A Secret, Clothing Inequities, and Tiger Pants

What I am about to say– it’s a secret that’s going to shock you and me both:

I love being a mom.

Can you believe it? Me either. It’s shocking, to say the least. It actually freaks me out to admit that. Me. Loving motherhood. Who is this lady?

However there are two things that plague me, both both of equal importance:

  1. Having to go back to work at the end of August. The thought of anyone other than me spending the majority of time with this little monkey slays me in my quickening heart. I understand why some mothers cry upon returning to work. I may already be crying just thinking about it.

    This look says: "Please, Mama, don't go back to work!"

    This look says: “Please, Mama, don’t go back to work!”

  2. How to clothe LL in the void of cute, reasonably priced boy clothing. Adorable clothes for  girls abound, yet the boy’s world of clothing? Embroidered footballs, “Mommy’s cutest slugger” and more stripes than an ambush of tigers. I am fully aware that this is a First World, middle-class problem, and that I should be grateful that I have a plethora of generous hand me-downs, some money to spend on clothes that never leave the house and the time to “shop” to make my babe look more adorable than anyone else’s babe. (Wait–it’s not a competition?!) I find the void of boys’ clothing so odd, given the number of new testes that seem to pop out on a daily basis. (Remember my conspiracy theory here?) What can I say? I am vain for my 12-week old child. Obscene, I know.

Even Emily Henderson and I (yes, we’re totally BFFs) had a conversation about this issue:

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 11.05.58 AM

Enter El Sage Designs. The company is run by the talented Phoebe Carpenter Eells, mama to two young boys. Girlfriend knows the dearth of cute (environmentally and kid-safe clothes, might I add) boys’ wear, and several years ago, she left her teaching job to leap into her design work full-time. She designs, hand-carves and prints the clothing in her home studio, in the yellow house across the street from mine. She is one of those people who took the brave jump from a permanent, stable job to peruse her passion and be with her kids as they grow. She is inspiring, to say the least. Plus, she makes my kid look so South Park hipster. (That’s South Park San Diego, not South Park Trey Parker.)

Kid's been wearing El Sage since birth.

Kid’s been wearing artisan clothing since birth.

It’s like he just needs a fixie, handle bar mustache and a cup of black coffee to go with his skinny jeans. Okay, maybe in a few years–a mom can have goals for her kid, right?

This video from her site is the real deal: she works while her boys play in cardboard boxes, with scraps of fabric or doodle alongside her, all in her downstairs studio. Seriously–to work from home, investing in the creative side of me, to be there for LL–that sounds amazing. Plus, Phoebe and her family are the kind of people who bring over an entire taco bar just after you’ve had a baby. They deliver cookies and beer to our house on a regular basis. The boys (5 and 3) knocked on our door with May Day flowers. They are the kind of people you want to take over your corner of the world.

In gratitude for grabbing their mail last week, she gave LL this onesie. Sigh. I mean, I get some mail, LL gets amazing clothes. It’s SO.DAMN.CUTE. He’s so damn cute. It’s like when he wears adorable clothing, my desire to eat him alive beginning with his toes amplifies significantly.


He wore this to the barn, of course.

And better yet, her prints for adults are just as drool-worthy. I bought my niece this sweater and have yet to give it to her because I’m to busy wearing it.

Wearing it everywhere--even to the gym! I turn up and my friend is wearing her El Sage too. I'm telling you, it's a thing!

Wearing it everywhere–even to the gym! I turn up and my friend is wearing her El Sage too. I’m telling you, it’s a thing!


Up here in Skagit Valley, I see people wearing her stuff all the time. She’s becoming a thing. A hot commodity. I love that when I see her vibrant designs around town, I know that person has literally put food on my neighbor’s table. They’ve supported local art, a fierce, creative Mama, and my neighbor.  If you have a gift to give, a boy to clothe or bones burning a hole in your pocket for yourself, you should check out Phoebe’s work. I’m lusting after this guy and I’m secretly hoping she’ll print her “Believe in Mountains” on trucker hats. If you’re local, you can find her at the Anacortes and Everette farmer’s markets; if you’re not, her kiddos LOVE prepping PO boxes.

And if she makes it work…well then, there’s hope that I might one day too.

Also, here are some other places where I’ve found the clothes LL likes. (Let’s be honest, it’s his style I’m catering to, not mine. 😉  Most of these I bought on Zulily, because they are WAY over my budget at full price.

Leighton Alexander Harem pants–Seriously, those grey and gold tiger pants. I want them in my size.

Loralin Designs–Colorful, classic. And that kangaroo softie? Love.

