Finding the funny in parenthood before somebody loses an eye...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Beverly Hills School Budget Cuts Result In Field Trip to Public Bathrooms

Budget cuts in the Beverly Hills School District's are becoming more and more of a problem.

Last week, children from BHUSD were treated to an educational excursion to a local public restroom.

"It was quite educational I assure you." said an unidentified government official who did take responsibility for the cut-backs.  "The children learned hands on from a city janitor about sanitation, plumbing and basic personal hygiene.

"I'm frustrated" said one school mom.  "Sure potty skills are important, but a trip to a public bathroom?  Ew."

"The district is cutting corners - $6 Million dollars in corners.  We can't afford to keep sending these privileged kids to exotic locations like the California Science Center or the Museum of Natural History.  Those days are over." said an inside source who asked to remain anonymous.  "The folks up in Sacramento say it's time for those kids to man-up and learn how the other half live."

Concerned parents and educators are worried about future cut backs and concerned that bathroom field trips are just the tip of the iceberg.

An agitated mother in carpool lane commented on the budget cuts "First the district threatens to cut art and music.  Now the kids take field trips to the bathroom?  Do they need a pass to go?  What's happened to Beverly Hills?"

The school district is currently desperately struggling to make up for the funds so they can continue the threatened necessary programs and avoid next year's rumored trip to the LA River.

Donations can be sent to BHUSD main office.

(For everyone having a coronary, please be advised that while the cutbacks are very real, the rest of this article is totally fictitious.  I am just having fun with a picture from my kid's recent field trip to Knott's Berry Farms which was oddly taken in front of the Restroom). 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How To Embarrass Your Children - Cat Calls and Other Things Sure to Scar Them

My son is "scarred for life."

It's my own fault really.  I should have never yelled out "Sexy Mama!!" to that lady with him in the passenger seat.

It was an honest mistake.

Here I was, minding my own business driving my children to school, early in the morning, pre-coffee, like a good normal mother, when we approached a very busy intersection just outside of the Beverly Hilton.  Two lovely ladies crossed our paths in head to toe in the latest Lulu Lemon (the standard in "exercise/brisk walk" chic here in Beverly Hills) and huge Chloe sunglasses.

I could have sworn one was my friend, Sandra.

So, coffee-free, glasses-free and still foggy I pulled up into the crosswalk next to her, rolled down my passenger side window and called out "HEY SEXY MAMA!"

She turned.  And I realized - as she lifted her massive frames and tried to discern how the hell she knew this weirdo (her friend obviously judging me as well...) - that I had no idea who this person was.

What made it worse, my poor son was sitting in the front seat, in the open window, right next to her.  He slunk down into under the dashboard.  Mortified.  I think he tried to get under the floor mat.

 "SORRY! I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY FRIEND, SANDRA!" I yelled out the window to her.  She seemed shaken.  "NOT THAT YOU'RE NOT SEXY!!  I JUST..."  Saved by the green light that allowed us to move on, I shouted one last "SORRY!" and waved at the ladies.


Livi, of course, was equally horrified.  "MOM!  THAT'S SO INAPPROPRIATE!!!  You called a total stranger SEXY!!!"

Indeed.  I had.  Maybe that wasn't such a good idea.  I should keep my mouth shut in the morning until I've had my coffee.

"I'm telling ALL of my friends!" Livi said, pleased she had a "morning announcement" for the school yard.

I decided it was an opportunity to show my kids how to overcome embarrassment.  "It's fine!  She's probably totally flattered."

"Wow, Mom...That was bad."  Was all Ben could muster.  But he'll survive.  Right?

So it wasn't a shining, well-thought-out moment in motherhood.  I was definitely not setting an example for proper "decorum."

But if Ben ever gets a job as a construction worker, he'll totally be ready.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Are You a Sh*tty Mom?

Are you a sh*tty mom?

I am.

And I know this because my kids remind me at every opportunity.

At the beach, at the mall, out at lunch, even at birthday parties, my kids will pull me aside and say "yeah, yeah...all this is great...but have you sewn my patches onto my karate gi yet?  I've asked you a thousand times!!!"

And I'm like "seriously?  Can you really criticize my actions as a mother with a mouthful of cake?"

The answer is yes.  Yes they can.

