Liner Notes 4/16

this little light of mine...
One of the greatest gifts of parenthood is the act of routinely falling harder and even more in love with one's children. If this comes off as saccharine and totally annoying, I don't care. It's true. And while I'll never understand how anyone can play favorites when it comes to their children, there are times when I'll take a look at one of my kids and fall over inside. It's equal parts, who are you and I'm not worthy. Like waking up in a hotel room where everything is perfect except for you.
I took Fable out of school on Friday so that we could spend the day alone just the two of us, except it was the biggest thunderstorm we've had in years and I forgot that LACMA doesn't open until noon on weekdays so we huddled in the cold for almost two hours and by the time the museum opened, were exhausted and grumpy and wanted to go home.

"I just want to go home and paint, Mom," she said. Which is all she ever really wants to do.

...And she's incredible at it and I refuse to throw any of it away and I'm going to need to rent a storage space just to accommodate all of this brilliance and I'm done now. I'm done. Fable, Fablefablefablefable. I'm done.
In heavier news, I spent much of last week convinced I was dying and I'm not a hypochondriac at all (on the contrary. It's been nine years since I've had a physical or seen a doctor other than my OBGYN.) That will change tomorrow when I go in to see about a string of migraines accompanied by vertigo and a bloody nose that had me literally choking on my own blood last weekend. Not ideal. And although, I'm pretty sure it's just a case of a sinus infection gone ignored, I accidentally googled "dizzy spell, migraine, bloody nose" and the Internet kindly informed me that I was either a. fine or b. brain-tumored. So? I promptly convinced myself that death was imminent. Cried myself to sleep only to wake up the next morning and call myself an asshole.

Anyway. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow to get, what I assume, will be, some antibiotics. So I can go back to living my life without calling myself names.

Meanwhile, my car is in the shop. My van's getting worked on by those sweaty mechanics and their greasy muscles. Oh yes. Dudes are waxing my Odyssey as I type... murdering out my whip with some gun-metal-paint-action and those vinyl family decals that go on the backs of windows so we can represent our people posse AKA it's finally getting fixed after our little fender bender which happened a thousand years ago and I'm the laziest person of all time so it took until now to actually get it fixed. Because Hal made me. Because it's a new car so he thinks it should look like one.

I personally care zero much. I see no point in washing (or fixing) one's broken car when it's just going to get rained on, pooped on and/or scraped up by someone (again) in the Target parkinglot. IT'S A CAR AND IT'S FOR DRIVING. And besides, it's a VAN. A scratch might just do it some good, no? Give it some edge? Some funky, funky edge?

Sorry. It's just that I'd rather spend the money getting my car detailed on something else: like... anything else.
In other news, Bo and Revi are officially army-crawlers. Archer didn't crawl until he was thirteen months old, Fable was ten months, so this feels EARLY. Henceforth, I'm stumped. I watch the babies equally horrified and amazed, recognizing that crawling babies are to sleep-deprived parents what Zombies are to people who are being chased by Zombies. Do not be fooled by the drooling and the very slow movements, they are COMING and they are going to get into stuff. (Poor Archer is doomed to build small cities in his bedroom from now until 2014.)
The only thing that keeps the babes from traveling are Archer and Fable's elaborate Gaga/Minaj dance numbers, Hal's guitar and/or puppet shows. The girls looooove puppet shows.
We've recently started reading the Bible at home. It was Hal's idea. Archer's questions had recently journeyed past the philosophical and into the theological as in, "what's the difference between Christianity and Judaism?" and "What makes the Old Testament old?"

Archer has always been particularly spirit-minded fascinated by life after death, by "God" and the "energy that controls the universe" but we're not religious people. Neither of us have touched a Bible since we were kids. So the fact that our child is suddenly so thirsty for theological knowledge is fascinating. Fascinating annnnnd slightly disconcerting because we're not exactly theologians.

So? Little by little, we're learning. Together. Reading and discussing and contemplating the morals of the various stories in both the Old and New Testaments. Party on.
Meanwhile, Fable's become equally interested with the book, Prince Siddhartha, a child's Buddhism resource which makes perfect sense in a way. She wants to do everything Archer does except, her version of. (This morning, she brought Siddhartha in the car so we could read it in the car before school. Peace out, Pinkalicious. Bienvenidos Buddha!)
Last week, while visiting my family, my mom gave us all the books she used to read me, David and Rachel when we were Archer's age. It was important to her to school us on all religions, especially since she grew up in a multi-faith household (and was raising us in one as well.)

