Mom’s Junk Trunk

Not for kids, this is MOM stuff!

Mother’s Day Blues & Gold


My Mom’s eyes are a unique shade of brown.  There is shimmer of gold light in them that seems to disappear when you try to look for it….

The first part of this story was written for Mother’s Day in 2010.  It concludes in the present.  This is written from my heart and I thank you for reading.


…this morning Captain practiced with her Dad, and then recited to me, “Happy Mother’s Day Mom… you’re the best mom in the world” and my heart melted onto the floor…

May, 2010

Today is my 3rd Mother’s Day, and what a wonderful day to celebrate being a Mama.  I love my daughter with all of my heart and am feeling a bit sentimental as I’ve been transferring video that we took at the cabin in her first year.  Time is going by so fast already!

I think about my own Mom and wonder how she is doing today.  To say we have an “estranged relationship” still feels funny to me, but the reality is, I haven’t seen her since 2002 and have only talked to her on the phone a handful of times since then.  Why we can’t connect is complicated and very sad, and I wish I knew the right thing to do here.  I recently began writing to her again, and sending photos of Captain, but haven’t heard back from her.  According to my sister, she is shy about getting in touch and regrets not having a good relationship with any of her kids for all of these years.  “Well, then TRY DAMMIT!”, I think.

After so many hurt feelings and so many years, is it the right thing to do to just let go in this case?  To try harder to get her back into my life?  To just keep sending cards and photos and leave it at that?

I can’t just let go, she’s my MOM!  I love her and I miss her! But, I won’t torture myself about this situation either because I have done that.  It doesn’t work.

My Mom was a wonderful stay-at-home mom when we 4 kids were growing up in Spokane, Washington.  She was quiet and shy and didn’t feel comfortable in many situations that involved talking to anyone, even the checker at the supermarket.  She did not teach her daughters about asserting themselves, or that a person could do anything they wanted to do as long as they worked really hard at it.  However, she was always there rooting for us, driving us anywhere we needed to go, firing beautiful ceramics in her little kiln, all nestled in the dark basement, hungry mouth propped slightly open with an intense red glow pulsing from within.

She made all of our holidays fantastic.  Christmas’, birthdays, St. Patrick’s, Easter, Valentines Day… they were the best any kids could ask for.  When we were sick, she treated us like Queens and always brought cool magazines and ice cream to our beds on the couch.  She took me to all of my appointments for my back-brace for scoliosis and made sure I felt as good as I could about it at the end of the day.  She endlessly taped my magic wands back together (don’t you just love a good magic wand?).

She made the BEST pies, handmade ornaments, stained glass, and the cutest little chicks painted on Easter pails.  She liked chocolate, barbecue ribs, and Chanel No. 9.

My Mom was a great mom, and that very fact makes it hard to be in this situation.  She was not mean or abusive, or easy to run from.  She was beautiful, had a wonderful laugh, and loved Willie Nelson and pussy willows.

Now I don’t even know what she looks like.

I’ve decided right at this moment that I want to call her and tell her I love her.  I’m a little nervous, but it feels right.  When she asks about Captain, I will open my heart up wide and tell her about her granddaughter; she is my favorite topic of conversation!


I did call my Mom’s number three times and it rang and rang.  I was disappointed, followed by feeling that things were right.  Perhaps we weren’t supposed to talk right then.  I will try again in the next instance that it feels right to me.  In the meantime, I send out big heart-shaped biscuits to my Mom, Carol, and all of the amazing and/or complicated moms out there who love their kids no matter what the circumstances surrounding their relationships.  

For now, I have my husband loving me up (he brought me a latte and a magazine this morning- lovin’ it!) And, then there is my darling little daughter who is two and creating a painting just for me, wants me to play jazz music while we dress up in necklaces and scarves and dance around with magic wands.  Life is good and I am filled with love.



Three years have passed since I wrote that, and I am thrilled to be getting ready to celebrate my 6th (!) Mother’s Day!  The true gold of this story is that not only do I share the love, daily, with my beautiful daughter, who is five and bursting with life and love, but I also have my Mom back in my life.  She lives in Utah, and I am in California, but we talk on the phone and she even wants to come up here to the mountains for a visit- hooray!

