jeans: kut, shirt: levi's, flats: sseko designs, tote: sseko designsbracelet: austin (similar here),
awesome attitude: yo mama

So lemme tell you a thing about a thing. 

I've been going through my closet lately. ('Show me a woman who blah blah blah . . . ' you've read my book already, right?? ;) While I was in there the other day I noticed my denim jumpsuits. Like errant children, those denim jumpsuits. I own two; they're awfully sweet. Lately they've shared an equal amount of their mother's neglect. The poor dears.

So I said, 'I'm sorry jumpers!' (Do you ever feel the need to apologize to your clothes?) And then made the appropriate decisions.

The problem with the first is that it looks so similar to a combination of denim + jeans that I already wear all of the time. And the second of the two, well, I love her madly, but she is OUT THERE. Best suited for places where it's normal to see other people walking around in frumpy bubbles made of clothing while still feeling fabulous, maybe. 

And so they were rendered redundant. Such a sad story!

the first went out to consignment, the second to our storage unit, in case you needed to know. 
(i'm holding out hope for you, bubble romper! good luck in our storage unit, it's chilly!) 
(these are the shirt and jeans in question, should you wish to cast scorn.) 

But what I REALLY came here to tell you is, did you know epiphanic is an actual word? When you have an epiphany, that means your situation was epiphanic.

Epiphanous: Not a word. And why not?



this post is a pep talk to myself. it can also be a pep talk for you, if you'd like.

A million years ago I wrote a post about a version of myself I called New York Natalie.

The idea was that I was living in Idaho, feeling sad and frustrated, waylaid and lost, super sorry for myself, and I had remembered realizing one day that I never felt that way very often (if ever?) when I lived in New York.

I was tougher there. Or something. I felt more grown up. Less flailing.

New York Natalie had a whole different schtick going on. She liked being mature and making adult decisions, she liked saving money and planning for vacations, she liked taking on responsibility and, like, she even liked doing the dishes. (Or, at least she did them more reliably.) New York Natalie was pretty rad. I liked her! She was going somewhere.

At least, she thought she was going somewhere.

(Turned out, she was actually going to Moscow, so...)


Now that I've done this enough times to know by scientific reasoning, I can stick this feather in my cap: I'm pretty good at adapting to drastic changes in my environment. I think I do it without even realizing it. Someone called it "chameleoning" the other day, and maybe that's it.

Maybe it's just a lack of any overriding sense of willpower over whatever it is I'm encountering at the time? A white flag?

It's also a little bit like being a sponge. I'm sensitive to my surroundings, usually all it takes is a couple seconds til it soaks right in. Welcome to me, anything and everything!

I also love to try new things. I am sometimes overly open-minded. I can throw myself into just about anything and really get a kick out of it. I have a healthy sense of adventure.

Whatever it is, it's a pretty good quality to have if you don't mind my horn-tooting.
Or at least it is until it involves chameleoning/acquiescing/soaking/adventuring backwards, into a former, lesser version of myself, instead of progressing forward, as maybe all human beings should.

You know. 


So, Moscow Natalie. 


Moscow Natalie was never anybody I wanted to be long-term. Even at the time I was being her, I was aware that Moscow Natalie was merely a survival mode. Just Get Through It Natalie.

Moscow Natalie was stuck in Idaho -- maybe against her will, certainly beyond her control -- and it really funked around with her sense of ownership of the thing. And as a result I'm afraid she was a little bit of a pain in the ass. Obviously it is rather unhealthy for one to compartmentalize oneself in this manner! Do not ye do it! Take it from me!

Still, having now been Moscow Natalie twice, for better or worse, I can tell you. It's a thing. It is definitely a thing.

Being Moscow Natalie es no bueno. Fer nobody. I know this for sure-sure, having now in the process of returning to Idaho also reverted right back into that Moscow Natalie person, relinquishing again any responsibility or control over my own life in exchange for moping around like a petulant child stuck somewhere she doesn't want to be, living each day just to get through it, all-in survival mode, washing her hands of the thing, just, BLAH and SHIT and BLAH and PASS ME ALL THE CHICKENS, and surprise of all surprises, it hasn't been working! I am highly dissatisfied!! I want my money back!!

