Thursday, April 30, 2015

Do Good, Eat Sweets

charitable giving los angeles

We've entered the dreaded "picky toddler" phase here at the Lane homestead.  Oh sure, everyone told me that the Muffin Man would eventually refuse to eat his usual international buffet of foodstuffs, but I didn't believe them.  Delusional as always, I thought that we would sail blissfully through the toddler years serving lamb kofta, chicken curry and asparagus quiche instead of the three toddler food groups of plain pasta, cheese pizza, and french fries.

Cue the "I told you so's", because Noah has officially become one of those kids who refuses to touch almost anything that isn't white; in the battle against empty carbohydrates I am losing dramatically.

Feeding a toddler can definitely be a challenge.  So far, my son has never gone hungry, and despite his penchant for only ingesting foods made with white flour, he doesn't have scurvy.  It is a royal pain in the ass trying to feed a picky kid who turns up his nose at a perfectly delicious, home cooked meal.  It drives me crazy that some nights I have to give Noah crackers with almond butter because it's the only thing he will eat.  If parenthood alone didn't already drive me to drink, feeding a toddler would do a damn good job of it all on its own.  But what if we didn't have a pantry and refrigerator full of back-up meal options to turn to when Noah throws a fit and refuses to eat dinner?  How heartbreaking must it be to not be able to offer your kid anything, let alone something he likes?  

In the United States, 50 million people are unsure where their next meal is coming from, and women and children suffer the most from food insecurity issues.  On a local level, one in six families in the Los Area need assistance with keeping food on the table.  

Wouldn't it be great if there was an event that would be fun for both you and your kids, and that raised money to help local families in need?  Well, I've found one, and it's fantastic, fun, and benefits a very good cause: feeding local needy families.  

Next Saturday, May 9th, grab your kids (and your wallet) and do good while you have fun at the 5th Annual Sugar & Stilettos Bake Sale Extravaganza.  

Sugar & Stilettos is like a giant school bake sale, except without the dried-out brownies and PTA infighting.  Featuring items from a selection of 25 of LA's top bakeries, including Milo & Olive, Susie Cakes, and Bouchon, this year also boasts a spectacular Sugarfina candy bar.  Admission is completely free, so all of the money raised through the sale of the mouth-watering baked goods goes to organizations working to feed hungry kids and their families.  Yes, your children will be bouncing off the walls from all the sugar, but at least you'll feel a little bit better knowing that the money you spend on macaroons and bundt cakes is going to a good cause, specifically St. Joseph Center's Food Pantry and the Westside Food Bank.  

If sugar isn't your thing, then we can't be friends, because you sound super un-fun, but there are calorie-free things to bid on at the silent auction.  Unlike at your kid's school fundraiser where they're trying to pawn off some ugly class mural for $5000, the Sugar & Stilettos auction includes things that you might actually want, like jewelry, products from The Honest Company, and a pair of stilettos signed by Amber Valetta.

Face painting and balloon animals should keep your hopped-up-on-candy children occupied while you ogle last year's "Mr. Sugar & Stilettos" Steven Weber (if you aren't old enough to remember him on Wings then we also cannot be friends) and find out which handsome Hollywood gent will proudly wear the stilettos, tiara and sash in 2015.  

Personally, I'm just hoping one of these bakeries slips some spinach in their brownies because then I'll be able to do good and get Noah to eat a vegetable.

Saturday, May 9th
11am - 3pm
2306 Midvale Ave., Los Angeles (between Olympic and Pico) 

This is a sponsored post, but all opinions about how amazing this event is, as well as how few vegetables my son eats, are completely my own.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Buy Your Mommy Something Fabulous

Mother's Day gift guide

At the risk of sounding like a horrible person I'm going to tell you what I really want for Mother's Day: I would give anything to not spend the day with my children.  Honestly, I would be thrilled if someone reserved me a room at the closest hotel so that I could read a book, order from room service and catch up on the last three seasons of Mad Men.

