A tiny french twist

Amelie has been rocking her mullet for quite some time now.    It is cute and all but I am getting anxious to actually do something with it.  While playing with her hair as we were brushing our teeth one morning, I discovered I can actually pin it up into a french twist.   Huh.  Turned out to be as simple as making a pony tail and only took one bobby pin.    This is exciting to me because I was never really able to do this myself as a kid, or even adult for that matter.  You see,  I had no hair until I was like, 3.   No, really.   We were toe head babies (white hair) and  just rocked a “glow” for the first year.   After that it was sort of like a muppet thing going on.  Second…well it pretty much goes back to the first.  I didn’t have much hair so I never tried anything creative, including braids.

 The Baby French Twist

It really isn’t a superficial thing at all.  I completely enjoy all our Mother / Daughter moments, and playing with her hair is definitely one of them.   My Daycare provider likes to joke about how her hair will be destroyed by breakfast, but she is completely missing the point.   It is my time with her before work, and even though I may be rushing through everything to get myself ready,  I slow it all down when it comes to Amelie’s turn.   It is the best time to talk to her,  giggle, teach her how to do things, tickle and laugh.   It is part of our morning ritual and I never skip through it.

Cartoons.   Juice.   Dress.   Brush Teeth.   Lotion.   Hair.  And hugs.

After her hair and when we are ready to go, I pick her up off the bathroom counter top and we look in the mirror.   For that moment I am not behind a camera,  looking at her picture on my phone,  or watching someone hold her.   But actually looking right at us.   Together.  Uninterrupted.  Cheek to cheek.  And I see me.  I mean I can actually see me in her face as she has it pressed up against mine, and we are smiling at ourselves.   That moment I am reminded, she really is mine.  That I love getting her ready.   And that I am having the time of my life doing it.

It is better than a cup of coffee to get the spirit pumped.


So what does Nelson do exactly?


Sometimes he explains it to me and I nod my head while hearing terms like P&IDs, pneumatic controls, electrical design, biochar,  automation, proprietary catalysts, green fuels, , carbon capture, biomass fractionator, thermo-mechanical processes…and so on.  Ummmm…Yeah exactly.  When it comes to this question I have a hard time providing a simple answer.   Here is the official status; Nelson is an Electro-mechanical technician with a company called Cool Planet Bio Fuels based out of Camarillo Ca,  who is a private research and development company specializing in clean energy technologies.   The are backed by the likes of GE, Exelon, Conoco Phillips, Google Ventures, BP to name a few and just closed their fourth round of funding at $100 Million for the next quarter.

Basically they convert biomass into biofuel, or as Cool Planet puts it:

A technology company that is developing sustainable products to address three of the world’s largest markets: energy, food and water

  • Biomass Pyrolysis: Biomass is processed through a mechanical system that uses pressure and heat to create streams of useful hydrocarbon components. Cool Planet’s sources of biomass include corn stover, wood chips, and fast growing, non-food energy crops such as miscanthus.
  • Catalytic Conversion: Cool Planet has developed a number of proprietary catalytic conversion processes to convert these useful hydrocarbon components into different types of fuels. One of our catalytic conversion processes creates a high-octane gasoline blend stock that can be used in today’s standard automobiles requiring no change to existing conventional fuel distribution systems.
  • Carbon Capture: Once the useful components for fuel have been removed, the biofractionation captures the leftover plant matter in a solid carbon form called biochar. This excess carbon is highly porous and has beneficial water and nutrient retaining capabilities. By creating renewable fuel and sequestering the biochar in the ground as soil enhancer, we permanently remove atmospheric CO2 for hundreds of years.

Due to the company’s patented technology and biochar products, our green fuels have the capability to be carbon negative, beating the carbon footprints of electric and natural gas alternatives.

So to recap biomass is converted into fuels and the excess material is harnessed in the form of solid carbon and converted to biochar which is used as a soil enhancer to fertilize and produce more energy crops that are harvested to repeat the cycle. 


For more information about Cool Planet BioFuels and animated video on the carbon negative process click here

I thought I would share some images of the massive technology they build as it is the best way to illustrate his work.   It all beings with a concept, which is put onto a blue print, and Nelson then builds..   At this point the company operates on 12 hour runs back to back testing production in order to refine the process and produce fuel.  Nelson is now on call as the technician who builds, troubleshoots, and if it breaks, he fixes it.  Its a bit of pressure on him but he is up for the challenge.  What you see here is what he built, with the exception of the green / blue structure which was built in Canada.


