Lunch Time!

For the past two years Berlyn has been bringing her Goodbyn lunch box to preschool.


I love all it’s compartments, and the segmented style helps me design a more nutritious lunch because it’s like a puzzle. Humm…What can I stick in this spot? Carrots? Edamame? BOTH!?

Whether or not my daughter eats it is a different story.

I also like that there’s no waste. I don’t use plastic baggies, because hello? BAAAAD! And with a box style lunch box I don’t have to.

If you’re addicted to plastic baggies get some of these:


So a new school year is upon us, and maybe I want to get her a new lunch box. Here are my favorites.


1. Planet Box- This one is so hardcore that it even comes with it’s own moniker, which sounds tough and approachable: Rover. And oh my, stainless steel compartments for days! The Rover can accompany your child to a weilding sight, as well as Ms. Finch’s 5th Grade class. It’s the most expensive one on my list ($40.00-60.00), but if you’re as serious about lunchtime as Rover is, it’s a perfect match. Pottery Barn Kids carries this lunch box too, but they make a jazzy case for it that costs (oh my gah, you’re gonna want to hold your breath for this…) $80.00 after your monogram it, and SHIPPING! Oh no, I forgot about shipping. Hello $100.00 lunch box. Ya, my daughter is so not getting this. See you in my dreams, Rover.

2. Goodbyn-We already have this one, but I had to put it on the list, because it’s a champ. Easy to wash, easy for my daughter to open, plus her friends think it’s cool. Street Cred. We have the original ($30.00), but they just started making a bento size for half the price, and they have an even smaller two compartment snack size for your mom bag. All the lunch boxes come with some unique Tim Burtonesque stickers to decorate it with. Fun!

3. Lunch Bots- This is the smaller, less expensive version of the Rover. You can get it with four, three, two, or one compartments. It’s stainless steel, and I prefer that over plastic, because of all the toxins in plastic, plus it looks rad. and it’s only $20.00. I think I found a winner!

4. Smart Planet- This one is cool because it squishes flat when you’re done eating, so you can fit it in your bag and take it home. It only comes with three compartments, which will not work for Berlyn because girlfriend needs her choices, but I like it. Maybe I’ll get one and eat my lunch out of it… $18.00

5. Made by Oots. It’s Dutch. So naturally it’s awesome, wholly based on it’s proximity to Scandinavia. It’s design harkens feelings of campsites, and canteens. It comes with one large container and four small containers, so it’s like a delightful treasure trove of snackable options. $35.00

What kinds of lunch boxes do you guys send your kids off to school with? Any favorites? Share!

Isss Okay

I’ve been a steam boat lately, plodding through the rough blue water, with no hesitation of rolling over waves and whatever lies beneath me. I have to be careful. I have to tread more softly. I have sensitive children. Their eyes are receptive, and they absorb feelings so easily. They got that from their dad; that ability to become a chameleon.  If the room is tense, they become tense. If the room is light, they are light.

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But then there’s me, bulldozing through, mucking up their mood, and barking commands, and raising my voice because it feels good, because she should know better, and I’ve told him a hundred times not to.

The worst is when other people are witness to my madness. And then my anger becomes real. It takes a stranger for me to feel the weight of my sin. It’s palpable; them watching me as I react to my children, watching me as my anger flies somewhere far away, and gets caught high above me, where I can’t reach it, and there’s no way to pull it back down. It’s not that I scream at my kids all day, it’s that one little thing sets me off, and my mood becomes terse, my words curt, and my tone cutting. It’s not every day either, but when my anger flies, I’m ashamed. I give myself excuses as to why: I‘m tired, I’m pregnant, this bra is digging into my boob, the kids didn’t touch their dinner after I spent an hour making it. But there aren’t enough excuses, the fact of the matter is, I’m wrong.

I apologize. I try to make it right. But the damage is done, they are sponges, absorbing, learning, and creating associations. Just like I did when I was their age, and my mom would get angry at my brother and me. The pattern has continued, without my consent.

