Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Practical Parenting Classes

5 parenting classes you actually need
Skip the gym class and sign-up for something practical instead. 
When you have a baby, everyone urges you to attend classes.  From Mommy & Me, to Baby Sign Language, to Infant Massage, the list is endless.  Personally, I think most of the classes are a waste of time and money.  If you have lots of cash to spare and need some adult interaction, by all means, sign up for whatever you damn want, but by the time your kid learns how to say "more" in sign language, he'll most likely be able to actually say more, like with his voice.

That being said, there are a few classes that I think would be helpful for first time parents:

One Handed Parenting.  If there is a particular skill that parents need to master for their own survival, it's doing everything with one hand.  Topics covered in this class would include: cooking dinner while holding a baby; driving a car while entertaining a child in the backseat; and how to fold laundry using only your teeth.

No hygiene, no problem.  Parents often don't get a chance to shower regularly, so this class would teach valuable short-cut grooming skills like which natural deodorants are the most effective at covering up body odor, how to best style greasy hair, and which cosmetics look fresh even after having been slept in.  I would assume that this would be a very popular class for sleep deprived, full time working parents attempting to appear professional despite not having been within shouting distance of a shampoo bottle for nigh on a week.

Phone home.  It is parenting law that your children will most need your attention when you are on an important business call.  This seminar will be invaluable for parents who work out of the home, as it will instruct students on effective use of their phone's mute button, the best places to hide from needy children, and TV shows guaranteed to occupy your offspring until your conference call concludes.

Negotiating with terrorists.  While it may currently be U.S. policy not to negotiate with terrorists, as parents you will find yourselves negotiating with tiny, irrational, narcissistic dictators on a daily, if not hourly basis.  This class will be taught by an ex-marine who has experience working with volatile individuals, and who understands the psychological damage that can be inflicted by crazy people who will not stop until they get what they want.

Diaper changing without borders.  There will be many times in your parenting career when you will be forced to change a diapers in strange, possibly unsanitary conditions.  This class will teach new parents how to quickly and efficiently remove, clean, and re-diaper a squirming child under any circumstances.  From the trunk change, to the stroller swap, to the gas station giddyap, this course will cover it all.  Students will also learn and practice related contortionist poses required to change diapers under these battlefield conditions.  Please note that Diaper Changing Without Borders will have an additional cost due to the various local points of interest participants will have to visit. 

I'm pretty sure that One Handed Parenting class would've been much more useful than the Mommy & Me Classes I took, but I guess it's possible knowing all the verses to Bim Bom will come in super handy someday. 


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Summer Break

We've come a long way, babies.
 I have a confession: I'm not feeling very funny and inspired these days. 

When I first started blogging, I loved sitting down every day and sharing the funny and/or embarrassing stories of my assorted parenting failures.  At the time, I felt very isolated, and connecting with people through this little space on the interwebs helped me feel as though I hadn't ceased to exist simply because I'd pushed a child out of my lady parts.

The years have gone by quickly and have seen significant changes in my life - my surprise second kid, my Husband's new business, a flourishing freelance career - and I'm incredibly grateful to every single person who has found my blog and laughed at my parenting neuroses.  This past year, as my kids (especially Noah) have gotten older, I've started to rethink what I'm sharing here and how it impacts my children.

This is essentially just a long-winded way of telling you that I'm taking a break from this space for a few months while I figure out what the f*ck I'm doing with my life.  I realize that I probably should have figured this out by now, (after all, I'm almost 80 by Hollywood standards) but I haven't.  I'm still blindly stumbling around cyberspace trying to come to grips with the fact that what I thought I wanted - to skyrocket my Mommy blog - no longer interests me, and it's not fair to all of you loyal readers to put out sub par content.  Believe me, I've tried lately.  I've got about 25 half finished posts sitting in my drafts folder that are so boring not even my Mother would want to read them (and that woman will read anything as long as it's about her grandbabies).

So, I'm stepping away from the blogosphere for a while until I get my funny back.  I don't want to just be another mediocre blogger boring readers with boring details of my boring life. I'm sure I'll be back - I've had these crises of humor before and they go away eventually - but until then you can still keep up with my questionable parenting on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  Follow me on Pinterest too, if you really have time on your hands. 

Thank you, dear readers, for saving me when I was drowning, and for giving me a (mostly) criticism free space in which to share my parenting missteps and occasional triumphs.  I love you almost as much as I love an ice cold glass of rosé after a long day with my offspring.

xoxo
Anna

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back-to-School the LA Way (and a Babyganics giveaway!)

Babyganics giveaway
He loves the kid-friendly ingredients in his Babyganics!
My Instagram feed has been chock full of first day of school photos this week, which means that for a lot of kids summer is officially o-v-e-r.  The Muffin Man doesn't start his new preschool until after Labor Day, so we've been busy trying to squeeze in the last few summer-fun activities before we get down to serious business in September.  Or as serious as it gets when your kid is learning how to tie his shoes and go to the bathroom alone.

