Rex’s Party

I’ll call this Rex’s official one-year-old portrait. I love babies in traditional clothes like this. We had a great lunch time party in this unseasonably (don’t tell me global warming isn’t a real phenom) weather. Even in LA, it’s odd to for it to be 80 degrees on Presidents’ Day.

I took him for a long walk beforehand so the guest of honor wouldn’t be too cranky at party time. Some people also brought presents for Vivien, which was very thoughtful.

I have that awful cough that has been going around so I’m not feeling that chipper. I have to sleep propped up and have been up a lot at night coughing away. Can’t wait to be healthy again.

I am eating my words about Valentine’s day. Mark stunned me Sunday morning by bringing in a cool present with the kids. This black pant suit (so comfy), this cool necklace, which was made by a waitress at one of his restaurants, and the pink rubber ring that Vivien picked out.  Okay, I’ll stop complaining about the holiday.

The 4th Birthday Party

Why did I worry? That’s what my friends were saying as Vivien’s party was in full swing. There was room. Plenty of room. I think I have big house syndrome. I have a skewed perception of space from my year of living large.

The bouncy fit fine straddling ours and our neighbor’s yards. The kiddie table and chairs in front of the garage. Enough seats around for adults to perch, and the kids were happy with playset. When Cinderella arrived she did her parachute games/face painting thing on the grass. I think she was the Rolls Royce of Cinderellas. I hate when you hire a princess or fairy, and they show up with ill fitting wig and tats. When some of the girls said, “Did Cinderella leave?”

I said, “Yes.”

“Awwww…”

“She had to go meet Prince Charming,” I said. “They have a cute loft downtown.” The girls were listening.

And my sister Carole quickly added, “But she is going to finish college.”

The only misfire was that Mark didn’t buy enough water bottles for the hot day, and our guests were wilting. Next time one of those tubs with spigot for water.

Vivien was very happy. Her best buddy stayed most of the day with her, which was great. I started writing my thank yous as they played. ‘Cause I either right them right away or a year later.

And all those toys and hunks of plastic she got? Love it. I don’t rag on them at all. It was fun for her to open and the ones she didn’t immediately grasp I stashed for a rainy or cranky day down the road.

She really loved Zingo. It’s a kid version of Bingo. Boy was I happy. ‘Cause I love Bingo!

Non-Labor Day

Welcome back! Hope you had a great weekend. Mine was not full of trips to the beach or BBQs. But darn fun. My goal has been to be a shut in. Between having a baby and the heat I think it seemed logical. My top high points from the weekend, not necessarily in this order were:

1) My husband and I had a date night. Nothing like being face to face for reconnecting… across a table that is.

2) After she and I had a run in ( I didn’t let her do something, she kicked me, I sent her to her room), Vivien followed me into Oliver’s room where I was cleaning up and hands on hip said, “Mommy, we need to talk.” I stopped myself from rushing forward and telling her, “You are so cute, and look at you using reasoning!” I just said, “Yes, we do.”

3) Thursday night one of my oldest friends (freshman in college) Trish took me to see the Pretenders. I kind of forgot how wicked cool Chrissie Hynde was and still is. Here is an apt review of what I saw. There she was 57, mother of two, looking like the cool, accomplished rock star she is. An icon. She had a great outfit. White vest over some shirt, tight jeans tucked in almost stocking-like high boots. I would look like a clown, but man it worked for her. She has that great deep voice, she bantered with the crowd well. And I also forgot how many good songs the Pretenders have. Talking bout my generation. She’s just so “this is who I am and if you don’t like it, you can kiss my ass.” Which makes me want her to like me. Then when she broke out her guitar Trish and I were thinking, ah, I wish I could be that cool. At the end when she took out a harmonica and started playing I turned to Trish, “Okay, I want to kiss her… if she’d let me.”

4) Speaking of wanting to kiss someone… I was at a fun pool party for a 4 year old where who else was the there, but Mr. Hunk himself Jon Hamm, lead in “Mad Men”.

I am fanning myself at the thought. It was a nice normal exchange at a taco-catered-truck backyard party. He tried his best to get Vivien to warm up to him. I didn’t tell him that she shined on Jake Gyllenhaal a couple of years before in a similar manner. I did not tell him he was the cutest, hottest thing on basic cable. I wasn’t pleased that I hadn’t lost ten pounds that morning as I had to take off my cover up and give him an eyeful of my mom suit as I pushed Viv around a little floaty. My only hope was that my large, nursing breasts would pop out, and I would have felt I had made myself somehow memorable to Mr. Hamm.

Oh, and I saw a movie. Which is where this comes in.

The only reason I could go to the concert or the movie of course. That is my pump station. The spilled milk, the sound “eh-a-eh-ah-e-ah” humming along as I try to read for a couple of minutes. (BTW, at this point anyone could walk in the room, and I couldn’t care less who sees me with large plastic domes over my special place) Except that I don’t make that much, so I saw “Extract,” which was really funny. (The jokes about married sex are right on the money.) It was close by and only 90 minutes. I never like a long film, and when I am nursing, I really don’t. I only had a smidge pumped, so I booked.  It was the brain holiday I was after. And one that kept me in air conditioning.

Give me your highlights!

Momversation: Do You Feel Birthday Party Pressure?

It’s very easy to bemoan the excess of a kid’s birthday party. Does that make sense to spend money on balloons, pony rides, catered food? And I say, Why not?  If I had endless money this year I think I would be fine with treating Vivien’s 4th like she was the child of 1930s movie star. You know why?