(Except for my chickens. Chickens for all and to all a good night!) 

So, uh, don't be Moscow Natalie anymore, dorko.

This should be simple, I catch myself thinking a lot. Just embody all the things I liked about myself better while I was living somewhere else, without having to actually *be* somewhere else, be some kind of rad Moscow/New York Natalie hybrid, duh I can do that! I adapt! I've done it! And anyway, I mean, we all can! We can all be that version of ourselves we like best to be, whether or not we have the cheat of a rad city (or whatever else is tickling your pickling) to get us there. Am I right??!?

Okay, yes! 

Challenge, accepted! 

Thrifting hasn't gotten me there. Weirdly enough!?! And neither have granny squares or needlepoint or paint-by-numbers either, come to think of it. It's like this world has gone upside down!! ;)

(The chickens do help, but they're mostly a distraction.)

And like I said already, I mean, thinking about yourself like this is a really bad idea. One definitely should not do it.

One cannot solve immaturity by engaging farther into self-centered, immature thought patterns! 

But anyway like I was saying . . .  about myself . . .


I'm afraid that maybe the entire Palouse in general just makes me miserable.

Is it the lentils?

I used to think it was the job at SEL that made me miserable. (Well, it was.)

Or my infertility and subsequent feelings of lack of any purpose at all. (Well, yeah, it was that too.)

Maybe the fact that we were poor grad students in a very bad economy with exams stressing the husband to death and back every semester and Peter Pan was always sick and required fancy dog food that even the Maharaja couldn't afford plus the fact that the sun doesn't shine out here for fully half of the year!?!?!! 

Cause obviously... yes. All those things are gonna mess with a person, that's just how that works, and that's all right.
That's just character building mumbo jumbo, or whatever.

But now that I am here again, mis-er-able, with none of those ingredients in my kitchen, and yet I am STILL baking that miserable cake!? AND YET!???!!

Sure, I'm still infertile (or rather, re-infertile after a brief period of non-infertile), but this time I have a kid. I'm a mom!
There's some purpose right there, slap you on the face with it.
We can easily afford the groceries.
None of my pets are unhealthy or even slightly high maintenance in the least!
(Chickens. Pass me all of the chickens!)

And yet!?!?

Just kidding it's still fully dark here fully half of the year.
That suuuuuuuucks. 

(Never underestimate the Seasonal Affective Disorder and that funny in-betweenness funk one always finds oneself in whenever the weather tries to change up it's seasons on you. That there a tip from me to you.) 

Maybe it's not the ingredients that's the problem, maybe it's the cake itself?
One layer of perceived lack of control, followed by a layer willingness to roll over and give whatever away in order to merely exist, followed by a layer of bad decisions, topped off with a nice chocolate ganache.

That's an exciting thought. Maybe I need a sports car instead of a cat?
(Are cats the female equivalent of a sports car?)
(Oh gosh, wouldn't that be sad kind of?)

Maybe it's just the sheer lack of control over any of my life circumstances right now.

But here's a jolt of truth that helps to burn off any excess misery calories: I am here for my husband. I am here because I like to be wherever my husband is. I like that guy! I like this family! And I am willing to bet we are all where we are because of something we love that outweighs the rest of the shit that we don't love. Brandon is the primary breadwinner of this here shindig, and Brandon's professional needs do take precedence over a lot of other things. And while that can be hard, and while we're definitely allowed to grant ourselves that truth, we shouldn't get caught up in it.

Because getting caught up in it, that's selfishness. 

Pouting about a choice I made because of a choice I made because of a choice I made (Idaho Brandon / Breadwinner Brandon / Marrying Brandon) is hideous. I made that choice. The truth is, the control has been mine all along, and it continues to be mine even now.

The real truth is that it has never been about control at all.


