not a cool mom…

I have always thought of myself as cool mom. I mean, I wear red lipstick every once in while and I went to a Beyoncé concert this week.  That’s cool right?

In actuality, I am not very cool at all. I have no idea what bands are trending or what kind of boots will be popular next season. I am still wearing “skinny” jeans even though multiple media sources have told me they over. I have no idea what happens at Fashion Week but I can tell you within days, perhaps even hours, if Trader Joe’s debuts a new snack.  Bottom line, I am not very cool.  But my kids think I am cool, right?

But you know what I just figured out, my kids don’t care about any of that stuff.  Fashion, music, trends, all of it. Doesn’t matter when you’re five. Your child’s definition of how cool you are is only dependent on one thing: how much stuff you let them get away with.

It’s all about screen time and sugar intake with the the kindergarten crowd and apparently in that area I am lacking.

Currently, Leo is woefully aware that he does not have an iPad.  And not only does he not have an iPad, but he doesn’t have an iPad with Minecraft. This is partly my fault because I signed him up for a Minecraft “class” after school one day a week. A class where they play the game in partners on vintage PC laptops and the main topic of discussion must revolve around who has an iPad and who plays Minecraft at home. And in an instant I have become that mom that says, “Just because little Johnny has an iPad and plays Minecraft at home doesn’t mean that you can.” And that mom is NOT COOL.

When it comes to parenting, I am starting to realize that I am not cool at all, I am actually sort of strict.  This is the exact opposite of how I thought I would be as a parent. I remember resenting family dinner growing up when I knew that so many of my friends ate dinner in front of the TV and here I am, twenty years later, making family dinner the rule in our house.

And it’s not just that! We have stickers charts, good behavior jars, ready-for-school checklists, early bed times, no television on school days… all of these things I thought were for crazy type-A parents before I had kids. Now I am totally one of those parents.  But I have to say, it works for us.

My kids do better with routine, they are nicer people when they have less screen time and they are getting old enough that occasionally family dinners can be pretty enjoyable. Every family has to do what works for them and if I have to take a little bit of the brunt and be the “mean Mommy” (Leo’s words, not mine), then so be it.

I am not a cool mom, and I own that.

oh… and Lucy turned 2!

Let’s be honest, the second child doesn’t get the same childhood as the first. When Leo turned two he was enrolled in toddler music classes and gymnastics, he had a little playgroup, weekly trips to the zoo or Children’s museum.  The world was his oyster.

I did try to suffer through toddler gymnastics with Lucy but there are only so many times you can sing the ABCs while watching babies attempt to jump on a trampoline before you lose your damn mind, and I have officially reached that point. In Leo’s first two years, I was more of his chauffeur; Lucy is more like my sidekick. I am sure there are huge developmental benefits to in trips to Trader Joes, Target and my gym’s Kids Club. Right?

Leo had a big party for his second birthday, with a ton of other kids and homemade food and decorations. This year I was so exhausted after Leo’s birthday and all of the Kindergarten prep that I declared, “we’re not having a party for Lucy!” Leo started Kindergarten just three days before her birthday and our house is a disaster since we have been childcare-free for over a month now and there are toys everywhere… she isn’t even going to remember her second birthday party, right?

Lenny and I went back and forth over this for weeks- he wanted a party, I wanted cupcakes and candles.  I really think that Lucy would have been fine with either option but we settled on “a little playdate” with a few of her friends. We sent out a Paperless Post with a kitty on it because Lucy loves cats and I ordered a kitty cake from our favorite bakery. That was supposed to be it. But since I can’t leave well enough alone, two days before the playdate I decided that I needed to start crafting kitty stuff like mad. I blame Pinterest.

Kitty cookies, kitty sandwiches, kitty gift bags, kitty bunting…

img_0022

Happy girl on her birthday!

After Lucy’s birthday it was on to the next challenge: potty training. We use the boot camp method in our house so when Lucy woke up the day after her birthday, all diapers were gone.

