msLaura: Modern Mama Laura Hamilton + Dan Baker = Julian Hamilton Baker & Adrian Hamilton Baker "When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her."
- Adrienne Rich



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the portable baby


recent posts
Zebras and warthogs and giraffes, oh my!

22 Alternatives to Losing It

Salsa fresca de mi jardin

Why is she so fired up lately?

Coastal Cleanup Day - Saturday Sept. 17th

The "blame game"

Reporters Gone Wild!

Small is the new big


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September 24, 2005

Zebras and warthogs and giraffes, oh my!

Through the magic of the Internet, Julian and I sat at the edge of a pond in Botswana at sunset this morning. We watched zebras, warthogs, gazelles and lots of interesting birds come down to the water to drink and hang out -- live!

It's National Geographic Magazine's WildCam AFRICA and it rocks. Cool background sounds too.

September 22, 2005

22 Alternatives to Losing It

I found this list from a fellow mom who passed it on. It's wonderful! Great reminders for those times when I'm truly about to lose it. And don't say it never happens to you, because even the most tranquil child rides the Fussy Train sometimes and makes you consider selling him on eBay.

22 Alternatives to Losing It

1. Prevent unwanted behavior by meeting your child’s needs when they are first expressed. With her current needs met, she is free to move on to the next stage of learning.

2. Provide a safe, child-friendly environment. There is little point in having precious items within the reach of a baby or toddler, when they can simply be put away until the child is old enough to handle them carefully.

3. Apply the Golden Rule. Think about how you would like to be treated if you were to find yourself in the same circumstances as your child. Human nature is human nature, regardless of age.

4. Show empathy for your child’s feelings. Even if a child’s behavior seems illogical, his underlying feelings and needs are real to him. A statement like "You seem really unhappy" is a good way to show that you are on your child's side.

5. Validate your child’s feelings so she knows that you understand and care, and that she will never be rejected for having any particular kinds of feelings. For example, "That scared me too when I was little."

6. Meet the underlying need that led to the behavior. If we punish the outward behavior, the still unmet need will continue to surface in other ways until it is finally met. Questions such as "Are you angry because I've been on the phone so much today? Would you like to go for a walk together?" can help a child feel loved and understood.

7. Whenever possible, find a "win-win" solution that meets everyone’s needs. To learn effective conflict resolution skills, consider a course in Nonviolent Communication.

8. Reassure your child that he is loved and appreciated. So-called "bad" behavior is often the child’s attempt to express his need for love and attention, in the best way that he can manage at that moment. If he could express this need in a more mature way, he would.

9. Shift the focus away from a situation that has become too stressful to resolve at that moment: "Let's take a break. What would you like to do instead?"

10. Be sure that you and your child have had nutritious food throughout the day so your blood sugar levels stay high. Frequent, small meals are best.

11. Breathe! When stressed, we need more oxygen, but tend to take shallow breaths. Even a few deep breaths can help us to calm down and think more clearly.

12. We don't expect a car to start unless the gas tank is filled, and we shouldn't expect a child to function at her best if her "emotional tank" is running low. Give the three things that fill a child's emotional tank: eye contact, gentle touch, and undivided attention.

13. Chamomile tea is very relaxing for both adults and children. Taken an hour before bedtime by a nursing mother, it can also help to calm her baby. Older children might like iced chamomile tea or popsicles.

14. Take a time out - with your child. A change of scenery - even if it's just a short time outdoors, can make a real difference for both parent and child.

15. Pick a Parenting Card for inspiration and encouragement or create some of your own reminder cards.

16. Offer a massage. A bedtime massage can help a child to sleep more soundly, giving her more resilience and energy for the following day.

17. Give choices. Children need to feel they have a voice. Offering choices, even if they seem unimportant to you ("Do you want the red cup or the blue one?") will help a child feel that he has some say over his life, especially if he has had to cope with recent changes.

18. Try whispering. When tensions are high, whispering can help to get a child's attention and also help to calm the parent.

19. Give your child time. A statement like "Let me know when you're ready to share the toy / climb into the car seat / put on your jacket" will give the child a sense of autonomy and make it easier for him to cooperate.

20. Give yourself time. Count to ten (silently). Sometimes we just need a bit of time to think more clearly and to see things more objectively.

21. Remember that children create images from our words: "Slow down!" is more effective than "Stop running!". The first statement creates an image of slowing down, while the second creates a picture of someone running (the word "don't" is too abstract to overcome the more concrete and compelling image of running). Similarly, a specific request is more effective than a general one: "Please put down the glass" instead of "Be careful".

22. Ask yourself "Will I look back at this later and laugh?" If so, why not laugh now? Create the kind of memory you would like to have when you look back on this day.

In these ways, we can best bring about the genuine cooperation that we seek at the moment. But our greatest reward will be a life-long, mutually loving and trusting bond with our child!

September 19, 2005

Salsa fresca de mi jardin

I made the best salsa ever yesterday. Except for the garlic and cilantro, everything was from my garden. That's a picture of it at left. I served it up in a lovely Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (aka Picasso Triggerfish) plate from my Aunt Polly, who sadly just moved from Honolulu to North Carolina. Sad for me, not for her, because we only got over to visit once.

This was Round 2 for my homemade salsa efforts. Round 1 was pretty good, but too watery, and not quite spicy enough. This time I found perfection. Don't know if I can replicate it recent garden recipes are so good because of the ingredients, and if I don't have those anymore, it's not quite the same.

