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Moving to Los Angeles ’ Category
Friday, March 15th, 2013
Emmett never stops. He is a tank, a brute of boundless energy. At his 1-year check-up the pediatrician, who has been with him since birth, reiterated again that my dude may need Occupational Therapy to find ways to Slow.Him.Down. He is the most active child she’s seen that’s not on the spectrum or that has any mental or health issues. Even changing his diaper has been a challenge since he was, oh, 5 months old. Thank god for his amazing temperament or I might consider selling him.
“You are going to have to run him twice a day. For at least an hour each time. He is the kind of kid who will need to be worn out. Every-single-day,” she said.
I pictured a horse let out to pasture. Or a dog during off-leash hours in the park. I then pictured Emmet’s face on both beasts. Yup. That’s my boy. I decided I needed to find an activity for us to do together. One that wasn’t awful. Or disastrous (like Fia’s ballet class).This time I was smarter. I decided on Toddler Gymnastics. I should have thought of it sooner, since Fia goes to the same gym. I know the coaches, the facility, the drill.
He was the youngest one but kept up with the best of them. He loved the trampoline the most. He giggled incessantly. Of course he wouldn’t sit still and wait his turn. I had to pull him away and run him (yes, my horse) until it was his time. He hated the balance beam. It took both me and the coach to try and hold him upright. He kept doing the “baby flop”–you know, when they go limp. I’m sure because it would take too much concentration to walk slowly. I had no time to stare at the clock or dream about my lunch like I did in other mommy and me classes. But that’s a good thing. I hate being bored.
I took him early and we left late. I really thought I “ran” him good. Then we came home and he slept for 30 minutes. Should I put up my For Sale sign yet? WTF??
Three nights this week he has shrieked off and on for 3 hours. Phil and I have taken turns going in when we can’t take it anymore. He’s not sick. He’s not teething. He just wants to be held. He is one strong-willed little dude. And he knows it. I think in a test of wills he will win. Actually he already has. But man, he’s so damn cute and snuggly at times. He knows just when to turn on the charm to keep that For Sale sign at bay.
You all know I am a sleep training guru, but even I know when to throw in the towel. Since he won in the cry-it-out category, last night we switched tactics. I went in on the first wail around midnight. In less than 20 seconds I put his paci back in and laid him down. I said in a fairly stern voice, “Emmett, it’s night time.” I closed the door. He didn’t peep until around 3 am. I did it again. He slept until 7:15.
I think he just needs reassurance that we are there. Even when he’s running he pauses and looks back to check that I’m still with him. I’m usually a few paces behind, sweating. I am soon going to need a cane. Boys. Men. It’s hard to keep up with them. They are needy little f–kers. But impossible to resist.
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active toddler, ballet class, CIO, cry it out, Ferber, gymnastics, hyperactive, mommy and me, music class, Occupational Therapy, Pediatrician, sleep training | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Fia Friday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles
Monday, February 25th, 2013
Just a quick note of thanks for all the well wishes on Phil’s movie, Wreck-It Ralph. Despite saying I thought we’d be home in sweats for the Oscars, we did rally and spent the evening at a small party with some of our closest friends. I was pretty bummed it didn’t win (and frankly really surprised), but only for a couple minutes.
That’s the thing with awards like this. Leading up to it, I really don’t pay much heed to the hoopla. But then the moment before they announce it, I throw myself into the game, hoping and praying. Then, if you get lucky, like we did at the Animation Awards (it won for Best Screenplay), you get this 30 seconds of pure euphoria; that jumping up and down, high-fiving feeling that comes along on rare occasions in life.
I was sooo hoping for that moment last night. We were squeezing each other’s hands. I couldn’t even look at the screen as the envelope was being opened. My other hand was over my eyes and the words kept repeating in my brain: Come on, say Ralph, say it, say it. Please!!! As much as we’ve both said it doesn’t matter, it is still such a dramatic moment. And you realize in that moment how much you really like–and want--to win. It’s f-cking awesome. At least for those 30 seconds before life goes back to normal. But alas, when the words “Brave” were muttered, my heart dropped. Temporarily.
Next time maybe we’ll get those 30 seconds. In the meantime, I will nurse my minor hangover, go to bed early tonight and feel grateful for what’s really important: Two healthy kids, our own good health, a lovely home, and good friends and family. That’s worth a lot more than a few seconds on cloud nine. (But dare I say, it would be kinda fun to have both?)
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Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
Okay folks. This Sunday is Oscar time. Do a good luck dance for Wreck-it Ralph. Preferably to Owl City’s When Can I See You Again. Unfortunately, Phil and I don’t get to go. Since it was nominated for Best Animated Picture, but not Best Screenplay, only the producer and director go.
