Babymoon

Sad Mama. MomsicleBlog

Boy Woww drew this picture. It captures how I’ve been feeling about baby-raising. (I’m the one holding the baby.)

I don’t find unfiltered joy in babies. My heart doesn’t explode into a love that I didn’t know existed. I find babies adorable and annoying.

It wasn’t always this way. At least I don’t think so. My institutional parenting memory is flawed by amnesia and stress hormones. But I remember enjoying K-Pants, my firstborn. I like new projects. I’d always wanted to be a mother. Then Boy Woww came: He was an easy baby—the tonic to the increasing intensity of his toddler brother.

But this baby. I haven’t been feelin’ it. She’s the ball and chain. I feel like she took a vibrant, passionate woman and turned her into a listless baby Sherpa.

Then we went away together.

I knew I couldn’t leave her behind when I went to Sri Shim’s celebration of life last Sunday in Hawai′i.

Sri Shim Celebration of Life. MomsicleBlog

In discussing whether I should go, I told my husband, “This January has been really hard. Even though the reason is sad, I feel like being there will be cathartic and rejuvenating.”

Sri Shim Celebration of Life. MomsicleBlog

It was our babymoon.

Not the kind where you go away before the baby comes, but the kind where you find joy and connection in a relationship that had been accumulating resentment and withdrawal.

Babymoon. MomsicleBlog

It’s no surprise that celebrating Sri’s life ignited a glow. He is magic, the spirit of aloha. And that magic was everywhere last weekend.

Babymoon. MomsicleBlog

The Fairy Pig was held the whole time. We slept together; she breastfed constantly—things I get annoyed by at home, but that felt natural while we were away. And words won’t capture how thankful I am to Mana and her family for letting us be there to experience this time with them, and for their hands in holding the baby and open hearts toward us and everyone who was there.

Babymoon. MomsicleBlog

 

When January Takes the Color Away

I’ve been quiet.

January is burrowing into its dark nook between holiday bumptiousness and the blooms of spring. The monotony of baby-caring has been leeching my colors, and a raging sinus infection intensified the gray. Then my friend Mana’s dad Sri died suddenly in an accident.

I met Sri Shim three times. Three times is not that many. But two years ago in Hawai’i I stepped into another world and watched Sri walk into the ocean and paddle out to where the waves were breaking. I knew nothing about surfing, and he invited me to join him at dawn on the beach at one of his favorite places: Mokule’ia. He introduced me to Eddie Aikau and Pipe Masters and Greg Long. After I watched Sri begin to surf, I drove along the North Shore, stopping to eat where he had told me, and then I continued on feeling absolutely free. Tethered is a good way to describe raising young children. This day was soul-tonic. 

Sri’s death is a shock. One night I sat waiting for a news story remembering him to go live, and in my impatience I thought to look back through my photos from that day. It was a gift to see them again, and I’d like to share them with you.

Thank you, Sri.

Sri surfing. EvelynShoop

Sri surfing. EvelynShoop

 

Sri surfing. EvelynShoop

Sri surfing. EvelynShoop

Module'ia. EvelynShooop

 

***

Tomorrow I’m traveling to Hawai’i with the baby to attend Sri’s celebration of life. I’d love to ask your prayers for safe travel and a calm baby. Flying is not my favorite.

 

Children Revolt Over Organic Dinner, Seek Out New Caregivers

January 6, 2016

Portland, Oregon— After extensive crying and whining over a dinner of roast beast, broccoli with garlic-tahini sauce, sautéed leeks and mushrooms, and mashed potatoes, two young boys set out to find a loving “chicken-fingers-only” family. The boys, six and four, say they will settle for “cheeseburgers-only.”

Organic Meal in the Making. MomsicleBlog“Could I be more cliché?” upper-middle-class mom Evelyn Shoop said. “I’m a white mom with a Master’s and I have an organic food delivery service. But you know what? I don’t care! I’m not stopping. I love Organics to You.”

Relatives confirm that this exhausted parent cooks mostly organic vegetables and meats. “She also eats gluten-free, which is just a bunch of baloney. No one ever had a problem with gluten when I was growing up. Barak Obama is the worst president in our history,” said an honored citizen who asked not to be named for this article.

“She thinks sugar makes us sick,” said Shoop’s six-year-old son. “We’re not even supposed to ask about treats. We do anyway and she gives in. But not enough. When we want treats we want them now.”

“Eeeeeeeeeehhwheeeeeeeeigh,” said Shoop’s four-year-old. His whine was unintelligible, but his emotion was clear.

Initially the boys attempted to rent a tiny-house nearby, but with no income, it proved difficult. “We didn’t want it anyway,” the older boy said. “We want someone else to cook.”

