Campanile is closing: Roller coaster

I have felt like a jet pilot having to keep focus on the task at hand as missles are coming at me.  Steady.  I had to get some work that was on deadline as my sister Carole called, “Is it true?”  She said with pain in her voice.

“yes, it is”.  I had to hang up.

Word was leaked to the press that my husband’s famed restaurant is closing.  ( Just today a wonderful look at Campanile by Jonathan Gold and it’s impact was published in the LA Times)  It didn’t come out of the blue as he has been unable to secure a lease in years.

My stepson called from college that he heard about it from a text from a friend who had read about it.

Mark and his former wife Nancy Silverton started Campanile and La Brea Bakery more than 23 years ago.  They were a smash hit.  They had met at Spago and brought their collective talent to this project (after their divorce he bought her out and she went on to do other successful restaurants).   La Bakery was sold in 2001. They also must leave the space.

I feel like I have been on a roller coaster of feelings.  I’m trying to enjoy the place while it is here and express appreciation to the people who make it work.  But, one day soon when I drive by it’s shuttered doors it’s going to be like looking at a corpse.

Saving for college (sponsored)

As frequent coolmom readers may know my family had our savings stolen from us thanks to Madoff, Stanley Chais and other cronies.  My entire retirement, forced to sell our home and Vivien’s and my step kids college fund vanished.  Nothing like having your future put in jeopardy to focus the mind.  After that disaster I have become far more active and alert to the issue of building a nest egg.  As we all know, in the economy that might mean putting change in your kids piggy bank. And as you may have heard college costs are akin to the space program, so some planning is in order

Recently, a bunch of So. Cal bloggers converged in my favorite restaurant, Campanile, natch, to discuss saving for college.  As the wine flowed ( wine, it should be the official drink of motherhood) we discovered that the mom bloggers went from “What is a 529?” to a the super savvy “why is California one of only 13 states in the union that doesn’t give a tax incentive for 529’s?”

MY POV at dinner, lady on the right is the smarty pants who runs Scholarshare, far left always fun Sarah from MomsLA, and my new fave Kristen from Rage against the mini van. My wine glass at bottom of frame.  Dry, white, with minerality.

The dinner was sponsored by Scholarshare.  This is the State of California’s 529.  Each state has them, but only one per state.  If you are in the “what’s a 529” camp think of it as a 401k for children.  The money grows tax free until your child goes to college, or a trade school, not for a motor cycle.  Anyone can contribute at anytime… so if you would rather grandma not buy another Barbie for your daughter, ask her to put that money in the fund.  The reason Scholarshare took us out to dinner so we ( the various bloggers) would write about it is this:

1) they just started with a new fund. , TIAA-CREF which they are fired up about.

2) they have lowered their limit for entry.  To start get into their fund one only has to start with $25.

3) Contest!  Scholarshare is having a contest on Facebook till Sept 26th.  They want people to “tell their story” about saving for college.  Winners are chosen at random so if you don’t have a super sad sack story, it’s cool, you still have a chance. Two winners will get $1,529 ( get it, 529, get it?) for their kids, you guessed it, 529.

4) They have lowered their fees.  Since we have been rebuilding our financial selves Mark and I have been automatically deducting money from our account for our little kids into a 529 from a different state.  Thumbs up for that plan as I don’t count that money in my monthly budget, so I don’t miss it.  However, after this dinner I did think …hmmm I need to check my fees on our 529. (according to Scholarshare The annual asset based management fees now range from 0.18 percent to 0.62 percent, vs. 0.25 percent to 1.06 percent with old plan).   A child can have more than one 529 so theoretically I could open one with Scholarshare with the State of California and even keep the one in the other state.  I won’t say which one it is, but it rhymes with Ball Sacka.

Here is when I put the wine glass down and really started paying attention: I asked the well spoken rep from Sacramento what is in it for the State of California to get the word out about a fund that they don’t make money on? She said… wait for it… because they know that if people have 529’s they will cost the State less money. If people don’t save they are shelling out for more grants and loans.  Now, we know how bankrupt frugal this and other states are, and if their pencil pushers have crunched the numbers and figured 529’s offset their load they are probably right ( then I picked up the glass again)

Here I am listening, being interested and calculating in my head.

On that last shoot I did with my kids ( previous post) I tried to buck my kids up by telling them they were putting money towards college.  That does help Vivien hit her mark, but Rex countered in a sing song voice, “mommy, I’m not going to college.”  As he shoved red vines in his mouth taken from the craft services table (craft service is Hollywood for junk food) I’m going to chalk up his negative attitude about college to him missing Oliver.  However, if my 3 and half year old still feels like that in 14 and 1/2 years  ( oh, that is going to go fast) he can take the dough and go to junior college, carpenter school or I can give it to Vivien for her education.  No buying tattoos with this money.

No, not a motorcycle.