Since that weekend alone is definitely not going to happen, I've put together a list of Mother's Day gift ideas for items that will make you happy despite the fact that you'll have to spend your special day changing diapers. 

S'well water bottle
I like ice-cold water.  Yes, I know it's bad for my insides because it "dims my internal fire" or whatever, but I just don't find room temperature water refreshing.  These bottles keep beverages cold for 24 hours (or hot for 12), which means I'll still be able to enjoy a nice, cold drink when it's 95 degrees in the January.  Bonus: you could also smuggle a chilled white wine into the Hollywood Bowl in one of these, but you didn't hear that from me.

Alternative apparel jogging pants
I realize these are expensive for what are, technically, sweat pants, but these are well worth the money.  Here's why: they feel like sweats, but they have a flattering fit and the tuxedo stripe on the leg means that you look like you made an effort with your wardrobe, even if you haven't showered in four days!  Throw on a sexy tank top and a cute pair of sandals and you can wear these to date night without anyone (especially your spouse) being the wiser.

white rose bouquet

I realize that you can buy inexpensive flowers at Trader Joe's or the corner bodega, but sometimes it's really nice to receive an unexpected professional arrangement.  This is an especially good gift for a Grandma who lives far away and loves to tell you not to buy her a gift because she "doesn't need anything".  Personally, I'm partial to their roses.

woman's fedora
It wouldn't be a Misadventures gift guide without a hat!  I love my hats, and this wide-brim straw fedora is my accessory lust for spring.  The lighter color is perfect for warmer weather, and the wider brim means that I can wear a fedora and still protect my rapidly-aging face from the sun's rays.

sexy wedge sandal
These are my current shoe fantasy.  If you're rolling in dough or looking to really splurge this Mother's Day, these are the item to gift.  I love that these are a sexier version of my favorite old clogs, and that you could totally wear them for preschool pick-up or date night.

gold tag necklace
Gold Tag Initial Necklace, $37 (for one tag)
Normally I hate any type of jewelry that's designed for Moms; it makes me think of those horrible Jany Seymour open heart necklaces and I throw up in my mouth a little bit.  I do realize, however, that it's trendy to wear some sort of necklace containing your offspring's initials.  I love that these gold tags are simple and chic and I especially dig the reasonable price.  This is the perfect gift for a Mother's Day first timer.

lavendar bath salts
This stuff smells so good that it almost makes up for the fact that I have to remove 500 rubber ducks from my tub before I can take a bath.

milk frother
You know what lessens the sting of having to get up early after a long night with a new baby or a sick toddler?  Hot, fresh coffee with a dose of steamed almond milk.  Sure, you'll still have dark circles and a grumpy disposition, but at least you'll get to enjoy a fancy coffee without having to change out of your pajamas. 

Happy Mother's Day! May it be filled with lots of sleep, very few tantrums, and someone to clean up the kitchen after your kids make you breakfast in bed.

P.S. - for more gift ideas, be sure and follow me on Pinterest, where I'll post other goodies that strike my fancy.  You can also check out last year's gift guide.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Let's Sleep Train This Baby: Part Two

sleep training

The good news is that we survived our first night of sleep training...barely.

Before I regale you with my tale of woe, I wanted to answer a question that a few readers have asked.  I got a lot of inquiries about whether or not the Muffin Man and the Little Lady share a bedroom, which would explain my concern about her cries waking him up.  They don't share a room, but their rooms are next door to each other, and our house has less insulation than a cardboard box, so sound carries easily.  We do close both of their bedroom doors, and we use pretty powerful sound machines, but I think he hears her crying sometimes.

Now that we've cleared that up, we can get back to the issue at hand, which I like to call "sleep training: because mommy can't afford to have her eyes done".

I swear, it's like the Little Lady knew what we were up to and she decided to get back at us by waking up five times.  Not two, as is her usual m.o., but five likes she's a freaking newborn or something.  Oh my God it was painful.  Having your sleep disturbed even one time a night is no picnic, but five times reminds me yet again why sleep deprivation is used as a torture tactic.  I was so exhausted yesterday I would've totally caved under questioning in return for a full night's sleep.  

