Thursday, February 25, 2016

Age is More than Just a Number

Because nothing says "young and hot" like being full of angst. 
Tomorrow, February 26, at exactly 3:57pm PST, I will be another year older.

It's weird, isn't it, how it feels as though you wake up one morning and you're just...old?  I don't necessarily feel old and I don't think I look that aged (though, let's be honest, a little botox wouldn't hurt), but in Hollywood I'm barely even considered human anymore.  I am no longer young enough to be considered "f*ckable" by whoever makes these kind of asinine rules.

It troubles me sometimes, this obsession in our country with youth culture, because when I was youthful I was an idiot.  I did stupid things, and slept with stupid people, and made life decisions that I didn't realize would impact my future.  I don't think I was all that different than other people in their teens and twenties - perhaps I had worse taste in men or roommates than the average Jane - but when you're young you just don't have the life experience to make informed, well-thought out decisions.  I mean, no one with half a brain goes to college and gets a degree in theater, amiright?!

As much as I miss my pre-baby figure, I wouldn't want to be 20 again.  I do wish, however, that I could go back in time and tell my younger self some of the things I know now.

You were beautiful.  I wasted so much time thinking that I wasn't pretty.  I agonized over my body, my coloring, my style, just everything.  Now, when I come across old photos of myself - actual photos, not selfies on my iPhone - I can't understand what I found so offensive about my appearance.  I was a pretty young thing who wasn't bitter and could still drink heavily without waking up hungover.

You'll forget.  As hard as it is to believe when you're crying in your dorm room over some guy who rejected you, or a friend who abandoned you, eventually it all kind of fades from your memory.  There were only 60 kids in my high school class, and I honestly don't remember the names of many of them.  I don't think it's because I have early onset Dementia, but rather that as you get older your world expands, and the people and situations that seemed so important just a few years prior cease to leave much of an imprint.

You can do anything you want to, but you probably shouldn't.  On the one hand, I'm lucky, because I had a parent who believed in me and allowed me to pursue a dead end career in the arts.  On the other hand, because I chose that path, it's been a long and not all that financially lucrative row to hoe.  The world may be your oyster at age 18, but when you're pushing 40 and still living like a broke ass college student, you may wish that you'd gone the law school route after all.  Trust me, it's a lot more pleasant to be a miserable, rich lawyer, than a miserable, poor actor.

Everyone suffers.  We're all narcissists in our 20s, and I was no exception.  We all think that our suffering is worse than everyone else - that we've been wronged the most and are the most broken - but no one lives a life without hurt.  No one escapes unscathed.  Don't let all the ways you feel that you've been dealt a shitty hand completely define your life.

It works out.  Probably not the way you think it's going to, and definitely not in the way you planned, but it does work out.  Are there days that you wish it had turned out differently?  You bet.  You muddle through, and you make peace with it, and you just keep going.

You won't give a shit.  Hands down, the best thing about getting older is that you stop caring about the stuff that doesn't matter.  Once and awhile you'll see a perfect specimen of humanity and you'll wish that you worked out more or that your laugh lines weren't quite so defined, but overall you're pretty comfortable with yourself.  You know what you'll put up with, and what you won't.  You don't waste time with people who are assholes.  You don't bother doing stuff you hate because it's what's cool.  You wear what you want, you do what you want, and you live on your terms.

So, I'm officially giving the finger to my 20's.  I'm 37,  I need Botox, and I pee myself when I cough, but goddamn I'm fabulous.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My (lowered) Parenting Standards

Once upon a time, a long time ago, back before I had kids and saggy boobies, I had very high motherhood standards.  I had a lot of unrealistic ideas about Motherhood, and a whole lot of judgement to go with those.  If we are friends, and you reproduced before I did, I owe you an apology, because I judged you and your parenting choices.  I may have judged you for letting your children eat sweets.  I probably passed judgement if your kid interrupted us while we were trying to converse.  It's entirely possible that I was so disdainful of your parenting choices that I went home and told my husband how concerned I was about your lack of parenting skills.

I am sorry for being a complete and utter asshole.  I had no idea how fucking hard it is to raise a child, and I did not give you nearly enough credit for simply making it through the day and keeping your child alive.  What I used to regard as questionable parenting is simply the reality of raising kids while trying to stay sane.  You know what I always say, "beware the judgement of the childless neighbor, for she probably has DCFS on speed dial."