Since we've been through a year of preschool already, I haven't had to buy as much stuff as I did last year, but there are still a few things I need to stock up on before Noah heads back to his institute of lower learning.  You know about the bigger items you need - the backpack, lunchbox, and new shoes - but what about the things you don't think about until you kid comes home with a wicked sunburn, a weird disease, or a mystery substance smeared all over his new clothes?  You need Babyganics!  No weird chemical ingredients, eco-friendly, and baby-safe; perfect for the dirty hippie that's hidden inside all of us.   

Sunscreen.  The seasons never really change here in the city of concrete and broken dreams - it's often hotter during the month of October than in June - so much of my back to school shopping involves stocking up on things you're more likely to find on a summer camp packing list.  Life is lived primarily outside here in Los Angeles and unless it's one of the rare days when water falls from the sky, your child is most likely going to spend the balance of his or her time at preschool running around outside.  Setting aside the fact that my child can do this for free at the park, this does bring to light how important it is to stock up on sunscreen before the seasonal aisle turns into Santa's workshop.  I'm just going to point out here that you can still get a sunburn in the North Pole if the sun is out and you should wear sunscreen every day no matter where you live, but it's especially important here in la la land where the sun never stops shining and Dermatologists are paid better than rock stars.
 
Foaming Hand Sanitizer and Foaming soap.  Children are adorable little germ factories who prefer to wipe their noses on their sleeves and do not excel at washing their hands.  Preschoolers especially are still building up their immunity to common colds and flus, which means that if your kid is headed to his first year of preschool, you need to be prepared for him to come home with a lot of bugs.  There's only so much you can do, but washing everyone's hands as often as possible, and carrying sanitizer on your person at all times helps combat some of the nastiness your kid is sure to bring home.

Stain remover.  Preschoolers get dirty.  While I 100% support this from a developmental perspective, I do find it rather frustrating when I discover that my kid has used his newest t-shirt as a canvas on which to paint abstract art.  You may want to think about just buying a whole dozen of these right now, as that should last you the first few weeks.  Also, don't buy your kid expensive clothes because preschoolers do no discriminate between a $100 shirt and one that costs $1.00

Bubble bath.  For you (but you can share it with your kids, too). Pour yourself a glass of wine, fire up your e-reader, and toast the fact that you've survived the first week of preschool.

I'm giving away a $50 Babyganics Back-to-School Bundle full of my favorite products, which means one lucky Misadventures in Motherhood reader will be able to get ready for the school year without having to leave her couch.  Definitely a #momwin in my book.    a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

It's Just a Phase

Not creepy at all. 
Do you ever have nightmares where your child has climbed out of her crib and is wandering the house in the middle of the night terrorizing all of the sleeping occupants?

Yeah, well, I'm currently living your nightmare.

This two year old sleep regression can SUCK IT.

I am exhausted and grouchy and just so freaking done with not sleeping.  But there's the rub (as my old friend Will Shakespeare would say) because the cold, hard truth about parenting is that kids don't f*cking sleep.  Everyone tells you that they do "eventually" which, I'm beginning to suspect isn't until somewhere around age 15.  But see, this is what keeps you going once you have kids, this idea that if you can just make it past this particular sleepless stage, things will get better.  That you simply have to stop night feedings, or sleep train the baby, or whatever, but that someday your child really and truly will sleep through the night most of the time. Of course by then it's entirely too late, because your sleep cycle is permanently f*cked for life and you're so used to waking up before sunrise that you're physically incapable of sleeping until a decent hour of say, eight or nine and you've turned into one of those annoying old people who can't drive after 4pm for fear of falling asleep behind the wheel.  This is what you have doomed yourself to simply by having children.

In the meantime, you wander the streets in a perpetually exhausted state, guzzling lukewarm coffee and repeating to yourself over and over "my children will sleep through the night eventually" or, "it's just a stage.  I just have to make it through this stage."  Everything with parenthood is just a stage and in between each of these stops on the sleepless express you're issued a reprieve of a day or two or, if you're lucky, a few months of uninterrupted slumber, after which you wake somewhat refreshed and completely convinced that your kid is done being a human night terror and that you've made it through the worst.  These short-lived stretches are what keep parents going, during which they are lulled into complacency and refreshed just enough to look at their children as miraculous little beings instead of the devious sleep thieves they really are

So tonight, while my tiny sleep terrorist once again robs me of any slumber between the hours of 11pm and 4:30am, I will do some deep breathing and mutter my "it's just a phase" mantra.  It's a lie - the phase of sleeplessness never seems to end with these small humans - but it's the only thing that's getting me through right now.  Well that, and coffee (so much coffee). 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Vacation Photos I Should Have Shared

There was an epic tantrum not two minutes after this photo was taken.
It turns out that I'm not the only woman who finds traveling with her children unpleasant.

Based on my very scientific research of having spent two days in a large, family-friendly hotel, vacations with kids are not universally adored. I would like to thank the Mother who repeatedly yelled at her kid to stop trying to jump off the balcony, and the lady who told her husband she "just wanted to go home because the kids were being such a**holes", for making me feel that I am not the worst Mom in the world.
 
Every time I open up Instagram, I'm assaulted with beautiful photographs of other families' travels, and they all look so perfect and happy.  I always embark on any family outing with the best of intentions, and hoping that this time will be different/better, but I inevitably return from these sabbaticals needing a vacation from my "vacation".  Sure, I feel shitty for not enjoying every second of every day spent with my kids when we're away, but the reality is that traveling with children is often far from picture-perfect.  So, in the essence of full vacation disclosure, I present to you the four photos I should have posted to Instagram (instead of the cute ones I did). 

