The Groupon I’ve Waited Her Entire Life For

There is a hole in my soul in the shape of a professional family portrait.

When Posey hit the three-month mark, the six-month mark, her first birthday… I let each milestone pass without commemorating it with a classic “playing around in leaves” or “swinging child by the hands” or “fun day in the park” or “matching turtlenecks” photo shoot. But I wanted to. If we are friends on Facebook– and you have a child– there is a 100% chance that I have stared longingly at your family album, googled the photographer and spent hours browsing their portfolio. But I haven’t pulled the trigger. I haven’t found that special someone who I feel confident will get that magic shot where one or all of is not making this face:

And then, I stumbled across this deal on Groupon today. Whaaaaaaat? An in-studio session with a world-renowned portrait artist who’s shot Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and this Mellencamp album cover, for crying out loud?

YES, PLEASE. THIS IS THE MAN FOR THE JOB. Pretty sure he’ll be able to get one where Beef’s eyes aren’t closed. This is like buying a Groupon for Richard Lewis to craft you your own tailor-made joke about your own personal insecurities. Which, Groupon, would be a pretty kick-ass offer.

So what should we wear for the big shoot? Bolo ties, or no bolo ties?

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How to Fly With a Toddler In Your Lap

January 20th, 2013. 11:05 a.m.  San Diego International Airport.

“Well, that was easy,” Beef said, “because we prepared.”

Hmm… shall we back up a wee bit?

Posey’s first flight was over the summer, when we schlepped her all the way to London. At the time, it seemed like the Hardest Thing Any Parent Has Ever Done Ever. Looking back at the circumstances, she was a non-crawling sack of potatoes who slept almost the entire time in a SPECIAL BED ATTACHED TO THE WALL, kind of like those sleep chambers in Aliens:

Piece of crumpet.

Flash forward the moment we decide to take her to California. And not just anywhere! Let’s make it a Grand Tour, shall we? San Diego! Orange County! Santa Monica! Pasadena! Brigadoon!  After all, we did okay on the last trip, right?  The one when we stayed in a gorgeous home with great friends who also had a baby and an extra set of all the stuff that comes with a baby?  That went smashingly!

This trip, we have to pack a car seat.  And a pack and play.  And a stroller.  And her mobile, because there is only one song on the planet earth she will fall asleep to.  And this trip, the Squiggliest Baby On Earth has to sit in “our” laps for four hours and nineteen minutes.

So here’s how “we” did it:

Step 1: Ask your parents to get up at 5 a.m. and come with TWO CARS to fit your luggage and yourselves comfortably.

Step 2: Oversleep and try to get past the fact that you are flying to the land of movie stars with hair that hasn’t been washed in two days.  Two days in a row that you worked out and then didn’t shower, because that’s why the alarm is set for 5:00 a.m. on the phone with no juice left.

Things To Check as Baggage:

  • Car Seat: My pediatrician recommended bringing our own car seat. After all, you don’t know where those rental car ones have been, although my first guess is probably in the back seat of a rental car.  Luckily, they make a special bag for the occasion, which I was able to borrow from a friend during a Big Trip to the Suburbs.  It was a lifesaver.  Car seats can be checked for free on United, so stuff that sucker full. Diapers, wipes, and the things that always takes up too much room in the suitcase so thusly I never bring them on vacation: running shoes.  Maybe I hate this car seat bag.
  • Pack and Play: Perhaps you remember my fondness for Ziploc baggies? They make one big enough to protect an entire foldable crib!!!!!!!

