Baby Spa

Did Rex and I go get manis together?  Like most moms, I dream that one day we will. Here we are at an event I was invited to promote some baby products. One of them was Episencial; they are a natural line of skin care products for little ones. Well, I guess it’s for all ages because when we walked in, I was given a lovely hand massage. I gave the lady my standard line when I’m in such a situation.

“I’ll give you two hours to cut that out.”

The other gal who was a rep for the Epicuren line of skin care had fallen for Rex (natch) and said, “Would you like a hand massage?” The almost 10 month old did not object, and you can see he enjoyed it.

Rex’s spa day continued on… but I want to wait till I get those those photos to detail that. (I didn’t have my camera and am depending upon “the kindness of strangers” digital prowess.)

Dr. Alan Greene was also there. He is the reigning champ of the healthy ways for babies. He is a pediatrician who has written some books, including “Feeding Baby Green.” Does he have a perfect name or what? We were suppose to hear him talk, but through a combination of my momsense that my kid would be melting down soon, and dumb luck that I was standing next to Dr. Green while he waited for his moment, I collared him to get my own questions answered.

A rough paraphrase of that conversation:

“So, my carpets look like crap because I’ve only had them steamed clean. I hear serious carpet cleaning is dangerous to kids.”

Him: “Yes, especially under 3 years of age. After that, not as dangerous.”

Check, will have mangy carpets till end of 2012.

“What’s with Ajax, Comet, etc.?”

Him: “No way, studies show, not so good.” (He actually had a more detailed and intelligent response to this, but I was wearing my baby as he tried to grab the vegan sushi that I was frantically trying to shove in my mouth while I interviewed a well known health expert, so some, if not all of the details are missing. I’m giving you the upshot)  “I use Seventh Generation products, but that doesn’t always get the mildew in the grout in the shower. So, a couple times a year, my wife and I use watered-down peroxide for that.”

Then he said he was really excited because in January a new product was coming out that would be the first non-chemical disinfectant that the EPA or DEA or AMA, or Rex stop pulling my hair, would certify as 99.9% effective at killing germs, and it’s made out of thyme oil.

“Wow, that is so cool. You’ll post that on your website when that comes out, right?” knowing I would never get the details right on that one.

Him: “Yes.”

Then I told him that my husband is a chef and how Mark was recently asked what his favorite seasoning was, and he said thyme. Dr. Greene liked that and asked me who my husband was. He had heard of him and had been to Campanile (or maybe I just thought he had…).  So then I told him about Mark’s new bar and eatery he was opening soon: The Tar Pit.

“And he is making the cocktails out of all fresh ingredients, ’cause you know the the whole farmer’s market thing is important to his cooking, so this is an extension of that.” I know I was there so others could promote stuff to me, but I thought, why not get my own plug in as well?

Dr. Greene is very nice, really.

I slowly navigated my body and Rex down the many staircases of this neo-gothic home that the event was held in. Wearing an Ergo carrier and stairs are not the best match. I kept saying the bullet point of our conversation over and over in the hopes I wouldn’t forget it.

Rainy Days

Is it just me, or is it impossible to feel all frosty fresh on a rainy day? I even feel like I’m puffier and make up doesn’t go on as well. I asked a guy co-worker today if he felt this way.

“Um, no.” Then I noticed he is basically bald.

“Yeah, you don’t have that ‘my hair is frizzy, and I can’t do anything with it feeling,’ huh?” I wisely deduced.

“Uh, no.”

And I don’t go for my long morning walks when it rains, so forget getting that post-workout flush. I know I’m pretty spoiled with California weather. In colder climates (where I have only lived for a months at a time) I always found it harder to feel sexy in a large padded coat, long underwear, and gloves.

But then in that climate I tend to drink more. The cold brace is fun when you’re buzzed. Maybe that’s just me.

Speaking of hair… I wanted to do a vlog today about how brutal Rex is at pulling hair. My hair, Vivien’s. It can bring tears to the eyes. I set the camera up and held him and waited for him to start pulling and…


Different position and…


The kid would not pull my hair.

Maybe he is on to me.

I’m a Spokesperson

I’ve been asked to be the spokesperson for Upromise World MasterCard for Bank of America. It’s not something I’m doing on this site. I’m going to blog on their Facebook page and do some interviews where I talk about mom blogging and Upromise and Mastercard. I am NOT being paid to write what I am writing right now. I am being paid to do the media interviews and the Facebook blogging. Just so we are all FTC clear.

When I asked if I would do this.  I was like, Uh, duh, why not? It’s not like selling bullets. or those who haven’t heard of it, is a site where you sign up and become a member.  There are participating merchants, and if you buy something from them on that site, they kick a few percentages (anywhere from 1 to 25%) to a 529 for your child’s education. Or to paying down a student loan. So, now there is a credit card that gives you 1% of everything you charge to the 529. That’s the gist. So, since I am interested myself in rebuilding our savings, I thought it seemed like a great product to be talking about. And it’s fun to see who you can get money back from.