For those interested, the books we are reading are: The Bible for Children, (summarized excerpts of the Old and New Testaments (Checkerboard Press) and Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddha as well as Parabola Magazine (a quarterly magazine that studies mythology and the world's religious and cultural traditions.) For those not interested, that's cool too. I realize that we all believe differently when it comes to God and religion but I wanted to share where we're at in our quest to inform and educate as not-so-much-religious-but-spiritually-inclined people with kids who have recently taken a genuine interest in theology.
It's getting dangerously down to the wire re: Esteban and I'm trying to keep it Zen up in here. We asked our landlords for a possible extension (so we're not homeless come July 1st) and they declined. Which means? It is extremely likely that we'll be moving our six-pack into the family van down by the river.

Sigh. I guess I'll have to get that shit washed.



Aimee | 9:18 PM

You're nice to not mention that your landlords are...not being very Christian...or Jewish...or Buddhaish. Man!
I hope this means Esteban will accept your proposal. I mean, the cuteness that would live within his walls. You're really doing him a favor!

AmandaRose | 9:40 PM

It's so wonderful that your kids are exploring their own ideas and questions about religion and spirituality and that you and Hal encourage it so. After growing up in a household that taught the Bible and only the Bible (it was considered a lack of faith to question) I want my son and other future siblings to explore their own feelings and ideas about faith and their spirituality. My husband and I are cosmic hippie love kind of people ( know, ugh) and our views are ever evolving so I'm very excited to see my children grow and question and learn. Gould luck on the house situation and the bloody nose, that's no bueno.

Anonymous | 9:46 PM

Sending positive thoughts your way! I hope your appointment goes well.

On a lighter note: LOVE your photos as always! Fable looks so much like you now! Archer and the babes are adorable.

Oh and thanks for including your reading list. We're debating what our son is going to learn as he becomes more aware of life. My husband is agnostic and I'm atheist and it's a mini battle every time the topic is touched!

Jessica | 9:55 PM

Ha! Love it all today! Love the pics of the girlies, love the painting of Belle, love Archer's inquisitive mind (seriously, that kid is kind of amazing!), and always love a good Chris Farley ref. Good luck at the doc and with Sr. Esteban!

Amber | 10:25 PM

You. Them. This. Everything. I love your family. Archer inspires me beyond belief. Gah!

glenda | 10:32 PM

As always babes are gorgeous x2. Archer is amazing. Go kick some butt in the acting dept. Fable a little Miss. Good luck at the docs. And with Mr. Esteban.

findingmagnolia | 12:04 AM

Crossing my fingers for your doctor appointment tomorrow and for your living situation, and most of all sending vibes of love and peace. I love how your children are exploring spirituality. As practicing Orthodox Christians, we are trying to teach Zinashi without pushing one way or another, and my greatest hope is that she will have a thirst for spiritual knowledge that will lead her down the path that's meant for her. As you read more spiritual books with your kids, I hope you'll keep sharing so we can check them out as well.

Tove | 12:26 AM

Much luck with Esteban, I've been thinking about you and your living situation. Love that you're letting your kids explore religion! xo

c is for cape town | 2:03 AM

Good luck for the doctor! Keep us posted okay?
That picture of the twins watching a puppet show - magnificent.

dear olive | 2:36 AM

Hello, I've just landed on your blog for the first time. It's lovely. Those kids of yours! Divine. Sorry to hear about the health stress, though - how awful. (I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, so I can relate!) Kellie xx

Katie | 4:49 AM

Might I recommend Jon J.Muth's books ('Zen Shorts' and 'The Three Questions') - beautifully illustrated and written, perfect for Archer's beautiful soul!!! Good luck with the house!

Melanie | 5:00 AM

I am always amazed by how awesome your children are. I have six year old triplets that are also asking about God and spirituality. I will have to add your books to our collection. I also second the recommendation for Zen Shorts and Zen Ties.
Good luck at the doctor and please keep us posted.

Sonja | 5:14 AM

My mama raised me as a Buddhist and Prince Siddhartha was one of my very favorite books as a kid. Love, love, loved it and will definitely be getting it for my son.