This massive structure is one half of its entire form.  The other half being what you see above, which Nelson built (per concept and design of an entire engineering team)


My Biggest Scare as a Parent

scared-momThat moment when you realized you have failed.  Miserably.  You have just made the biggest mistake and in that instant you can never take it back.  Ever.  I know it is typical, in fact almost ritual in its own right of passage in motherhood to make these mistakes, so why does it still feel so unacceptable?

A fall.  A lost child.  An unlocked cabinet.

You have one of two outcomes. A close call and you live to parent another day.  Or the unimaginable.  Most often, they become nothing more than lessons in life and even a comedic story to laugh about years later.   For me it was a close call, but I’m not laughing yet.

I had been home sick for two days.  The laying in bed 24 hours with the exception of a shower kind of sick.  By the 48th hour I’m feeling strong enough to pick up Amelie early from DayCare to play outside in this gorgeous 85 degree winter weather.  I still wasn’t feeling well, but I wanted to be with Amelie.

After daycare we made a stop at the grocery store.  My husband had taken the reigns of the household while I was incapacitated, and I figured I could make a nice gesture by picking up some needed items and a few goodies for him.  Good thing it is the thought that counts because just after making it past the produce section I immediately regretted my decision.  Still, we were here so I made it quick.   Nelson will be home soon, he can bring the groceries in from the car.   Wait.  Milk, eggs, and fresh fruit.  Damn it.

I brought Amelie inside, so I could grab the groceries I needed and left the front door open so I could hear her inside.  I figured she may come out to the walkway as she often does, which leads directly to me.    Let’s see….this bag…uuuuh this one…oh and the guava!   Done.  I walk back inside, throw the bags down on the counter and immediately start scanning.

No sign of Amelie.

I circle around the main area of the house…no Amelie.  I check the bathroom…her room…her favorite spots in my room, my bathroom.

No sign of Amelie.

I run to the backyard and gallop from side to side.  I am panicked.

Now I am realizing…no sound of Amelie.

Omg JFC the front door.  I’m in the very side corner of the back yard and sprint to the front of the house.  Thinking….is she lost in the neighborhood?  Could someone have picked her up?  Have I lost my child from the confines of our own home?

Im running.   I’m calling her.  I’m trying to visually absorb as much surface area as possible with the little red bullseye in the corner of my eye. Beepbeepbeepbeepbeep.   And then BEEEEP!

She is wondering down the middle of the street.  Smack dab in the middle of the road making a bee line towards the cross street a few houses away from me.

AMELIE!  I blew out my lungs.  I sprouted a ducks butt and I flew.  Too bad the Olympics are in Russia because I’m pretty sure I just earned gold.

I made sure to run through the street arms flailing incase any car came around the corner in her direction…they would at least see the crazy lady.    She stopped and was for sure startled.  She was a bit scared and a lot disappointed I abruptly ended her big girl excursion.

You know how your parents were so mad at you for scaring them?  I couldn’t even muster any anger or frustration towards her. I was just so angry with myself.   So so so stupid.  What was I thinking.  I literally left the door on purpose thinking it was better to keep an ear on her.  Instead she managed to slip right past me at the front of the car while I was unloading at the rear.  At least that is the only thing I can figure.  I dunno, I don’t really care.   In the end I left the door open and was inside the house for a few minutes (looking for her all the while) as she walked straight into the street and onwards like a little hobo walking along the train tracks.    She was one house away from the intersection.   It is just an image that will forever be burned in my eyelids.

We sat inside, Amelie non the wiser.  Not a single car passed while I was unloading groceries, while I was looking for Amelie, or for several minutes after we were inside.   Soon after as I sat in silence I could hear the inappropriate speeding of cars passing in the street.   I never paid much attention to them until now.  Now they seemed deafening.   Daddy received a text demanding his presence at home.  He was quite shocked but was more able to laugh at it.  I cried quietly in bed that night.

There are few things you could ever imagine until you experience them.   I’ve had close calls on the road, lost my engagement ring once, even had a close friend go missing.

Nothing compares to the feeling of being a terrified parent.  Nothing.  

Like I said, lesson learned.   We live to parent another day, that much wiser.