I think the realities of selfishness are much more complex than we like for them to be. In fables, it's easy to differentiate the evil, selfish hag from the pure, thoughtful princess. That's the lesson. Nobody wants to be selfish, even the worst of us human beings on this planet want to believe that we are acting out of something higher than selfishness. But it's humbling when you realize just how often selfishness can disguise itself as other things. It's humbling when you realize the struggle you're in is a struggle you happily took on and would happily take on again and again.

I think to say that control is what will save us is to say that we are better and smarter than we actually are, or that somehow we could do better with this life than what the spark of creation has been doing all this time.  

It turns out, it is selfishness that's making me miserable. And that I can work with. 

So, I had myself a talk with Moscow Natalie.
(It definitely looked alarming from a mental health point of view.)

Moscow Natalie is going to try and bugger off for a while. She's not terribly helpful, and I don't very much enjoy her, and I have better ways to attend to this deal, and 25 wasn't a good time in ANYBODY'S life, thank you and you're welcome I am in no hurry to repeat that part of my life yikes.

I've also decided that since New York Natalie may take me some time, and since she probably wasn't even all that great to begin with (I probably have overly fond memories of her that are making her seem way cooler than she actually was), maybe it's time to come up with a different Natalie. 

A better Natalie.

I think I'm going to call her Kick Ass Natalie. 

This one won't be location-specific.



This is a post about past lives and reincarnation! And hopes and dreams and next-times!!

I really enjoy explaining these things up front in the loosest terms possible so you know what you're in for without actually knowing anything about what you're in for.

Today, in partnership with Chime, an app by the creators of Sittercity, I've compiled a short list of things that, were I lucky enough to get to do a do-over, I would have do differently while living in NYC. You know. Regrets. Since I'm not there anymore and it is heart breaking and I think about it often. Quite often. Truly.

So let's hit it!


Okay so this one I didn't not do, but if I could go back in time, I would do it even more. This is what I tell people who are leaving the city any time I get the chance: WALK NOW WHILE YOU HAVE THE PLACES TO GET TO ON FOOT. I miss all the walking every bit as much as I expected to. And it is heartbreaking! The suburbs make me lazy! Where have all the sidewalks gone?! My bottom has been more than happy to conform to the shape of the driver's seat of my car, it must be noted, but that shouldn't mean it needs to happen . . .

Enjoy especially those subway stairs while you have them. Oh hell. I once hefted a sleeping kid, his scooter, three bags of groceries plus a package I had to pick up from the post office, from the Prospect R stop all the way home. We made it off the train, up the stairs, to our building, up two more flights of stairs . . . and then he woke up the minute we opened the door.

These days I'd be hard pressed to get halfway across the street with that much. If I could even manage to lift it! Boo. The accidental muscles one gets just from existing in NYC! It's wonderful, they're wonderful! I loved my accidental muscles. Accidental muscles are the very best kind of muscles. Actually, they are, this is a serious point that needs to be made, so I'm going to run with it: Purposeful muscles get too much attention. They tend to be little prima donna glory hogs. Right? At least in my experience. Accidental muscles don't even know they're there. They're like that One Direction song. That's what makes them beautiful.


Yeah, with my husband.

This is a big one. Come on, Natalie. I so wish I had gotten out more with my husband. Grown up fun. I'm putting this one in italics, you guys. That's how you know it is serious.

I mean it wasn't all bad.

me and the beebs at a yankees game, 2013

me and beebs at peter luger eating our faces off

See, we did stuff!

Plus he's handsome. 

Still makes my heart go boom boom, that Beebledeebles.

But next time. (Next time?) Next time there shall be more date nights.

Ooh! We saw Garrison Keillor at the Lincoln Center once on my birthday!

us holbrooks utilizing our primary mode of transport, the foot


New York has some of the most killer places to stay in all the world. Like the Pierre hotel! Where Joe goes to stay after he buys all his luggage.

