Baby Has Me In Training

I don’t know if it’s my general anxiety or my full bladder, but sleep has become a tad restless lately. Seeing that I’m only 21 weeks pregnant, I think it’s too early for this. But this is the third morning in a row that I am waking up at 5 am, unable to go back to sleep.

From 5 to 6 I have to lay and worry about everything and everyone. Or work up some dormant anger about some past slight. Having some time before the house wakes up is okay. I make my one cup of coffee for the day – a sweet half-cup before I’m forced to switch to decaf. Then I take a walk, read the paper, watch the news, space out online, but dang, I’d sure like more sleep.

I think the baby is nudging me to remember what it will be like when he arrives. No longer the leisure life of a kid in preschool, but growling at my husband if he doesn’t help with the 11 and 2 feedings. Oh, yes, I know what’s coming. Breathe in “miracle of life,” breathe out “someone will care when I die.” I must stay focused on the important things, not that disabled feeling for the first couple of weeks, or months, or year and a half.

If only I could take a sleeping pill!

Halloween Is Coming

At three, my little one is getting hip to Halloween. Last year my mom and I took her trick-or-treating. She was dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz (she had no idea who Dorothy was, but I dug it). This is Viv in her costume when she was one. It cost $40, so I had her wear it for two years running. I was a doctor. When we went trick-or-treating, Vivien often tried to give the candy back to the people who gave it to her. It was so cute.

This year she is noticing other people’s decorations and she wanted to get in on the fun. So we went shopping today for Halloween decorations, at a party supply store. My gal is a bit sensitive, so everything was deemed “too scary, Mama” as we walked the aisles.

“Well, Halloween is supposed to be scary, but in a tongue-in-cheek way.” Surprisingly a three-year-old didn’t understand that. (She no more understood it when later in the afternoon she was fighting me on her nap, and I told her she was being contrary.  She stopped wailing, “I don’t know what contrary means!”)

I found a tissue-paper pumpkin but that was rejected as well. Finally she agreed to some smiling pumpkins and a “happy” cardboard ghost.

It did make me think.  Halloween is kind of weird.

My New Obsession: Baby Names

Move over social security site, there is a new baby name site that has caught my heart. It’s part of Babble, which is a good parenting site as well. I’m a bit flummoxed by picking a boy’s name, so this is my latest sounding board. I don’t want to pick a super-trendy name and this site has graphs that tell you the peak popularity of names so your kid is not one of 40 in his preschool with his name. For instance, my husband’s name, Mark, reached its peak popularity in 1960. His name, along with the name “Linda,” is probably due for a comeback in 20 years.

Will In Motion
Creative Commons License photo credit: chimothy27

 

You can also put in names you like and it will give similar names. Not that I have a name yet, but at least I have a new fave web destination for after Viv goes to sleep.

Like Father, Like Daughter

Since Vivien has co-starred in many of my vlogs (akin to my chosen profession as a TV host and performer) I thought it was only fair that she take a whirl in her dad’s world. Vivien loves visiting her dad at work and her oldest brother is studying to be a chef. So this birthday it was all about the kitchen.

My mom is good for a big present so I hunted for the best mini-kitchen I could find. The cutest are the kitchens from Pottery Barn Kids, but they cost more than my first car. Then there is the plastic molded variety. Good price but they lack some soul. So Aunt Mom, as she is called, was happy when I found this play kitchen from KidKraft.

This was a moment I was really glad I am not a single mom because it took Mark the better part of a day to assemble the kitchen. But it is so cute!  For me, the kitchen is too hot…

Outfit courtesy of my friend Melissa.

And The Winner Is…

…No, not the Emmy Awards. I couldn’t watch more than 20 minutes – just wanted to see the clothes.

I’m talking about the winner of the 3rd Birthday Present award. Out of all of the super cool gifts Vivien got this week, so far the one that has made her the most gaga is this Music Box. It arrived this morning from her friend Mercy (via her mom, of course).  She was absolutely mesmerized by this good, old-fashion keepsake. Vivien insisted on taking it to school where many of the kids were also enchanted. It plays “Beautiful Dreamer” and is from Enchantmints.

Music Box

She also really liked the “decorate your own crown” from her friend Charlie as well as playing with the t-ball set with dad last night. But today, the music box has been kept near.

Can’t blame her. I still have my little log cabin music box I was given at about 5 or 6. I still get a kick out of it when I open it and it plays “Edelweiss.”

Those G– D— Party Favors!