We started talking regularly last year and have accepted the past as best we can, and look at the here-and-now together.  I admire her honesty in dealing with tough family issues, and like the fact that, if two people who love each other just TRY, the spark of connection can be fruitful.

This post is written from deep in my heart for all Moms, and their kids, in all circumstances.  May you be wrapped in the golden light of celebration, for the memories of the past, and the possibilities of NOW!

Happy Mother’s Day.

Sweet thoughts, Karen

Categories: Mom's Junk Trunk, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Look What I Keep In My Mama-Car-Pack! …What’s in Yours?


From safety kit & spare toothbrush to change o’ clothes & coloring book, it may look like a heap, but it fits neatly into a little bag!

It was a vomit explosion! Yes, we were bumping down the road and, with no warning, my little girl went “braaahhhh” all over herself, the seat, the floor… well, you get the idea. Poor thing. She was okay, be we still had about 40 minutes of driving left and a big mess to clean up. I was never so grateful for my mom’s car-pack than at that moment. I was able to give her a piece of ginger gum, wipe her down and get her into clean clothes. I also had a towel and the wipes came in handy as well. All the messy stuff went into the plastic bag, she had some water and we were on our way.

I want to share what I keep in my personal “Mom-Car-Pack”. It has changed over the years, as she has grown, and this is what we feel we need to get down the road with a 5 year old. Any parents out there who care to share what they find useful for their pack, please write in here as we would love to hear new ideas!

Here are our essentials, which pack nicely into one of those thin “book bags” that we often get at events, but don’t really have a use for!

1. Safety kit including: Scooby Doo bandaids, neosporin, thermometer, Arnica cream, sunscreen stick, nail clippers, tweezers, Hyland’s bumps ‘n bruises ointment, ginger gum (for upset tummies), spare toothbrush & travel toothpaste.

2. Change of clothes, including undies, socks, pants, t-shirt & sweater.

3. Towel, rolled up tightly and secured with 2 rubber bands (never know when you’ll need a rubber band!).

4. Sani-wipes.

5. Activities (In case of car trouble, or other delay): Brand new coloring book, 2 packs of stickers, small packs of crayons & markers.

6. 4 travel tissue packs.

7. A small bowl with lid, spork & knife and a couple of “emergency” snacks like little cracker packets & raisins

8. FLASHLIGHT with hand-crank and/or spare batteries

9. Swiss army knife (can’t leave home without that!)

10. Couple of plastic bags


I drive a Volvo so my little bag fits right in behind the seat. I should note that if you live in a hot climate (like California!) you should be careful about storing food, creams and other heat-sensitive items. I never keep water in plastic bottles in the car because of heat and just bring it fresh when I head out the door.

So what do you keep in your car when you’re on the go? C’mon, you want to tell us!! 🙂

Happy travels, Karen

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Moms On The Loose: What Would You Do With A Week At “Mom Camp”?


Sun Princess or Moon Mama?

Whether we are stay-at-home, work-at-home, or working moms, single, married, happy or not, we all work very hard to keep it all going, no matter the circumstances. I got to thinking today about how I have been searching endlessly for great summer opportunities, camps, classes or just good old summer fun for my 5 year old, and started to muse about what it would be like to go to camp myself. Mom Camp! How about a great group of moms set loose for a whole week (could this even be possible we are all wondering? Well, let’s just ride with it for the sake of imagination!) cooking around the campfire, telling stories, hiking, resting, reading, and singing? Why stop there? I started to add things that sound great, like a massage therapist on staff, mineral baths, and a chef preparing healthy meals. There would be wine for those who like that (I would be one of those 🙂 ) or whatever else we wanted, and an entire hut full of chocolate and other treats to balance out the healthy stuff…

We would each choose things we wanted to get rid of from our lives and write them down on little pieces of paper and, after reading them mysteriously to each other over the glow of candlelight, we would cackle like witches and toss them into the fire like teenagers! We would beat drums, squish our toes into the mud and dance like wild children. We would have days of Art Therapy where we created mighty canvasses of color, squished clay into theraputic blobs and glazed it in kilns. Our Art Therapy Guide would be a wonderful, timeless woman, who seemed to understand each of our unique needs to be free, to express ourselves in our own ways, and she would have endless patience for us all.