So, check out the plan, the contest also HERE.. sidebar… Scholarshare is sponsoring a talk October 17th that I am very interested in.  UCLA’s Dr. Dan Siegel will speak on “12 strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind”. I’ve read one of his books and got a lot out of it.

discouraging children from acting

The best kind of performing

Because of my TV and Vlogs my kids are comfortable in front of the camera.  When they shoot the cool mom vlogs with me it takes minutes and if they don’t want to, fine, go play in the mud.  Occasionally producers have asked for my kids to be in a branded shoot.  I always make sure they are compensated and all of it goes into their 529 or IRA.   According to the Coogan law parents of child performers only have to set 5% aside of the kids earnings, which I think is far too little.  I put 100% in.

My kids performed well.  Especially Vivien did what she needed to do on cue.  I was proud of her.  Look at her, cutie pie! 

Now, the most recent shoot we were on was longer and more involved than others.  It was also done during a heatwave. While I love being with my children and love having them get some money for their future I am glad that being involved in a production makes them never want to be actors.

 

“This is boring mommy”.  That’s right production is a lot of sitting around and waiting.

“Why are we doing this again? We did this shot already?”  I know, we have to do it again for different angles, there was a lighting problem, etc.

It was  like a scared straight treatment for budding thespians.

Having been bitten by the performance bug as a tyke, I get it. Yet, seen through the lense of irregular employment, no pension and crows feet I feel acting is the low hanging fruit of ambition. As I helped her out to the set on the HOT day I said, “lawyers work in air conditioned offices all day.  Finance people get up early, but people go and get them lunch while they make obscene amounts of money.”   I learned last year that I wouldn’t be taking them on auditions. Since the people running them are assholes. But, was open for stuff like this that fell in our collective lap.

I don’t want my kids to be going on auditions for the next 50 years.

I don’t want them to have insecure employment.

I don’t want them to need to diet or alter their face in order to get a job.

I don’t want them to worry about eating cat food when they are 70.

I don’t want them to go “wow, I use to work with Ryan Seacrest and now he is 12,000 times more succesful than I.”

Basically, I want them to choose a different path than my own.

I have had some FANTASTIC times working in broadcasting and entertainment.  I’ve met some famous people.  I’ve also had gigs where I did very little and got paid well.

When I hosted “The X- show” on FX.  One of our favorite guests was Sammy Hagar. Circa 2000- 2001.  I forgot that Gary Coleman was also there that day. Sure, I could show the picture of me with Hillary Clinton or at the White House, but this seemed more fun.

But, having lived most of my life in LA I also see the desperate, agitated middle aged lady with puffy lips snapping at a clerk while she orders her wheatgrass shot ( no, it wasn’t Lisa Rinna, but in that vein).

So, this shoot done on the hottest day of the year was hopefully unpleasant enough that the bloom is off the rose.  Show biz is 2 parts perks and red carpet and 98 parts sitting around, multiple takes, long hours, insecure employment.

Maybe the next step is to give my kids some more “sampler” careers so they can focus early.  I’m going to call a Wall Street firm about a little kid internship.  Clearly understanding that stuff is not a requirement.

 

children make you lose weight

Can having children help you lose weight?  Here I am starting on the journey of both kids in school five days a week:  Rex preschool, Vivien 2nd grade, and  Oliver off to college. I’m hopeful that this new schedule means my workout routine will skyrocket me back into my size 4’s. Here I am jogging for 30 minutes on the first day of this new, freed up mommy sked.

Yeah, not pretty.

However, I was asked by a fitness writer if she could contribute a post. I don’t normally do that, but I’m  wondering, “did I just send my best personal trainers off to school?”Wouldn’t I look cuter playing with children than the hot mess I am here?”  Pass me the air guitar!

So, from Jennifer Bayliss, who has lots of initials after her name, from Everyday Health is part of the answer.

Channeling Your Inner Child

I don’t know how or when it happened, but my kids are growing up. My oldest child is now entering kindergarten and I am finding myself bombarded with organized activities–soccer, T-Ball, hockey, karate, even outdoor play is now a scheduled event instead of a spontaneous childhood endeavor.
I can remember being the same age as my son and asking my parents to go to gymnastics, tennis lessons, and dance classes like my friends. As the proud, but overwhelmed, parents of a new set of twins, their reply was to tell me to go play outside, but not to leave the yard. What? How fun is that? But I found myself, literally, outside and running laps around our house. I would try to see how many times I could go around without needing to stop and each time I would try and top my last number.
I find myself trying to find a balance with my son. I want him to be part of an organized activity so he learns the benefits of team play and working with others, but I also yearn for him to spend lots of time running and exploring on his own. I now understand the value of unplanned and free play as an opportunity to tap into his imagination, to learn that not only is our yard an outdoor extension of our home, but it can also double as an Olympic Track and Field venue. And to top it all off, it’s great for his health.
These days I find myself playing right alongside my son

(a)because I love spending time with him and

(b) because now I know that outdoor play burns calories and builds lean muscle. As an adult, I still tend to crave organized activity as well–Spin Class, Zumba, Boot Camp Class, or a half marathon. And I still do all of those classes and running events, but now I find myself looking at the playground at our local elementary school in a different light. Those monkey bars and wobbly bridge are a boot camp style obstacle course. I just need to use my imagination and be creative with my workouts. So while my son is acting like an almost 6-year-old little boy, I am getting my exercise in for the day. Just to give you a little idea of how many calories you can burn per minute playing with your child:
Average Calories Burned Per Minute (based on a 150lb person)

Riding Bikes: 5 calories
Jumping Rope: 14 calories
Climbing a Tree: 4.5 calories
Hop Scotch: 7 calories
Dancing: 9 calories
Exploring in the Woods: 7 calories
Jumping On and Off a Tree Stump in Said Woods: 14 calories
Playing Tag: 7 calories
Running Laps Around the House: 12 calories
Playing Air Guitar: 4 calories
Just think how good this is for your child too! Now get out there and play.

