Momversation: What’s Your Best Piece of Parenting Advice?

What’s the best parenting advice you ever got? I’m sure some was when I was super sleepy so I can’t remember it, but in this Momversation I did mention some gems. Some of the Momversationalists don’t like advice. I don’t mind advice, I mind a snippy know it all attitude which is not the same thing. If someone is tsk, tsking while your kid is in a meltdown and says things like “gee, maybe you should feed her” and you want to scream “Of course I feed my kid dumbass, she is 3 and this is part of being her age. Don’t judge my mothering!”

In the same situation the onlooker could say “I know this is tough mom. If you are ok with it sometimes I give my kids a c-o-o-k-i-e. I have some if you want it.”

Note on the programming: I shot in my dressing room at tv guide on a shoot day so I have pro hair and make up. Not all haggard.

Who says moms can’t be spontaneous?

Um, that would have been me.  Since Vivien’s birth I’ve been saying that I’m a borderline shut in.  Partly due to the fact that until she was well over a year she would SCREAM if put in the car.  The walking helped me lose weight, but hard to go more than a couple of miles at best.

Then Little Rex comes along and the thought of trucking with two little ones seemed to hold more planning than I could muster.  You pack the entire house, make a little space so I can back the car up and, oh, forget it, we will stay at home.  Add to the equation that trying to get some free time on my husband’s schedule is pretty tough and I am back on the couch watching cartoons again.  How can I handle two kids on my own out of town?  Can’t be done.

Or can it?

I have been wanting to take Vivien to the Santa Barbara zoo since she was about 2. I realized this past Friday was the one day that NOTHING was scheduled.  No shots, no work, no preschool, no nothing.  So I said, that’s it, I’m not even going to think about it, let’s go.  I said to Mark I would love it if he could come, but of course he couldn’t.  The one good mommy sense I had was that I packed extra clothes for the kids and even an extra shirt for me.

Lot’s of traffic on the way up, but Rex sleeps most of the way (not the screamer his sis was) and Vivien has her DVD.  The zoo is great.  Compact unlike the overly large LA Zoo.  Well landscaped and easy to navigate.

What did I do right?  I grabbed the zoo food as soon as we walked in.  We all control the dipping blood sugar.  The whole journey I put my picky, foodie tastes aside as there was NO way I was going to be able to ingest anything desirable with Rex.  I have to feed Rex like he is Helen Keller before Ann Bancroft showed up.  Chasing after him or letting him grab a bit as he runs off somewhere.  The food there was totally edible.  The other helpful tool was my bugaboo with the standing board.

Added bonus I got a work out pushing them up hills.

The other great thing about the SB zoo is that they have wide swaths of green and a little stage the kids can play on.  The greenery is jarring to an Angeleno. Don’t forget the TRAIN.  A big reason I had been wanting to take them was the zoo has a little train that rings the park.  Sweet.

We saw EVERYTHING.  Then went to the beach area and I ate some pizza with the speed as if the Russians were down the street.  We came to a great park that delighted the kids so much I didn’t even pine for an espresso like I usually so when I’m standing in sand.  Vivien was saying something over and over to me that I have thought since the ’80’s, “Why don’t we live in Santa Barbara?”

Sigh, it’s like going back to LA 60 years ago.  Less people, orange groves on the edge of town, Spanish tile roofs, albeit no affordable housing or plentiful jobs, but look at the water!

“Vivien why do you like it here more than at home?”

“There is more air.” Out of the mouth of babes.

The sun was almost gone (just after 8pm) when we left the park (mostly because some large adults had shown up to play on the slide which I thought not right) and crossed over to another large expanse of green, this one next to the beach.  I just sat as the kids ran around.