Kikkee Pants

Sckoon Organics


Shortcake for Breakfast

You know things are looking up when you’ve only spent two minutes putting the little one down for his nap, when the little one slept EIGHTEEN HOURS–eighteen!!the day before–it was textbook perfect, but so odd for LL that I spent half the day being anxious about why he was sleeping as much as he should. Was he ill? Depressed?–and when you have strawberry shortcake for breakfast.



During the first day of LL back on the “ohmyGAWD-my-child-sleeps-schedule!!” I was supposed to be mowing the lawn. Mind you, we have a push mower, a lawn with craters like the moon and I am more out of shape than I ever have been.

It took me three nap cycles and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. to finish 3/4 of the lawn.

So when I spied several ruby strawberries in our patch at 8:45 p.m., I eagerly took a break. And HOT DAMN! The fistful of starts I had planted three years ago were loaded with fruit. Every year I have cursed the runners the plants put out as they attempt to take over the whole bed. I wouldn’t mind, but the berries have never been that fantastic.

Until this year. I quickly swapped the mower for the berry boxes I’d saved and began picking in earnest. Every clump of leaves I pulled apart revealed more tear-drop jewels, and for every two I picked, I plopped one in my mouth.


They are quite possibly the best strawberries I’ve ever tasted. This, from a California girl who used to eat entire flats and break out in hives. I know my strawberries.

And they are overtaking my bed! I could not be happier.

I did the only reasonable thing I could: stayed up way past my bedtime to make shortcake. There was some kind of Hogwart’s magic in the midnight air as I squeezed butter and flour between my fingers. Both the boys were sound asleep and Kings of Leon swooned on Pandora. I dreamt about devouring a hot shortcake before I went to bed, only to realize that we didn’t have any cream. But if I could get LL to sleep, well then, a little lack of cream was not going to deter me–I sent out an SOS (save our shortcake) to my mother-in-law:



And so I made the first part of these one night and resumed the baking when my personal Pink Dot had arrived last night with the cream.

An old college friend of mine happened to be in town for the night. He and his wife have a three-year old and a four-month old, and N, his mama, Corky and I laughed about the “image” he would bring back to his wife: “Yes, Linsey cooked a meal from scratch, dessert from scratch, served N and I a beer on the front porch and the baby slept the whole damn time!”

I kept trying to tell him it was a miracle of miracles, perhaps never to be replicated again, but just then, the four of us hovering over wine and pasta and fried zucchini salad, and N  whipping the cream at full force without fear of waking the deep-sleeping LL, and all of us going back for more whipped cream–I tell you, not only did I feel a smidge of my old self just then, but joyful for my new one. For the amazing family and friends in front of me, for the time and energy to do something I love–cook–and for the obscenely adorable monkey asleep in the nearby room.

And for the leftover shortcake I am now eating for breakfast.


**When I’m looking to bake something, I usually turn to either Deb or Joy. This is a version of Deb’s, and it won’t disappoint!

Strawberry Shortcakes

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 pound strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream, beaten to soft peaks

If you’re snazzy enough to own a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, egg yolks, and salt. Either pulse or mix with a wooden spoon. Add the butter and pulse or get your hands dirty by rubbing the butter and flour between your fingers (this is my favorite part of baking and one reason I don’t use a food processor–I like the tactile-ness of the cold butter and soft flour) until the flour resembles coarse meal. Add 2/3 cup of cream and mix until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather into a shaggy mass. Knead a couple times to make it into a cohesive mass and then pat it into a rough circle about 6 to 7 inches in diameter, and 3/4 to 1-inch thick.

Using a sharp knife, cut the circle into 8 wedges and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill for 20 minutes (and up to 2 hours).

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the tops of the shortcakes very lightly with heavy cream and sprinkle lightly with the coarse sugar. Bake until risen and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Turn the pan around halfway through to ensure even cooking.

While the shortcakes are baking, toss the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl. Let stand several minutes. (If the strawberries are extremely firm, do this 30 minutes in advance.)

There was much early debate at our counter whether the berries or whipped cream should go on first: in the end, we decided, it didn’t matter, and several of us did whipped cream, berries, whipped cream. You can’t really go wrong, right?

I wish I had enough wherewithal to capture a picture of the four of us in shortcake heaven, but the only thing on my mind was getting more berries and cream into my mouth. Thus, I give you my breakfast. Not too shabby.



Can I Get an ‘Amen’?