Vivien’s third birthday was Sunday. Naturally, what started as a small gathering in our backyard grew larger and similar in price to the Fed bailout. Invite a few kids, with parents and my relatives, and it was about 30-plus folks. That’s okay: I handled the food (ordered from my husband’s restaurant, naturally), got balloons, rented a couple of tables for outside, had a kid-entertainer who took Viv’s sour morning mood and made her harmonica-playing happy – literally. And I ordered a yummy cake (sidebar: from the most inept bakery, with the worst customer service – Sweet Lady Jane on Melrose in LA). But here’s what got my panties in a bundle: The party favors!

Daphne and Viv at School

I delayed getting them until the afternoon before the party, so I was overwhelmed at the task. And I found one site that said I should “make the favors memorable.” Oh, for the love of Pete!

It used to be that favors were the same junk you found in piñatas: A little plastic whistle, some candy. Now they are real toys. At a party a few months ago, one mom gave each kid three toys in a bag – I’m talking good Melissa & Doug toys. I think the biggest reason to have favors is to help parents get the screaming kid out the door. “I know you don’t want to leave, but here is a present for you, if you do!”

I called my mom and asked her what to do. She said, “I can’t help you. When you were a kid we didn’t have to give favors.” True, the favor at my kiddie parties was a small paper cup of jellybeans that the kids munched on before cake. In a couple of years, it won’t just be favors. Soon, at kiddie parties they will have gifting suites.

And another thing: At the party, three separate kids came up to me and asked, “Where is the piñata?” I sai, honestly, “No piñata: I don’t like them.” Little kids waving around a big stick and finally some dad has to step in to whack it? The whole thing stresses me out.

Career or Dad?

One of my best friends. Mary Ellen Geist, gave up her career as a high-flying radio reporter to help her mother care for Mary Ellen’s father, who has Alzheimer’s. It’s a self-sacrificing thing she has done. She left NYC (previously, she was in SF where we were big buddies) to move to Michigan and live with little money as a full-time caregiver. A noble act, right? I can go on record as saying I always discouraged her from doing this.

Measure of the Heart

Back in the ’90s in SF, when we were single gals having great dinners and drinking red wine, she was a reporter, and I was a TV host and radio producer. She knew her dad was starting to change and would periodically say, “At some point I have to go home and help Mom.” I always said, “Don’t do it.”

I am greatly influenced by my own mom, who said that one should care for the next generation and not dwell in the past. Also, I worry about my child-free friend: when she is older, who will take care of her? Shouldn’t she be preparing for her own rainy day? When my own father’s health declined, none of us took him into our homes, except for a couple of days a week. My sisters and I have small children, and just a couple of days were a strain. We put him in assisted living.

Mary Ellen’s dad’s Alzheimer’s is far more advanced than my own dad’s, and she has the patience I do not. Every morning, she tells him to put on his shoes, take his medicine, and so forth. It’s a special person that can do this day in and day out and not go stark-raving mad. The old line about mothers having the hardest job is just NOT true. Unless it’s a mother with a special-needs child, the hardest job is taking care of someone who is not only never going to get better, but will get worse.

Typical to the charismatic and spirited person that is Mary Ellen, even when she planned to hide away in Michigan, the spotlight finds her. Through a few turns, her story was featured in the NY Times, and now she has published a book about her experience (which is ongoing), Measure of the Heart. None other than Oliver Sacks provides the forward; he was intrigued by Mary Ellen’s dad because even as her dad forgets all else in his life, he can still sing and knows the words to the songs that he has always loved.

For any sandwich generation person like myself, it is an interesting read. Her story is intriguing, but it also makes you ask yourself questions about your own choices.  She was recently on the Today show and she made Kathie Lee Gifford cry.

Free Time Poll

The strangest thing happened to me the other day: I had free time. My husband had taken care of Viv in the morning, so I was able to get work done. While she was at school, I got my exercise in. Then, later in the day, I dropped her at her grandma’s nearby. She loves her grandma and wanted some playtime with her.

Then I drove away, with about 90 minutes to kill. What to do? Go home and hang? Well, normally I would, but during her nap, I had managed to watch Hardball. Meet up with my hubby for some lovin’? Got that in at naptime, too. So what was left?

I always crave downtime, then I got some and I didn’t know what to do! I texted a friend, and she said, “Just go relax somewhere.” Hmm… just go relax somewhere?

What did I end up doing? I went to the bank, ate at a taco place, then shopped for Vivien’s birthday and for some of her friends who have upcoming birthday parties. My big treat was going into a bookstore, but I barely looked for me and made a beeline for the kids’ sections, where I bought Vivien books about being a big sister, not hitting, and potty training. And I got a hot chocolate.

So in this week’s poll, I want to know what you would have done: Continue reading

A Sticky Subject? Results Are In!

