Wednesday, October 8, 2014

this blog is moving...

For a variety of reasons, I've decided to move this blog over to another one I used to have. I've migrated most of the posts and if you are still interested you can check out new ones at:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mommy and Me Adventure: LACMA

Someone once said to me dealing with a squirmy toddler is like trying to put an octopus in a string bag. I thought that was the perfect description.

My octopus and I had a mommy and me day at LACMA this past weekend. We've gone a couple times with mixed results. Crying babies and quiet galleries are not the best combo, but curious toddlers and modern art seem to mix surprisingly well.

LACMA has a really great program called Arts for NexGen. Anyone 17 years old and under can get a free membership and bring one adult with them. There are also a number of arts programs through the museum that they have access to through NexGen.

It makes for a really great Mommy and Me Adventure Day. Em is partial to the contemporary art. It tends to be bolder and bigger and grabs her attention better. It also tends to be lower to the ground, so exploring the galleries involved a lot of me playing defense and blocking her from touching art under the scrutiny of many museum employees. 

I don't know why but I was surprised by how much she really dug it all. Even the more traditional paintings.

The outdoor courtyards and restaurants are also great for taking breaks. Milkscoops (aka vanilla ice cream) at Coffee + Milk were a big hit.

It was a Saturday, so they also have an outdoor concert on one of the lawns. We hung out there and Em danced to some Latin beats before we headed home. All in all a pretty great day.

Minus, the wiggle tantrums. I don't know if it's possible to spend four hours at a museum without at least one meltdown. I know it's a very normal thing to deal with, but it always feels like my child is the only one not keeping it together. I don't have a problem with her throwing herself on the floor and getting it out of her system (outside of the galleries) but I would be lying if I said I wasn't aware of all the eyes watching her performance art. Maybe that's not a bad way to look at it. She's just adding her own spin to the museum experience. "Octopus in a String Bag" by Em.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Popsicle Quest - Summer 2014

I've never been good with New Year's Resolutions, or diets or quest-based video games. I start off very positive and ready to go but eventually I lose my momentum and the will to carry on. It's why I'm not sure I would survive a zombie apocalypse. Knowing this about myself I decided to set a goal for the summer. Something simple. Something I might actually enjoy. I decided to make a different popsicle every week.

It's amazing, as Americans, how complicated we have made even the simplest of things. When I was a kid filling up an ice cube tray with orange juice and toothpicks and freezing it was the best thing. Little orange frozen squares of goodness. But that doesn't cut it in 2014. Now there are atleast fifteen different popsicle cookbooks on Amazon and of course the Zoku. Who wants to wait a whole day for pops when you can wait seven minutes instead?

But I don't want to drop $50 for something I can do for free. You'd be surprised how hard it is to find the old school - stick it in the freezer pop molds in a store. Eventually I found one for $5 at Cost Plus World Market.

Started off simple. Apple and oranges. It took 24 hours to get them frozen to the right degree and a little bit of work and the help of a knife to pry it out of the mold. But when I handed an apple juice pop to Em she was as happy as I remember I was as a kid.

Popsicles are simple joys. They are also a mess. Tell a two year-old to hold one up straight so it doesn't leak all over the couch and see how much luck you have. Eventually I sat her on my lap. I figured it was better to soak myself than the upholstery. That lasted five minutes. I put her on the ground and watched sticky puddles of apple juice form on the floor. But she was happy. And it was worth it.

The first pop was a success. Let's see how long I can stick with this.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Picture Perfect?

I probably have more pictures of my daughter at  20 months than I have of my entire childhood. Every  month when I sit her on the couch to take her monthly photo I have to take 15 of them just to get a shot without a blurry arm or an odd facial expression.

It's obviously easier to craft the way we want to remember something nowadays. We pick and choose what we want people to see and that becomes part of the experience. If we don't like it we just shoot another one. Em is too young to remember these moments herself, so these are the photos that will tell her how things were. Will the toddlers of today grow up to think they truly had "picture perfect" childhoods?

We visited Santa twice this year to get the perfect shot. The first time we waited in line for 30 minutes and just as we were about to go in a family of five came back to redo their photos. That was it - the dam broke and there was no sucking back those tears. She cried on my lap and Santa calmly reassured me that it happens all the time. He said we should just come back every weekend and let her say hello to him until she's ready.

Theoretically this is nice. Just come back and say hello to Santa. But at this Santa you must take a number and that number will just give you permission to get on the line where you will then wait for another hour to grace the Big Man's presence. But we came back the next weekend and this time we got the shot. The perfect Norman Rockwell shot to go with the perfect fluke Norman Rockwell shot we got last year. The pressure is now on to keep them up - year after year. Same Santa, slightly bigger Em.

This past weekend, we went to the LA Zoo. Elmo and Cookie Monster were doing a meet and greet. After waiting 45 minutes for a bagel sandwich at a nearby cafe, then sitting in traffic to then circle the parking lot looking for a magical free spot, I was very close to losing it completely. (Full disclosure, I had actually already lost it at the restaurant, but I managed to get it back together on the way to the zoo.)

But we got in line, the end of which thankfully started in a shady spot, as the sun was really out in full force. And we waited. We could see Elmo and Cookie in the distance. In the time we were there they traded off twice, taking turns to meet the kids. Each time one of them reappeared they were greeted like rock stars - a general hum and cheer rippling through the crowd.

Em would point and wave and told us she was going to hug them when we got up front. But anticipation is not the same as reality. When it was finally our time to meet Elmo - she took one look at this eight foot tall monster and freaked out.

