Tantrums, Part 1

I was just speaking to my dad. He said his weekend was about air conditioning (it’s been hot and smokey in LA) and the funeral ( Ted Kennedy’s). I said, “Me too!” We hung on the phone with each other for about 30 minutes during the wake Friday night. We have divergent political views, but my dad and I love history and politics and it’s hard not to feel connected to the Kennedys. We were critiquing some of the speeches and who moved us the most. Orin Hatch,charming, Biden, throws his heart on the table, Sen. Culver, very funny (sidebar: during the funeral Saturday morning Ted Jr. won the weepy award. Touching!)

Some of the commentators have been saying that some of the Kennedy’s associates might ask themselves now, “What would Teddy do?”

When I was watching it all, I just wished I had been invited to sail with him. Looks so cool. (Growing up a middle class kid in Culver City we didn’t have a family sport. Wait, I take that back. Figuring out where to go to eat for dinner and having a fight over the one good seat in the family room while “Love Boat” was one, that was sport.) But knowing me, I probably would have yakked.

In my own life as a mother I sometimes say, “What would mommy do?” Thankfully I can ask her. So, this week a special two parter of Morency, my mom.

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.

Motherhood Ages You Like the Presidency

Spent some extra time in the editing room for this one.

Ironic having aging and presidency in the title after the death of the last patriarch of the Kennedys. But am i the only one that has noticed this phenom? Other than smoking and having Irish skin, I don’t know of anything that can age you more quickly than being president or being a mom. Another reason to have a woman president, what if one person were both!

Though I think it’s the early years… and months… that really do it to a gal. And waging wars we should have never entered into, that can really deepen the lines in the crows feet… and the soul.

Shhh, Mommy’s Watching Tributes

Ted Kennedy’s passing is the kind of event that makes me want to just park myself in front of the tube and take in the tributes and old news footage. The great speeches, the sad face at funerals, the neck brace after his greatest moral failure. Only to be punctuated by reading articles on line and in the paper. But as a mother one rarely gets to do that. But I did get a bit of it… yippee (hate to say yippee around a death, but there it is). Rex took the longest nap of his young life, and Vivien was happily playing at her neighbor friends.

Then I heard that Domminck Dunne died. Dunne and Kennedy seem so different, but they had a terrible common thread. Both of their lives were marked by the murder of at least one close family member. I always enjoyed reading Dunne’s essays in Vanity Fair. Great, compelling dish. His interest in court cases and crime took root because of his daughter Dominique’s murder (and the short sentence given her boyfriend/killer). (Sidebar: My husband knew the man who killed Dunne’s daughter Dominique. They worked together many years ago. Which is a whole other weird tale of someone who can seem normal and then so thoroughly snap.)

Dunne will be Farrah to Ted Kennedy’s MJ though. The next week will be be dominated by Ted Kennedy’s passing. And of course it makes me think how his brothers would have lived to be gray-haired elder statesman as well if only…
Creative Commons License photo credit: bradleygee

When I was eating up the Michael Jackson coverage I could simply say to Vivien, “He was a famous singer,”  and she got that that was somehow special or important. Today when Vivien came home and was wanting my attention and I said, “But Vivien, one minute. Ted Kennedy died. He was a senator; his brother was a president.” I didn’t say, “His family was iconic, tragic, troubled, great, and we all wanted to be invited to the Compound.”  I don’t think she would have gotten that.

I don’t think she knows what a Senator is.

But she has to learn one day.

Momversation: Will Flu Shots Make Your Child Sick?

This is a major health issue. BUT get a load of my TV make up! I shot this right after I came home from taping “The Fashion Team,” which meant I had the pro make up. I think it looks good except the false eye lashes are too much for online vids.

Okay, I JUST got Rex’s 6-month shots. His doctor told me that yes, we should all get the swine flu vaccine in October, and we will. This vid was shot last week when I was still like… mmm peaches are nice this season… swine what??

I think I have rarely gotten a flu vaccine, but when I was a single gal I was not so concerned with it… although real bona fide flu is AWFUL. But I would NEVER want to make my kiddos sick, so sign me up.

Sidebar: I took Rex by myself to the doctor since Mark was still on driving restrictions (just lifted yesterday). Rex cried so hard he wouldn’t even nurse. A first for either of my children. I finally just picked him up and walked him out and brought him home. Poor lamb. I almost cried myself like I did the first few times Viv had her shots. But I have learned to sack up and not make it about ME. Got to be tough. Oh, but poor lamb. 🙁 He has been very tender today.

More Than Half of the Sky

For anyone who missed the NY Times Sunday magazine, boy, was it an eye opener. Nicholas Kristof, who I love following on Twitter, and his wife Sheryl WuDunn have written a book called Half of the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. In it, they say human rights for women is the paramount moral challenge of this century. Here is the excerpt they had in the magazine. Now, they aren’t talking about Title IX or maternity leave. All important things, but they are writing about the need to address the severe brutality and even murder that women and young girls face in many developing nations.
Creative Commons License photo credit: annrkiszt

A lot of the horrors I have read before, but there are still more doozies. Awful. And some of the solutions are so easy, micro-lending. It’s very humbling to read their work. I was raised a feminist, but it’s easy to go about life and not deal with how horribly women are treated in many parts of the world. There is growing recognition that if you improve the lot of women you improve the society at large. That’s why I say it’s MORE than half the sky. Also, in the essay, they say men of the developing nation they don’t spend money as wisely as women do. If a women gets $5 she will buy a mosquito tent so her babies don’t get malaria; they guy uses the $5 for drink.