We would star gaze. Oh, how we would dance under the stars and be our most wonderful moon-mama-selves (but only if we wanted to!). Age, religion, sexual preference, social or economic circumstances, why, none of it would matter at all. We would simply arrive, just like the kids do when they go to camp, and check in for some fun. We would all share the connectedness of being women and moms, of seeking to better ourselves with adventure, of loving our kids so deeply that we would be homesick for them sooner than we thought…

Okay, I am coming back to Earth. Perhaps others would think that I am a nut, that semi-luxury in the mountains and being a moon mama wouldn’t be fun, or that taking a mineral bath in the privacy of beautiful pine trees, or throwing balloons full of paint at a wagon wheel, wouldn’t be worth it. I feel I should add that I love my life as a mom and wife, and really have nothing that I am trying to “get a break” from. I’m not feeling that I need to run away from anything, it is more a feeling of running to something. Know what I mean?

A whole week of moms on the loose. Sharing life and new experiences. Just imagine!

If you are a moon mama, or a sun princess, what would you like to see at a “mom” camp, or festival? We would all love to hear your thoughts. Until then, I am off to hug and kiss my little sweetheart and read her a story before bed. She loves the idea of flying carpets and magic stones. Someday she too will be a moon mama, humming a little song to herself and looking for her own brass gong to bang and, ooohh, what a glorious sight that will be!

Good night, and good thoughts to all, Karen

Categories: Mom's Junk Trunk | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Body Earthing Rocks! Science proves it and we at The Cabin can back it up


Need to feel good in body and spirit?  Go outside and LAY DOWN ON THE EARTH!  Here’s Captain, Grandpa & Mom just laying around outside as a family

This sounds so simple.  Just go outside and lay down on the ground, ‘eh? Yep.  That’s all there is to it, but the effects are astounding.  We live in a forest where it is quite inviting to lay down on the soft grasses and pine needles and stare up into the sky while resting, but even if I lived in a city, I would find a place to do this and my kid most certainly would be right behind me.  KIDS NEED TO BE CONNECTED TO THE EARTH!  We all do.

There are scientific reasons why laying down on the ground, or running around outside without shoes, makes us feel better.  K and I always used to say that we liked it because it seemed to “absorb negative energy” from our bodies.  It’s true and here are the facts:

Body earthing implies grounding-  giving a human body electrical connection to the earth.  It is known that the earth maintains a negative electrical potential on it’s surface.  When you are in direct contact with the ground (walking, sitting, or laying down on the earth’s surface) the earth’s electrons are conducted to your body, bringing it to the same electrical potential as the earth.  Living in direct contact with the earth grounds your body!  This is a good thing! The earth provides electrons that the body needs and also stabilizes the electrical potential of the body.  A grounded body is far less influenced by  disruptive environmental electric fields (called “electromagnetic pollution” or “dirty electricity”… lets go ask the birds and other animals, I think they could tell us a bit about this problem!).  The body earthing benefits include:

Reductions in overall stress levels and tension and a shift in nervous system balance, reductions in immune cell and pain responses, delayed-onset muscle soreness, reduces viscosity of the blood, reduction of indicators of osteoporosis, improvement of glucose regulation and immune response, inflammation, sleep, balance, and, again, reduction of stress.

Ancient civilizations recognized the power of the Earth and heavens. Monks would meditate seated on the ground to achieve high spiritual states. The Chinese referred to this universal energy as Qi (Chi). Earth Qi enters the body at an accupoint located on the ball of the foot known as “Bubbling Spring” where it ascends through the water channel throughout the body. Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises designed to balance and heal the body/mind are often practiced outdoors without footwear to facilitate this process. But, as I have learned (and you can ask parents everywhere!), the simple fact is that kids, and people in general, just feel better when they have been outside with their shoes off…

A bit about the history of the term “body earthing”:

Research at the Max Planck institute in the 60’s and 70’s showed that it was important for human performance and health to receive electrical signals from the earth.  The modern practice of earthing began in the late 1900’s when Clinton Ober, a retired cable TV executive, started thinking that it was notable that humans in the last century had been using synthetic shoe soles which isolate the body electrically from the earth, and he knew that ungrounded electronic instruments perform badly.  When he approached scientists and physicians with his thoughts, they generally refused to have anything to do with this, so he had to do the experimental testing on himself.  Dr. Maurice Chaly, a retired anesthesiologist, did a pilot study involving measuring the cortisol levels (a stress indicator) in his subjects and found that grounding normalized the levels.  Others continued to test with the same results.