Me, putting Rose to sleep by pushing her in the stroller.  For an hour. 
Attempting to get an overtired kid to fall asleep in an unfamiliar place is quite possibly one of the most unpleasant experiences of parenthood.  I tried everything - singing to her, rocking her, offering to let her sleep in our bed - but nothing worked until I finally put her in the stroller and walked the perimeter of our hotel room 400 times.  On the plus side, at least I got in a workout while out of town. 

The 5:30am wake-up call.
Being trapped in a hotel room with two rambunctious toddlers who enjoy waking up before dawn should be employed by the government as a torture tactic.  Sure, you can try to sleep while they jump on your head and demand cereal - and even be willing to pay $5 for one episode of Daniel Tiger in an effort to pacify them - but to no avail.  Kids: making sure we're the first people in line for the breakfast buffet since 2013. 

The carpet picnic dinner
I have eaten more room service meals since I had children than I did in all of my child free years.  It's not that I think room service is so amazing (it's usually not), it's simply that taking my kids to a restaurant that is not our local pizza place stresses me out.  It's just so much easier to let my kids scream, "I DON'T WANT THAT" in the privacy of our hotel room, thereby avoiding the judgement of other diners.  I'll have a chance to try great restaurants in about 18 years, when I can once again travel without my children.

Noah standing in the kiddie pool sobbing "I want to go home!"
Perhaps one of the lowest moments of my recent parenting life was watching my son throw a tantrum in the middle of the kiddie pool while other children frolicked around him in vacation bliss.  I'm not even sure why he had an epic public tantrum - some kid probably stole his shovel - but I can tell you that I had numerous other hotel guests come up to me to offer their "helpful" parenting advice/judgement.  It blew over, of course, and my humiliation was somewhat comforted by a very strong Bloody Mary... at least until he threw a tantrum in the parking lot about not wanting to go home.  I just can't win.

Yes, traveling with kids sucks.  It's exhausting, infuriating, and I often spend a large part of the time wondering what in God's name made me think going away was a good idea, but there's nothing like hearing your kids say, "I had fun swimming with you Mommy" to make you reconsider your vow to never leave the house again.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Your Anniversary: Before & After Kids


Next Saturday is our tenth wedding anniversary.  Considering we live in LA, where people trade spouses like baseball cards, that's a pretty impressive number.  This kind of longevity calls for some serious celebration, so naturally, we have not planned a thing.

I've put together a handy little chart so we can compare and contrast the stark difference in celebrating your wedding anniversary before, and after, kids. 

Before Children:
After Children:
In the weeks leading up to your anniversary you talk about what you should do to properly celebrate your marriage.
You have no idea what day or month it is, and so neither of you realize that your anniversary is coming up within the next week.  The day before your anniversary, one of you opens iCal in order to record a dentist appointment for your offspring, only to realize that your wedding anniversary is tomorrow.
You look at your wedding album together, and talk about how amazing your special day was and you relive all the moments that made you laugh or cry.
You don't know where your wedding album is, because you haven't seen it since you had to turn your home office into a nursery for your surprise second child.  It's entirely possible that you inadvertently donated your wedding album to the Goodwill and that some stranger purchased it for 50 cents.  If you could find your wedding album, and did try to look at it together, that would last about 20 seconds before one of your offspring spilled an applesauce crusher on the photo of your first kiss as Husband and Wife.
You plan a romantic night out, probably involving cocktails and expensive wine and a fancy nine course tasting menu at the hottest restaurant in town.  You make a reservation several weeks in advance, and request the most romantic table in the restaurant.
Since you realized only 24 hours ago that your anniversary is, in fact, tomorrow, you madly scramble to book a babysitter for your offspring.  After six tries, you find someone who is available, but only until 9pm.  You have no idea what the hottest restaurant in town is these days because you haven't been out without a child for going on three years, so you just try to find any restaurant that looks halfway decent, serves alcohol, and has space for you and your spouse during the time you will be paroled.  Screw the most romantic table, you'll take any table.
You take pains getting ready.  You buy a new dress, have your nails done, get your hair blown out, and book your bikini wax appointment a week in advance to ensure there won't be any chafing.
If you're lucky, your kids will nap at the same time and you'll get a chance to shower.  Hopefully, they'll sleep long enough for you to shave your legs, but that's a long shot.  You haven't had a pedicure in several months, and your hands look like they belong to the witch from Hansel and Gretel  You haven't gone shopping since before you had a kid, so you'll be sporting something (anything) that looks halfway decent on your postpartum figure and that is marginally clean.  Forget about that bikini wax.  If your spouse can still get it up after watching you push a baby out of your lady parts then he can certainly navigate the rainforest you've got happening down there.
You have a four hour meal, with wine pairings, and get just tipsy enough that you go home and have mind-blowing sex with your spouse.  You might even decide it would be "fun" to have kids and go really wild.  You have sex more than once, and stay up late talking about how amazing your life is, how happy you are together, and how wonderful it would be to welcome a child into your family.

