The Month in Moments: February

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photo 3 photo 2 photo 4 To a moving and magical March... 


see this, read this, watch this, thank you

"There are pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we're all supposed to act, dress, speak and they serve no one. Anyone who defies these so-called norms becomes worthy of comment and scrutiny..." - Ellen Page

This essay on masculinity is also an important read, especially this part which I found especially poignant:

Patriarchy doesn’t make sense. Beyond that, it’s dangerous. And it’s not dangerous because of what it does to men’s egos when they are faced with the slightest hint of  “emasculation.” It’s dangerous because it somehow makes those moments important. It’s dangerous because the men whose self-esteem and self-confidence take a hit during these fleeting moments of “emasculation” don’t just bottle it up inside and allow themselves to whither away (dangerous in its own right, to be sure). No, it’s dangerous because those men, believing they are entitled to feeling masculine and powerful in a world that worships the masculine and powerful, often take out their frustration on the rest of society. They hurt those they deem weak. They find solace in performing a toxic masculinity in other areas of their lives. They further poison the well in order to find a sense of self in a dangerous system. 

Also? If you aren't watching Broad City, you might want to start watching it yesterday. Oh, how I laugh watching that show. I laugh and laugh. And while you're at it, check out the Transparent pilot episode on Amazon. It is very important it gets picked up for series because it's beautiful and nuanced and real and isn't about cops. 

Also, thank you. For your comments on yesterday's  Tuesday's post. Hal and I both read them and were blown away by the response. Fucking life, man. What a mess! And marriage? Disasterville! Oh, but I do love this old and broken house and the broken people who live here and mold is what happens sometimes and everything is going to be okay. I had no intentions of buying a new house or marrying a perfect human being or being anyone's ideal but I will say this: when I sent Hal that post on Monday, hoping for his blessing (I would not have published it otherwise -- this is his story, too) he responded with love and support and hope and confidence in me as this person who shares all of this shit that would be hard on many (most?) significant others and I thought to myself, "who else in the universe...? Who else would be, like, sure, you can write about me being scared of rats and yelling at you. That's what you do and I trust you," and I am so SO sososo grateful for that. I am so grateful that on the days when I want a divorce, I can be like, "I AM GOING TO WRITE ABOUT HOW MUCH I HATE YOU RIGHT NOW" and Hal's like, "HERE'S YOUR COMPUTER! I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT THAT YOU WRITE ABOUT THIS STUFF! GOOD FOR YOU!" 

It becomes clearer to me every day that I've met my match, even though our colors clash and our stripes go different directions. Thank you, Hal. 

And thank you, Ellen Page for your heartfelt speech and Mychal Denzel Smith for your piece on toxic masculinity and Jill Soloway/Amazon for making a beautiful REAL LIFE television show and Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer (and Amy Poehler) for making me laugh until I cry every week and thank YOU, friends and neighbors, for being so cool and generous with your time and words. You're an amazing group of human beings I am completely unworthy of. Love and light to all. 
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old houses are like this

"Are we falling apart?" he asks in the darkness.

I am lying with my back to him as the word "no" escapes like a reflex.

"It feels like we're falling apart."

"This is a bad time. We've been here before. We'll find a way."


There are rats in the house again and he's more afraid of rats than of anything. He's afraid of rats like I'm afraid of confined spaces and when he hears them in the walls he can't breathe.

But I kept rats as pets when I was little so they don't scare me.

Which sickens him and now he feels alone.

I don't want them in the house but he can't live with them here. He is wide awake and I am already sleeping.

And then there is a sound and another sound and "I CAN'T LIVE HERE ANYORE! I'VE HAD IT!"

So I turn on all the lights and check under the bed and in the closet where he swore he saw one scamper but I don't see anything.

"I don't see anything."

"But I heard one."

"We have to sleep now," I tell him.

"But I can't."

"But we have to."

I turn off the light and his eyes don't close. He's awake and he will stay that way for the rest of the night.


We are not the same, him and me. I am stubborn and calm and he is sensitive and combustive. I emote through my fingers and in the shower, scream into my steering wheel in an empty van. A tree falling in the forrest when no one is around doesn't make a sound. 

But my silence is a ravine against his mountainous loud. And suddenly we are standing on either side of the Grand Canyon, communicating only through letters that cannot be delivered by post.

"I feel like I'm alone," he shouts against the borders of my whispers.

"You don't understand me," I whisper into the margins of his cries.

I can hear his eyes blink as we turn our backs to each other. He is awake on his side and I am asleep and the line that separates us is made of stone.

He is angry at the things he cannot control and so am I.

But his things are different from my things. And that has become a bigger problem than the things themselves. The jagged edges of our zig zag are impossible to navigate without bruising egos and unraveling strings.