* 2 heirloom tomatoes (sliced and sauteed in saucepan on high, just to evaporate some of the juice out of them)
* 1 heirloom tomato (raw)
* 12 jalapeno peppers, ripened to deep red flavorful mildness, cut in half and seared in a hot cast-iron pan
* a handful of Thai basil leaves, chopped
* a handful of cilantro, chopped
* one big garlic clove, slivered
* salt and pepper

So freakin' good, I couldn't believe it. We had it with chips for lunch, and then with Trader Joe's mini-tacos (most highly recommended) for dinner last night, and then I polished it off by adding the last few spoonfuls to the Tuscan White Bean & Tuna Salad that I made for lunch today (which was great as well, and no cooking required!) I substituted some tins of Trader Joe's smoked trout for the tuna. It was tastier, and trout has much less mercury than tuna.

The summer garden is finishing up. We've still got some zucchini, eggplant, melons, tomatoes and cucumbers, but production has slowed waaaaay down. It's time to start planting fall/winter crops. I'm kind of behind on that. Today is an incredibly beautiful Indian Summer day, and would be a great day to dig in the garden, but I have too many other things to do. Maybe tomorrow.

September 17, 2005

Why is she so fired up lately?

That's right, I'm FIRED UP people! To quote Popeye, I've had all I can stand, and I can't stands no more! I don't have a lot of free time, but it's making me physically ill hearing about all the short-sighted, selfish, greedy, literally EVIL bullshit going on in the world. I either have to do something or else stick my head in the sand and pretend that none of this is happening, and that's just not OK.

Lois, one of the women who started the 34 Million Friends of UNFPA said it best. She believes that citizens have the responsibility to speak out and become involved, and that sitting back and doing nothing is not an acceptable option. Hear hear sister. So from now on, I'm taking action in whatever ways I can...big, small, it all counts.

Yes, I'll get back to telling amusing baby stories and recounting quirky incidents, don't worry. But right now I'm having a FIRED UP moment, and the whole point of this blog is to tell it like it is. Being a mom isn't all Hallmark moments.

September 16, 2005

Coastal Cleanup Day - Saturday Sept. 17th

This Saturday morning we'll be participating in Coastal Cleanup Day from 9am to noon. I know Julian will be excited...he loves to collect things and put them in containers.

If you didn't know about it, check it out. It's really easy and makes a substantial difference. Last year 912,147 pounds of trash were picked up all over California in three hours!

You don't need to live near the beach...creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, etc. all need cleaning fact they actually need more help cleaning up creeks, rivers and streams because there tends to be more trash there and fewer volunteers. Inland trash flows downstream and ends up on the beach eventually.

Sign up at the website linked above. When you check in at the cleanup location, you will be given trash bags, pencils, and a special data card to tally the items you collect.

Your data goes into the Ocean Conservancy’s international database, which is used to identify the sources of debris and to help devise solutions to the marine debris problem.

If you're reading this and you're not in California, well it's actually International Coastal Cleanup Day. So no matter where you are you can still take part.

September 09, 2005

The "blame game"

The "blame game": A video highlight reel
One day's spin cycle: The White House issues an order and Fox News falls into formation -- but nobody told Oprah. Very funny sometimes and yet very disturbing.

I fixed the Reporters Gone Wild highlight reel link from my previous post of the same name. Check it out, it's the first in this series. Worth watching.

September 08, 2005

Reporters Gone Wild!

Newsflash! The media finally starts asking tough questions! TV anchors grapple with their sources, the spin wars, and each other. A highlight reel by Kerry Lauerman at

September 07, 2005

Small is the new big

Small is definitely the new big, and it's about time.

I love my Honda Civic Hybrid 2003. I just drove over 1000 miles in comfort and style, with plenty of room, and it cost me a mere $68 for gas at $3.09 a gallon. Today I'd probably get a new Toyota Prius, just for the hatchback, the extra bells and whistles, and the slightly better gas mileage.

What I want to know is, where's my hybrid minivan? Why can other countries get them but not the US? I'm supposedly living in the best country in the world, but I have to wait until 2007 to get a bulked-up, less-economical version of the lovely Toyota Estima hybrid minivan that the Japanese, Australians and UK have had for several years now? We Americans get offered a few hybrids SUVs and sedans, but not one minivan or station wagon. What's going on? Don't tell me there's no market here.

While we're exploring small chic, look at these perfect little prefab houses. Adorable and beautifully designed.

I'd rather have yard than house anyways, as long as what house I have is well-designed and efficient. Less space forces you to live without clutter, and is just easier overall.

With more than 2 people, you probably need something more like a Clever Home. Dan and I looked into these and fell in love, and if we ever find ourselves with a piece of land, we will certainly get a Clever Home rather than build anything custom.

One more impressive Small is Good item: the T@B Trailer. I'm absolutely saving up for one of these. I just want to pinch its cheeks. So sleek and small and everything inside serves 4 different purposes. I could easily haul one with my hybrid minivan or station wagon, if only I had one. We could go anywhere and everywhere! Pull over to eat lunch, lay down and take a nap if need be...a huge plus when travelling with small children and babies.

Maybe when they're out long enough I can find one used. Hmmm...

September 06, 2005


Julian and I just arrived back home from our trip down to Southern CA to visit family. Today we spent roughly 11 hours in the car, well...we took several rest stops, so let's say it took us 11 hours to get home.

Julian was very good for the most part. There were certainly many fussy moments, but overall he was remarkably calm. I did try to get him to read one of his many books while traveling, but no dice. He looked at the pictures for about two seconds each, then threw them on the floor of the car.

Well, guess where he is right now? I can't even believe it. After briefly inspecting the house, saying hi to his doggie, his toys, his backyard, and taking a big poop, he is now sitting in the garage, in the driver's seat of our smelly, dirty roadtrip-mobile. And guess what he's doing there? That's right....reading all of his books.

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