Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Toddler Food Pyramid

feeding picky toddlers
I love spaghetti, but only when it's served at restaurants.
If Hell exists, then I'm almost positive it includes an eternity of eating dinner with a toddler.

Only a year ago the Muffin Man was eating everything I put in front of him except avocado.  If you can make it in a home kitchen, there's a good chance he ate it with gusto.  The kid gobbled up Gumbo, binged on Bulgogi (the spicier the better), and scarfed down Shrimp Scampi.  I prided myself on his advanced palate, and secretly gloated when other Moms would complain about their children only eating mac and cheese and toast.  I thought for sure that Noah's wide-ranging culinary tastes were due entirely to my having made all of his baby food and our feeding him a varied diet from a young age.  I was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that my son would never become picky, and I refused to believe people when they told me that even the most adventurous child would stop eating everything.

In other words, I was a complete and utter idiot. 

Based on my own experience, I can tell you that there is a unique food pyramid for toddlers, and it most definitely does not include leafy greens of legumes. 

Pasta.  Not just any pasta, mind you.  It must be penne.  Not fusilli, not spaghetti, not zitti, just penne.  The penne must be served plain, with no sauce, no butter, and nothing green.  Even a speck of green will throw the entire meal into a tail spin and ensure that your toddler jumps up from the table and runs away screaming as though he spotted the Loch Ness Monster in his pasta bowl.  Sometimes, when the toddler diner is in an adventurous mood, he will want parmesan cheese on top of his pasta.  If that's the case it must be shredded, not grated, and certainly none of that crap in the green can passing itself off as cheese when it is really "cheese product".  Even picky toddlers have standards, woman.

Bread.  They say that bread is the food of life, and toddlers 100% subscribe to this belief.  Bread is delicious and should be served with every meal and, in many cases, instead of a meal.  The less nutritional value the bread has, the better.  Don't try to serve any of that Ezekial bread that has seeds and other "weird" ingredients, because your toddler will go agro on your ass.  Challah is preferable to anything else, but white trash Wonder Bread will be eaten in a pinch, as will any wheat bread containing sugar and other preservatives.

Dairy.  Toddlers don't care if you think it is unnatural for humans to eat the milk of other mammals, because dairy is freaking delicious.  Cheese, yogurt, ice cream and cream cheese are the ingredients for a perfect meal.  The more dairy, the better, especially if it comes in the form of butter that can be licked off of a perfectly good piece of healthy bread.  In fact, butter eaten by the spoonful is the best breakfast when your parents attempt to feed you disgusting things like eggs or oatmeal.

Sugar.  Anything that contains copious amounts of sugar must be consumed immediately.  Your toddler thinks it is bullsh*t that you don't have cookies and cupcakes in your home at all times, and he considers it a personal affront that his candy consumption is confined to Halloween and birthday parties thrown by parents who are irresponsible enough to stuff their pinatas full of M&M's.  Toddlers are genetically engineered to throw loud tantrums when denied a sugar-filled substance in public places, and they make it their personal mission to seek out processed food items filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup and other poisonous substances sure to stunt their growth.  Don't even bother to attempt to pass off a healthy cupcake/muffin/cookie as a treat, because your toddler knows the difference and does not accept substitutions.

Restaurant food. Food that your toddler refuses to eat at home is greeted excitedly when served to him at a restaurant.  Meatballs?  Chicken?  Eggplant?  Every single one of these items is scarfed down with relish when eating out.  No plain penne pasta here - serve up a giant bowl of spaghetti with meatballs, and the kid is sure to lick the plate clean.  Trying to get your kid to eat vegetables, and getting nowhere?  Treat your offspring to dinner at the local sushi joint and look on in amazement as he ingests cucumbers, edamame, and avocado without complaint.

And that, my friends, is why the Food Pyramid for parents includes a significant portion of alcohol. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Take Me Out...



first dodgers game
From the title of this post one might surmise that, for once, I would like to take a shower, get dressed in dry-clean-only clothes and hit the town. While that is 100% true, I’ll have the opportunity to do that later this week when I fete a good friend for her big birthday. So until then, I’ll stick to my athleisure wear. Incidentally, athleisure wear is actually a bonafide clothing category currently being hawked by Kate Hudson with her Fabletics line. I promise to report back on all the virtues of this amazing invention in not-really-for-exercising clothing when I’m in the mood to post about shopping. Which will be whenever I lose the last ten pounds that have been lingering since C’s beloved entrance to the world, so, in other words, probably never.