Fable NEEDS and I do mean NEEDS The Mountains of Tibet. It's pretty much "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" for kids. Talks about the idea of reincarnation in a very simple and beautiful way. Not preachy or cloying just... absolutely beautiful, the story of an old man choosing his path of rebirth. I think it's out of print, but I was able to snag a used copy of Amazon that I've saved for my son. He's not allowed to touch it at the moment as well, it's out of print and he's 13mos old. But some day... It's seriously such an amazing book and I adored it as a little proto-Buddhist when I was Fable's age.

Sonja | 5:27 AM

Also a wonderful book about Buddhism for kiddos: Samsara Dog. A little sad though - I teared up a bit reading it and I'm 30 years old! Very sweet book about Buddhist ideas of reincarnation and love.

Mama Smith | 5:33 AM

Fable is the cutest little thing in history! Sounds like things are getting a little hairy over there... your sense of humor and amazing family will get you through it all. I know that I will soon be reading that your appointment went well and you're settling into your new house. Good luck!

Unknown | 6:14 AM

"One of the greatest gifts of parenthood is the act of routinely falling harder and even more in love with one's children. If this comes off as saccharine and totally annoying, I don't care. It's true." Word, sister.

ThriftyVintageKitten | 6:31 AM

Man, your landlords are tough! Come on, Esteban!

Arnebya | 7:11 AM

Yes, yes, clean the van to live in it. Otherwise, eh. I feels in mah bones that Esteban is gonna pull through juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust when you wanna go buy and egg him for taking so long. Good luck w/your appointment (I've been dying of an undetected aneurysm for months now, so I know how you felt consulting Dr. Google. He's an asshole sometimes what with his oh you're fine or oh, your brain is bleeding and maybe you have Hepatitis).

Fable makes me smile. They all do. Archer does, the girls do, but Fable makes me SMILE. Maybe b/c she's a bigger girl, the bigger girl who will forge the way for the smaller girls, the older sister, the one who will always be cool in the eyes of her younger sisters. And believe me, you are well within your rights to have a gush fest about her or any of them. At some point, that shit just hits you like WOW these are my kids. And they're gorgeous. And awesome. And special. And individual. And they listen to me and I'm shaping them and please just let me not screw them up.

amy j. | 7:16 AM

Love that you talked about educating your kids about religion...we have been in that some mode for a year or so now, at my daughter's prompting as well. I think God uses the children as little messengers to some us who are not very versed in things...ya know! : )

AndreaB | 8:14 AM

Hi Rebecca,

Vertigo and headaches also linger during times of stress. I was in the same situation, and thought I was dying also. Then the added stress of thinking I was dying made all the symptoms worse, which created a cyclical thing.

Once I realized this, I was able to chill out, and in little time, the symptoms started to go away. I was able to get a handle on it... A book and a website helped me a lot (Im on your FB if you want links)

Prob a very good chance it is stress, with the lack of sleep, 4 kids, and this big move approaching, on top of all the other household and work stuff.

Be well!

Meagen | 8:49 AM

Such an incredibly FULL post! I wish you good health and recovery even if all is normal and it's a simple sinus infection.

As often is the case, your post extend beyond the words you wrote and continues to be a gift even in the comments. You have generous, thoughtful readers, and I am taking notes on all of the recommendations in the comments, so thank you EVERYONE, and keep them coming!

I always said I wouldn't have children until I could answer all the religious spiritual questions I had, and then I finally realized after dedicating my life to it for five years that was NEVER going to happen and we would figure it out together. One of the many ways I fall more in love with my children each day. What a gift.


@Meagan YES.

Thank you all for your book recommendations! These are so SO helpful! The books we have are great but I have no idea where else to go for resources. Please keep any/all recs coming!

Love to all! And thanks for good house/health wishes... I'm sure all will work out. It will, it will, it will...

Martha | 9:24 AM

Estebans always play hard to get, don't they? Maybe you could organize a sit-in for whatever is holding the process up--bring the twins to the bank every day and sit in the bank manager's office, or something like that :) I adore that picture of Fable with her long tiered skirt. Your babies are all so stylish!

EMQ | 10:19 AM

I love that you went on a date with Fable. I'm really enjoying doing the same with our oldest, just one on one-ing it like we did back in the day. Kicking it old school as it were.
And great book recommendations. We're also a mostly non-practicing and mixed religious family, so I'm sure these issues will come up for us too. Now we've got some good starting points, reading wise!

Kelli | 10:21 AM

My daughter (5) recently became interested in religion too-we got The Kids Book of World Religions, and it is awesome! She devours it.

