It’s been a very long week here at our house. It seems like teething never ends for us (or the other parents of young toddlers I talk to) and this week was no exception. With his molars in full procession, little Sterling couldn’t seem to get his little body to wind down for sleep before 11:30pm every night, and he was up again in hysterics at 2:30am, beside himself until I was fully up, lights on, and we were giving a rare dose of tylenol, then playing cars on the kitchen floor until 5:00am. Daytime was busy with post production madness on our MULLY documentary, auditions, table reads, rehearsal for Lukas’ next play (Buried Child at the Whitefire Theatre), paleo eating (which takes time – everything is fresh and made from scratch the way our grandmothers used to cook) and general life with a toddler (who has refused his paleo diet entirely this week, preferring to use around the clock nursing as a pacifier for his sore gums instead – grrrrrr). This of course comes right after I’ve signed Sterling up for Karen Le Billon’s baby taste training program to teach him to like new foods. Each day this week Lukas and I have ended up slurping down the delicious purees I’ve made with recipes from the program (who knew pureed zucchini or carrot salad could taste so beyond fabulous?), while Sterling played sweetly or read next to us at the table, or better yet prompted us again and again to pray as he folded his hands and chirped to us to begin (a recent adorable development)…making it hard for me to get too mad that I just took the time to make fresh food for HIM to eat.
There has been zero time to fit in a nap when Sterling dozes midday, and it has taken its toll. Mid week I woke early to find that a nice little cold had taken up residence in my body and would be staying until further notice. My spiritual life too seems to have been hit by the pressures of the week and there’s really no other way to say it but…I feel dead inside. It is no small miracle that recently Sterling somehow figured out “prayer” – at mealtimes and throughout the day he toddles up to me and clasps his hands, waiting for me to say “God..insert prayer here…Amen”. Those little moments have been getting me through with the patience I need to continue gentle parenting and loving without aggression when what I’d like to do is go out back and break a serious amount of fine china into teensy weensy little pieces. The final moment of intensity this week happened at a party we attended with several other parents of small children. As I sat staring out like the sleep deprived zombie that I was, watching the party happen around me, I somehow took in what actually WAS happening around me. The children, fueled by cupcake induced insanity (totally my fault for bringing the cupcakes), were having meltdowns left and right, disrespecting and disobeying the other children and the adults, and generally having a very difficult time in their own little bodies, despite a complete desire to have a GOOD time.
I was taken aback. My mother was a strict southern mother with an old school mentality when it came to manners and etiquette (let it be known that yes, she did send me to etiquette school — a tradition that I’m realizing more and more should perhaps be upheld). When I was young it was expected that in all situations there be a degree of respect for others and their belongings, playtime or not, NO EXCEPTIONS, and although I don’t think we were raised with attachment parenting per se, gentle discipline did happen for the most part in our home growing up. I’ve had moments where I have become excruciatingly aware of this sudden departure from civility before – at a New Years Eve party awhile back where the young child of the hosts was slinging wet mud on all the guests as they entered, and at our local farmers market while the parents absentmindedly ate their dinner and enjoyed a moment to connect with each other and the older kids bullied, hit and hurt each other with abandon. So I’m not sure why it struck me so deeply on this day, but as an adult that was raised to believe that manners were extremely important, I suddenly felt a little like I’d been transported to a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS. I was Melanie Daniels…and the children were the birds. Not cute.
After leaving the party with zero gas left in my emotional tank we came home, finally remembering to put Sterlings teething beads on. (Side note: these things ACTUALLY work) Sterling used to wear his beads all the time (which meant that I knew based on research that they worked, but because they were always on I wasn’t really sure if I believed that they did much or not…) Within hours of having his teething beads back, Sterlings teething symptoms went from a 10 to a 4. He is still wakeful, but the extreme pain and the sobbing have stopped. THANK GOD. This has given me room to get a little extra sleep. (side note: there is no substitute for sleep)
Sleeping once again has allowed my brain to function a little more clearly and given it room to ruminate on the subject of manners. I came across this quote from Miss Manners’ Guide To Rearing Perfect Children today and it really hit home…
Written by Judith Martin, the Miss Manners’ guides are almost a breathe of fresh air for me at a moment when I seem to find myself surrounded by little sugar addicted lunatics, no doubt brought on in small part by our collective American habit of processed food snacking and lack of good old fashioned family mealtime. I’ve seen these books before but written them off without even looking inside (they say don’t judge a book by its cover – now I know what they mean). “Judith Martin is The National Bureau of Standards,” states columnist George Will. She’s written “some of the toughest social criticism you are likely to read,” according to critic Charlie Toft. The New York Times declares her work “an impassioned plea for a return to civilized behavior” while Newsday says she is “a philosopher cleverly and charmingly disguised as an etiquette columnist.”