On the plus side, the five wake up calls were really a test of our commitment to sleep training, and I am happy to tell you that we didn't cave.  We didn't give her milk.  We didn't hang out in her bedroom rubbing her back and singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  We stuck to the plan.  We went in, gave her a pacifier and a blankie and then headed back to bed.  Oh, she was mad alright.  She tossed her pacifier around her crib like a rock star trashing a hotel room.  She screamed and cried and stood at the end of her crib and bounced up and down in frustration.  But you know what?  It kind of worked.  Yes, she woke up five times, but each time I only had to do the paci/blankie routine once before she fell back to sleep, which means that she never cried for longer than five minutes.  I admit that in the middle of the night it felt like five hours, but I would guess her average crying jag went on for about three and a half minutes.  Heck, I cried for longer than that after each of the four guys I asked to prom turned me down.

I will admit, however, that yesterday was a rough day.  I'm not at my best when I've been woken up five times, and while it didn't initially seem as though Rose's wails disturbed the Muffin Man during our sleep training adventure, Noah was more tired and grouchy than usual.  Rose wasn't in the best mood either, as she seems to appreciate a good night's sleep herself, so we were definitely one of the more motley crews at the playground yesterday afternoon.  I'd like to give a quick shout out to caffeine for sponsoring my parenting on Wednesday.  

So, did the sleep training work?

Well, last night, ROSE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!!!

She woke up once, at about 9:30PM, and she cried out three times.  I thought for sure we were in for another night of torture, but low and behold after she wiggled around in her crib a little bit (I was watching on the monitor) she got her pacifier back in her mouth and she fell right back to sleep.  I don't know if she woke up again in the middle of the night, but if she did she certainly didn't cry out, because I enjoyed a restful, uninterrupted 11 hours of slumber.
I am a new woman, my friends!  I can see how parenting becomes somewhat manageable, dare I say enjoyable, when Mommy is well-rested. 

Will Rose repeat her superstar sleeping habits tonight?  My God, I certainly hope so.  But either way I promise to report back.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to use my new found energy to dance a little celebration jig at my desk.

Let's Sleep Train This Baby

sleep training

Sleep Training.

I hesitate to even write those two words because I know it's a controversial topic and I'm opening myself up to a barrage of criticism, but I am tired, people.  I need a good stretch of uninterrupted sleep to happen like yesterday, so it's on: we are going to sleep train the Little Lady.

Please don't send me hateful emails with a link to an annoying article that claims letting a baby cry it out causes brain damage.  Firstly, I've probably read the article, and secondly, you know what else causes brain damage?  Having a mother who is so exhausted that she nods off while giving the baby a bath thereby causing accidental drowning.

Look, this is not my first time at the sleep training rodeo, so I kind of know what I'm doing.  The reason I haven't pulled the trigger and sleep trained the baby already is because Rose screaming blood murder in the middle of the night also wakes up the Muffin Man.  A tired and grumpy toddler is just more than an exhausted Mommy can handle, but it really does have to happen, because I looked in the mirror the yesterday and realized that I'm starting to look a lot like my grandmother... at the age of 65.

If you're a longtime reader here at the Misadventures, you know that I'm all about Attachment Parenting or whatever it's called these days.  Heck, I've spent the better part of two years with a small infant sleeping in my bed and sucking the life out of my boobies, and while I believe that Dr. Bob Sears is telling the truth when he says that eventually all kids learn to sleep through the night, I cannot possibly function on interrupted sleep cycles until Rose is five.  If you can be a good wife and a good mother and a functioning human without having slept through the night for the better part of a decade, my hat is off to you!  You are a better woman than I, and I'm sure you'll be more than happy to remind me of that fact should we ever meet in person.

I, however, know my limits.  I can't continue on this way and be the Mommy that I want to be, because I am a tired, grumpy and overcaffeinated and this morning I snapped at my sweet Husband because he didn't get my steamed milk hot enough when he made my coffee.  That's right, he made me coffee and brought it to me in bed and I yelled at him because the temperature was not "boiling lava" the way I prefer it.  So yeah, not sleeping turns me into an ungrateful harpy.  

