Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hotel Haas

by Allyson Haas
Wedding at Parker Palm Springs
The first trip the Haasbund and I ever took together was a weekend jaunt to the Parker in Palm Springs. Gravel pathways, waiters delivering room service on bicycles, dogs walking around with pink bandanas - it was my idea of getaway perfection.  Throw in tennis courts, an insane Yacht Club of a spa, not one but two pools, a life-sized chess board, and an outside bar dedicated to my all time favorite beverage: lemonade; needless to say I was instantly smitten (with the hotel and the man, obviously). But alas, with room rates way above my pay grade, I knew there was no way I could treat the Haasbund to something so decadent in return. (I meant reciprocate financially, you sex-starved animals; get your mind out of the gutter).

As a token of my appreciation, the Hotel Haas was established. I stocked up on supplies to keep us home for the weekend and little luxuries to make us feel like we escaped: slippers taken from a previous night’s stay at a hotel, little shampoo and conditioner bottles in the shower, a fully stocked mini bar for our “suite.” I went so far as to print a menu so he could choose what he wanted for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And while not at all on par with the level of amazing that is the Parker, the Hotel Haas has a charm all its own, so much so that the moniker stuck. Any time a friend from out of town passes through, or a family member comes to visit, they get five star quality service; complete with a mint on the pillow. A good girlfriend of mine enjoyed her stay here so much that she gifted me with a Hotel Haas logo stamp as a token of appreciation. It has come in quite handy, especially for dinner parties.

DIY Menu cards

I put my fancy logo stamp to good use a few weeks ago, when we hosted a work dinner for the Haasband's Business Partner and a colleague. I really wanted to roll out the red carpet for these gents, so first I cleaned the house and did my best to hide the evidence that we have a child who likes to express his artistic side by drawing on the walls and/or the furniture. After I worked my magic with non-toxic cleaning products and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, I got down to the business of executing a fantastic dinner party.  Once I decided what to serve, I typed up a menu and printed it at home on some of the extra cardstock I keep on hand. In just 15 minutes, and with minimal effort and expense, I had individual menus ready to be tucked into the napkins to serve as the evening’s place cards.

It was Pinterest-worthy, if I do say so myself.

flipbooks for kids
The dinner was a big hit thanks in no small part to the Haasbund’s Business Partner, who had the forethought to bring gifts for our son that were so engaging that C actually sat still while we enjoyed dinner. C was so enthralled by these photo flip books of Safari and Ocean Animals that he entertained himself (and the company) by proudly yelling out and spelling the names of the animals he knew. I'm adding these books to my go-to gift log, because they are so cool I can't imagine anyone would even think about re-gifting. 

I sent everyone home with a piece of Olive Oil cake wrapped up for The Morning After, because while there might not have been a whole lot of action happening at the Hotel Haas that night (the Haasband and I collapsed from exhaustion at the late hour of 9:30PM), I always have high hopes for my guests. 

Olive Oil cake
(recipe adapted from Food52)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup organic raw cane sugar
¾ cup Coconut sugar
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp fleur de sel
1 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cup whole (or raw) milk
3 large eggs
1 ½ TBSP grated orange zest
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Confectioner’s sugar (for decoration)

Heat the oven to 350. 

Spray a 9 inch pan with coconut oil spray (or butter). 

In one bowl, whisk the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients. 

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk just until combined. 

Pour batter into cake pan and bake until top is golden (about an hour). 

Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely. Before serving, slice and dust with a respectable amount of confectioner’s sugar.  

Assuming you don't eat the entire thing in one sitting while binge watching True Detective, save a little bit of the cake for breakfast - it's delicious spread with fresh raspberry jam.  

I don't currently have any plans to list the Hotel Haas on Air BNB.  Primarily because our "guest quarters" are currently housing a small, yet very demanding human, but also because our bathrooms, while fully functional, are, in LA parlance "in need of a little work". 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summer No-cation

Cabo San Lucas anniversary
Travel, B.C. (Before Children)
The dog days of summer are (almost) upon us, and my Instagram feed seems to be chock full of beautiful photographs of people's summer vacations.  This morning, after cruising the 'gram and seeing yet another round of Italian and Hawaiian getaways, I began to bemoan my own lack of summer vacation plans.  Then it dawned on me: I HAVE CHILDREN.  Do you know what it's like traveling with children?  It is not, in any way, what I would call a vacation.

Vacation (noun):
1. a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest
2. freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.

That's pretty much the opposite of what it's like to travel with children.

