how this feels

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I’ve given myself a few days to mourn. But now I am scared and energized.

I have been volunteering night and day for Hillary Clinton over the past few months, organizing local volunteers to phone bank or get on busses to Nevada and Arizona. I worked very hard and my work did not pay off.

To be honest, I did not plan for this. I did not imagine an America where we could elect a man who degrades women, muslims, latinos, the disabled and threatens our civil liberties.

Michelle Obama’s mandate, “When they go low, we go high” has been a constant reminder throughout this campaign which got very dark at times. Now it rings truer than ever but I never thought that we would have to go SO FUCKING HIGH. In the face of blatant xenophobia that we have seen from Trump and so many of his supporters, we have to be the good in this country. We may end up in uncomfortable situations. We may have to explain things to our children that we do not want to deal with even as adults. But we must help each other and be the good that we want to see.

I think back to my American History classes in high school, learning about the suffragettes, Harriet Tubman, Civil rights and Women’s rights leaders and what it must have felt like to be in their shoes. To be afraid, truly afraid. What would I have done if I had been  alive then? The girl I was then and the woman I was even a few months ago may have stayed home. I don’t think I can be that girl anymore. Hillary taught me more about being an American than any textbook or professor ever could. In the face of every obstacle imaginable she has never given up the fight for a better America.

I took a minute to process our loss but now as I look forward to Trump and his potential cabinet choices, I am truly afraid. The progressive America that seemed so tangible on Tuesday seem overwhelmingly out of reach today.

We were truly too comfortable in our pantsuits and our suffragette white on election day. My generation has been blessed with liberties that were earned on the backs of our elders… but it is our turn now.

Today I still cry, but tomorrow I fight. I fight for my children, my friends that are scared for their marriages and their children, immigrants, Muslim Americans… for anyone that needs me.

This may not be comfortable or safe, but it will be right. We are stronger together.

i’m with her… she’s with moms

So except for that one time that I got really mad at millennials, this is not a political blog.  It’s more like a mommy blog where I occasionally post a recipe.  But I just have to talk about Hillary Clinton and how much love her after her fabulous performance in the debate.

The truth is that most of the reasons that I support Hillary Clinton come from my experience as a mother.  Trying to raise children in this crazy time is hard.  We are experiencing big scary things like terrorism and school shootings.  But also smaller scary things for parents like the rising cost of raising children and higher education.  What I love about Hillary is that she gets all of this, and she has plans- carefully thought out plans- for how we are going to deal with these issues.

As a mom who sends a child to public school, I love that Hillary make this a priority. She has plans to improve our children’s K-12 education and even provide universal Pre-K, pay their teachers what they deserve, and get our kids caught up to the rest of the world when it comes to education and technology.

What mom doesn’t want their kid to go to college but realizes that the costs are going up every year? Hillary Clinton has plans to make public college more affordable and even free for the 83% of kids in America who would qualify under her plan. She wants to help people refinance their student loans so they aren’t paying insane amounts of interest.

She has plans to keep guns out of the hands of violent offenders so that maybe us moms can worry a little less when we drop our kids off at school.

Hillary also has inclusive plans to help working women.  She is fighting for paid family leave, better childcare options and equal pay. She has been fighting for these things her entire careers.

There are a million other reasons that I support Hillary in this election but these are the issues that matter to me as a mother.  I think about the changes that Hillary wants to make, and then I think about how different it could be for my daughter when she starts a family. I see how much better it could be for her and future generations of mothers.  That’s why I’m with her.

I have been volunteering for Hillary a ton and I am even making a trip to Nevada this weekend to register voters, if you are with her here click here to find opportunities near you. I promise you’ll meet a ton of awesome moms!

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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…

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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!

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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.

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Birthday boy at the beach.

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

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Little dude on his first day of Kinder.

Leo’s last day of preschool

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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.

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“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.

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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).

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Leo coloring an “America Flag” at the Chobani booth

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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!