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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Conversations With Quora

I used to get embarrassed at school a lot.  I never wanted to ask any questions about anything, no matter how curious I was.  It wasn't so much a fear of exposing my ignorance as it was a general hatred of hearing my own voice in a roomful of silent people.

That's why is awesome.

I know this is going to read like an ad but I just need to fangirl on this site for a minute. You just type in your question, pick some people to ask based on their credentials, and voilà!  Someone who probably knows what the hell they're talking about explains something important to you.

Here are a few I've asked:

Asking that one for my daughter.

I guess what I am getting at with that one is, is there a biological basis (besides random events) for Elon Musk having so many sons relative to the number of children he has?  Is he, according to any hypotheses, reproductively "fitter" than most, due to having lots of resources to raise his young?  I'm making a lot of assumptions here about the sex ratio of offspring, reproductive fitness, wealth effectively equating to energetic resources, and the overall health/abilities of the parents.

Today's inquiry:

These are things we all think about while we're showering, right?

I tried posting it earlier today, but Quora took it down, thinking I was trolling.  Womp, womp.

Sounds like something Joe would dare me to ask a medical professional. Now I might have to start asking that last one of doctors IRL, and with a straight face at that.  

Dirty Work

On Still Working at Getting Your Obstinate Child to Not Sh*t in His Pants Anymore,
For the Love of All Things Holy and Pure in this World.

Ever washed out your six-year-old's underwear in the bathroom of a grocery store?


"Well you ain't never lived!"

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

I Want the Truth


6 Y.O. Son:  Yeah Mom I washed my hands.

Me:  Did you wash those hands?  Really?  After you flushed?


6 Y.O.:  I don't WANT to wash my hands right now

Memeworthy: The Postpartum Mom

Jenna Joseph’s exhausted face is all of us right after having a second child.

Holy sh*t am I tired.



Names from a different class at my son's preschool (links to name info, courtesy of Nameberry).

Miri and Freya, the 3- or 4-year-old artists behind these:

Lark (I love this name!)

Some parents' names:

Ilea doesn't come up as a searchable entry on Nameberry, BehindTheName, or even Google (aside from some acronyms).  Facebook has mostly people named Ileana.  Ilea is cool and unusual!

Doris is fun and retro, and I can't help but wonder if this is a grandparent's name.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Separated at Birth

Separated at Birth, Perez Hilton Style


Waldo Woo 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Sons and Daughters

Five-Second Screenplays on Raising Sons and Daughters: Developmental Differences 

Daughter (age 2): "My diaper is dirty, Mother."
Son (age 4):  *keeps playing forever with actual sh*t in underpants*  

Daughter (2):  *pets kitty gently*
Son (4): *tries to drag cat into the bathtub by its hind leg*

She's led a hard life.

Daughter (2):  *runs to the toilet*
Son (4):  *sits on bike seat with full-sized underwear-bomb and blithely squishes own sh*t*

Daughter (age 2):  *comparing shoes*
Son (age 4):  *comparing buttholes*

Friday, April 8, 2022

B*tch and Moan

Now that I’ve been a mom for kind of a long time, I can’t decide whether I should laugh or get righteously indignant about the following story from my childhood:

When I was about seven and my brother, Max, was five, we would argue and complain a lot.

Addressing an imaginary audience, Dad would interrupt us to say, “These are my two kids, B*tch and Moan!”

Then Max and I would argue with each other about who got to be Moan. 

Best Flower Names

 Namespotting: Nine of the Best Flower Names

Sure, Elon Musk and the so-called namers-of-the-future are calling their children Lux, Flux, X, Y, Z, and whatnot.  But these fun, floral names are far from wilted.  Here is a visual guide to these stunning names.


The youngest Bridgerton daughter, she is fresher than Violet but has the visual impact of a purple gentian.  Use it with Cindy as a retro but ready-to-return to the mainstream nickname.


If you need a reason to namesake the likes of this Blush Zinnia, Z-names for girls are gaining in popularity.


Dahlias are members of the plant family that includes daisies.  There's also a noir association with "The Black Dahlia" murder case, but the association isn't a very well-known one.


This "twinflower" name would be great for a girl who has a boy twin named Thomas ("twin").  The accent over the "e" is not necessary.  Pick the Linnaea species spelling for maximum plant power.


A sleek name that would make a good sister to an Elise.


This fragrant flower comes from a deciduous tree or large bush.


Spring-blooming azaleas are associated with the Southeastern United States, Asia, and parts of Europe.