It takes a few days for little ones to get that peeing and pooping your pants is not a good idea, even if you’re in the middle of doing something really fun. So after pooping in a friend’s lawn, peeing at the Natural History Museum and few washings of the car seat cover, Lucy has potty training down. Which of course means she is ready for the biggest milestone of toddlerhood! Preschool!

img_3217

First day of school!

Lucy started last week at the same preschool that Leo attended and she is loving it.  Just like her brother, there are no tears at drop off, only smiles and hugs. Her teachers say she is thrilled with every activity and completely well behaved… if only it was that way at home right?

It seems like Lucy went from a baby to a little girl overnight. A part of me is sad that she is growing up so quickly but a part of me is really excited to see what kind of kid she will be. Will she be a storyteller like her brother? A bookworm like me? At least I know that she is having such a fun time figuring it out right now.

 

 

 

too many milestones!!!

A lot has happened in Leo’s life in the month of August.  Leo had his last day of preschool, turned five, took his first solo (parent-free) trip with his grandparents and last week he started Kindergarten!

I would love to stay that it’s all been sunshine and rainbows over here but that would be a total lie.  Transitions are hard for my little guy and it’s been one meltdown after another… Except of course when he was with his Grandparents, because he was an angel with them… but I digress.

Leo had a great birthday complete with a Star Wars themed backyard bash with family and friends,  Darth Vader  even showed up! We spent his actual birthday at Westward Beach, our new favorite spot in Malibu with grandparents. Then the next day he was off to the airport for a week of “camping” in Oregon with my parents where he got to experience all of the critters and cold of the Oregon coast. We only had six days between his return from Oregon and his first day of Kinder, but it felt like six months.  With temperatures in Los Angeles in the mid-200s (well, not really but it felt like it), no childcare and a two children who seemed to be having a contest for “most epic meltdown,” it was not a fun week. My rosé supply has hit an all time low.

But onward we go!  Leo has started Kinder and I think he likes it more than he will admit and we are starting to get back into more of a routine as a family. Below are some photos of my little guy’s epic month.

IMG_4777Leo takes on Lord Vader.

IMG_3005

Birthday boy at the beach.

080416-12With his Bubba (and without his parents) in Oregon… acting like an angel.

IMG_3107

Little dude on his first day of Kinder.

Leo’s last day of preschool

Leo's-last-day

His last day was a Knight themed dress up day, hence the crazy outfit.

I remember dropping Leo off for his first day of preschool almost three years ago, he seemed like such a baby.  The playground was filled with veteran preschool parents smiling and greeting teachers and friends after the week-long Summer break… and then there were the newbies like Lenny and myself, unsure of where to put our children’s lunch boxes and how to leave without causing a scene.

A kind pre-school teacher leaned over two children fighting over a toy in the sandbox and told them to “use their words.” I was so scared for Leo, just a few weeks into his second year he barely knew any words. When it was time for the parents to leave, Leo sobbed hysterically, for a second I considered taking him home. Maybe he wasn’t ready.

Then a teacher explained to him that Mommy and Daddy were leaving but would be back.  It turned out he was only sad because he thought he had to leave too!  He ran away from us into the sandbox, then it was my turn to cry in the parking lot. My baby was no longer a baby. That sadness and hesitation melted way quickly. Preschool has been wonderful experience for Leo and for us.

His school is play-based with monthly changing themes which have exploded Leo’s imagination. Without any direction or props Leo can play in space, in the ocean, in the jungle only using the power of his mind.

He has learned how to make friends and how to treat he peers. He has his own rich social life at school complete with “best friends,” bickering and the occasional bully- and he can handle it all with grace. He knows how to resolve conflict and recognizes when a friend is feeling sad or left out.

With Kindergarten around the corner, we know that Leo is well prepared.