You know what I mean here.

yours truly in the standard hotel

Here is how I know. During a Bugaboo event I once got to stay a night with some girlfriends at The Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District. That place is a late-night haven, guys, wth immensely entertaining, beautiful people-watching. And while Sydney made an excellent roommate, don't get me wrong, I do think we missed out on the point of the thing by not being there with our husbands. You know. The rooms at The Standard seem to be designed for over-the-top sexy things. Bathtubs in the middle of the rooms, see-through glass in the shower door, floor-to-ceiling windows for spying on people walking the High Line. (And the other way around . . . ;) You know, if there are ever situations that call for being naked in front of some crystal-clear windows . . . it involves your husband.


We had many babysitters while we were living in the city. A lot of them were wives of the summer interns at church, or the high schooler who lived upstairs (we miss you Alexandra!), or else close friends willing to pitch in. But it was never very pleasant finding a sitter. It was mostly like pulling teeth. Sadly. So here we are. Let me put this one out for you. Trustworthy childcare shouldn't be a luxury.

In the absence of something seamless to help you navigate the case-by-case bookings, I'd recommend hiring a sitter for a month at a time, with the same hours + days every week--even if it's just 5 hours a week, even if you're not sure you're going to need it that week. Sometimes it pushes you out the door for something spontaneous and I've noticed that's usually where all the magic happens.


I'm talking about me-time in general but actually regarding the Barney's Co-Op . . . I really think that place might be a little bit of personalized Natalie heaven.

Actually I like to think about this one a lot. The Barney's Co-Op and how much I miss it. Especially the one in SoHo. Does this make me shallow?

Huck was a great errand buddy and I credit the times we spent together getting shizz done for his amazing ability to utilize patience like a master. I think that's my parenting advice to end all parenting advice: expose your kid to boring things from day 1. However. I do wish I'd taken more me-time to myself to explore the city on my own, in whatever form that took. Groceries, dry cleaning, though not necessarily errands. Maybe logging work hours at a cafe, or getting important wondering-time in Downtown, or solo museum time to recharge the old creative battery. . . or shopping . . . whatever! I'm sorry I love to shop I won't even apologize for it! ;)

I've noticed more and more that I really thrive on those just-me-and-my-thoughts kinds of outings. I don't even realize half my brain's missing when I'm not getting enough of it, I just get grouchy. It's like scurvy. Stuff just . . . shrivels. 


Don't pass up this opportunity, New Yorkers! Words cannot even express how much I miss being within walking distance of a Trader Joe's. Oh those blessed chocolate covered cheerios.

The End.



frown smile in full effect, go me!


Once upon a time when I was just a wee babe, Sir Brandon the Texan was studying accounting at UT Austin and watching a lot of James Bond movies with his roommates at 3AM.

I wasn't really a baby but I may have only been a freshman in high school. 

He probably also ate his body weight in queso. This seems like an easy assumption to make.

Now, having never been to Austin myself, nor in any part of Texas, really, I used to hear tales of his Austin and feel happily indifferent to the deal and never think anything more of it.


I flew to Austin for SXSW for a super hot minute to speak on a panel, Furniture Is The New Fashion, with Jenny Morrill, co-founder and CMO of Move Loot. (You can see the project we did that sparked our panel here! Oh gosh, that was maybe the most fun I've ever had on a collaboration. Ever.)

First of all, furniture IS the new fashion. In case you were wondering. Increasingly I feel in my life that I get more satisfaction from experimenting with the look in my home than I do with my clothing. I know how I want to dress my body by now--I mean, I'll only have this one body for the rest of my life and I've mostly figured out its coloring and proportions and there's not going to be too much changing between now and the grave, but with a house! A house is always changing. And its base tones are super easy to switch up, unlike skin tones. Especially considering how often we've moved, and how easy it is to work within that basic square shape we all get to live in. Our homes are definitely these perfect canvases and our furniture is easily the new fashion. Easily. 

Second of all, when I say I flew to Austin what I really mean is that I actually flew to Seattle, and then I flew to San Francisco, and then I flew to Austin. 

Thank you, airline industry.

