Thursday, October 29, 2015

Breakfast of Champions

the best gluten free buckwheat pancake recipe
I know it's overly festive, but I'll do anything to get my kid to eat breakfast. 
My husband thinks that the only thing one needs for a well-rounded breakfast is a cup of coffee and twenty uninterrupted minutes to respond to emails.  In fact, I'm pretty sure he would be happy if breakfast was entirely discontinued throughout the world.  While I respect his decision to forgo the "most important meal of the day", I can't feed my kids coffee and screen time without tempting a visit from Child Protective Services.  Unfortunately, the Muffin Man seems to have inherited Chris' propensity for skipping breakfast, because it is a daily struggle to get the kid to sit down and eat something every morning.  Everything that he used to enjoy - eggs, oatmeal, yogurt - he now patently refuses to eat.  He's so excited to play and dance and just get his day started that he doesn't want to take the time out of his busy schedule to chow down on breakfast.

There is, however, one thing I make that I can almost always get him to consume: Buckwheat Pancakes.

In my search for the perfect pancake recipe, I tried so many different recipes, and while I found a few that I liked (and quite a few that I didn't), they all seemed to be really complicated.  Discouraged, I went in search of a gluten-free buckwheat pancake mix, but came up empty.  Finally, after much consulting with Dr. Google, I found an easy, super tasty recipe that everyone in our family loves.

Buckwheat Pancakes
Adapted from Food.com
1 cup buckwheat flour 
2 Tblsp. coconut sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. clove
1 egg
1 cup almond milk (or buttermilk for a richer flavor)
1 Tblsp. coconut oil, melted
1 cup blueberries (optional)

Heat up your griddle.  If using cast-iron, lightly spray with cooking oil.

the best gluten free buckwheat pancake recipe
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

the best gluten free buckwheat pancake recipe
Whisk egg, milk, and coconut oil together, and stir into dry mixture until combined.  The batter will be thicker than one made with regular flour.

Fold in blueberries.

the best gluten free buckwheat pancake recipe
Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto preheated griddle.  If you're feeling Super Mom-ish, use cookie cutters and make festive pancake shapes.  

Turn pancakes when bubbles form around the edges, and cook until second side is golden brown.

the best gluten free buckwheat pancake recipe
Add caption
Serve to your children and enjoy watching them eat something that isn't a Goldfish cracker or plain pasta.  

Mommy Tip: mix up several batches of the dry ingredients and keep them in the pantry so that when your offspring are demanding pancakes at 6:30AM the only thing you have to add is the egg, coconut oil, and milk.

Chances are your kids will like these enough to ensure that you (and your spouse) get twenty minutes of uninterrupted email time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Treat Yo' Self


Halloween in Los Angeles
#31DaysofHalloween
October is a pretty big month in our household. Not only is it the month of my birth, but also that of my Mother-in-law, my Stepfather and the Haasbund. And of course, there’s Halloween, which is not only my favorite holiday, but was also the day the Haasbund and I hitched our wagons. Who gets married on Halloween, you ask? Crazy people who plan their desert wedding around the full moon and who want a discount because it’s technically considered a “holiday” weekend. So while I had high hopes of making this post an ode to all things fall, since I’m also co-chairing the Halloween party committee (and am on the film committee and the picture committee) at Zippy C’s preschool, I had to settle for a quick bit about the most treasured of Haas Family traditions: #31DaysofHalloween

Thankfully, C shares my love of the holiday, and I’m wholly convinced it’s because of the countdown. The concept is simple: every day for the month of October, we do something in the spirit of the holiday. There is not a pumpkin patch we don’t visit, a hayride we don’t take, a haunted house we dare not enter. The events have varied according to what is age appropriate, and this year I’m super excited to take C on the ghost train in Griffith Park. Some of my all time favorite things have been:
Underwood family farms
This magical farm is home to not only the most amazing Pumpkin festival, but is also open year round for other seasonal adventures. It’s hands-down the best place to pick your own pumpkin right from the vine and is a mecca for all the local LA preschools. It has a tractor-drawn train ride, a hayride that enables you to gander at the whole property, corn mazes, labyrinths, a slide made out of a tractor, tricycle tracks, animatronic chickens. I could go on for another paragraph or so about this place alone but either, a) you already know about it or b) you’ve already grabbed your keys and are out the door.
Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns Descanso

You have to book tickets to this amazingly creative feat of pumpkin artistry well in advance. Because of that, our tickets for this year’s event are for this upcoming Sunday. But if last year was any indication of how amazing it was, there were actual life size dinosaurs, there was street art, famous characters both animated and real life from movies and so much more, all made out of pumpkins!! And there was a super cool (possibly creepy if you don’t lean toward the macabre) display of “heads” displayed in cubes of formaldehyde. This place is amazing, but if you have a newly mobile toddler, or just one who is prone to running away from you, I would highly suggest equipping them with a glow necklace, glow in the dark clothes and any other such stuff that might make it easier for you to spot them in a crowd. (possibly a leash, even?!) Also, it should be noted, tickets are not cheap at $25 a pop (yes, you even pay for the little ones 3 and over).

Riley's farm
Admittedly a drive from LA (about 1.5 hours), this U-Pick Farm is certainly worth the mileage.  While I haven’t been there in a few years, we’re excited to go back this weekend. The last time I went there was apple picking, pumpkin picking and festivities galore. Rides, a shop, and of course, who could forget (and/or resist), that wafting smell of freshly baked cider donuts. To me, this felt like the closest approximation to a good old fashioned East Coast fall and was truly an homage to all things autumnal. Palm Springs (and the outlets) are not too far away, so if you feel like making a weekend out of it, no one would blame you for it.