Along with Leo, Lenny and I and I have also had a great experience.  We have made wonderful friends whom with we share play dates, dinners, holidays and vacations. Through lice scares, toddler tantrums and countless viruses we have had a great support team in the friends we have made through preschool. I have learned that having friends who share a same-age child is essential to dealing with the stresses and joys of parenting.

Above all, we trust our preschool.  We have been able to drop off our son and know that he is with teachers that truly care for him.  When he is there, I know he is happy and engaging in an awesome activities. That is priceless.

In September Lucy will be starting at the same school, I can’t guarantee that it will be a tear-free drop off that first day but I am so excited for her and the new friends she will make and the experiences she will have.

Another lovely vacation, mother-son trip to Oregon

Summers are made for vacations, the long sunshine-filled days are begging to be enjoyed. I am already starting to get weepy about the end of this summer which will bring Leo’s first day of Kindergarten. A mother-son trip was in order.

To be totally honest, it’s been a rough few months for me and Leo. He has tantrums, I yell, we both feel bad. Leo is finding his way in the world and testing us constantly, it’s part of growing up but also one of the hardest parts of parenting. I wanted to have a chance to spend some time with him one-on-one without the chaos of the million things that always need to get done around the house and without Lucy. I see that Leo feels that she gets more attention, he’s partly right about that. I trust Leo to dress himself, play in his room or the backyard alone… because he’s a big kid and for the most part he makes good decisions.  But I can see how leaving him alone to play while I hover over Lucy’s every move can seem to an almost five year-old… more like neglect and less like privilege.

We started our trip off by having a cookie for lunch at LAX because… why not right?Leo

The first part of our vacation was spent in a tipi at the awesome Tipi Village Retreat; about a thirty minute drive from Eugene, Oregon, this place was just awesome and the perfect place for Leo and I to relax and hang out… and I got some serious cool mom points for booking a vacation in a tipi. Nestled in a grouping of tall fir trees, each tipi has a stone floor, lights and electricity, bed (or beds), chairs, nightstand, and unique design. Leo and I were in the Calapooya tipi which was perfect for the two of us.

I have to say sleeping in a tipi is great, it was pretty cold the nights we were there and Leo and I snuggled in the bed with a warm duvet and wool blanket. Compared to Los Angeles it was so dark and quiet,  I had some of the best sleep I have had in years.  The first night we slept 11 uninterrupted hours! The food was so good, everything cooked by the owner in the outdoor kitchen and served buffet style.  We dined at communal tables and met some nice people at the retreat. Luckily for Leo, there were a lot of kids the two nights we were there. I happily put our bonding on hold so he could play with the other kids.

img_2781

“Let’s take a selfie” said Leo. Note to self: wear make-up all the time.

There is a creek that runs next to the resort that Leo loved, as an L.A. kid he has only ever played in the man made creek at our Natural History Museum, he jumped in with his clothes on twice! He found snails and tadpoles in the creek and a tremendous amount of sticks in the forest. Of course we used the sticks to make s’mores at night around the communal campfire.

We had a very relaxing time at Tipi Village Retreat; we swung in the hammock, read The Jungle Book, told stories and just played in the sunshine.  The weather was perfect while we were there but it starting raining shortly after we left, we were very lucky.

ea8142bf-e913-49e5-972f-23ff41f46c0d

Next we were off to my parents who were “camping” themselves in their fancy RV outside or Eugene, Oregon.  Eugene hosted the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials and my Dad, or “Bubba” to Leo, was on the organizing committee.  We had a ton of fun there as well; I enjoyed watching the track meet and Leo enjoyed the Fan Festival which featured live music every night and all the free Chobani yogurt he could eat (it’s not allowed at home so there was a considerable amount of yogurt eating).

img_2790

Leo coloring an “America Flag” at the Chobani booth

13603450_10208885609352745_7198965894017904416_o

Leo literally levitating with excitement at the Fan Festival

 