At one point Vivien suddenly started meditating like a yogi. I didn’t even know she knew about that. It was the magic of the trip and the magic of summer.  Where you are still out playing long after you would normally be in bed.  Why hustle them to bed?  Did we have anywhere to be in the morning?  No. In fact Vivien kept begging to stay.  Well, I don’t know…

I was tempted, but we had no toothbrushes, no clean underwear for mom, etc.  But, we got some great Mexican at Le Super Rica while I thought about it.  Then we got in the car.  “Ah, mom,” She said with disapointment.  I called Mark.  I was still clinging to this idea of Rex’s crib, toothpaste, change of clothes in the morning.  Then I when I spoke to Mark he said, “Not the best night to come home.”  He was dealing with a pretty serious mental health situation in his family and his Saturday would be occupied with that.  At Carpenteria I turned the car around.  “Vivien you got your wish!”  Yeah, she yelled as Rex slept.

Hmmm, where shall we go?  I drove up State street and hoped to rent a room at a motor lodge that former flame of mine and I used to get naked at quite a bit.  I thought it would seem ironic, yet safe.  There were no vacancies.  More irony.  We got a room at another serviceable place and I got the price down since he had no crib for Rex.  Oh, and there was no soap in the shower, but I wouldn’t know that till the next morning. There was a mini mart next door where I bought some toiletries and we were set. It helps that I still nurse, which makes me feel more self reliant.  Although I did have a bottle and it’s pretty easy to get extra milk.

Vivien can sleep standing up, so she was fine.  Rex took a little help.  I think he was looking around at the room thinking, “Really, we couldn’t stay at the Biltmore?” Or maybe I was projecting.  I woke up a fair bit as I know how strong he is and was thinking my wall of pillows I ringed the bed with wouldn’t hold him.  I made a blanket on the floor bed, but that only lasted a while.

The next day we had a great diner bfast and I took them to the Mission.  More great expanses  of green they could play in.  More wishes that we lived here. Living like a hobo was yielding lots of good moments.

I will say I am a good traveler in that I keep my ears open.  I had figured out that today SB was having their Summer Solstice parade.  It’s a big deal there.  We parked near our shelter and walked down toward where people where lining up for the parade.  Pushing my own float, our big stroller.  We bought cookies and coffee from the local church and waited.  And waited, waited.

It was hot.

“Mommy, let’s go to the shade”  All the spots are taken, Viv.  But, I have to just keep listening to her.  Once we packed up the chuck wagon and walked toward the park where the parade ended there were PLENTY of places in the shade.  No as good a vantage points as before, but we got the gist.  And more expanses of land to frolic in and buy garlands and tye dye.  It was a hippie throwback and it was fun.

After a snack I pushed them up the hill to the car.  I saw an open house sign.  It looked like a fab house.

“Do you mind if I indulge my fantasy of living here?”  The realtor was so sweet.

“Come in, everyone is at the parade.  No one has come.”  As she showed me my future perfect home, save that it’s 100 percent more than we could afford, but other than that it’s awesome, I told her what my husband did.

“Mark pppp?

“Peel, yes”  I thought, oh, she probably thinks we do have the money for this house.

The drive home contained no screaming and I felt the way you do after you take a dip in a pool on a hot day.  Refreshed.  I was proud of my kids for being good travelers and for myself for going for it.  I am really excited to think that unlike my previous post, fun anecdotes don’t have to end or be delayed while raising children.

They just might not include clean underwear.

Sex and the City 2

A movie marketer could starve trying to make films for me these days.  I know more about films from 1940 than 2010 (hence my kinship with older gay men).  But, a few times a year I emerge and I do love seeing films.  Provided there are no violent scenes, children in peril, gambling or people who are knowingly doing criminal acts unless it’s a cool super spy type thing.  The other stuff makes me tense.

I go to movies to be transported.

Forbes Top 100

I was super excited and honored to be included in’s list of Top 100 women websites!

Their criteria alone made me blush… in a good way.

“We’ve searched the Web for the most dynamic, inspiring and helpful websites for women. We’re delighted to present this list of ForbesWoman’s Top 100 Websites for Women.

To determine which sites and blogs made the cut we looked for compelling and decidedly female-oriented content, outstanding design, an active community and frequent updates. In short, sheer clickyness.”

