Hoo boy. The phone. We all have a problem with it in today’s society, but especially the toddlers.

When he was a small baby, I never let him touch it. My thinking was more along the lines of not wanting it to be smashed on the floor or drooled on. I don’t remember if my intention was to keep it away from him forever.

Then I started showing him photos of himself, of his grandparents, other family and friends. He quickly learned how to scroll. He started asking for it, calling it “On.” “On?” “ON?!?!”

For a long plane ride, I bought a couple of apps, including Little Fox Music Box (interactive songs and a music studio full of animals) and My First Words, a pop-up book with words, images, sound effects. He loved loved loved them. Next he learned how to scroll to the app and start it up. If he got an error screen he’d bring it to me for help.

After our summer vacation, he became so enamored of looking at photos of his cousin that he started calling the phone by her name. With as much desperation as “On.” He is elated to see the photo and then sits down to open every single app on my phone. I’ve caught him watching Ted talks.

The other day I found him watching his own birth video and feel that I need to draw the line!

I now realize that giving him a little screen time is like giving him a little crack. He’s now mastered “phone???” And asks for it whether or not he can see it. He wakes up and asks for it. Who can blame him? We are all obsessed with it too. I do everything on it: talk to family, take photos, look up recipes, play music, communicate about plans, answer the phone! How can I subtract this out?

Giving it to him ends in a tantrum when I take it away. The other night we watched a little bit of a new Netflix show called Puffin Rock- so freaking adorable. I want to watch it with him. I was using it so I could cut his nails but can definitely see the benefit of TV- he is still and calm. Mind you, I’m not a TV watcher and haven’t had a TV in years- but I’m struggling with this phone/ipad struggle.

I sure wonder if anyone has come up with a solution to this, outside of zero tolerance which just seems unrealistic to me. Meanwhile, I’ll be sneaking phone moments, taking fast pictures, and limiting sessions despite the disappointment. We just can’t overshadow childhood with dumb technology! Time to get outside and play!

But sometimes I’ll say yes because it’s easier. Hey! I’m a solo mom. xo


Last weekend, my sister came over to spend the night and accompany us to the pumpkin patch in the morning. E had a mild fever in the night and I woke up a little stressed and he woke up with no fever but a little cranky.

In the morning, I couldn’t find anything. There was a specific shirt I wanted E to wear for the pumpkin photo opps and I couldn’t let it go- looked through every stitch of clothing and still couldn’t find it. The last time I saw my sunglasses they were in the hands of my friend’s almost-two-year-old running around my apartment the weekend before. And I could find nothing to wear that was nursing friendly and also cute. Frustration was piling up and we were running late to meet friends.

And I noticed something about having people around to help. My sister is so helpful- she anticipates and thinks about taking out trash/recycling and asks what else she can do and washes the dishes after dinner. But when she’s around, I stop doing 100% of everything. And then I feel annoyed when not 100% gets done exactly the way I do it and I start feeling like things are spinning out of control. So extra help, oddly enough, can feel like more work.

It’s famously hard to ask for help, and seemingly more so to hand over part of your to do list. Like maybe just because someone comes over to see me and E they didn’t intend to become my housekeeper! But it feels black and white- when my parents are here, I relax and sit on the couch after work while they serve me cheese and crackers and a beer, because they are doing mostly everything- running the kitchen, going to the store, organizing, etc. but if someone is dividing up the work with me, I am sort of on alert about all of it and it gets half done.

I’ve written before about how this must be a microcosm of what it’s like in a couple only they get a lot more practice (being that it’s a daily balance) and ostensibly find their groove and “own” certain tasks (and/or spend a lifetime fighting about it).

I think I need to better articulate what’s needed and also let it go. But there’s this panic when my sister or my nanny is there, like “I better do x, y, and z in the next ten minutes or I will never ever again get another opportunity.” This feeling started the minute E was born and it inspires efficiency but also isn’t entirely true.

The truth is, it’s easier when I’m in the groove of doing everything myself. More hands are great, as are nights with a built-in babysitter! But transitioning in and out is harder than you would think.

