One of the things that I wanted to finally sit down and write about was mindfulness. It turns out though I can compose these thoughts in my head, and maybe tell you about them over coffee, it’s much harder to sit down and put them on the screen.

I thought I would try today – but I’m too exhausted. That’s the excuse I’m sticking with right now. I’m also decaffeinated due to figuring out that even half-decaf coffee starts disrupting my sleep and putting me on edge. I also lost the use of one of my security devices, Fitbit One. It turns out I’ve become reliant on knowing all the little things that the device tells me about myself. It’s ridiculous, but sometimes humans are ridiculous. I am going to try the UP24 while I wait for the kind people at FitBit to ship out my (free) replacement. I have two weeks to decide if I want to keep the UP24 or return it (per the Apple Store’s policy.)

I stand back and think of this as a sort of madness that I am unwilling to stop myself from engaging in. I also think there’s some parallel to ideas of mindfulness and the attachment to unending streams of personal data.

I’m too tired to think too hard about that right now, though. Luckily UP has a caffeination tracking app available. Maybe that will come in use.

Happy Birthday, Son – A Year in Baby Consumerism

Fisher-Price Newborn Rock and Play SleeperSeriously, people. There is an entire industry that is waiting for you to have children so you will spend stupid amounts of money to help you sleep longer and make the transition to parenthood easier in our foolishly independent-focused society. My family has spent some of this ridiculous money. Here’s a list of my favorite things, which worked well for us. Amazon Prime has been a huge help, especially for midnight shopping frenzies while the kid is up and you don’t know how you’re going to be safe to drive the next day. When you can, buy used or borrow from a friend – but always check to see if the item has been recalled. For instance, a bassinet we borrowed had been recalled in 2009, and a stroller I nearly purchased from Craigslist was a recalled version (but they had been shipped the repair, though not installed.)

Also, my best advice to new moms: ignore all mom forums and stay away from baby focused websites. They will make you crazy. Seek real-time, real-mom support in your communities.

Here’s my Top Ten Consumer Choices for the First Year:

The Happiest Baby on the Block – The basics in this book are a lifesaver for the first three months. Read this book, if you can, before the baby is born. It’s seriously one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. Which brings me to one of the keys of the Happiest Baby…
SwaddleMe velcro-enhanced swaddles – These are key for those times you’re too tired to re-swaddle using the swaddling techniques in Happiest Baby on the Block
Swaddle Cloths by aden + anais – you (or someone else!) can make swaddle cloths using a 4’x4′ piece of muslin or flannel, but if you just need to buy some to start, this is a great way to do it.
Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘N Play Sleeper, Yellow
– We used the older version of this as a bassinet for the first six months, especially useful for reflux. It was crucial to getting more sleep for us and our baby. Please note that there was a recent advisory regarding the older model, as some caregivers experienced mold growth after some use, as that the old version was harder to clean. More information here.
Medela Freestyle Breast Pump – I borrowed a Medela bump from a friend, and also rented a hospital grade pump. This was spendy, but wonderful to have if I needed to move around while pumping.
Maclaren Quest (and Raincover) – People laugh about how much you can spend on strollers, but the Maclaren is worth it, if you compare it to other strollers in its class. This folds easy, is light enough to carry and has a carrying strap. The rain cover is the easiest to deploy of all stroller covers I’ve tried. Skip the City Mini and pretty much any other stroller, and if you just buy one stroller, buy the Maclaren Quest.
Bugaboo Bee Stroller and Canopy and Bugaboo Baby Cocoon Light – This is an excessively expensive stroller. It’s great for around the neighborhood if you’re in a more urban center. I like the cocoon for making it into a mini-pram, but it’s still super compact, unlike other strollers.
Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher – We wanted to breast feed, but ran into supply issues. This was crucial, especially when traveling.
Ergo Carrier – This is a great carrier that works for the long haul. Definitely not for the totally new-born, but great once they hit 12 lbs.
Moby Wrap Original 100% Cotton Baby Carrier, Black – I loved my super-snuggly Moby for the first few months. I highly recommend it as a first carrier.

Reusing Plastics to Cut Down on Waste

I’m very lucky to live in Seattle, where farmer’s markets are nearby and year round, where even the conventional grocery stores carry local and organic (though still, not as much as I’d like), and I can buy items in bulk easily, including at co-ops and small markets, bath and body items.

Today I peeled the labels (using Citra-Solv to get the gunk off as needed) off of my old conditioner bottle to prep it for being filled with bulk conditioner (Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditioner) at my co-op. I dutifully weighed and labeled my bottle with the tare weight, to save the cashier any trouble.

I proceeded to do this with some other plastic containers I had lying around. I have about 4 clean plastic containers, once used for cottage cheese, sour cream and cream cheese, all great for taking home bulk items.

Why bother with all this? Well, we’re already using cloth bags to go to the market, and I’m already re-using an empty bath salts container to get more bath salt, so why not? Why use new plastic bags for bulk items when we have perfectly good (and easily washed) plastic containers that, at best, might be downcycled domestically and at the worst, chucked into the ocean (adding to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) or burned in the developing world (where it was sent to be “recycled.”)