This name is a classic (and the name of everyone's favorite Golden Girl) for good reason.  The Just-Joey variety (above) is a showy example of its loveliness—Josephine Rose, nicknamed Joey, is worthy of the flower.


It sounds a little bit like "chameleon", but Cammie is cute.  Camellia is a Southern character of one of the girls from Before We Were Yours.  Camellia leaves are used to make tea, and this bush grows into a small tree.


Spotted (or overheard) at a park in Soquel: Striker, someone’s son of about six or seven. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Separated at Birth

 Separated at Birth, Perez Hilton Style

Brooklyn Beckham (in Men's Health)

And one of the guys from this movie:

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Wheel in the Sky

 I am almost thirty-nine years old.  I live a blessed life.  Most of the time I feel like I've totally "won" a 7th-grade game of M*A*S*H--

Youuu in a house, marry a surfer, live in California, have six kids, and drive a purple SUV.  


"Green?  No, WAIT, I want a do-over."

Then again, the Fortune Teller in the Sky threw me this--

You will discover that you have been living with a weird cancer syndrome from the moment you were conceived.

You'll also turn out to have bipolar disorder.

Your unflappable and largely-agnostic husband will find himself praying his @ss off for nothing but the restoration of your health.

It's something called MEN1--Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia--Type 1.  Neuroendocrine Cancer.  It's an inherited (autosomal dominant) kind, meaning there was a 50/50 chance of my having had it passed down from my particular family.  A somewhat rare (but not that rare), often slow-growing suite of tumors.  Mostly pancreas, parathyroid, and pituitary, but sometimes involving other neuroendocrine tissues--for instance, parts of the lungs.  I used to think I had all three of the classic tumors, but my more recent scans have shown that I just have the pancreas and parathyroid stuff.

"Cancer" and "tumor" are always scary words.  But it's really not that bad.

I found out about the MEN1 in 2010, but there were weird signs before then, starting in my teens.  But the random manic episode, culminating in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder last summer, was completely out of left field.

MEN1 can be a "good" cancer to have, in case you are ever in the business of choosing one.  It’s cancer in slow motion. Lots of mostly-uneventful scans and bloodwork.  Weird hormones, but not terribly so.  Three parathyroidectomies, but the last one was a rousing success.  I am not nearly as chronically exhausted as I used to be because now I don't have hyperparathyroidism anymore.  I am hypoparathyroid, but although I have to take a lot of calcium orally, this is a hell of a lot better than the "moans, stones, groans, and bones" accoutrements of having too much calcium in the blood.

There is a big-@ss scar on my neck.  Sometimes children stare at it.  Sometimes I think I should make up a cool shark attack story or some equally-implausible superhero origin story about it.  But in any case, I think it's pretty badass that someone slit my throat three times--in a controlled and consensual manner, nevertheless—and I lived to tell the tale.  And it reminds me every day that I've survived a little bit of sh*t.

I am also stable on psychiatric medication now.

Not this kind of "medication", but maybe something like it would have helped.

I am surviving this stupid bipolar sh*t, too, and am so very, very lucky.

I'm watching the paper Cootie Catcher start to unfold for my teenagers and hoping the big game of M*A*S*H smiles kindly upon them, in turn.

Happy Hollows Zoo

 "Here it is, your moment of Zen."  -Jon Stewart

Joe and the bigs are visiting my dad and Sandy for a ski trip.  So the littles and I needed something to do.  I brought them to a petting zoo/amusement park/regular zoo rolled into one, in San José.  We petted hot, sweaty goats and watched them poop.  We rock-climbed and went down two-story slides.  We saw a Giant Anteater.  There's even a roller coaster there that Arthur is tall enough to ride.  

They did not want to leave.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Spotted Around Town

"Leave me alone!"

Today George went to school with black marker spotted all over his face, and he also wore yesterday's shirt.  He'd decided to decorate himself but wouldn’t acquiesce to a spitbath, baby wipe challenge, or even a regular bath--not even one with the yellow toy fishing boat involved. 

It is the last day of school before spring break and already we’re at loggerheads. 

Also spotted around town:

Ganja Yoga to "elevate" yourself

What Would Kermit Do?

Real Name of Local Businesswoman: Burgundi Rose, of Ben Lomond, CA


Zach:  Did you know that Uranus was the first planet discovered by telescope?  

Me:  No, YOURS was.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Santa Cruz vs. The World

 A Comparative Photo Essay

Everywhere Else, USA:

Santa Cruz:

FYI: Groms are 16U.

