baby hair progress report — April 17, 2018

baby hair progress report


Since I last posted about styling A’s hair, I’ve mastered the rope twist and found a great styling cream for a twist out. I experimented with scallop-shaped parts and triangle parts. None of it is even close to perfect but her hair is healthy and I’ve gotten praise from African American women, which is enormously gratifying. I’ve been learning as I go, when it comes to how to style her hair, what products to use, and what order to use them in. Instead of waiting another whole year to get a haircut, this year I’m going to take her to my salon every three months to get a light dusting of a trim and give her hair some shape. I’ve tried taking her to salons for little kids but the haircuts aren’t as good and she ends up eating way too much candy. The ladies at my salon all know and love A because she comes with me when I get my hair done.

my little shutterbug — February 19, 2018

my little shutterbug




Putting our toddler in charge of the digital camera on our nature walk was my husband’s idea. She’d been playing with her little wooden camera a lot lately. And like all babies, she’d always loved looking at photographs of herself. He wanted to see what would happen if we let her document the morning. On the drive to the mountain, I said to John (out of earshot, I sincerely hope) that there was a one hundred percent chance A was going to drop the camera and break it. I was sure this was true because sixteen years ago, I gave a digital camera to a three year old and he dropped it and broke it. The mistake had been mine. I’d learned my lesson. John didn’t find my evidence very compelling and said he was willing to take that risk. So we tightened the little strap around her wrist and off we went.

fullsizeoutput_28b6 We had a blast that morning. A took tons of photos, many of me walking five feet up ahead, as she rode on her dad’s shoulders. She only dropped the camera a tiny distance one time. It’s completely fine! I didn’t give my girl – or my husband – enough credit. I apologized to them already but it feels good to confess it here.

Like many first time parents, John and I take a ridiculous number of photographs. We never ask A to look at the camera, or prompt her to do anything at all. Whatever she’d do would be way more interesting than whatever we’d come up with, anyway. But it seemed – very early on – that she understood what we were doing and didn’t mind at all. Before she could even sit up on her own, she gazed directly into the camera. Once she could walk, her behavior became even more surprising. She’d sometimes change her posture once she knew she was being photographed. Or she’d lean against something nearby. Her comfort in front of the camera made me nervous. I didn’t understand it. But the day she draped her arm over the head of a camel statue she was riding and lowered her chin, staring defiantly into the camera LIKE A BOSS, I realized with a combination of amazement and dread what she was doing: she was modeling.

I cannot overstate that she wasn’t doing this because of my husband or me.

…Not only because we’re not asking her to stand or move a certain way, but also because we adopted her. A’s birth mother, along with her own mother, modeled when she was younger. Seeing A give serious face on the back of that camel challenged my assumptions. I always thought that modeling and posing were learned behaviors. I watched several seasons of America’s Next Top Model and those girls seemed to be working hard. Was A born knowing how to pose for a camera, even though her parents take only candid photographs? If so, that would mean she’d inherited a learned behavior, which was something I thought we didn’t do. Maybe modeling is more of a talent, which can be inherited. Since nobody in my family is a model, I really have no idea.

I spent about a week spinning out about all the implications, risks, concerns, possibilities, and dangers of our daughter growing up to model professionally. Then I decided to knock it off because she’s two and this is not an actual concern in our current lives.

In the meantime, it seems fair that A gets to experience life on both sides of the camera. It didn’t make sense to tempt fate with that digital camera as an ongoing thing. So we compromised and gave her a kids’ shock-proof cased camera for Christmas. At the top of this post are three of my favorites of the images she captured in those first few days:

A shot of her feet and her father’s feet, as he explained how the camera works.

Our neighbor’s front yard candy canes, which she insisted on visiting every day.

And a trippy light display. I’m delighted to say I have no idea when or where she took that one.

I keep waiting for the phase every toddler seems to go through – when they refuse to let you take pictures and cover their face like Greta Garbo or cover the lens like Alec Baldwin. She hasn’t gotten there yet at 2 years 9 months but we’ve got plenty of toddler to go. Sometimes she’s moving so fast that the frenetic energy of toddlerhood registers as a colorful blur. Other times, she’s placid and relaxed. In those moments, I wonder if she might skip the photography refusal phase. Either way, she’ll have already been well chronicled.

Since we started letting A take her own pictures, she’s less interested in looking at photographs of herself. If she sees one, she’ll say “that’s me,” but she doesn’t ask to look at them the way she used to.

good hair — November 19, 2017

good hair


I like my baby heir, with baby hair and afros. I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils. – Beyoncé “Formation”

One of the first questions black women would ask me when I was out in public with A as a little baby was, “Do you know what to do with her hair?” They approached us in restaurants, on airplanes, even walking down the street, with a concerned expression. I’ve always been happy to get their advice.

Natural hair bloggers, Instagram tutorials, and YouTube videos have also been helpful as I try to figure it out.

