Thursday, December 19, 2013

From the Norwindians to YOU!

Happiest of holidays to you and yours. Please enjoy this blurry version of our Christmas card. Photos by the amazing Blue Lily Photography.

Hop of over to Meghan's blog for more holiday loveliness.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Beam Me Up

I grew up in a church going family. I was a Sunday-school regular, a member of the choir, a star student in confirmation class, an active member of the youth group. I went to a religious college, on purpose. I was a believer.

Some time after I graduated from college, I lost faith. Lots of events and discussions led up to my fall from grace. That is a story for another day.  I am honestly not sure what I believe right now, at this very point in my life. I do believe there is something more for our souls than what we experience here on earth in our earthly form.

This past Saturday I attended the memorial service for the younger sister of a very dear friend of mine from high school. She was only 38 years old and her death was unexpected. The service was beautiful, touching, comforting and a perfect celebration of a life cut short.

At the end of the service, everyone was standing on a deck with a gorgeous view of rolling hills and the ocean for a release of doves. Somewhere Over the Rainbow was playing and the sun was shining. Toward the end of the song, a small rainbow appeared through a patch of clouds. There hasn't been rain here since spring.  Whoa.

As I was driving home I plugged my iPhone into the car stereo and hit shuffle on my music collection. This is the song that came on:


Whoa. Whoa.

I am not a church-going, God-fearing believer any longer. But I am a believer in...  something.

Monday, May 6, 2013

By The Numbers

Me, my sister and co-producer and our mom at Listen To Your Mother San Francisco Rehearsal.

24 cities hosting Listen To Your Mother shows in 2013

300+  women (and men) will tell their stories of motherhood on stages across the United States

10 percent of ticket sales for the San Francisco show will be donated to Help A Mother Out

14 women who have touched our hearts and surely will touch yours on May 12th at the Kanbar Theater in the San Francisco JCC at the 2nd Annual San Francisco Listen To Your Mother Show (get your tickets today!)

Please join us on May 12th as we give these brave women a microphone in celebration of Mother's Day!

Polly Pagenhart, author of the blog Lesbian Dad and Editor-In-Chief of Lesbian Family. Polly has a way of making you feel like she is your best friend the moment you meet her.

Molly Ditmore, author of a personal style blog and was once voted Least Likely To Have Children. She will delight at this year's show with her story of Mother's Group emails.

Lizz Porter, is most definitely a funny girl. Lizz is also talented photographer. Her photos of her beloved son capture his personality plus. We are certain her story of his first days will touch your hearts like it has ours. Read her rehearsal recap here.

Nancy Davis Kho, fantastic writer of the blog Midlife Mixtape which features stories of music, her two daughters, work as well as her childhood family. Everyone will relate to her as she pays homage to all the women who mothered her. Don't miss her rehearsal recap here.

Michelle Cruz Gonzales, a writer, teacher, mother, wife and the author of the a memoir, Pretty Bold For a Mexican Girl: Growing Up Chicana in a Hick Town. She once played the drums in a feminist band called Spitboy. Her story of one of her gigs will make you fall in love with her and her son. Read her thoughts on LTYM here.

Jennifer Bush, blogs about her life with her four year old daughter and five year old son, who is on the autism spectrum, at Anybody Want A Peanut? Her touching story will leave the audience thinking, yes, me too! Be sure to read her rehearsal recap here.

Yuliya Patsay, the author of She Suggests where she chronicles her days as a "wife of an android terminally unhip mama to one." Yuliya will charm you with her tale of her relationship with her mother.

Debra Amador DeLaRosa, one of those rare souls who seems to truly listen when others speak and who we liked the moment she walked into the audition room. She will touch your soul with her definition of what is real.

Sarah Margolis Pearce, blogs at atthespeedofwrite and is currently working on her first novel. This mother of two almost had us convinced to dedicate our show to a long dead pet rat. You will be giggling about her story for days after the show.

Gina Valley, provides daily laughs at, the glamorous life a modern day soccer mom. Her story captures the essence of day to day mothering and every parent in the room will be thinking, "me too!!"

Jennifer Davis, writes her stories at Unskilled Perfectionist. Jennifer will leave you wishing you lived next door to her and you had her on hand to write letters to your children on behalf of the Tooth Fairy.

