Dad was showing Stella an episode of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The guest was Robert Irwin, who brought several animals on stage. Stella’s favorite was watching the beaver eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Jimmy’s desk.

Dad: “Look at that beaver eating a sandwich!”

Stella: “Yeah! But he doesn’t even have a plate. He’s getting crumbs everywhere!” ___________________________________________________________________________________________

Mom: “Stella, please take off my shoes and put them away.”

Stella: “I’m just borrowing them!”

Mom: “But I asked you to take them off.”

Stella: “Well, I want them ON!”

Mom: Sigh. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Stella has been watching The Great British Baking Show again…

Stella [talking to herself]: “Now add strong flour and caster sugar and liquid cream, then mustard…mix it together…My Genoise sponge is beautiful, nice and golden!”

Stella: “Look! It’s Holy Poly and Mary Berry!”

* “Holy Poly” is Paul Hollywood… ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Mom: “Stella, come take a bath!”

Stella: “No!”

Mom: “Why not?”

Stella: “Because I’ll smell like dogs’ droppings and the witches will get me!”

We’ve been reading Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES. A very important part of the story is that witches think clean children smell like dog poop…



Stella: “Mom, can you kill a person?”


Stella: “Yeah, with the jawbone of a donkey?”

Mom: “Oh, like Samson? No. I’m not as strong as Samson.”

Stella: “Oh. Ok.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

We were talking about how President Monson had passed away and watching the video tribute of the prophet’s life on lds.org. When his wife, Francis, was mentioned, Stella frowned and said, “Francis is a badger.”

Mom: “Yes, but this was a different Francis. Not the Francis who only eats bread and jam…” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Stella was playing with clay, cutting it into lumps with scissors and creating mish mashed juxtapositions of various blobs.

Mom: “Stella, what are you doing?”

Stella: “I’m playing Nehor vs. Gideon. And these are the Lamanites.”



While we were at Granny and Grandpa’s house over Christmas break, Stella was taking a bath (under Granny’s supervision) with the Little People, Dora the Explorer, the Marina, and a large plastic pig. At one point, we are told, Stella turned the Marina upside down, making it a floating platform for a macabre display: she lined up the Little people and Dora in a semicircle around the pig.

Granny: “What are you doing?”

Stella: “I’m sacrificing a pig!” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

We were in a hurry to get everyone dressed and out the door to wherever we were going when Stella ran into our room, dressed in her doctor coat and waving her syringes and otoscope in Jesse’s face, and said, “Dad, can I just take out your appendix real quick?”

So Jesse had to drop what he was doing and lie down on the bed while Dr. Stella administered anesthesia. She got so caught up in taking his temperature that she forgot to remove his appendix. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

At bedtime while reading stories…

Jesse: “Come on, we’re going to read the Billy Goats Gruff.”

Stella: “It’s the Three Billy Goats Gruff, Dad.”

Jesse: “Oh, ok, you’re right.”

[After the part where the biggest goat crosses the bridge and charges at the troll, the force of the crash sends the troll flying off the page]

Stella: “The troll went flying into the forest and the Lamanites ate him!”

Jesse: “Are you sure?”

Stella: “Yeah!”

It’s a wonderful life

It’s a wonderful life

Dear Stella and Sophie and unnamed baby brother,

These are the kinds of things my Facebook friends post on New Year’s Eve:

“This year has simultaneously been the most sad and beautiful I’ve ever experienced. The lows have taught me to see the good moments with more gratitude and joy than ever before. I laughed and cried with my wonderful husband, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of frolicking through a fields of lavender, I ran through the streets of Paris in ballgowns with friends drinking rose and taking pictures, I squished into a euro van with five wonderful friends and road-tripped through Spain and France, I cliff jumped into a glacial waterfall, hiked gorgeous mountains, grew a garden so epic i didn’t have to buy produce for 5 months, fed and snuggled baby goats and baby humans, made new friends that I now count as family, had the most amazing adventures with old friends and grew our family by one very fluffy member. I’m so grateful for everything this year has given and taught me in the midst of great sorrow and welcome a new year of challenges and joys the new one will bring.”

Here’s my recap of 2017. After reading, tell me who had the better year…

This year was exhausting. The antics of an almost three-year-old Stella, and a three-year-old Stella have taught me to appreciate ice cream. Specifically hiding in the kitchen to momentarily silence the Guilty Mom voices in my head with heaping spoonfuls of Cookies and Cream while Stella was otherwise occupied by stress-inducing activities, SUCH AS unraveling toilet paper from the roll at an alarming rate, OR drawing goatees on her chin with permanent marker, OR cutting all my oil pastels in half with scissors… I cried and screamed into pillows, I tiptoed around minefields of goose poop that litter the grass of my daughters’ favorite public park, I ran to Safeway at 6:30am because the night before, I forgot to buy Stella a sugar free treat to share with kids at school on her birthday; I squished into a San Francisco bound train car on BART with my infant and toddler (plus an overflowing diaper bag and a bulky 30 lb stroller that doesn’t maneuver conveniently in any circumstance whatsoever) and some mentally unstable vagrants who attempted to read my future with tarot cards; I dove into the shallow end of our apartment complex swimming pool to retrieve the flip flops and dry towels Stella tossed into the pool on purpose (along with dirt clods from the nearby planter boxes), endured a hike down a barren, rocky mountain carrying a 22-pound Sophie while a whiny Stella refused to walk by herself unless I recounted the story of Abinadai burning at the stake, grew a third eyebrow (pretty much) because I neglected routine hygienic tasks like eyebrow plucking (who has time for that?!), fed and snuggled small humans after they vomited on me during a five hour car ride home, made new friends (i.e. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry via binge watching all four seasons of The Great British Baking Show on Netflix) that I talk to aloud during occasional spells of delirium induced by sleep deprivation, had the most harrowing email exchanges with the editor of THE MAGIC HOUR who requested major last minute revisions to multiple spreads only days before Christmas. I’m grateful for mostly everything 2017 has offered and welcome a new year of blissfully undisturbed restful slumber, since Stella and Sophie now share a room and wake us up at 6:00 am instead of periodically throughout the night. Oh wait, I’m having another baby in eight weeks. Nevermind.



Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017

2017-11-23 Family [1]

After Jesse graduated from the Yale School of Management in May 2016, we left New Haven and ended up in Lafayette, CA. Jesse now works for the Kaiser Permanente Headquarters in Oakland. He is a “Senior Strategy Consultant on the Strategic Market Planning & Execution team” (that means he makes lots of power point presentations for Very Important People and gets to help decide how much insurance will cost and often eats catered lunch while wearing a suit). His top achievements of 2017: building a sand table for Stella; convincing Sophie to allow him to hold her for more than six seconds; and listening to the entire Harry Potter series during his morning commute (it only took six months).

Sarita had a baby named Sophie in September 2016 and has spent the last year trying to figure out how to be a mother of two squirmy girls (that means she makes lots of homemade play dough and treads carefully through the minefield of plastic dinosaurs and Legos that is the living room and usually eats leftovers for lunch while wearing the same sweatpants she has worn the previous six days). In October, she finished illustrating DADDY, ME, and the MAGIC HOUR by Laura Krauss Melmed (Sky Pony Press, May 2018). Her top achievement of 2017: that one time in June or July when the apartment was clean and the laundry basket was empty and she made dinner.

Stella is three, but looks like she’s five and a half. Her response to everything is, “NO, right NOW!” When she’s not making unreasonable demands, she’s playing “Dr. Stella” (i.e., drilling holes in all her patient’s teeth, courtesy of the Play-Doh Doctor Drill ‘n Fill dentist toy. She appropriately dubbed her patient, Mr. Unlucky). She also enjoys drawing and writing with markers, cooking, cutting up catalogs into confetti sized pieces, eating marshmallows, and saying words like “minuscule.” Thanks to Stella, our reptilian friends from the Mesozoic Era no longer face the sartorial dilemma of roaming the earth unclothed. Her top achievement of 2017: handcrafting felt underwear for her dinosaur figurines after reading DINOSAURS LOVE UNDERPANTS. If you ask her why she’s so good at making dinosaur undies, she’ll say, “Because I have dexterity.”

Sophie turned 1 in September. We do zhua zhou around here, or the Chinese first birthday celebration. It’s a dynastic tradition in which babies are offered an array of symbolic objects and they choose one or two without being prompted. Their choice supposedly indicates a future lifestyle or occupation. Sophie chose the cupcake. Cake = ability to enjoy life’s pleasures. According to Sophie, life’s pleasures are live animals (especially dogs and squirrels) and any and all stuffed animals. Her other interests are poking holes in things, flushing the toilet (but only when it’s empty), playing a friendly game of “Throw the muffin on the floor,” and snuggling. She tricked everyone into thinking she would be a mellow baby with no sense of humor, but she has proven to be just as lively and easily amused as Stella, with the added bonus of being an even more adept climber. Every day her parents have to rearrange the furniture so she doesn’t die.

Happy 2018!

Love , Jesse, Sarita, Stella, Sophie & baby brother (due 2/26)



We bought onions at the store this week…

Mom: “Where’s my onion?”

Stella: “It’s hiding.”

Mom: “I need it for the soup.”

Stella: “No. I hid it so you won’t kill it. It’s my baby.”

I found it a few days later. She had stuffed it into her desk. I think someone has been reading SOPHIE’S SQUASH again… ____________________________________________________________________________________________

This week we also made an advent calendar out of burlap pockets trimmed with glittery ribbon. Stella inspected one of the finished pieces and said, “Mom, these are magnificent pockets!” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

One of our illustrated Bible story books, in the chapter on Moses, says that God smote Egypt with maggots. That was news to all of us:

Stella: “What’s maggots?”

Mom: “They’re larvae, or immature bugs, and they live in rotten meat, and later they turn into flies. They’re really gross. They look like this…” [as I pull up a picture on Google images….ugh, why did I do that?!]

Stella: “Oh look, they’re minuscule worms.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Stella helped me make a bingo board for my primary class. The pictures we placed on the squares were all related to stories of living prophets: Daniel, Samuel, Noah, Abinadai, Moses, Joseph Smith, President Monson. We needed to fill one last square and weren’t sure what picture to place there, so I said:

“Maybe something from the story of Moses. What should we put here?”

Stella: “How about boils? Can we put boils right there?”

Mom: “Eew, no!”






While Dad was trying to work on his computer, Stella couldn’t resist needling him to the point of frustration, when he said, “PLEASE! STOP!”

Stella said dejectedly, “Don’t yell at me. You shouldn’t yell at little kids!”

We laughed.  ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Mom told Stella to put something away in her room and come out after closing the bedroom door. Stella disappeared and didn’t come back. After a while, Mom said, “Stella! What are you doing in there? Stop plotting and come out!”

Stella: “MOM! I’m not plotting like Laman and Lemuel!” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

While telling the story of Jonah and the Whale for the first time:

Mom: “…And Jonah sailed as far away from Ninevah as he could, in the opposite direction. He was trying to run away from God, but God got upset and threatened Jonah’s boat with a big, terrible storm. The people on the boat were angry with Jonah and tossed him overboard. Then he got swallowed by a giant [dramatic pause]…what do you think swallowed him?”

Stella: “Um…I think it was a shark!” ____________________________________________________________________________________________