But I digress. 

The REAL meaning behind today’s post was C’s first ever baseball game or, as he prefers to call it, the “ball show."  I'm happy to report that Caleb had a great time, though it was rather awkward when, after proudly telling his swim instructor what he did the night before, I had to explain that no, I did not take Caleb to a Porn show.  

The Haasbund’s business partner was privy to the coveted Lexus Dugout seats and luckily for us, he invited us along. The experience was amazing. Free food, free drinks, free ice cream (though, sadly, not yet of my own making) and seats right. Behind. The. Catcher. The only way to sit closer is to actually be on the team’s roster.  Here's hoping C isn't completely ruined for future games in the seats we can afford, more commonly known as the nosebleeds. 


Just in case America's favorite pastime and corporate boxes aren't exciting enough for you, this outing marked the first time Caleb properly identified and used the toilet outside of our home. Yes my fine friends, it is official, C is toilet trained. He had nary an accident. Which, to be fair, could very well have been because we used this new skill of his no less than nine times over the course of five innings which gave him plenty of opportunity to show off his new talent. In retrospect, I think maybe the repeated trips to the loo were simply a ruse to walk past (and eat more of) the free desserts that were on display in the lounge.  Had I known how effective the dessert buffet would've been in getting my son to use the potty, I would've tried that at home (it may be the only technique I didn't attempt).  Whatever the reason, my son's successful use of a public bathroom, coupled with a particularly enthusiastic rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch, has sold me on the Dodgers.  I know I may have to revoke my New Yorker card just for writing that sentence, but much to my chagrin it looks like after 10 years in LA, the Dodgers are now officially the home team for which we root root root.

I blame it on that dessert buffet - I'm powerless against chocolate caramel brownie cake.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Six Reasons You Don't Need a Delivery Room Blowout


delivery room glam squad
The other day I was cruising the interwebs while my children were watching TV (don't judge - Mommy needed a break) when I came across an article about women hiring "glam squads" for their delivery room photos.  What does that mean, you ask?  It means that women who have just pushed humans out of their vaginas are taking the time to schedule a blowout and a make-up application before posing for an official photo of themselves with their new babies. 

Look, I totally understand not wanting to look horrible in all the photos of your child's birth.  I've been there (twice) and I can tell you that I have no plans to use my delivery room photos as my headshots anytime soon, but this is just ridiculous. 
   
1.You are not famous.  Unless you are a Princess or a Kardashian, and your entire livelihood revolves around looking put together at all times, you have no business getting your hair done before you've even managed to produce your first post-birth pee.  

2. No one is looking at you.  The only person anyone cares about in those newborn photos is THE NEWBORN.  I promise that Grandma Milly will be too busy staring at her new Great Grandchild to notice whether or not your hair is neatly coiffed.

3. Giving birth is exhausting.  Incidentally, this is probably why it is called "labor".  After 12-36 hours of working to expel a small human from your uterus, you should rest!  You really do not need to expend any extra energy chatting with your hairdresser about his new boyfriend and their upcoming trip to see Britney Spears in Vegas. 

4. It's all about that baby.  Remember that baby you just had?  The one who you gestated for nine months and then pushed out of your lady parts?  It's pretty unlikely that your new kid is just going to chill in his bassinet while Mommy takes a shower and gets glamorous.  No, your newborn is going to want to be attached to your boob all the time, or simply sleeping on your chest where he can hear your heartbeat. Your life from here on out is mostly going to revolve around your child, so why not save yourself some money on therapy bills pertaining to traumatic birth experiences, and spare your kid from a turbocharged blowdryer interrupting his nursing sessions. 

5. Ugly photos are the new normal.  Just think of that horrible photo of you with your newborn baby as your big welcome to the Motherhood club.  Thanks to your child, you no longer have extra time to waste trying to snap the perfect selfie.  Nope, you now live in the world of heinous photographs of yourself.  You have a lifetime ahead of you to wonder how it is possible to capture quite so many photos of you sporting yoga pants, no makeup, and a hideous expression.  You will begin to despair of ever again looking attractive in a photo, because a decent photo of a Mommy is rarer than a Big Foot sighting.

6. Love is beautiful.  You, with all your faults and age lines, are absolutely perfect to your newborn, and you don't need makeup or hairspray to capture that.  