So our backs curl like question marks, dented and dinged, his feet touching mine but only on accident.

Quick, pull away. You can't touch right now, it would be impossible considering the universe that expands between you.


The fifth contractor we've seen this week is in our basement. He's put on a hazmat suit because he's afraid of the mold.

He's an alarmist so we won't hire him. He calls us "my friend" and shows us videos on youtube of black mold and what it does to homes and people and families.

I suddenly feel like we're all dying and this is how our story will end.

My eyes sting and I can't stop coughing. I ask the kids if they have headaches.

They do not.

We order an air quality test, anyway.


The rat darts across the room while we're eating. Everyone screams and I go to find a shoebox.

"You can't catch a rat in a shoebox," he says but I think I can. 

"Of course I can."

I sneak up behind the bookcase where its tail reveals itself before disappearing behind a box of toys. I pull the box back slowly and away he goes like a shot across the room. 

Everyone screams.

Hal and Archer and Fable and the twins and me screaming loudest of all. 

The rat darts around the room like a pinball until he disappears into the laundry room at the end of the hall. 

"It's okay," I say, "everyone calm down. It's just a rat."


"Everything's fine! We're all fine."

"But Mom," Archer says, "you were screaming, too." 

We skip bath time and the six of us get into Fable's bed and read Tiger Goes Wild three times in a row to change the subject. Bo and Revi know every page by heart and every time they "read" it we all laugh. 

"Tiger goes wild..!" Bo yells. "

"..Tiger goes home!" Revi says. "The end."


"I can't live like this," he says. 

He's on the phone with the exterminator and I can see it on his face, the look he gets when he's frustrated and furious and powerless...

On the other side of the kitchen, I whisper for him to breathe.

Please don't raise your voice. It's impossible to hear you when you're yelling. 

He flashes me a look and then, hand to temple, lets out an exhale. 

He speaks calmly to the man. He doesn't yell or accuse or tear into, and when he hangs up the phone he flashes me a look.

"Thank you," I say. 


"Is it falling apart?" we ask him.

The kids are dancing to Frozen in the other room, their voices belting "Let it Go" as loud as they possibly can.

"The whole house needs a new foundation. Everything is falling one way. The floors are unbalanced."

"What about the mold?"

"We test it. We make sure it isn't toxic. We take it out. Redo this beam. Demo the damaged areas..."

This particular estimate will be double what the previous four have been so we won't go with these guys either, we'll go with someone who doesn't twist our arms with fear mongering and doomsday scenarios and "if an earthquake hits, your house will be swallowed whole and everyone will die." We'll go with someone who doesn't charge us double for the same job.

We can't afford to fix the beam. Or the bathroom. Or the foundation.

We can't afford not to fix the beam. Or the bathroom. Or the foundation.

We call a new exterminator.

We buy the fancy traps.

We sleep in silence, wide awake...




"What's wrong?" he finally asks. "Talk to me."

"It's nothing," I say. "I don't want to fight. I don't have the energy to fight with you."

He sits up, turns on the light.

Please raise your voice. It's impossible to hear you when you're silent. I can tell you're angry. Please talk to me. 

And that's when I cry, except this time it isn't a whimper into my pillow. I am angry and I can't stop all of the words that prove it. My whispers have become screams until the house is shaking. I'm standing and I'm yelling and the twins are awake now because I woke them with all of the things I need to say out loud to his face.

All of the things he needs to hear out loud in his ears.

This is his language and now he's listening.

"I hear you," he says.

Sometimes it's impossible to meet in the middle. Sometimes we have to learn to speak in voices that are unnatural... so that we can hear each other. So that we can hear ourselves.

"I'm beginning to understand."


Our feet touch in our sleep but this time neither of us pull away. We're too tired.

Or maybe it's something else.

Tomorrow, in the wee hours of the morning, after weeks of failed attempts, we'll catch the (last?) of the rats.

And later that day, a new contractor will swing by. He'll bring us down to the basement without masks on. And there, we'll touch the rotten beam with dry fingers for the first time. We'll feel the deteriorated wood against our hands. We'll follow the flashlight's beam across the sinking floorboards, past the darkish mold that grows beneath the broken tile, feel confused when we're told we are lucky...

"Without the rats you might not have known about the leak until it was too late.

This can be fixed.

Old houses are like this.

and broken,

They all need work," the contractor will say.

And we'll hang onto those words like a railing as we climb the basement stairs in steady silence, toward the voices that sing with all they have.

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This on repeat.

197. Wandering Bird: The Gunderson Family/ Noah Gunderson


"What about the dads?"

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"Do they have a commercial for thanking dads?" Archer asks.

"Not that I know of, no."