Before you criticize my decision to sleep train too much, please keep in mind that Rose is a healthy nine month old.  She is not a newborn or even a three month old who absolutely must eat every few hours.  She gets plenty of milk and solid food during the day and is perfectly capable of sleeping for twelve hours without waking up hungry.  In fact, when I do try to feed her at night, she doesn't even want food.  She doesn't want anything to do with me or milk, and instead prefers to howl loudly from the comfort of her crib while simultaneously throwing pacifiers and blankies on to the floor of her room with a force matched only by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.  I'm pretty sure most people would agree that when even your child is rejecting your attempts to soother her, she's interested (and ready) to learn to do it herself.  

Tonight is the night.  The Hubby is on board, and I am ready to make this happen.

The good news (for us) is that Rose is almost there.  She puts herself to sleep every night, and for naps too, but for some reason she just can't seem to soothe herself in the middle of the night.  When she wakes up in the wee hours of the morning she WAILS at the top of her lungs and sometimes even stands up in her crib at the spot closest to the door so that we can more effectively hear her cries.

Because we are suckers, and because in the middle of the night you're so exhausted you'll pretty much do anything that will expedite your getting back to bed, the minute we hear a peep out of her we rush into her room and give her milk.  Oh sure, it helps her go back to sleep, but we have turned ourselves into enablers feeding her bad habits, pushing that warm, milky drug that she no longer needs; we are the people they warn you about in AA.  It stops tonight; we are cutting her off.

Here's the plan:
When Rose wakes up, give her a minute or two to try to soothe herself.

If she doesn't go back to sleep I'll go in, put her pacifier in her mouth, lay her blankie across her face, and then go back out.

Assuming that she pulls her usual stunt and throws her pacifier out of her bed and begins screaming again, I'll go back in five minutes later, put the paci back in her mouth, place her blankie over her eyes and then go back out.

I will do all of this while remaining silent, because the minute you start chatting with your baby she thinks it is party time and all of the sudden she has more energy than a club kid on Ecstasy.  I'm praying she gets the message really quickly and that I'm not up for more than 10 or 15 minutes.

We did try this with Noah and every time I went in it made him cry harder, so I finally just gave in and let him cry it out.  As I recall, he cried for about 10 minutes the first night and three minutes the second night and he's been a superstar sleeper ever since then.  But please, go ahead and tell me how I've damaged him emotionally or cognitively because I need a new topic to discuss with my therapist this week and wanting to punch you sounds like a good one.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fix My Wardrobe Maternity Edition

Did the title of this post make you sh*t yourself because you thought I might be pregnant again?  I promise you I am not at all, in any way, with child.  My uterus is more barren than summer in the Sahara desert, and I plan to keep it that way.  You can rest assured that the only thing I'm "expecting" is to end my day with an ice-cold martini.

While I, personally, am not pregnant, one of my dear friends, Dava Krause, is expecting her first child this summer!
Dava Krause
I met Dava many moons ago when I first started doing stand-up in Los Angeles, back when my boobs were perky, I had the energy to stay up after 10pm, and female comedians were still a bit of a novelty item.  Now that Dava is a Mommy-to-be, many of our recent conversations have revolved around how difficult it is to find maternity clothes that are comfortable and cute.  Oh sure, leggings are great, but once in a while a pregnant lady wants to wear something without an elastic waistband and that doesn't resemble pajamas.

When I heard that Stitch Fix had started offering maternity styles, I immediately called Dava and told her to check it out.  Believe me, if Stitch Fix Maternity had been an option when I was carrying around one of my offspring, I would've jumped on it.  Heck, anything to avoid the nightmare that is shopping while pregnant (seriously, I have PTSD from that experience).