Laguna Beach vacation with kids
Travel, A.C. (After Children)
1. The stuff.  Why do small humans have so much crap?  I can (and have) traveled for five weeks with nothing more than a carry-on bag, a money belt, and a prescription for Cipro, so why do my offspring need two bags every time we go somewhere for only one night?  The noise machines, the blankies, the pacifiers, the swim diapers, the sunscreen, the hats... I am exhausted just thinking about packing all that sh*t.  Forget the exotic locale, I'll just take my kids to the Grand Park Splash Pad where they can still get sick from drinking the recirculated water, but I don't have to worry about losing their passports!

2.  The time zones.  Jet lag sucks, even if you're an adult, but little kids, who are completely dependent on sleep schedules, get all kinds of f*cked up if you reverse their day and night.  You know what's a real buzz kill on vacation?  Being exhausted all the freaking time because your kid's circadian rhythm is all kinds of wacked out.  Thanks, but I'll stay right here in the PST zone where I have at least a 50-50 chance of getting a decent night's shut eye.

3.  Toddlers on a Plane.  Forget Snakes on a Plane, if you want horror that's guaranteed to keep you awake at night, it's traveling internationally (or even across the country) with two wiggly humans who won't sit still and prefer to express their emotions BY YELLING.  The bygone days of air travel - when I drank champagne, slept peacefully and enjoyed a good book without interruption - are a thing of the past.  Airplane travel with small children involves pacing up and down the narrow aisle with a screaming one year old while your spouse attempts to get your older child to stay in his seat with either bribery or Benadryl.  Oh, and that's the best case scenerio.  These days you're liable to get arrested or thrown off the plane because you had the nerve to procreate and then try to travel with your children!

4.  Hotel room.  Notice that I wrote "room", not "rooms" or "suite" because when your kids are little you can't just stick them in the adjoining room and hope they don't pull a Johnny Depp.  Nope, if you're traveling with little kids they have to sleep in the room with you or, in our case, in a portable crib in the bathroom or closet.  Nothing says romance like trying to have some sexy times without waking the babies and then having to hold your pee in all night because one of your kids is sleeping next to the toilet.   

5.  Childcare.  If I had billions of dollars and could afford to have our babysitter travel with us, this wouldn't be an issue.  Since the only thing we have billions of dollars of is debt, I don't think we'll be taking our childcare on the road anytime soon.  Here's the thing: little kids have this annoying habit of wanting (or, in Rose's case, needing) you to pay attention to them all of the time.  While your vacation fantasies may involve sitting on a lounge chair reading trashy magazine, drinking Mai Tais, and hoping you don't blackout in the adult pool, what you'll really be doing is keeping your offspring from drowning and yelling at them to not eat the sand.  I don't know about you, but that sounds about as relaxing as spending a weekend hanging out with my Husband's ex-wife.  

Needless to say, all of this is why I'll be spending my summer enjoying a "stay-cation" here in the dried out, sweltering, far-from-picturesque City of Angels.  Sure, it's no Ko Phi Phi, but at least I can drink the water and I don't need a prescription for anti-malaria tablets.  Unless, of course, I forget to empty out our fancy plastic pool for a few weeks.   

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fix My Wardrobe: June Edition

I know, I look like my Mother. 
It's been a whirlwind few months around these parts, what with getting geared up for preschool, my (paying) job, and the celebration of the Little Lady's first year.  I've been so busy, in fact, that I somehow let over three months go by without sharing a Stitch Fix post!

Apparently there are more pressing issue than my sartorial choices.  Hard to believe, I know.

I've been making an effort to get more professional here on the ol' blog, and in that vein I actually hired a real, professional photographer to shoot my fashion (and design) posts.  I know you're all going to miss the truly outstanding photos that have accompanied my pieces up until this point, and I'm sure that a small part of me will yearn for the quality shots my Husband took while simultaneously texting and chatting on conference calls.  I promise that while the photos are now of a better quality, they certainly don't hide the fact that I am aging rapidly and my boobs are sagging...even with the filters I put on them.

It's all thanks to the talented Tuna Boon that I look even halfway decent in these photos.  Tuna also shot the Little Lady's nursery, which you can take a walk through here.
 
Skies are Blue Medan Scalloped Crochet Top
Skies are Blue Medan Scalloped Crochet Top
Skies are Blue Medan Scalloped Crochet Top, $48.00
I loved the color of this top and orange is one of my go-to colors because I think it looks good on my seriously sun-damaged pale skin.  This top, however, was so boxy and really didn't do anything for my already less-than-ideal figure.  Also, I personally consider crochet to be part of the lace family, and I don't do lace.  RETURNED.

