Superhero: Hala and Malala

Today my eight-year old daughter astounded me, and many others, by presenting the story of Malala Yousafzai to her class.

#allhailhala as Malala

She spoke of Malala’s fight to make sure all girls receive an education while noting she was lucky to be in school, talking about Malala.

She spoke of the men who tried to kill Malala for wanting girls to be educated and when parents and students reacted, she told them “can you believe she is still alive and STILL fighting to make sure girls can go to school?”

She has a crowd! I'm surprised by the # of parents  hearing Malala's story for the 1st time

And she told parents, who had never heard the story, that Malala was her superhero and she hopes she can be that brave someday.

2nd graders and their parents asked me, as I stood nearby listening, “how did she know who this was?” and without missing a beat my daughter interrupted the adults,

“I heard it on the news and my Mom told me some, but mostly I saw it on tv.”

Making sure the adults in the room knew I wasn’t the one who pushed her into choosing Malala. In fact, I had offered up many names from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to President Obama. As soon as we discussed Malala, my little one knew exactly who she was doing her research on for her superhero project.

It made me realize, as a blogger, that this big, big world isn’t so big after all. Malala began her claim to fame as a blogger for the BBC and from there my very own daughter learned about her struggles and battle back from the brink of death without fear. It didn’t scare her that this amazing young woman was nearly killed for standing up for what she believes, it pushed her to think about what SHE believes in enough to be shot for.

There have been no nightmares, no questions about bad guys in the Taliban. Simply the fight between good, evil and where girls and women stand in the world.

Like many around the world I want to thank Malala for her bravery and for inspiring an entire generation of young girls who are unafraid to follow in her footsteps to do what is right, no matter the cost.

For Better or Worse

This is the week my husband and I celebrate bringing unconditional love into our lives forever. Love that no one can describe to you, that no one can begin to try to get you to grasp no matter how hard they try. Our children celebrate their birthdays. Two years and six days apart. One a decade old. The other, eight.

Beautiful signs of spring on the way to school

The rest of the country will be watching the United States’ Supreme Court hear arguments on another type of love. A love that can be legalized with the institution of marriage. Something else many find hard to put into words. Many find beyond difficult to explain the overwhelming joy it makes them feel.

My husband and I were married and had our two children. In my mind, we became a family when we declared our love for one another in front of our friends and family and even before that when we became domestic partners in the eyes of the law in order to make sure we could take care of each other in sickness and in health and in any legal matters. This happened BEFORE we were legally married.

Some would say, “…isn’t that enough?”

NO. It’s NOT enough.

Just because we were domestic partners does not mean that we were protected had we left California’s borders and it certainly did not protect us in the rest of the US and it’s territories. To this day, there is no one else I want making decisions for me should I become unable, than my husband. It does not matter why…it’s who I CHOOSE. I CHOOSE him. We are adults and adults should be able to make sure the person they want is allowed in the hospital room with them when they want, makes important legal and medical decisions, and inherits any and all and everything I find necessary-from property to personal items. And if I do not happen to write it down in time, it should be common sense this is the person who is in charge of all these things and GETS all these things. Oh, and by the way, this person also gets full custody of OUR children. The ones born of love.

The ones born into a family made of love.

In a “marriage” that did not include God or a preacher.

It also was not guaranteed to create chidden.

I now have no uterus or ovaries. If you were to ask my husband before hand, there would be no promise this “marriage” would produce children. Apparently my body agreed.

As you can see, I’m knocking down all the reasons many say you must “save traditional marriage” left and right with our family.

We did not have a traditional wedding. We did not have a traditional wedding ceremony. We do not have a traditional marriage, unless you consider “traditional” one that means we love each other and wish to spend the rest of our lives together.

As the country, once again, consumes itself with what “marriage” means in this day and age I only ask that you consider one question: What does family mean?

Our family started in a way many would consider illegal and immoral. Yet here we are, with two beautiful children celebrating birthdays and we’ve stood by each other through every vow repeated to one another long ago.