You scarf down some mediocre food so that you can get home in time for the babysitter to get to her bartending job.  You have two glasses of wine and get so hammered that you actually think you might pass out on the Uber ride home.  You stumble into the house, try to figure out how much you owe the babysitter (a lot, it's always a lot), and then try to sneak into your bedroom without waking up the kids.  You have some quick sex, during which you hope neither of you falls asleep from sheer exhaustion, and then you play rock paper scissors to see who has the "pleasure" of getting up with the kids in the morning.  You fall asleep midway through telling your spouse you love him, and without taking off your makeup or brushing your teeth.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Your Birth Story, in Cocktail Form

Given birth?  Have a cocktail!
If you give a Mom a cocktail, she'll probably tell you her birth story.

No matter what kind of gathering one attends - book club, dinner party, Soulcycle class - if a group of Mothers are involved, the conversation will inevitably lead to graphic stories about labor and delivery.  Once you have given birth to a human, it is practically impossible to not discuss all the gory details of just how, exactly, your children made their exits from your body. 

Personally, I love hearing other women's birth stories.  Mainly because it's nice to know that I'm not the only woman who has pooped on the delivery room table. 
 
The Natural Birther
Organic, small-batch vodka with pure cranberry juice and a splash of artisanal unfiltered honey 
You had a natural birth using self-hypnosis.  You enjoy telling people that it was a truly transformative experience.  You think that everyone should have the birth they want and you claim to be totally supportive of other birth choices, but you carry around DVD copies of The Business of Being Born and hand them out to unsuspecting pregnant women.  You may have given birth at home in your backyard under a lemon tree while flower petals rained down on you in your blow-up birthing tub.  The soundtrack to your birth featured a Buddhist monk that your partner recorded  in Tibet.  You are thinking of possibly becoming a doula, but not until you wean your child at around age five.

The Epidural Encourager
Double Knob Creek, with one (very small) ice cube
You were all about the drugs.  In fact, you asked your OB to give you an epidural when your child was still technically a zygote.  You think it is some bullshit to want to feel the pain of childbirth and that only some crazy person who eats bark and doesn't shave would opt for a natural birth.  You drove straight to the hospital the minute you felt even a twinge of pain and you refused to leave until they gave you some mother f*cking drugs and sent you home with a baby.  You didn't want to feel anything until at least a month after giving birth and you tell every woman you know to get the drugs.  Also, you brought some drugs tonight if anyone is interested in really getting this party book club started. 

The C-section Pusher
A crisp Pinot Grigio with a smooth finish
You've had three cesareans and you can't fathom why anyone would want to push a child out of her vagina.  You don't pee yourself when you laugh/cough/sneeze and you remind your friends who had vaginal births of this fact.  You don't understand why someone would wait for their child to decide when she arrives when you can schedule a c-section so that it doesn't interfere with your busy social life.  You get slightly hysterical after two rounds and start screaming "cesarean birth is real birth!" despite the fact that no one claimed otherwise. 

The Double Dipper
A rum and coke followed by a glass of sulfate free red wine
You've done it both ways and you don't understand what the big deal is.  Natural, epidural, c-section, the point is to just get the kid out so that you can go back to living your best life.  You're chill and you're up for anything and think that everyone should just do what's best for them.  You'd be fine squatting down and giving birth in a field, but you also really enjoyed the drugs they gave you at the hospital.  You step in to referee the crazy natural birth lady who is currently trying to strangle the epidural lady with some sort of hemp rope, because you came to this book club to actually talk about the book. 

Cheers to however your birth story ends.  I can't wait to hear all about it the next time we run into each other at the dry cleaners. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Toddler Fashion, Delivered

We tried Kidbox
Kidbox: the fashion subscription service for your kiddos.
I think it's pretty well established that I have almost everything delivered to my house.  Dinner? One Potato Box.  Clothes?  Stitch Fix or Bungalow.  Everything else? Amazon.  The one thing that I haven't outsourced to the interwebs and my UPS man has been my children's wardrobes.  Part of the reason for this is that I am insanely cheap when it comes to well, everything, but I also really enjoy shopping for clothes for my littles.  This mainly has to do with the fact that I live within walking distance to the best children's resale shop in town which means that it's easy to keep my children dressed in designer duds without a whole lot of effort or expense.

There's only one problem with the 100% resale approach, and it's that you often end up with a lot of random pieces, none of which match or even blend.  A few weeks ago, after my Mother complained for the four millionth time about how my children are constantly dressed in clashing clothing, I decided that it was time to find an alternate source for duds for my offspring.  Naturally, I turned to my old friend, the interwebs.  Thanks to Facebook's targeted marketing wherein I'm only shown ads for companies who deliver to my home, I learned about Kidbox.

