I'm taking a blogging hiatus for a week or so.  I have to focus on packing, moving, resume-writing, studying, job-hunting, and general life stuff.

I'll probably just post a bunch of pics or something.  Maybe nothing at all.  I have so many things I want to write about, but I simply must prioritize.  Writing about what I think about the Erika Jong article a few weeks ago can take a back burner to packing my vases for now.  My thoughts on it will still be around.  As will what I think about separation from your child after 3 intense, loving years. 

You also may have noticed that names have changed on this site.  My husband (now know as "Rooster") asked to become more anonymous.  I changed names for both him and our son (now "Hawk") as far back as I could one afternoon last week.  It made me cry, but such is life.  Hawk are my son's initials and Rooster was a nickname for my husband long before Hawk was around, so they seemed fitting.

Till then.  Catch you on the flip side, all.


PS:  Who knows if I'll actually hold out and not post.  I'm just giving myself permission not to.

 Our hipster-haircut adventure:



Wrung out

I've been crying off and on for 24 hours - not usually my thing.

Normally I'm stoic, but ever since the weekend when I stared at the pile of gifts Rooster gave me I've been attempting to actually feel them when they bubble to the surface.  Gone are the days of stamping them down.  I know both personally and professionally what a mistake it is to completely ignore pain.

I want Hawk to see me work through the spectrum; I want him to see the process and that I can survive it and that it's acceptable.  I  often feel like a lopsided adult with only half a round of emotional ammunition at my ready and I feel at a communicating disadvantage .  Actually letting him see me hurt is almost as hard as it is to feel the hurt in the first place, but I'm determined.

When Hawk sees me cry, his questions about my sadness spurn me on to understand it myself.  "Why you so sad, Mommy?  Me make you sad??"

"No, baby.  Mommy's just sad today.  She had a conversation that made her sad.  That happens to grownups sometimes.  I'll be ok, though."

"Me make you happy??" he hugs me fiercely, holds my face in his hands and kisses it all over, just like I do to him, "You feel better now?"

I don't want him to feel responsible for my feelings so I tell him I like his loving attention, but that he doesn't have to make me happy.  Then, I think, "Wait, people need to feel as thought they can make a difference to those they love and care about," and so I tell him it does make me feel better.  And he gives me even more.

The reasons I'm crying are many fold and, I think, pretty obvious.  Then this morning I read this blog post written by my friend, Brie:

I woke up tired on Sunday. My body was tired, but my spirit was tired too. Tired of everything. The constant going and moving and never stopping. The constant demands and pleas and negotiations. Tired of all of it. The constantness of motherhood.

And again, I started to cry.

I feel like it's all too much.  The life upheaval, the constantness of motherhood, the pain of divorce.

One minute I'm one thing, another the next.

Hawk, being just barely 3, is all over my shit from the moment he wakes up till the moment he goes to bed if we're in the house (out of the house, and it's awesomeness).  I don't have to tell any of you how exhausting that is.  I can't make a phone call, write, do life-business things, look for a job, take a shower, or ever put my makeup on without him, literally, clamoring all over me, yelling at me, running into me, or damaging something to get my attention.  The only relief is TV (le sigh).

Add two geriatric dogs I'm dog-sitting for 3 weeks who need in and out 100x a day, to be fed a special concoction, and whose water dish is never full enough, plus two cats who never know if they want in or out and never seem to have enough food or water themselves, and I feel as though I'm drowning.  I'm surrounded by things that can't take care of themselves 24-freakin'-7.
I had The Family Guy on last night and on my way outside to enjoy the night air I caught this snippet between Lois and Stewie.  Stewie had been having separation anxiety and wasn't giving Lois a moment of rest.  Check it out.  It's actually freaking hilarious.

It made me laugh and cry simultaneously.

Lucky for me I have pockets of relief scattered about and they are like so many blossoms in an otherwise dried up bouquet.  I question everything I'm doing, but when I am able to wake up smiling I brush the doubt away and rise to the occasion and plan for more.


Keep striving.  Keep digging.  Keep working.  It's all worthwhile.  All of it.  This is just part of the process and a year from now will be a whole different world.  These feelings are temporary and necessary.  I just have to keep pushing.

[I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who emails me and who leaves such tender, smart, supportive comments.  I'm sorry I haven't responded to each of you like I normally do, but know that your words help me tremendously.  This weird blogging world is so much more than just a hobby.  It's a circle of friends.  Thank you again.]