Seeing as C is (yes, still) obsessed with trains, this one seemed like a no brainer. That is, until we tried a few times to make it happen. Conveniently located next to Travel Town, this ghoulish set up seems to be THE thing for families looking for a non-threatening haunt. Granted, it was naïve of us to think we could saunter up to the line at 9pm when it closes at 10, it also appears it was naïve of us to even attempt it at 6:30PM when the ride opens at 7. Advice from a friend who gave it a successful go was to show up around 6PM with picnic dinner and lots of ways to entertain your child in tow (games, things that light up, technology). This can become expensive as the tickets themselves are $15 each, but all proceeds are a direct donation to the LA Live Steamers to keep the place in operation, something we’ll happily support. 

Boney Island
In my craze to get C’s costume made and everything in order not only for his school’s Halloween party, but also for the Haasbund’s birthday, I ALMOST forgot about this amazing place. Thankfully there’s still time to enjoy this, even more so now that the space is open weeknights beginning Oct 21 from 6pm. A true backyard haunt, this wonderland of all things cheeky finds its home on a very generous private citizen’s front lawn. But don’t let that deter you. It’s in fact a sight to behold. Since being taken over by a producer of TV’s The Simpsons, word on the street is that the decorations and interactive elements change, but if, as with The Rise, last year’s display is a mark this is a MUST HIT for families. Not only because it’s FREE (with opportunities to make donations of course), but because it actually holds the children’s interest. C had a blast getting “caught” in the projected spider’s web, was mesmerized by the cauldron light show and generally loved each and every detail of the very cleverly designed attraction. I might even spring for a t-shirt this year to help support its continuance.

Clearly, Halloween is a BFD in our house, just as it is in this town (one of the lucky times we get to relish in the fact so many folks are “in the industry” as these types seem to go big for the occasion). If I can offer any advice for the big night, I would say to get a dress rehearsal going in order to get some decent photos. I doubt C will object as he’s proudly telling everyone he’s going to be a robot for Halloween which is why I REALLY have to stop writing and get moving on his costume.  But if this post leaves you wanting, this is my go-to spot for discovering all this area has to offer. You’re guaranteed to find something to pique your curiosity, regardless of age or proclivity to be shaken out of your boots.

Happy Haunting!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Forget This

Sleep regressions are hilarious!
They say that you lose a percentage of brain cells every time you have a child, and based on how many times a day I misplace my keys I think this is definitely true.  It's purely a case of survival of the species; if you did remember every little thing about childbirth and parenting, you would never, ever have another kid.

I'm constantly amazed at how little I actually do remember, especially since there wasn't a long stretch of years between the Muffin Man's baby years and the Little Lady's first months of life.  Chalk it up to sleep deprivation or permanent Mom brain, but it's almost as though I have no recollection of Noah's first year of life.  In fact, I've found myself turning to my Husband an an almost weekly basis and saying, "Oh yeah, I completely forgot about this."

The grunting newborn.  Apparently not every baby does this, but both of my kids grunted in their sleep.  I'm not talking about soft, cuddly little whimpers, but loud, 80-year-old-man-trying-to-poop sounds.  And it wasn't just once or twice a night, but all night long.  Which would be fine if this small, grunting human wasn't sleeping right next to you.  It's usually caused by gas or reflux and yes, your baby will grow out of it, but not before you are so exhausted that you fall asleep standing up in the shower.

So many sleep regressions.  Just when you think your kid has mastered the whole sleeping thing, it's time for another developmental milestone that's guaranteed to F up your sleep schedule.  Have an infant who's finally sleeping longer than two hours at a time?  Enjoy it, because she's sure to be back to her old sleepless tricks right around four months.  Your one year old is sleeping through the night and you no longer feel like a Zombie?  Don't worry, you'll be back to your sleep deprived self thanks to teething and/or starting to walk.  Even when you think the worst of it is behind you, you're sure to get hit with night terrors or the stomach flu or him being convinced that monsters live under his bed.  Exhaustion is a parent's permanent state of being, and I suggest you invest in a coffee maker that automatically brews your morning elixir before the sun rises (trust me, you'll need it).

Throwing food.  Gravity is fascinating, especially when combined with how thrilling it is to watch your parents repeatedly pick up half-eaten food stuffs.  One of the more popular moves for newbie eaters is to sweep everything from their high chair onto the dining room rug.  Don't bother picking up whatever gets thrown on the floor, as it only encourages your kid's use of food for pitching practice.  This stage does pass, though not before you find yourself sobbing over your ruined rug.
Pro tip: invest in an indoor/outdoor rug for your eating area and save that vintage kilim for when the kids are older. 

When no means yes.  This is truly one of the most annoying stages of which I had no memory.  There's a period of time when your kid is old enough to do dangerous and/or annoying stuff, but not quite old enough to understand the concept of no.  During this period you will have to repeatedly remove your child from various life threatening activities that she persists in doing over and over and over again.  You will find this annoying and exhausting, and your child will find it hilarious.  She will probably laugh hysterically while you lose your shit because she's attempting to climb out the window for the sixth time in five minutes.  This too shall pass, and then your kid will become a toddler who does understand the word no but does it anyway just to f*ck with you and see if you really do follow through on that whole "no TV for a week" threat.