Anonymous | 10:53 AM

Love your post, as always. Can you tell me what the car mural thing is that Fable's painting and where one can score one? My daughter would go nuts for a wall she can paint...

Lisa | 10:56 AM
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Lisa | 11:22 AM

Love all the photos of your beautiful children!

Funny, I let my oldest son stay home from school on Friday to spend time with Mom, too! (You can read about our day on Pocketfuls, if you like.) As he gets older (he's 10) and busier, I cherish every little opportunity I have to remember what a wonderful kid he is. You're so right in saying there's an absolute joy in falling more in love with your children every day.

I think it's wonderful that you're taking your children's lead in exploring spirituality. I love the curiosity of children; when we listen to them and help them discover what they yearn to know more about, we keep growing, too.

I hope you're feeling better soon!

wendy @ mama one to three | 11:48 AM

beautiful photos and a post full of heart and good questions-- not sure how we will address religion as we are truly only believers in the larger picture of God and a benevolent universe. We don't do religion very well here.

Chara | 12:29 PM

There isn't a minivan driver I know who cares at all dings on her (yes, her) minivan. It's kind of liberating. Good luck with the house. Housing flux can be nerve wracking (as you know).

Diana | 12:34 PM

Good luck with the doctor's appointment and with the house!

I love how our kids make us think about life through new eyes!

My 3 year old daughter loves the book "The Jesus Storybook Bible". The pictures are bright and vibrant and the writing is beautiful.


@wendy Same with us. BUT. Learning about other faiths is (I think) an important way to show children that there are lots of ways of thinking and looking at "God" and the world and that there is good to be taken from all of them. (I believe in disorganized religion, I guess.)

Anonymous | 1:19 PM

One of my favorite books for kids on spirituality is "What is God" by Etan Boritzer. He looks at major religions, what they believe, the books they use, and how they are similar and different. The focus is on your spiritual connection with the world and each other, and not that any one religion is right or wrong. You should check it out!

Jacqueline | 1:43 PM

We attend a Unitarian church. The children are taught about all religions and even visit different churches. One book I've really liked is "Our Family Tree, An Evolution Story" by Lisa Westberg Peters. You can attempt to tie it in with the others you're reading, perhaps. Free inquiry is essential to the nature of truth. (I love your pictures!)

AUSAcara | 3:30 PM

That first picture put a 'smile on my dial' instantly! In fact, just thinking of how happy she looks has me unconsciously smiling all over again.

And I LOVE your idea of reading the bible at home. That's something I have wanted to do for about 10 years now - having grown up in a household where religion was simply never brought up I kind of just want to know what it's all about. A children's version is probably a great place to start.

Meg | 5:06 PM

I am not particularly religious, but I found this a pretty cool read. It may be a good resource for you, too:
David Plotz read the Old Testament one book at a time and summarized a little at a time. Pretty cool - in layman's terms, which is what I need!

Laura | 6:17 PM

5th picture down of Fable, in the netted treehouse... she looks completely like Reverie, dontcha think?

Anonymous | 6:29 PM

Raising Free Thinkers is a great resource. These topics are constantly coming up in our family, and I love exploring the questions of philosophy and theology together. And, then something new comes into our reading pile and it isn't until the conversation comes up again that I realize, oh yes, let's explore this again. The exposure to new friends and others' beliefs definitely influences the evolution of thoughts especially because so many children are so comfortable stating their belief system as fact, it is fact for them. I also like Alexander Fox and the Amazing Mind Reader, One World, Many Religions, Buddha at Bedtime.... I realize my oldest son likes to be "in the know" whether it be pop culture, or knowing other belief systems.

Emily | 6:42 PM

Have you read a book called The Year Of Living Biblically (it might be "my year of...") by AJ Jacobs? He's self-described "Jewish like the Olive Garden is Italian" and he decides to live his life literally by the bible for a year. He focuses mainly on the Old Testament, and visits with experts of theology from several different facets of Judeo-Christianity. I'm even less religious than the Olive Garden is Italian and I was fascinated. Also - they are working on an animated version of the Ramayana, which is one of my favorite stories. Happy reading to all of you!