The sun sets and the sun rises

My morning view.

My sister recently mentioned that every 20 months her career goes through an upheaval: new opportunities, inter-state moves, negotiations, lots of soul searching, etc.  I thought, "Huh.  That's interesting."

And then it hit me:  I'm on the precipice of one of the greatest upheavals of my life.  Bigger than moving away to a new state where I knew no one.  Bigger than being jobless for 18 months.  Bigger than weddings and graduations and new jobs.  My life as I know it is irrevocably changing forever in a matter of weeks.  Never to go back.  Never to be the same.  Never to be duplicated.  It feels as big as birth or as emotional as death.

Yesterday I toured the floorplan of the new apartment I'm leasing in the beginning of December.  Something about its plain-ness, its beige-ness, really hit me in the gut.  The home that I've immersed myself in for the last four-and-a-half years is about to be a thing of the past.  The wall colors, the drawer-pulls, the painstakingly chosen and placed decor are all going to be crumpled up into boxes and spit out into a beige, two-bedroom apartment with crown molding.

I've never felt very emotional about this house before now.  Rooster and I always said it wasn't our Forever Home.  It needed too many upgrades and re-designs to feel like our last home together, but here I am, three weeks away from walking away from it forever and I feel like I'm about to saw off my arm.

I paced the tiles of this house for hours while in labor.  I brought my baby home here and have watched him blossom in its strange nooks and crannies.  Rooster and I felt safe here, home here.  Our friends have always loved it here and remark on its welcoming energy.

I've gotten to know wonderful people who live in the neighborhood who are always game to drink margaritas with me and hang out under my looming oak tree in the sweltering Texas heat, shootin' the shit, letting our children toddle around together and slowly, gently getting to know one another.  Hawk romps in the front yard as I lounge in a lawn chair.

Of course, the house is a symbol only.  It's just a place, a thing.  The real issue here is change, upheaval.  It's here.  Dark, massive, and brooding, pounding on my door.  I cannot ignore it any longer.  Like my Feelings, Change will not be put off.  I must answer its call.

When things happen for me they tend to happen all at once.  Much like when Dad was dying and a million massive life events were happening simultaneously, my life today is also in tumult beyond just the house and its reasons for abandoning it.

I have a major career exam to take and pass; I must find a job;  I must re-learn how to support myself; I must separate from Hawk to earn a living; I must find a place for Hawk to be taken care of while I'm away.

Only yesterday did any of this creep into my lizard brain.  I've essentially been pretending my own life isn't happening to me.  How convenient, right??

I've told Hawk that he and I are moving into a new apartment together and that Daddy is moving into the house.  He says, "Ooh, nice!  We get to have a new pawpawtment, Mommy?"

And I say, "Yes, honey.  It will be our new home."

"Oh.  Ok, Mommy.  That's vewy nice," he chirps back.

Early this morning, before dawn, I heard Hawk's door crack open and his little feet pound down the hall to my door.  "Mommy?" he calls out.  "Awe you in hewe?"

"Yes, baby," I croak from deep under piles of covers.  I think I slept 4 hours last night; I kept waking up expecting something out of my reach.  Sleep was fitful, my dreams intense, my body kinked with tension.

He climbs up into bed with me and snuggles into the down pillows and comforter.  Soon he was softly purring through his nose and I drifted off to a deep blue place of peace and ease -- like the icy calm you see in the documentaries of sea life beneath colossal glaciers.  A place where I didn't worry, I didn't orchestrate, I didn't do anything except just be.  I floated in this place of calm, cool navy and azure for an hour.  It lapped at my skin and slipped over my limbs languidly.

Then Hawk awakens, pats me, and asks, "Where's Daddy??  Where my Daddy is?"

I blinked through the soft gray light oozing into the room.  "Mommy and Daddy don't live together anymore, baby." -- God, I hate telling him that --  "Do you miss him?"

"Uh huh," he affirms.

"I miss him, too."

I feel as though I am taking a deep breath before a dive.  I will be digging down into myself to get through the next several weeks.  Yet, by far the coolest thing about all of this is that I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will get through it and land on my feet.  I can't see how it won't happen.  It's just what I do: I land on my feet.