For the Golden Globes it was the same thing. But we did get invited to the big CAA after party (where apparently the best sighting of the night was Bill Clinton). And guess what? We were L-A-M-E. As we sat on our couch feeding the kids–banana and macaroni smeared everywhere–both of us in our sweats (me greasy from my Thai massage I had earlier in the day in lieu of a manicure), watching the stars parade around, we slowly lost all motivation for going. Then when Brave won (WTF? We thought if it wasn’t Ralph, it would be Frankenweenie.) our night was sealed. We’d rather be in bed. Or with friends.
We had already booked a sitter, and our good friend Jenn Lee, who helped Phil write the movie, was going to the party with us. Earlier in the day we had discussed our dresses, what time we’d go, etc. We were set. I called her–even before Brave took the prize.
“Are you watching?” I asked.
“Yeah, I am,” she said with a bit of the same joie de vivre I had in my voice.
“How set are you on going to the party?”
“On a scale of 1-10, I’m at about a 2. In terms of not going.”
Me: (Sigh of relief.) I don’t have to shower after all. I can stay greasy.
We decided instead to meet at a local wine bar. One that reminded us former Brooklynites of our past stomping grounds. We three hadn’t gone out like that since we left the borough. We had a blast, drank too much, and celebrated not winning. It was like old times–before the Oscars were even on our radar.
Phil and Jenn met on their first day of Columbia Film School. He brought her home for lunch. I was unpacking our apartment. Phil and I had just driven a U-Haul from Minneapolis with all our possessions, plus two cats. Draino (found in a sewer) was loose and got stuck under the brake pedal just as Phil was crossing the George Washington Bridge. I was under the steering wheel, sweating, trying to pull Draino out. Fur was flying. It was a record heat of 103-degrees so it stuck to me like a lint brush. It was high drama. And thrilling. It was a month before September 11th. We were young(er), naive(er), and never planned on having kids. I made us turkey sandwiches. Then they went back to school.
Fast forward to this night at Bar Covell. Jenn and her 8-year old daughter are thriving out here. I have two babies who have turned my world upside down with love. We are all aware that we have “made it” in business terms. But we are equally aware of how blessed we are personally–and how sacred that is.
But back to the Oscars:
We decided for the Academy’s we had to rally. We would go to dinner while the awards were on. That way we’d already have momentum. Then we’d go straight to the party. I promised I wouldn’t get a massage since that just deflates all my energy.
So now Oscar night is fast approaching. The sitter is booked. The dress is picked out. And guess what? We aren’t invited to any official after party. HAAAA HAAA. The joke is truly on us, huh?
Oh well. Maybe we’ll sit in our sweats, pop some corn, and enjoy it from our couch. Win or lose, we’ll toast to the fact that we are even here, in this place and time… That we have two slumbering bits of perfection upstairs sleeping while we watch to see if a movie their Dad wrote–partially for them–gets an Academy Award.
My prediction–based on the winnings at the Producer Awards and the Animation Awards–is that Ralph will take the big prize. Even if it doesn’t we already hit the jackpot. Big time.
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babysitter, Clark Spencer, golden globes, Jenn Lee, nomination, nominations, Oscar, Owl City, Phil Johnston, Rich Moore, Wreck It Ralph | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Moving to Los Angeles
Thursday, January 24th, 2013
When we first moved to LA, loads of people suggested I put Fia in swim lessons. I was told everyone has pools and that we’d spend many a day in them. The idea of swimming lessons was both for her comfort in the water and my peace of mind. Not that she’d be in alone, but just knowing the basics of holding your breath, paddling, etc., would make the pool a more enjoyable–and safe—experience for us both.
Fast-forward a year and a half. I have been to exactly one, yes, ONE, pool date. However, I have invested 1400 minutes (5000 minutes if you count the time to the lessons and back) and gobs of money. And guess what? She still can’t swim. She can paddle about 3 strokes on her own with her face in the water. Certainly not enough to be considered “pool safe.”
Here’s the kicker: we both hate it. Every Monday morning as we make the trek to the Valley (we live in Los Feliz for those who know LA), she asks who her teacher will be (we’ve had to switch several times because she didn’t like some of them). Then she starts saying, “I don’t want to put my face in the water.” I try and convince her why water on her face is fun. I don’t mention that I, too, hate water on my face. Even raindrops. I cringe just thinking about it.
I also remember having swim lessons when I was about 8-years old. I remember all the kids jumping into the teacher’s arms and me standing there crying and afraid. I remember the teacher’s frustration with me as I simply refused. Granted, Fi is with an instructor one-on-one. And at this stage, there is no jumping into arms. I should mention it’s the Jim Herrick swim school. It’s a top-notch place and there is no part of me that thinks they aren’t doing the best job possible. There are also phases where Fia seems to enjoy it. So it’s not like I’ve dragged her kicking and screaming for 70 weeks. She does love the water when she’s with us (pictured above).
My question is: do I just cut my losses and consider it a “sunk cost” or do I forge ahead? The teachers keep saying she is really close to “getting it.” But I don’t want her to start hating it so much that the water becomes something fearful.