Right now, especially with such little sleep, I’d like a little civilized behavior. Yes, a little civilized behavior would be nice. Parenting is tiring work. There is no time off for good behavior, no clocking out at 5pm after a grueling 8 hour day. Lets be honest, just breathing for some of us, sometimes, is tiring work in itself. It takes a lot of contrary action, and we are all doing the best we can. The gentle parenting movement (which I totally believe in) has been a way forward through parenting for so many of us that have experienced trauma in our young lives, a way to create a non-violent legacy. But I’m finding that the way so many of us (including myself) actually implement the gentle parenting method is happening at the expense of healthy boundaries and education in civilized behavior; boundaries that will be the foundation of how our little ones view the world and their behavior within it. As one early childhood educator who is a close friend recently said to me, this is a FAMILY, and gentle parenting is absolutely wonderful, but our babies still have to understand that they are not the center of the universe – they don’t just get to act however they want. Sugar or not, our little ones must know that being aggressive and rude is NOT okay, and it must be handled in a direct, calm and mature (read: Non-aggressive) way by us as parents, no matter how much our tired bodies want to stay on the couch pretending not to notice. WE are the teachers, the ones leading the way forward through the dense forest of choices our children are given these days. I hope we take responsibility. Maybe Miss Manners can help us all.
I miss the stage. So its an awesome blessing that while I’m being super mommy ( the hardest and best “job” ever – no sick days, 24 hours and then some ) I get to live vicariously through Lukas. He’s been away night after night rehearsing (something that would really impede my choice of attachment parenting right now) for the opening of Cal in Camo , opening tonight at The Sherry Theater! Even while we were in NYC last week for production meetings and to watch our LA family/good friends Brian Lally and Scott Haze perform at the Rattlestick, Lukas was busy busy busy getting ready for the play.
The Long Shrift at the Rattlestick Theater
Running lines on the streets of NYC.
While Lukas was rehearsing, Sterling and I explored the amazing city that I lived in years ago as a young model with the renowned FORD modeling agency. What a joy it was to discover New York fresh, with clear eyes, unclouded by the teen angst and addiction that stole my happiness and my ability to enjoy my travels for so many years.
Turkish Harpers Bazaar – I was 14 years old.
One of the most amazing moments of the trip was sitting on a bench in Central Park with Sterling asleep in my arms thanks to my trusty sling, breathing in the absolute beauty of the park (something I NEVER did when I actually lived here) and meditating, saying prayers of gratitude and giving tearful thanks for restoration, for the ability to be a sober mom and enjoy this life I have been blessed with. If I’m honest I must say that at the same time there is a small part of me that misses the action of my busy acting life before Sterling. Recently I was reading about women filmmakers and a quote by Sarah Polley hit me: “I think there’s got to be a culture in which women are permitted to have time with their families and also have a great work ethic and make movies,” she says. “Right now, that doesn’t exist.”(sidenote: Actress Ally Sheedy, who is also appearing at the Rattlestick Theater is a fellow mom. Her kid just went off to college so she’s returning to the stage now!) But here’s the difference. It’s like holding a rain drop in the palm of your hand and cherishing it, believing it is all the water that exists in the world, then suddenly being swept up in a mighty river and tossed this way and that in the great white current as you gasp for air in between each giant swallow of pure perfect water, fighting it at first and then somehow by some unseen grace surrendering to it and letting yourself be carried on that current out into a huge, endless blue and deep as the night sky is dark mighty mighty ocean . That is the difference between fulfillment of my artistic career and the fulfillment of motherhood and artistic family-birthing momma, wife, nurturer, caregiver, lover, creator, co-producer, sometimes actor, poet, teacher, preacher, warrior, leader, peacemaker, blossoming where you are planted life liver. LIFE IS GOOD.