My standards for good parenting have lowered tremendously, especially since the Little Lady's entrance downstage vagina.  Here are five ways I've failed my formerly righteous self today alone:
TV.  The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly suggests no screen time for children under the age of two which they probably recommend because they are all at work doing doctor-type shit while someone else takes care of their kids!  I admit that this suggestion is somewhat realistic when you only have one kid, but add another child into the mix, especially if they are close in age, and I guarantee that you'll be plopping your kid down in front of the boob tube as soon as they can sit up on their own.  Mommy is tired.  I promise to make up for rotting your brain by showing you some alphabet flashcards or something.  

Eat sugar/wheat/gluten/dairy/whatever else is trendy.  Do you know what kids like to eat?  Food that is full of all the stuff that's bad for you.  Do you know why?  Because it tastes freaking delicious!  Yes, quinoa is good for you, but children have twice as many taste buds as we do, and that shit tastes like sand even in the hands of a top chef. I had every intention of making everything from scratch and protecting my children from the dangers of high fructose corn syrup and mass produced wheat bread, but at the end of a long day there is no way in Hell I'm staying up late to bake a homemade gluten-free flax and chia loaf instead of drinking wine and watching Downton Abbey on Netflix.

The iPhone.  If you have not spent the better part of a month alone with two children, please do not lecture any parent about using a phone while care taking.  There are few jobs more isolating than being a stay-at-home parent, and while I endeavour to be present as much as possible when I'm with my kids, sometimes I need to have contact with the outside world just so I know that it still exists and that I continue to be somewhat relevant.  However, I never, ever, use my phone during meals and the only time I actually talk on the thing is when my kids are asleep.  Mainly because I think it's rude to ignore my kids that blatantly, but also because it's impossible to have a normal conversation when my kids are screaming "Mommy, mommy, mommy" in the background every two seconds.

Grooming.  I used to judge women with kids for going out in public looking like something my cat barfed up.  Let's be real here: once you become a Mother, leisurely showers are a thing of the past.  On a good day I get a quick five minute rinse which is just enough time to wash the child filth off of me.  My hair isn't getting washed unless it's date night or I have a work meeting, and the last time I shaved my legs may have been sometime in December of 2015.  I barely have time to get dressed at all, let alone choose an outfit and put myself together.  I haven't yet sunk quite so low as to wear pajamas to drop my kid at school, but I'm pretty sure the other parents are starting to wonder if I ever wash the sweatpants I wear on the daily.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go "prepare dinner", by which I mean defrosting something from Trader Joe's.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Girls Will Be Girls

Workin' the runway in a Rose original
Newsflash: boys and girls are different.

I'm not talking just in the anatomy sense, I'm talking in the everything sense.  Obviously this is a generalization, but I have one boy and one girl and I can tell you without a doubt that while they are in certain ways very similar, they are vastly different in many others, and most of those ways are what I guess would be referred to as "gender stereotypes".  

Before you get a bee in your bonnet about how gender is a social construct, and that this is all my fault, I just want to point out to you that the first gift I bought the Little Lady was a set of tools, so it's certainly not because I'm a Princess pusher.  As you may recall I didn't even want a girl child - I'm much more comfortable with the boys and the trucks and the peen, if you will - so Rose's love of pink and obsession with carrying her baby doll everywhere wasn't something she learned from me.  Let's be honest, it's not as though I'm the most nurturing of women.

The good news is that Rose happens to be a tough little cookie, and she can play trucks and fix sh*t with the big boys, so I'm not overly concerned about her expecting to be rescued by Prince Charming on his white horse someday.  However, there is one way she's glaringly different from the Muffin Man: she is very particular about what she wears.  Let me remind you that she is not even two, and she only speaks six words, but one of those words happens to be "shirt" and if you try to dress her in one that she doesn't like there will be Hell to pay.  In fact, if you attempt to choose her clothing at all and then have the gall to try to put it on her, she will throw a tantrum like you have never seen.  I'm already starting to get concerned about how she's going to react when she's 16 and I won't let her leave the house in a skirt that doesn't cover her lady parts; I'm pretty sure it's going to be ugly.  Rose is so particular about what she wears every day that she has actually made me change her shirt because she didn't like how it looked with the leggings she chose.  

I'm sure that some of it has to do with being in control, as it's developmentally appropriate for a child of her age to want to have control over her own life, but there's more to it than that.  She actually takes the time to put together outfits.  She looks through everything in her drawers, peruses her closet, and then decides what she thinks will look best together.  I'm hoping that her fashion sense hasn't fully developed yet, as I don't think that Anna Wintour would look too kindly on the two different socks she chose this morning, but a few years of a Teen Vogue subscription should straighten her out.  Noah, on the other hand, could care less about his attire.  He has a favorite red shirt with a dinosaur on it (that you've probably seen several times this week if you follow me on Instagram), but if his clothes are comfortable, he really doesn't give a crap.  I could put the kid in a paper bag and as long as it didn't have tags that were itching him and he could easily take it off to pee, he would happily wear it to school.