I'm not saying they're not justified in believing I'm inadequate.  I'm just saying I am sick of hearing about it.  I know my shortcomings better than anyone.  And the day only has so many hours.  At what point do I make setting up a sleepover with that friend from camp a priority over setting up renter's insurance and doctor's appointments?  And is picking up a new bag of Oreo cookies because I mentioned they could have them in their lunch the next day more important than finishing the laundry, making dinner, cleaning the hamster cage, while generating a new article and pitching it?  Okay, sometimes I ditch it all for a nap...but you can see why I'm so exhausted.

All I'm asking for is a little slack.  An opportunity to breathe between checking off items on my "To Do" list.

I get it, I get want all the patches on your  Gi because you've worked so hard to earn them.  You've put in the hours, the time and so much energy.  You simply want to reap the benefits of your hard work.  You deserve it.

Well guess what, buttercup...that's how I feel about my nap.

There is no way to solve this conundrum.  I'm a sh*tty mom if I drive to get the patches put on at the expense of doing the load of dirty laundry that has your favorite socks in it.  And I'm a sh*tty mom if I wash your socks and your gi goes undecorated. 

There's no winning.  And I'm done trying.  So as far as I'm concerned I'm embracing my inner Sh*tty Mom - which I guess has wormed it's way out.


And just in case I ever forget just how sh*tty I am, I have three kids around 24/7 to remind me.

Are you a Sh*tty Mom too?

COME TOAST TO IT with me and the authors of The Sh*tty Mom Handbook, Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner, on Tuesday, April 30th at 7pm - Books and Cookies in Santa Monica.

There will lots of other Sh*tty Moms on hand, including Kristin Cruz, host of KOST FM's "The Mark and Kristin Show"; Samantha Ettus of Working Mom's Lifestyle; Laura Tremaine of; Lori Caden, Founder of Belly Bandit; Dani Klein Modisette, Producer/Author of "Afterbirth": and Emmy nominated"Conan" writer, Laurie Kilmartin.

It's going to be a GREAT evening!  (Did I mention amazing swag?  If not...there's going to be amazing swag!)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

GREAT New Summer Picture Book Hits the Shelves!

Today, the fabulous and infinitely talented Michael Paraskevas (the brilliant illustrator for my picture book, On My Way to the Bath) has a new picture book hitting the shelves!!!  YAY, MICKEY!!!

Get your copy of "TAFFY SALTWATER'S YUMMY SUMMER DAY" NOW!!!  (Really!  Let's support him right now!) :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

How to Throw a Great Bat Mitzvah On the CHEAP!

As you know, Isabel turned 13 this year.  This means two things:

#1 - I'm the most irritating person in the world.

#2 - Isabel became a Bat Mitzvah!

I was so psyched!  (Not for being the most irritating person in the world - for the Bat Mitzvah thingy.)

Isabel's dad and I aren't religious, so my Ex was 'not really' on board with the whole "Bat Mitzvah" thing.  And by 'not really' I actually mean he was more like, "WTF??! HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST?!"  But I believe traditions and rituals are important.   Especially going to Hebrew School (which I personally HATED) and then growing up and making your own kids go and suffer.  Hating Hebrew School is a time-honored tradition passed down from one pissed off Jew to another and by golly, we were going to celebrate it!

My goals: good booze, good food, great music, intimate, LOW KEY and very, VERY Isabel. 

Enter Megan Ondercin of Megan Ondercin Event Design.  This chick is a party planner extraordinaire.  Actually she was more of a Party "Guardian Angel" who took a look at ALL of my ideas (about 300 photos of everything from eco-friendly logs as centerpieces, to giant school supply arrangements we could donate after the event) and taught me to "focus!" (she had to say that a lot).

With wisdom, savvy and a tremendous amount of patience, Megan got me on track, helped me forge a vision (a Polka Dot vision in teal, green, black board, and silver), and implement a plan to bring it in on budget.

 I am so happy with how it all turned out.

The invitations:  Matte black-board with white type on recycled papers 
in the theme colors and tied together with teal polka dot grosgrain ribbon 

The centerpieces and table settings

These were so awesome!  The centerpieces are bouquets of handmade paper flowers created by "Fold" by Susan Thiedt in Culver City (she works out of Copper Willow).  This artistic genius of a woman hand made 12, 3 ft tall centerpieces comprised of  5 different sized 'flowers' made in complimentary craft papers with all kinds of  teal, green, black, white and silver chevron papers. We 'potted' the centerpieces in galvanized metal french flower market buckets tied with a large teal grosgrain ribbon and stuffed with shredded recycled craft paper.