The biter.  I'm pretty sure every kid has a biting phase.  This does not mean that your child is going to be a preschool bully or that he is going to be labeled a biter and not invited to any playdates.  If your kid is a young toddler and doesn't yet have the words to express herself, there's a very good chance that she is going to bite you or her sibling if she gets angry.  Biting hurts and yes, I do have a scar on my upper arm from a previous incident involving a 15 month old Noah, but the good news is that most kids stop biting once they have a more evolved vocabulary.  If your kid doesn't stop this behavior, you can always try the Teeth are Not for Biting book, or simply comfort yourself with the knowledge that he will one day appeal to a woman of the Fifty Shades of Grey variety.

The boob man.  I don't know if this is only a thing with kids who are breastfed, but both of my children have, at one time or another, been obsessed with feeling me up.  I guess they take after their Father?  It's been quite some time since Rose has used me as a food source, but at any random moment, specifically during inopportune times, she will just reach right down my shirt and grab one of those pancake-like appendages that used to be my perky boobs.  She has no shame and I am entirely sure that I have inadvertently flashed quite a few checkers at my local Trader Joe's.  I'm sure she'll grow out of it and then she'll do what her brother does when she sees me naked: point, laugh and tell me I look funny.

Come to think of it, maybe it's good that the only thing I can remember these days is my name and my address.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Preschool Panic: Lunchbox Edition

preschool lunch ideas
What's in your lunch?
I think we can all agree that I am not a domestic goddess.

I would like to be a woman who can clean and cook and make holiday decorations out of a used milk carton and a couple of pipe cleaners, but the reality is that my talents lie in other arenas (I'm not sure exactly which arenas those are, but I must have some talents...right?).  It surprised me, therefore, that I enjoy packing a lunch for the Muffin Man every day.

I know, it's shocking, especially since the last thing I "cooked" was a vodka martini with extra olives.

I admit that the idea of packing a lunch initially stressed me out.  Before school even started my anxiety about having to prepare a delicious lunch that my kid would actually eat led me down a Pinterest black hole in which I found myself pinning images of flower-shaped lunch meats and bananas sculpted to look like characters from Frozen.

If you are creative enough to sculpt Disney characters out of produce, I salute you, but for those of us living in the real world - the ones who have all of five minutes to throw something together during the morning rush - I prefer a more practical approach to packing lunches.

Leftovers are your lunch time friend.  Whatever my kid doesn't eat for dinner is destined for his lunch the following day.  Obviously, this rule doesn't hold if he didn't like what we had for dinner and he refused to eat it, but we do our best to prepare something he will eat at every meal.  

I'm not above subterfuge.  Getting Noah to eat protein, especially meat, is a major challenge.  He used to eat everything, but his current preferred diet includes cheese and bread and bread and cheese.  Since I know he'll always eat a grilled cheese, I sneak in some shredded chicken and he's none the wiser.

Play favorites.  If your kids will eat it, put it in their lunch.  I don't particularly like to eat the same thing every day, but Noah would be happy to eat bagels with cream cheese for every meal.  I've found that when I include at least one thing Noah really loves, he's more willing to try something new.

Wow Butter wins.  Noah's preschool is peanut-free, but most of the schools here in the city of concrete and broken dreams are completely nut free.  Wow Butter is made from toasted soy, so it's school approved.  It also happens to be totally delicious.  It's a fantastic way to get your kid to eat protein without endangering the lives of the kids with nut allergies.

Don't despair.  Honestly, not every lunch is a win.  Sometimes, Noah is just too excited to play with his friends to sit down and focus on eating.  I've found that if I offer him the rest of his lunch to eat in the car on the way home, he often finishes whatever is left.  If all else fails, remind yourself that it's not how much your kid eats in a day, but how much he consumes in a week; then pour yourself a glass of wine and toast your lunchtime efforts.

Here's what Noah ate for lunch last week:

preschool lunch ideas
Blanched green beans (leftover from dinner), Trader Joe's organic hummus, Food Should Taste Good rice crackers, Lucky Cow teriyaki jerky, goat cheese, apple and almond butter crescents.

preschool lunch ideas
Grilled cheese with shredded chicken (leftover from dinner), organic edamame, baby sweet red peppers, grapes and yellow plums

preschool lunch ideas
Sesame bagel with cream cheese and lox, Weelicious sweet potato muffin (adapted to be gluten free), Trader Joe's organic hummus, red bell pepper, cantaloupe balls & yellow plum

preschool lunch ideas
Weelicious turkey & cucumber roll-ups, corn on the cob (leftover from dinner), Food Should Taste Good rice crackers, trail mix, watermelon balls & Asian pear.

preschool lunch ideas
Apple and Wow Butter "sandwiches", Trader Joe's gluten free pretzels, edamame, Pad Thai noodles (leftover from dinner), sweet baby peppers. 

I'd show you a picture of what I ate for lunch yesterday, but the crusts of bread and half-chewed meatball I snagged from Rose's highchair weren't all that photogenic.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Private Parts

talking about private parts with kids

I've now reached the stage of parenting in which I'm supposed to start talking with my son about his private parts.

Setting aside the fact that I feel as though I just gave birth to the Muffin Man, let's discuss how bizarre it is to try to have a conversation with a two and a half year old about his penis.  In case you're not familiar with what it's like to converse with a small child about well, anything, it usually involves you speaking, your kid not listening, and then him repeatedly asking, "why?" even when you've given him the answers 10 times in a row.  

That's what it's like when you're having a perfectly regular discussion about things like the sky being blue or what day it is.  Imagine, if you will, attempting to talk with someone who doesn't really have the ability for abstract reasoning and trying to impress upon this person why it's not okay for strange people to touch his private parts.

