Home Again, Under the Sun

Dear Family

“If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.”
—Author not agreed upon

“We come into this world naked as the girl above the bar
Spend our lifetimes wondering who we are”
—“Strangers,” by Josh Ritter


Some of us are mourning under the desert sunshine, for the awful events of this week. I’m sure other people have eloquent things to say; I extend as much hopeful wishes as a heavy heart can muster.


On Friday, we drove up the crazy steep mountain that divides the low and high deserts. Joshua Tree! We were all happy to be approaching this particular campsite once again, populated by wonderful friends and surrounded by exquisite scenery.

There is SUCH beauty in this world! And especially if you examine our photos (here are some of the gorgeous ones we snapped in Utah, and also on our way back to CA: https://goo.gl/photos/dWMUd8vSoriTxtuo9 ), you will realize that the Amaral Matilsky family visited amazing places this summer. Overall, Jem had a super fantastic time, and Ivy doesn’t remember when she didn’t live in a camper and travel around. Ben had lots of fun, too. Jeff manages to let stress slide off his back like water off a duck’s ass, and he possesses an amazing ability to enjoy adventurous field trips at just about any time and anywhere - tension and complexity be damned. I preserve many sweet memories from our epic summer non-vacation - and anyway, Those Photos!

So why did I feel like crying as we drove up the hill toward Joshua Tree?

If I was honest (and you know me and honesty!), I was thinking about how little I’d enjoyed all the incredible places we visited this summer, as juxtaposed with the extreme beauty of the places themselves and the wonderful people we spent time with. You’re not supposed to enjoy an adventure like this “occasionally”! Yet I spent the vast majority of the past five months trying not to slide into a deep situational depression. Which was SO not the point!! And while tiredness, financial worries, the constancy of parenting a two-year-old, and general Adult Responsibility contributed to the stress that was trying to roll off this ducks ass, these things were a happy walk in the park compared with the mighty and constant Situation of Parenting Eliza.

So many hundreds of meals I prepared this summer, and served to my family, including Eliza, who would sigh deeply, slump her shoulders, and begin her whining session with, “I just CAN’T eat!!” Each time, an irrational piece of my self confidence got chipped away. So many amazing places we visited, and while Eliza had occasional bursts of energy (she is very strong), she was mostly disinterested and tired and whiny. Each time, my Mama instincts ran down her symptom list for the bazillionth time because how could I truly enjoy the amazing scenic wonders of the world when one of my babies was hurting and whining and being a nearly Total Pain In The Ass, not on purpose, but there we were once again, and how?? So many places we went, the boys were ready and able to do all sorts of things, while almost all of the time, I had to forgo field trips and tend to Eliza (and Ivy, and household logistics - but it was Eliza’s whining that mostly carried the day), and couldn’t do much else. Every time, I felt like I was letting down some of my kids because of their sibling(s). So many dozens of bedtimes, when my child would face her invisible demons and whine and cry and say, “I hate the bathroom! There are monsters in it! I hate sleeping! There is nothing I want to do. I can’t cuddle. I don’t want a hug. It’s not fun to read. There is nothing fun. I wish I was dead, and had never been born.”

These parenting moments, so thoroughly similar to other moments spread out over nearly fourteen tiring years, have worn me raw.


You know me and Parenting Challenges. I desperately cling to the surety that my child’s terrible behavior is NOT my child. It may be a habit, but even habits can change IF the underlying physiology is healed. I am sure of this. My child’s behavior is driven by sickness, and all sickness begins in the gut - Hippocrates said so! - and as long as my name is Sarabeth Matilsky and I wield a chef’s knife and the resources to obtain Healing Foods and a brain to Research Reason Cry, I will not give up.

Two weeks ago, we embarked on a new dietary adventure (thanks, Kristen, as always, for everything! Including new books to read and action steps to try). It’s way to early to discuss, but it is my hope that further dietary changes, plus our arrival back in Joshua Tree, will help to both heal Eliza and change her habits at the same time. Please lord, may it be so.

More details will be forthcoming, once there are some.



Wrapped up in a towel: “I’m a bundle of Ivy!”

Shrimps = “Squirms”

“You’re a nice mama, and I’m nice too! I love you, cute little mommy!”

Ivy has reached the adorable stage of development when she cuts with scissors and her mouth opens and closes each time her scissors do.

After dipping her stuffed Koali in a puddle: "I feel like...Koali haves water!"

“Koalis are real and soft and cute! Koalis have sharp clawses.”

Putting on shorts, talking to herself: "Where are my foots apposed to go? Ah, here's hole!"

Onto the paved path, much more to her liking: "is perfect a babies ride balance bikes on!"

Standing up and trying to adjust: “My pants are wedgie!”

Tearfully leaning her head on my shoulder and explaining her sadness after she went to the playground alone (!!!!) when I thought she was with Jem: “I wanted a go to playground and now it hurts cuz I gotta forn [thorn] in my tootsie…”

After I accidentally smacked her in the head with a handlebar, Ivy interrupted my profuse apologies: “It’s okay. You didn't mean to!”



"I say monsters aren't real, and I know they aren't, but I'm still scared of them.”

"Ooh! A thought I just had got mixed up with all the others, and I forgot it!"

At the park: “I’m gonna take off my shoes so I can have more fun!”

During a creative burst, Eliza makes up a song on the spot - complete with melody - about four children who were mailed to their mother in a box, and the mother thought they had died in a winter storm but the kids found this box and loved it so much that they just hopped in there… I wish I had recorded this gem for posterity, but all I have is this synopsis.

Books recently listened-to by Eliza:
—Inky the Indigo Fairy, by Daisy Meadows
—Bless This Mouse, by Lois Lowry
—Word of Mouse, by James Patterson (“I just loved this one so much!!”)



Books recently listened-to by Jem:
—Escape!, by Sid Fleischman
—The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin



Books recently read by Ben:

Who Was Harry Houdini?, by Tui Sutherland
A whole bunch of books about How To Perform Magic Tricks



Concerning the experience of utilizing the composting pit toilet at a rest area that employed a circulating fan: “It's like an air conditioning enema!”

“Certain news websites, and a computer game, are like slot machines for my brain.”

Jeff recently read: Repeat Until Rich: A Professional Card Counter's Chronicle of the Blackjack Wars , by Josh Axelrad

Also, Jeff and the rest of us were featured in a rosy blog post entitled Life on the Road: Technomadism and Distributed Working . They made it sound like a fantastic idea to sell your house and move into a camper! :)

Jeff has an uncanny ability to be a supportive spouse even after a shitty night’s sleep and a morning containing Too Much Shittiness. He came running after me the other day, and surprised me AND made me laugh by “finding” a kiss in his pocket.


Sending love from Joshua Tree,