I roped Dava into being the subject of this month's Stitch Fix post.  Mostly because I think she looks super adorable in the pieces she chose, but also so that I could avoid having to make myself presentable for photos of what I got in my box.  Thanks to Dava it is entirely possible that I will go an entire month without washing my hair.  Jury's out on whether that's something I should publicize.

I digress.

Let's get back to the issue at hand and see what Dava got in her Fix:  

Sierra Max Dress
LA Made Maternity Sierra Maxi Dress, $118
I liked it in the box and I like the style and color but when I put it on it fit weird.  It made my boobs look floppy and it just didn't fit right.  RETURNED

I didn't love the dress in the box and probably would never have picked this out for myself, but when I put it on I loved it  It fits perfectly, makes me look pregnant and not fat, and it gave me awesome cleavage (hey, if you've got it, flaunt it.)  KEPT.
Love the jacket.  It hits me at just the right spot so it's flattering and it will go with everything I wear this spring from jeans and a t-shirt to a cute dress.  KEPT
Editors note: I think this looks so cute on Dava, and she'll be able to wear the jacket even after the baby arrives.  

Jeandra Crochet Top
Eight Sixty Jeandra Crochet Lace Top, $48
I liked the color and the neckline and the crochet, but it was just too baggy.  When you're built with a big butt/legs and you're pregnant the last thing you need is a baggy top.  Gotta show off that bump or you just look large.  RETURNED

Saira maternity skinny jean
DL1961 Saira Maternity Skinny Jean, $174
I really like these.  They don't make me look amazing and they are pricey, yes, but let me tell you people how impossible it has been to find maternity jeans that are HALF flattering.  Plus they have elastic on the side of the waist and then the front dips down a little lower leaving room for your belly instead of having one of those annoying elastic things that you pull over your whole bump.  They're slightly big on me so hopefully I'll be able to wear these through the end of my pregnancy.  KEPT
Editors note: I know Dava doesn't think she looks amazing in these, but my personal opinion is that they are incredibly flattering and really chic, and they look just like regular jeans as opposed to preggo pants.  

Overall I was very very happy!  It saved me hours of miserable jean shopping and I got a few adorable items I would have never picked out myself.

Thank you, Dava (and baby), for sharing your Fix results!  The stuff you chose was so cute it almost made me think it wouldn't be so horrible to have another baby.  Then I realized that is crazy talk and I called in a refill on my birth control just for good measure.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Misadventures in Los Angeles: Beach Day

Annenberg community beach house

As a transplant to Los Angeles, I have a real love/hate relationship with this city of concrete and broken dreams.  On the days when all the freeways are parking lots, the sun is frying every living thing in its reach, and the paparazzi are blocking the entrance to our neighborhood coffee shop in the hopes of a Kardashian sighting, I dream of escaping to the quieter, less celebrity-obsessed region of my youth.

I often lie awake at night asking myself the important questions about raising kids in LA:
  • What if the Little Lady asks for Botox for her thirteenth birthday?
  • Will the Muffin Man expect his first car to be a Tesla? 
  • When people ask my kids what they want to be when they grow up will they say "Agents"?1
These are all valid questions, and ones that make me think that perhaps I am irreparably damaging my children by raising them in Los Angeles.  But sometimes, once in a blue moon, there are days that make you realize just how amazing it can be to grow up here.

Last Friday was one of those days.

Santa Monica beach

This view, this beach, is just twelve miles from where we live.  Sure, we'll never be able to afford to buy a house in LA, and my kids are probably going to hate me because I'm not rich and famous, but at least they'll have some great photos of themselves at the beach.  And really, as long as there are good photos, who cares how much therapy you need?!

Santa Monica Beach
photo courtesy of Eric Ladin
We met up with some of our friends at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica.  If you have kids and you want to go to the beach but you never actually go because you can't handle the hassle of parking and dragging your crap down to the sand, this is the place for you.  Parking is easy and relatively inexpensive ($12 for the day).  There are paved walkways so you can take your stroller onto the beach.  The bathrooms don't have puddles of suspicious-looking water on the floor or meth heads living in the stalls.  There's a shady playground and a splash pad for when junior tires of the ocean.  Basically, the Annenberg is Mommy outing gold.  If they also offered complimentary childcare I might never leave.