Besides, if all else fails, there's always Photoshop. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gift Me a Break

birthday gifts for kids
We're coming up on another weekend full of children's birthday parties, and I'm feeling a teensy bit ragey.  Contrary to what you're thinking, my furor is not at all related to having to spend my Saturday and Sunday afternoons sweating it out in the blazing desert sun while simultaneously trying not to get whacked with a rogue pinata bat.  Sure, that whole scenario sounds far less appealing than say, sitting poolside with a frozen cocktail and a trashy novel, but this is my life now and I'm learning to accept that.  No, the object of my simmering, unspoken (until now) rage is this: when an invitation clearly states "please do not bring gifts" why do so many people still bring presents?!

I was pleasantly surprised at this new no gifts trend, especially as it spared me from having to run out for a last minute birthday present at 8:30am every Saturday.  However, after showing up empty handed to three of these no gifts affairs and finding myself the only person not bearing a present, I'm really starting to feel like an asshole.

I'm pleading with you, parents, to please stop bringing presents to parties that were supposed to be gift-free affairs.  We've all jumped on the no more party favors bandwagon - how about we get a few more passengers on the no more birthday gifts train?

I've got five good reasons why:

Our kids have too much stuff.  Do you know why The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is such a huge hit?  Because everybody has too much crap.  If your kids are anything like mine, they're the ones with the most stuff.  I'm not saying that kids should have only one toy, three books, and a sad little stuffed animal, but my kids really do not need 654 more Matchbox cars, or another plastic tea set, or 10 more versions of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Most kids whose parents are throwing them birthday parties have more stuff than they know what to do with - and chances are they'll spend far longer playing with the wrapping paper than whatever it contained.

We have it already.  There's a very good chance that whatever you're planning to give the Birthday Kid is something he already owns.  Which means that he'll open it up, yell "I already have this!" and continue on his manic, sugar-fueled unwrapping session.  This also means that the duplicate item is going to get added to the big bin of re-gifts that his Mom has going in the linen closet, destined for a future party host who will also probably own the offending item.  Basically, the re-gifts will just keep getting re-gifted ad infinitum, until one day in 2053 when someone will be able to sell it at a flea market as a "mint condition, still in its original packaging" antique.

No, your son/daughter doesn't need a $100 t-shirt from a designer store.  I love a cute kid in an expensive piece of clothing as much as the next lady, but there are these things called dirt, paint, and glue, and children spend a lot of time playing in them.  Weirdly, expensive clothes stain just as easily as clothes from the resale shop, but the difference is that you don't feel bad for throwing away a $2 shirt that's been used as a painter's canvas.  Save your shekels and let Granny buy junior the expensive duds for one-time-use during the High Holidays.

The kid is not being deprived of joy.  If your child only equates joy with presents, then you need to spend less time reading my blog and more time seeking out a qualified child psychiatrist.  It's not like having a present-free birthday party means not giving your child birthday gifts at all; that's just cruel.  I'm sure that between parents and grandparents, children will receive plenty of bounty that they can play with once and then throw in the back of the closet never to be seen again.  Wouldn't you rather your child had fewer things she really enjoyed playing with all the time, rather than lots of toys she only played with once?  Plus, there's a better chance that those closest to the birthday kid have the best idea of what she might want, rather than some random clerk at the local toy store who's more interested in snapchatting with his lady friend than helping you select the perfect gift.

Save some money.  I suppose there are people who are not interested in saving money, but if there are, I have never met them.  Do you know how much money you could save by not having to purchase two (or more) birthday gifts every weekend?  You could buy a house in Detroit for that kind of cash!  If you're spending your hard earned money on gifts for a kid that doesn't even want them, then you may as well just stand over the toilet flushing crisp hundred dollar bills.

Donate instead.  I love it when instead of bringing a gift, I'm asked to make a donation to a worthwhile charity.  We all have so much, and it's a great opportunity for kids to learn how rewarding it is to give to those in need.  Allyson is a champion when it comes to this - for Caleb's party a few weeks ago she asked everyone to bring books to donate in lieu of gifts.  Noah had a great time choosing which of his books he wanted to give to less fortunate kids, and he took such pride in placing his books in the donation basket.

So, please, stop with the gifts already.