Me: Muffin, do you know the difference between boys and girls?

Noah: Can I have a snack? I want a popsicle.

Me: Noah, I need you to listen to me.

Noah: Okay, but I want a popsicle.

Me: What's the difference between boys and girls?

Noah: I want a popsicle NOW!

Me: I'll give you a popsicle if you tell me what makes you different than girls.

Noah: I can pee pee outside.  I want a cherry popsicle.

I hand Noah a cherry popsicle.  It's homemade with organic fruit, free of any artificial flavors or colors and sweetened with agave.  

Me: Do you know why you can pee outside?

Noah: Because you told me it was okay.  I don't like this popsicle.

Me: Can your friend Sarah pee outside?

Noah: This popsicle is yucky.  I want a red one.

Me: You're a boy, and Sarah is a girl.

Noah: Sarah likes popsicles too.  Her Mommy gives me yogurt pops when I play at her house.

Me: That's just fantastic.  You're a boy, Noah, so that means you have a penis.

Noah: I have a peanut!  I love my peanut!

Me: Penis, you have a penis.  

Noah: Peanuts, peanuts, peanuts.  I like nuts.  Can I have some nuts, Mommy?

Me: Your penis is your private part, and it's not okay for anybody you don't know to touch you down there. 

Noah: (nodding) Uh huh. 

Me: It's really important that you tell me or Daddy if anyone ever tries to touch you in a way you don't like, okay?

Noah: Okay.  Can I have a juice box?  My peanut is thirsty.

Me: It's also not okay for you to touch other people's private parts either.

Noah: Why?

Me: Because everybody has private parts, and it's not nice to touch our friends there.

Noah: Why?

Me: Because they are private and just for us.

Noah: Why?

Me: That's what the word private means.

Noah: Why?

Me: If anyone tries to touch your private parts and then says it's a secret, come and tell me or Daddy right away.

Noah: I like secrets.  Daddy puts ice cream in secrets and they are crunchy.

Me: Remind me to strangle your  Daddy.

Noah: Okay.  Mommy, 'member to 'rangle daddy.

Me: If someone tries to touch your private parts, what do you do?

Noah: Can I have a secret for dessert? Those are yummy.

So, yeah, I think the whole private parts talk is really going swimmingly.  Just on the off chance that Noah didn't quite get the message, we've been reading this book together.  

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go 'rangle my spouse.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pumpkins, Ghosts and Heatstroke

pumpkin patches los angeles

The weather here in Los Angeles has been far from what one would call "Autumnal", but despite the surface-of-the-sun temperatures, we're getting in the Halloween spirit.

Prior to having children I would have enjoyed this last gasp of summer the way any person unencumbered by kids would: sunbathing, sipping tropical cocktails, and doing nothing.  Unfortunately, toddlers don't really understand the concept of "doing nothing", which is how I ended up at a pumpkin patch during a heatwave.  It turns out that no matter how many times you explain to children that it's too hot to carve pumpkins because they will rot, they simply don't care.

As soon as your kid sees that first Halloween decoration in the neighborhood, visions of Tootsie Rolls and fun size Mars Bars will begin dancing through his or her head and before you know it you will find yourself standing ankle deep in dirty hay, sweating profusely, and attempting to muster up some excitement for choosing the perfect pumpkin.

Originally, we had grand plans to drive out to Underwood Family Farms and hit up their pumpkin patch and Harvest festival.  It sounds great - a real farm, lots of seasonal, Halloween-y activities - but when the temperature hit almost 90 degrees before 9AM and the Muffin Man would not be dissuaded from a pumpkin patch outing, we decided to keep it more local and head south to Cottone and Sons instead.  You know what?  It was great.  Sure, it wasn't as picturesque as tromping through endless fields of fresh-from-the-vine pumpkins, but there were shade covers and it was definitely more festive than picking up a few gourds from Trader Joe's.

cotton and sons pumpkins cottone and sons pumpkins
I'm pretty sure they checked out every. single. pumpkin.

pumpkin patch with petting zoo
Not sold on the baby goats.

pumpkin patch with pony rides
Pony rides, on the other hand, looked thrilling. 

pumpkin patch los angeles Torrance pumpkin patch
Rose had a wonderful time reorganizing the merchandise displays.

pumpkin patch los angeles
Just ogling the hot witch, as guys do.

All in all, the pumpkin outing was surprisingly successful.  It's very possible that I'm still suffering the after effects of heat stroke, but I think that this definitely qualifies us for some sort of "parents of the year trophy".  Also, my kids were so worn out from all the sun and activity that they napped for three hours which made all that perspiration worthwhile. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sick Day with Toddler

what to do with a kid home sick

Preschool is a wonderful, fabulous, heavenly place where your kid goes for part of the day and interacts with his peers.  It's where children learn to share things, like toys and books and lots and lots of really gross germs.

I don't know if the kids are licking the toilets as well as each other, but the Muffin Man has been a preschool student for all of five weeks, and he's already logged two sick days and a bout of diarrhea.  The kids are constantly washing their hands - in the morning when we first arrive, before and after eating - but a toddler's version of "washing" isn't exactly what I would call thorough.  These endless rounds of illness seem to pretty much go with the preschool territory, and supposedly it's an important part of children building up their immune systems.  Which is all well and good, except for the fact that when your kid is sick, he can't go to school.

Do you want to know what sucks more than having a sick kid?  Being stuck at home with one.

3AM Your toddler wakes up crying because he's coughing or barfing.  You stumble down the hallway in an exhausted fog and comfort your crying child.  If vomit is involved, this will require the participation of both parents, as one will have to change the bedding and the other will have to hose down the puke-covered child.  