11 Huge Healthy Afro Hacks (Type 4a/4b/4c) Natural Hair

Complete Toddler Regimen

I spend about twice as much money on A’s hair care products and tools than I do on my own. I started deep conditioning, finger-detangling, and experimenting with puffs and two strand twists when she was around 18 months old. Now I can do very simple braids, too. Here’s a recent effort.


I’ve always been a makeup and hair product junkie. I find beauty supply stores intoxicating. Now I have another head of hair to take care of, one that couldn’t possibly be more different than mine. My hair is slightly wavy, very fine, and thinning. A’s curls are endless and defy gravity.

We spend an hour or two every Sunday putting it in a protective style, which needs refreshing a few times, but lasts about 5 or 6 days.

This is one of my earlier efforts. My parts were still a little wonky then and her head looked a bit like a grenade, but I don’t hate it.


My goal is to get good enough at doing her hair that the styles last longer than a week. I want her scalp to be healthy and her hair to grow long and fabulous. It will let my daughter know that she’s worthy of lots of care, it will signal to other people that she’s well cared for, and wash day is mother-daughter time that I enjoy every week. I genuinely love every second of it.

Adoption Basics — November 11, 2017

Adoption Basics

I’m very excited about an upcoming workshop I’m presenting in the San Fernando Valley on December 10. As a marriage and family therapy intern and also an adoptive mother, this workshop will be an amalgamation of my two interests. It’s called “Adoption Basics” and will be for people who are considering adoption but feel overwhelmed by all the decisions or don’t know where to start. I will be answering the most frequently asked questions and presenting information about cost, wait times, fears and concerns, etc. Feel free to join us if you can!

adoption basics flyer

some decent advice from Morrissey — October 16, 2017

some decent advice from Morrissey

…about reducing news consumption. I understand all the arguments to the contrary: they say now is not the time to stop paying attention. Now is not the time to become complacent or (worse yet) hopeless. The people making those arguments make a lot of sense. The world does feel like a dystopian nightmare most of the time and I admire members of the resistance for staying informed and fighting back. But what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for everyone. And when I take a break from the news for a day or two – even for a week here and there – I feel much, much better.

photo credit: Jake Walters

Spent the Day in Bed by Morrissey

“I recommend that you stop watching the news / Because the news contrives to frighten you / To make you feel small and alone / To make you feel that your mind isn’t your own.”

The Guardian (back in 2013) made this case for giving up the news as well. In addition to all the ways news consumption doesn’t help our understanding of the world, it negatively affects our health, much like a steady diet of junk food.

News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress. High glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections. The other potential side-effects include fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitisation.

For years, people have suggested that I go on a news fast but I said I couldn’t do it. Now, the current state of affairs nationally and globally is so dire, dark, and desperate that it’s time to try a new approach. My young daughter knows (on some level) when I’m fending off anxiety or despair after making the mistake of reading the day’s headlines. I want her to understand the world and be curious about what’s happening, but she’s still in diapers. I’m still trying to find the right balance between staying sane and staying informed. Chances are, I will go back to following the news and being politically involved again. But today, I’m a better mother, wife, daughter, and friend if I let all of it unfold without being under my vigilant watch.

It finally cooled off enough to leave the house today — September 6, 2017
I work here now! — June 21, 2017
quick update — January 22, 2017

quick update

It seems I haven’t updated this blog since June 8, 2015. Our daughter was born that day, although I didn’t realize it at the time. We were chosen by her birthmother as adoptive parents the next morning, and told to rush to the hospital to meet her.

I’m going to preserve our daughter’s privacy and instead of using her name, I’ll refer to her by her first initial, A.

Man oh man is this a terrific baby. A is feisty, talkative, and confident. Her default setting is happy and relaxed.

My husband and I waited a very long time for her. Most of our time as a couple had been marked with epic losses and disappointments, and now we’re ridiculously happy, almost all the time.

Three days a week, I hang out with A.  Three days a week, I train as a therapist intern, under supervision, seeing individuals and couples. I specialize in depth psychology and I co-facilitate a therapy group for waiting adoptive parents.

My Linked In profile

So that’s what I’ve been up to for the last 19 months. How about you?

School’s out forever  — June 8, 2015

School’s out forever 

When I earned my bachelor’s degree 412 years ago, a surprising number of people asked me if I planned to go to grad school. And I told them all the same thing:

“HELL NO. I never want to write another paper again!”

And then I must have forgotten, because I went to back to school in 2012 to earn my Masters in Psychology and wrote so very, very many papers. Today was my last class.

So let me state unequivocally to the Internet, everyone who knows me, and most of all myself. I really am done with writing papers. Seriously. That’s enough school.

My husband, the neighbors and I celebrated on the front porch with some champagne. Also, it’s worth noting I have literally had this song running on a continuous loop in my head for the last few days:

I especially enjoy the can-can at 2:22. I am the giant, blue monster with the orange boxing shorts.

Out to pasture — June 4, 2015