I have to be careful.


School is starting soon.

Real school.

Berlyn will start Kindergarten in two weeks.

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Which means I have two weeks to get all sentimental about her growing up so fast, and cry over old baby socks, so by the time I drop her off on that first day I can be a pillar for her–strong and confident.

But that’s the opposite of what I really am, which is fearful, and soggy.


Hudson is in the midst of being potty trained. But I am already done. Finished. Because it’s not working. He continues to pee on my carpet, couch, and floor like an untrained terrier, and when he does he declares, with his most precious voice, “Oopsies! I peed!”


Yeah, buddy, you did, let’s do that in the toilet next time, okay?

Okay mommy.

But does he?


I don’t want advice about it, because it stresses me out. Everyone I’ve ever talked to about it, says breezy things like, oh it was so easy, my son just threw away all of his diapers, and that was that. No accidents. Or, my daughter loves to pee on the toilet, she was potty trained in one day. Your advice and your comments make me want to punch you in the kidneys, and steal your perfectly potty trained child so he can teach my child.

I’ve read books about it, and blogs, and talked to moms, and maybe he’s just not ready, but I can’t bring myself to put him back in diapers, and to undo all that I’ve done, I feel like a failure, and worse, I think Hudson would feel like a failure. So we continue. I take him potty every 15 minutes, where he plays with the roll of toilet paper, and says, “I don’t hava go, but isss okay.”

Is it okay?

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Yes, I guess it will have to be.

Chasing the Light

I didn’t know that watching the Hunger Games would make me have deep thoughts.

If I would have known that I would have watched Step Up 2: A Dance Revolution.

But there’s this part in the Hunger Games where a little girl dies, and it left me wondering about my own mortality.

Being reminded of my mortality makes me feel creepy, it feels like my arm is in the other room waving at the neighbors, while my body is on the couch reading a book. It feels unnatural and despondent. But the reality is…

I’m going to die someday.

My husband is going to die someday.

My children (gulp) are going to die someday.

Our temporariness is what knits us together, makes us human.


My uncle died of suicide a few weeks ago. His life was marked by sin and destruction. He did unspeakable things, he was severely disturbed, and I honestly think the world is better off without him in it. I got the phone call on my way to a play date. I didn’t stop driving, I didn’t cry, I was in shock, but only because the word suicide creates a ripple down my spine that makes me feel weird and uncomfortable, and now how am I supposed to explain this phone call to my children who are sitting quietly in the backseat flipping the pages of dinosaur books, and eating cheese?


His life was not memorialized by our family.

He killed himself,

And we all shuffled on.

We didn’t even pause.


I want to create a life that demands a pause. That screams for it. I want dancing and celebration to be my life’s theme. And I want my children’s eyes to forever sparkle with the memories that we’ve created together.

I believe I am going to heaven when I die, I believe that there is a kingdom waiting for me, a kingdom filled with unrelenting love, with beauty so striking that I will have no choice but to be constantly arrested with astoundment, and out of my lips, I will sing songs of glory and everything around me will be good and pure.

When I remind myself of these things my life seems more purposeful, and the other little stuff falls away, it peels off, and hits the ground with a shatter. Sometimes I get so caught up in what I buy, or what I eat, Facebook, and mommy politics, picking a stupid fight with my husband, but all of it really doesn’t matter.

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.” C.S. Lewis

I suppose I should be thanking the Hunger Games and my uncle for reminding me what life is about. Right now, it’s about bringing up these children of mine, that will loose teeth, grow tall, tell me stories with their tiny voices, that will eventually deepen with age and experience. My life is about kissing their ouchies, reading them poetry that makes them dream in technicolor, teaching them about God, and throwing dance parties in the living room.

Ultimately, I’m entrusting them with my legacy.