Pixley Linden Sheer detail sleeveless top

Pixley Linden Sheet detail sleeveless top
Pixley Linden Sheer Detail Sleeveless Top, $54.00
Obviously, I loved the color of this top, and I loved that I could wear it to Mommy and Me or to a work meeting and not feel under or over-dressed.  I had totally planned to keep this one until I wore it for about half an hour and the mesh detail was so itchy that I almost scratched myself raw.  If only open wounds were the hot look for fall, this would be my go-to shirt.  RETURNED.

Pixley nelda halter blouse
Pixley Nelda Halter Blouse, $44.00
I loved, loved, loved this in the box.  The print is so cute and I thought it would be the perfect shirt for the summer.  Then I put it on and I almost ran screaming from my own reflection.  This makes me look so boney and like my chest is concave (instead of just saggy).  Total disappointment.  RETURNED.

Level 99 Dilan distressed boyfriend jean

Level 99 Dilan distressed boyfriend jean
Level 99 Dilan Distressed Boyfriend Jean, $108.00
I've been on the hunt for a flattering boyfriend jean for the last six months, and so far it's been a total bust.  I think I just do not have the right body type for pants that are sort of baggy.  These were so soft and I really wanted to like them, but I think they are beyond unflattering.  I was already feeling less than stellar about my postpartum body and lack of muscle tone, but thanks to seeing my non-existant ass in these photos I'm now feeling so depressed that I actually called my therapist.  On the positive side, it has renewed my determination to get back to my yoga classes.  RETURNED.

THML Kahlo short sleeve knit top
THML Kahlo Short Sleeve Knit Top, $44.00
Meh.  It was super comfortable, but I also kind of felt as though it looked like I drove to Walmart and picked it up on the clearance rack.  Nothing against Walmart - it was a lifesaver when I was doing all those road gigs - but it's also not known for being on the forefront of fashion.  RETURNED.

I'm a bit disappointed that this fix didn't yield any wardrobe gems, but you win some, you lose some. I've been Stitch Fixing for almost a year (!) so I actually have quite a few pieces of clothing in my closet that I like and that are flattering.  Now I just need to find someplace to wear them other than the park.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

By Invitation Only



Robot party invitations

While the rest of the country enjoys the summer months, reveling in the magic of what is commonly referred to as “camp” (read: craft projects, popsicles, s'mores, lanyard, friendship bracelets, color war); here in the City of Angels, the dog days of summer is when preschool begins. 

If you're not yet familiar with the nightmare it is just to get into one of these educational havens, take a minute to read this...and this... and this.  Welcome back; hopefully you're not too traumatized to continue reading.  Now, where was I?

Perhaps even more exclusive than an acceptance letter from your first choice preschool is the school’s unofficial welcome; the inaugural kid’s birthday party invite. Thankfully, C’s magical wonderland of a nursery school has an all inclusive policy: invite the whole class, or don't have a party. 

This is amazing for two reasons: one, there's nothing I enjoy more than making folks feel welcomed, and two, I LOVE a good birthday party. Admittedly, when it’s C’s turn to shine, I might throw a bit too much sunshine and glitter around, but last time I checked it's not illegal to be enthusiastic.  There's nothing like a great invitation to set the mood for a party and give the recipient some sort of idea of what to expect. 

I’m also a crazy DIMer (Do it Myself-er). While I recognize the need to pay people to do things I’m terrible at (read: anything involving technology), it pains me no end to pay people to do something I can actually make myself.  In other words, I'm cheap. I don’t buy C expensive clothes unless sourced from the local secondhand kids’ shop, and I simply refuse to pay an exorbitant amount of money for something that's ultimately going to end up in the garbage. 

In the vein of getting the most bang for your buck, I'm sharing with you the how-to for creating invitations both good looking and cheap. Which, hopefully, is not how the Haasband described me to his friends before we got married. 

DIY robot invitations

1. Choose a theme.  Ever since C started requesting I draw robots on his chalkboard wall (shortly after his train birthday last year), I knew I had my theme.

2. Make it stand out.  Try using a non-traditional element. In this digital day and age that could mean something as simple as an actual paper invitation, sent in the actual mail and delivered by an actual postman or woman. I did that in this case, but I also added a scratch-off element. A hologram sticker that revealed a secret message.

3. Personalize it. Add an element that makes the recipient feel like you did something just for them. Write a note, hand draw something, or get inventive with the addressing. For this one, I hand drew the robot on each and every invite. Very haphazard, but the overall effect was achieved.

4. Kick it up a notch Take one final look at the whole shebang and see what you can do to add more “money on the screen”, as they say in the film biz. In this instance, I added a small envelope with a spare robot part inside (a washer purchased in bulk from the hardware store) with a handwritten sticker so the recipient knew that the hologram sticker was, in fact, meant to be scratched-off.