3:47AM After several rounds of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, your kid finally falls back to sleep and you stumble to bed.  

5:30AM Your second, still healthy, child wakes up ready to take on the day.  She is in the best mood ever and cannot understand why you are crying into your coffee cup.

6:30AM Your sick toddler wakes up in the worst mood ever and wishes you good morning by throwing a book at your head.  

6:35AM You pray that your toddler does not have a fever, so that you can send The Devil's Spawn to preschool in a few hours.

6:45AM After ten minutes of trying to take your toddler's temperature, and him screaming "No! I don't like that!" and batting the thermometer out of your hand, you finally bribe him with either money or candy to allow you to take his temperature.

6:55AM You deduce, after seven readings from the ear thermometer, that your child does, in fact, have a slight* fever 
*101

6:56AM You cry into your third cup of coffee.

7AM Your toddler requests pancakes for breakfast, and because you are a masochist, you make some.

7:15AM Your toddler refuses to eat the pancakes, and throws them on the floor instead.  Your other child eats three pancakes and follows that up by taking a drink from the sick child's cup of milk.

7:25AM You seriously consider sending your sick kid to school.  Sure, it's a dick move, but your sanity may not survive a whole day trapped in your house with this terror.

7:26AM Your child barfs/sneezes/coughs all over you, thereby destroying your fantasy of pawning your little germ factory off on the school.

7:27AM You park both kids in front of TV and pour yourself another cup of coffee.

8AM Your spouse comes downstairs and has the gall to complain about being tired.

8:02AM You consider choking your spouse to death with his tie.

8:30AM TV has lost its magic.  Your toddler now wants to build a lego tower, but he refuses to let his younger sibling play, thereby resulting in fighting and tears.

8:35AM Your toddler announces that he is bored.

8:36AM You suggest taking a walk.  Mainly because you need more coffee.

8:37 - 8:42AM Your spouse watches* the kids while you shower.
*checks his email/makes phone calls

8:43AM Your spouse leaves, which causes both of your children to cry hysterically.

8:50 - 9:30AM You attempt to get your children dressed, which involves at least one tantrum and some bribery.

9:35AM - 11AM You take your kids to get bagels.  It takes an hour to get to your destination because your toddler refuses to ride in the stroller and you have to stop to wipe his nose every two minutes.  You feel marginally guilty for infecting people with your child's germs, but you are thrilled that your outing took up most of the morning and that your kids only had one public meltdown.

11:15AM Arrive home.  You are euphoric because your kids are tired and that means it's almost nap time.

11:25AM Your adrenaline has kicked in and you hustle your kids through their pre-nap routine.  Your bed is calling you and you can't wait to imprison these Hellions in their cribs so that you can catch a few winks yourself.  

11:30AM While the older kid goes potty, you deposit the younger one into her crib without preamble.  You are sure that this one day of not reading her a story is going to lead to years of therapy, but you are too tired to care.

11:35AM Your sick kid has managed to poop all over the bathroom.  It's like he's in possession of an exploding ass. 

11:36AM You throw a few towels over the mess, take your super pooper into the shower, and hose both of you down.  

11:43AM Your sick kid is so tired he's falling asleep standing up.  You try to put him in bed without the usual routine, but he throws an epic tantrum.

12:10PM Ten books, six songs, and a nursery rhyme later, your kid is finally asleep.  You collapse into your own bed.

12:15PM You realize that you haven't eaten anything and you are starving.  You drag yourself to the kitchen to get some food.

12:20PM You hoover some cold leftovers.  

12:30PM You go back to bed.  You are so exhausted your body is vibrating.  

12:31PM You realize you forgot to clean up the poopslosion in the bathroom.  You decide that you'll deal with it later*
*leave it for your Husband

12:35 - 2:30PM You enjoy some glorious, amazing, life-giving sleep.  

2:30PM Your younger kid wakes up.  

2:40PM You go in to pick up your younger child only to discover that she has taken off her diaper and has smeared poop all over herself, her crib, and her room.  

2:43PM You take another shower with your second poop-covered kid.  

2:50PM Your sick toddler wakes up screaming.  Again.

2:51PM Your sick toddler screams and screams because he wants his Daddy, which sets off the younger kid.  You consider locking them in the basement for an hour while you watch the newest episode of Empire, and then decide against it, mainly because your neighbor would probably have you arrested

3:05PM You finally succeed in stopping the tantrums by suggesting your kids have a snack.   

3:10PM Your children HATE every snack you offer them.  Finally, in desperation, you simply hand them the basket of snacks so that you can recline on the couch for a minute.

3:11PM They descend on the snack basket like a swarm of locusts.  Pretzels, nuts, and granola fly all over the house.  

3:14PM After decimating the entire stash of snacks, your offspring announce that they are bored. 

3:15PM You set them up with art supplies with the belief that this will be a quiet activity that they can do together.

3:17PM Since your children are incapable of sharing, this activity devolves into a fight in a matter of seconds.  You are not sure if they are actually injured, or just covered in puce paint.

3:20PM You seriously consider taking your sick kid to the park, but decide to be a responsible parent instead.  

3:25PM You take your kids out to the backyard and whisper words of gratitude for the weather in LA.

3:26PM - 3:45PM Miraculously, your children play without incident.  You consider celebrating this achievement by moving cocktail hour to 4PM.

3:46PM Your Pinterest search for "Autumn cocktails" is cut short by your younger, previously healthy, child barfing into the kiddie pool.  