Lest I sound ungrateful: I am so grateful for helpers (and especially sister BaChee)!! Just need to be a better helpee.

Pumpkin patch was stellar although E wasn’t feeling great and it was oppressively hot- he was obsessed with the tractor from the hayride and pretty much nonplussed by everything else. “Truck! Truck!”


Charlie (ta-ee, his buddy)
Chacha (grandpa)
Agua (for a cup of water or Lake Michigan)
Ana (his nanny)
Choo choo
Mom (also mommy or often monny)
Betsy (aunt bah-chi)
Mimi (grandma)
Walk (as in I want to)
Ellie (his cousin: Eye)
Más (more. Mosh)
Poo poo
Bath (bat)
Lani (neighbor Leilani)
Teeth! (Request for tooth brush)
Baby (looking in the mirror)
Four words that sound the same: airplane, open, Evan, and ice cream: “aben”)
Yes! (Only when prompted but we’re working on it- YESH!)
Nose (pointing)
Pan (as in bread)
Lili (or Deedee) and Mone (friends Olivia and Simone)
Mmmmmm (I heard this coming from the pantry when he found the jar of dried cherries)
Di (aunt Diana)
Phone? (Or- Eye? As in- can I see photos of Ellie on your phone? 20 times a day)
Nurse? Nurse! (Nosh)

Language acquisition is the coolest.


All this talk about the brave new world of diblings has me thinking about terminology and how we talk about this to each other, to people who have never heard of our brand of alternative families, and to the kids themselves.

While I was trying to get pregnant, I made it my mission to educate people about Single Moms by Choice. While E was a baby, I felt like I skated through- most if not all people around me know my situation. “By choice” felt clunky and unnecessary, or smug. Also not the right qualifier–I had a baby by choice but I’m not single by choice (most of us would have preferred a partner). I introduced myself as just a single mom. Later I might say, “I chose to have him on my own.”

Now that he’s here, and will increasingly overhear me and eventually will know what I’m talking about, I’m feeling best about introducing myself as a solo mom. In a sea of imperfect options, solo mom feels most comfy. We have a lot in common with single (i.e. divorced) moms but their issues are different- mostly around dealing with the ex. They also quite often have a co-parent, or at least an adult who takes care of the kids occasionally and, if they’re lucky, helps shoulder the financial burden. “Single” refers to marital status only- there are two parents.

“Solo” to me means that you’re really doing this alone, or without a partner. Flying solo implies (doesn’t it?) a choice in the matter. It’s thrilling and risky and in the end you get all the blame and all the glory. It fits. Luckily, that’s how I named this blog 3.5 years ago- how did I know???

The other new terminology I love I got from my friend C who got it from a solo mom she works with who has an older kid. It’s the answer to the question “Where/who is E’s dad?” The answer is not the tragic and shocking, “E doesn’t have a dad.” Which is what I told my four-year-old niece when she asked. (I went on to explain about a nice man who helped me have a baby, which was totally over her head and unnecessary. We don’t always get it right the first time!)

The right answer is, “OUR FAMILY doesn’t have a dad.” We are in this together. Neither of us have the guy who would be his dad- we didn’t have him and lose him. There are all types of families. Ours has a Mommy, two aunts, an uncle, a Mimi, a Chacha, two cousins, and as many friends and honorary aunts and uncles as we want to throw in. We have lots of love. I love this answer. Me and E go solo, together.

The dibling extravaganza has begun! We’ve been trading photos and info and it’s really exciting. There’s definitely resemblance among the kids and plans to get together- one kid lives just across the Golden Gate Bridge! How fun is that.

Thanks for accompanying me home, kiddos. Have a great weekend. xo


The system is working: this morning my phone alarm went off at 8:50am with the reminder “SIERRA”- which is what I call my car. I moved her from her Thursday spot to a Tuesday spot and reset my alarm even though I know I’ll drive over the weekend- I need to err on the side of being anal.