But if you follow the trends within both industries (back to furniture / fashion) it's easy to spot how eerily they seem to echo the other. Fast fashion / inexpensive furniture / freedom of experimentation giving way to more sustainable shopping / quality-over-quantity / researched decisions -- consumers consume furniture now in the same ways we've lately been consuming fashion. Our options are limitless! The possibility for self-expression endless! We're showing off our homes to our friends and followers on social media now more than ever! Come on in, I'm proud of my kitchen!


The highlight of SXSW, if you don't count our panel, were the puppies.

Brace yourselves.


The one on the left is named Edward Cullen. No I know. Don't you want to squoosh him.

Woogle woogle woogle.

They were part of a St Bernard rescue group there to promote the Mophie. It was a cute deal, wherever you were in Austin during South By if your phone battery was dying, you could tweet out a help request using a certain hashtag and then a Mophie employee with a rescue St Bernard would come and find you and charge your phone for you. While you played with the puppies. Duh.

Clearly this and the micheladas were the highlight of my weekend.


I also got to visit with Stephanie Beard, owner of esby apparel, and eat Vietnamese fusion and play Pretty Woman in her store for a couple of hours. I tried literally EVERYTHING on. It was the best kind of morning. 

Stephanie specializes in the kinds of clothes that makes the woman under the fabric shine through. I can't think of a better way to describe that. You know that mix of effortlessness and perfectly executed shapelessness that says "don't notice my clothes, notice ME." But don't be dorky or anything, Natalie.

Her store is beautiful and right across the street from Elizabeth St, so do as Stephanie instructs and get the almond croissant plus the vegetarian breakfast bahn mi. Sub the egg whites for regular scrambled eggs and add some avocado. She's right about that. And then mucho sriracha. Oh man I'm ready to go back right this minute.

She also introduced me to Topo Chico.

Thank you Stephanie! I want your chair!!!!!!

After that I met back up with Jenny and her friend for gelato at Dolce Neve, and then we explored South Congress for some shopping + thrifting in the perfect 85-degree weather.

We finished up at the Hotel San Jose for more micheladas in the sunny sunny sunshine (MICHELAAADAAAAAAS) and then a quick Uber back to the airport for the red eye home. 

When I landed in Idaho, there was snow on the ground.

See ya indeed.



i look way cooler in this photo than i will ever actually be in this lifetime

Hey-oh Spring! 

Lemme ask you a question. Do you believe in seasonal wardrobes? I do. I really do. I'd even go so far as to have a testimony of them. That's what this post is. Just so you know what you're jumping into.

a few new-to-me spring pieces for 2016

When I was 10 and starting the fifth grade, my mom took me back-to-school shopping at the local Mervyn's. (Oh, Mervyn's! Do we remember Mervyn's?) I will remember until I die those pieces we picked out that day under the hot Arizona sun, and the way a Mervyn's smells inside, and the squeaky sheen of patent leather shoes, because you always get a new pair of patent leather church shoes before school starts, there is no other way. 

We came home with a pair of forest green pants, a pair of burgundy pants, a forest green turtleneck, a burgundy turtleneck -- are we sensing a theme here? -- and then a patchwork vest in . . . yes, in forest green and burgundy red. Those five pieces represented to me the coolest girl wardrobe in the fifth grade ever, and I could not wait to start wearing them.

Of course, school starts up in August in Arizona and so I didn't really have a use for those clothes until well into November. Even if it had gotten freakishly cold in September, conscience would dictate that I could not wear my deep autumn colors until it was fully well and good the deep autumn. 

And so I waited. 

And pined. 

And yearned!

And then I wore the snot out of them from late October until late February, at which point those colors no longer felt right, and I had to switch over to my springtime rotation. Pinks, blues, you know. Easter egg colors.

Living with a personal code of wardrobe ethics is exhausting sometimes! And so limiting!

(Please tell me you are into taking this topic as equally jokingly deathly non-seriously as me, otherwise it'll spoil the fun.)