Annenberg community beach house Annenberg community beach house

We went relatively early in the morning, packed a picnic lunch, and headed home before Noah's nap time.  There is a restaurant and a snack bar on the premises, but honestly it's just so much easier to bring food from home that I know for sure Noah will eat.  Plus, ain't no way I was going to take a toddler to a restaurant without spousal backup.  I may be crazy, but even I know my limits.

Anenberg beach house
Is there anything cuter than little feet in the sand?
We ran through the waves and dug a hole in the sand and I think my feet may have gotten a teensy bit sunburned but it was the most fun I've had in a long time.  In fact, we had so much fun that the traffic on the 10 heading home didn't make me as rageful as usual.

Maybe LA isn't too horrible a place to grow up in after all...though I still pray neither of my offspring want to become agents.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

You've Got Moxie

Tracking Pixel
This is a sponsored post, but I promise it's still entertaining and super useful.
Moxie Jean
These are a few of the clothes they've outgrown this month.
My kids keep growing.  My budget for buying them clothes does not.

I swear that both the Muffin Man and the Little Lady are taller every morning.  Do children grow overnight?  Is that something I would've learned in my high school Biology class had I not been ditching school to get stoned?  Regardless, I have two growing kids, a bank account that's hovering right around "brokety broke broke", and a taste for kinder fashion that I can't afford.  Oh, and I'm drowning in baby and toddler clothing that's barely been worn but that no longer fits either of my offspring.

What's a busy Mommy to do? Order a Mailer Bag from Moxie Jean, that's what!

<a href="">Moxie Jean</a>

A few weeks ago the situation with the outgrown clothes was getting pretty bad.  I'd been stashing everything in the Muffin Man's closet, but the pile of garments was starting to get so out of control that I was worried Noah might open the closet door to get his shoes one day and end up smothered under a mountain of clothing sized 6-12 months.  The problem was that I didn't really know what to do with the stuff.  Neither my local resale shop nor the online reseller where I send my own clothes accept baby sizes, and while I'm always a proponent of donating to a reputable charity, I really wanted to be able to get some money back for the significant amount of high-quality, barely-used clothing that I'd been hoarding.

Moxie jean
He's partial to leopard...for himself. 
Just as I was beginning to despair of ever getting rid of the death trap of used clothing, I heard about Moxie Jean from a Mom friend of mine.  I popped on the internet, checked out the website, and discovered that they accept kids clothes starting at size zero!  I ordered myself a Mailer Bag and got busy sorting through Mount Clothing so that I could stuff that bag with the good items and (hopefully) receive some cash money or credit in return.

Moxie jean
There's a cute baby behind that bag somewhere.
I can't tell you how easy the whole process is, which is a Godsend when you're a busy Mom with no time.  The kiddos even graciously "helped" me stuff everything into the bag.  I sealed up the (incredibly full) envelope, handed it off to my postal carrier, and now I get to enjoy the rewards!

Moxie Jean
Rose is so into it, she's trying to sell clothes that still fit. 
I'm totally crushing on Moxie Jean for several reasons:
  • It was started by two Moms, and I love supporting entrepreneurial Mommies
  • It's a great way to go green.  Hey, recycled fashion is in, even for the three and under set.
  • Moxie Jean has really good brands!  I mean, obviously, since they just got two bags of my stuff but when I was cruising the site looking for clothes I might want to spend my credit on, there were lots of  items that would be more than appropriate for my little hipster's wardrobe.
  • They want your maternity clothes.  You haven't been pregnant in three years, yet you're still wearing pregnant woman pants?  Stop that right now and send in your maternity clothes.  
  • If you're a better person than I, and more philanthropy minded, you can donate the amount of your credit to families whose kids are undergoing treatment at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, and in need of clothing.  I mean, how cool is that? 

