"You can be anything you want to be" and other lies we tell our children

photo 2
Good tidings and Happy Halloween! This week on Mom.me I wrote about how Bo wanted to be "a bathroom" for Halloween but I had to tell her, "no" because I am a terrible person who occasionally has to shatter the dreams of her children. 

Bo still hasn't settled on a costume for tonight, although she decided this morning, at 6:55am, that she wanted to wear the spider costume she refused to wear last year to school. And THEN she wanted to be a "spider riding a bike" and tried to bring her bike with her into the car which, No. Sorry, sister. And then we got to school and she's like, "I think I want to be a dragon, now. Or Elsa. Or The Three Amigos." 

(Two nights ago Bo insisted on sleeping in the Three Amigos costume I found at a thrift store a few weeks back. Something tells me it won't make the cut for tonight's outing, however. Hey, there's always Brian Krakow.)
Angela, Jordan & Brian
In the meantime, I will leave you with this and wish you all well on tonight's tricks and treats. 

Halloween, much like life, isn’t about being whatever we want to be, but understanding that while we can be MOST anything we want to be, there will always be things we cannot be, places we cannot reach, bathroom costumes we cannot build ... and that’s OK, too.

Rules are made to be broken, of course. But limitations are an important thing to communicate as well. For me, this is one of the hardest parts of parenting because, with all my heart, I want my kids to be able to be 'bathrooms for Halloween' if that’s what makes them happy.

photo-1 You can read more of this week's column, here.


Happy Halloween!

Notes from AYA: ONE Girls & Women

photo-2 "The Power of Our Storytelling" with Clemantine Wamariya

The Aya fern, for which the Aya Summit was named after, is an African symbol of endurance and resourcefulness. Aya ferns are resilient--growing under adverse circumstances--which is what last week's Aya Summit in DC (put on by ONE Girls and Women) was all about. Endurance. Resilience. Community. Females taking back their power and pushing it forward. 

I was blown away by every single speaker at the summit—their stories and unbelievable strength —from girls rising to women elevating each other and the recognition that, as Clemantine Wamariya so eloquently expressed, "I'm a woman. That translates everywhere." (There are some incredible posts out there, already, including this one by Awesomely Luvvie and this post by Do A Little Good which includes some highlights and soundbites from speakers. Awesome.)

We were fortunate enough to hear from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, who spoke to us candidly about Ebola and the importance of US involvement. (As Americans, we often forget that we are a country of immigrants and refugees and that supporting our brothers and sisters globally is AS IMPORTANT as supporting our brothers and sisters domestically. All people are our people. Such is the beauty of this country... I feel that is often overlooked in conversations about domestic vs. global advocacy.)

We were also fortunate enough to hear from Marquesha Babers, teenage poet, future mentor, motivator and girl risingMarquesha opened the summit withpoise, strength and POETRY and blew all of our minds.

There was a collective, meditative silence as "Saa" stood before us and told the story of escapeafter being kidnapped from her school by Boko Haram. Much like Marquesha, her bravery and resilience were superheroic. When she spoke, I started to imagine teen girls all over the world coming together, hand in hand, hearts like fists of light, getting back up, standing on stages, taking back their power and speaking their truth.

“I thank my struggles for giving me my poems,” Marquesha said. Those words reverberated through the entire conference. Struggles that led to the epiphanies, escapes, empowerment, the dozens of stories pushed out the openings of mouths, spread over our hearts with the hands of words... powerful, igniting, elevating words. 

I closed my eyes and pictured every teenage girl around the world standing up, growing taller... and taller and taller... And the rest of us below them receiving their stories and mobilizing, with the resources we have, to share, listen speak out and reinforce. 

I feel so overwhelmed writing this post, like I'm going to leave out a story or a person, or forget to link back to an organization that is doing incredible work for women and humanity, so I'm going to slow my roll here and link to a few organizations worth supporting and share some thoughts on how best to take action. Because that's why we were there: to listen, to learn, to take what moved us home and pass it on.  (If you were in attendance at AYA, please add anything in the comments that I might have missed. Thank you in advance!)

Take Action: What Can We Do?