5. Add a philanthropic element  Forgo gifts for the birthday boy or girl and instead seek either book donations for local public school libraries in need (what we opted with this year), make a donation to a charity close to your family’s heart, or check in with the Ronald McDonald House Charities to see what they currently need. Request those items in lieu of gifts. The possibilities are endless here, as there are so many great organizations in need of a little help. And what better way to teach your child how to affect change than to ACTUALLY do so. I’m all about that.

6. Put a stamp on it. Go the extra mile and see if the local post office has a stamp that fits your theme. For Caleb's first Rock Star birthday, I got Johnny Cash stamps. His second I did trains. Sadly this time around, there wasn’t a robot stamp, so I just chose the "From Me to You" stamp.

7.  Admire your handiwork.  I'm all about giving oneself a pat on the back (or a toast with a glass of great bubbly) but don’t dither too long, or you’ll miss the one month advance notice window and no one will be able to come because they already committed to some other kid's party.

8.  Back pedal (optional).  Realize you forgot a key piece of information on the invite (like maybe how to RSVP)?  Make up for it by sending an on-theme email. In this case, my email was titled System Error.

9. Take a Xanax when you realize you have to do this all over again with the thank you notes

Total time spent: 5 days
Total money spent: $84

And in case your child’s fancy doesn’t include intelligence of the artificial sort, below are some pictures of the invites from birthdays 1 and 2.  Yep, I’m that mom.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Preschool Panic: You're Ready

Los Angeles preschool

It's really happening: the Muffin Man is starting preschool.

This week, we're attending a series of play dates at Noah's new school so that he has a chance to become comfortable in the space and gets to meet his fellow classmates and the teachers.  I know these play dates are designed to help with the transition process, but I was mostly thrilled to have this opportunity to suss out just how many crazy parents I might have to avoid at drop-off every morning.

So far, everyone seems both normal and hip, so it's entirely possible I'm the crazy parent.  Note to self: call therapist to discuss this possibility and get refill on Xanax.

But I digress.
 
My friends, the school we chose (or, rather, ended up at) is magical.

Oh sure, I paid lip service to everything happening for a reason and how I was sure this was the right place for us, and blah blah blah, and I remember thinking after our tour that the school was incredibly charming, but today, when we walked through the gate and Noah instantly made himself at home, I felt as though the skies opened up with sunbeams and the angels started singing.  All the anxiety and sleepless nights I'd spent worrying about Noah becoming a drop or and a street kid thanks to my abject failure at the preschool application process were for naught.  My son is going to blossom at this place, and I'm not just saying that because they have a bed of giant Sunflowers growing in the yard.

According to my observations, this is what my son will be doing at school:

Burying himself in the sand.  I am sure that digging and raking and scooping sand teaches children valuable lessons about something scientific, but I failed "Rocks for Jocks" (AKA Geology) so I have no idea what that could be.

Drowning his friends in the water table. There's nothing like seeing how long your friend can hold his breath to initiate a stimulating Health Class on CPR!

Checking out what other kids are eating for lunch.  My only hope is that his curiosity with regards to what his friends are eating for lunch results in his deciding to broaden his current dinner rotation of brown rice, plain pasta, and pizza.

Finding out if red paint really does stain all his clothing.  Um, yes, it does, which is reason number 462 I buy all of his clothes used.  If I were a really good Mother I would use laundry day as a teaching opportunity about surfactants and soap and whatever, but that's never going to happen and, as a reminder, I failed science.

Small toilets are more fun than toys.  I'm sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but so far I've taken Noah to the bathroom seven times during our hour-long play dates, and it's only Tuesday.

Come to think of it, preschool sounds amazing.  I wouldn't want to stay home with me and Baby Sister either.  Especially since I try to pass off helping unload the dishwasher as "developmental play".  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Party Baby

Baby Girl Birthday
Birthdays are delicious!
I have a confession to make: I totally phoned it in with regards to celebrating the Little Lady's first birthday.

I had every intention of doing it right: I set up Pinterest boards, and had grand ideas about hosting a Martha Stewart-worthy backyard shindig but I just ran...out...of...steam.  I've been using the fact that our back deck is under construction as a (very good) excuse for not having a party, but that's only half true.  The real reason I didn't go all out for Rose's birthday is that having two kids 18 months apart, a job, and very little childcare doesn't leave me with a whole lot of extra time to craft crepe paper roses and bake flower-shaped birthday cakes.  Besides, it's not like Rose is going to remember her birthday, so it doesn't really make sense to spend a ton of money on a bounce house and party favors when those shekels could be much better spent on wine.  Er, I mean, saving for a house.