Jennifer Bayliss, MSEd, ATC, CSCS, Manager of Fitness for Everyday Health’s Calorie Counter is a guest blogger and mother who loves burning calories while benefiting her son’s health. 

Source: 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities

…and then he got sad

This is us when we first walked into Rex’s pre school.  He did two days last year, and three this summer.  He liked it. But, this is the first day he starts going 5 days a week and till 2:30 so he will be napping.  However, one of his teachers is new and he misses the old one and his BEST friend moved to a different school.

Rex’s head was low as the place with lousy with parents all setting their kids up for the new year.  The tone in their voice was the “it’s going to be great!” variety.  I was doing it too.  But, then I remembered I needed to honor his feelings even if things would improve.   I got down with him.  “What are you feeling right now Rex?”  He said he missed his old teacher and in a whispered voice said he missed his friend.

“I understand that.  I miss them too.  But, I want you to know we will see your friend (because thank god I like his mom).  You will do hip hop class with him every week.”

Rex said.  “I don’t want to lose him, mommy”  My heart crushed.

“I Promise we won’t lose him.  We will see him.”

More reassurance about his day, though inwardly I was so pissed that the sleeping mat and blanket I had ordered hadn’t arrived yet.  Don’t they know my 3 year old and I need some stability here?  He made Mark and I promise to pick up together.  Agreed.

His new teacher kindly got down to his level and was being soothing.  I really appreciated it, I turned to Mark, “let’s go.”  I was starting to cry.

As I walked away I said, “why do I have to leave my little guy for so long, for so many days?’

Mark said, “we could pick him up early.”

My sniffles stopped.  Um, I was looking forward to going to yoga, losing weight, getting my nails done, de crusting our floors.  Maybe make more money, yeah that would be nice.

I turned to Mark, “well, let’s not go crazy.”

I

back to school brain

 

The first day went great.  She loves her teacher.  It was nice to see some parent friends, but I couldn’t settle.  One single mom friend asked “will you be my wing man to find me a husband?”  Normally, I’d be all over that strategy, but I was looking for new cubbies.  “I’m focused on back to school.” In my head I sounded like Arnold in the Terminator  “where is Sarah Connor?”  Then also conincides with the total absences of Dolly.  Dolly is our main baby sitter and does a total wash/scrub/clean of my house every week.  She is with me some nights, but because my husband is gone- always– and I can’t be left alone with these kids. Although I do love going to Campanile for some wine and food and talking to adults.  ANYONE who walks by.  I wanted to be a mom, not a prisoner.  She is gone for a few weeks on a trip.  I have no glass to break in case of emergency.

Oliver has JUST left for college and I find I’m quite sad at his absence.  A little flavor of empty nester while I still have a little kid who vomits in my face.  With second grade comes almost nightly homework.  …ugh, that’s another post.

How is the school season for you?  How long till you get in your groove?  Does it ever kick in? And would you have washed the dress?

Easy kid decor (spons review)

One of the last task of the summer was doing something about the blank wall in Rex’s room.  Not that he was up at night worrying about it, but every time I walked into his otherwise cute room I mulled over what to do.  Wallpaper?  Expensive, I could paint something, but it would look like the illustrations for Diary of a Wimpy Kid, if I was lucky.  Create something myself?  If I wanted a large ransom note on my sons wall.

Seemed unwise.  Just as I was eyeing the large stickers of Wall Candy Arts in a store I got an email from them asking me to review it.  These are already created colorful scenes that can be peeled off and placed on a wall anyway you like.  Sounded easy… but would it be? I’m NOT crafty.  The have lots of different designs, but when I showed Rex the choices online he chose the city skyline.  This is how it worked for me and my kids.

note: the reviews that involve video I receive a small fee as I shoot, edit the videos myself and it takes more time than a written review.

The people with the hardest job

It makes me cringe when I hear “Moms have the hardest job in the world.”  No, not people like me with healthy kids.  However, parents with kids with severe disabilities, now that is tough  ( and people taking care of elderly as well). A kid throwing a tantrum is annoying.  Having a child who will never live independently is crushing.

A mom friend who has  three children, one of whom is severely disabled made this video.  It’s really lovely and meant to inspire parents who have the toughest job.  But, the words the hold up in pictures they sent to her are inspiring to anyone who has just had the hand of fate slap them hard across the face.

Please watch.