Everywhere Else, USA:

Santa Cruz:



Santa Cruz Real Estate:

Taunted from the garage attic by a ventriloquist's dummy

Some Celebrity is Gonna Name Her Kid:

Outlandish-Yet-Predictable Picks for Tomorrow’s Celeb Babies

Sur (for Big Sur, CA)—the name of Gwen Stefani's daughter someday.  She already has a Zuma.

Battle—Josh Duhamel or some ‘80’s rocker’s next child.

Serendipity—but not with a nickname of Dippity.

Hyperion “Hy”—Elon Musk’s next kid. Nicknamed “U.”

Egon—like that guy from Ghostbusters.

Californian— it’s the next Aurelian, Christian or Lucian.  

Hyper—if Wilder and superlatives can be a thing, so can this.

Striker—inspired by a fierce border collie.  The next badass baby name after Ryker. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Land of Flowers and Nuts

Tiptoe Through the Lupines


I thought some old-ish lady was trying to Karen me when she shamed me for picking these flowers by the side of the road. 

“There’s not enough of those this year,” she motioned toward a hillside with acres of them.

OK Boomer Karen.

Turns out, they were endangered lupines. And it’s a misdemeanor to pick any wildflower on public lands in California, even those irresistible sweet peas or whatever they are that line the roads in Bonny Doon every April. I didn’t get caught by the authorities this time but learned something new about the left coast state that is my home. 

Apparently super-violent California criminals like Michael fucking Cheek can live among peaceable people, on privately owned roads, in the woods, with little to no supervision, butttttt if you touch any of these public-domain flowers we are going to have a situation here.

I imagined doing a little reiki on the lupines after putting them in that vase I like. They would’ve said it’s all good, girl. Pick away

Thursday, March 24, 2022

I Broke Up With my Mom Using a Meme

 I swear to God this blog isn't all just heartless digs at my mother.  She had an incredibly hard life, with two alcoholics for parents.  Just because I'm not able to continue a relationship with her doesn't mean she doesn't deserve compassion.

But sometimes, you're just done.

I remember the beginning of the end.  I was about to have my fourth child and was having a lot of pregnancy complications.  I was scared to death about the baby and me, but I was most worried about how our other three kids—9, 8, and 6–were going to handle being with a sitter for days and ending up with sleep-deprived parents to boot.

This girl right here needed a mom.

I screwed up my courage and called her.  I asked her--begged her--to please come and help with my kids when I was in the hospital delivering.  We’d already had three babies but this would have been a first. Plus, there is only so much Joe can do to support us all, and unless he figured out how to be in two places at once, he needed to be at UCLA with me.  We don't have any family that lives nearby, and like I said, I was sick with three young children and desperate.

Why didn't I just call Aunt Kay?  I can't remember exactly but there has to have been a good reason.  I think she had just been out to visit us and she was pretty busy with her own four kids.  I don't like to impose on anyone, >>even that *other* woman in my life who actually birthed me and is kind of supposed to be into that sort of thing<<.  I know AK would have loved to help but would have felt badly if she couldn't make it happen.

Mom could have made it happen, and she didn't.

Even she had to admit it was for a stupid reason.  Her boob job was overdue for a re-do, as she eventually confessed when I pressed the issue, and my brother's wedding was coming up.  She was sure to see her ex and about 40 other people from Dad's large, close-knit family she hadn't seen in 20+ years.  Not that the Millers cared one bit about how round her t*tties were looking these days.  Nor were there more than a handful of them who could possibly have wished her well.  She hadn't budgeted for this, though--she never did budget for any of this.  She picked the surgery.

Surprisingly high price somebody pays to be vain.

But what was the final nail in the coffin?  I asked her, for the 199th time, to stop compulsively buying a bunch of sh*t for my kids and mailing it to us.  I sound like a spoiled-@ss brat when I tell this story.  But her shopping addiction is seriously detrimental to her whole life, to the point that she cannot afford any travel to spend time with my children due to spending it all on Pottery Barn.  

This all makes sense if you consider how she grew up.  When you’re a neglected kid who doesn’t have enough clothes that fit, you never want your loved ones to feel those awful feelings of insignificance.  It made her feel worthless not to have stuff she needed.  Buying people random crap they don’t need or even want is her love language. I know her heart is in the right place.

She has a problem, though.  A stepmother-please-bail-me-out-again, credit cards routinely declined, drive three hours to go to the Restoration Hardware at that one mall, all-out clusterf**k of a problem.  Lying. Insolvency. Chaos. More pieces of high-end furniture, more rustic farmhouse tables, more Belgian Flax Linen duvet covers, more f*cking lamps than she can fit into her modest living space, renting a storage unit that is exclusively for them.  She lives paycheck to paycheck, despite making good money.  She never stops moving residences and is always looking for the windfall that is sure to be just around the corner, if only her rent were lower or they just paid her enough or she'd married that doctor who never got around to getting divorced.