1) It helps the economy. The balloon company is a small business that is struggling this year, and the guy wrangling the ponies probably can’t afford health care. Helping small businesses stay in business is charitable. And will do more for the economy that that waste o’ money TARP and all the other money given to banks who don’t pass on the largess to their clients who need a small business loan or their mortgages reduced (argh, don’t get me started).

2) It’s fun.

Now, the only downside I can see to this (if money were no object) is the kid could become a big jaded, spoiled brat, and it puts a lot of pressure on mom to top herself every year.

When I was little there was a cool kiddie amusement park in LA (long gone, sadly and replaced by a disgusting mall that has the architectural integrity of a lump of poo). At Vivien’s age, I had my whole class there in a castle setting. We had jelly beans and cake and orange drink (who knows what it was). Then my mom gave us a long line of tickets and we were off. The tilt-a-whirl was my fave.

After that place closed down, my birthday parties never seemed as fun again. I think it’s great to have a wild, fun special day once a year.

In this Momversation, I ask the moms from our newer perch, not as little kids, but as moms, do they feel pressure around kid parties?  I got a bit weepy (kind of like Hillary in New Hampshire, it might not seem weepy to some). I didn’t mean to, but my issue is size. We have downsized this year… forced to by the people who stole from us. I have set aside the money for Viv’s party a long time ago, but a little perplexed at how I can give her what she wants in our spatially challenged new environs.

To take some stand like “Hey, let’s go give this money to kids who have less, and you can eat this small cake with me” would be insincere. Not that gearing a party toward charity isn’t noble or something I would like to do in the future. But it has more to do with not wanting her to feel like she is a victim of crime more than she already has been forced to. Of course she doesn’t know that now, but I do.

And that’s the point.

Who Runs the Party?

Now, not one of those many stories about who is in charge of the GOP Rush Limbaugh or um, or somebody else.  But kiddie birthday parties. (Pic is of Vivien’s 1st bday, which we had in Palm Springs the night before our wedding redux.) Most parties I go to the mom has the grand plan, and she is telling dad.

“Fill the ice chest”

“Time for pinata; what it’s not hung up yet, get to it, scrappy.”  Stuff like that.

Well, my eye went to this past Sunday’s style section in the NY Times (since Monday cannot begin until I have) to a story about a dad who decided to start running the kiddie parties.

I asked Mark, “Gave you ever run a kiddie party?”  Since he was married before and has three children from his previous marriage, I figured this issue had come up before.

“Well, in my experience, mothers don’t want to cede control of the kiddie party. They have an idea of where it should go, and if I didn’t buy the pink plates or whatever, the mother (notice how he tries to be diplomatic when speaking of his third wife) had in mind they get mad.”

Point well taken. I said, “Well why don’t you plan Vivien’s 4th birthday party?”

He said, “okay” with the same suspicion as if I had said, “Let’s ask that big busted 29-year-old woman to join our marriage.”  Like if he said “yes,” he will get slapped.

I thought for a second. “Okay, if you didn’t pull it off, I would be pissed. If there were no balloons, pony, fairy clown, favors for the kids, jumping house, etc., I would probably come unglued.”

He nodded.  “I can refill the ice chest,”  he kindly offered.

So, like so many issues this is something I have to work on myself.

A Scar On Your Heart

As you may have seen in my video, I love reading the Sunday New York Times Style section. So when Viv went down for her nap post-birthday this Sunday, I dug in. I often enjoy the Modern Love essays, but this week’s provoked some tears. It was by a man whose wife had gone through a miscarriage. First it bugged me, because he and his wife didn’t seem that moved by finding out their son had died inside of her. But later on, the emotion is released.

Orchid

When I did a vlog – “What Not To Say” – about my own miscarriage, I was touched by the kind words people left. Many who have gone through the same sadness. The writer of the Times piece, David Hlavsa, experienced something similar when he told people at his work. He says people he barely knew told him about their own miscarriages. “Grief hauled about, and nowhere to put it down,” he wrote. Which I thought was beautiful and true. Like he writes, if one loses a parent, or spouse, anyone living, breathing, walking around, people have an idea how to treat you and you have a right to be really sad.

But, a miscarriage is a not-so-funny in-between. When we drove away from the doctor’s office, having found out our daughter’s heart had stopped at 14 and half weeks, I was sobbing great, big sobs. Like you do when you’re a kid, like the writer in the Times article described. As I sobbed, with Vivien strapped in the backseat to her car seat and Mark driving, I called my best friend, my family. “I have some very bad news, the baby is gone, she’s gone,” I sobbed, “There is no heartbeat.”

My dad was very sweet and said kind words. “I’m so sorry honey.” But after a few minutes he took a breath and said, “You gave me such a fright.” He went on, “Well, I thought something bad had happened to someone… to someone…” he hesitated, “To someone we have known longer.”

I had to smile a little. He had searched for the gentlest way to say it. “Yes, Dad, I know that would have been worse.” If something had happen to Vivien or my sisters, yes, it would have been catastrophic.

So, I think that’s what “grief hauled about and nowhere to put it down” means. It’s a scar on your heart, but one you tend to keep to yourself.

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.

Kiddie Parties

Okay, let’s sort out this whole kiddie party thing, shall we?  Does anyone remember having big gift bags when they were kids? I think it’s a spillover from celebrity gifting suites for award shows. If kids gift bags get any bigger we are going to have to pay taxes on them.

Have you ever gotten invited to a big kiddie party, where you don’t know any adults accept the host? Torture. I’ve had to pass on a fair bit of kiddie of parties because they are smack in the middle of naptime, and it’s just not worth it. I went to one that was great and it was great, partly because it wasn’t too big. I actually could sit. There is nothing worse than having nowhere to sit.

What are the highs and lows?