You only get one shot at something like this. Thirty seconds to get it right. That wasn't going to happen. I handed over my iphone quickly and the woman taking pictures snapped a series of my kid screaming her head off, Elmo attempting to put a reassuring hand on her shoulder -just making it worse. And then we were escorted away - the old boot to the face Christmas Story style. An hour for a minute - the end. As we stepped away and Elmo faced his next victim, Em turned back and waved goodbye. Whatever bothered her was in the past. But we'll always have the photo to remember it by.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Grab a Bag - Let's Go?

Do you ever find yourself sitting at your desk wondering what it would be like to pick up and leave and never come back? Maybe pack your things and head off to another country for a year. I find myself thinking about that a lot lately. It doesn't help when I log on Facebook and see amazing photos of friends who decided to head to Costa Rica for a month or move to Mexico just because.

I've always enjoyed reading books like The Sex Lives of Cannibals. And now that I am a mom - books like Bringing Up Bébé bring up romantic ideas of heading to France with my French husband and half French baby and eating lots of carbs. 

But there is always this other side of it - just outside the square frame of those Instagram photos - the fights and the fears that you don't see. It's easy to think everyone else is living this perfect existence. 

I just read this great article about a woman who just like me thought France sounded like a great idea and then reality hit. A refreshing take on the whole idea of picking up and leaving. 

My sister picked up and left. She lives on the other side of the world with her husband and their son. This - after traveling the world for nine months. I have no idea what that would be like. I feel very rooted here. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing.

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's the Little Things

This morning on my way to get breakfast I passed a gratitude tree. A jar placed under the tree with a note encouraging people to write what they are grateful for and tie it to the tree. It was a nice way to start the morning.

I'm in San Francisco right now on a film shoot. I've been up here for a week this stretch and tonight my husband and daughter are driving up to meet me so we can spend the weekend here together. We haven't spent much time in SF so I'm pretty excited about it. It's such a beautiful city and I'm really starting to love it here.

There were no tags left for me to tie to the tree (there's a lot of gratitude in this neighborhood) so I'll share it here instead. I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful husband and kid. I'm grateful that I get to do a job I really love and work with a lot of wonderful people on a movie I think is going to be amazing. I'm grateful for my family and friends and I'm grateful that I get to have adventures like I do.

I'm grateful for morning walks to coffee where I pass gratitude trees and mountain goats overlooking the city.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Mommy and Me Adventure: Day at the Adobe

Is there a name for a group of old ladies? There should be. It should be something like "cackle". Like "a cackle of grey hairs". I saw a lovely cackle of grey hairs today. Dad was hanging with the boys - so it was a mommy and me day. Em and I made our way to Calabasas to meet up with her cousins and visit the Leonis Adobe Museum. It's not a very big museum but for $5 ($4 for adults and $1 for children) it's a nice way to kill an hour on crisp winter day.

The adobe is one of the oldest surviving private residences in Los Angeles County and apparently known as one of the most haunted sites in LA County as well. The cackle doesn't really talk about the ghosts on the tour but they do tell you a little bit about the home.

Emily's favorite part though was the farm. We saw the biggest horses I've ever seen - like straight out of a Budweiser commercial. Chickens, turkeys, long-horned sheep and lambs. We got a bag of hay and fed the animals. The kids had a blast.

Afterwards we headed down the street to Susie Cakes and shared a flourless chocolate cupcake and picked up some minis to bring back to Dad. All in all a pretty good day.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Hum That Drives You Mad

Have you heard of the Hum? Starting in the 1950s there have been reports from around the world of a low-frequency rumbling sound that slowly drives people crazy. Not everyone can hear it. They say only two percent of the population is even effected by this. But it's there, slowly driving people mad - from Taos, NM to to Bristol, England.

I've recently encountered my own frequency of madness inducing humming. It's the constant whining of my fussy toddler. It sounds a lot like an emergency broadcast signal. Unlike The Hum, I'm sure most people can hear it. But I've been hold up in my apartment alone for three days with this continuous droning and it's become my own private hell.

I think as kids get older, parents begin to lose their ability to hear certain frequencies that coincidentally are the same frequency of their children's voices. We've all seen it - a father or mother, small child in tow yammering on about something, the parent oblivious to whatever their kid is saying. Maybe they don't actually hear them. Maybe over time parents actually develop a block. I don't know if there is any scientific evidence to back this up but I'm beginning to think it's possible. Almost a defense mechanism. Self-preservation induced hearing loss - to keep one from losing their mind.

I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes parenting feels like self-inflicted madness. I went to a "family-friendly" New Years Eve party this year. New Years is a holiday you usually have to give up after kids so the thought of getting a little dressed up and having a cocktail but still being home by 9pm sounded pretty appealing. But what I've come to learn about "kid-friendly" parties is they are really like "parent asylums". Kids run wild and parents in fancy dress clothes wander around half glassy-eyed and spaced out wondering how this has become their lives. This party in particular seemed to be populated by two groups - parents and singles considering becoming parents. Almost like visitors at the zoo.

I found myself in conversation with one dad in particular who I had come to think of as Super Dad. This is a man who was excited about buying a mini-van and who waxes poetically about fatherhood on Facebook. He's got two kids and asked if I was thinking about a second. Before I could even answer he launched into a terrifyingly convincing argument equating a second child to the death of your soul - punctuated by another father walking by and slipping him a Xanax. How many other dads in the room were palming the same? Maybe I just caught him in a moment of weakness. A short psychotic break - like the ones used in an insanity defense. But in that moment it was very clear - even the best of us have our breaking point. Maybe we all need to tune out every once in a while in order to be able to tune in the rest of the time.