That’s more than I can say for millions of Americans claiming to be truly “married” while shunning my husband and I, while saying things like “why can’t they just have a civil union and not be married like us” and while trying to convince the country separate can be equal. In fact, I think I’ve heard that before…didn’t turn out too well then either.


My daughter’s teacher approached my husband and I at a school function the other night and told us how much she just loves our little girl.

We beamed, as parents of awesome kids tend to do…

…and then the teacher told us, exactly, why she “just loves” her:

She’s still acts her age, you know? She doesn’t try to act seven going on 17 like the rest of my girls.

If you ask her something fun or silly, she will meow like a cat and scamper away or hop like a bunny.

She plays like little girls at this age should play. She’s still a little girl and I just love that…I wish they all were like that. They SHOULD be.

It was then I think we were even MORE proud.

It is not easy to keep our daughters from worrying about boys, clothing, or how they look in this day and age. I’m glad to know that my husband and I have survived keeping her some-what innocent for a tiny bit longer. I say that with her eighth birthday just around the corner.

What I would give for her kitty meowing days to last forever.

We got a kitty #allhailhala

Miss Teen PWN

I am, by nature, a worrier.

So imagine what I did when this came in the mail:

Miss teen Hala?

Do I show her?

I know when I got the really horrible, everyone got one, scams in the mail about modeling or pay-to-see-your-name in some book of smart kids, it was the sort of thing that boosted my tween or teen self-confidence.

Of course there was no way in hell we’d ever let her do it. So there was no harm in showing her, right?

But then again, we always said we’d support her in whatever she wanted to do so…

…no. No. NO. NO.



Pageants are for girls who are either desperate for money and can only get it because they are pretty or … or… I have no idea. I mean these things are judged on looks, right?

At least that’s what Sandra Bullock taught me. Well, her and Donald Trump.  Walk walk … show them how pretty you are…walk more… show them how pretty you are in different clothes. Walk more. Then answer some crazy question about current events and smile pretty for the boys.

So of course, I showed her and told her what it was all about doing my best to leave my snark behind to genuinely be able to gauge what SHE thought of all this and what SHE thought of a ‘pageant’ … did any of the girls at school do this sort of thing? I mean, we live in a ‘burb of LA, there are many child actors around and at the school and many have headshots and can turn on the cute in order to get a gig. Surely with the popularity of Honey Boo-Boo and Toddlers and Tiaras, there could be a few in her grade, right?

So I showed her and explained and waited for a reaction…

My 7-year old was disturbed by the letter. Grinning and flattered, but disturbed.

Why would they want me for a teen thing? I’m not a teen? And why would I want to do that on a Sunday- that’s when I go horseback riding at the ranch.

Case closed. Whew.

Or so I thought…

What I hadn’t counted on was her brother chiming in. I don’t know why I hadn’t counted on it…he’s always right there with us and NO ONE and I mean NO ONE cares more about his sister than big brother.

Hala, listen to me…I really don’t want you to be famous like that…ok? I’m serious.

Ok Jack, I won’t.

No, really. I mean it. That’s not how you should be famous. You are too smart.

I know I am Jack!

I know you are too.

Suddenly I was the fly on the wall witnessing one of the most touching and amazing exchanging in sibling history.

I wouldn’t do that anyway, ok?

I didn’t say you would. I’m just making sure.

Can you move over now? Because you’re in the way of the game and I can’t see my guy and he’s about to PWN you.

MOM! She just totally blew up my whole new rover I built!

Pauses a beat.

That was kind of cool.

…and all was right with the world.

This morning before school as they begged to skip breakfast in favor of more iPad time

Hi, I’m Erin, And I’m One of THOSE Sports Moms

I had a feeling it was in there. Ready to bubble up to the surface.

The yelling.

The coaching from the sidelines.

The yelling.

The ‘reminders’ of what the real coach wants…you know, things like ‘keep your hands up! And ‘get back on defense!’

Did I mention the yelling?

Then, somewhere during game 1, I realized I was yelling too much but I couldn’t stop.

I vowed I would try harder the next game. I really did. I even promised my MOTHER I would stop yelling so much. And she heard the video I took of the first game. She knows.