"But what about the dads? Why aren't they thanking dads, too?"

"That's a really good question. How does that make you feel?"

"Kind of sad and mad. Dads take care of kids, too. Like Ryan. Ryan's dad takes care of him and Dad takes us to swimming lessons every week."

As a mom, I appreciate the props. I actually thought the commercials were beautiful before Archer's commentary, not that they aren't STILL beautiful. Mothers are special and awesome, but wouldn't it be amazing if all caretakers were represented? If fathers who woke up at the crack to make their kids' breakfast and ice their kids' shoulders and celebrate with tears of joy were featured as well? So that the future fathers and caretakers could get the message that their contributions also matter. That they can and will contribute to their children's dreams as well.

Clearly this commercial was trying to reach me - the blogging mom who works from home and wants her children to GO FOR IT! GO FORTH! DREAM BIG! But watching it with my son who is as excited to become a father one day as he is to become an architect, and my husband, who is AS involved in our children's caretaking as I am, I am once again reminded of how men's contributions as caretakers are often blatantly disregarded.

How does that make them feel?

Kind of sad and mad. 

A father is just as capable of supporting and guiding and participating in helping his kids realize their dreams. And for those who don't have fathers, for those whose dads do not guide and support, watching a profound and beautiful campaign that puts all of the emphasis on the mother is potentially hazardous to the boy who will someday grow up to be the man. The father.

If we're going to change to story, shouldn't we be doing all we can to rewrite the bylines?

"Do you want to write the company a letter?" I asked Archer.

"Okay. And then maybe next time they can thank dads, too?"


"That would be cool, right?"

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Bunny Slope DIY: Fairy Fashion

I am about as DIY as a hangnail so I decided to start a little section called "Bunny Slope DIY" for those of you, like me, who aren't the craftiest/don't have a local craft store/are intimidated by local craft stores/crafts in general/etc. 
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Today's post features a little craft I did in Fable's class last week that came out totally amazing, cost zero dollars and was fun for all involved/nobody cried.


1. Plant life from your yard/neighbor's yard/nearby park/etc etc (I didn't have enough flower petals for the whole class so I went with leaves. We have many, many leaves.)
2. Glue
3. Paper

I brought in this book for inspiration and we talked about what kinds of materials we would use to make our clothing if we were fairies. Or elves. Or just super tiny humans that could wear pistachio shells as clogs.
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We talked about the things we find on the sidewalk, in backyards, parks, beaches, forests, mountains that would make for good hats/shoes/buttons... What would we make for ourselves to wear if all we had were the natural materials found in our communities? Seed buttons? Grass suspenders? Earrings made of rose thorns?
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And then I dumped a bunch of leaves/sticks/various plant life on the tables and the kids built their own shoes and dresses, pants and scarves, socks, a fairy boat, a house, designs, faces, whatever they wanted to make there are no rules.
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Fable's teacher passed out felt flowers to anyone who wanted to add one to his/her design and they all turned out fairy awesome, the end.
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fairy clothes pictures via the pages of Fairy-ality

Places to See: The Arboretum

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The great thing about life is that while some days are complete and utter disasters, others are fluid and magical and surprisingly sane. This post is the yin to yesterday's yang because Saturday we took the kids (and ourselves) to the Arboretum for the first time and it was amazing and everyone was awesome and no tantrums happened and it was the first time we ever went on a big day trip sans stroller and I actually turned to Hal at one point and said, "this might be the most successful family outing we've ever taken in our entire lives."
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There were no meltdowns.

No tripping and falling into water. (Bo fell into a stream at The Huntington back in January and then my dad dove in after her and scraped his leg which poured blood and then I had to MacGyver a bandage out of a diaper and a shoelace. I think maybe The Huntington was not designed for our family maybe.)

There were no fights.

No lost shoes in a forest.

No lost sweaters in a forest.

No lost children in a forest.

No blood. No accidents. Or injuries. Everyone stayed relatively together and the kids took turns hitching a ride on my back and Archer bonded with Canadian Geese and the girls followed a peacock into some kind of storybook fantasy world and everything was 96.8% awesome.
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We only explored a small part of the Arboretum before packing it in and heading home (I've learned to stop while we're ahead. Four hours is typically our limit for day trips. Especially since we skip naps when we go on afternoon adventures which... yeah. You win some, you lose some.)

Anyway, this was a big win for us. High five, universe.
photo 4 copy Once 
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photo 2 copy ...Three times a ladycarrier


For more on the Arboretum go here
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P.S. Have you ever heard of the Reciprocal Admissions Program via the American Horticulture Society? Our membership at Descanso gets us in free at The Arboretum as well as 250 other botanical gardens around the country. Check it out! I had no idea this existed until last week. Radical.
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