Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry, Happy Everything

It's a Christmas miracle: we finally got a decent family photo.
Believe it or not, this is my final post of 2015.  I'm signing off until January in order to spend more time ignoring my kids while surfing social media on my iPhone.

I'm kidding.

I'm taking a break from blogging so that I can do all the stuff I never get done during the rest of the year because I'm too busy working; namely, sleeping and showering.

On January 3rd, the Muffin Man will be three years old.  I started my blog when Noah was a newborn, when I felt isolated, alone, and like I'd ruined my life by becoming a Mother.  New motherhood did not make me feel happy and joyous all the time, yet the only things I read or saw were about how "fulfilled" women felt once they had children.  I wanted to share my own frustrations in my own, humorous, way and through the Misadventures, and the community of women I've met, I've made peace with the new life I have as a writer, as a mother, and as a wife.  So much has changed since I moved into this little space on the World Wide Web - a second baby, a busy freelance career - and I'm so grateful to every single person who comes here and puts up with my neurotic musings on parenting.

Yes, even the ones who write me hate mail.

I've got lots of awesome posts planned for 2016, including some travel tips (and video) of our trip to Hawaii, a look at Noah's third birthday party, and a reveal of my newly-revamped bedroom.  I'd love to know more about what you'd prefer to read about next year, so I've set up a quick little poll.  Why not voice your opinion instead of doing actual work?!  Tell me what you like, what you dislike, and what you most definitely do not ever again want to see on the blog.  Hit me with your best shot - I can take it!

As always, you can keep your Misadventures withdrawal at bay by following all of our holiday antics over on Instagram and Facebook.  You never know what truly horrible ideas I'll come up with in the name of entertaining my offspring during school break.

Merry, Happy Everything.  May 2016 bring you fewer tantrums and much more sleep.

xoxo

P.S. If you have hot New Year's Eve plans that involve staying home with your children and going to bed before midnight, be sure and check out DJ Hesta Prynn's awesome NYE playlist.  The tunes are so good that they just might out you in the mood for some sexy times with your spouse.  Assuming you drink enough champagne, of course.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mind Your Own Uterus

why i'm only having one kid

Ah, the Holidays.  That special time of year when we spend time with our loved ones, celebrate all that we're thankful for, and when visiting relatives and perfect strangers feel entitled to ask probing personal questions about your uterus. Maybe I’m just super sensitive to the issue, but I find it rude whenever I’m out with C and get the inevitable “Is he your only? Not going to give him a sibling?”

Resisting the overwhelming urge to bust into a rant is a Herculean feat. I want to scream, "what gives you, Ms. Bagger of the groceries, Mr. Scanner of the retail items, Mother at the park to what, in my mind, is an unwieldy number of offspring, the unassuming friend, the friendly doctor and basically every other person who asks, the right to intimate knowledge of my uterus?!"

Firstly, have you ever given thought to why people choose not to have a second child? 

Not happening. Perhaps despite wanting and trying for another, their bodies are not able to do so.  Thankfully such is not the case in my equation, but why make the person experiencing this feel even more upset than they assuredly already do?!

The Baby Blues. Perhaps after having one kid and suffering from terrible postpartum depression that consumed their lives for nearly three years, they chose to simply not go through that again.  This was the case in my situation, and I think we really need to start talking about this (and other uncomfortable topics) more. Once, when I just couldn’t handle the annoyance of the question, I let loose on a stranger and shared the postpartum struggle. I half expected that response would shut them up but no, they went on to say, “You know there’s drugs for that.” I wanted to punch said @$$hole in the face, but societal norms dictate otherwise, so I mustered a gentle chuckle.

Three is enough. Perhaps another reason someone may not want to have a second child is because she enjoys her current lifestyle and feels her family is complete as a unit of three. Have you gotten on a plane of late?! Ticket prices are (pun intended) sky high and little ones past the age of three, despite the fact that they still enjoy sitting on your lap, require the purchase of their own seat. If you are lucky enough to travel with said child, are you aware of the unbelievable amount of crap you have to carry around to facilitate their inclusion in the trip? Car seats, plane seats, strollers, etc. I can barely manage the stuff with one; two is unimaginable.

Education.  If you don’t have children you may be gloriously unaware of the issues currently threatening the public education system.  Creativity in the classroom? Gone. Imagination? Also gone. Time to meet each child where they are developmentally?  A near impossibility when 80% of class time is spent prepping for a test that is by no means an accurate gauge of what your child is capable of. So needless to say, there’s the matter of a private school education. Have you seen what that costs??  And no, I won't be homeschooling, but thanks for that suggestion.

Sibling, schmibling. Then there’s the “but they need a sibling! They need a guaranteed friend in life” argument. I understand this perspective. But while I love my sister dearly and cannot fathom a life without her, wanting that relationship for my child is not enough to make me want to have another child. I need to want that child in and of himself enough that I am ready to understand and appreciate that they are their own entity.  Who is to guarantee that the siblings will even get along? I know many a folk who would willingly sell their sibling in return for a downpayment on a house. I'd rather teach C the joy of making friends and being a friend, which will guarantee that he will have friends whom he considers family around him to fuel his journey. And that amazing sister I mentioned? She has two kids whom Caleb adores and happily FaceTimes with. And we actually get to see them three or four times a year, which, given our geographical distance, is pretty impressive. (and 100% due to my sister’s ability to coordinate schedules and vacations. This is a skill I decidedly lack). Also, Caleb has three cousins from on dad’s side as well.  The kid's not exactly lacking in similarly-aged familial companions.