Things To Carry On:

  • Stroller: Get a gate check ticket and ride that thing to the plane door.
  • The Mom Tote: Wait, yours isn’t an oversized pink L.L. Bean customized “Oprah’s Book Club” tote bag circa the East of Eden re-launch, 2003? That’s weird. Mine sat in my closet for a decade– and finally, it was Big Pink Tote’s time to shine.  I spent a week stocking it with the following essentials:
  • Laptop
  • DVDs for laptop (Mickey Mouse, Sesame Street*)
  • Tiny child headphones I went to a special store for
  • Pre-chewed Board book, Posey’s fave
  • Talking Minnie Mouse, Posey’s other fave
  • Little plastic blocks to clackity-clack together, Posey’s other-other fave
  • 3 boxes of Horizon shelf-stable milk**
  • An entire tube of puffs
  • 3 baby food pouches
  • Enough wipes for the entire plane
  • A day’s worth of diapers
  • Baby B’Air toddler vest (Really? Really.)
  • 2 Cliff Bars, Gum & Goldfish***
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bottled water

*I bought this to prepare her for the Sesame-land at Sea World, but instead I got a whole lotta Erykah Badu. I’m pretty sure there’s no Badu World. 

** These don’t count as liquid, so you can bring them through security as long as you consent to a pat down. Got that? Juice box = pat down. 

***So when Beef asks, “What do we have to eat?” there is food. And when he asks, “Do we have gum?” the answer is “yes.”

Dramatic re-enactment. But I was wearing those same jeans.

Dramatic re-enactment. But I was wearing those same jeans.

Our seats are in the very last row.  The kind that don’t recline back. Middle and window. Sweatpants on the aisle looks hungover and ready to nap. Posey starts to freak. I distract her with the board book and Hemisphere Magazine and the barf bag for just long enough until the momentum of take-off catches her fancy, at which point a bottle gets shoved into her maw to protect her ears from popping.  Once we’re up and see two girls go to the bathroom, we ask Sweatpants if we can get out to go change her already twelve-ton diaper. Two Mr. Meanie flight attendants to tell us to sit back down. Sweatpants lets us back in. The fleeciness of his pants makes him agile like a serpent. The seatbelt light dings off.  This time, Mr. Meanie says, “You know there’s no changing table on board this aircraft.” No prob. We change her in our seats and leave a little parting gift on board when we leave.  (For the return trip, I doubled up on diapers.  It worked; she survived.)

Back in our row, the Giant Business Man in front of me reclines his seat into Posey’s face. I don’t stop her from kicking the seat back for hours, because if it bothered him, he is welcome to move into the empty seat next to him that he’s using to keep his coat and newspaper. Strapped into her red vest that somehow makes me feel safer and better about life in general, Posey watches two and a half hours of Mickey Mouse until she falls asleep on my chest for the first time in about a year.  At first, it feels nice.  And then, she feels like a hot lava rock in my lap and I pray that the wet I feel is my sweat and not her pee. Beef enjoys watching Bradley Cooper pay the steepest of steep prices to pay in The Words.

Bad Writer!

Bad Writer!

When it’s time to land, my little traveler gets mad that there’s no Mickey to watch, so talking Minnie will have to do. And she does.

I wrestle with her down the aisle as we wait to de-plane from forty rows back, and I’m relieved to reunite with our stroller, which I’m pleased to say looks like it had a truly excellent time visiting the coal mine.

January 20th, 2013. 11:05 a.m.  San Diego International Airport.

“Well, that was easy,” Beef said, “because we prepared.”

Important to note

family

I’m 34.  I’m married, have a baby, have a husband, have a household to maintain, have dreams and aspirations for myself and my family.

I’m self-sufficient.

I don’t suffer fools gladly.

I am great at wrapping gifts.

But at the end of the day, the thing that makes me the proudest…

Is that my mom and dad believe in me, and always will.

Up All Night

So, I’m kind of up all night over Up All Night.  If you don’t know what it is, it’s a TV show.  But not just any TV show– it’s a sitcom that started out with this premise: What happens when a former cool-girl daytime talk show producer has a baby and tries to juggle her work and family?  

I really wanted to know the answer to that question.  For personal reasons.  So did a lot of my co-workers.  In fact, when they released an over four-minute trailer for the show in anticipation of its premiere, we watched all four minutes and forty-two seconds.   That’s like an eternity in online video commitment.  We chuckled as our heroes, Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, grappled with their baby’s super human strength.  We howled over their “who slept less last night” fight.  We emailed it to each other.  We said, “This is gonna be so awesome.”

