Thursday, December 06, 2012

William 2 year update

I just found an old draft I wrote on 10/3, and published it.  I felt a little bad about it, though (which is why I had delayed publishing it at all) because it's mostly complaining about being alone with my kid all morning, and William is really a sweet, easygoing child.  I couldn't ask for a better toddler if I have one keeping me company.  Most of the time, he's quite agreeable and even in instances where he's not, it's all completely age-appropriate.  (We're hearing "no" quite a bit right on schedule.)

He's trying harder to talk so there's less cave-man grunting and more sweet little phrases he comes up with like this one upon being caught in his first rainstorm- "Yay!  Falling water!".  He calls Lauren "Tee-ta" now instead of "Lo".  He says "Yites!" for Christmas lights, just like Lauren did.  ("Yay! I love yites!"  He is obsessed with "twash" and has to close the lid of every open trash can he sees.  He received a big Bruder trash truck for his birthday, which came with 2 miniature trash cans, and he plays with it every day.  Also 4 more trucks.

He likes to say "I WOULD" when he means "would like to".  "I would eat!  I would that!" "I would cut!  I would touch!  I would walk!  I would eat cake!  I LOVE cake!  CAKEY!"

At his well-visit, he weighed 36 pounds and was 38 1/2 inches tall (also I never blogged this but at 18 months, he was 36 inches and 34 pounds), which means if he stays on his height-curve, adult-William will be 6' 5"!  He eats about 3 times as often as I do, and his favorite treat these days is "shaboos!" (strawberries) or else "dooce" (juice).

He loves to make stacks of blocks and to play with his cars and to take baths with "buboos" and "shahmpoo!"   He wants to explore the neighborhood, and has named one of the local squirrels Julia.  Her husband or son or arch-enemy, another squirrel who runs around and chases her, is called Paul.

Back to my changing feelings about being home with William, it's gotten easier in the past 8 weeks since I wrote that post, partly because I seem to sense the fleetingness of it, knowing he'll be in nursery school in July so I will have less than a year left at home with what will likely be my last baby.  He's also so loving and sweet to me, and such a charmer.  

A funny story about that-we were at Home Depot and he had run off nearby, when a woman wearing the same colored jeans was shopping nearby.  He ran over and hugged her ankles, thinking it was me.  When she looked down and he saw that it was a stranger, there was a moment of shock on his face.  Instead of crying or looking embarrassed, he took a beat, then played it off as intentional and beamed a giant, flirtatious grin at her, like "how YOU doin'?"

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

A Vignette of my Mornings

Some days it's easy to play with William and get my work done while keeping him playing nearby and happy and everything falls into place.  That happened yesterday.  Oh wait, that's because I was out of the house, at my office without him for 4 hours!  Other days, like today, he just seems to want some kind of interaction that I'm just not into, like wrestling or throwing a football.  And he has to involve me in everything, he can't seem to just stack blocks by himself or zoom trucks around unless I'm participating.  I feel bad for him that he's stuck with me and not a "sportier" mother who's more into balls and things with wheels and dirt and worms. (And then start thinking I can't wait for Lauren to get home from school so she and I can do something "girly".)

He's not talking much-he has his words, but mostly those that describe all of the above interests: "ball, truck, bus, BIG BIG ball, bird, bug, mud, dirt, fleurs, plants, rocks, red, blocks, car, I go, I fall down, whee, wow, all done, puzzle, hot, water, dog, strawberry, and shoes."  And the favorite catch-all: "Eh".  Cave-man talk.

I guess what I'm realizing is we're both getting ready for him to spend time at preschool.  I might not be ready to pay that bill every month, but I'm ready to have a little space, otherwise, I get so exhausted here trying to keep him happy and then put him down for his nap, that when he is finally asleep and I have time to do my work (new job assignment at the office, by the way, so even more that I should be keeping track of), all I want to do is rest and not take apart the code on some web page I might get interrupted from halfway through.  (So I do it in the wee hours of the night instead, and the next morning I regret staying up so late.) I head to the fridge and eat the "grown up" things I can't consume in front of him because he'd want some and would  point and "eh, eh!" at me and do his caveman growl/whine because I wasn't sharing any chocolate, coffee, spicy foods which he would insist on trying and would then look horrified, spit them out and indignantly accuse me- "hot!"

Though we do have lots of little moments of giggling happy, sweet times.  And bits of comedy.  He tries on other people's shoes and clomps around pretending to be Daddy or Mommy or Lo. When he wants to leave the house, he can't say "let's go", so instead he charges into my closet, tugs on the sleeve of one of my pink shirts-always a Brooks Brothers dress shirt-pulls it down and drags it over to me, pulls me by the hand and gives me that look that means "let's go for a walk".  .