Adrienne | 6:59 PM

Please let us know how the appointment(s) went. I had something similar happen - started last January. I've always gotten migraines on/off, but then I had one DOOZY of a headache along with pretty bad bouts of vertigo. (Are there "good" bouts of vertigo?) The ENT sent me for an MRI, but I put it off (for 9 months). I was too scared. Shit, if they LOOK at my brain, they might FIND something. I didn't want to know. But eventually I went, and thankfully my MRI came back relatively clean. (They found a small cyst and a small adenoma - benign tumor - neither of which should be worrisome or would be causing headaches/vertigo.) Chalk it up to fluid in the inner ear caused by bad allergies. I will have to get MRIs periodically to make sure the cyst & adenoma haven't grown, but I'm told that short of that, my brain looked good (whew). Yours will, too, if you need an MRI. And you'll be tremendously relieved. Big hugs.

Anne | 7:29 PM

I'm not sure if Archer's old enough, but "The Golden Compass" is a beautiful adventure about children and their souls, god and energy, and loyalty and friendship. The movie was pretty dreadful, but I thought the book was lovely.

Meg | 8:24 PM

Here's another great book for kids that sparks spiritual conversation. "What Is God?" by Etan Boritzer
My kids LOVE it, and I love the conversations we have around it.


You guys are AWESOME. I've heard of zero of these recommendations so am THRILLED. Love to all!

Anonymous | 6:35 AM

I like the Unitarian Universalists. It's less about what you believe theologically and more about how to be live your values in the world- being kind and not judging. They draw from Christianity and Judaism, as well as Buddhism and Paganism, in a way that fits me pretty well. They emphasize community have great children's literature.

Clandestine Road | 8:28 AM

Yikes. I hope you find out what's causing the pain. I'm wishing you warm house thoughts.

Allen | 8:43 AM

I HIGHLY recommend The Complete Idiot's Guide to World Religion(s) for Archer. And you guys, if you like. It is clear, even and thorough.

Good luck!

julie. | 10:26 AM

3 things - (1) i love your blog. yes. (2) my mother had the same symptoms you're experiencing & it was allergies and mold exposure. just food for thought (& better than tumors, i suppose) (3) the Jesus storybook bible is *the best* children's bible. it's written in gorgeous prose & the artwork is absolutely beautiful.

hope you're feeling better soon!

Stephanie | 11:50 AM

This doesnt have much relevance with this post, but I love how you let your kids be free spirited. I love seeing stickers and tattoos on Fable in your pictures! I know I can get fussy with my own daughter and I hope she feels free to be herself as your children do.

Sharon @ Discovering blog | 6:38 PM

I was dizzy recently, and felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. After consulting Dr. Google, I was convinced it was a pulmonary aneurism, and I was going to die and leave my children motherless. Turns out is was simply allergies, and my head wasn't draining and my asthma was kicking in. Doh! I understand the overreaction!
Love how you share your family with us. I have a boy and girl Archer and Fable's ages, and I understand the love and amazement. And how stunning it is to watch them grow and talk to them about the world and how they see it.

freckletree | 6:01 AM

I am forever amazed by how grounded you are. The kids want to know about religion so you start exploring together. I was raised in a strict southern baptist household and I am now agnostic---er . . . maybe atheist even . . . I know that I am 100% terrified of the girls wanting to know why we are the only family in the South that doesn't go to church and worships Radiohead instead of Christ. I hope I can be half as "open" as you and Hal. It is the right thing to do . . . Also, I spy a pink patchwork dress that I made Fable what? 3 years ago? Bless her sweet heart, I love that girl. Good luck with the landlord . . . I'm sorry you have to deal with that!

Elizabeth @claritychaos | 9:21 AM

By far the best children's Bible I've seen: Just sharing.

Best of luck with the housing situation.

Margaret | 8:57 PM

Late in the game, but this is another plug for The Jesus Storybook Bible. It does a great job of being cohesive and telling a story that pulls together the entire Bible,, not just presenting snippets of disjointed plotlines. As an English major, reader, mother, and yes, Christian, it's pretty fantastic. A nd the art is great, too.

The babies are getting so big!

mulanymauricio | 9:01 PM

My husband and I have been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for the last 5 years and are members of SGI-UK. BUt SGI-USA is also fabulous and local to you. Nichiren Buddhism is very different from Tibetan or zen Buddhism in that there are no shaved heads, orange robes, meditation or vegetarians required. (but optional if you prefer :)
But we do chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to tap into our buddhahood and our infinite potential so that we can become truly happy and attain enlightenment in this lifetime. (not a far distant future lifetime)

I will chant for you, your home and your health! Hope all goes well :)