Except. Um… Well:

My baby girl scored her first basket. And ANOTHER shortly after that one!

To be fair, I wasn’t quiet before the baskets. In fact, I’m pretty certain other parents were talking about me.

But…BUT…I am never negative. Never. I cheer on the other team too. I just… um… give a bit of direction?

I don’t know what to do short of duct tape over my mouth for the next game. I really don’t.

I played basketball for too long and I want to help her out too much to just SHUT UP. But then again, shutting up is probably what WILL help her most. Maybe.

What? Someone has to tell her to shoot!


Today My Daughter Is At School For Malala

My daughter did not want to get out of bed this morning for school. This is nothing new. It is a scene we play out every single morning.

She rolls around and moans and whines in her bed. I send in the dog to lick her face and rouse her awake.

How @nickythepup wakes up #allhailhala every morning

Except this morning was different. This morning, when she did her usual whine and moan, the dog was laying comfortably next to me on the floor as I rubbed my little girl’s back.

I need you to get out of bed and go to school this morning for Malala.

Grumbles and a slight roll over from the bed.

Hala. I need you to get out of bed today, without any whining, without complaining for Malala.

…and then a grumpy, whiny voice comes from under the blankets.

Mom, what are you talking about, what is Malala.

No. Not WHAT is Malala…WHO is Malala.

Malala is a girl, just like you. She lives in Pakistan. And all she wants to do is go to school and learn. She wants to get out of bed every morning and learn. And the other day, she was coming home from school, and horrible men who think she should NOT be allowed to learn shot her. They shot her because she is a girl who dares to think she deserves an education. She dares to think she is just as smart as boys. She dares to think she should get to read every book and do every math worksheet and write every paper and do every report and learn and learn and learn just like every boy in Pakistan. But some of the people there do not believe that girls should learn. Malala stood up to those bullies. She stood up to the mean, horrible men who believe girls should not be allowed to go to school. And she went to school. So you, you will get out of bed, and you will go to school without one whine, without one moan, without one complaint…because you are lucky to live in a country where you CAN.

Slowly my daughter got out of bed. Looking at me with confusion. She got dressed with me watching, and we went into my room where she brushed her teeth and continued to get herself ready for school. So far, she hadn’t said a word. She was still processing everything I had told her. The silence was deafening.

I wasn’t sure I was going to tell her. She is only seven. A seven-year old should be not burdened by the evil in this world. But she is also old enough to understand that she is extremely fortunate to be able to get an education in a world that still does not treat its females with the respect and reverence it treats its males.

She has noticed this recently. She sees it. She has asked me questions. So when she did not want to get out of bed for school, it seemed only natural I remind her there are thousands of girls who would give anything to be getting out of bed this morning to go to school, possibly none more than Malala.

Finally,  while I brushed her hair, my daughter spoke about what I had said to get her out of bed and moving:

Do you think she’s going to be ok?

Who honey?

The girl, the girl who wants to learn and they hurt…

Oh. I hope so. But I’m not sure. They got her out of Pakistan and she is in England where doctors are working right now to try and help her. I haven’t seen the news yet but I know they got her to a hospital in England.

She has to be ok Mom. She has to be. And those men, the ones that hurt her…they probably won’t get in trouble, will they?

I don’t know honey. They do things differently in that country. It’s not like our country.

I know but, they are men. So they probably won’t get in that much trouble, even if they do get in trouble.

I continued to brush her hair, listening, in awe at how much she understood about a situation I had only given her a fraction of information about. And I answered as best I could without depressing her entirely. It didn’t matter though, she seemed to grasp exactly what was going on, and exactly how dire the situation is for women and girls.

Mom, it used to be like that here, didn’t it?

Well, not exactly. But there was a time when women couldn’t vote and there were only women’s schools- and at a lot of those schools they only taught things like cooking and how to take care of your husband…getting you ready to be a ‘good wife.’

What if I don’t want to be a wife?

Well it’s a good thing that things aren’t like they used to be, then, huh? You can now be anything you want, and you do not have to get married, or you can if you want. It’s up to you.