Hippo Brigade’s Favorite Shampoos and Conditioners

Buying shampoo and conditioner is always an arduous task that I do not take lightly. For perspective, here are a list of things that I do take lightly:



Cleaning my toilet

Professional sports

Spray tanning

Health care reform


But hair products, oh sweet hair products, I take those very seriously. So it should come as no surprise that I have flow charts, and venn diagrams dedicated to this, and I’ve also spent an embarrassing amount of time on amazon curating the best options for evaluation. And now I’ve come up with my very own tried and true list of my favorite shampoos and conditioners. They are a bit on the spendy side, but I like to buy the best I can afford, because it really does make a difference. So be frugal with something else, but not with your hair care products, people.

I happen to take my hair shampooing very seriously because of a few reasons:

1) I have extensions. That’s right people, my hair is fake. Well, not all of it, but a vast majority of it, and it’s also expensive, so it’s really important to take good care of it so that it always looks awesome, or in my case, socially acceptable.


2) I only wash my hair every 5 or 6 days*, so I like using good stuff to make it count, and really stretch me to that last possible day.

3) I am a licensed cosmetologist, which basically doesn’t mean a whole lot, because I don’t work in a salon currently, but it means that I can be persnickety about what I put in my hair. And hold up, persnickety? Did that really just happen…Yes, yes it did.

So here are a few of my favorites:




1. Oribe Signature Shampoo and Conditioner

Oribe is a gem of hair product line. If you haven’t heard of it, get acquainted, because it’s basically the best out there. I love their luxurious shampoos, and creamy conditioners, plus they smell outstanding. Oribe also has some other good stuff too, like Dry Texturizing Spray and Supershine Moisturizing Cream which are two products that I use almost daily.

2. Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Shampoo and Conditioner

I love this shampoo because my hair tends to get frizzy and I don’t enjoy that, but this makes it soft and pretty. The conditioner is a reparative mask, and it goes on smooth and instantly detangles, plus after I rinse it out, it doesn’t leave behind a residue, and my hair shines like a summer’s day, and it also says, “thank you.”

3. Living Proof Restore Shampoo and Conditioner.

This stuff not only makes my hair look healthy, but it feels healthy too, and I want to run my fingers through it all the time. So I look like I’m that quirky girl in the corner of the room who can’t stop touching her hair, and who occasionally eats it too, but that’s neither here nor there.

4. Davines Momo Shampoo and Conditioner

This is kinda my jam right now. I just adore everything about it. Their packaging is practically amazing, and I love the smell. The shampoo rinses clean and scrubs all the week’s gunk out of my hair really well. The conditioner is thick and coats my frizzy hair and makes it so that I can comb my hair out with my fingers in the shower. I love to leave the conditioner on for about 5 or so minutes, and after I rinse it out, I put a dime size amount back in as a leave in treatment. I don’t usually blow dry, and that little step helps my hair look sleek and smooth as it air dries.

Also, I have to mention a clarifying shampoo, I use one about once or twice a month, because I don’t wash my hair very often, product and oil tends to build up, so a good scrubbing is necessary.

5. Pureology Purify Shampoo

My hair literally squeaks with cleanliness when I’m rinsing and even though it cleans as good as a hotel maid, it doesn’t strip my color. Well, come to think of it…. I don’t have any color currently, but when I did have color, this shampoo left it alone.

So there you have it. Do you have any favorites that I missed, or I should try? SHARE! Please! Do the exclamation points make me seem desperate? Well, what I mean is share, or not. Whatever, I don’t care. But it’s more fun when you do.

::shrugs shoulders, eats hair::


*Curious why I don’t wash my hair often? Watch my hair stylist, Tera Rae Stephens explain why frequent hair washings are not super good for your hair in her video  on


Just thinking, you know…about cereal.

My kids are addicted to Gorilla Munch. It’s this fancy organic cereal that they sell at Whole Foods for eleventy dollars, and has a gorilla and a bowl of munch on the box. Which poses the question, is that gorilla going to eat all that cereal? Do gorilla’s even like cereal? I thought they just ate bananas.


