Wee Little Notes (& a Coupon for You!)

I love stationery for kids. It might seem funny to get cards made up with my children’s names on them and then write the thank you notes myself, but they can’t, so why not? I figure that over the years they will get that THEY are suppose to write thank you notes when they receive a gift. And they will pick up manual dexterity. I think I should let my friends and family know that I appreciate their generosity and one day, hopefully so will my offspring.

I paid through the nose for Viv’s first set of stationary, but you know that was 2005; we did things like that. It was cute, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with her name. It’s long: Vivien Tiana Brogdon Peel. Peel is legally her last name, although she thinks she has a hyphen last name, and if she ever wanted to change it, that would be fine. So, she has two middle names. I thought it was overkill to have all four names on the note cards but didn’t want to trash can my last name. (This also seems so 2005 that I could spend time thinking about this)

So the cards read:  Vivien T.B. Peel

Yeah, her middle initials are a disease. I should have give her the middle name Irene. That would have been some cool initials.

Well, those cards ran out, and I scanned around for some replacements. I liked the Paper Culture cards. They are modern and pretty. And instead of the long list o’ names I went for this:

Just a a pretty V and her first name. Seems regal… and less complicated. Personal, yet stopping short of her social security number. It’s an old-fashioned-type illustration, but it’s on a one-page card with rounded corners, so its not too fussy.

For now we can leave it at that. I told them I was going to blog about the cards, and they said if any Cool Mom readers wanted to get some, they would offer a 20% discount. Put in the code COOLMOM at check out. They are not pricey to begin with. This isn’t 2005.

COOLMOM code is good through 3/31/10 for 20% off their order (not to be combined with any other offer, and not applicable to shipping & handling or taxes).

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.

May I Take Your Order?

Mark went to Vivien’s school and made grilled cheese sandwiches for her class. He was proud that she was more adventurous with the ingredients than the other kids. Campanile is known for their Thursday Grilled Cheese Nights. They are not normal grilled cheese sandwiches. Things like open face faced Burrata mozzarella, toasted garlic, cherry tomatoes, along with a basic grilled cheese. All delish. Vivien loves the walkie talkies dad uses at the farmer’s market and when he puts her car seat in the van.

If she worked with him now it might violate some child labor laws. But maybe one day…

Another Milestone

I keep hoping Rex sleeping in a room with Vivien will stick. But he is still kind of noisy baby, and their sleep schedules are so different that most of the time I have to keep them separated. Which means Rex is either in Oliver’s room (when Oliver is elsewhere) or in the play room… a.k.a. the kitchen.

Sometimes it bums me out that he sleeps in the kitchen. Other times I think, hey Barack Obama grew up in an apartment; his wife’s whole family lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and they certainly did well for themselves. Look at Michael Douglas’s son; he is facing a 10 year prison sentence, and his mother is selling their 29 million dollar home. So, the physical structure in which a child grows up doesn’t mean that much… as long as they have some structure over their head.

I digress. This is about a crib. And here is my husband making a cameo as… my husband.

Lost Archive

I wish my dad was the way he was just a few years ago. In a short time of assisted living, he has put on weight and has become far less active. It was not an ideal choice, but after a health scare a couple of years ago, we thought this was the best place for him. When Vivien was younger, she was always game about visiting him. And the entire of the population of the place lights up when little kids or babies come to call.

But as she has gotten older, sometimes she doesn’t want to go. I understand it. I remember being a tad freaked by some of the people who lived with my grandma near the end of her life, and I was teenager. But my dad is with it and a visit from us really brightens his day.

My strategy is to act like it’s nothing at all to go to a place with lots of old people, some of whom are out of their tree. I always act like it’s the same as visiting any friend; this will be fun. Fortunately they have cookies and two fountains. And now I have a new helper: my dad’s typewriter.