Eanlai Cronin, a memoirist, retired teacher, Irish national and survivor of chronic illness. Eanlai will burst your heart open with her powerful story. The audience will be rushing to read her recently completed memoir, GIRL IN IRISH, which chronicles the early years of her life in rural southwest Ireland.

Stefania Pomponi, a fierce, entrepreneurial woman. Stefania is Co-Founder/President and Chief Evangelist of Clever Girls Collective, Inc. She is a gifted writer who tells tales from her heart and her kitchen at CityMama. Her piece will lift you up and remind you that every mother is a hero.

Tarja Parssinen, author of the popular blog, The Flying Chalupa. Tarja might be small in stature, but her humor packs a punch. She will close the show and the audience is guaranteed to leave with a smile. Her thoughts on why she joined the LTYM movement are a must read.

* photo credit to Yuliya Patsay

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Macy's reminder wipe board was hijacked by her little brother:


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ten and A Half

This past August my twin girls, Macy and Avery, turned ten. It felt like a big deal. Such a big deal in fact, that I have had this very article spinning around in my head for six months and just haven't been able to get the thoughts from my head out in any coherent fashion. Since they will be ten and half the end of February, I figured it's a perfect time to reflect on what feels like a transition for them and for me.

Each birthday that rolls around for my children I find myself vacillating between tears and laughter. I ache for the infants I once held until my arms felt like they were going to fall off, and yet I love getting to know the girls they are growing into. Macy and Avery feel very in between to me.  They are still pink bed sheets, stuffed animals, braids and holding my hand. Yet at the same time they are asking to read The Hunger Games, wearing deodorant, borrowing my shoes and rolling their eyes. I find myself acutely aware of their girlhood as I begin to see glimpses of their looming adolescence.

As they make the jump from single digits to double digits with (gasp!) the word teen at the end and I make the jump from mother of little girls to mother of tweens, here are ten and half things I want my daughters to know.

1. Reading is fundamental. You both already have the reading bug and I so enjoy discussing books with you and hearing about what characters you love and why. Reading a variety of books will not only bring you pleasure and allow you to slip away into other worlds, it will make you a more empathetic person, a better citizen and a better communicator.

2. You have a family beyond me, your dad, your sister and your brother. For your 10th birthday we had a big backyard party and I invited not only our extended family but all of our close family friends. Everyone in the backyard that day had a part in getting me and your dad through the first ten years of your life. Some of these people have known me since my childhood, some slept on the floor in the hospital waiting for you to be born. Some of them we've met recently. But no matter how long we've known them, they are all people who love us and who love you. Getting you from birth to 10 has been a roller coaster for me and dad and getting from 10 to 20 will be a roller coaster for you. You may not always want to come to me or your dad for guidance. When that happens, think back to that party and know that you can call any one of those people at any time and they will be there for you.

3. Sports are for girls. I won't go on and on about the benefits of team sports, since you both already know that being part of team is not only fun, but can foster terrific friendships. Always value your body and your physical strength. I love watching you streaking down the soccer field or climbing into the high branches of a tree.

4. Love with abandon. You will learn soon enough that loving someone is a risk. I am not just talking about romantic love, friendship love too. You've already learned that your strong feelings for someone might not always be returned. Don't let that stop you. You will get your heart broken, but I promise you if you never stop loving with your whole heart and putting yourself out there, it will come back to you tenfold.

5. Boys will come and go, but girlfriends are forever. This may seem silly since you are only 10 and it will hopefully be a few more years before you or your friends start spending time with boys. But it will happen. It might be you or it might be your best friend. Someone will get a boyfriend and stop asking you over for sleepovers and it may seem like they don't have time for you anymore. Don't give up on them! You might not believe me, but you are most likely not going to marry a boy you meet before you turn 20. However, there is great value in hanging on to the friendships you form in these coming years. When your friend and her boyfriend break up and she all of sudden wants to spend more time with you again, forgive her and be there for her. She will do the same for you when you break up with your boyfriend.

6. It's OK to disagree. You are old enough to have your own point of view and opinion. Don't pick fights for the sake of it, but don't ever be afraid to give your perspective. You won't always agree with me or your siblings or your friends at school, but your opinion is valid and you should not shy away from expressing it (in a respectful way).

7. Use technology with caution.  Technology and social media are fun. I get that. I have a blog for gosh sakes. Even so, you are growing up in a world that I know little about. When I was a kid, we passed notes and then tossed them in the garbage. Don't post anything, anywhere that you would not be comfortable saying to someone's face. The internet is not private.