She has a problem that helped to end her marriage.

Still, the kids really needed to see her face.  No excuses about that eel skin wallet “demagnetizing” that MasterCard again, or it costing a lot to fly out.  No surprises. No bullsh*t.  It was pretty tough when she didn't.

A few years later, it was time for me to give it one last try to have a mature and honest relationship with Mom.  I braced myself for things to come crashing down. And then I finally mustered the words to tell her how I have felt, over and over again over the years, when she consistently chose to nourish this addiction.

"Mom, I feel so sad when you can't afford to come out here because you've made these decisions.  Yes, it is your money and your choice.  But we can only fly ourselves and all of the kids out to see you so much. It is super hard to see you harm yourself like this, and I know that not hanging out with your grandkids for years at a time is probably not what is really in your heart."

Her: [Denial of any self harm or problem whatsoever with these behaviors]

"I can't enable this anymore.  It needs to stop now."

Her: [She blocks my phone and I can no longer text her for what ends up being a day or two.  I promptly move on with my life, so very tired of this dynamic.]

[She unblocks me and sends me a meme:]

I wasn't even going to bother.  But I sent one, too.

And that was that.

Six and-a-half years later, I don’t regret a thing about our “breakup”.  I finally feel that I can talk about these shameful secrets without fear of judgment.  Most of the judgmental thoughts were coming from inside my own head, anyway.  You can't even manage to have a relationship with your own mom.  She will die someday and you will regret all of this.  It's your fault you couldn't get her to listen.

It all turned out okay in the end. Dad ended up coming to help us.  As has happened many times before, he was the adult in the room.  I have also learned a lot since then about being my own adult in the room.  I still don’t know why I kept hoping my mom would be there for my kids when she wasn’t ever really able to be there for me, but that was the day I stopped hoping.  I have learned to let go of what never will be, and to quiet the critical voices within me that refuse to acknowledge the obvious--she has no real interest in changing even if she might actually get to hang out with my family.

It's her loss.

And. When I am (hopefully) a Grandmaw one day, I’m going to have the saggiest t*ts you ever did see flapping around through an evening gown. 

Separated at Birth

 Separated at Birth, Perez Hilton Style

That one kid from Jerry Maguire. 


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Name Sightings

Spotted at the Playground Today: 'Double Down' Names

Harlan, a girl who was about two.

I asked her mom about this cool and unusual name when I overheard her calling the super cute child from the slide.  A family name.  The first name of Mom’s grandfather.

"It's kind of like Harlow, but not," explained Harlan's mom.  I nodded my head, hoping that Harlot is not the next logical iteration.

I also asked Harlan’s mom if she’d heard of a national fast food promotion a few years ago wherein KFC promised to give $11,000 to the first parents who named their baby after the fried chicken chain's founder, Harlan "Colonel" Sanders.  That dubious honor went to a little girl named Harlan Rose (“Harley”) who was born in 2018. This playground Harlan’s mama hadn’t heard of that one but hopes it’s somehow still a thing.

Along those lines, someone once named their kid after a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (Reese Eve Cupp, nicknamed “Reesee”)--it was in People so it must be true.  The name choice is alleged to have been due to the parents’ love for the candy, but they were ostensibly stoked to hear that they, too, were eligible for a large cash prize.  Even if little Reese E. Cupp wins, though, there is no word as to whether older sister Mr. Goodbar will also be awarded any scholarship money.

This reads like a blurb from News of the Weird.

Good to hear that the KFC cash prize went straight to the “winning” child’s college tuition fund. This is much better than if the parents were allowed to blow it all on CBD oil and a second honeymoon in Turtle Island, leaving the afflicted child with an “I was impulsively named after the face of the Double Down and all I got was this lousy” t-shirt.

I never thought I would like this name, especially on a little girl, but it is making sense in the family names context and its distinction from the trying-too-hard name Harlow.

Sunshine—what was shaping up to be the ultimate Santa Cruz hippie name for this young lad at the pump track was, disappointingly, just a nickname. Real name of the seven-year-old boy was Christian.  Sunshine is the real first name of Jerry García’s kid, though.

Ira—another playground girl two looked to be about two.  Or it may have been a boy.  They had long hair and gender neutral clothing.  Ira's a pretty cool name in any case.