Unless you're invited to a party for me, in which case I'll be happy to put together an Amazon wish list. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cool Hand Luke


LA is known for it’s consistently beautiful 72-degrees-and-sunny weather, but lately that seems not to be the case.  Over the past few years, it feels like perpetual summer. Either I’m siding with the scientists acknowledging that global warming is indeed an issue we must tackle, or I’m blaming my offspring for causing my internal body temperature to never dip below 1000 degrees. Whatever the cause, given the outdoor LA temps in the excess of 90 in December, May thermometers soaring to the double digits, and this week’s triple digit heat wave, I’m concerned I may spontaneously combust. 

While I absolutely love our house and life and am thankful every day for the blessings we have, when the Devil decides to turn up the world’s thermostat, I become a raving b*tc# and the only thing to cool my internal fire is a good soak in a body of water. We’ve already been to the beach seven times this season alone. Aside from my days training for the Malibu triathlon, that number exceeds the total number I’ve been to the beach in my ten years here. Today, thanks to the generosity of friends and their parents, C and I were able to spend 90% of the day submerged in an infinity pool. For those of you who, like us, don’t yet have their own icy cool blue expanse in which to dip your toes, below are some of the ways we’ve best found to beat the heat.

Go to a butcher shop and stand in the meat locker. I jest of course, but I honestly did ponder suggesting this and ending the post, it’s THAT hot.  

I’m not exactly sure when this opened, (I could look it up but it’s late and I’m tired) but this wonderland of a public beach house feels like my own personal Beverly Hills Beach Club. If you avoid going on the weekends and go instead on the dollar splash Mondays where you pay, you guessed it, just a mere dollar, you can wander up to the ticket window anytime after they open and buy yourself a poolside setup. $10 for adults, $4 for children and you have access to a beautiful pool, a chaise lounge, umbrella and a decent bathroom/changing area. There’s also a rec room filled with games (and air conditioning), a splash pad, a restaurant and oh yeah, the BEACH. I suggest splurging for the all day parking pass because despite the fact that you think your toddler will get cranky and want to leave, he won’t and you’ll all be having a grand old time until they’re ready to close the place down. Plus, staying late is the best way to avoid the traffic if you live anywhere East of Santa Monica. 

If you go on the weekend, get there early or honestly, don’t bother. You’ll end up walking so far from the parking and will likely spend half the day interpreting the signs: did you read them properly? Can you park here? Will your car be towed? But mid week, this place feels like a college town during spring break. Peaceful, quiet, perfect. Head down towards The Sunset Restaurant. Pay the kind parking folk $8 or so and continue on your merry way until you can’t drive any further. Park, set, up a beach blanket and an umbrella and let the sound of the waves and the sights of the sparkling blue water and the bluffs remind you of why you moved out here in the first place. If you’re super organized about it and want to bring an amazing picnic, stop by the Malibu Kitchen in the Lumberyard and pick up a delicious feast. It’s quite possible that once you unpack everything, you might want to start paying taxes on your set up as you’ll never want to leave.

Secret Beach
I debated putting this spot on the list as for the past 10 years I’ve felt like it was my personal secret. This was the beach I visited on my first trip to LA, and once we parked on the side of the road (next to Geoffrey’s), climbed the few stairs to the gate that looks like it’s locked (it’s not) and made our way down the tree canopied path, the view we were met with was THE reason I moved out here. Calm, serene, surreal. While it’s definitely NOT the place to lug your toddler and all your gear due to all the stairs, it IS a great place for a romantic rendezvous with your sweetie. Coincidentally, it’s also the site where I met the Haasbund. Needless to say, I heart this place.

Everyone and their cousin knows about this place so it’s no great revelation, but it is a great spot to spend a hassle free day at the beach. We’ve spent the past two birthday’s celebrating C at this particular shoreline and we plan on going again to mark his 3rd trip around the sun (which happens to be tomorrow). I promise more details on his party in a separate post but seeing as I’m technologically challenged, I still haven’t been able to download the pictures. I’ll get around to it. (Hopefully before his 4th birthday).

For those of you not up for a drive to Malibu and more interested in staying cool locally, I suggest crashing a hotel pool befriending a hotel concierge and asking to use their pool. If all else fails, bite the bullet and pay the day fee at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City. The hotel recently underwent a renovation and is a low-key spot to hang poolside.

Barring these suggestions, the best I can offer is cozying up to a neighbor with a pool, especially if you arrive with a pint (or four) of your own specialty ice cream. You can wow the crowd with this recipe I tested out last week. If that doesn’t score you an invite, then you need to find some new friends, but in the meantime scoop some into a cone and enjoy it old school style on the front stoop. It may not involve a swim suit, but it is a bona fide good. old-fashioned way to keep cool.