8. It's not about you. What I mean is that when people act in a way that hurts or makes you feel insecure, it is almost about something happening inside of them, and not about you. I struggle with this one and I try very hard not to tell you you are being "too sensitive" or to "get over it" when you feel hurt. I know how feelings can slice your heart, even if your head knows otherwise. But maybe, it will help you remember that almost always other people are struggling with their own demons, even if they bump into you by accident.

9. Perfection and popularity are overrated. It's hard during your teen years not to look at others and think they have it all. I know what it's like to look at someone else's life with envy and wonder why they get all the breaks. But having a seemingly perfect life and feeling "popular" is not all it's cracked up to be. There is so much beauty in imperfection and adversity. And there is so much beauty in YOU. Trying to be someone or something else will only bring you heartache.

10. We are on the same team. Shocking as it may seem, I am not perfect. You've never been a teenager before and I've never parented a teenager before. I will make mistakes and there will be moments when you want to scream, "you don't understand!!!!!" and you will be right. I won't understand. But rest assured that no decision I ever make will come from a place other than intense, fierce love for you. I want nothing more than you for to be happy and that means sometimes I need to pull rank and make decisions that you may not like.

10.5. You have each other! Even though I have a sister, I have no idea what it must be like to grow up with a twin. I can't force you to always be friends and I'm sure you will have moments where you wish you didn't have a sister. But, believe me, I know the value of having a sibling that you can call to bitch about how super annoying your mother is, or who will be there for you no matter what. I hope you guys know how lucky you are to have each other.

Time marches on and I can't seem to stop it no matter how hard I try. You keep growing into amazing people right before my eyes. I have a feeling we will all come out on the other side of your teen years in one piece. I will end with the immortal words of Britney Spears, "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman... I'm not a girl, but if you look at me closely, you will see it in my eyes. This girl will always find her way."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Wonder-Twins

They practiced all day and neither one of them could do the cups and sing at the same time, put them together and...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Shake Up The Happiness*

I honestly can't believe that I get to spend my days with these people, I sometimes can't believe my luck. This family, my family, they bring me immeasurable happiness.

We had a great time making this little gift for you and we hope it puts a smile on your face.

Patel Family Christmas 2012 from Kirsten Patel on Vimeo.

*Title credit goes to Train.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Unlikely Candidate

There are lots of things that I am good at. I like to think I am a pretty decent cook. I am a super fast typist.  I do pretty well at xbox kinect soccer. I can make my kids laugh, braid my daughters hair, water ski, make a mojito, lead a book discussion for elementary school kids, paint my own finger nails, organize a closet and start a campfire.

There are also many things I am not so good at. I cannot paint my own toenails. I am a horrible softball player and proof reader. I can't snow ski, help my kids with their math homework, fold laundry in a timely manner, bake a pie or keep plants alive.

At 41 years old, I am well aware of my strengths and weaknesses.

There are many talents I don't possess that I envy in others. Taking decent photographs is a skill I wish I had. I know a good photographer when I see one, but when I look back through my iPhoto archives, I am hard pressed to find a photo that could be considered "high quality." All of my favorite photos of my kids were taken by other people, professional people.

I own a fancy camera and once in a while, I get lucky and take a great shot. I was searching through my photos for an example of one of my lucky shots, but I couldn't find one.  The truth is I don't really carry my fancy camera around with me that often. Most of the time, I snap photos on my iPhone.

I love Instagram and the cool things Hipstamatic can do to a photo. These apps make amateurs like me look like halfway decent photographers.

I also love to admire people who truly do have an eye for photography and the editing skills to back it up. Which is why I love The Pioneer Woman's photography assignment contests.  A couple of weeks ago, she put out the call for mobile phone photos and I remembered a photo I snapped a while back of my daughters ballet class during dress rehearsal for a recital.  Something about they way they were all lined up on the other side of the room in their pink tu-tus made me want to whip out my iPhone and open the Hipstamatic app. My son was pulling at my arm, so I was surprised at how the shot came out.

I entered it in Ree's photo assignment contest and who would have thought, I made the finals. Color me flabbergasted.

Dress Rehearsal

I am the most unlikely candidate, but I sure I am honored to be included in this group of excellent photos.  Be sure to check out the other finalists, they are stunning!