I tell people all the time that one of the greatest gifts of parenthood has been learning that "good enough" is enough.  In the spirit of my new motto, I decided to put together a party that was not over the top and not glamorous, but definitely good enough.

First Birthday Party
Who needs bagels when party hats taste so delicious?
1.  Only invite immediate family.  I can see that this might not be an option if you're an only child married to an only child with parents who live half way across the country, but "immediate family" in our case equals 18 people.  If we didn't have such a big family I probably would've invited a few of Rose's little friends, but 20 guests was the most I could handle without having an anxiety attach and having to call my therapist for an emergency phone session.

Pink Baby Girl Birthday Crown
I roped my Mom into making her crown - she's a lot cheaper than Etsy!
2.  Do it at a restaurant.  You know what's amazing about restaurants?  They cook all the food, they serve all the food, and they do all the dishes.  It's wonderful.  We decided to do brunch at Canter's, because everyone loves deli food (especially a big bunch of Jews), it's reasonably priced, and we knew they would be able to accommodate our party.  Everyone was happy, even my Brother-in-Law who is a vegan, and at the end of our brunch we packed up our gifts, grabbed a pint of whitefish salad to take home, and hit the road.

Rose cupcakes
In my opinion party hats are always worth having - even for the most low key shindig. 
3.  Good cupcakes make or break a party.  I was going to attempt to make cupcakes that looked like roses, but then I realized that I was completely delusional and there was no way in Hell I would have time to bake, let alone learn how to pipe flowers out of frosting.  Once I got my wits about me, I remembered that my Lifestyle Editor, Allyson, is a professional baker and that I would be completely insane not to utilize her exceptional talents for Rose's cupcakes.  They were delicious and beautiful and everyone scarfed them down - especially the guest of honor.

rose candies

4.  Party favors are optional.  Let's be honest, most of the time the party favors your kids bring home end up in the recycling bin.  If you're going to do favors, do something unique and that's not just more crap.  I found some beautifully packaged Japanese rose candies that doubled as table decor, and were unique and interesting enough that everyone wanted to try them.  Double win: the Canter's staff threw away the empty packages after my nephews ate them all!

Little Girl easy birthday party
Chris is thrilled the party didn't cost much, and I'm happy I didn't have to clean up!
5. Don't feel like you let your kid down.  Look, there's always going to be somebody who gives you sh*t for not throwing an over-the-top birthday party.  If people want to go all out, I say more power to them!  But let's all just agree that a one year old doesn't know the difference between having a Costco cupcake at home or a destination birthday party catered by Mario Batali.  The Universal truth is that no matter how much (or how little money) you spend, your kid is probably going to end up crying before the party is over.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We all Scream for Ice Cream (and Fireworks)


I spent my formative years summering on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, so I have fond memories of spending July 4th clam baking, lobster rolling and BBQing on the beach, followed up with a viewing of the famous Oak Bluffs fireworks.  While it's hard to recreate that particular experience living in a desert climate 3000 miles away, I think I made a pretty good showing for C's third Independence Day (and the first one he was able to enjoy).

I managed to bring a little bit of that East Coast holiday goodness into play thanks (again) to our friends at Knuckle and Claw and their spectacular Lobster Roll. For good measure (and because what's a good ol' fashioned American holiday without a little gluttony) I also added a blue crab roll to the mix.  That's how we do the Fourth of July, LA style, amiright?  After all that indulgence, we rolled ourselves home to enjoy a set (or 17) of some good old-fashioned fireworks. 

I admit that living in the hills can be annoying if you forget an ingredient at the grocery store, but living far away from the hubbub of the city definitely has its advantages. From the comfort of our very own deck, and with cocktails in hand, we were able to catch the Universal City fireworks and just about every other celebration that took place in the San Fernando Valley. Watching C's amazement, as opposed to outright fear this time around, was a true joy.  Truthfully, I’m not sure if it was the fireworks or the homemade ice cream that had him loving life.  

Yep, that's how we roll here at Casa Haas: it's not a holiday until the homemade desserts make an appearance.  

If I had to live on a desert island with only one food for the rest of my life, that food would, hands down, be ice cream. So much so that I even founded United Scoops of America (trademark currently pending). While it’s still being made out of my home kitchen, my American dream is to one day have a shop of my own. None of you have signed NDAs so I’ll forgo sharing the shop’s clever concept (unless one of you is a willing investor, in which case – hit me up on Instagram) so you'll just have to make due with a recipe for C’s favorite flavor: Strawberry Basil.