1. Support Local Storytellers so their perspective can go viral within their/our/every community. For starters, Girl Rising and Aliza Sherman set up the first ever Marquesha BabersScholarship Fund to support a currently homeless Marquesha whose stories NEED to be told and DESERVE to be supported. (The hope is to award a yearly storytelling scholarship to other teens in need. May we all rally around Marquesha and storytellers in our communities and around the world.)

You can also support Get Lit, an organization that increases teen literacy through classic and spoken word poetry. In their words:

Get Lit’s programs are designed to boost literacy, foster culturalunderstanding, and encourage creative self-expression. By immersing teens in the world of great books (often for the first time), Get Lit equips students for future success in college and the workplace by building concise writing skills and dynamic public speaking abilities and a foundation of self-confidence.

Words transform lives.Whether spoken, written, read, or performed — self-expression is fundamental to success and happiness in our society. Books provide a valuable resource andrefuge for the human soul. Everyone should be provided with the tools to access all that books have to offer. Get Lit aims to fill the gaps where public schools have failed students in this area. It uses the oral expression ofpoetry and literature to bring words to life.

2. Fight FEARBOLA in social media by remaining calm and informative. 

PLEASE double check your sources before posting articles about "fake" Ebola outbreaks on Facebook. It is doing SO MUCH damage, you guys. Fear is not the antidote to illness. Be proactive. Think before you speak. And post. And tweet. (Here are two wonderful posts worth sharing about heroism and survival.) And, if you can, give to these vetted organizations who are working tirelessly to fight Ebola and save lives.

Africare: twitter, @africare

Doctors Without Borders: twitter, @MSF_USA

CRS (Catholic Relief Services), twitter, @CatholicRelief

Samaritan's Purse, twitter, @SamaritansPurse

3. Support World Health by tweeting to the White House to support life-saving vaccinations.

One of our goals during the summit was to reach the White House to ask for a renewal of funds for Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, which you can read more about, here. The renewal of these funds will save millions of children's lives from life threatening disease. Click here to take action! 

4. Support Businesses that Empower Women Around the World.

I really enjoyed hearing from the panel, Change Through Economic Opportunity, because I have become cynical in my old age, another reason why bringing together women of all ages is crucial. I have always adored Heifer International but hearing from Petronella Halwiindi about the work Heifer has done through the years, specifically with women, was remarkable. Please consider Heifer for gift giving this holiday season!

We also heard from Barrett Ward of FashionABLE, Jane Mosbacher Morris of To The Market, which sells survivor-made goods and is set to launch NEXT WEEK, and Syndey Price, senior VP of Global Merchandising for KateSpade New York. (Learn more about the On Purpose collection, here.)

5. Listen, Speak, Spread... 

How can we bring these voices and stories into our own communities and schools? Organizations like Peace is Loud makes that possible. And books, like Nick Kristof's A Path Appears, teach every day humans—like you and me—how we can best utilize our voices, platforms and privilege as global citizens. The incredible Danai Gurira showed us how by using her voice and theatrical talent to perform for us—to spread the truth of other women who shared their stories with her—stories that would not and could not have been delivered without Danai's voice. We HAVE to listen to each other in order to push forward, no matter how painful or inconvenient the story. We owe it to our sisters and our daughters and ourselves to listen. We owe it to our world. 

6. Talk to the boys and men in your life about human trafficking, sex slavery and CONSENT.

The one thing the summit was lacking, I felt, was the inclusion of boys and men in the conversation, specifically where rape/violence and trafficking were concerned. The only way to elevate our sisters is to partner with our brothers in doing so. How do we educate our boys and men about CONSENT and EMPATHY? I can recall many stories of boys (and men) I knew in my late teens/early 20s talking about the south-Asian hookers they hired while traveling like it was just a thing that people do/did/ha ha/insert high five, here. Much of the conversations that we had last week had to do with violent sex acts, slavery and the millions of women and children who are trafficked. And here, we are sitting in chairs feeling like we have no control. Except we do. WE'RE MOMS! We have sons! Sons who will grow up and choose to engage (or not) in sexual acts with women who do (and do not) consent to them—who will grow up to hire (or not hire) sex workers, prostitutes, women who have been abducted, trafficked, are slaves. And it might feel small in the scheme of things, but having conversations with our sons—when they reach an appropriate age to do so—about consent, trafficking and the sex trade is huge. We are raising the next generation of sexually active men. It is crucial for us to educate, not just as parents, but as women who have experienced the best (and worst) of male sexuality. It is on us to teach our sons and make them aware of what is happening worldwide as well as under our own noses. It is on us to enlighten them and create advocates of them as well as our daughters.