The best part about these centerpieces is that the girls LOVED them and they all got taken home at the end of the night.  They all still have them in their rooms because they don't die!  You probably need to dust them though...

We also decorated the table with small glass votives shaped like flower pots and these monogrammed mini glass candy jars filled monochromatically (by me and three of my best friends who dedicated a whole evening to filling and labeling the tiny jars) with the blue, teal or green m&m's I had personalized with Isabel's monogram "IJM" and the words "Mazel Tov."  Cheesy?  Perhaps.  But very tasty, and a huge hit with kids and grown-ups.  This was one of the few stupid things I splurged on, but seriously, have you ever seen a prettier m&m? 
My DIY decorating tip to make the table look fancier than you can afford?  I sprinkled the tables with a paper confection I am calling "Haute Confetti"  This is my own creation (yes, I made it by myself, thank you very much...) using a 1-1/2 inch hole punch,  a large scallop edged hole punch and all different kinds of complimentary craft paper I found at Paper Source (I loved the way the silver sparkly paper punched up the teal blue polka dot paper) 

Here is a big pile of confetti I made while watching "Prison Break." Must have spent a total of 6 hours making 300 pieces of confetti.  My hand muscles got a workout.

The dance floor?  Megan and Susan made paper blossoms in the theme colors and hung them from the ceilings over the buffet and the dance floor.  It gave it such a festive but intimate feel (and inspired a conga line...)

And now...the TEEN LOUNGE ...(although Isabel wouldn't let me call it that.)

I rented furniture for the teen area.  I went for basic black sofas and found the poofy ball-shaped pillows myself on  The only things I rented that cost any real money were the two silver ottomans - which provided LOTS of for seating lots of kids (so I got lots of bang for my buck), and the light up kids bar.  The LED coffee tables lit up in teal were pretty cheap and so was the LED lighting behind the sofa and bar.  

Check out the balloons floating around.  They were from Balloon Celebrations in Santa Monica and looked like these incredibly cool floating soap bubbles filled with teal blue and silver confetti with handmade polka dot tails. .  They were so cute and totally eco-friendly.   I only needed 2 dozen to fill up the empty nooks and corners.

We put candy topiaries in the party colors by Favor It Girl in the kid's lounge and bar areas (this one was already picked at by the time we took the photo...needless to say, they didn't last long...) 

As for music?  We had the BEST DJ/MC EVER!  Seriously.  Tre Bates (son of the well-loved Bino Bates of Bino Entertainment and Let the Music Play in Woodland Hills) both DJ'd AND MC'd our party and if it wasn't for him, I would have had NO idea of how to set up the flow for the party.  He was not only filled with energy and kept the kids dancing, but he really put the work in ahead of time finding out our favorite songs, filling out a playlist, and being in charge of timing everything out for the evening.  He was so reasonable and so amazing!  His wife was one of the "dance facilitators" and they kept the kids dancing ALL night.  BEST dance moment?  The mother/daughter dance to "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now!" from Hairspray.  We invited ALL of the moms and daughters to dance to it with us.

Other entertainment included a photo booth by Photo Booth Moment.  They had green screen backgrounds guests could choose and use the props I provided to spice up the photos.  They also brought a scrap book so we could put a copy of every picture in it and the kids could decorate the page with stickers and personal notes.

I found all of the "props" (mustaches, animal faces, paper lips, etc...) on-line and found a ton of stuff on Etsy - my favorite prop?  Chalkboard speech bubbles you can write on.    (You'll be amazed at how much you'll use them after the party.)

And finally...dessert.

We had a dessert table made up of hundreds of the most delicious mini cupcakes you've ever eaten in red velvet, cookies and cream (topped with tiny oreos) and vanilla filled vanilla cupcakes.  It was all made by the cupcake goddess of LA, Hanna Shenin of My Sweet Mini here in LA.  I was able to rent stands from her and she came before the party to set everything up herself.  (Megan made the polka dot strands to decorate behind the table.  Her attention to detail was amazing!)
We served the cupcakes with milk in vintage milk bottles with paper stripey straws from Shop Sweet Lulu.  (pricey shipping, but reasonable and amazing quality!  I'm using the milk bottles at home for birthday parties and playdates.)