Then the show started.  It was okay.  It continued.  It was less okay.  And also, what about the TV show you people work at?  When does the fact that you work at a talk show and not a paper supply company, a late night sketch show or a diner factor in?  It didn’t– and then they got renewed for Season Two– by the skin of Maya Rudolph’s pretty teeth.

In Season Two, there was no more talk show.  So now, not only is this now just kind of a regular show about people, but it has effectively USED UP THE PREMISE for, oh, I don’t know– anyone else who might want to develop a show about working at a talk show.  It was sad.  Feelings were hurt.  I binge-ate uncooked spaghetti noodles.

For those of us who care, just adding Jack from Will & Grace playing “Older Jack” from Will & Grace and also a random brother aren’t the only changes.  The show’s switching to a multi-cam format, which means it’s now going to be “Taped In Front of a Live Studio Audience.”  Just like Two and a Half Men!  And Whitney!  Oy.

And then, there’s this news.  Series creator (and former SNL writer, so she’s kinda Liz Lemony) Emily Spivey is “departing.” And here I am, blogging about this show I don’t watch much any more and a woman I don’t know.  At midnight.  And this is why:  I feel like Up All Night is that friend you know deep down is so, so super-awesome, but she can’t get her act together and just keeps going down the same dead-end path and dating the same loser guys.  No, Sweet Friend, getting bangs or switching to a multi-cam format are NOT the answer– and now that Emily Spivey’s leaving, well, that’s pretty much like your own mom just gave up on you.  Whatever you do, Up All Night, don’t have another baby– that fixes nothing.

I only say this because I care.  And also, Happy 2013!

A Toothbrush

I have to be sad on here one more time.  I am still grieving for those parents.  I keep thinking about how heartbreaking mundane tasks around the house must be now as they find reminders in the usual places.   Like, what happens when they find their child’s dirty laundry in the hamper?  A pair of shoes by the door, a favorite box of cereal in the cupboard?  What about their little toothbrushes on the sink?

I wrote a reaction piece for the HuffPo, and you can read it here.  This Christmas, I’m counting my blessings and filing away each new memory with supreme gratitude.

More Gifts for Stay-At-Home Moms: Kitchen Edition

I’ve had a lot of traffic from people searching for this topic, so I’ve got a few more ideas.  I know the old cliché– never give your wife a toaster.  And yet, this list includes a toaster.  So take these suggestions with a grain of fine sea salt, because (as a stay-at-home-mom myself) I might be mad if Beef gave me cooking stuff.  Like he was expecting me to make him dinner every night or something.

Oh, wait.

Breville Panini Press, $99.95

Make regular grilled cheese into fancy grilled cheese with this thing!  Once one of Oprah’s Favorite Things, it became my Favorite Wedding Gift (thanks, Tom).  I also use it to give meat those Sizzler-worthy meat-lines.

Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender (Shop around for best price; this isn’t it)

I have my mother-in-law’s on (permanent?) loan with the expectation I’ll make homemade baby food.  I have, but Posey prefers to eat cat food off the floor, so I prefer using this to make soup with.  Don’t have any soup recipes?  Keep reading…

Williams-Sonoma Collection: Soup and Stew, $11.96

I don’t know about you, but my favorite cooking magazine is the William-Sonoma catalogue.  Everything looks good, half the food is already made for you (hello, Christmas morning croissants!) and the subscription is free.  I checked this book out at the library once and immediately bought a copy.  Which reminds me, I once worked with someone who asked me, “Ooooh!  What’s– The Library?” Like it was some awesome new lounge.  Wait ’til she hears about this amazing new dinner spot I discovered, called “My Couch!”