7. Life is an All Ages Show. 

There were so many women I know and love at the AYA conference but it was the conversations I had with strangers new friends that had the most profound effect on my experience, especially the young women, teenagers and college students in attendance. I was blown away by the confidence and kick-assery in these young women, and recognized the importance of women and girls of ALL AGES coming together to talk and listen and inspire each other. We talk so often about respecting our elders and commonly disregard young women who we collectively roll our eyes at for not being as knowledgeable or experienced as we. I remember experiencing this first hand as a teen author and then young mother, and feel it SO important that we sit down with women and girls—ten, twenty years our junior—and listen to their stories, credit their experience and recognize that we can all learn from each other. Respect for our sisters should include our younger sisters as well.

Teenage girls will change the world. Hell, they're already changing it. Let's hear it for the teens! 


When I got back from AYA, after waiting in the cab line at LAX for almost 30 minutes, a green minivan pulled up for me, its automatic door hanging open.

"Good evening," the voice said, and that's when I realized my driver was a woman. I don't know how many cabs I've taken in my 33 years. Lots, though. And not once, have I been picked up by a woman driver. 

And, maybe in the past, this would have surprised me, but not now. Now, it felt right. It felt obvious. It felt like OF COURSE my driver is a woman. OF COURSE.

I immediately introduced myself like we were old friends. I asked her about her night and she asked me about mine. We talked about Los Angeles and DC and airplanes and our lives...

And then she took me home, waiting for me to disappear through the front gate of my house, before driving away into the night.

It was as if the universe had winked. Like, this is it. The world is changing. And it's going to be painful and it's going to be a fight and it's overwhelming to consider for a moment what has to be done, how far we have to go, how much of our world is broken. And yet. AND YET! Never in the history of the world has there been this many women with voices raised and ears open, WOMEN. 

When in doubt, I turn to THAT. I turn to my daughters who know their strength in ways I still can't relate to. I turn to Marquesha, and Saa, and Danai, and President Sirleaf, Malala Yousafzai and YOU. All of you. All of us! 
Thank you, AYAONE Girls & Women and all of you out there who support, elevate and share your truths for the greater good. We are all very much in this together and I believe that the women of the world are taking great strides as a community to chip away at the darkness with their light. I felt that way last week and I feel that way today. When women come together, their (our) power is a palpable force. It is my honor and privilege to be a part of this community of women and storytellers, artists and poets, actors and activists, children and teenagers. Tomorrow is a new day. May all the voices continue to sing. 


Eat Well: The Great Pumpkin Dinner Party

This week, I'm going to do a recap of some of my favorite pumpkin posts written over the last several years by my mom, WWW who is amazing. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and passion for good food, Mom! You inspire me. 
I realized, putting this post together that the last (five?) years my mom has been posting recipes here on GGC, we've been able to catalog quite the collection. Today, I thought it would be fun to post a four-course meal that utilizes the best that pumpkin eating has to offer around the world. So! For those of you planning a Great Pumpkin Dinner party featuring global cuisine, this post is your guy:

african peanut soup
(recipe, here.)

Followed by: 
Gnocci di Zucca
(recipe, here.)

(recipe, here.)

And for dessert: 
Coconut Walnut Pumpkin Bread 
pumpkin bread
(recipe, here.)


Oh. And, if you're looking for a delicious recipe for a pumpkin cocktail, this looks totally divine: 
Cheers, friends. Happy Pumpkin-y dinner partying. All the love. 



It's official. The November 4th midterm election is but a week away! Here's a video my friend, Sarah, put together with some other fine ladies and gentlemen and Joan Jett. Super fun. Go team. 

219. Bad Reputation by: Joan Jett, lip synched by 687688 people, including Fable and me who make a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo. Rock!