Just looping you all in on one of my jobs so if you see my twitters you’ll know what it is about. I did the first part of the media tour this morning, which means talking to people on the phone in my nightgown. I really enjoy that part. When I’ve been on a show that had some wind at its back, I have done interview after interview. It’s pretty fun. I especially like talking to radio hosts since that’s my old line of work; I get what they need… funny, concise, energy… and I have an appreciation for anyone who can still make a living in that medium that is so dominated by syndication. I talk a lot about Cool Mom and then let them know about the opportunities with Upromise Master Card and Upromise.

This Green Thang

Okay, I think I’m falling behind in being the perfect green mom. Oh, that’s right… No I remember; I’m trying to be. I get press releases sent to me all the time about how to be a more green parent. Of course I get press releases about airline promotions as well, so that’s not saying much.

I naturally gravitate to serving myself and my children foods made from things not found in a lab and not serving soda in their baby bottles. I recently had the carpets cleaned and got a service that said they used no chemicals (which is probably why some stains remained). But I can’t get all hard core about it. I get these books. Big thick books about green parenting. Let’s face it:

Most non-fiction books are flabby.

You can skip past the first few chapters and then some. And if I don’t finish a spy novel I bought at the airport, I know I am not getting past a title like, “Checklist for the nursery.” It reminds me of when I used to drive between SF and LA every week and I bought books on tape. One time, I decided to ditch the pot boilers and get something that I could learn from. I got one called something like, “Understanding the Stock Market.” After ten minutes, I almost drove off the road as my snoring jolted me awake (but we know how well I learned to spot a Ponzi scheme, so perhaps I gave up too early).

I can’t imagine after having put two kids to bed that I’d brush the day off my teeth and finally hunker down in my jammies to read one of these tomes. They are well meant. Probably have some good info, but dang it. They are too long.

And it’s like being vegan, which I also did for 3 months till someone dangled some red meat in front of me. I’m sure it is better for the planet and myself to be a vegan, but that would take so much planning, extra thought, and effort.

I recycle, OK? I have one car and one electric car, bona fide; is that enough? I usually walk to the market.

Have I bought the perfect sheets, bottles, and diapers?

That would be no.

The Stages 1) Sadness 2) Barf 3) a Mix Tape

Years ago, TV reporter Betty Rollin wrote a memoir called First, You Cry about her experience being diagnosed with breast cancer and then having a mastectomy (later made into a movie of the week with Mary Tyler Moore, natch). I kept thinking of that title the first few days after my husband called me on the way home from work one day to say we had lost the majority of our net worth. That we had invested in a scam. I was on my way to pick up Vivien from school. I was numb for a few minutes, but as I saw Vivien drawing near with her teacher, my eyes welled up, and I couldn’t keep quiet.  I blurted to her teacher what I had just found out and started crying, hard.  The teacher was very nice.

“We are going to have to sell our house,” I cried. I tried to pull it together and asked Viv to come home with me. She was not budging; she was pissed at my emotional outburst. That would be the last time I cried in front of her.

That evening I dropped Vivien off at my mother’s. I had to be alone. I drove around town in hysterics. I called my family members sobbing like you do when you’re a kid. I called one of my best friends and did the same. They were all stunned.

Mark and I had calm talks about what was best to do. We could stay in the house for as much as two years, but then if the economy didn’t turn around I’d be afraid it would like Grey Gardens, and then we’d have to sell it, cats and all. The first night I woke up every 45 minutes and vomited.  I spent a day returning all our Christmas presents except for most of Vivien’s (I couldn’t part with her recently requested super hero costume), and I kept back one each for my stepsons and Mark.

I cancelled every trip we had planned, told my pilates instructor to consider me dead. I cast about for things to sell. An older friend said, “Yeah, when people we’ve known have gone through this, they always panic and sell too much of their stuff.”  I was so taken aback.  I was so deep in my grief, pain, shock that I thought, “He knows people who have gone through this? There is a pattern?”  Kind of like after a break-up, I figured MY pain was the ONLY pain.

A few days later, I went next door and cried to my neighbors. They told me that they had a different kind of downturn and would soon be decamping to a rental apartment. That’s when I started to realize it was better to talk about it, and how widespread this reversal was.

Over the holidays, my wonderful stepdaughter Vanessa visited. She has amazing strength. She had lost her own money but was more concerned with us. She would say, “What can I do for you?”  I would often say, “Please play with Vivien; I have to go and lie down.” Not just ’cause I was 7 months pregnant, but because I was emotionally fatigued and wanted to cry in private without Vivien seeing me. And as I have often said, “When the going gets tough, the Brogdons go to bed.”

