Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

When I got home from my trip, I felt a big surge of love for my husband. He had totally dealt with the kids. He had come early to let Dolly go home at a decent time, as opposed to letting it ride when I’m here. He even bailed on work one night because Vivien said she wanted him home. Ahhh, that’s my guy.

I got on an earlier plane and called them from the airport so Vivien stayed up for me. Also, she wanted to give me my birthday present, a coffee mug that she made with Mark at Color Me Mine.

“Momma, is it okay that there is some purple here?” It was more than okay. So sweet. Granted it probably cost $40 by the time it was done, but she had fun making it.

And I got what I really wanted for my birthday: two new nightgowns. They were EXACTLY what I wanted. Old-fashioned, short-sleeved, knee-length, vaguely house coats. My old gowns were literally fraying so it was time to set them ablaze. Or whatever you do with old nighties.

Happy Birthday to Me!

I have never been away from home on my bday. But since the opportunity came up to be on The Wendy Williams Show, and it worked fine with Mark’ s schedule, I figured, what fun! The other thing I’m missing by being here is my Aunt Marcella’s funeral. She is my mom’s older sister and only sibling. She passed last Saturday. Heart attack, stroke, and went fast. She was my last aunt and the one I was closest to. She lived close to where I went to college so sometimes when I was homesick I would go and stay the weekend at her house. Her voice and intonation were so like my mom I felt comforted in her presence. She was devoutly catholic and had 7 kids in 8 years. I wish she had seen the world more, but in her whole life she never got on an airplane. I had hoped her service would be this past weekend, but it was Monday, my bday, the day I was going to nyc. My cousin mary said, “She would want you to go to new york.” I know this is true.

So, while it’s always hard to leave my babies I did enjoy watching movies on the cramped flight. The Blind Side, good, American film. No shading or nuance to the characters, but engrossing. And Men Who Stare at Goats with George Clooney and Jeff Bridges. Why didn’t I know about this one? So funny.

After trying three different rooms at the W Time Square (first two were noisy) I walked 27 blocks to meet my friend for dinner. My friend Christine was one of my producer’s on Perfect Partner, a show I hosted on Discovery 2002 – 2003. Another producer from the same show and a dear friend Brian showed up for a few minutes as well. You know friends who you don’t see for a year, and it’s like no time has passed? They are those type of friends. We had a lot at Cookshop in Chelsea. All good, but not as good as my husband’s restaurants!

We settled a few life issues and got a little buzzed. Christine treated me, which was far too generous. Then we walked in the rain to the subway. When she had to transfer trains at time square and I had a few blocks to walk to my hotel I felt a little sad for the first time. It was my birthday, and I wasn’t with my kids or husband. It is also the first birthday I can think of where my dad hasn’t called me, but he doesn’t know how to use a phone anymore. He probably doesn’t know what day it is. This makes me very sad.

As I walked up the street, glad I had worn my long parka with a hood, the rain blanketed all. I walked briskly, but not in a panic. I didn’t need an umbrella. It felt good. I am walking in Manhattan in the rain. I am alive. I am feeling things. I am lucky.

Wendy Williams Show

As you read this I will probably already be in NYC. I am leaving at the crack of dawn for a one-night trip to be on the Wendy Williams show. I was asked to be on because of Momversation and Cool Mom. Specifically, they would like me to riff on my bit about how I hate the cutesy names for private parts. That’s good TV. Looks like a fun show to do.

Today is also my Birthday!!! I’m kind of relieved to not have to worry about what I’m going to do on my bday. I will have dinner with a couple of friends in NY, and that’s all I will have time for. I do the show Tuesday morning, and then I want to get Wendy on my little video camera. She has a big, fun personality, and she is a mom, so I think that could be some good Cool Mom material. Then I’m going to have lunch with my fabulous stepdaughter and fly home.

Wish me luck!

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.

Rex’s First Birthday!

Today mac and cheese, a boston bibb salad with green goddess dressing, and cupcakes will be served at lunch time at home to celebrate my son’s first year. Hooray Rex!  I am so grateful for your presence in our lives and that you are healthy. Your smile lights up my heart.

And he says his most clear word to date: “Uh-oh!” He is 21 and half pounds of sweet love.

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!

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.

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.”

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.