Strawberry Basil Ice Cream
Ice cream is super easy to make, and always impresses husbands, guests, and small humans.  
1 pint strawberries
3 hefty sprigs of Basil
Organic cream (1 pint) - chilled
Organic Milk (1 cup)
¾ cup organic raw cane sugar plus a tsp. or 2 for macerating
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Drop of balsamic glaze (optional)

Wash and hull strawberries (i.e. remove the stem and bitter white part). 

Cut the berries and toss with one teaspoon of sugar. Let the berries sit in small bowl while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the milk and sugar just enough to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and place basil in mixture. Let steep for about an hour. 

Back to those strawberries: run them through a food processor or baby food maker to puree.

Remove basil leaves from milk mixture, and add strawberry purée, vanilla and chilled cream.  Mix until combined. 
Add to your ice cream machine according to machine’s instructions. 

If desired, five minutes before it's done, squeeze some balsamic glaze into the mix. Careful not to overdo it, just enough to add some contrast, or not at all if the basil is enough of a variant for you. 

Transfer to ice cream cartons (available at Smart & Final). 
Serve immediately if you want soft serve, or harden in the freezer for an hour before eating if you prefer scooped ice cream. If left in the freezer for more than an hour, take it out to thaw a bit before serving as the water content of the berries hardens it more than any of my other flavors. 

For true ice cream enjoyment, eat your ice cream Caleb-style: scoop into a cone, top with sprinkles and devour the taste of summer and Independence.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Get on the Potty Train

I am currently driving around with a potty in the trunk of my car.

The person I used to be has officially died.

If you'd told me when I was a young, childless person that I would one day pull my car over so that my kid could squat down and take a crap on a tiny plastic potty, I would have thought you were completely out of your mind.

Fast forward a few decades and here I am: tired, saggy boobed, and living a life that revolves around the bathroom habits of a small little man.

As you can surmise, we're currently in the midst of potty training (or "potty learning" as it's called here in La La Land).  I personally have been in no rush to get the Muffin Man out of diapers, so I haven't been a potty-pusher, but all of the sudden Noah decided that he was ready.  I respect a man who knows what he wants, so I stocked up on flushable wipes, Spider Man undies, and a few cases of wine.

Honestly, it's going pretty well.  Noah is using the potty regularly, has had very few accidents, and is pretty good about letting me know when he needs to go.  What's been most traumatic are the things I hear myself saying on a daily basis.  If my old self died when I purchased that mobile potty, my current lexicon has succeeded in burying her.

1.  You're not going to fall in.  I suppose when you're only two-and-a-half feet tall that porcelain throne looks ginormous, but I swear my kid thinks he's going to fall through the hole and be spontaneously flushed.  We've tried the smaller seats and he's still petrified of using a regular toilet.  When we're out and about and he has to go he clings to me like I'm the last helicopter out of Saigon and I might leave him behind.  This is especially fabulous when I'm also holding on to the Little Lady and trying to keep her from sampling the culinary delights offered on a dirty public restroom floor.

2. You're a Poooper Star!  This has become a common daily saying and, yes, that does depress me.

3.  Do you need to go poopy?  I find myself saying this practically every 15 minutes.  Apparently there is no situation during which it is inappropriate to ask a kid if he needs to take a crap; not even meal times are immune to this question.  Yes, it's gross, but you know what's even more gross?  Cleaning poop off of your child, his Spider Man undies, and his entire outfit.

4. You're dancing around like someone who dropped E at a rave; do you need to pee?  This is the closest I'll be getting to either doing Ecstasy or going to a rave until I'm forbidding my children to do either of these things in 15-16 years.  However, it really is the perfect the description of a kid who has held it too long and who really, really needs to go.

5. Don't touch your butt after you poop!!!  Why does my kid like to touch his butt after he poops?  WHY?  I suspect he finds it fascinating that so much poop can come out of a such a small human.  The idea of this is disgusting enough, but there's nothing like yelling this out in the bathroom of a nice restaurant while other patrons listen to make you feel as though you've gone down the Black Hole of parenthood.

Let's not even get started on the level of bribery that has to occur to get my kid to wash his hands.  Stock up on cookies, that's all I have to say.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Escape from Los Angeles

by Allyson Haas
RoomEscape LA
Come with me and escape...from potty training.
From the title of this rant (and/or reading my previous posts), one might surmise that C's inability to pee in a toilet has officially driven me to madness.  While that is indeed a perfectly accurate assumption, it's not quite the direction I'm headed.  Not today anyway.