Olive Oil Ice Cream 
(adapted from Bon Apetit)
1 ¾ cups whole milk
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon fleur de sel
½ cup raw cane sugar, plus 2 tsps
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (I’d opt for a fruity one, if you don’t have that on hand, zest either an orange or a lemon and add to the mix)

Bring milk, cream, salt and sugar to simmer in medium saucepan, stirring to ensure sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. 
In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and 2 tsps sugar until pale. Gradually whisk a bit of the warm liquid mixture into the yolks and then whisk the yolk mixture back into the remaining mixture in the saucepan. 
Cook over medium heat and stir continuously until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If you have a sieve, strain the mixture over a bowl set in an ice bath. Whisk in the oil and let cool, stirring every so often. 
Once cooled, process according to ice cream maker instructions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The M Word


I've invented a new drinking game.  

Here's how to play:

If you've had a miscarriage, take a shot.

If you've had more than one miscarriage, take another shot.

Three or more miscarriages, take another shot, and try not to blackout under the table.

So.  Are we all drunk enough to have a real, honest talk about miscarriage?  Good.  Because it's time.

I'll start.

In the fall of 2011, I accidentally got pregnant.  How it happened, aside from the actual biology stuff, was a total cliche.  We attended the wedding of a good friend, I got totally wasted thanks to the top shelf open bar, and five weeks later I was face down in my toilet praying that I just had food poisoning.  Ten positive pregnancy tests later led me to believe that I was, in fact, in the family way.

As I've mentioned several times here on the ol' blog, I was not exactly gung-ho about having kids.  I was still very involved in pursuing a dead-end career in stand-up comedy, and we were so broke that the first of every month usually had us scraping together spare change to come up with rent money.  It wasn't exactly the ideal situation for parenthood.  Nevertheless, I figured that 35 was a little bit past the acceptable age for the Planned Parenthood route (side note: shouldn't it really be called Unplanned Parenthood?), and I resigned myself to impending Motherhood.

Eight weeks later, exactly one day after announcing our joyous news to our immediate family, I had a miscarriage.  I'll spare you the details - it started with horrible cramping and ended with me dressed in a paper gown sobbing in front of an ultrasound technician - but it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad experience.  Except for one thing: I never would've realized how much I really wanted kids if it wasn't for that miscarriage.

What I wish I'd known back in 2011 is how common it is to have a miscarriage.  Oh, I read about the statistics, and my OB told me that they happen all the time, but I only knew one friend who'd experienced the same thing.  Whenever I did try to talk to other people about what happened, people reacted with horror, and attempted to change the subject, as though by mentioning my experience I might somehow infect them with my bad genes or faulty uterus.  One friend even sat across from me at a restaurant and, while nursing her newborn, told me that the reason I had a miscarriage was because I was too skinny and didn't have the right body for "bearing precious children".  Don't worry, I made her pay for lunch.

Since then, I've met so many women, mostly fellow Moms, who've also had miscarriages.  We've shared our war stories, and talked about how we all despaired of ever having children, and how scared we were when we did get pregnant again.  There's no talking in whispers, or placing blame, but rather a frank and honest discussion about what happened and the emotional toll it can take on a person and a relationship.

I think, finally, the tide is turning, and people are being more open about miscarriage.  Maybe it's all due to Mark Zuckerberg, though if that's the case, the feminist in me feels rather indignant that it's only thanks to a man that it's no longer a taboo subject.  Whatever the reason, be it Mark Zuckerberg or Maker's Mark, let's keep talking and sharing our experiences, so that no one else feels alone or at fault for what essentially amounts to a genetic roll of the dice.

Maybe someday talking about miscarriage will be as run-of-the-mill as mentioning what kind of car one drives, or whether or not someone has any pets.  Until then, there's always alcohol. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lilikoi, Take Me Away!

passion fruit cocktail
Lately, I've been dreaming of running off to a tropical Island.  I'm not sure if my wanderlust is due to the waning days of summer, feeling nostalgic for our Hawaiian wedding, or the fact that my kids have been total terrors this week, but whatever the root cause, I've found myself spending an inordinate amount of time Pinning images of abandoned beaches and exotic resorts.  Interestingly enough, none of the images on my internet tourism itinerary feature children, so I think it's entirely possible that what I'm actually lusting after is some time alone.