The Baby Bikini Debate

How do you feel about the baby bikini?

Summer is fast approaching.  Well maybe not but when you have a little one growing like a bean stock everything is fast approaching.   Darling Daddy has even commented on how excited he is for this year, and all the new things we can do with Amelie this time around since it is our first summer with her being truly active.

So looking ahead at summertime activities and the first thing that comes to mind is swimming at Papa, Abuelos and Grandpa’s pool.  I am immediately shopping for her next bathing suit and come across the most adorable two pieces, or more specifically the Babi-kini..  Yes bikini’s for babies.  But here is the drama, there is a lot of buzz around this tiny two pieces.  I wasn’t quite sure how I felt initially, so I googled a little more, just to see what the opinions were out there and well, you either love them or hate them.  As for those who are the later they have very strong opinions about the exploitation of young children.  Now if you don’t believe me here is one of the more extreme stances I came across

“It is hoped that parents will understand that ‘baby bikinis’ are totally inappropriate and that they contribute to the sexualization and commercialization of childhood. We should not be compromising the sanctity of our children’s early years.”

Images from Babikini.com also featured on Zulily.com

Yikes, that seems a little extreme, in my humble opinion.  After all we are talking about babies here.   Even still it is a bit of a gray area and I am on one side of a very fine line.    I truly don’t see the harm in a baby sporting a bikini at the beach or pool, which is so obviously exaggerated it is plain cute in its ridiculousness.   Lets be real, our babies were in diapers or naked plenty of time in their first 12 months.  Not only that but it is already completely acceptable to adorn our infants and tots in oversized headbands or strings of pears for timeless photo keepsakes.   No one seems to have a problem with that so why would a bikini be much different? After all they are all just props to play up the cuteness, and nothing more.  When I see my child or any other, nothing but adorable and sweet innocence floods my mind.   I cannot say that if I see a one or two-year old in a small two piece that I am envisioning Toddlers Gone Wild.  

But here is the other side of that fine line…once a child becomes a certain young age and even develops a sense of self-awareness then I definitely find it inappropriate and actually cringe a little.   Id say I would be comfortable up to three years old.   After that I couldn’t even fathom putting Amelie in bikinis, or popular dance or pageant competitions complete with fake eyelashes and Mac makeup.  That to me is inappropriate and where I draw the line because at that point it is no longer innocent, but has become provocative.  <insert above quote here>

So to sum it up, I think these little bikinis are totally adorable to an extent, and to me Amelie would be just as sweet as she was wearing nothing but her pink lemonade Tutu on her 1st Birthday party.  With that said, I do have some rules: 1. No slogans, icons or logos on the butt, or top.  2. Full bottom for diaper coverage  3.  She can pull it off for this summer, maaaybe next.

Here are some more conversations on this topic.

So that is my take on it for now.   I am curious as to what my friends, fellow Moms, and peers think.  Do you agree or disagree?

Well, even though the title of this post is clearly Super Bowl, I can’t write much about it because in all honesty I didn’t pay attention to a minute of it.    And that is perfectly fine with me because for one, it was a disappointment of a game, and secondly, I was more interested with three little munchkins reeking havoc.  Now let me explain because my definition of reeking havoc is anything but trouble.  These little ladies played their hearts out painting the windows with colored shaving cream, drawing on the patio with jumbo chalk sticks, singing Lady Gaga on Ameiie’s Hello Kitty Karaoke machine, taking turns rolling on the yoga ball, building forts in the living room, watching Epic on Disney, role playing in Amelie’s kitchen and diving into the bean bin.  Keep in mind this was all in a few hours.

It brought me pure joy just to have a house full of kids laughing and playing in complete content, and even more so to watch Amelie play along side the older girls so peacefully and fully engaged.    I could care less about the mess because to me its all evidence of a good time.   I feel like these girls partied harder than us adults.

Super Bowl is usually at time for socializing, BBQ’ing, drinking, yelling and all that fun free spirited adult stuff.  It has been a strong tradition in my life and was going strong even early on in my pregnancy (minus the drinking of course).   Its so intriguing to me how normal things in your life change when you have kids.  Or maybe change isn’t the right word because I dont want to insinuate they are gone, or things aren’t the same, because that isn’t true.   All those great things, such as super bowl are still thriving, but just modified and if you ask me, are even better now.  I guess I can say it is our role that changes.  Instead of plopping on the couch for 4 hours I am on my toes, or hands and knees keeping up with the little ones.  But it is so much fun.  Its like having the best of both worlds, between hanging with the adults and having great conversations while shoving chips and hot wings in your face…and playing on the floor chasing rug rats as they run circles through the tunnels they built out of blankets and pillows or watching them sing and dance with Lady Gaga.