Well, I peaked at age 10, probably. It's okay. And since then, though my beliefs are the same, I no longer like those Easter egg colors for spring. (I am a Deep Winter, pastels look like consumption on me.) Instead, every March, I just want to wear white. Beige, cream, off-white, true-white, white-white. It feels refreshing and light and like just the right match for a sometimes-iffy spring sun. 

It's terribly impractical of me and of course that only adds to the fun. The other day I got out of the car with the crumbs of an entire Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie all over the seat my pants. But you know what, I won't let that hold me back. Life is a playground for the impractical! 

Here are a few favorite springtime looks to demonstrate the versatility and sheer shiny diamond-ness that shopping secondhand and wearing only white can provide.  In whites! 

Here it comes!


Also wearing: vintage Levi's and tan Bensimons


A million years ago I hosted a braiding party at Lilla P in the Meatpacking District and there was this woman who stopped in that I will never forget. She was wearing super baggy khakis, leather oxfords, a gauzy white linen top, and not a stitch of make up, and I haven't been able to forget her. She carried a leather bag that was so soft it was legitimately like touching butter. Yeah, I asked if I could touch it, and it totally weirded her out. 

Anyway she was dressed like a Jedi except it all came off so amazingly chic. HOW!? In the back of my mind I've been on the lookout for a similar pair of khakis ever since, and while I haven't nailed the saggy baggy front-pleat pegged-leg rolled ankle of it just yet, these J. Brand khakis I found on thredUP are definitely doing the trick. A white Rag & Bone button up thermal from thredUp instead of linen, hi it's not that warm here yet. 


Playing with proportions! As a short person I'm not used to going baggy top AND bottom, but trying new things are the spice of life! Aren't I brave? ;) 

Obviously each of these outfits is screaming to be smeared with chocolate, and the minute I get the last of my winter clothes in the basement it is SO going to snow. 

Bring it on. :)



don't I look not at all like myself in this photo?
Wiiiiith Vaseline Lip Tins! 


First, a glowing memory, from our first day back in Moscow, Round Two. 
Actually, we were in Pullman at the time. 

There I was, sitting on a hotel bed, in Pullman, Washington. An assortment of souvenirs from our trip to New Orleans were scattered all around me, including a plastic alligator that is supposed to grow larger when left in water overnight. Chompers The Gator, we were calling him. He was hanging out in some very dirty water in a smudgy glass on the side table next to me. (Huck had figured that stirring it with his fingers would help . . . somehow. Maybe it did! Who knows.) In my lap I held a list of all the local restaurants (most of which I remembered being not-that-great), and in my hand, my cell phone, which I was using to knock out one at a time all of the potential delivery options in the area. Because NOBODY delivers NOTHING in Pullman. Except the Pita Pit. Which was CLOSED! BECAUSE THE STUDENTS HADN'T COME BACK YET OR SOMETHING? 

It was all so incredibly depressing. And not just because I was hungry and didn't feel like putting on pants. And not just because my only delivery option was Pizza Perfection (and I've never been a huge fan, sorry). Not even because we were back in this dumb part of the country that I swore I'd never have to see again so long as I lived, and not even because I had just left the city of my dreams where I could get my morning coffee delivered to me by my favorite bodega guy Rico! (Rico I miss you! And your bran muffins!!) 

No, my primary cause of depression in that moment was that, just the day before, somewhere mid fly-over states in an airplane taking me to my doom, I had literally watched as all of the moisture in my body that New York and New Orleans had so kindly provided via gumbo- and garbage-smelling humidity was sucked straight out of my body, and here I was, parched. I was PARCHED! Chapped, thirsty, dry, wasted, and Pullman tap water tastes disgusting, and we had nothing in the hotel room to drink--no water bottles, Holiday Inn??--and by now even the GATOR WATER was starting to look pretty good to me, and so I decided (quite rationally, I'd like to add), that my best bet was a dip in the indoor pool down the hall -- water, right?? -- and clearly that would solve all my problems, except that water was FREEZING, and also, chlorine has a way of not hydrating much? If you'll recall from chemistry class or whatever.