I kept waking up at 5 a.m., unable to go back to bed. I was scanning for new Madoff developments. To read that he was still in his NY penthouse at this time galled. I would look and see what houses were going for. I would look at Craigslist to gauge how much I could sell a couch for.

But one morning I woke up thinking these feelings were parallel to a bad break-up.  And I asked myself what I used to do after a break-up to help me get through it. Sleep with a stranger? No, that made me feel worse. Starved myself and lost 10 lbs.?  No, I’m pregnant, have to protect the baby. Ah, I used to make a mix tape. Eureka.

I went down to my computer and I made a mix called “ripped off”. It started with Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life”

“You are riding high in April, shot down in May.”  How true.

Then the part where you want your lover/money back.  “Why,” Annie Lennox.

You want to feel the love/security of money one more time? “Touch Me in the Morning,” Diana Ross.

Just full blown wallow “We Are the Broken Hearted,” Back Porch Mary.

And then why did I date that guy/ why wasn’t I more diversified?  “What Kind of Fool Am I ?” Sammy Davis Jr.

Then a little anger creeps in… “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady,”  Helen Reddy.

Survival… “Knowing Me, Knowing You” by Abba; “Don’t Look Back” by the Temptations, and of course like any good post break-up, I had to put on: “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.

Followed by Sam Cooke’s “Get Yourself Another Fool.” I dragged myself to look beyond the horizon with the Carpenters’s “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “No More Tears( Enough Is Enough)” by Donna Summer and Barbara Streisand. I began the next section of renewel with “Believe” by Cher.

Years ago I had a friend who was working in Yugoslavia as the civil war was ending. Cher’s song was new then, and he said when the peace accord was signed, people ran into the street and blasted that song. Thus, he had loved that song ever since. I figured if people who survived genocide and total civil unrest could look forward, I certainly could over some cash. I reminded myself of all that I have and that “They Can’t Take that Away from Me” (Fred Astaire) not “My Favorite Things” (Julie Andrews).

I wrapped up with “Not Going to Cry ” by Mary J. Blige, “The Best Is Yet to Come” by Tony Bennett, and finally, “Let’s Hang On” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

And then I ate a bowl of cereal and wondered if the drapes would fit windows in another house.

How Do You Sell Stuff When You Don’t Want to Be Murdered?

As part of my downsizing, I wanted to sell some furniture, a bed and a bedside table . I didn’t want it, but it wasn’t junk. I didn’t want to leave it on the sidewalk to be ferreted away in the night by bedless strangers. No, I thought it could garner a bit of cash. But how to sell?

Garage sale?  They are a lot of work; you have to wake up early, and my husband was cringing at the suggestion. Plus, it’s a bunch of strangers who can see your house, that you might be moving, etc. Charity drop? Well, I did just take a bunch of clothes and a bookcase to Goodwill, but again, I wanted a bit of cash for the bedroom stuff.

Which leaves Craigslist. I’ve bought and sold and given away for free on the site, but that was before two recent murders where it’s said that the victims met the people on Craigslist.  One of the people who were killed was George Weber in his apartment in Brooklyn. I used to work with George back in San Francisco at KGO radio.  He was a great guy. Very good to me. He was a night time talk host, and I was a lowly traffic reporter, but he involved me in bits. Once, he interviewed my mom on the radio because he couldn’t believe she really hated Mother’s Day as I had told him. Another time, my cousin asked if I could get his young daughter singing a Christmas song to be played on KGO. (She was in pageants at the time.) I thought , oh, yeah, right, it’s a news station and big one. But George did it. He played little Velvet’s song.

Craigslist is supposed to be a bulletin board for stuff. But a stranger comes to you, or you come to them. A security guy that I work with who use to be a county sheriff said he thinks “Craigslist is creepy.” Furthermore, he has his mail go to a PO box; he doesn’t ever give out his real address. Maybe that’s not so strange.

I’m sorry George came to such a terrible end that we live in a world where you question if you should sell a side table.

Worst of the Week

No, not another piece about the falling stock market or whether I agree with Obama’s stimulus package. ‘Cause frankly, I have no idea what to think about that. If this downturn has taught me anything, it’s that I’m going to make sure my kids are more financially savvy than I am. That they understand mortgages, and that condo boards can make your home financially impossible, and still the jacuzzi is broken. That they understand if they invest in stocks they better be able to understand things like cost ratio and leverage, you know, the stuff I barely grasp.

I’m part of that generational shift where we were told we were unique and wonderful. And I bought it. I thought I was special. But the more years I have learned is I am one of the masses. During macro economic upturns I have done well; during downturns I lost money or experienced unemployment. The graphs of the U.S. economy almost exactly mirror my own ups and downs. So, along with the big dose of liberal education I have received and positive thinking, a greater grasp of finances would have been a plus. And I’m not a total knucklehead; I don’t walk around with credit card debt, and I know how to balance a checkbook.  But I’ve certainly stepped in some dumb money decisions.