Lord knows I'm definitely not dreaming of taking a vacation with kids.  That, my friends, is what I like to call a nightmare.

Since we do not have any summer travel plans that involve tropical islands or time without our offspring, I'm having to make due with creating a taste of the tropics here at home.  At the current moment this involves warm evenings lounging on our deck chairs, some time spent soaking in our (blow up) pool, and a few rounds of my favorite summer cocktail, a Lilikoi Cooler.

Despite the fact that I am possibly the whitest girl you really know, I'm an Island girl at heart, and Lilikoi, or passion fruit, is my all time favorite fruit.  You could slap a passion fruit-flavored label on a jar full of raw sewage, and I would most definitely give it a try.  In Hawaii, passion fruit grows wild all over the Islands, and it's not unusual to see locals stopped by the side of the road picking up fallen fruits.  At the tail end of summer here in Los Angeles, when it's almost too hot to be outside, you'll often find passion fruit at local Farmer's Markets.  Whenever I see the wrinkly fruit begin to make an appearance at our neighborhood green market, I snatch up a few baskets, and savor the final few weeks of summer before pumpkins and squash edge out the tropical bounty.

passion fruit cocktail
Passion fruit is ripe when the skin turns purple and wrinkly.  When you're choosing passion fruit, be sure and pick up each fruit to feel the weight. 
passion fruit cocktail
Choose the heavier fruits, as those are the ones with the most seeds, which are the source of the juice and the flavor. 

lilikoi juice
Juice the passion fruit with a citrus juicer, and use the seeds to garnish your tiddly or to add some sweetness to a salad dressing.  

Lilikoi Cooler
2 ounces rum (the Hubs prefers vodka - it works with either)
2 ounces fresh passion fruit juice
1 tsp. agave nectar
club soda

In a small bowl or pitcher, combine the passion fruit juice and agave nectar.  Mix until the agave is incorporated.  If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, feel free to add more agave.

Fill one of those fancy cocktail glasses you got as a wedding gift with ice, add rum (or vodka), and passion fruit juice mixture.  Top with club soda.  

Aloha!
Lilikoi coolers taste infinitely better if enjoyed while children are asleep, and one is fantasizing about laying on a deserted beach.  Alone. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

No Toddlers, No Shirt, No Service


It is my personal belief that everyone should have to work in the restaurant business at least once in her life.  Why, you ask?  Mainly because I think it's an excellent window into both the best and the worst of human kind, but also because having to deal with the demands of ornery customers is fantastic preparation for parenthood.

I've worked many a food service job, and the rudest, most horrible customers of my past have nothing on my toddler. 

He sends back the dish.  Unlike a restaurant patron, however, instead of politely asking for something that he finds more agreeable, my son throws his plate across the table and screams "I don't want that!"

He's rude to the staff.  I had plenty of boorish customers during my time as a waitress, but to my knowledge no one ever threw their food at me.  I have now lost count of the times my toddler has unrepentantly pelted me with produce.

The temperature is never right.  For some reason, it seems to be impossible to serve a toddler food at an appropriate temperature.  Things are either too hot or too cold, and God forbid a human under the age of three should have to wait 30 seconds while you fan a piece of fish, because in that minuscule amount of time he will have completely lost his willingness to try the offending food stuff and will refuse to eat it once it has cooled down.  Hand a kid a glass of cold milk and he will, for sure, demand a "warm milky" instead.  Beware the wrath of a child not given food at his preferred temperature, or "dinner time" will turn instead to "tantrum time".

Ketchup.  On everything.  In the restaurant business there are always those customers who put salt on dishes before tasting them, much to the chagrin of the poor waiter who is forced to ask for a salt cellar from a mercurial Chef who believes that his dishes need no additional flavoring.  Toddlers are like this with ketchup.  If it's being served to them, they want ketchup.  There is no thought put into whether the food stuff is complemented by ketchup; if it is something they plan to eat it must have a side of ketchup.  My son assures me that oatmeal with ketchup is delicious.  I'll take his word for it.