It’s sprinkling and chilly this morning. I’ve found myself moody this week- content on Monday, foggy and insecure in Tuesday. What will today bring? Today my motto is “Be kind to everyone and especially yourself.”

Last week, I joined the Donor Sibling Registry. It’s a site where families with donor kids can connect with their kids’ donor siblings, or “diblings,” meaning that the kids share half their genetics. Whereas I’m happy to remain disconnected from McPiercy himself for all kinds of reasons, I welcome the opportunity to meet E’s diblings and their families- it just seems like opening up more possibilities for love and community! And, if we don’t click for whatever reason, that’s ok- we just move on, there’s no obligation.

So I registered last week on the DSR (and paid the $75 membership fee- it’s a nonprofit run by a family with donor kids who wanted to connect) and saw that there were several other families listed with McPiercy’s donor number listed. They all had nice posts about being open to being contacted. I emailed them all.

I was excited but it also felt low stakes. Nothing for a few days and then yesterday my first hit! R, mom of 2 boys (5and 3) in LA emailed me a friendly message and let me know that (YAY) there’s a secret Facebook page for four families with 3 girls and 2 boys (now 3 and 3 including E!)! I’d heard from SMC friends about the FB page phenomenon and I’m so happy there’s one for us!

Now I’m just standing by waiting to be connected to the group. This will be fun.

A few photos of adventures with E. Have a beautiful day! xo




I can’t believe how well it’s going with meal planning, something I literally never did before becoming a mom.

Once every 7-10 days, I sit down with my computer after E is sleeping and place my Amazon Fresh order. I start with staples by quickly clicking through past purchases. Then I find 3 recipes to make for the week. Either I find them buried somewhere in my gmail or I search for something specific on sites like www.yummytoddlerfood.com or www.momtastic.com or regular recipe sites or my sister D’s resources for meal planning. I order the ingredients I need for those 3 meals. I copy/paste the recipe into an email that I send to myself, starring it so it stays at the top of my inbox until I make it.

I do some cooking at night, some things are simple that I can make after work, some go in the crockpot in the morning (today’s meal is cooking as we speak: Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili)

We’ve been eating well, spending less money, having leftover night with downstairs neighbor L, and E’s lunches look like this:

bento1 bento2 bento3 bento4

I take pictures because I’m proud and I can’t believe I made them. I bought the bento box for myself as a practical lunch container to run with but quickly found that this can’t contain enough food to keep me full, so it became E’s.

So here’s the down side and I believe this to be directly correlated. I keep getting parking tickets. In my neighborhood, there is typically street cleaning once a week. If you’re parked there during the (2-hour) street cleaning window, you are fined $68. This is happening to me way too often. I keep thinking “that’s the last one! Now I’ll really pay attention!” And then I do something like move my car a day early to be safe, and put it in a spot that is cleaned once every 2 weeks but since I didn’t check I didn’t realize that it would be that day. As if just by moving it, I’m safe, so my vigilance turns off. I’ll make a strong mental note that my car is good for a week and then less of a mental note when I make an unexpected trip and repark in a new spot. This morning I sucked in my breath as I heard the street cleaner come down my side of the street- E was already at the window watching it glide down the block and swerve around my one lone car.

This is even with my downstairs neighbor looking out for me. Either she has a sixth sense about it or looks out her window a lot. Last night she called and texted but I was asleep at 8:45, in my running clothes, for the night.

I think meal planning has taken over my ability to track my car. I’ve tried setting an alarm. I’ve tried having it be the most important thing to remember each day. I am probably shelling out 2-3 tickets a month. This has got to stop!

Do I set one time aside each day to think about my car? Each morning when I leave for work I confirm its safety or move it? Put a note on my hand? Skywriting? Would this go better if the fine was $1000?

Well, on the bright side, we are eating well. I’ll just have to forge new pathways in my brain. Or whatever brilliant ideas you come up with.