Childcare. Last, but certainly not least is the most important of the issues that caused me to put pen to paper in the first place. Without family in the relative vicinity (and I mean anywhere that doesn’t require a trip on a plane) I have no one to help me raise these kids. The Haasband is helpful of course, but he works long hours, and we don’t have a nanny because I chose to stay home with my child. Which is, as I’ve previously written, quite an expensive undertaking. So while I’m not bringing any money in, I can’t justify paying money out for the exact job I’m supposed to be doing myself.  

Right now, having a second child exceeds the bandwidth of my current data plan.  

So to all those nosy folk who feel they have the right to pry into my most personal of bits, I want to ask you a few “innocent” questions: 
Are you willing to come over and babysit once a week? 
Are you willing to help me pay for this kid’s education?  
Are you willing to help me get on a plane with two children by myself to take a five-hour flight to visit my family?  

If the answer to even one of these questions is a resounding NO, then I feel I have the right to tell you to SHOVE IT when you ask me about my plans for any future uterine residents.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

We Need a Little (Jewish) Christmas, 2015

Christmas with toddlers
The only thing more frightening than a Jew on a ladder is three Jews on a ladder.
I'm back from my tropical "vacation", if that's the word one would use to describe being trapped in an airplane with two children who enjoyed using the seats as a jungle gym.  Consider this my public apology to all of our fellow passengers; just count yourselves lucky that you didn't have to go home with these hellions after the plane landed.

Now, of course, in addition to unpacking half a dozen suitcases and wrangling two jet lagged kids, I have to get ready for Christmas.  I'd like to tell you that I learned my lesson from last year (and the year before) and that I finished my shopping before we left on our trip, but that would be a big fat lie.  And it's only okay to tell a lie when your BFF asks if she looks fat in her new dress.  

Hanukkah activities for toddlers
We celebrated the heck out of Hanukkah before we left for Hawaii - latkes, rugelach and gelt were consumed in mass quantities - so I feel as though we really did it right for the Festival of Lights this year.  As the kids get older they find the story of the miracle of the oil, as well as the Hanukkah songs and games to be a whole lot of fun.  The presents don't hurt either, of course.

make your own menorah candles
We even made our own menorah candles which was a fun activity, despite the fact that I got roped into doing it before 8am on a Saturday, because, kids.

christmas activities for toddlers christmas in LA
We did manage to get our Christmas tree (Hanukkah bush?) up and decorated before we left, thereby sparing me from having to chose from the few dead pines left at our local tree lot three days before Christmas.

christmas with kids christmas activities for toddlers
If you haven't yet had the pleasure of decorating a tree with "help" from your children, I envy you.  After several rounds of the Little Lady yanking on garland and removing two ornaments for every three I put on, I finally resigned myself to having one of those trees that's beautifully decorated... from five feet off the floor. 

quirky christmas tree decorations
Pro tip: I suggest that you begin a tradition of decorating the tree while your kids are sleeping, thereby surprising them with the beauty of the thing when they wake up in the morning.  This ensures that your tree actually gets decorated, since having a naked tree sitting in a tangled pile of ornaments and garland doesn't exactly scream "festive".

one potato meal box
This morning we made gingerbread cookies because it wouldn't be the holidays without your children covering themselves in flour and spilling sprinkles all over your kitchen, amiright?  Lest you think I'm some sort of Super Mom who whips up cookie dough before 9am, the gingerbread came in last week's One Potato box, so I didn't have to do much except roll it out.

Since Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without your children decimating an entire room full of wrapped gifts in less than five minutes, this afternoon I'll be joining the hordes of other unprepared holiday shoppers at my local mall.  Because nothing puts me in the holiday spirit quite like traffic, lack of parking, and fighting fellow shoppers over the last pair of Ugg slippers in a size 10.

Assuming I survive my last minute shopping expeditions, I plan to reward myself with a very stiff Holiday cocktail...or three.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I Survived a Plane Trip with Kids

traveling with toddlers
Takeoff... six hours into our epic trip
Remember how I said that I wasn't going to travel with my kids until they were old enough to fly as unaccompanied minors?  I lied.

In my defense, I had every intention of staying at home until my kids were 18, but an unexpected trip to Hawaii to visit my parents presented itself, and who am I to turn up my nose at the prospect of Mai Tais and tropical breezes?

Well.  After the experience I just had flying the anything-but-friendly-skies, there is no amount of Pina Coladas will cure me of the PTSD from which I'm currently suffering.  I never seriously considered trying to drown myself in a public restroom until last Saturday, when I traveled alone with my two children.  Six hour, trans-Pacific flights are bad enough without an additional four hour flight delay thrown in for good measure.  Thank goodness LAX has self-flushing toilets, or I really might have met my early demise in the Women's restroom at Gate 72 in Terminal 7.

As I was pacing the aisle of a cramped airplane, feeling like a total zombie after being awake for 15 hours, and attempting to get my overtired toddler to stop screaming and fall asleep, my mind drifted to the days of travel before kids.  When a long flight meant nothing more than a chance to nap, read without interruption, and enjoy a cocktail (or three).

Travel, Before Kids:
You start packing sometime around 10pm the night before your flight.  You put careful thought into what items to pack to ensure that you have appropriate clothing for any situation that might arise, and you make certain to pack your birth control for all that hot vacation sex you're definitely going to have.

You show up on time for your flight, with a chic personal item and a carry-on bag that's perfectly sized to fit in the overhead compartment.  You're wearing a gorgeous cashmere scarf which doubles as a blanket in case the plane is cold, because you would never be caught dead using one of the germ-filled ones the plane provides.  

When the flight delay is announced, you get annoyed, but a later arrival doesn't mean too much other than a missed dinner reservation.  You head to the bar to enjoy a rare mid-afternoon cocktail and an entertaining conversation with your spouse.