Listen, if you're hoarding baby clothes despite the fact that your husband had a vasectomy and you've already gone through menopause, it's time for you to order a Moxie Jean Mailer Bag.  Stop hanging on to every. single. onesie. ever worn by each of your six children and get yourself some cash that you can use to pay for all the therapy sessions you need in order to discuss why you can't let go of your son's baby clothes.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Moxie Jean.  All of the opinions about how amazing it is to get paid for a bunch of clothes your kids no longer wear are my own.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Preschool Panic: Live and Learn

Too cool for (pre)school
Basically preschool is the bane of my existence.  We're waiting to hear back from one of the schools we applied to on our post-rejection second round, but the good news is that we did, finally, get accepted somewhere.

It's practically a Passover miracle, if that's even a thing.

I'm going to be honest with you here, it totally sucks to be scrambling at the last minute trying to find a school for your kid that's good enough.  Forget first choice, or second choice, or even choice; at this point I'm just happy to have a spot at a school where the teachers aren't on a Megan's Law list and they don't serve SPAM for snack.  In all honesty, the school we're still waiting to hear from is totally adorable and had I known of its existence a year ago, I would've saved myself some migraines and applied there in the first place.

The thing about parenthood is that it is 100% a live and learn type situation.  You really can't prepare for being a parent.  You can take classes and talk to people who have kids but there is no way to truly know how to do it until you're muddling through.  Of course this means that your first child is pretty much a guinea pig for every parenting decision/mistake/success, but that sort of goes with the territory.

In terms of the whole preschool process, I am here to tell you that I made almost every mistake in the book.  It's not entirely my fault - I couldn't afford to take many Mommy and Me classes, and, as a result I didn't have any mommy friends who knew the ins and outs of the preschool game - but I want to save you the pain of what I went through and share what I wish I'd known about applying to nursery school from the beginning.

1. Watch Nursery University.  This is a documentary about getting into preschool in Manhattan, but it absolutely applies to what happens in Los Angeles as well.  You will laugh at the desperate parents and shake your head at how patently ridiculous the whole thing is, but if you want to get into a good preschool heed the warning in the documentary!  Don't be a naive idiot like yours truly and think only crazy New Yorkers would go to those ridiculous lengths to get their children into preschool.  Oh no.  Angelenos are exactly the same, just with more plastic surgery and fewer black clothes.  

2. Tour early, tour often.  This is the one aspect of the preschool process that I got (sort of) right.  I started touring preschools way back when the Muffin Man was only eight months old, but then I got knocked up and got side tracked by having a baby and I dropped the ball.  People will laugh at you for looking at nursery schools when you're pregnant or have a newborn, but you'll be having the last laugh when you see some lady like me at the tour who is willing to sell her second born for a spot in the upcoming fall class.

3. Like a school? Work it. Work it hard.  Once you tour all of the schools you're interested in, there's a strong possibility that you will fall in love with one particular institute of lower learning.  If that's the case, put all of your energy into getting a spot at that school.  Find friends, or friends of friends, or even friends of your cousin's sister-in-law who attend the school and get to know them.  The more friends you have at your first choice school, the better, especially if one (or more) is willing to write you a recommendation letter.

4. Apply ASAP.  If your first choice school has year-round or rolling admissions, apply right away.  Don't pull an Anna and miss the priority application deadline at your dream school because life got in the way.  You'll feel like a real dope if you could have applied a year earlier and had a very good chance of getting your kid a spot just by being the first in line, but you had a second baby instead and then forgot.  Don't be a dimwit.

5. Give a little, give a lot.  Find out when the fundraiser is for your first choice school, and make a donation.  Yes, I know that I thumbed my nose at the practice of donating to a school that your kid doesn't attend, but the reality I was wrong; very very wrong (my Husband can't believe I just said that out loud).  This is how it's done here in LA, apparently.  I wish I'd known that if you want a spot in the class of 2015, it helps to pony up for the fundraising auction.  Donate your family's time share in the Bahamas, or even a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant.  On a tight budget?  Your time alone is valuable, so volunteer to work the name tag table.  It definitely can't hurt to have your family listed in the auction catalog, and we all know that the Director of Development definitely puts in a good word about generous families with the Admissions person.