3:47PM You tell your toddler that it's time to come inside so you can take the baby's temperature, which results in yet another tantrum.  You fantasize about drowning yourself in the kiddie pool.

3:55PM Your bribe of TV and yogurt pops succeeds in luring your children inside.  You say a little prayer of thanks that you live in a world with television.

3:57 - 4:30PM Your toddler expresses the fact that he's feeling better by jumping on all of the furniture and singing The Wheels on the Bus at the top of his lungs.  Your younger child alternates between vomiting, explosive diarrhea, and sobbing.  You say "f*ck it", and pour yourself a glass of wine.  

4:30 - 4:40PM You realize that you need to feed your family dinner.  You remember that you haven't had time to grocery shop this week and that the only thing in your house is a can of pumpkin and a jar of capers.  You cry, and then you order a pizza.

5PM - 5:05PM Your toddler eats dinner, which means that he takes two bites of a slice of cheese pizza and then says he's done.  Your younger child enjoys a dinner of Pedialyte and saltine crackers.

5:10PM - 6PM You mentally give your Pediatrician the finger and turn on the TV.  Too much screen time?  F that.  

6:15PM Your spouse returns home, surveys the house, and asks what happened.  You wonder if it's possible to suffocate someone with a slice of pizza.

6:16PM You hand your spouse the bucket of cleaning supplies, tell him good luck, and head off to bed, because all of the sudden, you're not feeling so hot yourself.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fix my Wardrobe: Vintage Edition

vintage sweater, vintage jeans, vintage nose
When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time trying to find myself.  Mainly this involved dying my hair different colors, doing drugs, and attempting to experiment with sex.  At some point during this formative period, I became obsessed with Barbra Streisand.  I'm not sure why really, other than the fact that I was a musical theater nerd and I didn't have anything better to do on my Saturday nights than listen to The Way we Were on repeat, but I began to read everything I could get my hands on about Babs.  Let me remind you that this was way back in the dark ages, before "googling" was an acknowledged verb, and you actually had to go to the library to research stuff, but somewhere in my voracious reading I came across an article wherein she discussed how she only wore vintage dresses when she first started out.  

That little nugget of information was all that was required to set me on a path to my next identity.  I became obsessed with finding fabulous vintage duds, convinced that by clothing myself in a manner that echoed Barbra I, too, might find myself on the path to certain fame (I think we all know how that turned out).

For the next several years I haunted all the vintage shops in and around the Bay Area looking for fashion gems.  In hindsight, I think that most of what I chose was more "heinous" than "Hermes", but I did stumble on some cute pieces once and awhile, like a cream silk 1960's prom dress with teal velvet bows and a crinoline underskirt.

When I moved to New York I traded in Barbra and vintage for house music and heroin chic, and strode into the future of my next personality which I like to call "will f*ck for dinner."

Lately, I've rekindled my affair with vintage clothes (though not with Babs).  I have a lot less time to cruise vintage shops than I did back in my high school days, so I have a few go-to spots that rarely disappoint.

shareen vintage
This gem still had the original tag attached
shareen vintage
I love how my 1940's dress looks with modern booties
Shareen, LA & NY
The owner, Shareen, is super wacky, but the woman finds some really stellar duds.  The store, despite being in a giant warehouse, is really nicely appointed, but keep in mind that you're going to be paying more for your vintage clothes because you don't have to pick through a bunch of crap.  Go when she has one of her sales and you might score a really great piece for a few bucks.  This is the place to go if you're looking for the perfect dress for a Mad Men-themed party, as she specializes in retro party dresses and vintage wedding gowns.
shareen vintage
I only wear polyester when it's vintage
The Rose Bowl, Pasadena (second Sunday of each month)
If you follow me on Instagram you know that I love to haunt flea markets for furniture and household goods, but I also enjoy checking out the vintage fashion selection, especially at the Rose Bowl.  There's a lot of crap, but I have stumbled on some cute Boho 70's pieces.  Roll out early and get there before it gets too hot, and be sure to bring a big bottle of water so you don't get dehydrated while on the search for that perfect fringed jacket.

vintage fashion los angeles
I found this skirt on the "Costumes" rack tucked next to a George Bush mask
The Goodwill (specifically the one on Beverly at Fairfax)
I am not a pro at shopping thrift stores, because I tend to get super overwhelmed and can't deal with the racks of ugly sweaters and Juicy Couture track suits, but if you have time and patience you might find some gems.  My friend, Amelia, is the Goodwill shopper extraordinaire (seriously, I think she should start a business) so she consistently discovers really great stuff there, and she's responsible for helping me pick out my "perfect for your next Key Party" skirt.

NCJW Council Thrift Shops
There are a lot of really old, really wealthy Jewish ladies in LA, and they love to donate to NCJW.  Here's the secret: the stores hold back their best donations until their monthly Best of the Best sales.  The prices are more than at the Goodwill, but they often have very high-end designer stuff, especially for men (I got Chris a Dior Tux there one year, and it only cost $60).

Squaresville, Los Feliz
This is the classic vintage clothing store, probably seen in every hipster movie ever made about LA, but they have a consistently good selection of stuff.  It's a mix here, meaning you might find a fabulous vintage frock next to a Forever 21 t-shirt, but they always stay true to their hipster aesthetic.  I don't often get over to Los Feliz because, children, but I make it a point to stop in here whenever I'm in the neighborhood.

Happy shopping!  If you find any great pieces, post a snapshot on the Misadventures Facebook page so I can see what I missed while I was busy having a pretend tea party with my offspring. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Motherhood, Inc.