(You know, I know I actually took a chemistry class at some point in my educational career, I just don't actually remember a bleeding second of it. Or even where the classroom was! Was it at BYU? In high school? Seriously my brain has blocked all my scientific learning from age 10 through 22 and isn't that depressing?)

The point of all this is to say, one legitimately needs to moisturize out here in ways one never truly needed to moisturize out east. If one is me. 

And now, to continue with this week's theme of epidermal moisturization, I am going to talk to you about Vaseline!

I have loved Vaseline like a sister for as long as I can remember. Vaseline is partly responsible for bringing my sad, chapped lips back to life every time I've moved out west. (Don't forget to drink lots of water!) 

In fact! In 2011 I wrote an article for Babble called "14 Beauty-full uses for Vaseline," but now I can't seem to find it. 

In an exciting twist on my love of Vaseline, they've now come out with a new line of Lip Therapy Tins. Tins! So portable! In Original, Aloe, Cocoa Butter, and Rosy Lips. You can get them at most drugstores, including online at Vaseline.US and

Now! Go forth and moisturize! 



MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW / is 4AM wake up calls for assistance to the potty, followed by "snuggles" in the big bed until morning. 

By which I mean, "getting kicked in the head" in the big bed until morning.

It also means all the fried foods, all of the time. Plus pancakes. 

MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW / is occasionally rescuing stupid chickens from trees, and then telling them profusely how beautiful you think they are.

(The Ladies have been promoted from livestock in the backyard to full-on flesh and blood children. Be advised.)

MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW / is sitting just outside the bathroom door while your kid is pooping. You never know when he'll need protection from bathroom bad guys! And because poop time is when you have your best meaning-of-life conversations.

I've found the trick is in sitting just close enough to the bathroom that you can hear him through the door + respond in the appropriate vocal volume ("Seriously!? The Red Power Ranger did what??"), but not so close that, you know, the smells.

MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW / is touching dried mealworms with your bare hands. But only when you really love them.

MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW / is bribes. BRIBES. Bribes everywhere. For everything! Do this, and you'll get that. Do that, and I promise you this. Be helpful on our errands, and you get to pick out a treat. One treat! Your budget is three dollars. Shop wisely, kid.

Motherhood right now also means occasionally your kid will pick out a nail polish for his treat, and then announce that it isn't for him, oh no, it's for YOU, mom. Because green is his favorite color and because sparkles will make you look "sooo beautiful!"

Motherhood also requires running your haircuts past your kid ahead of time, and then, once you've done it (in the sink. with kitchen shears. at 2AM. as is customary), you show him and he sighs in relief and says, "you were right, mom. It's short, but you still look like a girl." 

MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW / is occasionally, in the middle of a really hard day (seriously Moscow / Pullman, GIVE ME A CUTE, AFFORDABLE RENTAL!), going outside and sitting in a pathetic slump on the grass, and letting your chickens bob all around you and look at you curiously while you sniffle pathetically, until your heart rate nears normal and you don't feel like crying anymore. 

It works amazingly well. 

Chickens might be the new llamas, in terms of therapeutic capabilities.

MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW / means always coming in second place to dad. Every. Single. Time. It's such a turn on! Geez! Let's hear it for good dads!

MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW / means you become epically embarrassing unto your five-year-old anytime you are in a public place and you decide to sing along with whatever's playing on the speakers. 

Come to think of it, could this have something to do with my previous . . . ? Nahhhh.

Oh my gosh I am going to have so much fun with this when he is a teenager.


When I was a kid one of my favorite books of all time was Otis Spofford. Have you read it? One of the best chapter books ever. Alllllmost better than Ramona Quimby. Almost.

(I may have almost named Huck Otis, and I may have jokingly told Brandon it was because I loved our NYC elevator so much . . . you know, Otis?) (Also an amazing potential namesake: Otis Spunkmeyer.)

