Table for Glasses

My days are hard.

Lately, I am a pin watching a glossy 13 pound ball roll straight for me, and it knocks me over.


That giant 13 pound ball is my three-and-a-half-year-old. He’s lazy with direction, careless with liquids, he’s loud when I ask for quiet, he is a bulldozer in a field of daffodils. And lately he has stopped sleeping. I’m convinced he’s an alien, or a robot who is surviving off of bananas and Triscuts. He is the first to wake up in the morning, has given up his afternoon nap, and at night, hours after we put him to bed, he finally gives in to sleep. Not sleeping is one thing, but the symptom of no sleep is ruining our relationship. He’s tipsy with tiredness, he falls over and breaks into a million pieces. If I don’t cut his apple just right the whole afternoon is destroyed.


Additionally, I have two other children, one of which is a tiny baby who wakes up in the middle of the night crying for milk. I feel run down, constantly tired, and I need a break.

My husband had to work late, so I called my mom, and she told me to come over. Into the car I threw all three kids, some of which were not properly clothed, and drove to her house for fast food with an ocean view. The kids plodded around the inside of her home, and I quietly retreated onto the deck to watch the trees bend under the weight of the heavy salted air.

I can’t find large chunks of time for myself, so instead I need to uncover small respites.

After tangerine popsicles and sticky fingers they went into the bath, fresh jammies, and I drove them home.

The drive home was detoxifying. The children were uncharacteristically quiet and the music that was playing through the speakers elevated me; Old Jimmy Eat World, Table for Glasses. I rolled the windows down just enough for my kids not to scream at me, “MAAA! TOO MUCH WIND!” And I watched the hills turn gold from the reflexion of the sun setting. My fingertips curled over the glass of the window, they flexed and relaxed with the tempo while they flickered against the breeze. I was having a sort of transcendent moment. The crescendo of the song built up and hit our car with force, I was the drummer, biting my lip and hitting the air with my imaginary drumsticks, because the percussion made me do it, because no one was watching, because it was good. It all felt good.

 Lead my skeptic sight to the table and the light

It happens too fast, to make sense of it, make it last

The light was brilliant, golden and pink and shiny. If the sunset could request a song, this one would be it. Sparkly, soft, and brilliant.

And then I saw a dead deer in the road…

“Mooomm!! Wa-waz dat!?

“Was that deer DEAD?!”

Mmoomm! Git da window up!

“How did it die?”

“What happens to deers when they die?”

“I want to listen to Veggie Tales!”

Thus ending my transcendent experience.


The Chartreuse Rombus

Sometimes I get an email from a reader asking me a question.

And the question I hear the most is, “why is your blog named Hippo Brigade?” And the answer is, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. In all caps, like I’m shouting, and then I smack your burrito to the ground and run in the other direction.

Alright fine, I’ll give you the real answer.

When Pat and I first got married, it was the name of our wireless internet.

For some reason, we take pride in naming our wireless internet. We find you positively dull and uncreative when we see that your internet is called Jones542, because your last name is Jones and your house number is 542. So a few beers and an entire package of Twizzlers later we were shoving words together like it was craft night with Aunt Mildred. Proverbially hot glueing words to pipe cleaner-wrapped popsicle sticks until we liked the combination.

Eucalyptus Auditorium

Theoretically Frenetic

Raspberry Jungle

Hippo Brigade

Hippo Brigade stuck. We moved out of our first place, and forgot all about Hippo Brigade. We later went on to name our wireless internets Hey Hermano, The Chartruse Rhombus, and Mr. Chang’s Imagination.  Then I started a blog and was all, “Omg what should it be called?”

Hippo Brigade.