Now this week’s Cool Mom Poll was something we deal with every day: the stickers on the car window. Putting up this poll really helped focus my thoughts on this issue. I was considering allowing the stickers to grow and flourish, in exchange for a little peace and quiet. But the “isn’t it enough my body will never look the same” contingent won out with you, and it won me over.

I peeled them off as best I could and Mark went out with soap and a rag and got the left-over sticker remains.

I must say I am impressed with the 13 percent of you who don’t even allow stickers in your universe. Gosh, how do you do that? It’s good to have some limits on what you can take.

Dr. Phil and Me

Okay, yesterday was a crazy day in TV. A few days ago, I was contacted by the Dr. Phil show regarding my video, Helicopter Moms. They wanted to use the piece as part of their show about “Free-Range” Moms” vs. Helicopter Moms. Apparently, they have way more OCD-inclined helicopter moms.

The standard-bearer for the free-range moms was NY-based mom Lenore, who started freerangekids.com after catching flack for allowing her 9-year-old to ride the subway by himself. I told the Dr. Phil people that I try not to be a helicopter mom, that I think it’s better to be more relaxed, as that is how I was raised. They were like,”Um, yeah, maybe we will just use your vlog.”

Sensing my 15 seconds of syndicated-daytime-TV-fame slipping through my fingertips (although, I used to do some comedic commentary on Ricki Lake as the show’s token white girl – besides Ricki), I called back and said, “You know, I really want to back up the free-range mom.”

The only snag was their taping started immediately after the Fashion Team taping ended. My producers were cool: “Okay, you can miss a segment and leave 15 minutes early.” Great.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the Dr. Phil people wanted photos of my family at home; I sent them about 9. They wanted home movies of Vivien, and I gave them that. They needed a release from my husband, so we did that, and then they CHANGED THE TIME. Now they wanted me there while the Fashion Team was still taping!

I shoot the Fashion Team (which airs Tuesday at 8 pm on the TV Guide channel – plug!) on Tuesday mornings. It’s only about 10 minutes from the Dr. Phil set. I had a knot in my stomach as I asked to leave earlier. Again, my producers were very understanding – Dr. Phil does get 10 to 20 times our audience – but I did need to shoot most of my segments.

So, on the day of the shoot, I’m all dolled up (great dress, right? I don’t even look pregnant!), thanks to the wardrobe department at TV Guide, which is one of the best parts of my job (as is the professional makeup). I am trying to be calm as the clock is ticking and our Fashion Team shoot is inching along. My co-host, Lawrence Zarian, is very sweet and says he is happy to a few segments without me. Our guest is the costume designer of “Mad Men” (AMC, Sundays at 10pm). She is new to the on-camera world and during our interview she stumbles over a word and starts to break to ask, “Can I do that again?” but before she can, Lawrence Zarian and I jump in. On the break, she says, “I thought we could stop.” I wanted to scream, “If you want to be here all day and blow my chance to be on Dr. Phil, go right ahead!” But instead I say, “It’s better to keep going since they have to stop to make each edit.” Which is true: it takes forever.

I race out to my car, texting the Dr. Phil show that I am on my way, as I was 15 minutes late already. They have a golf cart waiting for me at the studio gate. The show is ready to go, and the warm-up guy – one of the hardest and most unsung jobs in show biz – is vamping for time, making jokes and giving away Dr. Phil mugs and books. I am finally seated in the front row. The studio is so cold my teeth are chattering.

Lenore starts with the doctor telling her story. Then it goes to a super over-protective mom. I’m waiting… then there’s another over-protective mom across the aisle from me. Um, where are those pictures of my stepdaughter and Viv hand in hand? Finally Dr. Phil introduces me. He shows part of my vlog, I think it got a good response, but I am thinking, WHICH ONE OF MY MANY WITTY ANECDOTES WILL I SHARE WITH DR. PHIL? I am not sure how much give-and-take there will be. He addressed me and I blurt out in a nutshell that I came to think I needed to get over myself and be a calmer, more open mom. He asked, “Why?” So I told him why, then he turned to the A guests (those on stage) and explained the lesson I helped illustrate.

More segments, but no more of me. On a break, Dr. Phil looked down at me, smiled and nodded. I’m thinking, “Um, I have more to say, um, where’s my home movie?”

These kinds of talk shows are very well-produced, but maybe too well-produced. There’s no forum for give-and-take. But then I’m sure not everyone would be as television-savvy as I would be, and they may really blather on. Also the show became a parade of the disasters of the overly controlling mom. Though Dr. Phil did have good advice.

I don’t know when it will be on, but I will announce that here on Cool Mom, of course, when I know.

I hope I get my MiniDV back.