Some Things I Love About Her

  • That she laughs like Beavis and Butthead: “Heh, heh, heh.”
  • How her nose and eyes wrinkle up into a nerd-face when she’s pleased
  • The way she snores like a drunken sailor, so loud we can hear it through the closed door
  • When she slaps her hand on the highchair when she wants more
  • That her babbling is more like a caveman grunting
  • When she rubs her eyes when she’s tired and sticks her tongue out when she’s trying, just like a cartoon
  • The way she dips her face into every bath and gets a Richard Branson bubble-goatee
  • How she opens her mouth up really wide,  like a baby bird, when I’m feeding her food on a spoon
  • That she claps when she hears applause on TV
  • The fact that her mouth has run along the entire parameter of this home like it was one giant envelope
  • When I head the clatter of a pacifier hitting the ground followed by “Uh. Ooooooh” coming from her room
  • How she extends her leg extra-long like a ballerina, her toes hitting my nose, so I’ll say “peee-you” one more time
  • That’s she’s happiest when she’s holding a fist full of cat hair
  • That her favorite song is “The Transylvania Twist” from Spookley the Square Pumpkin
  • The look on her face when she crawls over to me and tugs on my pant leg so I’ll scoop her up.

CTA’s Be Stroller Savvy! Campaign: Really?

Hey, CTA campaign planners?  Take a long stroll off a short El platform.

The CTA started passing out fliers today to stroller-pushing commuters on the city’s busses and trains, reminding them to “be considerate” when joyriding around the city during rush hour/nap time/the sixth circle of hell.  Here is their official policy:

Children in open strollers are welcome on CTA, however we encourage parents to be considerate of other customers and adhere to these rules when traveling with a stroller.

  • Keep strollers clear of aisles and doorways aboard buses and trains.
  • Seniors and customers with disabilities have priority use of the Priority Seating area aboard buses and trains. If these seats are not in use, open strollers may be parked in this area. This will help you to avoid blocking the aisle. Please yield this space if a customer with disabilities, a senior, or a person using a mobility device wishes to board. On buses, you may request use of the access ramp or lift to help you board and exit.
  • Please fold your stroller in the event that a bus or train becomes crowded, in order to make room for others. Be aware that in the event that a bus or train is crowded, a CTA employee may ask you to fold your stroller or wait for another vehicle. Please follow their instructions. Also, during certain periods of high ridership, we may require that all strollers be folded before you board.

I heard on the news this “refresher” came about because of commuter complaints.  Listen, I’ve taken Posey on the train in her stroller.  Several times.  And I’d like to start handing out my own flier that outlines the following:

Don’t Be An Inconsiderate Jerk! (aka, You Were Once a Baby, Too!)

  • PLEASE refrain from peeing in the elevators; I spend enough time changing dirty diapers without having to ride inside a giant moving one to get down to the platform.
  • Do not push in front of me to get on first.  You’re only making sure I will be blocking you when you have to get off before me.
  • If I am unfortunately blocking the door and am in clear violation of the policy, MOVE OVER so I can get out of the way instead of bearing down on your spot to prove a point to me.  I know you can feel my angry glare.
  • When you pretend to not see me almost fall over for the ninth time because the stroller handle is not the same as the safety bar handle thingies, slide your hand over one scootch.
  • When you see me crying because after two transfers and 75 minutes of ride time, the elevator at my destination is broken, please offer a hand instead of smirking at me like it serves me right for having a baby.

I’m offended by their flyer.  It’s not easy navigating the city with a baby.  I haven’t opened a door with any body part besides my butt in over a year.  Although they are saying they “welcome” us to ride, it’s pretty clear they mean the opposite.  If I was “asked” to fold up my stroller with one hand while holding a non-walking baby, there is a 100% probability it would end in disaster.  The people who complained are probably the same people who never offer visibly pregnant women or elderly grandmas their seats, either.  Sheesh.

7 Reasons Not to Hate Me for “7 Things On Mom’s Holiday To-Don’t List”

holidaytodont

I am so blessed and proud that my Huffington Post Parents piece was not only “bigger” news than Kate’s pregnancy yesterday, but that it was– and is still– featured on their homepage today.  The comments, however, are kind of surprising me.  I know, people saying mean things on the internet? Well, I never!!!!  My intent with the post was to poke fun at the pressure parents put on themselves to produce (and yes, PRODUCE– parenting is no different from pulling off The Oscars, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians or Wheel of Fortune) the Perfect Christmas for their kids.  I, more than anyone I know, am guilty of planning things out in my head one way… only to completely fall apart when things don’t go according to plan.