You finally board the plane a little bit tipsy but you know you can sleep it off while you're being whisked into the sky to your vacation destination.  You'll wake up slightly dehydrated, but the only thing on your calendar for the next week is uninterrupted time to lounge poolside, drink adult beverages, and enjoy a good book.

You arrive at your destination refreshed and exhilarated.  You shower, change into one of the cute dresses you packed, and head out for drinks and a late dinner.  You're not worried about jet lag or exhaustion because you don't have to get up tomorrow and you have an entire week to relax and recharge.   Taking a vacation was the best idea EVER!

Travel, With Kids:
You start packing several weeks in advance, because you never once have a long, uninterrupted stretch of time to focus on the task at hand.  Your children "help" you pack by pulling out two pieces of clothing for every three that you put in, which means that your entire family will arrive at your destination without a single matching outfit.  By the time you get a chance to pack your own bag, you're so exhausted that you almost forget to pack underwear and you totally forget to pack clothing appropriate for any activity other than panhandling.  You will regret this when you are forced to purchase an overpriced muumuu at the hotel gift shop, an item of clothing that makes you look pregnant, leading everyone to comment on your Instagram posts asking when you're baby is due.  You don't bother to pack birth control because the only thing you and your spouse are interested in doing on vacation is sleeping.

You show up at least half an hour behind schedule for your flight, with overstuffed suitcases, a stroller, a baby carrier, and a giant bag full of snacks for your children.  You will absolutely be using the disgusting blankets provided by the airline, because you forgot to bring sweatshirts. 

When the flight delay is announced, your children are running around the airport like banshees.  The news that you will have to continue to chase after your kids and entertain them for an additional three to four hours leaves you close to tears and wishing that you had remembered to call your Doctor with a request for a Xanax refill.

When you and your children finally board the plane you look as though you are refugees from a war ravaged country.  You are covered in spilled food, your children are filthy and exhausted, and all three of you are crying.  Thanks to the flight delay, your kids have completely missed their nap window and will now be awake for the entire six hour flight, which means you will not be resting or drinking or reading a good book, but will, instead, be begging your offspring to stop kicking the seat in front of them, stop running down the aisle, and just stay in their seats.  You curse yourself for being too much of a goddamn hippie to drug them with Benadryl.

You arrive at your destination completely exhausted, as you have now been awake for close to 20 hours.  Your children have finally stopped screaming, mainly because they are so tired that they no longer have the energy to voice their disapproval.  You feed your children some sort of horrifying fast food, change them into their pajamas without even bothering to wash the plane filth off of them, and put them to bed, praying that they sleep through the night and don't wake up before sunrise. You collapse into bed, swearing that if you survive this "vacation" you will never ever EVER travel with your children again.

At least not until they're 18.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Santa Claus is Coming...to Scare Your Children

tips for visiting santa with toddlers
Happy Holidays!
I think we can all agree that it's an important right of passage to take kids to see Santa.  I mean, what better way to undo all of the important teachings about not talking to strangers and not letting strangers touch you than forcing our kids to sit on a strange man's lap?  Sure, it's confusing and terrifying for small, impressionable children, but the hilarious photos of your kids screaming/sobbing/throwing a fit are totally priceless.  I can't wait to embarrass the Hell out of the Little Lady someday by showing the above photo to her future spouse.  That's going to be parenting Gold, right there.

In all honesty I could pretty much give or take the annual visit with Santa, but I had a work assignment that coincided with a visit to the Man in the Red Suit, so I figured I'd take the kids and make a day of it, especially since it was a tax write off.  There's nothing like saving money to motivate me to do something nice for my children.  

This is actually the first time that we've done the Santa thing.  Last year I was just too exhausted to even try to deal with a shopping mall during the Holidays, and when you're raising your kids (mostly) Jewish it seems a little weird to push the Christmas thing too much.   We are definitely going to make the Santa visit an annual event, because nothing says "Happy Holidays" quite like torturing your children in the quest for a great photo.

Now that we've survived our inaugural visit to Kris Kringle, and we've lived to tell the tale, I've got a few tips to make your journey to the North Pole relatively painless.

Age is more than just a number.  Unless you really, really want a keepsake photo of your infant screaming in Santa's arms, skip the trip to the North Pole until your kids are older.  The Muffin Man is the perfect age to introduce the tradition, and he had a great time with the whole adventure.  Younger siblings, of course, get forced to do everything their older brothers do, so Rose got dragged along, placed in the arms of a man who might very possibly be a sexual predator, and told to smile.  Not surprisingly this did not go over very well, which is I'm sure something she will discuss at length with her future therapist. 
 
Make a reservation.  Remember when you used to go to nightclubs and the doorman would ask if you were on the list?  Don't be one of the losers standing outside the velvet ropes watching all the cool people get in while you freeze your ass off outside - find the Santa closest to you and book a time to visit.  Then you just print your ticket, show up at the appointed time, and enjoy a painless trip to the North Pole without your children whining every five minutes about how long they've been waiting.   

Bring snacks.  If you have children and you have not yet learned to travel with non-perishable food items on your person at all times, you need to repeat Parenting 101.  There is no bigger guarantee of an epic public tantrum than forcing a hungry kid to do something he doesn't want to do.  Double points for the fact that unwrapping and eating snacks will occupy your children for at least two minutes.

Prep them in advance.  If Santa is on your must-do list, be sure and talk him up for at least a week beforehand.  Don't just take your kid, plop him on some creepy old man's lap and hope for the best, because there ain't no way that's going to work.  We read stories about Santa and talked to Noah repeatedly about who Santa is and what he does on Christmas Eve.  At first he seemed a little weirded out about a strange man coming down his chimney (as well he should, under normal circumstances) but he warmed up to the idea and was ready to share his very long wish list by the time we made our visit to Saint Nick.  I also made sure that we really pushed the whole "naughty or nice" concept because that shit is like a holiday gift to parents when your kiddo is throwing a tantrum or refusing to eat his dinner.