Im pretty sure that tops any other super bowl party.  It does in my book.  

The Refill Shoppe


Ever transfer contents of one bottle into another, or want your own perfect sent for your hair products or body lotion?   I know a place for that, The Refill Shoppe.  I love this spot.  It is the ultimate example of BYOB, bring your own bottle. 

Interesting enough, I discovered this place on the evening of my bachelorette party where we had a private party after hours.   Throw in some mimosas, a spread of food and cake, and of course scandalous games and it was a blast.

So basically what you do here is bring in your empty container of soap, detergent, lotion or any liquid substance you can think of, and refill it with your product of choice.  The bonus is that you can design any scent your little nose desires using their abundant supply of oils.  So in essence it is a hybrid of recycling and apothecary.    

Here is how it works:

  1. Bring in your empty bottle, or pick one out from their collection
  2. Fill the bottle with the product of your choice
  3. Mix and match oils creating your own scent
  4. Pay per ounce
  5. Enjoy!

oil-roll-on mixing-oils essential-oils-zoom essential-oilslotion-oilsscented-lotion product-bag

Dont have a bottle to recycle? No problem.  They have a very enticing selection of containers from plastic spray bottles to glass spray atomizer.    Personally, I love to collect their decorative bottles and fill it up with yummy smelling stuff.   I have body lotions, roll on oils,perfume, after shave for the hubs in Plum Tea, Violet, Green Tea, Champagne & Ylang Ylang and Amelie has her own lotion scented with Plumeria, Wild Orange, Pomegranate, Coconut Fresh & Mango.   

perfume-atomizer-sprayall-refill-bottlessmall-containers decorative-glass-containers glass-bottles painted-glass-jar refill-bottles

You would think that there are only a handful of items you could actually use, but once you walk in you are overwhelmed with the selection of products including things Ive never seen in any Bath and Body Works or beauty section of my favorite convenient store, like their Pink Himalayan Bath Salts, or Sea Kelp and Aloe Bath Soak

Refillable Products:
Shampoo / Conditioner
Hair serum or spray
Shower gel, bubble bath, hand soap
Body or spray lotion
Face cleaner, astringent or toner
Shave oil and aftershave
Massage oil
Dog shampoo
Dish and dishwasher soap
Kitchen, bath, glass or all purpose cleaner
Laundry detergent, oxy boost, borax
Bath salts, epsom and sea salts
Sea kelp and aloe bath soak
Baby powder, shampoo and bodywash, bubble bath and lotion
Bath bombs
Hand sanitizer
Glitter gel
Hair detangler
Mud mask, facial scrub, acne soak…

soaps rock-soap reusable-bags bath-product-display refill-products cleaner-refill refill-containers refill-powder
kids-play-station magnet-board

And what respectable shop would be complete without a kids corner complete with an endless supply of magnet board, toys, books, and a race car runway.  Amelie happily plopped herself down in this spot while I had a chance to get refill my lotions and oils and choose new combinations of scents.   I love florals and I get to mix my very own potion of Gardenia, Plumeria, Fig and Black Tea.  The Refill Shoppe is an environment friendly retail store that feels more like you are splurging on your favorite spoils.  Ultimately they have refilled close to 10,000 bottles, saving that many from being thrown away and also keeping $ in your pockets since you are only buying the product here and not the packaging every time you need more.


The Refill Shoppe
363 E Main St
Ventura, Ca 93001

Open 10am – 6pm everyday

“God told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but so many of our neighbors are starving to death while our tables are filled with abundance.”

My younger cousin, Ashley Geringer, took a trip to Addis, Ethiopia to visit the Hope for the Hopeless organization on behalf of Ordinary Heroes who advocates for children or families in need.   She blogged about her experience which I found to be a wonderful read.  It was full compassion and a hefty dose of reality but because I couldn’t be able to explain it myself, I just suggest you read for yourself.    I was truly inspired by the message that every child needs a hero, and every hero can be one of us.

Ashley In Africa