After a weekend full of kid's parties (and perfectly wrapped gifts, natch), the Haasband and I decided to join the rank and file of general humankind and actually left the house on Saturday night.  In clothes.  I wore makeup.  We ate dinner after 5:30pm.  It was a bona fide date night.  What was even more amazing than that fact alone, is that there were other couples involved, which meant the topic of conversation revolved around things happening in the world at large, as opposed to just what's not happening in my bathroom.  This joyous happenstance alone felt like escape enough to fuel the title of this post, but there's more.  What did we do, you ask, to inspire an entire blog post?  Well, with bellies (over) full with a delicious repast from (no longer) new Jon & Vinny's, we headed over to RoomEscape Los Angeles.  Described as "a live escape game...players have 60 minutes to overcome a series of brain twisting puzzles to complete the mission.  Ideal for friends, family, colleagues, students, gamers and thrill seekers."

Well.  I am always on board for an adventure, so I was totally into it the minute I got the email from our friends.  I hate to pass up any opportunity; I can't stand the thought of missing a beat.  I think there's actually an official name for this type of reaction: the interwebs claim it's FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out, but I prefer to call it Bored Housewife Syndrome or, perhaps more fittingly, Mommy Needs Adult Time.  I comfort myself with knowing I'm not the only one who suffers from this ailment - heck, Mindy Kaling turned her FOMO into a bestselling book.  Needless to say, at this point in my life I will accept an invitation to watch paint dry so long as the walls on which it is drying are not my own, and I don't have to keep any children from touching anything.

When we arrived at the destination, the space looked completely nondescript.  A back door leading to a depressing lobby wherein we were told to sign some waivers and wait our turn.  The faces of the folks leaving the room after their allotted time slot were not a promise of any potential fun, nor was the incredibly boring presentation about how best to approach this adventure.  But again, I didn't care.   I was out without my child, I was two glasses of rosé into whatever we were about to do, and my expectaions were subzero.

Cut to 46 minutes later.

I don't think I've had that much fun with my clothes on since I knew how much fun could be had with my clothes off.  It was such a hoot.  You get locked in a room with some good friends, some flashlights and a few set dressings.  We were instructed to pay close attention to every detail, and leave no stone unturned.  Everyone would bring something another may have missed, as everyone's eyes see the room differentlly.  Oh how true that was!  It was a total blast to see how each person's individual perspective came together to solve the puzzle.  It was the euphoric feeling of completing the NYT crossword puzzle (which the OCD in me must do every morning before leaving the house) multiplied six fold.  I'm contractually obligated to not say anything more about this adventure, save for telling you how amazing it was and how much fun was had.  If you love brain teasers run, don't walk, to check this out.  It is that good.

Now if only it were so easy to escape potty training, tantrums, and sleep regressions, we'd be in business.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Room Fit for a (Little) Lady

Little girl nursery

My daughter turned one last week, so I figured it was finally time to finish decorating her nursery.

When you're pregnant with your first kid, everything is perfect and ready; there are no unfinished nurseries, the hospital bags are packed by 32 weeks, and there's no last minute while-your-wife-is-in-labor scramble to install the carseat.

Second children, on the other hand, don't get this kind of VIP treatment.

I had every intention of getting her room done before she arrived, but then she was six days early and well, it just never happened.  When you've got a toddler and an infant and the only thing keeping you going is caffeine and willpower, you don't really have the time or energy to worry about the fact that your newest offspring is sleeping in an empty room.

Then I realized that her birthday was around the corner and it might look kind of bad if she was still sleeping in a barren space.  It turns out that there's nothing better than the judgement of other people to spur me to action.

Baby girl rose nursery
Initially I didn't plan for her decor to be influenced by her name, but then I found all these great rose-themed pieces of art, and it kind of just happened organically.  I'm really pleased with the way her room turned out; I love that it's girly without being twee, but also soothing and peaceful and a lovely place for Rose to rest and play.

grey oeuf sparrow crib
You're not supposed to hang art above a crib (especially in earthquake country), but the giant, blank wall really bothered me.  One day when I was cruising Instagram I found Urban Walls and thought that the gold polka dots were the perfect solution to filling up the wall and bringing a little whimsy into the room.  They are removable, so they're perfect for renters, but also a cost effective way to make a big impact without spending too many shekels.

urban walls gold polka dots
I scored the Oeuf Sparrow crib and changing table on Craigslist back when I was only 20 weeks pregnant.  They were in amazing condition and I basically got both pieces for less than the cost of the crib alone.  
Bedding: Pottery Barn Kids.  Baskets: Home Goods.  Rug: Rugs Usa