On the one hand, Rose's obsession is a real pain in the ass, especially when we're running late and she can't decide between the blue check shirt or the orange striped one, but on the other hand, I'm kind of excited to have a clotheshorse for a daughter, because I'll save a lot of money if I have my own in-home personal stylist.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Picky Eaters Be Gone

My toddler ate a falafel last week.

Contrary to how it may sound, I am not bragging.  I typed that sentence to give you hope.  Because several months ago I began to despair that my son would ever in his life eat something other than plain pasta.  I can't tell you how many nights I cried at the dinner table when the healthy and delicious meal that I cooked was either outright refused or, worse, thrown at my face.

The Hubster and I have discussed ad nauseum how to get the Muffin Man to eat.  Overall, the kid has a relatively healthy diet - we eat very little sugar, he likes vegetables and fruits - but figuring out ways to get him to eat protein was driving me to drink.  Literally.  I probably wouldn't care so much about his meat intake if it weren't for two things: one, he's a lean mean fighting machine who barely registers on the growth charts, and two, I have this paralyzing fear that my kid is going to grow up to be one of those adults who only eats grilled skinless boneless chicken breast with no seasoning.  Trust me, those people aren't just an urban legend: I dated one of them.  I still have nightmares about dining out with him. *shudder*

But I digress.

I was so stressed out about Noah not eating that I began to obsess about it all of the time.  I asked every single Mom I know what her kids did and did not eat.  I started writing down everything Noah ate so that I could add up all the calories to make sure he was getting enough.  I even contacted a feeding specialist to see about setting up a consultation.  In the depths of my despair, after yet another dinner when Noah ate nothing and I ended up sobbing into my rosé, I decided it was time to do something other than drink myself to death.  

I ordered The Picky Eating Solution and I actually read it.  You know that I'm really desperate if I'm reading a parenting book by choice.  At the end of a long day the last thing I want to do is read anything that requires brain power or whose subject matter is children.  But desperate times call for desperate measures, so I poured myself a nice big glass of Mommy Juice, curled up on one of my soft couches, and I started reading.

Here's what I learned: I've been going about this whole feeding thing entirely wrong.

No snacks.  I was letting my kids eat snacks whenever they wanted.  Pretzels before dinner?  Sure!  Why not?  If it kept my kids from whining or throwing a tantrum I was willing to do almost anything to get my kids to shut the f up. 

No short order cooking.  Everyone gets served the same meal.  There is always at least one thing that my kids will like and eat, but my kitchen is not a diner, and my name is not Alice. 

No questions.  I was letting my toddler decide what to eat for dinner and asking him if he wanted whatever was being cooked.  Unless you're offering a cookie, there's a 110% chance your kid is going to say he doesn't want it.  The adult decides what's for dinner, puts a reasonable amount of it on the toddlers plate, and places it in front of the little bugger.

No begging, no bargaining.  We stopped begging Noah to take "one bite" of something, and we don't offer rewards for eating.  Dinner time is much more relaxing now that I'm not pestering my kid to eat something; I can drink my wine in peace!

No snacks after dinner.  If Noah didn't eat dinner, then I was letting him have a snack before bed, which, of course, was something he wanted.  He caught on pretty quickly that if he didn't like what was served for dinner and he didn't eat it, then he would still be able to satisfy his hunger by asking for a snack before bed.  Nowadays if he says he's still hungry before bed, and he didn't eat his dinner, I warm up his plate and offer it to him.  If your kid is hungry for snacks, then he's definitely got room for dinner.  Plus, an amazing thing happens if you let your kid get hungry enough: he eats.  It's truly revolutionary.  

There are good days and there are bad days, and my kid still doesn't love to eat meat, but we're doing a lot better: I'm drinking a lot less wine, and Noah is willingly eating a lot more falafels.   

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My Preschool Valentine

Valentine's Day is a big deal in the world of lower education.  If you haven't spent the last several weeks plotting and planning how your child is going to express his affection for his classmates in a Pinterest-worthy way, then I envy you.   

It seems to me that Valentine's Day has changed a lot since I was a kid.  Back in my day, stay-at-home Moms were too busy drinking TaB and watching soap operas to worry about doing crafty shit.  These days, if you're not creating some sort of Martha Stewart-worthy card from garbage and glitter glue, it just doesn't cut it.

