ADVERTISEMENT: My Newest Party Pal

Not that I go to many parties anymore, but once in a while I venture out solo (easy to do when my husband works nights) and I have to get up to speed fast on social interaction with adults.  Or I can use this strategy…

How do you convince your kids to eat fun and healthy lunches? Submit your tip in the comments for a chance to win a lunch care package from General Mills filled with fun and healthy snacks for kids. I’ll be choosing my favorite tip at the end of this month, so keep posting your best suggestions in the comments.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Alexandra for her winning snack tip!

Hungover Mom

Is it okay to stay up late and drink too much if it’s with other pre-school parents? That’s my excuse. Vivien’s school had their annual fundraiser, and I lucked out.  I liked my dress, and I liked the people at my table.

The theme was “Mad Me,” and I bought this dress for $22 at a secondhand store. I grabbed five and tried them on fast, and Rex was with me in his stroller. The dressing room was tiny so I kept having to open the door just enough to say, “I’m here Rex.” He was pretty mellow, but you never know when they can explode.

I put up my hair, pinned with 5,600 hair pins, and MP slicked his hair back. Let’s drink. The food at the event was not good.

“What is that?” Mark kept asking pointing to various side mounds on the plate. As the event rolled down one dad said, “Are you going to the Tar Pit? We would go.” Great idea.

Next thing I knew there were 14 of us there. The pickled deviled egg hit the spot. At one point, the art teacher was there thanking me. That’s when I realized he thought I was picking up the drinks.

Fortunately enough people knew otherwise so it was all good. I haven’t closed down a place in, um, let me think… that was so many anecdotes ago I don’t remember.

When I got home, Rex had woken up. I tried to soothe him, but finally was like, “Dude, get in the pack and play and cry it out because I may pass out.” He showed me though. He still woke up at bright and early like normal.

As I staggered pushing the stroller this morning, my legs feeling like clay, my mouth like a desert as Vivien asked me little kid questions like, “Why is the sky blue?”, I thought:

Mother hood and hangovers are a bad combination.

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.

Emmy Party ’09

The only thing better than being on a guest list of a swank Hollywood party is to be someone’s “plus one.” I was lucky enough to be my friend Chris’s plus one to the HBO party. In an age of austerity, this soiree bucked the trend. Honestly, it was refreshing to see something excessive and fun. Moreover, I kept thinking of all the jobs it created. There were at least 4 long buffet tables, three elevated stages, and endless open bars. Some were sponsored by Moet and only poured champagne, which was fine with me.

Many stars were seen, Kevin Bacon (fellow Madoff victim), his wife Kyra Sedgwick looking thin and pretty in pink. Loved Chole Sevingy’s polka dot dress. In the beginning, it was mostly chubby regular folk dressed up who are the workers of the channel, and then later after the show ended, there was an infusion of tiny, thin people. They were the stars.

The day had gotten away from me, and I didn’t get to a salon in time to do my hair. So I thought, my Top Chef Master could do it. There, in the kitchen while he cooked up some mashed potatoes and pork chops, Mark used my flat iron for the first time in his life. And it did help.

I liked my dress but was very excited to wear BORROWED JEWELS. A first for me. On “The Fashion Team,” we were doing a story on a platinum (no, no gold here) jewelery suite. This is a place where stars and stylist for stars can borrow SERIOUS jewels. I sort of couldn’t believe they asked me, a confirmed G-lister, if I wanted to borrow something. I got a Sasha Primak diamond earrings, and a Michael Beaudry diamond bracelet. These were picked out for me by a stylist, Michael O’Connor. He’s a sweet guy who I did a segment with a while back. I held up a roundish pair of earrings at one point, and he said, “No, not with your jaw.” Note, my jaw needs to be slimmed.

When I showed them to my mother she said, “Oh, yeah, the real stuff does sparkle more.” I think they trumped my less-than-stellar ‘do. They are classic and beautiful. I had to return them post haste, but will wear them one more time for my show–when I will look a little cuter– and get a better picture then.

I used to think jewels that cost that much… oh, did I mention they cost… $70,000? Yep. I used to think that was crazy to spend something like that on jewels, but after the Madoff thing I don’t think so anymore. If one has money it might be better to have something tangible if the s– hits the fan. Better than a worthless financial statement and much prettier. I walked a bit taller at the party with them, but also checked them every 4 seconds. Didn’t want them to go the way of so many pairs of sunglasses… or boyfriends. Now where did I put that?

The place was massive; they had taken over the parking lot of the Pacific Design Center. It was all done up in deep reds and black. I’m sure it cost several hundred thousand dollars. And fun to see Jessica Lange sit down at a table a foot from me with her recently acquired Emmy in hand. (Sidebar, think she’s had a tad too much done to the face. But can’t blame a girl for trying!) But my breast were going to explode, and my feet were hurting.

As we waited for our car at valet who glides out but my old pool party buddy Jon Hamm. I could have said, “Hi, remember me? The thick-waisted mom?” but I didn’t have a chance. You see, he didn’t have to wait for a car on a folding chair like I did. His appeared, and he left.

Was praying Rex would go easy on me, and he did. He woke up at 2 and went right back to sleep. Phew. Then he was rarin’ to go at 6am. Not ideal, but I have had worse nights. And after an A-list party I really wasn’t up for some protracted sleep training night.

Oh, by the way, did anyone watch the show? I didn’t, I was eating the free food!

