screen time

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



helpful help

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