Hanna made this extra large cupcake with a big letter "I" on it for the center of the arrangement.  I still have it in my freezer and can't decide if I'm going to share it with Isabel and the kids.


Then we danced...

Me and Grammy "Gangham Style"

  and celebrated...
Me and the Bat Mitzvah girl on the dance floor surrounded by friends and family

There was drinking, eating, dancing, speeches, and a montage I made all by myself (saved $750!) The highlight?  Isabel's friends spelled out "Mazel Tov Isabel!" and each gave a little speech inspired by their letter (one of the girls was the "!" and it was awesome).

But most importantly we all just tried to savor this very, very special occasion.  

My baby.  The woman.  

Somebody please slow down this ride...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Daughter's a Bitch And It's Not My Fault...I Don't Think...

My daughter's a bitch and it's not my fault.

At least I don’t think it is.

I've tried everything to teach my mean daughter be a good person - a kind person - a loving sister.   But she's not.  Not really.  It's not that my daughter's mean all of the time.   She's not even a bad person.  She can actually be an incredibly loving and devoted long as you're not immediate family, younger than she is, and share a mother.

She’s a polite student (mostly), a good daughter (usually), and a great friend (always!). I get rave reviews from other moms about her on playdates, “Wow! She’s so polite.” “She’s so sweet” “She’s just a pleasure!” But as soon as she’s alone with her siblings, the monster emerges. Every word out of her mouth to her little brother and sister is critical, judgmental and just plain rude.

Maybe it's because I'm a little sister. I have memories of my older sister slamming the door to her room in my face when I wanted to crash her playdates. My whole life she poked me, she teased me and would only agree to play Barbie with me if she could be Malibu Barbie. That was until she gave the doll a bad pageboy haircut - then she didn't want to play at all.

So I sympathize with my youngest girl, and notice even the tiniest drop in her smiling face, when her big sister tells her "GO AWAY!!!". I've turned to books, experts and even sibling therapy classes to help learn how to build a supportive, loving, or at the very least amicable relationship between my children. But nothing works. Maybe my oldest never forgave her twin brother and sister for encroaching on her territory. She had it pretty good as an only child. Our complete love and attention, undiluted by phrases like "Let your brother have a turn,” “You need to wait” and "Share with your sister."  I don't blame her for feeling angry.  I just don't like it.  People tell me, MAKE her be nice!

But I don’t know how. I threaten. I punish, I cajole… And I feel horrible for my little girl, the little sister, who will spend the rest of her life trying to gain her big sister's approval only to be rebuffed because she is considered "a splinter" in her big sister's life.  I need a solution.  Soon.  Recently, I stumbled upon my youngest, Livi, cleaning her big sister's room.  She was making her bed and putting away her toys for her. I  said "What are you doing?”  She said “I wanted to do something nice for Izzy.” I went to find Izzy.   I explained to her what her little sister was doing and told her, “You’d better go in there and say “Thank You Sooooo Much, Livi!...And sound like you mean it PLEASE!"  

She squirrled up her whole face.“What?!”

“And then I want you to hug her.”


“Do it!”

And she did.

 I smiled as I watched Livi’s face light up at her sister’s acknowledgment. Izzy’s whole face looked like she had just eaten something really bad. Then she ran off.

So here’s what I’ve concluded. You can lead a horse (or drag it kicking and screaming) to water.  You can even, apparently, make it drink. The tricky part is getting it to not make a face afterwards.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mealtime Inspiration

A little mealtime inspiration...courtesy of moi.

"Eat What I (F*cking) Give You!"

You’ll eat what I give you.
Is that too much to ask?
Just a few bites of broccoli
And the milk in your glass.

You’ll eat what I give you.
No, I’m not making toast
I won’t make you grilled cheese,
or heat up some potroast

I will not make you pasta.
You’re pleading is meek.
I’ve made that already
Five times now this week!!

Could you eat what give you???!!!
Just this little bite please…
And stop making that face,
or I swear it’ll freeze.

JUST eat what I give you!
Fine.  Sit here till late.
Don’t hide it!  I see that,
right under your plate!

There's ranch for your veggies,
ketchup for your food,
Maybe salt?  Maybe cheese??
AAAHHH!   I'm not in the mood!

JUST eat what I give you…
A meal that is whole.
Just one bite...a taste…
F*ck it…Get your cereal bowl.

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