Its been a helluva week. Little Sterling has four teeth coming in!
Fourth of July festivities
What that means for this gentle parenting mama is days and nights of extreme bonding, nursing around the clock, never letting go of each other no matter where we are (ie. the farmers market where he usually engages with the other kids after we get our produce but this week he clung to me like a newborn capuchin monkey,
or at the playzone that I took him to where we sat for two hours, him on my lap, watching the other kids live it up from the comfort of his mommy perch). Last night he woke up at midnight just as I was crawling into bed beside my co sleeping snuggler, and decided he was in far too much discomfort to stay asleep so awake we were, the whole house – Sterling, me, the dogs, the cat, and Lukas (once he came home at 3:30am from play rehearsal) until….yikes….4:45am. On the bright side, the moon was exceptionally lovely when we took a walk around the yard at 2:30am to help take his mind off the painand he was exceptionally cute pointing to it in the dark and whispering “WOW!” These trials of mommyhood always raise the bar on my level of surrender (and my awareness of the power of prayer – namely prayers for patience and my Higher Power’s willingness to give it to me if I just ask) are times which in the midst I find myself wanting to be done with, to return to the kind of relationship where we all have room to breathe! But in the aftermath, sitting here at this quaint new coffee shop in our hood having a desperately needed hour to myself, I am grateful for and do my best to cement last night in my memory bank, that I may draw upon it and our aloneness together, experiencing the miracle of the stars when all too soon I discover I’m living with an adult son who I must release to the world to live his own life, instead of a dependent toddler who is gracing my days with beauty and wonder.
A moment of me time at Lavender & Honey
But I digress. Back to the topic at hand. Me. Ha. Not really but just a moment of me in the midst of this teething week and I left the house to discover whats been happening down the street where sadly all of the long time mom and pop shops have shut down in the last year, but to my great joy new ones are opening! Meet Lavender & Honey, an airy and friendly new coffee shop that picked up my tired capuchin momma arms with the biggest almond milk latte they had, and satisfied my need for a treat with a delicious gluten free “kitchen sink” cookie. As I was walking to get refueled I noticed that JUST NEXT DOOR is a new kids resale shop and creative space
(I love resale shops!) called Happily Wear After opening its doors to the public July 12th. This will be the 4th kids resale shop to open in Pasadena in the last year and its awesome to have so many places dedicated to helping our planet be sustainable and keeping our kids stylish! A few doors down from the awesome caffeinated joy of Lavender & Honey is a beautiful new resource for parents that has moved here from Atwater Village called The Cradle Company.
I got the chance to chat with the welcoming and happy owner, Brandi, who greeted me with smiles and shared about the offerings of The Cradle Company.
Brandi Jordan, MSW, IBCLC
Filled with absolutely adorable hand picked goodies, the space is a haven for parents and parents-to-be looking for support. Offering parenting classes, a parenting book club (I love this idea!) doula and lactation services as well as kids music class (Brandi is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Pediatric Sleep Specialist, Newborn Care Specialist and a Certified Postpartum Doula.) The Cradle Company is a welcome addition to the Pasadena area. Previously we had to hike to Bini Birth in Sherman Oaks, so this is a major score. Bonus on top of bonus.
Well, its been an awesome hour of breathing and typing unassisted by little hands, and now its off to return to motherhood and my amazing little capuchin-esque teething boy for some hugs and cuddles and love- caffeinated and happy. Until next time – Be wise and be well
Talking to you today about my great friend Ciera Danielle and her upcoming film to be shot in New York this summer, Subway Suicide! I love talking about strong women, and I’m especially excited to shout to the world about this one!
Ciera Danielle is one of my favorite actresses (and one of my closest friends) and truly a wonder to watch on screen or on stage. Anyone who has had the privilege of being a witness to her work has been changed by it. Ciera and I got to play on screen together in a beautiful film called POST that she starred in, and I was bettered by the truth she demanded in her work. She is the perfect person to be handling this heavy subject matter, as she always brings the utmost honesty to her work. Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 americans every year. The more artists bring light to these issues the more people talk, and the less in the dark we all are. It is a powerful thing. Visit her indiegogo link and help her bring this movie to the world!