The doctor called to say that the biopsy confirmed his preliminary diagnosis of a branchial cleft cyst! It’s not just good news but overjoying news with a hilarious and comical spin that makes people smile! This ominous anomaly became a vestige of our amphibious past, a nod to evolution, and a clue about my own mystical mermaidhood. I made the doctor laugh going on like this. He did not contradict me when I paraphrased him with, “I have a gill!”

I’ll be scheduling surgery sometime before the end of the year. And now I’ll do my life insurance. Grateful to my gill for helping me get that stuff set up. Thank you for your well wishes along the way.

In other news, yesterday I read one of my favorite articles ever on single moms by choice, about SMCs in Denmark. They are called solomor and the article takes a refreshingly positive view on families like ours. Read it here!

Lots of love to you on this gorgeous Wednesday. xoxoxo


I’ve been so lucky to have the greatest nanny ever for almost a year now. She’s warm, professional, unflappable, and 100% reliable. She speaks only Spanish to E (and me, which has really improved my Spanish) and she loves E and he loves her. And she picks him up in the morning to go to the other family- priceless.

The other family has been mostly great- a ten-minute walk through a beautiful neighborhood. They have a newly-remodeled house, lots of toys, even outdoor space, and they are close to Golden Gate Park. Their son is 6 months older and has been a great buddy for E (E’s first word was this boy’s name).

Clearly, though, these types of arrangements fluctuate with changing circumstances and pretty much all of theirs are changing, including: a new baby any day now, many classes for their older boy (including some preschool), maternity leave, and then a possible job change or simply not going back to work for her or maybe three days a week- many question marks about how this goes forward.

Child care can be so reassuringly regular or so so very stressful. Through winter colds and last-minute changes, I’ve struggled at times with my frustration with the other mom (we are so different) whereas I feel like the care is awesome. Now that everything is kind of getting thrown in the air, it’s a new kind of crazy stress- wondering if E will still get full attention while the nanny and the mom seemingly juggle three, plus chauffeuring the older boy to classes, plus I would really prefer to share 5 days a week, not the current 4.

I’ve always known that these situations are, by necessity, fluid, but once you’re in and settled and you love your nanny, contemplating a change feels impossible. Yet the situation has gotten so complicated. I crave a 5-day family and the simplicity that comes with that, yet what will I be giving up?

I went to preschool preview night last week- it was exciting! Spanish immersion programs, Montessori, close proximity, financial aid! Some start at 2, most between 2-3. I was not planning to send him next fall but now I don’t know.

My co-worker who has a boy just a little older than E has been through the ringer this year with nannies. They are on nanny #4 in as many months. A cautionary tale…

Yet perhaps if I relax and trust and have faith, the perfect scenario will present itself. Meanwhile, the nanny sends me photos like this during the day- the kids are all right. They’re having a blast, actually!






Saturday night, typing from the couch!

To pick up where I left off about my health scare- after an ultrasound and an MRI, the mass on the side of my neck appeared not to be malignant, based on the radiology reports, big relief. Going into my appointment, on Friday, I was very much looking forward to speaking with a live specialist and getting some real information about what this thing was instead of what it wasn’t.

Well, the doctor positively burst into the room and said he was excited to see me. That he’d read the reports and couldn’t wait to get the images, which he had now seen. I asked if I was some kind of special case and he said we’d just start by taking a  look.

He did an ultrasound and showed me that the mass has fluid in it (I could see that) and also pointed out that while the report said the mass was “vascularized,” it also said that it didn’t change with contrast. All of this to say, the report contradicted itself and it seems to be a cyst. Which I think made it less exciting to him but a relief to me, since cysts aren’t usually scary things.

He did a biopsy (not pleasant but not too terrible) and said that there was clear fluid coming out, which would be consistent with his diagnosis of a cyst. Also, there was no blood, leading one to believe it was not vascularized. Now here’s the crazy part:

Pending the results of the biopsy, he is predicting that this is a “congenital branchial cleft cyst.” What is that, you ask? Well, to explain this condition, we have to go back to when we were two-week-old embryos, when we were more like fish than humans. When we had gills, or at least the beginnings of gills. This is the moment that the gills “obliterate” or seal shut. In some cases, though, the seal is incomplete, and a pocket forms. A cyst is there at birth and eventually can enlarge due to an upper respiratory infection (which is what happened to me). It’s more or less harmless yet could be prone to infection.