I was all ready to pull the plug until this past Monday. I took Emmett with me and we sat on the steps of the pool splashing around, getting soaked. He was loving it. We told Fia to show baby brother how to swim. She loves nothing better than being the boss and showing him how it’s done. Swimming was no exception. It was the most excited I’ve seen her in the pool in a long time. She did amazing too. The instructor suggested I bring him every week. It interrupts his naptime but that is the other option I’m debating.
Do any of you have any experience with this issue or any suggestions for me on how to proceed? If I get in the pool with Fia myself, 1) I have to get on a bathing suit. 2) I have to get water on my face. 3) I have to get Emmett a babysitter. (God forbid, judging from the backlash I received on that issue last week).
If I give up now, has it all been for naught or will some of this experience stay with her until she’s older and we try again?
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floaties, nanny, pool, pool party, pool safety, swim lessons, swimming, swimming pool, toddlers swimming, water, water danger | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving Mid Pregnancy, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
Friday, January 4th, 2013
I turned forty-whexianoehna (that’s a giant sneeze sound for “something”) over the holiday. Phil and I have a tradition of going to a museum on my birthday. One year, to gain perspective on how little I mattered in the scheme of the universe, we went to the Natural History Museum. We were living in New York and it was a time that I was questioning my purpose in life (pre-kids, clearly). Just walking through all those exhibits documenting civilizations past really did help pound home the idea that I’m just a blip. We all are. Depressing? Maybe. Or just a good way to stop taking yourself so seriously.
This year we were immensely enjoying our first “staycation.” We kept toying with the idea of going to San Diego for a night with the kids, or to Palm Desert. We couldn’t make a decision/commitment, so we just left everything loose (which resulted in the best week we’ve had in years).
Phil kept asking what I wanted to do for my birthday, but I remained noncommittal. I was having too much fun just “winging” it. On my birthday it was raining. Here’s how the day shaped up:
Me: “Hmm…what should we do today? It’s raining.”
Phil: “It’s not raining in Death Valley.”
An hour later we had packed up the kids and were heading off on a 5-hour road trip to one of the most extreme places on earth. We had booked the last hotel room at basically the only hotel in Death Valley: Furnace Creek. (They have a sister property down the road as well).
In case you didn’t know, Death Valley holds the record for the hottest place on earth (134-degrees back in July 1913). This time of year though, it’s chilly. As in 54-degrees or so. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is also their busiest. But by busy, that only means one hotel in a huge swath of desert. The hotel isn’t even that big. We didn’t fight RV’s for road space or gobs of tourists at the 3 restaurants. It was the perfect time to go.
A friend of mine asked, “How did you entertain kids in that place?”
For us, it was easy. We told Fia we were going on an adventure. We’ve done it before to other stranger places, like the Saltan Sea. Someday when she’s a teenager, she’ll probably roll her eyes and beg to stay home. But at this age, she is totally game and gets as excited as we do (though she doesn’t know over what). And Emmett, well, he is the easiest, most chill baby in the world. So we were golden.
On the way up we stopped in two ghost towns and explored.
By the time we arrived at the hotel it was dark and their restaurant was sold out. So we just plopped down at a table near the lobby-bar and enjoyed a lovely birthday dinner. With wine of course. (I know this is starting to sound like a book report, but I am a bit rusty from taking so much time off.)
The next morning we began our adventure. We started off at the Sand Dunes (where George Lucas shot some of the scenes from Star Wars…remember when C3PO and R2D2 crash in the escape pod?). We said to Fia, “Look at this!! This is like the biggest sandbox ever!”
She screamed in delight and took off running. We played hide and seek. We played chase. Emmett giggled on my back as I ran after her and Phil. It was a blast.
An hour later, we headed to the lowest point in the U.S.: Badwater Basin. It’s basically a lake of hardened salt, 282 feet below sea level. There, we played catch with rocks of salt. We even licked some. We ran all over, feeling it crunch under our feet.
From there, we pulled over spontaneously at what’s called Devil’s Cornfield. It was an even more extreme feel of crunching land. I honestly could have stayed in that field and crunched all day.
On the way back home, we stopped at the famous Amargosa Opera House in the ghost town of Amargosa. By famous I mean you probably have never heard of it. Fia and Emmett were both sleeping, so Phil and I took turns getting out of the car and checking things out.
We got home at 9 pm, thus concluding our 2-day, 1-night, whirlwind tour of Death Valley. And another year where I got tremendous perspective on the day of my birth: I am the luckiest woman in the world.
Above: Em standing on sand. Below: Fia being tossed (I was more gentle than it looks) down a hill of sand. By choice.
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amargosa, Amargosa hotel, Amargosa Opera House, Badwater Basin, ballarat, below sea level, birthday, borax, Death Valley, furnace creek, heat, Holiday, salt, sand dunes, Star Wars | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Fia Friday, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations, Moving to Los Angeles