Friday, June 21, 2013

The Best Donut in LA

While I wouldn't say that I have a sweet tooth, I have very strong opinions about sweets. I fancy myself an expert on the best of the best in certain dessert categories in Los Angeles. Sprinkles is the best cupcake place in LA hands down (back off Magnolia!). Deluscious chocolate chip cookies can't be beat. But there is one type of pastry I haven't been able to nail down...until now.

I'd like to say I discovered it all on my own, but I have to thank National Donut Day "Best of" Lists. Sharing a car means whoever is home with the baby is stuck home all day, so my husband and I like to bring home treats for each other on days when we have the car. I had it on Donut Day. After seeing SK's Donut and Croissants on a couple of lists I had to try it out.

I have never seen donuts like this before. I have an aversion to jellies and sweets with soft centers. But here you'll find donuts literally stuffed with strawberries and fresh blueberries. Each one is more like a full dessert than a simple donut. I've become kind of obsessed. Plus, it's open 24 hours! Haven't been able to try the maple bacon one yet, but someday.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

One of These Things Isn't Always Like the Other

Sometimes knowing you are going through the same thing as someone else can be helpful. Being a parent struggling with sleep schedules or temper tantrums, it can be nice to hear other people have dealt with the same thing. You aren't alone and if your friend or family member survived it than maybe there is hope for you as well.

When two kids in the same extended family are close in age it is inevitable that they get compared. When they are born six days apart, it can sometimes feel like they are twins. I have cousins very close in age and I loved it growing up. It's awesome to always have a partner in crime at family functions. But not everything about it is great.

I know that two babies the same age hit developmental milestones around the same time. But constantly hearing how Em is just like another kid diminishes my experience of these moments. Sure there are millions of 11 month olds around the world who are just discovering categories exist and that they can put objects in a bucket. But when my kid does it for the first time I want to feel like it's the most amazing, special thing in the world. I'm a first time parent. I've never gotten to experience this up close before. I want to be blown away by her first step. I don't want to be reminded that it's not all that special by hearing about how someone else's kid is doing the exact same thing.

I know the comparisons are not meant that way. I know they are meant as a joyous celebration of unity. And I'm not trying to say that I don't want to hear about my nieces and nephews. Cause I do. I want to hear about all the things that make them the unique human beings that they are. Likewise, there is only one Em in the world. She's unique and special in her own way. She's her own person and I love discovering who that person is. I want my daughter to always be the protagonist in her own story and not the sidekick in someone else's life.

UPDATE: Later this night, Em took her first step! I missed it because I was at a screening of a documentary about a rock. But my husband sent me video. It was totally amazing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Have you seen Convos with My 2 Year Old?

I'm loving this webseries "Convos with My 2 Year Old?" A new episode dropped today. My favorite is the episode one, but they are all pretty funny.

Check it out:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Having a Dog vs Having a Baby: The Real Difference

You know how some pet owners compare their relationship with their pets to having a child? Having a baby is nothing like that.

Don't get me wrong, I actually felt that way myself for a long time. I'm not downplaying the deep bond between pet and owner. Hell, when the person who was watching my dog called me while I was in San Francisco to tell me my dog had run away, I crumbled into a blubbering mess in the middle of the sidewalk. I was such a wreck a homeless guy came up and told me everything would be okay. I then went straight to the airport to fly home. I think it's safe to say my dog and I had a pretty strong bond.

For all the similarities between the two relationships there is one very distinct but important difference. As a parent you have a very deep longing to see your kid be happy and do well in life. Sure you want your dog to be happy. But you're probably not thinking about your golden retriever's educational plans or paving the way for your pit bull to be all he can be. You aren't in awe by each intellectual leap you see - like it's watching the moon landing. I think most animals max out their potential fairly early in your relationship. While there are definite comparisons that can be made between my daughter's love of emptying a bucket and filling it up over and over again and my dog's love of chasing a tennis ball, there will be a point when she moves past this onto more complex actions.

In fact, the rapid advancement of skills is mind boggling to me. Because another one of the super distinct differences between having a kid and having a dog is that kids make you incredibly aware of how time flies. My dog has pretty much been exactly the same for the last four years. But my kid - she's changing at a rapid fire pace.

 I can't believe my little potato head seen here:

Has turned into this giant string bean:

And the thing I want most in the world is for her to be everything she can be. And I want to be the best mom I can possibly be - for her. The best person I can be - as an example for her. I want to take my dog for longer walks too. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What Does She Do All Day?

I often find myself at work wondering what exactly it is my daughter is doing at daycare. After carrying her around with me for nine months on the inside and near constantly for three months more on the outside, it was difficult to send her off with strangers. Choosing a daycare is an arduous task, but then once you've found one you trust enough to leave this little person you've made - that's when it gets surreal.

My daughter just switched rooms at her daycare. The first room is designed for babies. Lots of swings, bouncers, rockers and cuddles. I was in no rush for her to graduate from that room. The teachers are really sweet and always seem excited to see her. I'd walk by the second room on my way in every morning and what I saw through the window reminded me a bit of Lord of the Flies.

