I Wonder If He Knew

I flew out of Phoenix on Saturday and while making my way through the security line I noticed a young man ahead of me receiving his first ID check from a 50 year old blonde woman.

He stood there silently looking forward pretending he didn’t know what was happening to him.

She stood there talking into her walkie-talkie checking to see if the ticket he had handed her was a fake. She was verifying his flight existed. She had a veil of politeness about her, but underneath you could feel it. Her bigotry and judgement was pulsing through her veins under the guise of trying to keep us safe.

Of course his flight existed. The confirmation of that came over the speaker and she let him pass as if she was doing him a favor.

I moved forward in line and had a much different experience. The man who checked my ID was gracious and kind. He smiled at me and after a quick check of my ID pointed where I should go.

I moved through security quickly with a pat down around my belt which was done in an apologetic fashion. I was regarded as if I was important. I was regarded as if I mattered. I was granted a certain amount of dignity.

As I was gathering my things I overheard another TSA agent talking into her walkie. “He’s a 5’7″ male.” I turned around and there he was again. He was looking forward and pretending he didn’t know what was happening to him. This seemed to be something he was used to. There was no frustration. There was no rage. He just silently cooperated just like I silently watched.

Two TSA agents were around him this time and ushering him off to the side to pat him down and verify who he was.

In that moment I felt like I should have said something, but fear and circumstance left me silent. I tried to make eye contact with him. I wanted him to know someone noticed what was happening to him, but he stood there pretending like nothing was happening.

Is this his normal life? Is this what happens to young boys of color? He was not black. He had brown skin. He was dressed nicely enough. His hair was neat and his face clean shaven. It seemed every singe TSA agent was made aware of his presence. This polite young boy was a threat. He should not have existed.

I wonder if he knew.

So what did I do in this situation? I was reduced to a Tweet.

I didn’t stand up for him. I didn’t take it upon myself to point out to these fearful agents that their deep seeded racism was actually inhibiting them from doing their jobs. All they saw was color. That didn’t make me feel safe. White people do bad things too.

I thought about that boy my whole flight.

I wonder if he knew.

watercolor brown boy

Chloe painted this for me after I told her this story.

Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Refinishing Hardwood Floors

I did not refinish my own hardwood floors and I don’t think you should either.

So if you are looking for a post on how to refinish hardwood floors, this is not it.

Here’s why.

If a home is old enough to have hardwood that is in rough enough shape to need refinishing, chances are there is lead in the varnish. There was in mine. We had it tested. Trust me, you don’t want to be dealing with sanding down varnish that has lead in it. Work like that takes a professional to properly seal the area and ensure there is no contamination. It’s not worth exposing your body to it in order to save money. Choose your health instead.

Here is what our wood looked like before we did anything to it.

Hardwood floor refinishing

My entire upstairs was sealed off for a week while the floors were fully sanded of all varnish and stain. I was happy that even though the wood was old, it still held up with minimal pieces needing to be replaced.

sanded wood floor

Once the floor was all sanded we moved on to picking the stain. I was a little torn as to whether I wanted to keep the floors this lighter color, but I ended up going with stain my contractor had a supply of. We went with the darker tone because I felt it would be more classic with our walls and general feel of the space.

hardwood floor stain

I am a terrible blogger because I can’t tell you the brand or the actual color stain we picked. I can tell you that the stain was applied in such a way to create a more antique walnut look. When it was applied it almost looked like a brown watercolor wash.

hardwood floor stain

hardwood floors

The last step was applying a few coats of varnish. The varnish really evened out the look of the stain. I am so glad I did not have to stress about getting varnish applied correctly.

hardwood floors

I am in love with the final look of these floors. The dark stain brings out the natural wood grain and really grounds the space.

Have you ever refinished hardwood? Did you do it yourself or hire a professional? I feel this is one of the things where a professional is needed. Even without the lead factor, dealing with all that dust and stressing about getting the stain and varnish right would have been way to much for me to handle.

If you still want to refinish them yourself, go check out this blog post on A Beautiful Mess, although they did not discuss the health concerns connected with the process.

By the way, if you do get a little lead in your system you can help counter-act it and clean it out with calcium and mineral rich foods like kale and broccoli.


How Do You Save a Million Babies?

I think there is a small percentage of people on the planet who are true movers and shakers. These people do big things. These people seek to help others. These people can often bring calm to a space and make things better just by their presence.

I got to meet one of these people last Tuesday night.

Jane Chen co-founder of Embrace Innovations and Little Lotus Baby Products

Jane Chen co-founder of Embrace Innovations and Little Lotus Baby Products

7 years ago at Stanford, Jane Chen with a few of her classmates was asked to solve a need in a developing country for 1% of the cost it takes in the modern world.

What did Jane decide to tackle? Infant mortality.

Did you know that the leading cause of childhood death is complications caused from prematurity and that one of the key factors in an infant’s ability to survive is being able to stay warm?

Babies, especially premature babies cannot regulate body temperature. With modern medicine we use incubators to keep our babies at the correct temperature, but in many countries, incubators are not possible. Sometimes incubators will just sit in the corner due to electricity problems or cultural issues.

After many trials Jane and her team developed the Embrace Baby Warmer and with it they have helped save the lives of 140,000 babies.

Jane working in India.

Jane working in India.

Embrace Innovations has been a wildly successful non-profit movement that has changed the lives of thousands. But Jane didn’t want to stop there. How could she and her team bring this lifesaving and affordable technology to millions?

Little Lotus Baby

If each year over 1 million babies die on their first day of life, how can we create enough financial wherewithal to reach and help their families with education, healthcare and medical devices that could potentially prevent their deaths?

Jane founded a line of consumer baby products that use the technology in the Embrace Baby Warmer to keep babies born right here at home at the correct temperature.

Jane’s friends started having babies and a key concern was whether or not their baby was too hot or too cold. She applied her problem solving skills to developing Little Lotus. A new line of products designed to keep babies at the exact right temperature.

Little Lotus Baby Wrap

Little Lotus Baby Wrap

I would have been so grateful to have had one of these Little Lotus wraps when Phoebe was younger. Phoebe was prone to seizures when she was feverish. A wrap like this would have brought me so much peace of mind.

The best thing about the Little Lotus line is it will use the 1 for 1 model and with every sale of a Little Lotus product, an Embrace Baby Warmer will be given to those in need.

Last Tuesday night I posted this on my Instagram account.

In the development of the Little Lotus products Jane partnered with artist Drue Kataoka who traveled the world to trace the hands of children and mothers who had been helped by the Embrace Baby Warmer. She then designed an online art installation at TouchOurFuture.org. These hands were then printed onto the fabric of the Little Lotus products.

Drue took it further in developing a mobile app where you can have an image taken of your hand and lend your hand to the Touch Our Future cause.

It is the intention that with the energies created from Little Lotus products, we will be able to create funding and resources to bring care to the millions.

If you would like to contribute to this cause with me, you can donate to their Kickstarter.

The swaddle blankets are available for preorder now on the Kickstarter for a special price $50 below retail.