LA with kids
There’s nothing like unexpectedly bumping into an ex to make you question your life choices and wonder how, exactly, you find yourself at your current life juncture.  With one pointed question I actually left my body, saw the old Allyson cringing at the responses this new person masquerading in my stead was mouthing, and then, in that exact moment, realized that I needed to do something to correct that. 

Here's what Mr. Not-so-Wonderful asked: "So...aren't you going crazy?"  

Setting aside just exactly how rude this and the all-too-often asked “what do you DO all day” question are, I found myself in a tailspin. I think I mumbled something relatively sound-bite friendly and politically correct, but I’m pretty sure my performance didn’t win me any gold statutes. The truth is, the Type A person I used to be am constantly wrestles with what my next move will be. And as a Libra, we tend to suffer from the Hamlet complex; i.e., we endlessly vacillate about a decision.

I’ve taken my new 1.5 hours per day of freedom (thank you, preschool!) and come up with a few answers to the interview questions I'm sure to field should I decide to return to the corporate world.  

INTERVIEWER:  What have you done in the past three years that would be applicable to today’s job market? Do you think you can get over the hump of having “lost your edge?” What do you think qualifies you as a good candidate for this position?

ME: Really, I could qualify as the CEO at this point. If there’s a problem in the organization that can’t be sorted amongst the management ranks, it immediately comes to my attention, and gets dealt with efficiently. 

In the past three years I’ve played various roles within the Haas Organization. These roles include, but are not limited to: CFO; managing funds and making sure each account is kept not only in the black, but on track for steady growth. This includes keeping a keen eye out for potential investment opportunities (read: real estate market) to determine when is the best time to maximize assets and engage in change. 

ACCOUNTS PAYABLE. I’ve ensured that everyone who has provided a service to our home has been paid fair market value for his or her work and in a timely fashion. I’ve also ensured (at one time or another) that all bills are paid on time, including but not limited to: cell phone bills, cable bills, the mortgage, pest control service bills and credit cards. 

I’m also quite adept at HUMAN RESOURCES as well as RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT. Air conditioning broken? I’m now a resident expert on the latest in aircon technology and terminology and can point you to a wide range of options to best suit your budget and needs.

This also makes me an expert in SALES & MARKETING. Leak in the guest bathroom toilet? I can efficiently handle its resolution before the water gets to be an inch deep. Since I can’t fix it myself I have compiled a list of capable folks to whom I can outsource the task. And rest assured the project will be complete within one business day.  

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER. I can efficiently navigate the latest trends in social media and keep an active presence and working knowledge of their ever changing platforms. 

EVENTS COORDINATOR & TALENT DEVELOPMENT. I’ve consistently kept my team involved in and surrounded by experiences and activities that have enriched, unearthed and grown their individual abilities to make them realize their full potential.

In addition to having experience with these various roles, I’m also an excellent multi-tasker; I can craft a blog post, make dinner for a toddler AND a puppy all while conducting a telephone conversation, running a bath and entertaining said toddler who is not so patiently waiting for that dinner to be ready. I’m flexible and adaptable to changes in the marketplace and can react accordingly; Hell hath no fury like a toddler who was promised an activity only to find out that activity is closed on that particular day. Quick thinking and a quick wit have saved me many a day.

Essentially, the only position I might NOT qualify for in your organization is ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE as I have yet to see a dime for the work I’ve done.  This sad fact also catapults me into being in a prime position to serve as INTERN; overworked and under appreciated yet willing to do the work with a smile and a "yes boss" reply.

It turns out that Motherhood may have been the best preparation for re-entry into the workforce.  Now I just have to polish up my resume and find some time to shop for a few professional outfits; I suspect that in the real world paint-stained sweatpants may not pass muster even on causal Friday.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Body Talk

Hawaiian honeymoon
Once upon a time, a long time ago... I had a killer bikini bod.
I spent the entire nine months that I was gestating my children yapping about how I couldn't wait to get my body back.  I assumed that I would eventually bounce back into shape once I recovered from giving birth and finally found some time to exercise.  There's only one problem: you never really get your pre-pregnancy body completely back.  You'll lose (most) of the baby weight and you might even fit back into your pre-pregnancy jeans, but it's not the same.

Sure, it's a miraculous thing to be able to give life and all that crap, but personally I think that the six-pack I was sporting prior to having the Muffin Man was nothing short of miraculous either.

1. Boobs.  I know I've talked (and talked) about this, but boobies after baby are just sad.  The deflated balloons currently residing on my upper chest are a shadow of what they once were.  It is not out of the realm of possibility that I will, in 20 years or so, be able to wear my breasts as a belt.  I used to have to wear a bra because my boobs were too big, and now I have to wear a bra so that I don't look flatter than a prepubescent eight year old.  If you think it's depressing to not fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans, try not fitting into your pre-pregnancy bra.  I could make a whole dress with the amount of extra fabric in the cups of my old 34C's.

2. Hips.  Shakira was right: your hips don't lie, especially about the fact that you've given birth.  That "childbearing hips" term is not just some weird saying your Grandmother brought over from the old country.  Your hips get wider...and wider...and wider throughout your pregnancy, and unless you are some freak of nature, they never return to their original size.  Invest in some jeggings, because the only pants you're going to be able to fit over those womanly hips are the ones that contain spandex.

3. Waist.  Remember that slim, cute little waist you had before you got pregnant?  That is never coming back.  Get on board the empire waist trend, because that style is your new best friend.  Better yet, just invest in some loose shirts, because those hide a multitude of sins.  I'm really starting to understand the appeal of a corset now that the body shape I'm currently rocking is "human rectangle".