6. Attend the fundraiser(s).  Yes, they are expensive, and a real pain in the ass, but you know what's even more expensive and even more of a pain in the ass?  Having to shell out additional money and  additional time applying to a bunch of back-up schools.  Plus you'll get to know people at the school you like and you'll have a chance to meet the Director of Admissions in a fun and informal setting.  Just try not to hit the no host bar too hard and risk losing your a spot at dream school number one because mommy can't hold her vodka.

I'd like to gently suggest that you try to fall in love with a school that goes from Preschool to grade twelve.  Otherwise you'll have to do this all again for kindergarten...and middle school...and high school.

Break out the Xanax, cause Mommy's about to have an anxiety attack.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Misadventures in Crafting: Easter Tree

It's getting' festive up in here, folks.  Passover starts tomorrow at sundown, so naturally we got into the holiday spirit by... dying some Easter eggs.  What can I say but that we are obviously fully committed to confusing our children at every opportunity.

I don't know what's happening to me, but I bought a glue gun and spent way too much time over on Pinterest looking up how to make an Easter egg tree.  Somehow I can't find ten minutes to shower, yet I have plenty of time to waste surfing craft boards for a holiday that I don't even celebrate.  I admit that I actually enjoyed myself a little bit and I'm kind of ridiculously proud of the fact that I managed to execute a crafty type thing without burning my house down.  Oh, and it looks kind of cute, too.

The Hubby is the one who came up with the idea for the tree, as apparently this is some sort of tradition in WASP-centric areas of the East coast (I'm looking at you here, Connecticut) and his family used to make one every year.  I suspect that my Mother-in-Law's Easter trees were a bit more "folk art" than "dead twig from the garden", but you gotta work with what you got.

How to make a half-assed Easter tree:

Get your spouse involved.  Since I don't know how to blow eggs (or men, apparently), I forced the Hubster to participate in my craft project.  I think he secretly enjoyed himself, though I now have a bowl full of unseparated eggs and no idea what to do with them.

Use child labor.  Why dye eggs yourself when you have small human thrilled to do it for you? Obviously, if you're an OCD perfectionist, it will probably really bother you to have a tree full of puce colored eggs, but at least it will keep your children busy for ten minutes while you have a glass of wine/check Instagram.

Repurpose old gift ribbon.  I'm all about going green as long as it doesn't involve using cloth diapers, so I found some old ribbon leftover from my birthday and used that to make the hanging loops.  My hot glue gun was the perfect thing to secure the ribbons to the eggs.  I suspect you could probably use fabric glue too, but you'll have to get confirmation on that from one of those Pinterest people who hang out at Michael's crafts.

Get your child and spouse outside.  Giving a toddler permission to pick up sticks and bring them inside is like Heaven on Earth for the under-three set.  Send your small human and your partner outside with instructions to find some twigs or branches perfect for holding Easter eggs.  If you live in a large urban environment this will take a significant amount of time and you will be able to enjoy your wine and/or order dinner in peace.

Justify your Target clearance purchases.  The moss and the vase filler were both items that I snatched up on the clearance aisle at Target.  I had no use for them when they were purchased, but they were too cheap to pass up and I just knew that I would want these weird items eventually.  Five years later, I'm so glad that I had them stashed away!  The vase is one of those free ones that came with a floral arrangement that I was planning to sell at my garage sale, so I guess my own trash has turned into my own treasure.

Pat yourself on the back for doing something positive that involved your children.  Holiday crafts are parenting gold, people.  Sure I could've tried to make natural Easter egg dyes and used eco-friendly chalk paint to turn my twigs white, but ain't nobody got time for that.  I threw this sh*t together at the last minute and it looks good enough.  These days good enough is more than enough.

Happy Passover and Easter, my lovelies!  Here's hoping the wine is cold, the repast is tasty, and the chocolate eggs are Belgian.

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