Yesterday Hawk and I were driving to the store for firewood at dusk and he mentioned how beautiful he thought the pink and blue of the sky was.  "What is that, Mommy?" he wonders.

"When the sun goes down we call it a sunset; it lights up the sky in the west."


"And when the sun comes up in the east, we call it a sunrise."

"Sunwise," he parrots.

"Yes, sunrise," I say.

Indeed.  A sunrise on a new life and a new me.  A sunrise restarts the clock and resets the heart.  A sunrise is hope.  A sunrise is unavoidable.

I welcome the sunrise.


I'm not the most crunchy, but I'm still au naturale

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What Is Natural Parenting?

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by 
Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of
Natural Parents Network,  a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I drive an SUV, I used disposable diapers, I bought baby food, and I occasionally use over-the-counter medicines; I serve frozen dinners and cheesy poofs for dinner; I vaccinated Hawk; I plan on sending him to public school.

These are all tenets that typically go against the "natural parent philosophy," but I'm here to tell you I'm still, most definitely and positively, a natural parent.

I choose to define myself by guidelines that fit my life and my lifestyle, my presiding beliefs, and because I do this I am confident and sure in my strides as a parent.  And, despite my implementation of some less-than-crunchy things, my life is mostly bent toward ecological mindedness, a healthy population, healthy bodies, and sharp minds.

I guess what I'm saying is, embrace the natural parts of your philosophy and identify with the greater natural parenting community for support, companionship, inspiration, and guidance.  And also because they rock.

For me, being gentle, respectful, and mindful are in the forefront of my mind throughout my daily parenting practice.  I'm always asking myself if I'm requesting developmentally appropriate things of Hawk, and how do his reactions to my requests fit in to my expectations of our relationship.  I don't hit, I don't shame; I don't ask his permission or treat him like an equal, either.  I am the boss, but it's a give and take relationship.  If it takes an extra hour of talking, attention, and hugs to get him to sleep at night, that's ok with me.

I wish that my way (a more "natural way") didn't seem so alternative to the mainstream. Yes, I have to dig deep into my emotional reserves on some days (we all do regardless of our approach), but the reward is worth every surge, every struggle, every strain.  What parents get when they have firm boundaries, flexible and appropriate expectations, and an eye for humor and opportunity far outweighs the effort it takes to make it all happen: you get a really happy, well-adjusted, interesting kid who never knows pain at your hand or your words.

So many parents look to a community like ours and think we're weird, "hippies" (as if that's such a bad thing), or think of ourselves as perfect because we choose the more laborious routes in most cases.  We're none of those things (though, certainly, they are among our ranks - bad apples and all that).  We're mostly parents who couldn't imagine doing it any other way after our babies were placed in our arms or on our breasts, or for some of us, the moment we got the pink plus sign on the pregnancy stick.  

How could we possibly cut our baby boys' penises?  How could we possibly sleep more than arm's reach from our infant?  How could we give them processed foods we ourselves couldn't pronounce?  How could we strike our child in anger?  How? 

I don't feel better than any other single mother out there -- not even the mother who makes directly opposite choices from mine -- I am just me and it feels natural.  And I support any father or mother who follows his or her gut, too.

Therefore, I am a natural parent.

And that also means, if you are doing what comes natural to you in whatever combination you choose, you are a natural parent, too.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone's posts,Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! and please visit a few to read more! Visit
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!
This list will be updated by afternoon November 9 with all the carnival links. We've arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on "What Is Natural Parenting?"

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):
    • "Attachment Parenting Chose Us" — For a child who is born "sensitive," attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting "choice." Dionna at Code Name: Mama@CodeNameMama) shares her experiences. (
    • "Parenting in the Present" — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • "Parenting With Heart" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
    • "Sometimes I Wish We Coslept" — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30.@agiftuniverse) (
    • "Unconditional Parenting" — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • "Supporting Natural Immunity" — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children's immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • "Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting" — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog@myzerowaste) values accepting and responding to her daughter's needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter's learning "challenges." (
  • "Let Them Look" — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • "Why I Love Unschooling" — Unschooling isn't just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • "Is He Already Behind?"Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • "How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning" — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child's natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism


Coq au Vin: Yummy deliciousness

Did you know the magic ingredient to anything is hand-picked flowers from your boy?

I recently stumbled upon old Two Fat Ladies episodes and I've been in heaven ever since.   They're unapologetically unattractive, unhealthy, and yet ridiculously droll.  I love them! 