Sure, I remember learning to type on a machine very similar to this one when I was in high school, but to Vivien, it’s an exciting and wondrous discovery: a machine that she can create letters with. And as she is now learning letters, it keeps her occupied. She had never seen a typewriter before. It helps her be engaged a bit with my dad’s environment instead of it being a chore to visit him, a feeling I am trying to keep at bay.

It’s probably how I felt when I saw my Georgia grandma’s sewing machine with a foot peddle. Necessities of one generations are a toy to the next. Her home seemed a tad exciting.  But the ice tea and fried chicken were also a draw.

Santa, Finally

This was the first Christmas Vivien was okay with Santa. I don’t blame her for being less than excited to sit on a strangers warm lap, but it did feel like a little victory that she was good with old Saint Nick this year. Notice how she was at 15 months when I first tried to get her to sit with Santa.  No go.


This year she went with her best friend and a week later took this picture with her cousin Lily.

She told me she would not have done it alone. “I’m brave with my friend.”

But let’s be real, the ’09 Santa was a much better Santa than the ’06 one. She can spot a phoney, phoney.

Back in the Saddle

Oy, that time of year. When the world falls in love?

When everyone gets present?

When you get dressed up and go to a fancy dinner?

No, the time of year you try to find your behind again. The time when you get back in the groove of preparing lunch the night before so you aren’t caught flat footed in the morning. The time when you once again have to make sure everyone-yourself included- gets to bed at a decent time so you can get out the door.

It’s post-vacation hustle.

I’m going to be honest: this is how I look right now.

Actually, now that I see it and knowing I was every couple of hours with Rex due to his stuffy nose and my husband didn’t help at all due to his stuffy nose (and early appearance on local TV to promote his cookbook), and I have no make up and need my roots done, don’t think I look that bad.

I did manage to get a mani/pedi before the real world slapped me across the face like a big, wet sock, but the hair has to be dealt with. I’m playing catch up with this site as well. Web traffic is a crawl over the holidays, so I was blogging light. Now, I have toget my video camera humming, my fingers tapping. I have to decide whether I park Vivien in front of a cartoon to get something done or stay up later and write then. Normal mommy management.

Okay, quick story about how kids can make you feel like crap but still crack you up.

A couple of nights ago Vivien announced “Mommy, you are old.”

“Vivien, that isn’t a nice thing to say.”

With her arms outstretched, “Sorry, mommy, but look at you.”

“Vivien, it’s not nice to say someone is ugly, fat, or old.”

“Oh, mommy, you are pretty, but you are old.”  (Notice she didn’t say I was slim, but we try to avoid body comments in front of people who can grow up to have eating disorders. We’ll leave that to mom.)

“Vivien, that is not nice.”

“Mommy, look at you.” She said as she grabbed my arm.” My arm is not wrinkly, but due to my pregnancy rash, I still have red marks and tender skin.

“Are you saying I look old because of my red marks? Because Oliver has some red marks, and he is much younger than me.”

Like how mature I was? I threw my teenage stepson under the bus. Fortunately, he laughed at it. Didn’t matter.

“Mommy, you are old.”

And you are going back to school.

What’s With 4 o’ clock?

I really love spending the morning with my son. It’s easiest if Vivien is in school, but even if there is a day off, and I have both of them and no other adult around, I’m fine. I’m like, come on, look at these cuties! I love being with them!

UNTIL 4pm.

Sometimes I can feel that feeling coming on about 3:30. The voice inside of me that says, “Can someone else hold this kid for a minute?” I rarely have my spouse here at that time so that is why I use most of my nanny dollars for later afternoon early evening. And the strange thing is if I am alone with the kids at that time and strange thing happens, around 6:30/7p.m.


Of course it was hell when Vivien was colicky at that time. But they can be just as they have been earlier in the day, but I feel antsy, more anxious, and feeling of, “Why didn’t I make plans?” comes over me. Why didn’t we go over to my mom’s? Why didn’t I invite a friend for dinner? Why didn’t I post a neon sign on my front door asking for people to talk to me?