Count on inflation.  While it may be free to visit Santa, those keepsake photos are not, and I can tell you that the price for embarrassing photos of your offspring has gone up a whole heck of a lot since I was a kid.  Don't count on using your iPhone to snap a great shot, because that's not allowed and Santa will sic one of his more burly Elves on you if you even try.  Perhaps photos with Santa have always been expensive, but these days it's practically highway robbery.  I didn't really need a photo package of said shot - including at least six wallet size and an 8x10 - but since they don't let you purchase just one lone photo I'm now trying to foist these pictures off on every relative I can think of.

Laugh.  If I've learned one thing it's that nothing, nothing ever goes as planned when it comes to kids.  Plan for the best, expect the worst, and laugh at whatever goes wrong.  If that doesn't work, there's always wine and Xanax.

If you have a hilarious and/or embarrassing photo with Santa, be sure and share it over on the Misadventures Facebook page.  I love confirmation that I'm not the only parent torturing her children for the sake of being "festive".

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Preschool Panic: Lunchbox Edition Part II

Mommy doesn't put nearly enough cookies in my lunch.
Once and awhile, I receive emails from readers.  Oftentimes they are to the effect of: "you're a horrible Mother and your kids should be taken away", to which I respond by sending a photo of myself drinking wine and giving them the finger.  I realize it's not the mature way to respond, but it makes me laugh, and really, isn't life all about humor?

Lately, though, I've received some really lovely missives from people who liked my lunchbox post and said that they were inspired by my lunch ideas!  Well, that right there is Hanukkah gift enough for me (unless you're my spouse, in which case you better be purchasing me something from my gift guide).

So, just in case you're in need of a little more Lunch-spiration (cute, what I did there, right?) to carry you through to the end of the school year in a few weeks, I've got another round-up of greatest hits from the Muffin Man's lunch offerings.

But first, I bring to you a few more lunchtime tips:

Buy some tiny cookie cutters.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I purchased a set of these, but I blame it on Pinterest and the fact that I can shop on Amazon while I drink.  Anyway, I bought them and I resisted using them, and then one day I decided to cut the Muffin Man's turkey into flower shapes and he was so excited by it that he actually took the turkey off of the bread and ate it alone.  This is a chid who I practically have to hold down and force feed protein, so the fact that he then asked for more flower-shaped turkey has alleviated all of my guilt about online shopping while tipsy.

Penguin ice packs.  I realize it seems totally ridiculous to purchase fancy ice packs for my kid's lunch, and a few months ago I would have agreed with you.  To my mind, if you already have free ice packs in your freezer (left over from your One Potato shipment, natch), then you have no need to spend money on something else.  While this is good in theory, in practice shoving a giant ice pack in my son's lunch bag not only made it impossible to zip closed, but so heavy that Noah couldn't carry it.  Seriously, the poor kid would pick it up and practically be pulled over on his side thanks to my cheapness.  So I broke down and ordered some of these lightweight ones, and we're all much happier.  Also, you can never really go wrong with penguins.

I totally want to order an OmieBox that has a removable insulated piece that keeps food hot or cold for up to six hours.  What a cool idea - and I love that it was invented by a Mom!

What Noah's noshing:
kids school lunch ideas
Pretzel bites with cream cheese and flower-shaped turkey cutouts, yogurt with Trader Joe's Super Seed and Ancient Grain blend, Trader Joe's crispy crunchy broccoli florets, 
strawberries and watermelon.

kids school lunch ideas
English muffin with melted cheese and turkey (with ketchup for dipping), 
Trader Joe's crunchy coconut and cashews, organic sugar snap peas, grapes and clementines

kids school lunch ideas
Carrots and cucumbers, Trader Joe's organic hummus, Food Should Taste Good crackers and Trader Joe's goat milk cheddar cheese, blackberries and strawberries

preschool lunch ideas
Crunch Master gluten free multi-grain crackers with soft goat cheese, clementine and strawberries, cucumber and sweet pepper, Lucky Cow jerky, sweet potato mini muffins

preschool lunch ideas
Gluten free corn pasta with olive oil and parmesan, cucumbers and black olives, Trader Joe's freeze dried strawberries, apples with Barney Butter almond butter

preschool lunch ideas
Edamame and brown rice, Trader Joe's freeze dried raspberries, grapes and clementines, 
pretzel bite with goat cheese.  

I really need to start packing lunches for myself, because the leftovers I've been scavenging from the Little Lady's high chair really aren't cutting it.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Leftovers


Despite the fact I have been known to watch an episode or two of the HBO series by this moniker, (mainly because its star once said hello to me at a party), today’s post isn’t about Justin Theroux.  Yes, he's delicious, but I'm talking about all those delicious leftovers clogging up your fridge once Turkey Day has come and gone.

Traditionally, the Haasbund and I don’t usually do much in the way of celebration for this holiday. In years past we have been known to frequent the place we wed for a relaxing, kitchen-free weekend. The Parker Palm Springs offers a lovely Thanksgiving meal delivered right to your door, sans the cooking and cleanup. The best part: you only have to eat it once. 

I know some people's favorite part of Thanksgiving is all the leftovers, but I'm not a huge fan of poultry.  Honestly, I really only Thanksgiving for the sweet potatoes.  