My child sleeps. I’m not sure you fully understand the joy in this, but my child sleeps. On his own. In his own bed. For long periods of time. For the second day in a row. I want to weep with joy. Instead, I have time only to hang the cloth diapers in the sun, cut some roses I’ve been eyeing since last week and begin half a blog post. I will—

He cries—I tend to him. He is learning how to transition between sleep cycles and I am learning him.

What was I saying? Oh, who knows.

It seems as though whenever anyone in the trenches comments on the impossible-ness of the whole parenting endeavor, they are met with the retort, “But it’s all worth it.”

Of course it’s all worth it, otherwise I would have put the child out with the latest Amazon boxes in the recycling. Or offer him on the black market: I know there is a large demand for a blue-eyed baby in the 95th percentile for length.


Of course it’s worth it. The problem is, parenting (motherhood, particularly, I imagine) is like having every terrible 6th period you’ve ever had, all at the same time, coupled with the worst parents you’ve ever had breathing down your neck while the school is on fire. And the worst part is—you give a damn. You are so heavily invested in this creature, more so than any thing or person you’ve invested in before. (Your husband, who you are certainly invested in, already came to you complete. You are not teaching him how to latch on to your boob (already a perfectionist at that!) or how to sleep or to laugh or speak.) This whole parenting thing would be so much easier if I didn’t give a shit.

But I do. I give a huge shit.

Which sometimes ends up on LL’s feet, his back and my hands.

So here’s a small clip of a day in the life—one with tears on both our parts—not to make you feel sorry; not to solicit suggestions; not to imply my shit stinks more than yours—

The boy cries; I tend to him

But to remind all the rest of us in the trenches that we are not alone. That shit be hard. That it is okay to cry with the babe and throw the towel in for the day and pour yourself a huge glass of wine, yes, even if you are breastfeeding.

It is a long night—LL has gas and flails his legs in his swaddle. His eyes are still shut, so he’s still asleep; I don’t dare wake him. Can I sleep through his kicking? N is sleeping downstairs because he has a long drive tomorrow—I’d like him to make it there and back in one piece, because I’d like to continue to have a partner in parenting. So he sleeps alone tonight.

We’re up at 6 and no one can go back to sleep. I’ve allowed myself the “cheat” of nursing LL to sleep in the morning. I contend that cheating twice a day will improve my sanity and up my oxytocin—cuddling with the babe is beyond sweet. We fall asleep together…for 35 minutes. I am beyond tired. I am already cranky.

We’re up. I change diapers, watch him kick the gymni, beam when he coos. He yawns. Time for a nap. I feel the dread well inside my stomach. I hate this part. This is the impossible part.

We turn on the sound machine. We swaddle as I sing “Twinkle, Twinkle” (I keep meaning to find out—is there more than one verse to this song?). LL’s not yet learned that these are his sleep cues. He’s not yet learned to sleep. I pick him up, sing Twinkle one more time through, patting his back the while. A slow, steady rhythm.

He wails.

I shush.

He wails.

I pat.

Shush, pat. Shush, pat.

He squirms in his swaddle, in my arms, head over my shoulder.

He screams so loud it pierces my ears.

He will sleep. I am determined.

He’s tired, I know he is. His eyes are red. The pediatrician told me that LL needs 16-19 hours of sleep per day—we are lucky if he gets 10. “It’s bad for his brain, isn’t it, this lack of sleep?” I’d asked. The doctor had nodded softly, without trying to alarm me. Me, the teacher who passes out a sleep/brain article to parents at Back to School Night. Me, who is a royal bitch without at least seven hours of sleep. Me, the one who can’t get her child to sleep.

The screaming dulls to a wail. I place him in the hammock. Attempt to put the pacifier in his mouth. Violent squirming. Thrashing of his head side-to-side. Again, the screaming.

I pick him up.

Shush, pat. Shush, pat.

He wails.

This will be the second day of this. And I know it will be all day. I can’t do this.

And my tears fall then too. I know he needs sleep. I know he can’t fall asleep while worked up. I know I can’t take much more of this. It’s eight a.m. and we’re both already in tears. How will we make it until N gets home at seven p.m.? How will my child’s brain develop if he can’t sleep? I will feel responsible if he is placed in remedial math. Worse, if he is diagnosed with ADHD or autistism. I am an ignorant, guilt-ridden first-time mother, and the weight of my child’s future rests on whether or not I can get him to sleep.

He wails. Squirms.

Please help, I silently pray to my Nana. Help me keep my shit together. My tears fall on the swaddled wailer; I’m praying while shushing. Please help me get him to sleep. Just this once. I’m like an addict begging for a hit. Tears roll down both our cheeks. I know I will spend the second day in a dark room shushing, patting and crying.