Take this episode for instance, they were cooking at some kind of army base or something, in a camouflaged tent.  Their gear and utensils swaying in the wind with the tent, their skirts whipping around their legs and Jennifer (the bespectacled one) is explaining the history of Coq au Vin.  

She says in her high-tea British voice (emphasis hers, not mine!), "[It was] originally made with an old cock, not an old hen, but an old cock because they had the flavor," and Jennifer, behind her to her left replies practically out of earshot with, "A lot of good in an old cock, isn't there?"

Then there's silence... a beat, maybe two, as Jennifer struggles for composure, "There's no use keeping one, you know, when it's past its prime."  And then they hurry along the rest of the recipe. 

So, if you happen to have "an old cock" lying about (or just a good old fashioned hen), you should try out this easy, fun, one-pot dish with layers of rich flavor.

 Let's see if I can discern my cooking instructions from the list Hawk got his hands on.

Coq au Vin

Serves: 4
Prep time: Marinate overnight, day-of prep requires approximately 30 minutes of chopping, and an 1 1/2 hours of cooking: total 2 hours.



  • 1 bottle good red wine (something you'd drink on its own)
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • a small handful of fresh parsley
  • a small handful of fresh thyme
  • 1 quartered chicken
  • 1 package of bacon, chopped
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups worth)
  • 2 cups flour 
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • a small handful of fresh parsley
  • a small handful of fresh thyme
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 12 pearl onions, peeled
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped to the same size as the pearl onions
  • salt and pepper to taste

The ensemble.

The night before add the entire bottle of wine and herbs in a large pot and reduce by half.  In a non-reactive bowl add chicken and reduction, cover and refrigerate.

The most ominous looking chicken in the world.  According to the Two Fat Ladies, it's supposed to look "sinister."

Two hours before you want to eat cook the bacon in a large saute pan.  Remove from heat with slotted spoon to drain on paper towels, add a little olive oil to the fat and add onions.  Cook until translucent. 

 Mmm.  Bacon and booze.


While onions are cooking, thoroughly dry the chicken and dust lightly with flour; set marinade aside (don't toss it!).


Try to avoid getting dead chicken dust on your wine glass.

Add chicken skin side down to onion pan and brown each side just slightly, about 2 minutes per side.  With skin side up, add brandy and flambĂ©.  Burn till the smell of brandy isn't as strong or until you see a really nice golden hue to the chicken skin

 This was by far one of the most fun cooking things I've ever done.

Transfer the chicken and onions into a dutch oven or pot with a lid, add the cooked bacon, the rest of the marinade, and the minced garlic.  Cook for one hour, but set a kitchen timer for 45 minutes so you can cook the pearl onions.

Employ a helper.

In a saute pan, melt butter, add sugar and onions.  Cook until golden brown (sadly, I have no pics of this step, but here's me in my apron).

Rock the Betty Crocker apron if you can.

Remove chicken from oven, pour in onions and butter, add cubed mushrooms.  Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes or so. 

I got distracted and never took a picture of the final product, but you get the idea.  Let stand for about 10 minutes and serve.  It's like a chicken stew, so bread or some sort of starch goes deliciously well with it.

And by the way, I generally don't like chicken, but this is gooood.


[Edit add: If your three year old stuffs a piece of raw bacon in his mouth and chews it like gum, do not fear.  Something about the curing of it makes it a pretty safe piece of raw meat to gnaw on.]


The love of a child

I think it goes without saying, and without exception, that every deep dig, every hard decision, every tear of anger and frustration and confusion is made worth it when you hear,

"Mama, Me wuv you.  You'we such a good mommy.  Me pwoud of you."

When you've never said those words of praise to yourself; when you doubt your tactics, your direction, your very being on days when you're hanging by a thread; when finding a sense of place comes directly from within and nowhere else.

I have avoided saying "I'm proud of you," to Hawk because I feel that's co-opting his own achievement for my own satisfaction.  I might say, "You must be so proud of yourself!" or "That was such a great thing that you did! or simply, "I'm so happy to know you and get to spend time with you!"

So these words he clips out of his mouth with a bit of a lisp are his own -- picked up from the underlying cultural mores found in cartoons, movies and other adults -- and they make me soar because I want nothing more than to make him proud.  To be seen as good and wondrous. And lo and behold, to him, I really and truly am.