I’m glad it’s up to me. I want a ranch, and horses, and I might get married or I might not. We’ll see. But I want that girl to be ok Mom. She should come to school here. Why doesn’t she just move here?

Well, it’s not that simple. She wants to make sure girls in her country are treated equally. She could just come here, but she wouldn’t be able to forget about all the other girls still in Pakistan who are scared into saying home from school. Scared into putting down their books. She can’t forget about them, can she?

No. No. But all the girls could come. What if our Army guys went and got all the girls in all the places and brought them here.

But honey, what about their families? They wouldn’t want to leave their families. And they want to change their own countries. They want to change the world.

And I held her face in my hands, and I looked into her eyes.

Do you understand why you need to go to school today. And every single day.

And with a resolve I see ONLY in my daughter, especially when she’s angry, she nodded.

We then went about our usual morning. Breakfast. Shoes. Backpack grabbing…and we headed out the door.

As we left in the car I caught her in my review mirror. She was looking out the window.

Honey, are you ok?

I’m fine Mom. I’m mad.

I’m mad too.

Being a girl shouldn’t be hard.

No, it shouldn’t.

She’s going to be ok, Mom. I know she is.

And the morning continued. She met her friends at the school gate and giggled. And I watched them enter their classroom, iPads in hand, along with toys and books. So many luxuries. So much at their fingertips. She waved goodbye and I waved back. She blew me a kiss and I caught it and put it to my heart. I blew her a kiss back…and she put it on her iPad. And I knew what she meant. That’s where she keeps her books. She took my kiss and in an instant gave it to Malala, and showed me she understood those books on that iPad would be used.

She understood.

Today my daughter is at school for Malala.

Basketball Jones

I’ve never had to hold inside this much excitement in my life.

Go ahead and laugh.

It’s such a small, small deal in the course of things…but I am so, so, so excited I can’t contain myself and I KNOW I am setting myself up for total disappointment here.

You see, my daughter has decided to play basketball. I know, not a big deal, right?


I played basketball. And I don’t mean I played basketball as in- when I was a kid I dabbled in basketball- I mean from about 4th grade on I devoted every summer and fall and winter and I’m pretty sure parts of spring to nothing but basketball practice and games.

By the time I entered high school I had been playing for TWO teams (my public school junior high and the catholic school’s team) and made Varsity as a freshman. And eventually started. As a freshman.

So you get what I mean when I say I played basketball then, right?

There is a pee-wee team just starting out at our tiny little school and I asked my daughter, as casually as I could muster, if she wanted to try it out.

#allhailhala wants to ride today cc: @aaronvest

She said yes.

I made sure.

She said yes.

I gave her every out imaginable.

She still said yes.

Practice starts tomorrow. They play four games total. I’m fairly certain I’m more excited than she is and I’m fairly certain I’m going to have to sit on my hands and put duct tape over my mouth on the bleachers.

Hey…maybe that’s a good strategy for Republicans and my mouth!

Anyway…like I said. Practice starts tomorrow. Wish us luck.

Actually, wish her luck. Wish me Xanax.


I know we joke about it from time to time at our house, but recent events are actually making me consider sending my seven-year old to a convent.

Stop laughing.

Somewhere in Florida my mom is cackling.

As if it weren’t bad enough that my darling daughter was embarrassed to have me take her and pick her up from a friend’s birthday party this past weekend, she also has decided I know NOTHING about fashion, and she knows everything.

I hear this ‘knows everything’ thing gets worse with time, by the way.

You see she actually needed jeans for horseback riding and new boots. So we began the hunt long ago, with me picking out what I thought were some really cute and damn cool boots.

Apparently whatever I think is cute and damn cool is just the opposite.

So she picked out her own, with me zipping my mouth shut tight. Ok, maybe I didn’t zip that tight. I TOLD her the pointy ones would pinch her toes. She didn’t care.

I told her how dusty and dirty the black pair would get while riding on the ranch and wouldn’t  brown make more sense?

…bad move Mom. You know what that wins you? That wins you a daughter who orders EVERYTHING in black.

#allhailhala wants to ride today cc: @aaronvest

Like I said…CONVENT. Anyone know a good one?