I take a deep breath and think about my sister, who over the Cascade Mountains, is likely giving meds to her one-year old. Sometimes a three-minute dose takes her close to an hour, the poor boy wailing too, and my sister, I imagine, close to or in tears also.

I think of my friend across town, afraid to leave the house because her one-month old screams with the pitch of an alto-opera singer whenever they are in public.

I think of another friend, one with elementary-school kids who graced us with food and hand-knit beanies and company, who had to have two follow-up surgeries post-birth. How she never really talks about it.

Because no one really talks about the hard stuff. Because it’s apparently illegal to be anything other than Pollyanna-ish or discuss anything other than your perfect child and your stellar, innate parenting skills.

Yes, we will all survive. Yes, we’ll likely forget all the pain and tears in a few days or months. And yes, it is all worth it.

But is it so terrible to talk about how hard it is? About how even the strong among us cry in dark rooms? About how we have never cared so much and felt so incompetent? So responsible?? And incapable?

Of course we can do it. My nephew will get his meds, LL will fall asleep, my friend will leave her house and we will all heal and get through the day.

Not without effort. Not without a conscious decision to love and to teach. To embrace the really, really difficult shit that is parenthood and knowingly take on the task of putting the child down for the sixth time that day. A task which takes 30 minutes and garners only 30 minutes of sleep, followed by another 30 minutes of attempting to get him back down to sleep.


We’re over that hump***, thank god—at least until the next one—but still, it felt so impossible in those moments. And I needed someone to place their hand on my shoulder and not quip: But it’s all worth it!

I needed that hand to mouth: Amen, Sista. Let it out. You cry so LL doesn’t have to. It will be impossible, but you will do it. We are right here with you and when that little bugger is finally asleep, we will crack cold beers and sigh together in relief.

This, I contend, is not because misery loves company, but because the Sisterhood of Truth–a loud ‘AMEN, Sista!’ coupled with that knowing look–that is what pulls me from the darkened room; that is what compels me in there for the ninth time that day; this is what allows me to tend to my child with an ounce of grace and sanity, knowing that yes, you have been here too.

***HA! A sure-fire way to ruin your streak is to brag about it. That “victory” lasted all of two days. That will teach me to claim success!


Hope is the Thing With Tusks

I once went searching for Hope in the middle of a Thai forest. It was well past midnight, Hope was “lost,” and we were worried. Hope was notorious for sneaking away; he was also young, mischievous and often covered in mud. Sometimes Hope was impossible to find.

I witnessed finding Hope once again this weekend. Somehow he emerges from the muddiest of pits, where the soil is so dark and thick one is sure there is no light of day.

This weekend a herd of us rallied around my sister—that brave, strong, dedicated, selfless woman—and her son. It has been a long year for her and her family, but this weekend was like coming upon Hope in the dead of night.

cape boy2

My parents somehow, in their dilapidated state, drove for three days from New Mexico to Spokane. My mother began—and finished (this, as many of you know, is the challenge for her) three craft projects for the weekend in two days. Hope in the end.



Thirty-some people (over half of them children under the age of 10!!) from around the country drove in, flew out, and walked with Jessica and Walter. Hope in camaraderie.

W4W crew

Cousins met cousins. Hope in family.

photo 3

Grandparents met grandbabies. Hope in future generations.

photo 2

Cookies were shared. Hope in sustenance.

Serious dolla dolla bills were raised. I began with a meager goal of raising $300 for the CF walk, but ended up with $1055. On Wednesday before the walk, a friend at the gym approached me with an envelope. “Did you make your goal?” he asked, “because I brought you $25 if you didn’t.” Hope in the form of a gym rat.

There are nights in all of our lives that are dark and endless. Nights where the walls close in around us and we feel so lonely we could cry. Often we do. What is amazing to me, however, is when we reach out from that dark place, when we ask of our friends and family to prop us up with their quiches and cookies, company and children; when money swaps hands for good causes and when people rally around a loved one with so much joy and love that it feels like finally, they are floating–that is Hope.

And yes, Hope is feisty. Of course he disappears. He’s got tusks to reckon with. It is our job, however, to don our headlamps and trek through the forest to find him. And when we do, we can believe once more in tomorrow.

Perhaps the greatest Hope of all is the smile amidst adversity–Walter has this trait down, And sings the tune without the words -And never stops – at all –

walter 2

A million thanks to all the donors who supported this worthy cause. I know there are many, many places to lay down your Franklins, and I am so grateful that you chose ours.