Check out Ciera’s website too and follow her, she is doing some incredible things through her production company Love and Lavoro Films.
Cooking is a HUGE pastime in my family. I grew up spending holidays and get togethers pretty much only in the kitchen. From morning til night there was always something yummy on the counter when my family got together – still is. For the last 12 years or so, I’ve been primarily vegetarian with a little veganism thrown in now and then for good measure. I’m a very active person who loves to cook and eat when I’m not making a movie or hiking up a mountain and this diet worked for me – although my southern family laughed at my lack of steak and sausage! I loved making raw delights in the kitchen and I LOVED being a vegetarian, for all the right reasons. So when I got pregnant with my son, and started CRAVING meat like a crazed lunatic, it was really tough for me to give in to that. Ultimately I felt that if I was craving it that intensely there was something about it that my baby needed, so I reluctantly started eating turkey and eggs and continued through the amazing home water birth of our beautiful son.
Peace on earth begins at birth
After our son was born though, my health started to decline tremendously. I was fatigued all the time, and after a year it was only getting worse. I couldn’t find the energy to walk around the block, let alone go on a hike. I was losing weight, which for me is not a good thing, and I was having major digestive issues… but I was eating all the right things and taking my vitamins… It didn’t make any sense. We were mostly gluten free already (I stopped eating gluten and corn when Sterling had problems digesting my milk early on) It just didn’t make any sense. I thought I might have gotten a parasite. Some unknown creature had to be in there causing a ruckus and sucking the life outta me.
Enter the naturopath. My mother finally convinced me to make an appointment with a naturopath, and we found an extraordinary one close by. I didn’t think there was anything she could do for me. I just needed to get tested for worms! Boy was I wrong. My first visit was well over 2 hours, during which time the good doctor taught me sooo much I didn’t know (which is crazy because I research EVERYTHING) and drew my blood for an ALCAT test as well as basic vitals.
Turns out I didn’t have worms. Far from it. I was just eating A LOT of things I was allergic to (like kale – never saw that one coming), and I needed to heal my gut big time from years of destroying it (thats a whole other topic). My body was crying out for help. So a few months ago at my doctors suggestion, I stopped eating all the foods I was allergic to and adopted the PALEO diet. For my household that means we all adopted the PALEO diet, because my love of cooking means I’m the one in the kitchen. For those of you who have never heard of PALEO, former research biochemist Robb Wolf explains it really well. The Paleo Mom herself, Sarah Ballyntyne, PhD is another research scientist who I love and who explains it really well too!
In just a few short months of learning to eat meat again and learning to eat fish at all (I hated fish before this) I can honestly say I have never felt better in my life! Throwing out all the processed food and stocking up on Paleo cookbooks like this and this has made the challenge easier and less daunting. My energy level is huge and lasts through the day (which makes my toddler happy and makes me happy when he goes to sleep and I can get work done instead of passing out next to him) I’m starting to exercise again. My stomach doesn’t hurt anymore. My skin looks awesome. My headaches are few and far between. My joint pain is gone (this is massive). And spending hours and hours on set is beginning to feel like a possibility again… that is, if I choose to leave this gorgeous gift of a son for that long!
Sterling chows down on a homemade avocado carob “chocolate pudding pop”. He has no idea its not chocolate and sugar!
The change in health for the rest of my family is huge too. Everyone looks and feels better. Paleo is here to stay for us. I’ve spent quite a bit of time learning how to cook this way, and learning how to make food for Sterling this way, and I’ll be sharing that on this blog from time to time. I hope you enjoy it! Here’s to your health and well being – in every area of your life!
Well fed and well!
See what Dr. Oz has to say about the Paleo diet here!
AVOCADO CAROB POPSICLES
Place all ingredients in blender and puree, adding purified water as needed to blend until ingredients are the consistency of pudding and everything is mixed well. There should be no chunks and no green showing! Spoon mixture into silicone popsicle molds and freeze!
I had the wonderful opportunity of getting to know a new friend of my home away from home, The Sherry Theater (which I helped build almost a decade ago now) while writing an article on him for the Noho Arts District Website. It is so awesome to be an artist and get to know fellow world changers who are being the change they wish to see in the world! You can check it out at the link below!