I’m lucky. In a pinch I can pack them up and go to their daddy’s restaurant. Not as easy with two, but I’ve done it, and it’s a life saver. I beckon a waiter, “Please talk to me.”

As much as I would love a big house, I can’t leave the urban density. Think I would feel more lonely.

Well, I guess I could live anywhere… till 4pm.

School Daze

So, I’ve started visiting schools for Vivien for kindergarten next year. I’m only looking at public schools. Even pre-Madoff we were always go to go public for elementary. I don’t know why… guess we love rusty water fountains, or maybe paying $25,000 for kindergarten seemed a little outlandish even when we could have. And in LA one needs to save the pennies for high school. The school in our area is considered good, but in LA there are also magnets, charters, open enrollments. Basically, through a ton of parental involvement, some crappy schools have become good ones, and there is more choice than years ago.

Okay, so question: am I only the only one who gets kind of sad and or anxious when looking at schools? I think it’s twofold for me. 1) I start worrying about making the bell as if I was the little kid again. And 2) I am seeing some good schools, and while I’m excited for Vivien, I’m sad for what I didn’t have. My schooling was a tad chaotic. I went to a few, and I think there was less structure and fostering of various talents than there could have been.

Was that diplomatic enough?

I also had a yucky time in 1st grade, which, kid you not, bothers me to this day. I also feel like a bit of dumb dumb sometimes because of holes in my education. And there is nothing like having kids to point this out. After 5th grade when I offered Oliver help with his homework, he began to respond with what I can only describe as a smirk.

“No, that’s okay” when he really thought, “From you?  Are you kidding?”

And my handwriting does look like that of a serial killer. I left traditional school after 2nd grade. At that point we had learned cursive for the first half of the alphabet. I went on to go through Lord of the Flies academy after that, so I never properly learned the other half. There are other gaps as well. On the good side, I did gain a lot of sass, which is pretty much what I have run on since.

It’s something I didn’t think about when becoming a parent, how putting my kids in school would make me wish I could have an education Mulligan (for the golfers out there).  But of course I can’t do it over and only hope I chose correctly for my kids.

Uh, we really have to be there by 8:05?

Flu Flew By

So, now we aren’t sure the flu fairy did visit us. And by flu I mean REGULAR flu, NOT Swine Flu. Vivien tested positive for a sinus infection. She was only droopy for 36 hours, so I’m inclined to think it was not the flu. As when I had it a few years ago I was on my back… and not in a good way. The nurse said she should still finish the Tami Flu. I felt a little bad since it would give her little tummy aches.

By the way, found the best way possible to get her to take it. I put it in one of those plastic 2 oz containers that people give formula to babies in. Mix it with lemonade, cover with the lid. Then if possible go out to a public place and put a bright straw in the container. Taste isn’t terrible, straw is fun and less resistance in public. When we went to breakfast one morning it was a breeze. Then bribes are at the ready too.  “When you are done you can have a cupcake!”

I realize Swine flu is not the same as polio circa 1946, but I’m a little bent to find out a TA at school had told other parents that Vivien had had Swine flu. I was tipped off by another parent, so I said straight out to the kind TA “Vivien did not have swine flu; we don’t even think she had regular flu. Please don’t say that.”

Oh, okay.

Let’s get our communicable diseases right.

By the way, thanks to all who reminded my sleep-deprived brain about my pack and play. It is working out so well. Even though a few nights a week we still have to make and eat dinner, clean the dishes, get last-minutes snacks, make Viv’s lunch by 730 or 8 so I can put the PnP in the “playroom” and get Rex down to sleep. I even figured out where the power cord is for my monitor so it can’t “conk” out.

See what getting some sleep can do? I feel giddy. I’m so rested. I still nurse him when he wakes up at 1. Yes, partly because by then I look and feel as if I have had implants, but after the nights I’ve had for 8 months, waking up once feels like a gift. And I do miss him.

Sleeping, Viv back at school. Who knows what I can accomplish now! I even took a shower!