It’s always a trip to know people see what you are doing when you are in your nightgown while your son crawls at your feet, taking apart your handbag.  But, it’s all because of YOU who come to Cool Mom and play the vids and comment and support what I am trying to do.  So thank you so much.

I liked that Forbes said I was also commenting on pop culture.  Since when I had the idea for this I didn’t want it to be just diapers, but all the thing that filter through our mombrain.

Rex doesn’t seem quite as excited about making the list as I do.

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The Gorbals

This is an LA eatery, but I thought it might be interesting to those of you elsewhere who watch Top Chef.  Ilan Hall won the second season and he opened The Gorbals in downtown LA.  It is in a Funky space with a capital funk.  In the lobby of a residential hotel.  The hotel has the trappings to be something swanky-marble floors, high ceilings- if redevelopment every makes it to 5th and Spring, but for now it’s still an honest to goodness residential hotel.

I had set this up to be my dinner clubs visit for the month with my co-founder John.  I am a big believer in institutionalizing rituals or else you never see anyone.  I have been seeing this people for the better part of 6 years and we love getting together.  I took most of ’09 off for various (or obvious) reasons, but trying to pull it together for the new decade.  Our coed group met in the spartan, yet chic bar.  They have some great beers on tap.  We sat at a communal table and enjoyed the Jewish/Scottish food as Hall calls it.  Bacon wrapped around Matzo ball is a first, but quite tasty.  No, he is not keeping kosher.  We liked everything, but his fried chicken which was batter heavy, but the pork ribs, the cucumber chick pea salad, everything else was great.  There were flickering votives that made the room feel cozy.  A review of it here.

Either in spite of or because of the off the beaten track (or rather, the very beaten track) the Gorbals feel like a secret.  Check it out.

Side Bar:  I met Chelsea Handler.  I always like to support female comics since any guy with a pulse who comes off of Saturday Night Live seem to get movie deals and funny women have a harder time of it.  We were at a dinner for a bunch of chefs, but since it was sponsored by Belvedere vodka they had to invite the gal who had Vodka in the title of her book.  She was there and was about to leave with a large group.  I had to tap her on her shoulder.  I told her I was a fan.  She was very nice and gracious and not at all like some boozy, crazy like some of her funny books would make her seem.  I didn’t say, “Hey some people say I’m the mom version of you” as that would have sounded kind of stalky.

Dad humor

There is something that happens to a man when he becomes a father.  Their sense of humor goes down the tubes.  Puns, put down humor, hack jokes, repeating the same line for 30 years that’s the stock and trade of men with children.  My dad was like this, my friends dads growing up were like this and now my husband is like this.

It is a bit painful.

Post Father’s Day

“Hi daddy.”

“Well, hi!” my dad beamed. Oh, good he is having a good day.

I was wrong.  Last week was a good visit, but he has slipped back today to his shadow world.  Part present, mostly not.  I go along with the things that don’t make sense and calmly tell him “he owns restaurants” when he asks what my husband does for a living.

“Is that right?” he says with a gentle trace of his Southern roots.

He doesn’t seem to notice Rex. This is a depressing Father’s Day. I prefer the kind with “let’s get daddy some bagels and put his socks away for him” that I had left in order to come here.

I glance at pictures of my dad on the wall of his rooms then see him as he is now.  I suffer a cognitive dissonance.  My dad would hate this.

Two articles in the NY Times are very relatable.  Sunday’s about how by installing a pacemaker in the author’s father extended his life and made he and his family miserable.  I think the themes will resonate with others.  Life extension is not always quality of life extension.   This morning about delirium in the elderly in hospitals on the rise was right out of our life.  It’s his hospitalizations that accelerated my dad’s fall.

Here is the dad I always knew.  Out to dinner a few years ago with my sisters and our cousin Margo. The guy in this picture would not want to be the guy I saw yesterday.

Love you daddy.