Places to Go: Apple Picking in Oak Glen

photo 2
Not this weekend but the weekend before, we drove a thousand hours to pick apples off the floor... AND MAKE CIDER OUT OF THEM! And it was awesome.
photo 3-5
Every year, for as long as I've been a parent, I've wanted to go apple picking. In Southern California, where fall never quite appears (or winter or spring, for that matter), festive activities feel like a differentiating necessity. I adore pumpkin patches, find corn mazes incredibly magical (albeit terrifying) and get such a kick out of gourds that I just... buy them and, like, stick them places randomly and anonymously just to spread cheer. They're like elves on the shelves, in my opinion. Gourds on the Boulevards (TM). If it wasn't for pumpkin patches and orchards and things all lit up, the summer would quite literally be endless.

Anyway, fall. FALL! Apples. APPLES! After many years of *almost* going apple picking, I decided late (last) Saturday night that come morning, we'd pack up the van and head east toward apple country. Oak Glen is the closest apple picking location to LA. It took us about two hours to get there and two hours to get back AKA we spent more time in the car than we did on the actual farm but it was SO worth it.
photo 1-5 photo 4-2 photo 2-3 photo 4-4
Some days are just easy. Not most days, but some. And while I was really looking forward to finding a farm and going out into the orchards to gather with my family, I was blown away by how EXCITED my kids were once we arrived. 

Because, in the car, on the way.... they were not excited. They were, like, "SERIOUSLY? THIS IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOO OOOOOO OOOOOOO OOOOOOOOO OOOOOO far."

"Life lesson, kids. Sometimes you have to drive a couple hours to get to the apples."

It was PACKED the day we went apple picking but we arrived early enough that there was still parking and we were able to park right in front of a smaller orchard that specialized in cider making. Our plan was to go wherever we were able to find parking, so for us, Stone Pantry Orchard was our spot. 

And it was lovely. 
photo 3-2
We filled a barrel of apples for our cider and three plastic bags full of apples from the tree. Each child picked and chose their apples differently, Bo eating them as she picked, Revi collecting only the tiniest shriveled up "baby" apples that were rotting and covered in mold. 49% gross. 51% charming.
photo 4-5
After picking and choosing and picking "bruised but hard to the touch" apples for our cider making, we headed over to a shady spot where a man played banjo. We danced a little, waited a little, danced some more, waited some more and finally, got started rinsing and cleaning our apples to prep for cider making:
photo 1-2 shlepping
photo 4-3 cleaning
photo 1-6 dropping apples in the grinder thing
photo 5
(flannels sold separately)
photo 3-3
pouring the rest of the apples in the thing to save time. 
photo 1-4 juicing
photo 5-3
watching/juicing cont. 
photo 2-2 posing with the fruits of our labors 

We packed it up and walked back to the car soon after and instead of stopping for lunch in the Oak Glen town (which was overflowing with people) we drove on. Hal and I are not only huge fans of flannels around our waists but also terribly anxious in large groups of people. We entertained the idea of pulling over several times but UGH, SO MANY PEOPLE! SO MANY PEOPLE IN LINES FOR BOUNCE HOUSES! SO MANY PEOPLE WAITING FOR BATHROOMS. I threw the kids some almonds to snack on until we found a place that was suitable (and not overcrowded) for lunch.

We stopped in Redlands and ended up at a family-owned pizza place. Very Pirates of the Caribbeanesque which is always a good sign. And then (and I realize I already wrote about this on Instagram. Apologies if you've heard this one before) I took Bo and Revi to the bathroom and WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE WALK IN!?

photo 2-1

Upon leaving the bathroom, I made sure the ENTIRE pizza restaurant heard the news about the portraits. And the entire pizza restaurant made sure that I knew that nobody cared. Except for me. And the kids. But mostly me.

I was stupid stoked. (I even flirted with the idea of asking the owners if I could somehow BUY the paintings from them but then I realized that the magic was there, in the moment, and it wouldn't be the same if we brought it home with us. So we left it there. In Redlands, CA. Gone but not forgotten.)
photo 1-1
The day was magical. Some days just are. The universe sends all the right messages and subtle (and not so subtle) signs appear among the clouds and trees and pizza parlor restrooms. We found ourselves high on life and apples as we climbed back into the car, nodding, laughing, singing along to Roxette because 90s on 9 plays Joyride every. other. song. pretty much.