Baby girl pink nursery
When I found out I was having a girl, I was really hesitant to go with pink for her room.  I am not a girlie girl and I didn't want her room to look like a princess puked all over it.  I loved the idea of doing girly with a little bit of a modern edge, so when I couldn't find curtains in a print I liked, I found fabric online and my Mom sewed panels.   The glider was a hand-me-down from my Sister-in-Law and it's both incredibly comfortable and has a washable slipcover.  I can't tell you how many times I've soaked it in Oxyclean to remove all the spit-up stains from when Rose was a newborn.  The lamp is also from my Sister-in-Law, and the shade is a grey linen one I found at Target.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo print: Etsy

baby girl nursery gallery wall
The wall above the changing table was crying out for a gallery wall, so I started putting together vintage prints that I already had, as well as a pastel that my Mother-in-Law drew, and a few photographs.  The rose botanicals are exquisite antiques that were a gift to Rose from her Great Uncle.  I took a few of the photographs. 

rose gallery wall
I framed pretty much everything myself by buying pre-cut mats and standard size frames from Aaron Brothers and Ikea.  I even spray painted a few of the older ones white, since they looked dingy.
R is for Rose: B-de-B. Elephant print: Uncommon Goods.

DIY bookshelves
I spray painted the curtain rod and rings after seeing a blog post about it (I cannot for the life of me remember where).  It was a total pain, but it looks so much better than the nickel finish it had before. 
Gold spray paint: Design Master

Baby girl nursery
We are book lovers here at Casa Lane, so I wanted to make sure that Rose had a little reading nook in her room.  The chair was made by my Great Grandfather for his daughter, my Grandmother.

baby girl nursery
We're big fans of Madeline!

Ikea spice rack bookshelves

Ikea spice rack bookshelves
The only wall that had space for bookshelves is super narrow, and also had to allow for the closet door to be opened, so it was a little bit of a design conundrum.  I ended up cruising Pinterest, which is where I got the idea to turn cheap spice racks from Ikea into book shelves; brilliant, budget-friendly design solution!

vintage nursery decor
I keep extra bedding and out of season clothing in this vintage painted chest of drawers.  The Guess How Much I Love You print was a gift when Noah was born, but I hijacked it for Rose.  

vintage nursery decor
The swan is vintage, and holds all of Rose's hair clips, headbands, and other flotsam and jetsam.

I think the Little Lady approves! 
Either that, or she's just happy she finally has a rug and some artwork on the walls.  

Photos by the incredible Tuna Boon

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

One Year at a Time

One year old girl birthday party

I survived the Little Lady's first year. 

There were many, many days when I wasn't sure that I would make it through the end of the week, let alone the end of her first year of life.  I cried a lot.  I paced the hallway in the middle of the night with a baby who refused to sleep while tears streamed down my face.  The exhaustion was so crippling, so debilitating, that I wasn't sure I would be able to face another day.  There were nights (so. many. nights.) during which I didn't sleep more than three hours.  Once, after four months straight of Rose never sleeping longer than 45 minutes at a stretch, I understood why women abandoned their children.  It felt, in that moment, as though I would never, ever, have a baby who slept through the night.

In some ways, second time parenthood is easier.  You know what you need, what works for you, and that the time of exhaustion and leaky boobs and colic is finite.  You know that all too quickly, the baby stage will be over and you'll have moved on to a different milestone that's difficult in its own way, but that does allow you longer stretches of slumber.  In very simple terms, that's what second time parenthood has going for it.  What makes it harder, so very much harder, is that you also have another child for whom you must be present.

When your second baby is a surprise, and so close in age to your first baby that people ask you with a straight face if they are twins, you also have to contend with the reality that your older child will be home with you and the new baby all day long.  I remember the first months of the Muffin Man's life, when I didn't have to do anything except nurse, and sleep and maybe do some dishes if the filth had finally reached its limit.  Yes, I was exhausted and my lady parts hurt, and I didn't have a freaking clue what I was doing, but ultimately I wasn't really expected to do much.  This round of the parenting rodeo was so different.

Noah didn't care how little I slept or how much my nipples hurt, he still wanted and expected me to be the Mommy I was prior to producing the small and annoying thing we kept referring to as his sister.  When your primary job title is "Mother" you don't get maternity leave.

Ironic, I know.

I really and truly wasn't sure if I would make it through the first year without a stay (or two) in the looney bin.  I wish I could tell you how I did it - I suspect it was mostly due to caffeine, wine, and a very helpful spouse - but I'm damn proud of myself.

I survived, my kids don't seem to be too psychologically damaged, and I'm still married.  All in all I'd say a job well done.

However, if you suggest that I have another child I will cut you.