While it's turned out not to be quite as scary as I originally thought, I'm still not quite sure what to make of this room. The head teacher is a very odd hybrid of warden and circus clown. She refers to all the kids as "friends" in a way that feels slightly cultish. Unlike the first room, where the mobility of most of the kids maxes out at slug level, this room has such a mash up of skills it's hard to think of any activity that could encompass them all. Some of them seem like towering giants compared to Em. It was these "friends" that made me nervous about sending her to that room in the first place.

Today they were learning about facial elements. Eyes, ears, mouth, nose. I was told my 11 month old daughter didn't get it yet. Really? Is it news that she doesn't know what a nose is? Knowing what a nose is is kind of advanced for her age, don't you think?

I've visited other daycares and the holding pen analogy seems to hold true in many places at this age. No one seems to know what to do with them. They're just getting their sea legs and ready to explore the world, but not old enough to spend more than 30 seconds on something. Everywhere else I go they seem to just throw them to the wolves (and by wolves I mean, lump them in with four year olds).

She comes home really happy so I don't want to make too big a deal out of it. She naps crazy well there, in a way that makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong and she seems to get along with the other kids. Still, the whole thing feels a bit like the underpants gnomes.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What's in a name

Last weekend there was an article in the NY Times about baby names. Anyone who has named a baby knows how stressful it can be. But it seems like parents today feel an increased pressure to choose names that stand out. Everyone wants to be unique. The first way to do this is through your name.

Living in Los Angeles, you can't help but come across kids with very interesting names. I know one kid whose name was chosen after his mother developed an incompetent cervix. His name is a tribute to triumph over obstacles. It's not a name you would associate with a cervix, but it's unique enough that you've got to ask the backstory (which I'm sure will change over the years as he begins to give the explanation himself).

My husband and I had names picked out years ago. But the funny thing is, as soon as I got pregnant they didn't seem right anymore. We didn't begin the name game until we knew what we were having. Then one morning my husband turned to me in bed and asked me to hear him out. He laid out a multi-point argument on why we should name our daughter the name he had chosen. He had a first and a middle name picked out and a very convincing rationale. When he was done, he left it to me to come up with a rival option, but I was convinced. No lists needed. No more discussion. Her name was chosen.

Reading articles like the one in the NY Times are interesting, because while I understand the desire to provide your child with a unique monicker all his or her own, my husband's reasoned argument was quite different.

I would say I have a pretty common name (one that apparently peaked in popularity around the time I was born). Despite this, the only other "Amandas" I ran into until my 20s were ones on TV. Amanda seemed to be the name they gave to rich, conniving bitchy characters with great fashion sense. Something I couldn't particularly relate to.

My husband has a very unique name. Even in France it's an odd spelling. So for most of his life he's had to listen to people butcher it. Every conversation with a new person starts off the same. "What your name?" "That's interesting. How do you spell that?" "What's the origin?" I'll admit, even I can't pronounce it properly. Only in LA can people come close to saying it right and only because there is the name of a local health food store pronounced the same way. As someone once put it - it's pronounced like Nowhere spelled backwards.

It was very important to him that our daughter had a "normal" name. Nothing she would ever have to worry about spelling. Something classic and easily pronounced. Something that would allow her to buy a personalized souvenir mug if she ever wanted one.

And so we chose Emily. Her middle name is the same as multiple generations of women in my familiy. Her initials are the same as her dad's, It's a super classic name. Sure it's found on the top 100 baby name list most years (#6 the year she was born). Sure there are two girls in their 20s in my office named Emily and two of my co-workers have ex's named Emily. But the funny thing is that with everyone else trying to find an element on the periodic table that they can name their kid after, it's possible she might be the only Emily in a class full of Mercurys and Silvers.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to Live with Your Mother-in-Law (for the Summer)

Sometimes in life you find yourself in what can only be described as the plot of sitcom. It seems fitting that with shows like "How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)" that I would be finding myself in a similar situation.

Last weekend my mother-in-law moved in. While it's not for the rest of our lives, it is for the summer and we'll have to wait and see if that feels like an eternity for all parties involved. She arrived Friday with enough booze to outfit a college frat party and the widest selection of weight loss teas I've ever seen. The dust has yet to settle, but so far there's been one awkward conversation with my landlord that almost resulted in our rent being raised, one incident of nearly burning the place down when the heater in the bathroom was left on and a questionable decision to leave twenty glass bottles of booze in the direct path of a 10-month old. Needless to say we are still adjusting.

It's not going to be easy on any of us, but I'm looking at the positives. There's a second native speaker to start exposing Em to French, maybe I can actually go to the movies every once in a while and living with a caterer in the house (that's the explanation for the booze) means a lot better food.

We've survived this once before. In the previous incarnation of this sitcom trope, I moved in with her. Four cats, three adults, one dog, one car, a demolished kitchen, a mini-fridge and a microwave all squeezed into a two bedroom condo in the valley. This is where I lived as I organized my wedding and for the first two months of marriage. Not the most romantic honeymoon, but a major step up from my previous living situation - next door to a Meth addict who was so far gone he nailed his front door shut and would only communicate through the mail slot. We were in a jam, she stepped into help. That's what families do. Or at least what they should do.

When we made this decision, I didn't think I'd be around for the summer. I thought I would be in Michigan working on a film. It seemed like the perfect arrangement - she needed a place to stay and we needed extra help with the baby. But you can't count on a film as a go till you are already shooting. The film fell apart and we will be a little more crowded than expected.

It should be an interesting adventure. I'll keep you posted.