I am all at once overwhelmed with humility at the miracle that is him and also satisfied to know he exists, because of course he exists.  Every child is him.  Every mother is me.

Love and wonder flow through my veins and I see magic every single day.  Damn, I'm lucky.


Where, oh where, are my feelings?

I used to be too sensitive.  Now I hardly feel.

The past several months have been an extended climax of emotion and pain and it's as if it's happening to someone else.  I have removed me from myself and am now driving a body forward, but am no longer experiencing it first hand.  I'm exhausted.

I wake up, I smile, I love my boy, I feel free and happy, but it is so one-note.  One color.  One flavor.  The deeper nuances are out of my reach.  I am numb.

I signed a lease for a new apartment last week.  Rooster is moving back into the house and I'm moving out the first week in December.  It makes sense: I can't do yard work or fix a goddamned thing.  He needs the garage and shed for all his crap.  I'm over the moon about it, really.  Seriously.  I have visions of a maintenance man at my beck and call, manicured grounds, a pool that cleans itself, a walk to the grocery store, a little closer to downtown and my friends who live north.

It's such a strange mix, numbness and happiness.  On the one hand I am protected, on the other I am held distant from really connecting.  I call it The Wall.  I've been accused of having it and warned of its ability to make me miss out on things, but then again, that's what I love about it.  Its other super power is apathy: I don't give a shit if I'm missing out on things.  (I feel like I'm finally understanding all the asshole boys I dated in my 20s.  They really and truly didn't feel anything after all!  It can happen!)

Though,  to be honest it's not shielding me from worry.  I do worry that all of these things I'm not feeling are going to come back and bite me in the ass.  Yet, I also believe in the process  -- oh, how I believe in the process -- and that what's happening to me and how I'm handling myself is the exactly right thing to be doing. 

You see what's happening here?  Up, down, back and forth.  Holy crap, I'm a bloody mess.

When Rooster and Hawk were in Kansas City for a week last week I hung out with an awesome blogger (holla, Allison!) Friday, Saturday I went to Bloggy Boot Camp (more on that later), immediately after the conference I drove to San Antonio (1.5 hours away) for a surprise 59th & 70th birthday party, drove back to Austin and caught the tail end of a bachelor party including a party bus and drinking until 3:30 am.  Sunday, I was spent.  And raw.

I could feel a mountain of emotions just around the corner (exhaustion and being hungover will do that to me, apparently).  A friend came over for interior design advice and I could feel the tears prick in my eyes as we looked at catalogs to feather his nest.  I remember poring over images looking for just the right pillow or rug to make our house a home.  Now I spend all my time cataloging just how to dismantle it.  Which couch to take, which plates, which decor.

Pluck, pluck, pluck.  The nest is gone.

When my friend left the tears had vanished, as had the tremor of emotion that had begun.  I was back to Robot Jessica.  And so I did something dramatic: I gathered up everything Rooster had ever given me as a gift, his box of pictures, one of his fantasy books that he loves so dearly, and the one photo of us as a family I've left framed in Hawk's room and put them all in a pile on the bed and I sat and looked at it.

I stared at it until the tears came and I shook with sorrow.  I fondled the sunglasses, the mini iPod with the 1-year dating anniversary inscription that reads "Thank you, Jessica, for an amazing year!", I held my platinum wedding rings and remembered their weight on my finger.

Finally, I was feeling something: disappointment, uncertainty, fear, sadness.  My broken fucking heart.

I slept for a week with that pile of things on what used to be his side of the bed.  It made me feel something and for that I was grateful.

Rooster and I are getting divorced.  It's a done deal.  We're unraveling the life we made and rebraiding a new one based on friendship and partnership.  It seems fast, but we've been emotionally disconnected for much longer than we have been physically.

I wonder if I seem different to my friends and family because I definitely feel that way.  I feel immense strength at going about this the hard way, the kind way, the painful way.  I feel distant and cut off.  I feel free as a fucking bird.  I feel crushing disappointment.  I feel fear.  I feel hope.  I feel happy.

I'm so proud of how I'm handing this, how we are handling this.  It's a rite of passage, doing this the hard way.  I am not a coward.

So, Feelings, I know you're out there.  I'll try to check in on you every once in a while, but I know you're not going anywhere.  Until then, thanks for keeping your distance and I'll see you again soon.