There are tantrum moments. when he badly wants to go outside and charge out into the street to chase a truck, and I stop him from himself by bolting the front door with the deadlock where he can't reach it (he can rip the childproof door knob cover off), and he rages at the injustice of not being allowed FREEDOM to just run around by himself.  And I feel bad for our neighbors who have to hear this.  If I were that single, childless neighbor getting to sleep in on my day off, I'd be hating me and my screaming kid right about now.  Today when this happened, I let him have his little tantrum (shutting the windows) and then after a few minutes when it died down, I distracted him by doing a puzzle with him 3 times in a row.  Each time we finished, we clapped and shouted "YAY!", high-fived, and then he did the sign language for "more".

But wow, that half hour on the rug took every fiber of my being, to sit and focus on the puzzle with him and talk about it and not reach for my laptop or call someone on the phone or read a magazine.  Because WOW, being present with little kids can be BORING.  And I know, there are people reading this who are OFFENDED that I admitted that, people who desperately want children, who feel THEY would NEVER be bored with the wonderful magical mystery of every second with their precious child that they love so much.

But the reality?  After I've read "My Truck is Stuck" for the two thousandth time, and had the same argument about why it is not a good idea to wear a long-sleeved sweatshirt on a 95 degree day, even if this sweatshirt does have "ya, ball.  wed."  on it, my mind does wander on to other things that I love so much...

Monday, October 01, 2012

Thanking my BlogHer12 sponsors

As I mentioned in the last post, I went to BlogHer'12 in NYC at the beginning of the month.  In the blogging world, some people are lucky enough to have corporate sponsors who pay for portions of their trips.  In exchange, the companies get publicity for their products.

Thanks, Dannon Oikos yogurt!

Well, my conference lodging and meals were sponsored this year, and the sponsors don't have a web presence and aren't even listed in the phone book, and don't need any publicity from me at all.  My aunt & uncle, who are some of the nicest people on earth, were my innkeepers.

Uncle Fred picked us up in Newark on Monday, and drove us back to his house (after stopping at the Bear Mountain zoo, where William made friends with a swan.).  He and Aunt Marguerite spent the week in a friendly "favorite relative" competition with my parents.  The pinnacle of this was a photo they emailed showing William eating not just one ice cream cone, but two at once!

They chauffeured,  cooked, cleaned and did our laundry and watched William while I was at the conference.  On Thursday night, they drove in with me for the Expo Hall portion, and took William to Aunt Andrea's apartment around the corner, then drove me home.  On Friday and Saturday, Uncle Fred woke up at 5:00 a.m. each day to get ready and drive me to the train station.

He and Aunt Marguerite took great care of their grand-nephew, to the point that William burst into tears when they left the room, even while I was there.  They kept him entertained by endlessly reading "My Truck Is Stuck", and took him on William-tailored adventures, including seeing planes at the local airport, throwing stones in the river, visiting several playgrounds, attending a birthday party complete with a clown, and seeing lots of trucks up close.  And one visit to a police car whose driver gallantly turned on the flashing lights for William.

This year I didn't do much partying after the sessions, I could have, I'm sure my aunt & uncle would have come to get me at the train station at whatever hour I wanted, but I didn't really feel like it.  I felt like going back home, to their house.  And I am so happy that William had this week to love them even more and to feel at home with them, too!

I can never thank you enough, Aunt Marguerite and Uncle Fred!  I would name a building after you, but that's been done before.  ;)  So here's a blog post dedicated just to you.   Thank you a million times for this and the countless other nice things you've always done for me, my whole life!  Love and miss you lots!

Friday, August 03, 2012

BlogHer 2012, you jealous?

It is really great to be here, but not for the reasons you'd expect.  More on that later, but for now, this photo for Desiree, to show one of the less desirable aspects of NYC in August.  I'm on the train coming back to my aunt & uncle's house as I post this.

If you just met me at BlogHer, feel free to comment  here and say hi.  I will write more when it's not by painstakingly pecking on my phone!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Italian Mama

I was just posting to my cousin Antonio's Facebook wall, and thinking about family and connections and celebrations.  Tonio's mother is my "Aunt Anne" who is really my mom's cousin, so we're second cousins but being Italian, we just say "cousins".  In our family, you wouldn't get introduced as, say "this is my mother's cousin's stepdaughter" which is who one of my "cousins" actually is!  When you're in, you're in.

It's funny, I'm only 1/4 Italian, which thins down to only 1/8 in Lauren's blood, but if you ask her what her cultural background is, she 'll proudly say "I'm Italian!" because it's the most fun part.   It's the side that throws big elaborate meals with her favorite cheeses and pestos and lots of laughter and grown-ups drinking wine and talking in big boisterous voices with lots of hand gestures.