That having been said, this year, the Haasbund and I found ourselves home with a friend who had nowhere to go. That was excuse enough for me to make a big deal of the day and I set out to create an impressive menu:

Butternut Squash Soup with crème fraiche 
Arugula salad with pomegranates, pears and pecans
Turkey
Gravy
Dried Cherry and Port Cranberry sauce
Sweet Potato Pie with Pecans and Marshmallows
Mashed Potatoes & Chives
Chicken Apple Sausage stuffing
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Babaka Bread Pudding
United Scoops of America Vanilla ice cream
Fresh whipped cream
Berries

Clearly more than enough for an army, never mind that we were only three adults and a toddler who's current dietary plan consists of only eating white food. Needless to say, even after sending said guest home with a care package, and gifting my neighbor with a heaping serving of bread pudding, the fridge is still full. You all know by now that I hate to waste anything, so I rose to the challenge and creatively repurposed the remains. Here is what I came up with:

Day One (Lunch) - Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich
Take a baguette, slather one side of it with mayo, the other with leftover cranberry sauce
Reheat some leftover pulled turkey in a pan with gravy
Pile turkey onto baguette, top with arugula and stuffing 
Serve with a side of sweet potatoes

Day Two (Breakfast) – Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cranberry Sauce
Mix up a batch of regular old pancakes, but stir in a helping of leftover sweet potato puree. 
Cook as you would any pancake
Top with leftover whipped cream and a heaping scoop of the Dried Cherry Cranberry Sauce

Day Three (Dinner) – Turkey and Rice Soup
Chop up some carrots, celery and an onion
Throw it in a big old sauce pan
Add Chicken or veggie stock 
Add turkey and whatever leftover fresh herbs you have on hand (I had Sage and Thyme)
Simmer over medium heat until it’s time for dinner
Serve with a hunk of baguette that’s been warmed and crisped in the oven for a few minutes with olive oil, salt & fresh pepper

Day Four (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner) – Pumpkin Pie
Because my one recipe seemed to have made enough for 2 pies and I’m the only one who eats it in this house!

Day Five –Pack it up, pack it in
Admit defeat and make care packages for those folks asking for spare change at the off ramps.Then swear off ever hosting Thanksgiving again, secretly knowing you’ll jump at the chance to do so next year.

** Post Script – the dried cherry and port cranberry sauce also makes for a delicious topping on vanilla ice cream!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

5 Things Parents REALLY Want for Christmas

what moms really want for christmas
Also add to list: photos where your kids aren't moving
Sunday evening, as I was sitting on my couch watching my children throw plastic food at each other, I realized that my 2015 Holiday Gift Guide isn't quite complete. Oh sure, there's bound to be something fabulous on there for at least one person on your list, but the things that parents truly want are items that can't be purchased.  Let's face it: you can't put a monetary value on being well rested.

1. Sleep.  Uninterrupted, peaceful sleep for at least 8-10 hours.  I realize that exhaustion pretty much goes with the territory when one is a parent, but that doesn't mean that you ever get used to it.  On the contrary; you tend to spend inordinate amounts of time talking about sleep and discussing with your spouse/friends/anyone who will listen how tired you are.  There is nothing more luxurious than a full night of sleep, in your own bed, without interruption or early wake-up calls from your children.  The only way this is going to happen is if Santa brings full time childcare down the chimney.

2. Long, hot, shower.  If they ever introduce "speed showering" as an Olympic sport, I'm pretty sure that I have a good chance of medaling.  When you have small children, showering becomes somewhat of a luxury item.  On days when I do get a chance to shower, there's a high probability that I've got about five minutes, max, before my kids need my attention or start beating each other, so I have learned the most efficient way to clean myself in the shortest amount of time.  I would love to take a long, scalding hot shower; to wash my hair multiple times; to shave my legs at a leisurely pace as opposed to fast enough to slice an artery; and to just stand there, alone, as hot water cleanses my body of all the yogurt, sand and other disgustng matter that my children have covered it with over the past year.

3. Alone time.  24 hours is all I need.  Just one full day to do whatever I want without interruption.  I would watch something on TV other than Caillou, read more than one page of a magazine, use my label maker and reorganize my linen cupboard and drink a glass of red wine while sitting on my white couch.

4. Hot meal.  I'm talking so hot that you can see the steam coming off of it.  The last hot meal I enjoyed at home was the one I cooked the night before I gave birth to the Muffin Man.  While I've learned to tolerate the taste of ice cold salmon, and room temperature pizza, I dream of someday again enjoying the particular deliciousness of a piping hot dinner.  This aforementioned hot dinner would also include being able to finish my portion before either having to share it with one of my offspring or needing to take one of them to the potty/bath/bed.  Therefore, I look forward to getting this gift under my tree sometime in the year 2032 when my kids are no longer living at home.

5.  Massage.  Kids are a pain in the neck, literally.  They are also a pain in the back, shoulders, and knees.  I'm sure the fact that I'm of an "advanced maternal age" contributes to just how stiff and achy I am at the end of every day, but every parent I know (even the young ones) complains about something.  There's not much of a chance that I'm going to find items 1-4 under my Christmas tree, so I guess I'll have to settle for a gift certificate to The NOW.  Which, if you think about it, combines almost everything into one: I can sleep on the massage table, take a long hot shower, and enjoy some alone time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Misadventures in Gifting: Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Christmas gifts for kids 2015

Thanksgiving is Thursday, so hopefully you've ordered your turkey, stocked up on wine, and picked up your Xanax refill.  Of course, right after you're finished stuffing your face and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, the Holiday shopping madness will commence; because nothing says "holiday spirit" like coming to blows over Tickle Me Elmo.