If Mommy made it, I don't want it.  This may be a phenomenon that is exclusive only to Casa Lane, but if I make something for dinner, Noah wants nothing to do with it.  Forget eating it, he won't even try it.  If we go out to eat at a restaurant, however, he will ask for seconds of the exact same thing that he refused to eat at our house just the night before.  He won't touch the meatballs I make at home - he screams when he even sees them being prepared - but serve the kid the identical thing, from the identical recipe, at our local Italian restaurant, and he'll eat four of them in one sitting.  I know that I'm not exactly a domestic Goddess, but I don't think my cooking is so bad that it deserves rejection before even being sampled.

He refuses to pay the bill and stiffs me on a tip.  For all the trouble I go to, I should at least get some small token of appreciation.  A few coins from his (full) piggy bank, or a "thank you for fixing me dinner even though I found it disgusting", or a kiss on the cheek to show that he loves me, but no.  No thanks are given around these parts.  I'm seriously considering adding an 18% gratuity on every bill to avoid this blatant abuse of my serving staff.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Taste of Home


by Allyson Haas
Sometimes, even grown-ups miss their Mommies (and the iconic foods of their childhood).
Caleb's birthday is fast approaching. During these times of celebration (and basically, in any spare moment I have), I really miss my family and my East Coast peeps. It seems crazy to me that the people I grew up with aren’t here with me, and that Caleb doesn’t get to see his cousins and family friends as often as I’d like (which would be every day if I had my druthers). Enter sappy Hallmark card music here, but yes, I do, in fact, get homesick. And not to go all Tupac/Biggie on you guys, (and I love me some Tupac – there’s an awesome exhibit at the Grammy Museum on him- tune in next week for that adventure) but there are just certain things NY does better than LA. I'm not talking about the old "brains vs. beauty debate, that's low hanging fruit. For me it's about things more carbohydrate in nature: pizza, bagels, black and white cookies. And let's not overlook the importance of vegetable cream cheese or Tuna salad.
  
In my moments of longing, I’ve scoured the city searching for the best places to go for these things in LA. So if you’re from the East coast and feeling a bit of nostalgia, take a trip to one of these locations and save yourself the 5+ hour flight with a screaming toddler in tow to get them.

Pizza
131 N. Larchmont Blvd
Go figure the guy who opened this shop hails from NY and word on the street is that he brings in his starter water from Brooklyn. Whatever his secret, you can pop into this shop for a slice (a concept apparently unknown in these parts) or sit down for their daily deal. $6ish gets you a slice, a fountain beverage a salad and a garlic knot

Black & White cookies
Diamond Bakery
335 N. Fairfax Ave
Apparently, folks in LA didn’t even know what this was, which is surprising because, much like this town, the cookie itself can’t decide exactly what it is: is it a cookie? Cake? Vanilla? Chocolate? It’s got it all. And unless you are at Greenberg’s on NY’s Upper East Side, the only place to get a decent one here is at the Diamond Bakery. We ordered these in “blue and white” for Caleb’s Bris. Before I found this gem of a place, I missed them so much I made them myself. But they made a mess of my kitchen and take more time than a busy three year old will allow for, so just pick them up from here.

Bagels
7825 Beverly Blvd
For most of my teenage years, I spent Sunday mornings schmearing cream cheese behind the counter of Suffern, NY’s famous Bagel Boys, so I felt personally insulted when I moved to LA and discovered the culinary atrocities being passed off here as "bagels".  I’m still trying to coerce Bagel Boys owners Mark and Eric Fried to open an outpost here on the West Coast, but until they do I’ll have to settle for these, which are the closest thing to New York style bagels I can find on the West Coast. I am, however, disturbed by what people here in LA consider to be appropriate ingredients for Veggie Cream Cheese (peppers? Yuck!).  Authentic East Coast Veggie Cream Cheese has only four simple ingredients: radishes, carrots, scallions and good quality whipped cream cheese.  If you're really going full East Coast style, try to find Temp Tee brand, a NY staple that you can sometimes find at that iconic Los Angeles temple of discounts, The 99 Cent Store.

Tuna Salad
So far, I haven't found anywhere that does this as well as New York's bygone Columbus Bakery.  While that place is no longer (sadly true of many of the NY landmarks of my formative years) I’ve eaten there enough times to have committed the recipe to heart.  And before you die-hard Columbus Bakery Tuna Salad fans email me complaints (ahem, Mom), I know the actual recipe calls for dried cranberries, but I prefer the cherries. Put a few scoops of this on a Bagel Broker bagel, and take a jetlag-free trip to NYC. 