Kidbox is basically just like all the other clothing subscription services I loved, but this one is just for kids!  Here's how it works: you set up an account online, fill out a size profile for your kiddos, and then they put together a curated box of clothes for your kid to try on.  Your kid has seven days to try on the clothes and then you keep what your tiny fashion plate likes and send back whatever doesn't work.  What I love the most about Kidbox is that if you keep all of the pieces in the box, the total cost is $100 or less.  That sounds like a lot, but you'd be surprised how much kids clothing costs these days.  In case you're thinking that the stuff is junk because it's reasonably priced, I assure you that it's not; it's nice quality brands that are normally out of my price range (hence the reason I almost always purchase things second hand).

kidbox kids clothing service
The box came addressed to the Muffin Man, which is always fun for kids.
kidbox review
There are cute little toys and activities included in each box.  This one had a prize ball thingy - where you keep unwrapping different ribbons until you get to the stuff inside - that contained a teeny tiny pack of playing cards, one of those parachute jumper toys, and a stick-on mustache.  The kids loved this part.
kidbox review
The pricing and info about the clothing comes inside a nice plastic pouch that also includes crayons, a coloring/activity book, and several sheets of stickers.

Here's what came in the box:
kidbox review
U.S. Polo Assn. Stripe Polo, $16
This is totally not my style or Noah's style, and it totally reminded my Hubs of his traumatic childhood years spent in Connecticut, so this was a definite "no" for us.  RETURNED
kidbox review
7 For All Mankind raglan tee, $18
This was just okay, and the fabric was really thick, which is not ideal considering that the heat wave in Los Angeles probably won't be over until sometime in December.  RETURNED
kidbox review
Weatherproof vintage henley tee, $9 and Penguin oxford shorts, $24
The t-shirt was really soft and I thought it was cute, but Noah was not a fan.  The shorts were adorable, but ginormous; they literally fell off of Noah.  I was actually kind of annoyed that they sent size 4T bottoms when I specifically told them that Noah is tall and slender and usually wears a 2T pants.  I could have asked for a smaller size, but I thought the shorts were kind of expensive, so these were both RETURNED.
kidbox review
7 For All Mankind V-neck mineral wash tee, $14
Red is Noah's favorite color, and this t-shirt is soft and fits really well, so this was a definite yes.  He's literally worn this shirt everyday since it arrived in his box, so even though it's more than I usually spend on a shirt, I think I'll get my money worth.  Plus I'll be able to re-sell it to my local consignment store when he grows out of it, so it's a double win.  KEPT.

The other item in our box was a pair of these beige twill shorts that were so hideous I didn't even have Noah try them on.  I was almost offended that Kidbox thought I would dress my kid in something that looked more appropriate for an 87 year old man, but there's no accounting for taste.

Overall, I like what Kidbox is doing.  It's convenient, and the way it's executed is really cute.  I'm going to see if what we get in our next box better suits Noah's style now that they've received my feedback on these pieces, and I'm going to order up a box for Rose to see what they send for their more feminine customers.

It's pretty amazing what you can have delivered these days.  Now I just have to try out one of those wine delivery services and I'll really never have a reason to leave my house.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Lazy Mom's Guide to Traveling with Kids

by Allyson Haas
traveling with toddlers
World traveler, right here.
If you've read this blog before you know two things:


2. Having no family within a 2000 mile radius makes that nightmare a reality at least four times a year if you want said toddler to recognize their kin.  

What I've finally figured out, now that I'm almost four years into this whole parenting thing, is that you can use the latter fact to make the former less of an arduous task. 

Ladies (and possibly one gent) I present to you The Lazy Mom's Guide to Traveling:

Step 1. Tell your family that you plan to brave being stuck in a flying tin can for more than five hours in order to see them. 

Step 2. Let them do the rest.

I realize at first blush this may seem like a rather bitchy and presumptuous way to make a trip take form, but here is why it's not: if your family is more than 2000 miles away, they escape from any last minute calls to babysit, run to the store, pick someone up from school, help with the laundry, feed children, or do anything else that might require a reorganization of their day/week/life.  Essentially, they get to enjoy the cuteness of your little (via Facetime) and they get to hang up when the whining starts, leaving you to deal with the fall out.  So, since you don't call in the small favors on the daily, this allows you to call in a big one a couple of times a year, guilt free. 

To make this as easy as possible on yourself (and on the hosting family member), I send a list:

  • What needs to be installed (a car seat)
  • Where that can be done (the local fire station or CHP usually help out here)
  • What your little one might actually eat (basically any food that's white)
Then simply pack your bags, toss in your trusty CARES restraint system and pretend like you're once again footloose and child free.  Granted, you'll still have to entertain your child, which means you won't have uninterrupted reading or movie viewing time, but beggars can't be choosers.  It actually makes traveling (somewhat) enjoyable again and you feel as if you've taken a break from your usual routine. 

I did this for our last minute spring break jaunt to see the in-laws, wherein I braved the not-so-friendly skies alone with my kiddo.  Without a stroller to push, a giant bag to lug, or toys to carry, the trip was a dream. C and I watched airplanes take off, we talked about the geography of the United States, and we laughed. I genuinely enjoyed my son's company, which almost made me think we didn't need the vacation in the first place.  Of course, only a fool would turn down free grandparent childcare and the chance to take a yoga class with actual adults.  

Happy travels!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Don't Want to Go to There (with my kids)

shopping with kids
Looks fun...for them.
I've learned a lot over the past three and a half years of motherhood, such as not to take life too seriously, that having a Mom tribe matters, and that there are certain places I just will not go with my kids. 