Hanukkah starts on December 6th, so if you're one of the Chosen People, you're really going to have to hustle to get all of your shopping done in time.  The good news is that I've done most of the hard work for you and you won't have to endanger your health or your sanity braving those black Friday sales.  I've got something for pretty much everyone on your list, and here's the best part: you don't have to leave your couch to do your holiday shopping.  So take off your pants, pour yourself a glass of wine, and start spending your spouse's money.

All Amazon links are affiliate links, so I'll get a small commission if you purchase any of those fabulous items.  Think of it as a little Hanukkah gift to yours truly for entertaining you this year.

For the Little Chef in your Life:
Christmas gifts for kids 2015

Because Kids have an attention span of three minutes:
Christmas gifts for kids 2015
1) Micro Mini Scooter 2) Indestructible Nursery Rhymes 3) Don't Break the Ice
4) Candy Matching Game 5) Foreign Language Blocks
6) Bookroo book subscription* 7) Wild Bingo 8) Kinetic sand
*My gift to YOU is $4.00 off your Bookroo purchase! (automatically applied at checkout)

For the woman in your life (AKA, YOU):
gift ideas for moms


For the Renaissance Man in your life:
Christmas gifts for dads

Because when you have kids you need booze (and practical stuff, too):
Christmas gifts for parents

For those people who DIY and watch The Food Network:
Christmas gifts ideas 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, my lovelies!  May your holiday be filled with moist turkey, fattening sides, and plenty of good wine.

xoxo

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving Before and After Kids


Thanksgiving is one week from today, which means it's only a matter of days until you can eat leftover pie for breakfast without people judging you.  It also means that we're only days away from dysfunctional family get togethers and the yearly seasonal joy of attempting to get wiggling children to sit still at the dinner table.  Ah, don't you just love the holidays?!

I used to love Thanksgiving; specifically the fact that it was a mid-week holiday during which one could rest, relax, and enjoy the mouth-watering smells emanating from the kitchen.  Now that I have kids, those midweek Holidays just mean that I'll have two kids at home that I have to entertain instead of one.

Thanksgiving, Before Kids:
You sleep in Thanksgiving morning and enjoy a hot, freshly-brewed cup of coffee while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade from the comfort of your bed.  If weird-looking floats and marching bands put you in the mood, you might enjoy some morning sex.  

Afterwards, you'll whip up a delicious brunch with the bounty of ingredients you picked up at the Farmer's Market two days ago.  

Your spouse spends several hours preparing a beautiful turkey and a delicious gravy that will be the star of the Thanksgiving spread at your in-laws house.  You tell him that he makes the world's best bird, and you think it's wonderful that he always cooks the turkey no matter who is hosting dinner.  

Before leaving for your in-laws house for Thanksgiving dinner, you take a long, hot shower, blow dry your hair, put on makeup and choose a stylish outfit that flatters your amazing figure.  

You show up for dinner on time, proudly carrying a homemade pumpkin pie that you spent several hours preparing the night before.  No canned pumpkin in this pie, just organic pumpkin that you roasted and mashed yourself.  The pie shell is also homemade with artisanal butter churned by a hippie living in Topanga.  

You enjoy a relaxing dinner, including several glasses of wine, but you do get slightly annoyed that everyone who has kids leaves at 6:30pm, before they've had a chance to try your spectacular dessert.  

After dinner is over, you and your spouse meet up with some friends at your favorite local bar for a nightcap because it's a holiday weekend and you don't have to get up early the following day.  

When you finally get home after midnight you eat cold Thanksgiving leftovers in your bed and probably have more sex. 

Thanksgiving, After Kids:
Your children wake you up before sunrise, because kids don't care that it's a holiday.  

You park your kids in front of the TV while you suck down your first cup of coffee and wait for the caffeine to enter your bloodstream.  It's possible that you nod off for a few minutes, because the next thing you know your children are fighting over the remote and there is strawberry yogurt smeared all over your couch.  You wonder if your spouse is losing his hearing because somehow he is able to sleep through the racket.  

Your spouse eventually comes downstairs, not because he's planning to help with the kids, but because he needs to get his turkey in the oven if it's going to be ready in time for dinner.  You and your spouse have a fight about why he always has to cook the turkey, even though you never host Thanksgiving.  

You decide to take your kids for a walk, because it's only 7am and you will go insane if you have to be locked in the house with them for one minute longer.  Also, you're pretty sure Starbucks is open on Thanksgiving, which bothers you on a moral level, but which, ultimately makes you cry with happiness.  

While you are out, your Husband manages to dirty every single pot, pan, and utensil in the name of the world's most delicious bird.  The sight of your kitchen makes you weep, because you know that you will be up an extra two hours washing dishes.  

While your kids nap you throw together a pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin and frozen pie crust.  

While the pie is baking you fall asleep on the couch, and inadvertently burn the crust.  

Just as you are about to get in the shower, your children wake up.  You get them dressed in their holiday finery, which takes approximately an hour, and then pass them off to your spouse so that you can take a five minute shower.  You don't have time to blow dry your hair, or put on makeup, and the only outfit that looks cute on your postpartum figure is at the drycleaners, so you throw on a pair of black leggings and a shirt that's passably clean, and call it a day.  

In the ten minutes that you spent getting ready, your children have managed to smear food all over their clothing because your spouse was busy basting his turkey and not paying attnetion to your offspring, so you have to change their clothes again.  You have no back-up holiday finery, but you do manage to find some clean clothes that (sort of) match.  

It takes another 30 minutes to load up the kids, the turkey, and the burned pie, after which you are irritable and running late for dinner.  You show up 20 minutes late to your in-laws, and discover that your younger child has pooped through her diaper, and that the turkey has leaked all over your trunk.  