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.

Top Chef: Masters… the Party

Okay here is my dress… if I’m leading with that it means the party wasn’t that exciting. Granted, I’m a jaded ole basic cable host.

1) My dress is Vivienne Westwood; it was a splurge for me, but it was 50% off. And I bought it at a small store near me that NEVER has customers, so I kind feel like I was helping the economy. The shop owner was so sweet; she held Rex while I tried on clothes. Which was pretty brutal, as I am still 15 lbs overweight, and as moms know, everything has settled oddly. Oh, and I have bad undergarments. It would have helped if I had a supportive bra (a la Jane Russell); instead I have these limp, cotton nursing things that send my guns downward. And I have Spanx, but they roll under my roll. It’s really better to have a Spanx slip. Those are good.

2) I added the broach to the hip. I thought it anchored the ruching.

3) There was a little bit of press, notably my people, TV guide Network. (It’s not a channel, dammit!)  I spoke to them, but otherwise I was there as Mark’s press coach. Mark is a warm, sincere person. So I would say, “Look, that was okay, but if you want them to be sure to use your soundbite say something like, ‘I was afraid the quick challenge would involve Mario Batali in a bikini.’

4) Campanile looked great; the place was packed with people who had worked on the show. But only a few chefs. And chefs and crew people= I could have worn sweats… and clogs.

5) Looking forward to seeing Mark in his episode.

6 ) The party was going strong when I left, but my feet were aching, and I know a sweet,little boy is waking me up at 2:30a.m. So, I think 9:30 is a good exit.

Diaper Cakewalk

Boy, do I look big! Can you believe that is supposed to be dress? It was done by the winner of Project Runway, Christian Siriano. I thought it a bit skimpy for my party, so I threw on the leggings underneath.

This was at the “he’s almost here!” cocktail party we had. It was so great. I asked only for people to bring food… a potluck. But many were very generous and brought presents for my little guy. Before the party, I received a present through Diaper Cakewalk. It was so cute, layers of diapers and a little blue elephant, lotions, binky, washcloths. It’s a twofer, ’cause it’s a gift and a centerpiece. If you are hosting or attending a shower I recommend it. I put it in the middle of the dessert table and got many compliments on it.

One drunk tried to take a bite out of it. I have to stop inviting her to stuff.

Potluck

It suddenly occurred to me that I am really pregnant.  I think a second shower would be excessive, especially as many are feeling the economic pinch.  Also, I can’t see how I could pay for the kind of big party I would like to throw for my soon-to-be born son.

So, I took a cue from my neighbor Cara, and I am throwing a potluck.  I’m calling it an “He’s almost here!” party.  We are doing cocktails, which will also be fun for my husband, as he is soon opening an artisan-style cocktail bar (pre-prohibition; no crappy sweet and sour mix).  I asked people to bring a dish or a bottle of wine.  So far, the response has been great.

Mark felt a little funny about it, having a potluck when he is a chef, but I talked him into it.  1) Cara just did a potluck that was fun and didn’t feel like a crappy church social and 2) I explained that given our budget, the only alternative would be 6 people and a pizza. And which 6 would you choose?

Cara gave me some good pot luck tips:

1) Have extra serving tools. She says she didn’t have enough last time.

2) If you know what people are bringing beforehand, make up cards or labels. Having a sign that says, “Mary’s Veggie Lasagna” will look a bit more polished.

3) When people come in, slap a sticky on their pan. Cara said that after her last party, she spent 4 days calling people saying, “Did you leave a rectangular Pyrex pan?” I mean who hasn’t?

4) If you are planning ahead (which I am not; my guest got a crude Evite and less than two weeks notice), you can stick a note on each invite like “Bring Appetizer” or for your good-cook friends, “Bring Main”.

Now, what to wear…

Block Party

Guess who has volunteered to help plan her neighborhood’s block party?! We moved here May 1 and I had heard from the neighbors that our street had a block party this year. Each section takes turns: one year it’s the 100 block, the next year the 200 block, and so on. I kept saying to anyone who would listen, “Let me know, I’m a joiner!”

Well, now it’s here, and I am teaming up with two neighbors across the street to plan.


MY DUTIES

My job was to get the petition signed so we can close the street. I got everyone’s signatures except the two houses at the end of the street. I have NEVER seen anyone come out of either house, and most people don’t seem to know the owners, either. Isn’t that strange? There always seems to be a few houses like that in every neighborhood, right? 

I’m also in charge of food. They usually get a local burger place to do it, but I asked Mark if, as a loss leader, would his restaurant do something. He agreed it would be fun to help. So, Campanile is doing its grilled cheese sandwiches – which they are pretty famous for, I have to say. Then I will need to get to Smart & Final to buy a bunch of drinks and get ice, etc.

They were thinking of doing it right before the election, but as that’s right after Halloween and I might go to Florida, we moved it to a week later.

MY QUESTIONS

If anyone has ever done block parties, here are my questions:

1.    We are charging $25 a head for adults, $15 for kids. This includes a bounce house and all that kid stuff and food. Some neighbors say I should ask people to bring a pie or something else to share, to round it out. Is that okay if there is a charge? I think so, because it’s festive, it’s a party.
2.    How many people buy tickets beforehand and how many show up day-of? Gotta plan the food and drinks.

Having lived as the lone ranger, single in an apartment for most of my adult life, I’m so excited to live in an area that has such folksy traditions. Party on!