The DMV.  This bastion of bureaucratic waste is bad enough when you're an adult, but add two kids  into the mix and the experience of renewing your drivers license might be more painful than natural birth.  As if the hours-long wait times weren't bad enough, add in the people talking to themselves, the guy with the TB cough, and the questionable brown stain on the floor, and you've got a recipe for some real heart-to-heart talks with your toddlers about why you've failed at life chosen to live in a diverse urban environment.  Be sure to bring the iPad, coloring books, and a pantry full of snacks, because it's possible you'll be there until your kid's next birthday.  Plan to take a bath in sanitizer once you get home, because that place is a petri dish of nasty.

The Grocery.  I've reached the point in my life where I consider a trip to the grocery alone to be a pleasurable experience.  Until you have children you will not understand what a luxury it is to leisurely stroll the aisles reading ingredient labels and comparing prices.  I've never run an actual marathon, but I suspect that it's not much different than taking a trip to the local supermarket with my children.  First of all, you're pushing a cart filled with 50 pounds of toddler and groceries, but you're also running as fast as possible up and down the aisles throwing anything resembling a health food into your cart.  It's very possible your toddler might lose an eye from a badly aimed box of Cheddar Bunnies, but the only thing that matters is getting your groceries before your kids launch into their simultaneous tantrums.  You'd love to read labels and plan gourmet meals but the only thing you've got time for is buying the same 20 things you buy every week and that you know your kids will eat: white food, cucumbers, and wine, lots of wine (for Mom, obvs.)

Target.  I love Target.  What I don't love is taking my children with me to Target.  If you think it's hard to spend less than $100 when shopping alone at the mecca of affordable lifestyle brands, then you better make sure you have plenty of room on your credit cards if you're planning to shop with your offspring in tow.  You know why?  Because your kid will find something he wants down every single aisle of that store.  From pj's to pompoms, Target carries it all and I guarantee that your child will want a piece of the action.  Clothes, toys, shoes, home decor, candy... it's just a massive tantrum waiting to happen, and you have two choices: risk the ire of all the other Target shoppers while your kid writhes in anger on the floor of the Barbie aisle, or go against all of your parenting instincts and give in to their demands, thereby setting you back in the neighborhood of $400 dollars.  You have to ask yourself, what's more important to me in this moment: my sanity or being able to afford my rent?

The mall.  I hate clothing shopping under the best of circumstances, but I especially hate taking my children with me for this most loathsome of outings.  I find it impossible to decide whether a piece of clothing looks good on me when one of my children is pulling on me and I'm attempting to dodge the other one's sticky fingers.  The attention span of a toddler - somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 minutes - is not exactly conducive to making well thought out decisions about which apparel pieces best round out your wardrobe.  Save yourself the hassle and just order a Bungalow or Stitch Fix box.

Work.  If you're a working parent you've had it happen: your babysitter cancels or your kid is too sick to go to school on the day that you have a work thing you cannot miss.  I'm lucky in that my work revolves around kids and Moms, but that doesn't mean that every work event is kid friendly.  I've had to take my kids to stuff that was decidedly not for kids, and it sucked.  It's hard to feel professional when you're trying to carry on a serious conversation with a colleague and your kid runs up and screams "I need to poop!" or when you're following your children around trying to keep them from breaking anything.  I've never felt a bigger sense of relief than when I've managed to survive a work event with my kids without leaving a wave of destruction in our wake.

Basically, I never leave my house and my children are probably going to have lingering psychological issues about the fact that I never take them anywhere.  I figure that a lifetime of therapy for them is far better than my ending up in the psych ward from too many Target trips gone wrong.  Anyway, I like to think that the reason that Al Gore invented the internet was so that Moms could shop online.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Party Fit for a Princess

sofia the first party
Princess Rose
Once your kid starts preschool, much of your weekend social life revolves around attending children's birthday parties.  While this may initially sound fun, I can tell you from experience that all of the parties are pretty much the same, and mostly involve sugared-up children running around and screaming at the top of their lungs.  This is bad enough under the best of circumstances, but add to that a 9:30am start time and the requisite hangover, and you've got the recipe for every parent's worst nightmare.  I'm beginning to wish that parents would offer ibuprofen as party favors.

In an effort to spare my friends from having to give up yet another Saturday morning, I had planned to forgo throwing the Little Lady a birthday party.  I'm still recovering from that bubble shindig I threw for Noah back in January and I figured that Rose wouldn't really care if we hosted a party. Then I got an email from Princess and Me Parties offering to give me a free party.  I'm sold on anything with the word "free" in the title, but it also happened that the timing was perfect, so I decided to throw caution (and my friends' social calendars) to the wind, and throw a Princess Sofia themed bash.

Rose is obsessed with Sofia the First.  Go ahead and judge me on the whole "no screen time before age two" issue, because plucky Sofia the First is the best thing that's happened to my life since Rose started waking up before 6am.  Anything that occupies my child so that I can doze on the couch has my vote.  When I found out that Sofia was one of the many princess choices offered by Princess and Me Parties, I was thrilled.  I booked the date, whipped up an evite, and set about madly pinning party ideas to my Princess Party Pinterest Board.