The great thing about waiting all these years to apple pick and having it be this magical day is that, rain or shine, we will go again next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And that makes me so happy, you know? To have started a tradition. To have survived and thrived the shlep...
photo 5-4 Sometimes you have to drive a couple hours to get to the apples.


Toys will be Toys?

Sorry for the quiet, these past few days. I've been in DC having my world totally rocked at the AYA, ONE Women & Girls Summit and will be writing more about it soon. (As well as 787987 other things I have yet to write about, like, say, Hawaii, which still feels like a dream... that we had... over a month ago...)

Anyway, lots to share and I wish I felt more comfortable with video blogging because I'm having one of those moments when I'm so full of piss and vinegar and thoughts and insanity and I just want to talk to every single person I know and don't know and I want to sit in rooms full of women and braid each other's soul hair. (I was fortunate enough to join my mother, today, at her writing group along with Archer and Fable and it was AMAZING. So much lady power! WELCOME TO THE NEW ESTROGENERATION!)

Anyway, as I'm a few days behind, I'd like to focus (for the moment) on a news story from last week that is now moot (Breaking Bad meth-selling action figures sold in Toys R Us stores) but still worth talking about, I think:

The toys have since been pulled off the shelves. And then, Aaron Paul issued a statement and while I agree with half of it (violent video games being sold in toy stores, for example) the comparison to Barbie is insane. Glamorizing drug use and violence is not even on the same map as dolls with tiny waists that boast ball gowns. Those are two very different conversations and I resent, very much, the dismissiveness in which Paul made his statement without so much as RECOGNIZING what he's defending. Meth selling dolls at Toys R Us? Come on, dude.

The only thing that shocks me about school shootings, anymore, is that they don't happen more often. And I say that after watching a little boy in a ski mask, pretend to shoot up the entire playground at our local park this Saturday, while parents stood idly by. 
Why? Because boys will be boys and toys will be toys and none of it is real?  Until it is, though, right? Because sometimes it is real. Sometimes our brains get mixed up. Humans are easy to influence. Especially young humans.
Glamorizing drug dealing dolls and saturating PG13 movies with violence HAVE TO BE part of the problem. And I applaud any person, mother or otherwise, who recognizes that and takes public action. 
More, here. 

Eat Well: Lemon Miso Brussels Sprouts (and an Epiblogue)

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, Mom!
Before I start on this week’s post, I have a couple of addendums from my last post. A reader, Denise Montenegro, rightly pointed out that I didn’t say that going sugar free doesn’t mean you should start substituting artificial sweeteners for sugar. Her daughter, who is allergic to them, was given an aspartame-sweetened fruit cup at school and became violently ill. Besides the concern that artificial sweeteners are (man-made) chemicals, there have been recent studies that show using artificial sweeteners can even lead to diabetes. This is also mentioned in the movie, Fed Up.

Also, as kismet would have it, last week’s NY Times magazine was devoted to how kids eat. This piece of advice by Mark Bittman, food journalist, stood out to me and I wanted to share it with you: 

For those of us who are cutting down on sugar, we can satisfy some of our sweet cravings by roasting our vegetables. Even the most humble vegetable is elevated to a sweet and flavorful delicacy by roasting. I have written several posts about the deliciousness of roasting anything, but this week I would like to talk about the often maligned Brussels sprout. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, there was a cliché about Brussels sprouts being the epitome of disgusting food fare. This was because back then, Brussels sprouts were large and tough and therefore needed to be overcooked in order to be tender enough to eat. (And overcooked Brussels sprouts are terrible.) Now, due to hybridization and earlier harvesting, we get small and tender sprouts in the grocery stores and farmer’s markets and they are delicious. Besides being packed with vitamins and minerals, research has shown that Brussels sprouts contain more cancer preventing components than any other vegetable. 

Now is a great time to find Brussels sprouts anywhere you shop.  And they are a perfect vegetable for the holidays.  Smothering these little gems with olive oil, tossing them with fresh herbs, and roasting them until caramelized—with or without a thinly sliced onion— makes the most mouthwatering vegetable.  And the roasting intensifies their sweetness. Brussels sprouts are also delicious steamed or par boiled and sautéd with garlic and herbs in olive oil.  Either way, you can finish off cooked Brussels sprouts with toasted nuts, seeds, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest or hemp hearts.