You and your spouse fight, again, about how stupid it is to have to bring the turkey every year.  While everyone sits down to eat, you go to change your kid's poppy diaper only to realize that you have gone off without extra clothes, which means your daughter will be dressed for dinner in a diaper and nothing else.

When you finally get a chance to eat, there is no more stuffing left, and the turkey is ice cold.  Your kids refuse to eat any of the Thanksgiving food because it's not in nugget form.  You chug a glass of wine, eat a few bites of cold turkey, and then your kids melt down because it's their bed time.  

You and your spouse leave before dessert, and don't have time to pack up leftovers.  

You eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after your kids go to bed.

You fall asleep at 8pm, right after you and your spouse have a third round of the turkey fight.

This year, I'm thankful for wine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Five Signs Your Kid is from LA

What LA kids like
New York has nuts, we've got fruit.
Lord help me, but I think I'm raising a native Angeleno.

I swore that I would never let it happen.  That despite raising them in LA, I would somehow be able to keep my children from becoming full fledged Southern California kids.  I guess I assumed that my Husband's New York-ness would be passed on through their genes like his nose, but it's starting to look like, as with most things about raising children, I was dead wrong. 

55 degrees is considered "freezing".  Yesterday, I saw a kid in a stroller wearing a snowsuit.  Let me remind you that it has not snowed in Los Angeles since 1949, and there was no snow predicted for yesterday afternoon.  However, when the coldest temperature most small children have expereinced is "hotter than Hell" I suppose that anything below 70 degrees can feel downright Arctic.  That being said, please don't turn your kid into a total weather pussy; a warm sweater, a vest, and a pair of actual shoes (instead of flip flops) will suffice for what passes as winter here. 

What is this wetness falling from the sky?  I think that kids in Los Angeles are more likely to see a Unicorn than they are to become accustomed to rainy weather.  Whenever we do have those all-too-rare rainy days, my children stare out the windows for hours, marveling at this amazing phenomenon of water falling from the sky.  I've met a few kids who are actually afraid of rain, which means they will no doubt grow up to be those LA people who become completely incapable of operating a moving vehicle at the first sight of rain.

Famous people are just...people.  If your kid doesn't already have the offspring of someone famous in his baby group, then he's sure to have at least one celebrity spawn in his preschool class.  While you may find it weird to see the star of an Emmy-winning TV show wearing glasses and yoga pants at preschool drop-off, to your kid that's just "Poppy's Mommy".  Also, unlike your parents, your kid thinks that being an actor/writer/director is a legitimate job.

Kale and quinoa.  Normal kids like to eat things that come in nugget form, or that are best served on a bun, and if you try to serve them green vegetables they turn up their nose in disgust.  Offer an LA kid a chip made of kale, and watch with amazement as he gobbles it up, declares it delicious, and asks for more.  Until 10 years ago, I'd never heard of quinoa, and I certainly didn't know how to pronounce it. LA kids bring edamame in their lunch boxes, chow down on sushi, and know their way around a bowl of posole.  My kids and their toddler food pyramid drive me insane, but one of the five things they eat is eel (yuck!), which I didn't even know was edible until I was an adult.

Beach babies.  You know you're raising an LA kid if she doesn't care about having sand in her lady parts.  Sure, the water is cold, and possibly polluted, but your kid isn't bothered by that; she's from Los Angeles!  Stock up on sunscreen and wetsuits, and get ready to sit in the traffic on the 10, because you're going to be spending the rest of your life driving your kids back and forth to parties in Santa Monica, Malibu, and Hermosa.

Eh, I suppose there are worse places to raise children.  I just can't think of any right now, what with my kids screaming about being so cold in these frigid 65 degree temps.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Five Reasons I Won't Be Sending Out Holiday Cards. Again.

holiday cards
You see what I'm saying??
Thanksgiving is only two weeks away, which means the Holidays will be here before I have a chance to shave my legs again.  This also means that we are just days away from the annual deluge of holiday cards about to hit my mailbox.  Before we had kids we would receive, at most, half a dozen cards from the small group of friends who decided to breed at a normal age instead of an advanced maternal one.  Now that we are fully in the trenches of parenthood and preschool and people popping out babies at every turn, our year is sure to end with a bang - from the mailbox falling off of the house due to the overwhelming weight of all those cards full of smiling, happy families who got their sh*t together in time to take professional photographs.

Every year I have grand plans of sending out a fancy card featuring a beautiful photo of my family, and every year I find myself staring down the barrel of New Year's Day madly scrambling to pull something together at the last minute that doesn't look like complete and utter sh*t.  Some year, it will happen.  Hopefully before I die of old age.

Planning Ahead.  There are 12 months and 365 days in every year, but somehow I'm always caught off guard when November rolls around and I haven't made any provisions for things like holiday cards or gifts. Considering that Christmas falls on the same day every year, and that Hanukkah is usually somewhere on or around there, it truly boggles the mind why this happens repeatedly.  It's like Groundhog Day for holiday cards.

My Husband.  The Husband patently refuses to pose for (or pay for) professional family photographs.  I guess he's damaged from a childhood spent being a subject for his Father's work, but he absolutely hates having photos taken, especially if they're posed.  Seriously, the guy didn't even want to hire a photographer for our wedding and, instead, wanted to just have candids from our guests.  Let's not even get into the sexual bribery I had to offer to get him to agree to the Monday Mornings series.  I guess I could spend my own money and hire a photographer myself, but nothing says Happy Holidays quite like a family photo...without your spouse.

Kids.  You know what's so annoying about kids?  They don't like to sit still.  This particular trait doesn't work all that well when a photographer is trying to capture four people, all looking in the same direction, without moving.