I’m still working on the balancing act between being a part of the world and choosing where to opt-out or minimally opt-in. I don’t claim to be completely awesome at this. Especially because there is always some news item about current research that conflicts with previous assertions. The truth is that there is no blanket statement that you can go by – it’s really a case-by-case scenario, like why I chose conventional Argentine garlic over organic Argentine garlic (which was at least 4x the cost). This is because I have trouble trusting the veracity of many organic claims from abroad as well as those domestically grown, USDA certified organic.

My first choice is local sourced organic. Second, local sourced or organic domestic. Third is domestic or organic Canadian (preferably from BC, our neighbor directly north.) Luckily I don’t usually have to go to the fourth option which is organic from abroad, or give up.

For my bath/body products, I’m trying to remember that the labels “natural” and “organic” mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in things other than food. (Which recalls that “natural flavors” in food just means that the ester or whatever was distilled from a natural product, and can be chemically identical to a synthetically produced chemical.) Lots of things are naturally derived, including Vaseline. Petroleum is natural, right?

It’s a big world to tackle. Today, I’m just trying to smartly re-use.

Eggs vs. Eggs

As my frittata breakfast settles in my stomach, I thought I’d write about my most recent experience at an IHOP in Texas. I don’t go to IHOPs, or any national chain restaurant, if I can help it, or am going through a particular bit of insanity. This is mostly because that in Seattle, you have unending choices of delicious food that is from local businesses (including local ingredients!) I’m still on a path of weight-loss, so Texas is a challenge no matter what. I thought that I could navigate breakfast rather simply, even when the family chose IHOP, but it turns out I was wrong.

The order was simple – 2 eggs over medium, 2 strips of bacon, whole-wheat toast.

What I received was all that, PLUS hash browns and an extra slice of toast, both drenched in butter.

I left one slice of toast and hash browns to the side. I planned only to eat one of the eggs, but ended up eating both. During the entire meal, I was stunned with the fact that the texture of eggs and bacon was there, but the flavor wasn’t. It wasn’t for lack of salt, as I sprinkled more than my usual on it. It wasn’t for lack of hot sauce, either, as I slathered my eggs in Tabasco and Cholula. My brain even raised the question, “Are these eggs sweet?” It seemed like I couldn’t escape a syrupiness, even on my eggs.

I’m a fan of bacon and eggs. It’s something I eat on a semi-regular basis, usually being a piece of bacon and a single egg. This combo breakfast usually sustains me for 4-5 hours before I remember that it’s time to eat. This is much longer than my usual high-fiber breakfast cereal gets me. I have found that the key to being satisfied and not overeating is limiting my simple carbohydrate intake, or ensuring that I pair all simple carbs with protein or fat. I hoped that my order at IHOP would net me the same fortitude as my experience with bacon and eggs at home. I was horribly, horribly wrong.

One reason this happened could be that I ate toast (and a bite of pancake) along with my protein and fat rich breakfast. It was whole-wheat, and naked except for butter, so I don’t imagine it had much of a glycemic impact as naked toast alone. The other reason, and I don’t have a scientific basis to believe this, is that perhaps the IHOP eggs and bacon and our eggs and bacon at home (which come from the farmer’s market) are actually different, nutritionally. IHOPs sources are likely from CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), where our sources come from a short ways out into Washington, where allegedly, the animals lead happy lives up until their deaths. The feed itself, perhaps, makes a difference.

All I know is that in a short 2-3 hours, I was really, really hungry. Unreasonably hungry.

Maybe, instead of obscenely stacked burgers and plumped up milkshakes, THIS IS WHY WE’RE FAT. Food, in the greater parts of America, is so bland and tasteless it requires monumental amounts of salt and sugar to make it taste like anything, and when you’re done eating, you’re hungry in short order. Your tastebuds are constantly deprived, deprivation leads to overeating, almost as if you keep on eating, somehow taste will appear. Maybe this bite will be tasty?!

Corn syrup has taken a hit as the culprit of the obesity epidemic. Maybe corn syrup is just another symptom. Maybe the CAFO meats and dairy and fake-food (ie. artificial sweetners, flavors, and artificially low-fat foods) being devoid of flavor, REQUIRING more of ANYTHING to give it flavor are to blame for obesity.

After my excursion into the Heart of Darkness America, I can note that it will be very, very hard for me to ever leave the Pacific Northwest.

Recommended Purchase: Octo T-Shirt $9

My old friend Mark in Chicago has a shirt on of an octo. It’s available today only, for the cost of $9 per shirt. It’s a steal! Even the shipping is cheap. Seriously. I’m a huge fan of octos, especially after diving with the Giant Pacific Octopus in Puget Sound. They’re graceful, and wicked smart. Molitorious coupled his awesome illustration style with the beauty of an octo. I have to admit, I’ve mulled over the idea of an octo tattoo before, and this design may just be worthy of that (though, I’d probably commission a specific illustration if I were to go through with the idea.)

Anyway, check it out:

Now go to and buy one today!

Shout out to another artist friend of mine, David Lasky. I now desire to have some of your art on a t-shirt. 🙂 Specifically, something from your James Joyce comic.