4. Tummy.  If I ever get lost in the Australian outback, I'll probably be adopted by a family of kangaroos who think I can carry their young in my tummy pouch.  Truth be told, I look like I'm gestating a third child, which was pointed out to me by a customer at my local Starbucks who asked how many weeks pregnant I was.  That's a real ego boost prior to your first cup of coffee, let me tell you.  I'm doing sit-ups in every spare moment I have (while also watching Empire, because that show is gooooood) but I'm beginning to despair of ever having a flat tummy again.  Sure, natural birth is great, but I'm kind of wishing I'd gone the scheduled c-section route instead just so that I could've had a tummy tuck and saved myself some shame.

5. Leakage.  Prior to pushing two children out of my lady parts, I really didn't understand why anyone would want to have vaginal rejuvenation.  I get it now, especially every time I sneeze, laugh, cough, or move and wet myself a little bit.  Yes, the vagina has a surprising amount of elasticity, but your vag will never again be the vibrant lady part that it used to be.  I saw myself give birth, and after witnessing how far my bits stretched out, I'm surprised my vag isn't dragging on the floor picking up peanuts like an elephant's trunk.  In related news, I now see the wisdom in Depends marketing their product to a younger audience.

Essentially, my days of wearing string bikinis are over.  I've resigned myself to a future of one piece bathing suits or, preferably, just swimming fully clothed.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Date Night

Just chillin' at a bar on a Wednesday after midnight, as one does when childless. 
When you're unencumbered by children, the idea of a "date night" seems ridiculous.  Back in the days before we had kids, date night was every night!  Spontaneity was the name of the game; if the desire struck, we made it happen.  Dinner at 10pm on a Tuesday?  You bet.  After all, we didn't have to get up with our kids before the sunrise.  Drive to Vegas on a whim?  Absolutely.  Let me just grab a bathing suit and a slutty outfit and I'll meet you in the driveway!

There was no pre planning, no negotiating with spouses or sitters, just good ol' fashioned FREEDOM. 

The closest we're getting to "spontaneous" these days is ordering takeout on a Wednesday night because no one had time to grocery shop.

Now that we have two small humans under our charge, date night is a huge event that is planned weeks, sometimes months, in advance.  It requires lots of calculated choreography, not unlike staging a Broadway show.

1. Secure a babysitter.  This sounds simple in theory, but you'd be surprised just how complicated this can be.  All future decisions about date night hinge on which babysitter is available.  If your usual babysitter is available - the one your kids know best and are comfortable with - you're in the date night winners circle.  This means that your kids will let her put them to bed and that you can eat dinner at any time you please, because you don't have to worry about being home for the bedtime routine.  If your normal sitter isn't available, you've entered the date night danger zone.  You have one of two options: forgo date night altogether, or go out after you've put your kids to bed and pray that they don't wake up, wander into the living room to find some strange person sitting on the couch watching Pitch Perfect 2, and commence screaming loud enough for your nosy neighbor to call the police, thereby cutting your date night short.

2. Choose a destination.  Assuming that date night is a voluntary activity and not predetermined by a wedding, school fundraiser, or work event, then you have to decide where to go and what to do.  Sometimes a cultural event or a movie sounds exciting, but you'll also need to eat either before or after these outings, which means an extra one to two hours of babysitting time.  Using an average cost of $15-$20 per hour, this means that your dinner/movie/play is going to set you back twice as much as it would if you didn't have kids.  So, you have to ask yourself: would I still want to see this movie if it cost $50 a ticket, instead of $25?  Forget about those post-theater night caps you used to enjoy in the old days; once the evening's activity is over, you're racing home to get a decent night's sleep so you're halfway functional when your kids want to do craft projects at 6:30am.

3. Make a reservation or purchase tickets.  Weekend dinner reservations between peak dinner hours are hard to come by in most major metropolitan cities.  Chances are that by the time you've booked a sitter and figured out what you want to do, there won't be any table available at any of the restaurants you're interested in trying during the hours when your sitter is available.  Same too with regards to movie tickets or the Hollywood Bowl.  You will get so desperate for date night to happen that you will agree to a 9pm dinner reservation and write a note on your calendar to drink coffee at 3pm to ensure you don't nod off over appetizers.  It's not unheard of to convince yourself that you don't mind sitting in the front row at the movie theater or behind a pole at Disney Hall because you are that desperate to spend just a few hours away from your children.

4. Schedule time to get ready.  Break out your iCal, because you and your spouse must schedule time to actually get ready for the date.  Figuring out the best way to divide childcare responsibilities so that each of you has a chance to shower and get dressed is a delicate negotiation.  Between work and the busy social life of toddlers, it's entirely possible that you will have to get ready one to two days beforehand, and sleep in your makeup.

5. Actually leave the house.  Date night can be foiled at the last minute by so many things: a sitter who cancels, a sick kid, an exhausted parent who was up all night with the sick kid, an epic tantrum, or a spouse who refuses to leave during said tantrum.  Cancelling date night can seem very alluring, especially if you have a TV in your bedroom and a subscription to Netflix and HBO.  Do not let yourself be swayed by the call of a soft bed and a remote control!  You have worked too hard to make this date night happen, so unless you are literally coughing up a lung or have accidentally severed one of your digits, it's important to rally.  You will be so glad that you went out, even though you were exhausted and grumpy, and really didn't feel like looking cute and conversing with your spouse or others.

Remember, date night is totally worth it.  At least until you wake up with a raging hangover the next day.