The use of isolating shoe soles (rubber and plastic) started around the middle of the 20th century.  Leather soles, used for 1000’s of years, give partial earthing when moistened by sweat.  Could shoes be a part of the dramatic rise in chronic inflammation and so many other physical problems of modern life?  Modern activities like swimming and walking barefoot through the grass will give thorough earthing and make us feel good.  Some people, especially who don’t have access to convenient, well, earth, use such conducting and grounding products as:  cotton earthing sheets that connect to an outlet, or pads that are made of cotton with conductive silver fibers that are placed at the foot of the bed.  These products can be found on or you can google “earthing products”.  Personally, I wouldn’t buy something that provides what walking and laying on the ground can do, but whatever path we each choose is our own.

A personal note on the sky…  The other cool thing that happens from laying on the earth outside is simply looking up at the sky.  Birds, the wind in the trees, clouds that look like dragons, perhaps a even an airplane going by are all wonderful things to just watch. Imaginations are sparked by life.  When our family “earths” together, we find that interesting conversations usually arise, intermixed with long periods of silence.  For my 5 year old Captain, she seems to want to paint or draw outside a lot of times after we have been laying down under the sky.  I see how calm and happy she becomes.  Her artwork just flows right out…

If I had to pick one thing that I think is vital to kid’s (and big people’s too) health and happiness, it would be keeping in contact with the earth.  It’s something almost anyone can do, it’s free, it’s fun and the results make life better.  It really is as easy as that!!

I invite you to share your earthing experience here.  If you live in a big city and have a spot to lay down outside, would you PLEASE send me a picture?  For some reason I like to think of someone laying in the grass in a place like Central Park in NYC….

Info and more to be found at wikipedia, Earthing:  The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?  by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. and Martin Zucker

Happy earthing and good thoughts!  Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Mom's Junk Trunk, Relationships, Science Rocks For Kids!, Sequoia National Forest & Park, Social Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Dear John Stewart (One Moment With a Toilet…)


What a great day it has been in the mountains, the bits of last storm’s snow melting, listening to birds singing, and taking a nature walk with Captain. The feeling of the sun and fresh air lift us and we feel like two flowers high on fresh water, sun, and freshly split daffodil bulbs. Life is wonderful when the kid is happy and lively, spring is in the air, and all the good things are just whirling and spiraling into the great mystical whiteness.

Yes, there’s the twirling whiteness…porcelain white. Duty calls and I must get caught up on housework and, desperate to be cleaned, is the lonely toilet, calling with a sweet rendition of “Flower Duet” from Lakme and promises of chocolate buttercreams if I just get in there and take care of business. Oh, back in my youth, when I refused to be helpful with house cleaning… I suppose I am getting my just desserts, so to speak.

There is always a moment I have before I clean a toilet that I resist it, as though I am a Princess from the land that the porcelain rump-bumper has forgotten. I sigh to remember that, as a kid, I would watch my Mom in action, cleaning like a maniac and I would think that I would never get married, have children, or clean all day, and I would never, ever use my thumbnail to scrape unknown bits of dried stuff off of anything. My how do the times change. As I arm myself with the toilet brush and some Bon Ami and get to work, I feel myself begin to drift to a wonderful place, a happy place and I just have to let go…

There, in the bowl itself, I see a face start to form and it is, of all people, Jon Stewart. I sprinkle his face delicately with the white scrubbing powder and can see his lovely eyes, with just a touch too much eyeliner, smiling back at me. He gives me a wink and I wink back, our unspoken understanding that scrubbing the toilet isn’t just about the importance of bathroom hygiene, but rather something disturbingly humorous and slightly strange. Yes, Dear Jon, I fantasize about you during some of my more mundane chores, and crazy or not, let’s just say it works.

