled under the table as we sipped our final celebratory glasses, wedding rings catching the light.
When the sun became too strong we moved ourselves into the shade where we sat waiting, exhaling, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, ha-ha, holding hands until check out.
Minutes later we were back home with our children. Still holding hands.

"To love and staying earthquake proof."

Cheers, baby. Can't wait for seven.