They are confident a “chicken-fingers-and-fries” family exists and will take them in. “It’s just time for us to go,” the six-year-old said. “She’s making us do more chores and she keeps saying ‘it’s hard work to be in a family’ and ‘you get what you get and you don’t have a fit.’”

We Christians Are Crazy, Aren’t We?

We Christians Be Crazy. MomsicleBlog. Art and photo by Brita Clothier.

We be crazy. And we’ve been proving it lately.

But I can explain.

It’s because of the great commandments. Don’t you remember? In the mustard field? When Jesus threw down his cup and took up his weapon saying, “Hear this: despise your neighbor and deny unto your brothers mercy and grace.”

So that’s why Starbucks hates Jesus and Jesus loves guns. And hates Muslims.

I’ll get the verse number…

[Beep beep boop. Internet Bible search.]

Oh snap. Possible misquote.

[Flippity flappity floop. Page-flipping through The Book.]

It looks like Jesus’ greatest commandment is about radical love.

Matthew 22:36-40, New International Version (NIV)
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Dammmmmmmn, Jesus.

This is problematic. My friends and I were just putting the finishing touches on a line of Bible-themed Starbucks cups for my Etsy shop.

Just imagine the barista saying “grande caramel latte for Horseman of the Apocalypse”! (Revelation 6:2)

We Christians Be Crazy. MomsicleBlog

Or, “dry, extra-hot cappuccino for Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

We Christians Be Crazy. MomsicleBlog

I came up with this super-monetizable idea after having my barista disclose that Christians were telling her she should be ashamed of herself. “Like I had anything to do with the red-cup decision,” she said.

We Christians Be Crazy. MomsicleBlog

She had EVERYTHING to do with it, I thought, as I walked by displays of Starbucks’ Christmas blend coffee and Advent calendars. And we should do something to help fellow Christians bully these traitor baristas, just like Jesus would!

“Triple-shot espresso for Spare the Rod!” (Proverbs 13:24)

We Christians Be Crazy. MomsicleBlog

Other Christian bloggers are saying they don’t care about the cups, but me and my gang of docile Guatemalan nativity animals are not fooled.

We Christians Be Crazy. MomsicleBlog

NO SIR.

And neither is baby Jesus.

We Christians Be Crazy. MomsicleBlog

We’re working on a line of cups for iced drinks for Easter.

We Christians Be Crazy. MomsicleBlog

I’m also thinking about a new line of “Keep Christ in Christmas” yard signs for 2016 called “Lawn Warriors for Jesus.” Stay tuned.

For now just message me if you want a cup and I’ll give you my address to send in your blank check.

Thank you to my business partners Brita, Mari, and Renee for doing all the work on our “What Would Jesus Drink” bully cups. I’ll get you the profit-sharing contracts soon.

***

This post is dedicated to Chris on her birthday.

Boy Woww Selfies: I Love His Face When It’s Not Whiny (Wordless Wednesday)

Boy Woww Selfies. MomsicleBlog

Boy Woww Selfies. MomsicleBlog

Boy Woww Selfies. MomsicleBlog

Boy Woww Selfies. MomsicleBlog

Two Fall Kale Salads with Roasted Sweet Potato

Kale. MomsicleBlog

One of these statements is true:

  1. My children eat kale salads while wearing organic cotton track suits.
  2. My children eat grilled cheese sandwiches while watching television.

Yet I just bought four heads (bunches? leaf packs?) of kale at the farmers market Saturday. They’re just for me. I will single-handedly eat them by the end of the week. I know foodies have moved on to other nutrient-packed greens like collards and nasturtiums, but I’m still figuring out kale. (Here‘s my smoothie recipe.)

Keys to kale salad success:

  1. Remove the biggest, most sinewy parts of the stems and shove everything else through the food processor’s slicer attachment (you can thinly hand chop if you don’t have a food processor).
  2. Add tons of fall veggies and fruit, then finish with bacon or sausage.
  3. Drench in creamy dressing (coconut creaminess for me, because I currently don’t do dairy or eggs).

Texture in a salad, for me, is paramount. It’s amazing how thinly chopping those leathery leaves changes the gustatory experience. I was looking for an excuse to use “gustatory.”

For the kale and roasted veggies, I prepare giant batches and then pull from them all week.

Kale Salad with Fennel, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pear, and Bacon

Kale Salad Sweet Potato Pear Bacon. MomsicleBlog

  1. Using the slicer attachment on the food processor, thinly slice sweet potatoes (I don’t peel them because that’s extra work). Toss sliced sweet potatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.*
  2. Place bacon on a baking tray and cook while the sweet potatoes are roasting–about 12–18 minutes.*
  3. Throw kale and fennel into the food processor using the slicer attachment (remove only the largest, most sinewy stems), and then put some of each into your bowl. My friend Sara brought over some fennel she didn’t want, and I was surprised how great it was in the salad. I didn’t use much of the hairy heads, but those are pretty fun to add in if you want.
  4. Thinly slice a pear and add that to the salad.
  5. Chop bacon and add it, along with sweet potatoes.
  6. Drench in creamy dressing (recipe below).