I'm not one of those crafty moms, and I like to stick with a formula that works, so we did the usual bagels, lox and mimosas menu again.  Hey, if it's not broke (and it tastes good), don't fix it.

sofia the first party
Of course, we had to have lilac colored tableware because, Sofia.
sofia the first party
I found a great batch of free Sofia the First printables on Pinterest, and used the cupcake toppers in my flower arrangements.  
sofia the first party
I hate party favors, so instead of wasting money on more crap that's just going to end up in a landfill, I put together a Decorate Your Own Crown table.  I bought packages of cardboard crowns at the craft store and put out buckets full of crayons, paints, stickers and pompoms.  It was inexpensive, fun, and made for a great thing for the kids to take home.
sofia the first party
Bonus points for the fact that our friends have been cruising around the neighborhood for the past week wearing their crowns!

I scheduled Princess Sofia's arrival for half an hour after the party started.  I figured that would give people a chance to settle in and grab a nosh, and would allow for any latecomers who might otherwise miss the entertainment.
sofia the first party
Princess Sofia was incredible.  Not only did she look and sound exactly like the cartoon, she stayed in character the whole time.  She was so sweet and beautiful and really gentle with the little kids.  Rose was a little bit scared at first, but she quickly warmed up and by the end of the party they were walking around holding hands.  It was the cutest thing ever.

We got the princess party package, which was a full hour of Princess Sofia.
princess sofia party
 She read a story with the kids,
princess sofia party
led a Princess dance party, 
princess sofia party
did some awesome face (or arm) painting
princess sofia party
and helped Rose blow out her birthday candles. 
It kept all the kids occupied (yes, even the boys who like Batman and tools) and involved minimal parental involvement, thereby freeing up parents to drink mimosas or mainline coffee.  Overall, having Princess Sofia made for a really easy party, and I think that even the adults had fun.
a princess sofia party
 Rose had such a good time that she didn't want Princess Sofia to leave!
princess sofia party
We even got a decent family photo, so I would say it was a VERY successful party. 

The only problem I can foresee is that I've now set the bar way too high for future parties; Noah is already requesting Batman, Super Man and Spider Man for his fourth birthday.  I better start planning (and saving up) for January now.

This post was sponsored by Princess and Me Parties but all opinions about how amazing Princess Sofia was are completely my own.  Thank you, also, to Amelia Borella for photographing all of the fun! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Second Time's the Charm


Remember how I wasn't sure I wanted to have another child?  The thing no one told me was how much easier it is the second time around.  It's harder in some ways, especially in the beginning when you're so exhausted, but mostly it's just so. much. easier.

The beauty of having a second child is that you're just too damn overwhelmed to give a crap.  I don't mean emotionally - your love is just as intense, though different, the second time around - but I'm referring rather to all those parenting standards you set for yourself.  When you've been there, done that, and you're completely and utterly exhausted, your threshold for caring about things that aren't really important is lowered significantly. 

Therein lies the charm of second time parenthood.

Birth.  You've done it once, and whether it worked out the way you planned (or not), you basically know what you're getting yourself into.  Sure, you could do a bunch of reading and studying and self-hypnosis, but when you're nine months pregnant and chasing a toddler around, the only thing you want to do with your free time is sleep.  You know that your baby is coming out one way or another, and the how and the why don't matter as much.  Besides, those drugs they have at the hospital that keep you from feeling anything sound a-mazing.  Any chance you could take some right now to dull the pain of parenting?

Nursing. Look, we all know that breast is best, but having a kid attached to your boob for 12-14 months pretty much sucks (pun intended).  Once you've exclusively breastfed your first child you understand the unique Hell that is never being able to leave your kid alone for more than an hour at a time or, worse, having to pump every two hours.  There's a freedom to repeat motherhood in that one understands that feeding your child however you choose to is what's important.  Breast milk?  You go girl!  Formula?  Sounds delicious!  You also lose any modesty you may have experienced while nursing the first time around - heck I whipped a boob out at the DMV - because no one can keep one of those stupid nursing capes in place while trying to discipline a biting two year old.

Classes.  There are any number of classes aimed at guilting new Mothers into wasting time and money supposedly stimulating their infant's brains.  If you've done one Mommy and Me class, you've done them all, and exhausted second time Mommas can't be bothered.  Second children get plenty of stimulation watching their older siblings run around the house screaming and terrorizing people.  Need some adult interaction?  Take your kids to the local park and befriend another sleep deprived momma; it's free and requires a lot less parental participation than that Mommy and Baby painting class.

Judgement.  No matter what you do, people are going to judge your parenting.  Standing too close to your kid on the playground?  You're a helicopter mom!  Texting while your kid does a head dive off the swing set?  You're an inattentive parent!  Perhaps the best thing to arise from my journey into second time motherhood is that I simply don't care what other people think about my parenting anymore.  I'm doing the best I can - my kids are fed and loved and somewhat clean - and they are happy.  That's enough for me, and I won't be taking any "suggestions" about my parenting from anyone other than my kid's therapist.


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to make myself a happy hour cocktail; because the other thing that second time parenting has taught me is the value of a strong drink. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

So Much Stuff. For Preschool?!

what you need for preschool
He's been labeled (with personalized stickers, natch)
The Muffin Man started preschool (again) on Tuesday.