Money.  Setting aside the astronomical cost of postage these days, the cost for ordering some crappy printed photo cards online isn't such a bargain either.  And that doesn't even include the price of the actual photographs.  Theoretically, we wouldn't have to spend all that much money to have professional pictures done.  We could book one of the mini-sessions that last 20 minutes and cost $125 or so, but it's not like we can just roll-up in our usual wardrobes of "it looks clean" and call it a day.  Oh, no.  See, I would have to get my hair colored, because if I don't get rid of those greys people might think I am my children's grandmother, and that costs... too much.  Then I would have to get the Muffin Man's hair cut, and Chris's hair cut, and do something about the Little Lady's mullet, which would end up setting me back a total of about $100.  Then, of course, I would inevitably wind up buying a bunch of clothing for all of us because we have nothing in our wardrobes that even blend, let alone match, which would cost another who knows how much.  Lastly, the whole experience would stress me out so much that I would end up having to schedule an extra phone consult with my therapist to get a refill on my Xanax.

Time. You know what I don't have a lot of time to do?  Address 250 holiday cards.  Even if I did manage to convince my Husband to suck it up for professional photos, wrangle my kids, and get our sh*t together to take a decent shot, there's a very high probability that I would end up with a giant package of cards proclaiming Happy New Year 2016!!! sitting on my desk until Valentine's Day.  Unlike thank you notes for weddings, I don't think you have a grace period of a year in which to mail out your holiday greetings.

So, we'll be going rogue, like we do every year, and hoping that we can talk a family member into taking a halfway decent shot of us the next time we get together.  Chances are I won't be wearing make-up, and my kids will be dressed in dirty clothing, but as long as we're all looking in the same direction and one of my offspring isn't just a blur in the shot, I'll consider it a win.

Anyway, the one advantage to sending out your holiday cards via email on New Year's Eve?  Everyone is too drunk to look too closely at how filthy your kids are.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Post Halloween Blues


Maybe it’s because I grew up Jewish, but I never understood the whole “post holiday blues” business. Until now. Last week, I shared ourfamily love affair with all things October, especially the grand finale of Halloween night. And now that it’s all but a memory, I can’t help but want to count down the days until we can start the festivities all over again. I sort of, kind of, maybe, ok definitely want to cry. But alas, as I tell C when he gets super sad when a favorite outing of his is about to end, you can’t cry because it’s over, you have to smile because it happened. I know it’s an old adage, I know I sound cliché. But ladies and gents, it is just so because it’s true. As I fight the urge to drown my sorrows and laments for the passing of the Pumpkin Latte in the new season of Gingerbread, I figured I’d pen one last post as a fond farewell.

 The Halloween celebration kicked off with a bang at C’s preschool event. Since I worked (relatively) hard on his costume and feared its ruin if he wore it to school, I convinced him it would be best if he went to the school party as a rock star. So I dressed him up in (last year’s costume) of metallic leggings, a black tank top, a ripped denim vest, high tops and of course, a microphone and an electric guitar. Lord help me. I fear my child might be headed for a career in the dramatic arts as he totally and completely transformed into the role. He went up to his friends at school and sang them songs, when the music teacher came out he got up on “stage” with him and jammed along. And he told everyone he saw that day that he was a rock star. It was adorable. 

Even more adorable was the project we put together for the school – the Witch Wall. Earlier in the week I went in to school, suspended a witch hat from the rafters, put a chair underneath it and asked all the kids to make witch faces. They played along, got into the spirit, and during the party, the pictures served as a great focal point of decoration. Afterwards, the parents got to take home the pictures of their kid. And who doesn’t love a party that has you bobbing for apples, decorating wreaths, making play dough, painting pumpkins and enjoying tasty nibbles from the Fatburger Truck and Hannah’s Bananas? A good time was had by all.

 By the time Saturday rolled around, C was raring to go and ready to be a robot. Thankfully, I remembered before we left for the trick-or-treat party we were attending, that the folks we roll with usually do family style costumes. A lastminute trip to Michael’s and 15 minutes later, the Motherboard and Dadbot costumes were complete. I'm proud to say that our family costumes were a hit at the party and whilst trick-or-treating, since I figured out how to get them to light up. I’ll admit I was pretty stoked every time we got a compliment about how creative the costumes were until BAM! We bumped into another homemade robot costume. It was so much more professional looking than my piece of tinfoil wrapped box that it completely and utterly took the wind out of my sails. I desperately try not to be competitive with anyone but myself, but for those of you who know me, you know I’m my own worst critic. Needless to say, this other professional looking costume that was sewn together only lit a fire under my arse for next year.  Do you think it's too early to start planning? 

If you're still flying high on all the leftover Halloween sweets, I've got a Mommy pro-tip for you that's going to change your life. I successfully found a way to get C to part with his ridiculous haul of Kit Kats, Snickers and Tootsie Pops (minus a secret stash for Mommy, natch). You might be familiar with the famed Switch Witch concept, wherein your little one puts their Halloween candy out for the Switch Witch, in exchange for a present. I planned on doing this, until I discovered the Halloween Candy Buy Back program. Yes ladies and gentlemen, participating dentists are willing to give your child cold hard cash in exchange for the candy they collected. The sweeties are then shipped to troops stationed overseas, which makes me feel doubly good about participating. C happily parted with his treats and proudly displayed the money. I even gave him the choice that he could either spend it now and get something small, or save it, earn some more of it and get something bigger later. To my delight, he opted for the latter and said, “a SCOOTER”. 

And just like that, we're full steam ahead on the Holiday season.  Thankfully, Hanukkah has eight nights, which means that I'm so sick of latkes, presents, and overall merriment that I don't have the energy for seasonal withdrawal.