*Times are all approximate because I have a 1964 oven that’s a furnace. Also I like things crispy. Also I often cook by smell instead of time. Never trust me.

Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Sausage, and Croutons

Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Sausage, Apples, Croutons. MomsicleBlog

  1. Using the slicer attachment on your food processor, thinly slice kale.
  2. Cube sweet potatoes, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. (Remember that note on times.)
  3. Place sausage on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, until cooked through. I use Lonely Lane Farm’s original pork sausage. Lonely Lane sells through the Beaverton Farmers Market, and I order their sausage by the case. Any sausage you like will work.
  4. Cube an apple and add it to the salad.
  5. Add roasted sweet potatoes and sliced sausage to the salad.
  6. Drench in creamy dressing (recipe below).
  7. Toss croutons on top. (I’m gluten free, so I go to New Cascadia Gluten Free Bakery and grab day-old bread, then chop it up, drizzle with olive oil, bake at 300 degrees for about 40 minutes, and then store in a Tupperware on top of my fridge.)

Creamy Herb Salad Dressing (Vegan)

My process is to steal parsley from my backyard neighbor, cut rosemary from another neighbor, and then pillage my own yard for oregano. But I hear herbs can be bought at the store. Which is what I used to do before I became the Herb Burglar, a trashier and marginally less pretentious version of the Barefoot Contessa.  The Herb Burglar calls this dressing Three Yards Vinaigrette.

  1. Procure herbs and throw them into a blender or food processor. Rosemary, marjoram, parsley, oregano, chives, thyme–they all work. About a cup total, though I like to get up to two cups.
  2. Add a can of coconut milk (I get mine at Trader Joe’s), 1/4 cup vinegar, salt, pepper, and 2 or 3 cloves garlic.*
  3. Blend until smooth and then add a steady stream of olive oil while the blender is running (about a half cup or more, to taste).
  4. Store in a jar in the fridge after you pour over your salad.

*The liquid measurements are very flexible. I mix based on how I’m feeling that day. You can use mayo I imagine instead of coconut milk, but it won’t be an apples-to-apples substitute. Basically you’re going for a consistency that pours nicely and coats the kale really well.

I Want to Give You Permission to Be Mad at Your Kids

There’s this form of mom bullying that’s impossible to be angry at. It’s the hug-your-kids-a-little-tighter-because-I-can’t one.

I’ve done an experiment over this past summer and fall. It’s less experiment and more postpartum hormones ripping my emotional armor off and then adding in sleep deprivation. I’ve been signing my way through hundreds of compassionate petitions and I’m on too many action-for-justice mailing lists. I’ve been reading the news, which is a terrible idea.

It’s bad out there.

School shootings, kids with cancer without access to experimental drugs, refugee families watching children die, boys being sexually abused.

I have boys. I look at them and think I would kill anyone who ripped their innocence away. I hug them a lot, praying that we can continue to give them the gift of a carefree childhood, that they will stay healthy, that they know how much we love them.

I’m constantly looking at my children and thinking about how grateful I am that they are simply here. I’m always asking them, “Do you know that I love you so, so much?” They say yes. Or more likely, K-Pants growls.

Living like this is breaking my heart.

There’s this pall of sadness that I’ve taken on from the world. And I need to untether myself from it for a bit. The sadness is always there, and I will always have access to it. Sometimes it will find us without us looking.

But I need permission to go on about living my daily life for a while. I need permission to get frustrated when my four-year-old whines all day. I need permission to feel overwhelmed and isolated spending my days with a baby. I need permission to acknowledge my blessings and then have a few bad days of parenting. The kind of days where other parents look at me and think that it all goes by too fast and is too precious and if only they could let that angry mom over there know what they know.

And if you need this permission, I want to give it to you, too.

Be mad. Get frustrated. Just do this day, in whatever way gets you through it. On balance, hopefully you’ll look back and feel like you were a good parent through the crap life threw at you. Hopefully your kids are here, and they are independent and kind. Hopefully you don’t stop moms in the grocery store and say, “That age was my favorite. I hope you’re savoring every moment, because it goes by so fast.”

But let’s be real, I’m totally going to stop parents in the grocery store. And I’m going to exhort them to enjoy every moment, and not let the little things bug them, because they just don’t matter. But for now, just do this day, be it terrible or wonderful. Don’t beat yourself up. I’d like to give you permission.