So, my friends, this turned out to be a problem with my gill. I asked the doctor if I should blame my mom and he laughed. Two weeks is very early- I mean, maybe one extra cocktail and boom! My gill doesn’t seal.

When I got home, I started considering the possible symbolism around this. If I have this removed (likely, if that’s the diagnosis), will I then and only then become a full-fledged mammal? Will I experience some level of rebirth as a non-reptile? Will I have to re-learn how to swim?

I started googling, “branchial cleft cyst poetry” and “branchial cleft cyst spirituality,” thinking for sure there must be something along these lines. It’s just too surreal. There was nothing. I would own this literary niche.

After all my stress about this being something super serious, I find this to a be a downright friendly diagnosis and I am grateful. I don’t yet fully understand why this, why now, and maybe never will, but I’ll meditate on it. And if it turns out to be something completely different next week, you will be kept apprised..

Meanwhile, I’m back on the best case scenario track while E, with no appreciation for any of the above, has become Mr. Contrarian this week, fully exercising his use of the word No. We are working on Yes, which sounds like “Jesh,” but it doesn’t get nearly the airtime or level of passion. Diaper changes, clothes on, clothes off, stroller, car seat, close to everything is not what he wanted.  It reminds me of this video: Charlotte No No No

It’s part of the drill! Gracias a dios.

More to write, but I’ll save some for Tuesday on the bus.


This seems like a Tuesday thing! Back on the bus. Thanks to the long weekend plus a professional cleaning of my apartment, I am rested, organized, and on the bus 15 minutes earlier than usual.

After a few years of no coffee, I feel myself inching back. I gave it up during the ttc process, kept on without it while pregnant, then it just seemed hazardous and time-consuming with a newborn. But I’ve found myself getting the occasional decaf latte as a treat, then once a week, then twice a week, etc. Then a regular latte. Then a regular drip coffee to save money. Now it’s like every other day.

There’s no reason not to- probably fine or even good for one’s health in moderation. I do like the feeling of being not-addicted and waking up naturally, and also feel like I save piles of money by not purchasing it. But right now I’m so looking forward to stepping off the bus and purchasing that small regular with room for cream. I think it’s $1.79. We all need our thing.

It was a fantastic hot summer weekend during which E and I were not separated for 3 days. I only felt it once the nanny picked him up this morning and I felt the peace of not being on. I needed a break and as a working mom I do now understand the Thank God It’s Monday phenomenon. I also saw a meme over the weekend that was a woman poolside with a frantic expression on her face, it said, “I was looking forward to relaxing this weekend, and then I remembered: I’m a mom!!!”

The theme of the weekend was great food, old friends, and water. M came over Friday night for pulled pork tacos (a slow cooker recipe I will have to post because it was so easy and so so delicious) and catching up after E’s bedtime. On Sat, lunch with sweet baby O and his parents. Then: pool party with the MI crew. Of course, I was too busy following E to catch up with anyone for real- he was in the pool, out, in, out, and his little silken feet slipped so easily on the poolside surface that I felt I should not let go of his hand. He is exuberant around water and even after changing back into clothes would have walked straight off the edge. He watches the older kids with ravenous curiosity. We had amazing bbq. We were both completely wiped out at 8pm and my back was tweaked (thankfully is better now).

Sunday was brunch with C and C–we walked through the Presidio at a leisurely relaxed pace. 3-day weekends do this- no need to rush. Monday I took E to the beach. I think it’s like going to church for him. At one point I let go to see what he’d do and he put both arms up and started walking straight in. Hallelujah, water!

Now he wakes up in the morning and says, Mom. Truck. Book! Doggie. Agua. And: beach.

In the early morning sunlight, I snuggle him and say- it’s going to be a great day.




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 262 other followers





Join SMC Now!



Blog Stats

  • 62,417 hits

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 262 other followers