Because it’s better than Mr. Chang’s Imagination.


hoping that we can outrun the sun

While laying on the table at my chiropractor’s office, my doctor adjusted me and told me that my body was emotionally overwhelmed. Oh and he also moonlights as a psychic. Actually, no he doesn’t’ need to be a psychic to realize that I’m emotionally overwhelmed. Just look at the little people I brought with me to the appointment, fighting over who gets to hold the iPad and hooow much looongerrr to we have do beee herreee!?? And then there’s Silas in his carseat carrier, like, “I’m cool right now, but leave me in here for another 4 minutes, and I’ll go crazy. CRAZY! Don’t believe me? Try it.”

So my doctor knows that my kids drive me crazy and I need a break. I don’t need a stranger justifying my role as an overwhelmed stay-at-home mother of three, but somehow in that moment, when my doctor was tapping my foot and telling me my life was difficult, my eyes yielded tears and my voice got soggy.

Silas is now seven months old. He does all these fantastic tricks now. He sits for a wobbly minute or two before he tips over like a buoy in the ocean. He’s opinionated, loud, and grabby. He’s basically an old man: He looks like Mr. Magoo, loves boobies, hates loud noises, loves naps, hates when things go off schedule, loves reading the paper (or Pat the Bunny), doesn’t have any teeth, talks to anyone who will listen to him, and has a hard time getting around. See? Old man. He has old man eyes too. Somehow when he looks at me, I feel like he understands more. More than just my face, and my nose, my eyebrows. He gets me. I think it’s because he’s already been through a lot. He has gained wisdom and perspective. … at 7 months old, he’s a magi.

Magoo Magi.

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We want to sell our house, which makes my stomach flip and my head weak, and I can’t feel my legs, and I’m scared. Scared because we don’t know where to go yet. There’s all this pressure we’ve heaped upon ourselves to find the dream home. But I want a modest life, and a simple house. Simple but beautiful with trees and a yard, maybe some chickens and a garden. I want a dutch door off my kitchen that opens to the outside where I can watch my kids run in the grass while I bake a cake, and wear an apron with cherries on it.


And then I get sentimental over this house that we live in, with it’s walls and rooms and sounds and the way the sun comes through the shutters at dinnertime and blasts my face with it’s shiny brightness.

I’ve been walking around my home lately, touching the walls and feeling the weight of what we created in the 3.5 years that we’ve been sleeping here and eating here and making babies here.

photo 2-4

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photo 2-3

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It’s just a shell, I keep reminding myself. We’re going to find a new shell. We are merely slugs, a family of slugs sliding around on the wet sidewalk looking for a new home.

Cloth Diapering Essentials

Let’s talk about a controversial baby issue…


Just kidding.

No, let’s talk about FORMULA VERSES BREAST MILK!

Just kidding.

Let’s talk about EPIDURALS!

Just kidding.

I don’t really give a crap about all that stuff.  So let’s talk about cloth diapers instead!


It’s not that hard. Promise. I do it, and I’m a total slacker mom. Once you ease up on yourself, and try it, you’ll get into a rhythm, and dare I say… actually enjoy it?

I’ve been cloth diapering for a while now (I’ve written about it before), and I don’t take it too seriously. I have a stack of cloth diapers next to the changing table, and a stack of disposables too. When I run out of cloth diapers, I slap a disposable on those sweet baby buns. And presto. No guilt.

So if you are interested in getting started, but you’re scared of poop and using your washing machine, then, I question if you’re really a mom. Maybe your a cyborg. Because moms are always cleaning poop and using washing machines. It’s like in our fight song. What?! Moms don’t have a fight song? We should. Let’s get on that.

But first, we got to get some things for our cloth diapering adventure.

Grab a baby and let’s do this:

Cloth Diapering Essentials

1. Diapers: This is the tricky part. There are more types of cloth diapers than there are types of wine. So do yourself a favor, pour a tall glass of your favorite wine, type “cloth diapers” into Google, and pick the first three. A goggle rouette, if you will.  I’m currently using pocket diapers (meaning the inserts go into the pocket that is built in) that are one-size-fits-all: (pictured from left to right) Soft Buns OmniTotsBots, which are trimmer and the insert is connected to the diaper, so it doesn’t go AWAL on you during laundry time. And lastly, my personal favorite, the Rumparooz.  The nice thing about the first two diapers pictured is that they have velcro closures, so they are very much like changing a disposable, quick and easy. The snaps sometimes can be a little more labor intensive when you have a squirmy baby wiggling around on the diaper table.