One day I’ll wise up and just buy them Kix, because it’s basically the same thing, but cost a ton less, only Kix doesn’t help save the rainforest. Plus,Kix doesn’t have the option on their box to sponsor a gorilla. Decisions, decisions… If I had my very own gorilla, I’d teach it to eat cereal and name her Miriam, because that’s a pretty name, and gorillas in general, aren’t very pretty.

Baby Teeth

Berlyn lost her first tooth the other day.

I feel like this is kinda a big deal.

She thinks so too, it’s just not evident in this photo.


When I was little I had this tooth pillow thing, with a pocket, and on a night that I lost a tooth, I’d stick that crusty thing in the pocket with the hope that the tooth fairy would take it, and leave me some cash in return.

The whole process was thrilling.

Pat and I don’t emphasize Santa Clause at Christmas, and we don’t even mention the Easter bunny at Easter. But we’ve decided to embrace the whimsy of the tooth fairy. The tooth fairy is pretty awesome with her glittery ways, and her devotion to dental hygiene. I mean, what’s not to love?

So instead of just leaving a dirty wrinkled dollar bill under our daughter’s pillow, we decided to take it one step further:

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Perhaps this note made her a little too excited because she burst into our room at early O’ clock pounding on our bed and waving the letter around. Plus, she lost another tooth that morning too.

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So we drafted up a new letter:

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She was beyond thrilled to get two letters in a row, and now we have set up a standard. Which means I can’t be lazy, and just stuff a dirty dollar under her pillow. But to be honest, I’m just as excited as she is.

Her joy is my joy.

Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with all these baby teeth.

Do any of you have fun tooth fairy traditions?
Or ideas on festive crafts for blood stained teeth?


How to Have a Completely Awesome and Super Romantic Date According to Hippo Brigade

First thing’s first, Congratulations!  You are getting away for the night. Good for you. You and your mate deserve it. Go ahead and give him a physical act of praise. This is best done with a hi-five or a gratuitous ass grab. Then choose an ultra swanky venue to recount your love for each other. A place with low lighting and staffed with sexy employees is always a good choice. But if that option isn’t readily available, or the wait is too long, just go to Costco instead! There are always hot and gooey treats to sample and you don’t have to go later in the week with your crazy kids who ask for everything, and don’t let you peruse the section with the cozy sports bras, because somehow they know that you’re not going to be doing any sports while wearing that bra.

Touché, kids. Touché.

Then make sure you put something completly ridiculious in your cart, like a box of 50 individual bags of chips. Then take it out, and convince yourself that you’re just hungry, and then put it back in, and then wander around the store feeling guilty, and finally take it out.

Well done. You just did the chip equivalent of the hokey pokey.


After Costco, or whatever swanky place you ended up in, head down to a local coffee shop to sample their beans, and enjoy the deep conversation that will inevitably ensue.

But if you’ve already discussed every deep thought you’ve ever had, then unpack your laptop and list your old crap on Craig’s List!


After a rejuvenating Craig’s List session, it’s best to follow up with photos of yourself. These are good to have around to prove that you’re having a good time. And possibly used as black mail, as in this photo:


It looks like a pipe is, well.. umm. It’s just not good.


Aww, look at the happy couple.


And because coffee and small plastic cups filled with soup broth and fiber bars cut into tiny squares with scissors aren’t very filling, you should probably consider actually eating something for dinner. We chose a beachy burger joint which incidentally had low lighting and a sexy wait staff.

Look at us, doing something right.

Cheers ::Clink::


After dinner you’re going to want something sweet or possibly a night cap, why not have both at your local Rite-Aid drug store?


And that’s about it.

I’m sure if you follow my simple date night agenda you’ll be gettin’ lucky in no time.


Just make sure it’s not in front of the Costco building.