Though it sounds like a weird thing to say about my kid- who I am with all the time– I definitely got to know and understand Leo more on this trip.  Leo still has his toddler tantrum moments, but more and more I see that he is growing into a kind a caring little boy. I’m really glad that we did this mother-son vacation and I hope to do more in the future. Leo is already taking about the next time we are going camping… I can’t wait!

a lovely family vacation…san miguel de allende

Our family was in need of a vacation, we all have had a lot going on the past few months and it has been hot and muggy in Los Angeles. It’s too hot to be outside and being cooped up in the house with little kids is no fun at all! It was time to escape summer in Los Angeles! Leo had a week off of preschool so we thought it would be the perfect time for a Mexican getaway.

I had read about San Miguel de Allende on travel sites recently and a few friends have been and raved about it, so we figured… why not?  After five nights there, I have to say I am absolutely in love with the town. San Miguel de Allende has a rich history, the Spanish colonial town has retained much of its old world charm with narrow cobble stone streets (don’t bother to bring a stroller if you go) and centuries old buildings in El Centro, or the historic core of the city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though it has a small village vibe and everything is essentially walkable, SMA also has big city amenities like fine dining and art galleries.

img_2584

Lenny and Lucy walk down a cobble stone street in El Centro

img_2639

Leo and Lucy pose in front of an 18th century door

I had read many times that the population of SMA is about twenty percent American and Canadian retirees who flock there because of the low cost of living, excellent medical care and low crime rates. Because of this I expected more of a tourist trap vibe in the town. While we certainly met a few of these retirees on our trip, the town does not have touristy feel of the other Mexican destinations. Unlike Cancun, Los Cabos or Sayulita, American dollars are not accepted and most people do not speak English. Luckily, my wonderful cousin Carla came with us who speaks Spanish and I was able recall a few basic verbs and numbers from high school.

The landmark of the town is the Parroquia, or Parish church, a beautiful tall Spanish Gothic revival church made of pink sandstone with the accompanying Jardin that serves as the main town square. San Miguel is known for its festivals and parades, I would love to experience Independence Day or Dia de Los Muertos there. Even without at major holiday happening, on the weekend we were there there the Jardin was filled with excitement; wedding marches, Mariachi bands, a blues festival and a military band competition. A lot going on and a ton of fun for the kids.

img_2686

The Parroquia

img_2670

Dancers in front of the Parroquia

img_2651

Lucy and her new kitty in the Jardin

We were amazingly fortunate enough to use a friend’s home at the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende. The property is gorgeous with lush gardens, great restaurants, beautiful pools and most importantly, Rosebuds; a drop off kids clubs with activities for potty trained children that Leo LOVED.

img_2602

Leo relaxing in the kid’s pool

The hotel is centrally located and right down the block from Parque Juarez, the largest park in the city with an amazing playground and gardens for the kids to explore.  Most mornings we would grab coffees and pastries and head to the park to play for an hour or two.  Our go to spot in the mornings was Cafe Rama. The art gallery and cafe has a wonderful vibe, amazing egg dishes and coffee and pastries to go.

img_2543-1

Breakfast at Cafe Rama

One of our favorite activities was visiting La Esquina, the Mexican folk toy museum in town. They have three floors of the coolest hand crafted toys. There was really so much to take in at the museum which is filled with new and vintage toys, dolls, rocking horses and the coolest moving toys that were so fancy I would probably never let my children play with them.

img_2571

Lucy takes in La Lucha Libre at La Esquina

img_2561

Leo plays with a very cool dinosaur racing toy I wanted to take home

img_2549

Handmade dolls and our little doll

San Miguel is known for it’s food scene. We didn’t get to partake in many of the highly reviewed restaurants because our children are pretty terribly behaved around dinner time. We did have a lovely meal on the terrace at La Posadita, which has a a beautiful view of La Parroquia.  They also had a spinach and cheese burrito appetizer which was the perfect dinner for the kids, likely the only vegetables they ate the entire trip.

img_2647

Carla and Lucy at La Posadita

Lenny and I were able to sneak away for a little shopping and lunch one afternoon and we tried Jacinto 1930 which we really enjoyed. The menu is sort of a Mexican fusion concept, or at least I think it was… I thought I knew a lot of food words in Spanish until I looked at their menu. We both ordered yummy spicy tequila cocktails and shared a composed salad and their version of chilaquiles with burrata which was exceptionally tasty.