Valentines, then:
Remind your Mom at 5:30pm on February 13th that Valentine's Day is tomorrow and that you're supposed to have enough cards for everyone in your class.  Your Mom takes a break from preparing tuna casserole to yell at you for not informing her earlier.

Your Mom packs everyone into the station wagon for a quick trip to the local drug store.  It only takes two minutes to get three kids into the car because no one wears seatbelts and carseats are for pussies.

You peruse the Valentine aisle at your local Thrifty, while your little sister stands in front of the ice cream display and screams for a scoop of Bubble Gum flavor.  You make the mistake of complaining to your Mother that they are out of all the good cards, for which you are rewarded with her yelling at you in public about needing to plan ahead.

You select a couple packages of Barbie cards, and your older brother throws in a box of Transformer Valentines even though he thinks that girls are "gross" and Valentine's Day is "lame".  If your Mom is in a good mood and feeling generous, she lets you buy boxes of Conversation Hearts to go with your cards.

Your Mom pays for all of your Valentine's paraphenalia, throws in a pack of Virginia Slims for herself, and puts it all in a plastic bag that was provided to her, for free, by the store. 

You arrive home just before the tuna casserole starts to burn, and you and your brother scribble your names on your Valentine cards while your Mom makes a salad with iceberg lettuce and Thousand Island dressing.  By the time dinner is served, your cards are packed up and ready for school and you are excited to hand them out to your friends, especially since you got to include candy this year. 

Total time spent: 45 - 60 minutes depending on how far you lived from Thrifty.  

Valentines, now:
One month before, you receive an email from your child's school reminding you about Valentine's Day.  Included in the email are the following guidelines: no commercially produced cards, no candy, no gender-specific themes, and every child in class must receive a personalized handcrafted card.

You spend the next several weeks cruising Pinterest or trying to come up with a unique idea that reflects your child's personality.  You make several trips to your local craft store to purchase assorted Valentine-themed items that you think will inspire his creativity.

The weekend before Valentine's Day you set-up a craft table to facilitate the production of 36 heart-shaped cards.  The selection includes stickers, feathers, glue, pens, crayons and lots of glitter.  Your child spends 4.5 minutes throwing glitter all over your house and smearing himself with glue before declaring that he's bored.

Each time you try to interest your child in making Valentine cards, he screams "no" and throws glitter in your face.  You curse whoever invented glitter. 

Instead of watching Empire after your children go to bed, you are now forced to spend the next six nights handcrafting the Valentine cards for your child's classmates.  You pray that your spouse is getting you childcare for Valentine's Day instead of sexy lingerie.

Total time spent: 28 days, 6 hours, and 43 minutes

 Now if you'll excuse me, I have 22 more of these to put together...

...because I'm a sucker for punishment and couldn't just keep it simple. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Noah's Bubble Birthday Party

Bubble birthday party
The Muffin Man turned three a few weeks ago, and I'm happy to report that I finally got my sh*t together and threw my kid a birthday party.  Like, an actual party with entertainment and favors and cake.

I felt kind of guilty for not throwing Noah a party last year, especially since he's now old enough that he's spent the last six months begging me to throw a birthday party.  I realize that this is very #firstworldproblems and whatnot, but having a kid who is, essentially, a New Year's baby totally sucks.  By the time Noah's birthday rolls around every January 3rd, I'm completely burned out and the last thing I want to do is fill my home with people and presents.  This year I got smart: I scheduled his party for two weeks after his actual birthday.  This meant that I didn't go crazy trying to put together a party right after the whirlwind of the holidays, and that all of his little friends were able to attend because no one was out of town.  Pretty brilliant, if I do say so myself.

We decided to go with a bubble theme because bubbles are awesome (also, a friend had them at her party and Noah loved them).
Bubble birthday party
Honestly, this is one of the best party entertainment deals in town.  Bubblemania sends one of their "bubbleologists" and they do a bubble show, put all the kids in giant bubbles, and set up bubble pools so that kids can make their own bubble shapes.  
Bubble birthday party

bubble themed birthday party
In order to do the life size bubbles you have to provide a space with at least three walls, so we used our empty garage and it worked out perfectly.  
bubble themed birthday party