I know, I can't believe it either.  Excuse me while I take a moment to cry a little.  

After all the time and stress that's gone into finding the right school for him, you'd think I would be more prepared for this day, but, true to form, here we are with the first day of school behind us and I'm still scrambling to get everything organized.

Remember back in the 70's, when the only thing you had to bring with you for the first day of school was a box of Kleenex and some powdered TANG? 

Oh, how the times have changed, my friends.


THEN
NOW
Every kid got a name tag – nothing fancy, just one of those cheap stick-on ones from the drugstore – and a teacher wrote your first name on it.
Each student has a dossier that includes not only the child’s first name, but pictures of him as a baby, photos of his family, information about what he likes to do and where they prefer to vacation.  These binders full of all the important information about your child are a “wonderful project for parents to complete with their children” which ultimately means attempting to get your hyperactive toddler to decorate his "about me" page, while your spouse yells at the kid to pay attention, and which will culminate in an exhausted, over worked mommy filling in the rest of the thing late at night after everyone has gone to bed. 
Parents in the 1970’s didn’t label anything.  That’s just crazy talk.  They were too busy waiting in gas lines, smoking a Virginia Slim, and drinking TAB to label their child’s stuff.  Besides, isn’t preschool about learning to share? 
Every single item that your kid brings to school must be labeled.  We’re not talking about just writing your child’s name on stuff with a sharpie and calling it a day; that would never do.  Custom labels, in varying colors and designs are a necessity, and include iron-on labels for clothing, and dishwasher safe ones for your child’s lunch supplies.  The cost of the labels alone is more than the yearly tuition of the neighborhood nursery school you attended back in the 1970’s. 
Nobody kept extra clothes at school.  If you peed on yourself because you were too busy to use the toilet, then you were stuck having to wear urine-soaked clothes for the rest of the day.  Of course none of your classmates wanted to sit next to you at snack – you smelled like pee!  I bet that was the last time you didn’t stop playing to use the potty, amiright? 
A bag full of extra clothes is to be kept in your child’s cubby at all times.  It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that the bag of clothing remains fully stocked.  Each item must be labeled with your child’s name, and the selection of clothing should include appropriate attire for every single season.  Despite the fact that it only rains in Los Angeles two days a year, it is imperative that your offspring have a waterproof jacket and rain boots in his bag of extra clothing, because children are highly sensitive and it could be damaging to their psyche to be wet for half of a day.
There were no special nap mats or cushy pillows stored at school.  When it was rest time, your kid simply picked out a spot on the dirty rug, lay down, and went to sleep.  If you needed a soft mattress and a sound machine and any other special gear in order to sleep, you were not ready for preschool and you needed to stay home with Mommy because you were a BABY. 
Nap gear is required.  But don’t bother sending some old, ratty sheet and an extra pillow from your sofa.  NO.  Your kid needs a nap mat, which is basically a piece of fleece with some cute designs on it, for which you will end up paying more than you spent on your child’s crib.
Your lunchbox (if you had one) was a rickety metal thing with a picture of Charlie’s Angels or ET or Star Wars on the front.  It came with a thermos, that was supposed to keep your milk cold or your soup hot but which mostly “kept” any food inside of it at the perfect temperature to encourage bacteria growth.  Your sparkly lunchbox was purchased for a few bucks at the local drugstore, and usually looked like it had been run over by a car after a week of use.

The lunch contained within usually included such culinary delights as bologna on Wonder Bread, some cheese doodles, and a bruised apple.  Each of these items were placed inside a plastic sandwich bag.  Anything that wasn’t consumed was tossed in the garbage can along with those plastic baggies that are probably still taking up space in your old neighborhood’s local landfill. 
The lunchbox of 2015 is a fancy bento box type affair, that costs approximately ten times as much as your Barbie lunchbox of yore.  There are carefully portioned compartments for various healthy foodstuffs, none of which is labeled “cheese doodles”.  Parents are expected to prepare lunchtime meals that are healthy, appealing to a three year old, and pretty enough to post on Pinterest. 

This fancy lunchbox needs to be placed inside a temperature controlled lunch bag, which is a separate item also costing ten times more than your Transformers lunchbox.  The lunch bag has handles to make it easy to carry, but it also has a compartment inside to hold an ice pack so that your child’s lunch never reaches a dangerous temperature which could lead to a food-borne illness.  This is especially important since your child’s lunch often contains artisanal raw cheese or yogurt, sushi, and sprouted organic grains. 
Nobody had food allergies.  That’s just crazy talk ginned up by some wacko hippies in Berkeley.  Peanuts are delicious, no one even knew what gluten was, and any kid who didn’t drink milk was an under-nourished freak. 
Don’t even think about sending your kid to school with a nut product.  Peanuts are practically weapons of mass toddler destruction.  You better not put good ol’ wheat bread in your child’s lunch, or everyone will accuse you of pumping your child full of poisonous gluten.  Also, you may want to rethink sending your son to school with milk, because cow's milk is terrible and it is entirely possible Junior will be a social pariah since no one wants to be friends with THE MILK DRINKER.   

Honestly, I'm thinking of sending some cheese doodles for snack just to f*ck with them.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get my Xanax prescription refilled.