The design of the space is beautiful,  I love the contrast of the bold ceramic tiles and modern copper fixtures set in a the historic building which was designed to look stripped down to its supporting walls. Jacinto 1930 is part of a larger complex which holds a food hall, pastry shop, clothing store, book shop, art gallery, and wine and cocktail tasting rooms. One of the more upscale complexes in San Miguel.

img_2672-1

Jacinto 1930 Entrance

We took the kids to Hecho in Mexico for dinner the first night. The casual restaurant has an outdoor courtyard and a diner-esque menu, i.e. a little bit of everything from Mexican to burgers and all in HUGE portions.  Leo and Lucy were squirming in their seats so I didn’t have a chance to take any photos but I stayed and got the check while Lenny and Carla took the kids down the street for ice cream and it was 600 pesos! That’s about 33 dollars for for three adults and two kids to have dinner and drinks- and yes, some of the drinks were beers. No wonder expats love this place.

We ate a lot of meals (and by meals I mean chips and guacamole) at the Rosewood where the food was excellent but I really wish that we were able to try more places in SMA.

Other than the occasional (or frequent, depending on how to you look at it…) toddler tantrum, it was a great vacation. There is so much to do (and eat) in SMA that I am sure we missed a ton of things in the five days that we were there. I can’t wait to go back and explore more.

xo, Lisa

 

 

 

a perfect storm…

 

ocean-storm-clouds-1024x640

These past few months have been a very busy, and not the busy having fun kind of busy… but the busy with actual things to do busy. Things that I have actually be accountable for to other people kind of things. Taking on more than I can handle is a perpetual flaw of mine. This spring I decided to take an extra class in my design program and organize a fundraiser, phone banks and canvass events for a certain Presidential candidate that I am extremely fond of… maybe a little too much.

And then there are the things that you can’t plan for…even just trying to write this blog post has been a four day affair. Between taking our dog to the emergency room for a cut, Leo “borrowing” some of my homework for my drafting class and ripping it, finding a lost neighborhood dog and tracking down her owner, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, being on lock down from the Los Angeles Police Department and freaking out (yes, that’s really how I spent an hour Tuesday afternoon)… I really am not sure where the days go.

My children have responded to this busy time in my life with great resistance. Leo has  upped his tantrum game to a new level, combining toddler-like fist swinging and biting with teenage-like rhetoric such as, “I want a new mom” and “I’m running away.” And Lucy is at a point in her life where a lack of constant supervision results in things like pouring a container of goldfish on the floor and stomping on them like Michael Flatley on meth, splashing in the toilet water or eating dog food.  Needless to say the TV is on a lot in our house.

Then there are the things I am supposed to be doing but are just not getting done.  Washing the sheets and towels, grocery shopping and cooking dinners (that aren’t spaghetti and pasta sauce from a jar), daily sand removal from the playroom, remembering to buy more toilet paper… who has time for these things? Certainly not me.

In the past three weeks I wrapped up a ton of events for the California Primary, turned in my final paper for my design history class, completed a MASSIVE drafting project and took a quick trip to Mexico with my family (more on that later), so hopefully this storm cloud of stress and over-commitment will pass soon. Next up I have a mother-son camping trip, potty training Lucy, more volunteer commitments and (eeks!) kindergarten for Leo. When one storm passes, in rolls another.

What are some strategies that have worked for you in balancing commitments? How do you know when you are putting too much on your plate?

xo, Lisa