This week I tried something new… roasting the Brussels sprouts and then coating them in my favorite miso lemon salad dressing. You could also use a lemon Dijon dressing if you prefer.

Lemon Miso Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts
2 T olive oil
About 4 Tablespoons Creamy Miso salad dressing, or to taste 
Zest of 1 lemon
Toasted walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375˚. Cut off the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts and trim off any brown leaves.  
Cut them in half lengthwise.  
Toss the Brussels sprouts in olive oil and spread, cut side down, in a baking pan (they shouldn’t touch). 
Roast until lightly brown and tender, about 15 minutes, depending on the size of the sprouts. Pour into a bowl and toss with salad dressing and lemon zest.  
Top with toasted walnuts, if desired.



photo-1 from desert plains they moved, so young so wild and alive
they were raised to believe the sea would dry before they died
across these wide oceans, smoke blacks out innocent days
so old misers can cash out in places they pray and prey

218. Wartime Lovers by: Rose Windows


I'm posting this particular song today because it reminds me of this piece by Sayed Kashua and Etgar Keret which I have not stopped thinking about since I read it last week.

Fierce Fierceness (+ Giveaway!)

photo 4-2 photo 1-2
Friday, I wrote about fierceness of a different sort, because here's the thing. My girls are STRONG. They are fierce and strong and very much themselves with personalities that are larger than their bodies and stronger than, well, me sometimes. My son is also fierce, in ways that are different than his sisters -- his fierceness is a quieter, more reserved fierceness - the kind of fierceness that I am fiercely protective of in the same way I am protective of my girls strength-in-selfness. Fiercely Protective of Fierce Fierceness is my band name.

Anyway. I think it's important for kids to know that clothes can be powerful message-senders and that we should be conscious of our fashion choices because they help us tell our story, be ourselves, have fun...  I also think that clothes can be incredibly empowering for people of all ages. Revi lights up when she puts on one of her various fancy dresses. (She wore a sequin gown apple picking this weekend and could not have been happier about it.) I happen to think that what we wear on our bodies DOES count - that we decide how we want to be perceived and that every child, when they're old enough to be aware, should be able to choose their own ensembles and recognize that there will be ramifications for doing so. (Fable learned this with her 7890 barrettes and Archer with his purple shoes and Bo with the bare feet she insisted on wearing on a walk the other day.) 

We do a lot of outings in bridesmaid dresses and costumes and the the little ones wear princess dresses to school and YOU DO YOUR THING, KIDS. 

In the meantime, it is my job to fill my kids drawers with pieces they can:

A. Wear with pride.
B. Mix and match with.
C. Feel comfortable and themselves in.
D. Empower themselves and those around them. (That's why I LOVE these shirts. LOVE LOVE LOVE.)

And that would be my segue into today's exciting giveaway. (Woo!) I'm excited to feature a fellow twin mom, Kiki Fluhr, and her kids clothing line, The Measure (All the Numbers) which boasts some of the MOST INCREDIBLE  (empowering!) pieces.

The Red Riding Hood dresses? AHHHHHH!!! 
photo 5-2 Little Red Riding Hood Dress (and bloomer shorts)
photo 4-3 "And though she be little she is fierce" T with Red Riding Hood skirt + play apron. photo 4
(Revi chose the shirt + skirt.)
photo 1-3 (Bo chose the dress and bloomers.)
photo 1 photo 5-1 photo 2-1
photo 4-1 photo 3-6 (Fable has one, too.)
photo 1-6 (They all do. THEY ALL ARE!) 
photo 2-3
This week, thanks to Kiki and The Measure, I'm giving away one outfit of your choice from the website! To win, tell me what makes you/your child/someone you know fierce. I'll choose one winner at random next Monday, October 27th. In the meantime, you can follow The Measure on Instagram, here and shop The Measure, here. (20% off at checkout with code GIRLSGONECHILD through the end of the week!)
photo 2-6  her strong sense of self
photo 2 her fearless fire
photo 4-4 her protective power
photo 1-5 photo 2-4