Anyway. Last weekend we went to dinner at Tapped, a new-ish place in Moscow that is surprisingly rad for northern Idaho.

Huck spent the entire chunk of time while we waited on our dinner making these spit wads + shooting them at his dad's face. Over + over. Probably not appropriate restaurant behavior, but it fully lived up to the dreams I had of someday being the mom of a mischievous little boy like Otis Spofford. Right down to the squinty aiming eyes.



In closing, something I wrote about 6 or 7 months ago, back when we were living in Brooklyn.

"So, the other day, the iPad went missing. Huck played dumb the while his dad turned the loft inside out, but pretty soon his guilt caught up with him and he confessed he'd hidden it. "Wiff maaaaagic." Sparkly fingers and big eyes for that bit.

Brandon wisely translated this to mean Huck had thrown the iPad in the garbage (obviously?), but Huck wouldn't cop to it, and so there we were, at an impasse.

"Huck, if you can tell me where the iPad is, you can get a toy!"

We have this stash of inexpensive toys we've hidden in the kitchen for those times when Huck earns enough "allowance" doing chores or being not-naughty to make an even trade. It's already not working anymore. The other day Huck announced that he'd found an imaginary bank and that he never needs to earn any more money ever again. So.

It was a conundrum. I mean, iPads don't grow on trees. Responsible adulthood requires that we put a 10-20 on the thing, so I got my wheels turning and came up with a plan. Sometimes B isn't so good at sweet-talking H. I spend half my life running interference between the two of them.

"What dad means is that your behavior is obnoxious. And he probably won't drop kick you out the window. Maybe just a time-out?"

So I sat down with Huck a few days later and told him the story of my mother and her gray, could-have-been-a-knock-off but could-have-been-authentic Chanel sweatsuit she'd bought in Itaewon when we lived in South Korea.

This sweatshirt was the perfect color to suit my needs (my gray sweatshirt proclivities kicked in early). . . except for the giant Chanel logo embroidered right on the chest. And you have to understand! In my middle school social circle of grunge rock Kurt Cobain-ites, a Chanel logo simply would not do. Whatever a Chanel even was. And soooo . . . not really knowing what the heck I was actually doing . . . I took out the logo with a seam ripper. 

No no no. I know. I did. It makes my stomach hurt just to think about it. Can you believe it? I could kill my middle school self for this one (among other things), even now. TO THIS DAY.

Oddly enough, my mother didn't get angry at me. I didn't even get in trouble! But I remember it being a turning point. I remember how sad she was, and this dawning concept that not-everything-in-this-house-belongs-to-me-and-is-mine-to-do-with-as-I-please, and I remember that the realization that I'd hurt someone felt way worse than actually getting grounded for it. To this day it's one of the cruelest things I ever accidentally did, and I hate it. I hate that I did it. 

I told Huck all this. And then I told him that, since I knew what this felt like, I was a safe zone. He could tell me the truth and I would not get angry. Just like my mom didn't get angry with me. I promised not to punish him, just like my mom hadn't punished me, and then I told him that being honest in a scary situation was always the bravest thing to do.

It worked like a charm. He confessed straight away. He did throw it in the garbage -- the downstairs garbage --and he was very very sorry.

Confession in hand and feeling pretty proud of myself I must say, I asked him if he wanted to call his dad next to come clean and apologize. He was willing, and while he talked with his dad I congratulated myself. Classic parenting win!

. . . aaaaaaand then I got him a toy down from the bin to reward him for his honesty.

I gotta tell you. I have no idea if I did that right."

(hah! quotation marks for myself.)


We later found the iPad. It was under a couch cushion. We questioned Huck and he admitted he'd hidden it because he didn't like being told to watch his kid cartoons on the iPad whenever we wanted to watch grown up shows on the TV. Brandon and I blinked at each other stupidly until it clicked into place. We'd unwittingly made an Anne Shirley situation wherein Huck confessed to having thrown it away just so we would stop harassing him about it and, probably, so we would get him a toy. So.

Classic. Parenting. Fail.

The end.