I have been invited to visit the show and of course Jon has tons of extra time and even reads my blog and his wife is dying to try new projects with the kids. The guy, for all his popularity, has time for a “little person” and since my book has just been picked up, he wants to have me on his show and rave about bloggers and all of the good work they do, and my amazing book. I am at the show. My hair is done up to an incredible gloss and I am wearing the perfect jeans, 1950’s blouse and a great necklace. I’m pink-cheeked and smiling as my name is announced and I carry my black bag smoothly across the stage to my seat next to one of the coolest guys I’ve ever seen on the tevvy. He jumps up and kisses my cheek. My cheek! I laugh and we chat about “kartwheels” and it’s unimportance in American culture. I say some really funny things and the crowd laughs appreciatively and then I tell Jon that I brought us a little something special and proceed to pull a bottle of whiskey and two glasses from the bag and pour us each a drink. The audience gasps and Jon makes a funny about it being only 11am, because that is when the show is shot. We all laugh as we lift our glasses, make funny faces into the camera and drink. The crowd goes nuts and we drink another. Now he thanks me for being one of his most delightful guests and, as we cut to a commercial break, he leans over and touches my arm and admits that he has always dreamed of taking his family to a cabin in the Sequoia National Forest and maybe we can get our families together sometime. K, Captain and I leave the studio and head to our hotel room to celebrate. What a great day. I love New York City!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I find myself on my knees in front of the cabin loo. It is sparkling clean all the way down and around the back. Really, you could drink whiskey from it. I pull myself up and close the lid. As I move out of the room, I see a blob of something on the sink and reach over and give it a quick scrape with my amazing thumbnail, dust off the crumbs and move on. No imagination necessary.

What do you think about when YOU are cleaning??

Cheers!  Karen

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Whip-Bang! My First Experience With Facial Threading


The baby soft smoothness just jumps right off the page at you, ‘eh?

Along with the dance across the red carpet of peri-menopause comes some rather frightful moments.  Like when I looked into the mirror and realized that I was looking a bit, well, hairier than I did even a few short months ago.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against facial hair on anyone, women included, but when I was already feeling rather wintery and disheveled, the hair was just too much.  My husband and I have a great time teasing and having fun with each other about things and it really works for our relationship in so many ways.  We are the people that, since we got together almost 16 years ago (!), have always cut each other’s hair and done all of those little sweet things that no one talks about, like when I clean out his ears while he is watching a movie, or when he stuck a wax strip on a certain bikini area and yanked (while I laughed hysterically) because I was going to wear a bathing suit for the first time in 20 years. You know, things like that.  In fact, one of our jokes is that we are like a couple of monkeys sitting around grooming each other, and that always makes us laugh.

Well, one day, in the midst of all of this joking, K was tickling my nose when suddenly he reached over with his fingertips and grabbed ahold of some hair right on the top of my lip.  That he could actually get his fingers around it and pull was terrifying enough but then he proceded to say, in a slow whispery voice, “sinister”.  Try saying that out loud, very slowly and in a mysterious voice, “siinnnnissstteeeerrr”.  There you have it.

Now, my feelings weren’t really hurt, and he always tells me that he loves me exactly the way I am, but it did make me feel rather crunchy in terms of my own feelings about the hair on my face.  So, two weeks ago, I made an appointment at a place that does facial threading and showed up with bells on.  I don’t spend money on makeup, nails, fancy hair products or much stuff like that so I proudly surrendered my $30 and slid into the chair with a smile on my face.

Threading is basically taking about a 15″ piece of ordinary thread, tying it into a loop and twisting it several times and then working it across the skin while pulling the twisty part back and forth as it catches the hair and pulls it out. The woman who helped me was from Iran, and we talked about family, kids and life, and the difficulties she and her family have faced while trying to transition into California.  She was lovely and we shared a mutual sense of isolation from family and friends.  I will definitely see her again and might just invite her to lunch sometime.  We got along like two pancakes on the griddle (deliciously American, ‘eh?).

So, all in all it was a great experience.  It does hurt, but it is worth it to feel this nice change.  My eyebrows look better than they ever have and I still have most of them which is excellent!  It has been a couple of weeks and my face still feels so great that I find myself petting it.  AND, I am not looking or feeling so darned sinister any longer 🙂

If you do threading, or are planning to try it, let me know how it goes!

Good thoughts, Karen

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