The whole magazine had great stuff, including a good article by Lisa Belkin (who guests on Momversation with me) about how in the days of suffrage, wealthy women did not support women (I would guess it was because they didn’t control the purse strings), but now wealthy women are supporting women’s causes.

I’m going to investigate the best way to effect change in this regard… knowing I’m distracted, selfish, and have a short attention span. Maybe finding a place to donate to a micro-lending organization. Let me know if you have any ideas.

The New Yorker

There is a lot in pop culture about how it’s really better no to fit in. From “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” to “Revenge of the Nerds” we are sold that though it may hurt it’s really better to be the iconoclast. And granted I have comforted myself with this at times… even recently.Some moms on the playground had a bee in their bonnet about an altercation with another mom.  And I said, “Hey, I’ll confront her, ’cause I don’t care if people like me anymore; I feel cranky.” Which only half true. I do feel cranky, but we all want to be liked and fit in.

Also, one wants to stand out for positive attributes. In junior high there was one small clique of girls who always had perfect hair. Cute french braids that held up the sides of their hair. Perfectly places barrettes. I looked like a mess as did my close friends. I use to jam a hair clip in my hair in the hopes of it looking swell; it always sagged, and by second period I had shoved it into the outside pocket of my back pack. Sad thing is, I’m still lousy at styling my hair! Oh, God… (sigh).

Anyway, sometimes you try to fit it, but in your heart, you don’t.

And Now for Some Good News…

(Sound of trumpet!) Yesterday we received a copy of Mark’s new cook book, “New Classic Family Dinners.”

It will come out in October. But it is already available for order on Amazon, and Borders and is going to carry it as well. Hard to sell books these days, so this is all great news. This is the first we have seen of it. It was VERY EXCITING. As many of you probably know it takes a LONG time to write a cook book (See my video about Kate Gosselin’s cookbook). A REAL cook book. Then once the lengthy part is done (he and his collaborator writing the book for over a year), it’s in production for quite a while.

For all those moments when nothing happens, when a day blurs into the other, it’s nice to have a day where one finally sees the fruits of ones labor. When we first started talking about this book, I was pregnant with Vivien and it was two homes ago. What a journey!

When it comes out, I have to have some kind of virtual book signing party on Cool Mom. Uncork the champagne and play “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.”


Yesterday I was a last-minute guest on “Show Biz Tonight” on CNN Headline. Making jokes about Michele Obama wearing short shorts. Lemme say I was in the zone. I had so many one liners. The producer said, “I’ve been interviewing you for years, and you’ve never been this funny.”

Hmm, what did I say??

“Baby’s got back.”

“Why shouldn’t she wear shorts?  What are mom’s suppose to wear, dumpy mom jeans? No, her husband can do that.” (call back to baseball incident)

“Her shorts are in protest to the GOP’s opposition to the public option. The more they protest, the shorter the shorts will get.”

“Shorts-gate is such a big deal, Woodward and Bernstein are getting back together and…” (Can’t remember the joke. I work in the moment and don’t write it down, but I think that one was funny.)

I think it helped I did a double espresso beforehand. And I had already had an audition for a mom makeover show. First time auditioning in almost two years. More about that if anything comes of it…

Momversation: Would You Ever Spy on Your Babysitter?

There are a few people I would like a hidden camera on… Daniel Craig in a swimming pool, George Clooney in the shower. But let’s face it, I don’t want to see anyone’s unguarded moments.

I mean how much nose picking does one really want to view?

Watch “Would You Ever Spy on Your Babysitter?” on Momversation.

Our Upside Down World

Imagine saying this… “Please don’t load the dishwasher; I’ll do it.”

At 5 a.m.: “No, don’t get up; I’ve got the baby, you sleep.”

These are the kind of things coming through my abnormally kind mouth the last 24 hours as Mark recuperates from his eye surgery. We went back to UCLA this morning at the doctor told him had he not had the surgery it would have been “catastrophic.” Yikes.

Happily Mark is not in any pain. It itches but not super bad. When the nurse took off the patch at the examination he said, “How does it look, honey?”

“You know that last scene in the original Rocky where he is screaming for Adrian? Like that.”

So he can’t leave the house for a week. He can move around, but no lifting, straining, bending over, gardening (there goes that herb garden I was looking forward to).

I was pretty freaked looking at his eye. Our vulnerability can hit us at times and make me shaky. Then you get over your fear and the other self takes over.

We had some nice, mellow moments at home today. Since he has to slow the pace down I said he better be careful ’cause without activity he could blimp up, and I’m not into being married to a big fattie.

He has been watching a lot of TV, and he did make some applesauce for Rex, which he loved. Ahhh.


Okay, is he better yet?

Yes, he did coach me on how to make a sauce for the petrale sole I was making, but I am so used to him not being here. We just had a fight about the appropriate way to reprimand Vivien, or not at all… which was my vote. And Nosy Nellie decided to update my software thus causing me to lose things I had open on my computer.

I felt like a teenager in a sense saying, “Leave my stuff alone!!” He thinks if the software update thing is bouncing it means immediate action.

Okay, watching “Top Chef: Masters” finale with him was fun. He was really intense. We were both glad that Rick Bayless won. His food is incredible, and we personally really like him.

“I wish I could email him and congratulate him” Mark said.

“You can.” I said without thinking

“But I can’t read.” Oh, right.

I can do it for you. Group hug.