2 cans Tuna (in water, from Trader Joes)
½ Pink Lady (or other tart) apple, chopped
couple scallions, chopped
¼ red onion or one small shallot, chopped
heaping handful of dried cherries
3 big spoonfuls of organic Mayo
juice of ½ lemon
pinch of freshly ground peppercorn
pinch of sea salt

Drain and chop tuna, mix in metal bowl with above ingredients. Pile high on top of a bagel, and enjoy with a side of Wise potato chips and a light and sweet coffee in a takeout mug.  

But when you’ve had enough of all that gluttony, come on back and dig into a nice kale salad, because LA has NY beat on that.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Self-weaning Sucks

self-weaning at 6 months
In the end, it all works out. 
According to every single social media account ever, it's World Breastfeeding Week.  Honestly, I've seen more boob in the last few days than my Husband saw in his entire high school career.  I'm all about the brelfies and the boobies and the babies, and, as I've said before, I am a supporter of however you chose to feed your baby, so long as the kid is thriving and you're not giving him candy corn instead of formula.  Every Mother has her own journey, and you have to decide what route is best for you.

I feel like there's a lot of talk about what to do when you have a kid who has no interest in getting off the boob fountain, but that there isn't a whole lot of information about what to do when your kid self-weans at a young ageThe first year of the Little Lady's life was not an easy one for me.  I struggled mightily with parenting a baby and a toddler and my own feelings of reticence regarding having a second child.  I'm lucky that breastfeeding comes easily for me - I produce plenty of milk, and both of my kids latched like champions - but what I was completely and totally unprepared for was the possibility that Rose would self-wean at six-and-a-half months.

It does happen, despite your breastfeeding book and your lactation consultant labeling it a "nursing strike".  Sometimes, no matter how much you push the boob, your kid just doesn't want it anymore.  The rejection hurts, especially if you're not emotionally ready to wean your little one.  Self-weaning happens, you're not alone, and you're in for a bumpy ride.  Pour yourself a drink, throw back a handful of placenta pills and get ready for The Five Stages of Self-Weaning.

Denial.  This is when you find yourself literally forcing your boob into your baby's mouth while she fights mightily against it.  You try every trick in the book to get your kid to latch - rocking, singing, walking, using the sling - only to find yourself sitting on your birth ball at four in the morning, sobbing along with your starving child while your legs go numb from six hours of bouncing.  
 
Anger.  Your sweet, darling babe becomes your own worst enemy.  The expletives you mutter under your breath every time your kid gets hungry would shock even a stand-up comic.  You swear that your baby is rejecting your boobs because she wants to take revenge on you for all the horrible parenting decisions you've made over the last few months, and you are pissed!  You find yourself squeezing the life out of stuffed animals, abusing annoying toys, and throwing things at your spouse in an effort to express the anger that is threatening to take over your life. 

Bargaining.  You try making crazy deals with your baby.  You tell her that if she just nurses for five minutes from your right boob you will let her use your iPhone as a teething ring.  You beg and plead with your small child to please just get back on the boob train and you will never again take away the scissors when she is playing with them.  You have completely lost all rational thought and are willing to promise your child anything just to get her to nurse for a few minutes. 

Depression.  You blame yourself for your child's rejection.  You are absolutely positive that your baby doesn't want to breastfeed anymore because you work, or you spent too much time with her brother, or you took a trip during a seminal period of her development.  You chastise yourself for not pumping as much as you should have, for not getting more help with your older child to ensure that you were able to have quiet nursing sessions with your infant.  You are positive that your child not wanting to nurse anymore is because you are a terrible Mother and that your kid is doomed to a life of failure and you will end up visiting her in prison where she makes license plates and has a girlfriend named Shower Stalker. 

Acceptance.  You let go of trying to force your kid to nurse, which causes you to realize that the whole situation was stressing you out.  You notice that feeding your child (with a bottle, as requested) no longer fills you with anxiety and that you aren't dreading getting your kid to eat.  You can, once again, enjoy snuggling with your babe while she receives nourishment.  For the first time in weeks, your anxiety level falls below "Red Alert" and you stop seeing your baby as Personal Enemy No. 1.  Your child is thriving and happy and you stop seeing self-weaning as a rejection, but as your child asserting his or her independence.  You realize how nice it is to not have a small human pawing at you all the time, and you remember that sex is so much better when you're not lactating.  You celebrate having such an advanced, self-aware child by enjoying several strong cocktails, and getting down and dirty (with a condom, of course).