Anyway, so what did my education make me fit for? Writing jokes for Star magazine. I write jokes every week for the “Worst of the Week” pages. It’s one liners about famous people’s bad outfits. Sometimes I’ve never heard of them, but I still write jokes. I send in about 2 or 3 per person, and then the magazine decides which to run. And it’s a good thing I’m not famous because I’d be snapped dropping my daughter off at school and be ridiculed more than Octomom’s Donald Duck lips.

I didn’t major in satire.  I majored in Sociology.  Same thing.

The picture is one from 2 years ago when I came home from commenting on the Oscar fashion for CNN headline. My hair is underwhelming, but they would only provide makeup for me, so I had to wing the hair. I had to find a designer who would loan me a dress myself. But that’s life on the G-list. Viv is the best accessory. There is probably a joke there like: Don’t buy a designer bag; buy a designer baby!

I Keep On Falling…

…in love? Actually off my porch. I did this earlier in my pregnancy (like 5 months) and got a deep gash in my right shin. This time I got an even longer and deeper gash in my right shin (could I look more pasty white?).

I had boots on that had no tread; it was raining, and I slipped on my slick porch. You know when you can feel yourself going down? At least this time I didn’t break my fall with my wrist like last time and give myself another injury. And I did not land on my big belly. Phew.

Vivien and Mark were with me. As I lay on the ground on my back crying, Viv said about 6 times, “You are going to have big gash”. Between my tears I finally growled, “You’ve said that 6 times.” When someone falls, I think it’s best if people:

1) assess if there is serious injury

2) make soft sympathetic noises

3) help the person who fell up

4) more sympathetic words

5) first aid

then you can mention the size of my gash ONCE.

Well, thirty pounds hanging over my belt is bound to make me a little off kilter.  Ha, who am I kidding.  I haven’t worn a belt in a long time.

Luxury Pediatrician

As a native of LA, I spent 12 years in Northern California enduring the dumbest, most narrow-minded insults from well-to-do liberals who parroted what others had said before. They would constantly say that LA was superficial, that we were jacked up with breast implants, and never read a book. As if LA was the land of Entertainment Weekly on every avenue. People in San Francisco, and points a tad north and east and south of there, never seemed to grasp that THEY WERE THE INSULAR RICH PEOPLE. SF is one the whitest places I have ever been. It’s politically homogeneous. A moderate would be considered a fascist there. There was only one Jewish deli in town, and truth be told, it wasn’t that good.

When my friend Bonnie was about to move down here from Marin County, I said, “Don’t believe any of the bull sh– Nor Cal people tell you about what’s bad about living in LA.” I told her, “People are friendlier here.” (It took me two years to make a friend in SF). “You can go hang out with ‘hey look me over’ people if you want, but there are plenty of all other types as well.”

What is harder here, is you are in an urban, mixed population. Traffic, density, lots of public schools you would rather not send your kid to. That unlike Marin, Palo Alto, or most of SF ( except for three blocks that haven’t been mowed down by redevelopment), you can be wealthy and be right next to working class people of all colors. You will go to a doctor who treats all classes and so forth.

Bonnie moved here, and she said she was like, “Oh, yeah, this is a city.” As you drive across town, you will see all types. She also grew to really like LA and is now bummed her work has taken her back up north. And here is the punch line. Check out the picture.

That is her daughter’s new pediatrican in Palo Alto. A huge playground, a library. I have never seen anything like it in LA. It’s perfect that it’s in Palo Alto. A rich, liberal enclave full of people yammering on about how insulated and superficial LA is. Right, the “real” people live in Palo Alto, where life just keeps coming at you.

Merry Christmas

This is one of the bleaker Christmases I can remember. Most everyone is totally freaked about money. Even if they haven’t lost their own, they worry they will. Even in prosperous times, I think spending a bunch of money on adults is silly. Buy the kids presents. My family does a Secret Santa for the older set, so there is something to open. But years back, I got physically and financially exhausted from buying everyone presents. And as I said years ago to my family, “Unless you can give me a development deal at ABC, anything I want I can get myself.”  Since I don’t think they are going to buy me a week cruising the Greek Islands, that’s basically correct. And isn’t better to give to charity?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Andrew Stawarz

But this year I’m having a change of heart. Businesses, small and large even, are the charities.  Witness how charitable our government has to be to the financial markets, to the car companies.  I know some sweet small stores that wait for hours for a $30 sale.

So if you have any, go ahead, and spend some money.  The law of circulation; it all goes around. I don’t know if it’s what Jesus would do. But with these great sales, maybe he would.