2. Detergent: You have to be careful with soap and cloth diapers. Because regular detergents can leave a film on the cloth that over time repel moisture instead of absorbing it. Stick with speciality detergents that are designed for cloth diapers. I have tried a bunch.You can even make your own, but let’s not go over board.  My favorites are Charlie’s Soap and Rockin Green. These detergents are great for all your laundry too, not just diapers.

3. Wet bag: If you’re on the go, you’re going to need a place to stash that dirty nappy. I have two wet bags, one small one for when I’m out, and a super-sized one I use at home to throw wet diapers in before they go into the laundry. But, honestly I don’t use the big one, I just stack dirty diapers on top of my washing machine (Like I said, slacker mom) until Silas’ bed time, and then I start the cycle.  Unless he poops, then it goes directly into the washing machine. Side note: breastfed baby poop is water soluble, and doesn’t need to be pre-rinsed. Once he starts really eating solids, I’ll start rinsing his diapers, but for now, his diet is about 90% breast milk and 10% food off my plate. So I can slack off on the rinsing step a little while longer. Yay for slacking!

4. Pail: When Silas really starts blowing down, a pail might be necessary. I used one with Hudson’s giant turd-soaked diapers and it was great. First I would get rid of the solid waste in the toilet, and then toss the diaper into the pail that I filled with water and white vinegar to hang out until washing time. There are a ton of ways to deal with poop crusted diapers, and this is just my way. Other people swear by swishing the diaper in the toilet, and some even buy a fancy hose to spray the crap off. Whatever floats your turd.

5. Wipes: Homemade wipes go hand in hand with cloth diapering, because when you wipe your baby’s butt, you can throw the wipe and diaper into the laundry. I have one of those classy-baby wipes warmers, and I would soak the wipes in water, tea tree oil and a little soap, and store them in the wipe warmer so they stayed wet and were ready and warm. But seriously, seriously…I don’t use reusable wipes right now. When I wipe his butt, the disposable wipe goes into the laundry with the diaper, and then I throw it away once it’s clean. Zing.

6. Diaper spray: This stuff is awesome. Cloth diapering or not, it’s a great baby product. Diaper rash cream isn’t’ good for cloth diapers, so this stuff does the trick. Plus it’s good when your baby’s poo crusts over on his butt, give it a few sprays and it will lift that junk right up.  Or I even use it to clean his hands and face sometimes.

7. Liners: Once your baby’s poo starts to resemble (ahem) your own, invest in some liners. It acts as a barrier between the diaper and poo, and it’s an easier way to deal with the mess. Just lift the liner with the poop and flush.

So that about does it for my list of must-haves. But really, you don’t need much, just start out with diapers and detergent, and see what works for you.

Try it out and let me know how it goes!



Blood on my Hands

We always have fresh fruit and vegetables sitting out in our kitchen. They usually occupy a bowl; green stems of tomatoes peer out from the top of the heap. But sometimes when I buy too much, they spill out onto the counter, and roll across to where the coffee is. Potatoes and coffee grinds. Onion skins and spilled sugar granules.

It is our art form.

A still life of life.

And where there is ripe fruit, there are tiny flies, never more than one or two at a time, levitating above the bowl. They float across the space between the counter and the cabinets, bouncing from fruit to fruit; a variable bounty of sweetness awaits below them to explore, eat, have babies on.

I clap them.

That’s how I deal with the problem. I don’t set out a bowl of apple cider vinegar for them to fly into and then drown. Nor do I use special traps that Pinterest might suggest. No, instead I clap them dead. Unrhythmic hand claps emerge from the kitchen as I prepare food. Followed by the sounds of either my victory or defeat.


Then I wash the fly blood from my palms and return to dicing carrots.