This happens a lot.

Writing about my personal life has taught me to toughen up and not take too much personally– even though people calling me a lazy mom or suggesting that I drink a lot is pretty personal.  And only half true.  But I know what these people don’t– I’m a great mom, and Mom Who Loves Christmas.  I can prove it!  Would a Bah Humbug Mom go to Home Goods every other day to Ooh and Ahh over the seasonal hand towels and bundle up their daughter for a joyous six-minute stroll through Zoo Lights before the reindeer poop hit the roof?  Here’s the “real story” behind the 7 Things on Mom’s Holiday To-Don’t List.

  1. Bake. No, I’m not hosting a cookie exchange.  Yes, I did make cookies with my mom growing up.  And they were TERRIBLE.  Raw on the inside, burnt on the outside.  My mom is a lot of wonderful things, but she isn’t a baker.  So for me, the meaningful holiday memory is what my mom DIDN’T do– and I love her more for it.  Besides, I made Rice Krispie Treats last weekend, and Posey and I shared one together.  She liked it.  That counts, right?
  2. Make Martha Stewart crafty homemade gifts. I believe that there are lots of folks out there who are making gifts this year.  I also believe there is a .01% chance that you are one of them.
  3. Get a real Christmas tree.  My fake-ass cheap tree looks glorious.  It’s also my cat’s most favorite place on earth to sit beneath.  The baby is too young to care yet, but the cat is seriously at peace under that thing.  I’m also an excellent cat mom.
  4. Remember to light the candles on the first or even second night of HanukkahI looked it up.  Hanukkah starts at sundown this Saturday.  If there is an accident resulting in the baby getting singed, it’s on you.  A good mother doesn’t allow an open flame in their home.
  5. Watch Miracle on 34th StreetWhy would I watch this when the world has given me Blake Shelton’s Not-So-Family Christmas as an option? Why, I ask? (Side note: Yesterday, Beef mused aloud, “I wonder if there is going to be another Michael Buble Christmas special this year?”  A boy can dream.)
  6. Take a seasonal family photo.  Just last week, I got super-mad that we have no professional family portraits with Posey yet.  I saw so many leaf pile shots of my friends’ families frolicking– the kids all smiles, the moms all sassy in new boots– that I demanded my husband book us a session as my Christmas gift.  Then, we took Posey to get her photo with Santa.  I’m not going to say that Santa dropped her, but I’m not going to say that he didn’t.  She squirms a lot.  I think I’m going wait til I have a better guarantee I won’t get super-mad that we spend money on super-bad pictures. (PS– Didn’t people see the picture of us that accompanied the post?)
  7. Mail out holiday cards before December 26th. Fine.  Send me your address.  But I really will have to ask you for it again next year.

And to all of you nice people out there who’ve been writing me kind comments and emails:  Santa is sure to put you on his “nice” list this year! Thank you!

Grandpa Daycare now enrolling

Now enrolling for the Winter session of Grandpa Daycare! Experienced, professional Grandpa provides the following services:

  • Unlimited allowance of mustache and hair pullingSupervised cartoon-a-thons
  • Nonstop serenading of tunes from above-watched cartoons
  • All You Can Eat Cheerios from a well-worn Ziploc baggie in provider’s coat pocket
  • Constant text updates to parent from flip phone
  • Diaper changing 4-6 times per hour (*dirty diapers not guaranteed to end up in the diaper pail)
  • Wash ‘n Wear Service: Should baby ingest too many prunes and explode through two sets of clothes, Grandpa will spot launder and dry clothes with a hair dryer for no extra fee!
  • Love guaranteed to exceed all previous known measures

Tuition: Provider accepts payment in the form of unlimited toast and bottomless decaf.

Hurry, only one spot open!  All applicants required to be named “Posey.”