bubble themed birthday party

bubble birthday party
 The kids had so much fun, and it appealed to all different ages.  
kids party activities
I set up a craft table with crayons and markers and chalk, so that Noah's friends could "write" messages to him on the long piece of paper.  
bubble birthday party
It also ended up being a great place to sit and eat cake!
bubble birthday party
bubble party banner
I found a great batch of bubble party templates on Etsy, which I used for the banners, favor tags, and cupcake toppers. 
bubble wand party favors
I'm not a fan of party favors, but the giant bubble wands were awesome and the kids loved them.  Plus, they were the same price as the usual party favor crap that just gets thrown away. 
bubble party cake toppers
Noah requested a strawberry cake for both his actual birthday and his party.  Just for the record, this is one of the most complicated cakes I've ever made, but it is SO GOOD.
bubble birthday party I also made chocolate cupcakes because, kids.
kids bubble birthday We had bagels and lox, coffee and mimosas, too.  But Rose was only interested in the dessert table.
fresh strawberry cake
Cake, because you only turn three once (unless you're a child actor and then you just keep turning three until puberty). 
fresh strawberry cake
bubble birthday party
We totally forgot to take a family photo, so this will have to do.  For the record, we were showing him what he looked like inside a bubble.
bubble birthday party
A great time was had by all...especially the parents who enjoyed a few Mimosas.

Thank you to the incredible Amelia Borella, who took all of the amazing photos, which allowed me to enjoy the party!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Week Without A Mommy

what to do when mommy is sick
Mommy is sick, please go bother your Father.
Last week I was struck down by whatever seasonal plague is making the rounds of Los Angeles.  I'm sure I picked it up from one of the dirty, child-centric places that I'm forced to frequent with my offspring.  I try to wash my hands more often than Howard Hughes on a bad day, but there are only so many times you can be sneezed on by a rheumy child and expect to walk away unscathed.

It's unusual that I'm the first one who catches something - it's usually my kids and then my husband and then, sometimes, me - but I suspect that my super human mom immunity was down what with all the air travel and birthday revelry.  I also admit that I did indulge in a few too many sugary sweets over the Holiday season which inevitably lands me in a sickbed.  The point is that I spent most of last week being completely miserable, coughing up a lung and moaning in my bed when I wasn't paying a negligible amount of attention to my kids.

Coincidentally, both my nanny and the grandparents are gone for two months, which means that in addition to wishing for an early death to put me out of my misery, I also had to take care of my two children.  I'm not proud of it, but I will confess that much of my caregiving consisted of turning on the television and letting my kids watch hours of Elmo while I dozed on the couch.  Hey, a Moms got to do what a Moms got to do.

When I finally emerged from my sickbed, I was greeted with a truly horrifying sight: my home appeared to have been vandalized.  It was only after I noticed that the computers and TV were still in their assigned places that it dawned on me that this is what a week without Mom looks like.

The Dishes.  I would guess that if you took a poll of Mothers, most would tell you that they spend a significant number of hours each day doing dishes.  This is why people pay a lot of money for houses with nice views out of the kitchen window - because that is probably the only vista Mom is ever going to see!  The point is that when Mommy isn't well enough to attend to her daily loading, unloading, and reloading of the dishwasher, things get ugly.  Every glass and plate are dirty.  Half empty coffee mugs clog the kitchen counters growing milk mold.  It's entirely possible that when Mommy emerges from her sickbed that she won't even be able to see the kitchen sink through the pile of dirty dishes.

The Laundry.  Did you know that dirty laundry asexually reproduces at night while Mommies sleep?  When Mom is sick the piles grow so large that they threaten to take over an entire home.  And God forbid your spouse tries to help out with a few loads while you're coughing up a lung - that's how I ended up spending my first day of wellness trolling the interwebs for Unshrinkit in an attempt to save my favorite cashmere sweater.

The Mail.  I'm sure there are spouses who empty an overflowing mail box, I've just never met one.  The pile of mail that I woke up to was large enough to swallow my small child (and there wasn't even a Restoration Hardware catalog in there).

The (lack of) Food.  Children like to eat and they eat a lot (not at one sitting mind you, but over the course of a day), so it can be problematic when one opens the fridge only to find empty milk cartons and a withered scallion.  There's nothing like spending your first day back from the brink of death buying one of everything at Trader Joes, amiright?

The Toys.  I'm not sure I ever realized just how many toys I pick up on a daily (hourly?) basis until last week.  It is entirely thanks to me stowing the various toys in their rightful baskets all the time that we have thus far been able to avoid any Lego or plastic food-related injury.  Even after almost a week of constantly picking up small plastic blocks and wooden vegetables, I'm still finding pieces in every corner of my abode.  In fact, I may never recover from the scary looking Lego creature I discovered in my lingerie drawer yesterday.

I will say this for my week of illness: sure, the clean-up is a nightmare, but I finally have a much better idea of all the things I do around Casa Lane in addition to caring for my children.  In fact, I'm so impressed with all that I accomplish in a day that I'm definitely going to start invoicing my family for my services.  I'll get to work on that right after I finish doing six loads of laundry, three loads of dishes, and open all that mail. 

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