Lauren's Nonna's Nonna came from Italy.  The family recipes we make the most are from that side.  My great-grandparents came here over 100 years ago but they're the most recent immigrants in our lineage.  We still have cousins that live in Parma,  we visit and correspond with them.  There is a town named after the family (or the family was named after the town, we're not sure!)  I've been there twice and I've been welcomed into their home both times.  Lauren longs to "go back".  (She was there in utero.)

We have food words we use from Parmigiana (the dialect my great-grandparents spoke).  We say "boo fa" which means to blow on something when it's too hot, and "poo cha" which means to dip the bread in the olive oil.  We have a song in Parmigiana that my grandmother used to rub my eyes and sing to me, about the rain.  I've never seen any of this written down.  I don't know how to spell the words.  Our traditional foods for the holidays are (to me) much more interesting than "American" fare.  Lasagna at Easter, not ham.  About 10 different kinds of antipasti.  And all of those desserts, would make my mouth water just to type about!

If you have an Italian mama, you never go hungry.  Italian mamas love to see chubby little babies and love to kiss cheeks.  I've got a lot of (especially male) grown up cousins who still live at home.  Or bring piles of laundry to their mamas on weekends.

I never thought I would turn into one, but now when I look at those little chubby cheeks and KISS them and KISS them, I think  "Lauren, William, you can still live with me when you're thirty, that's just fine!  Mangia!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The tail end of summer: adventures thus far

We're more than halfway done with summer break, which seems crazy!  The reason it's so short this year is that LA Unified decided to move the start date to August 14th.  Last year they started the 2nd week of September.  So everyone has 3 weeks less of summer.  They say they're doing it to keep high school, middle school and elementary school on the same schedule, and they want high school to get out earlier so that students will have more time to prepare for national standardized tests-AP, SAT, etc.

What this has meant for us is a rather condensed summer.  Lauren spent the first week of it at Camp Nonna & Poppy, swimming and enjoying herself.  William and I were there for the first 2 days of that, then I came back to go to work, and she remained there the rest of the week. My parents drove her to a halfway point from their house in San Diego, we met in Orange County and drove her home.   She did not want to come back.

Then she had 3 weeks of STAR camp which she absolutely LOVED.  We decided to go car-free as much as possible and walk or bike to the school.  The trip there and back became one of our favorite parts of the day.  What a luxury, to be able to walk to school every morning!  (Instead of the 20 mile round-trip drive we do during the year!)  The campus was just over a mile away.  I wish it was our our home school, I would send her there in a heartbeat.

We signed her up for one week of "Supercamp", which was just the fun stuff, nothing academic, and 2 weeks of summer school-classes in the morning, fun stuff in the afternoon.  All 3 weeks at the same campus.  Every morning I would drop her off and watch her scamper over to her friends with excitement,  (Meanwhile, William was thrilled each morning to run over to a cage full of basketballs and kickballs, and try to shoot a basket, climb on the "big kid playground" and to try desperately to pass for a 5-year old so that he could join the camp, too!)

The 2nd week of camp, I dropped her off as usual and at pickup, I asked her what she learned at summer school.  "Oh, we didn't really do anything yet, probably they'll start the learning part tomorrow."  The next day, she went on and on about the science project they had done, and begging me to please enroll her in this school, which was so much fun, much more interesting than her school.  Third day, I asked her again what they had studied, and this time "I don't want to talk about that, Mommy!" and she told me instead all about the game of Capture the Flag, and the storytelling class and the nice kids she sat next to.  On Thursday, they went to an amusement park.

On Friday, we were running late so she missed circle time and the kids had already broken into groups and gone off to the classrooms.  One of the directors said "Oh, hi Lauren!  The Supercamp kids are over this way."  When I said "No, she's in Summer School", the woman got a funny look on her face.  I then realized why Lauren was having so much fun at "school"-she had been cutting class!  Turns out, they had been marking her absent at Summer School each day, and handwriting her name on the attendance sheet at Supercamp.  The camp staff was mortified when they figured out what happened, and they gave me a partial refund (because Summer School costs more).

Evidently, the first day, Lauren went to sit on the same bench she'd been sitting on the week before, and no one caught the mistake.  By the time she realized what happened, she also realized that if she could get away with it, it would be much more fun to stay where she was.  So, age 6, her first experience cutting class!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Con Artist in the Parking Lot of Vons

I was just the victim of a con artist at the Vons parking lot.  Boy, do I feel stupid!  

I pulled into the parking space with the kids in the car, to get some groceries.  Some guy in his early 20's was driving past (in an older white car)and rolled down his window and said "excuse me, ma'am, I couldn't help noticing your dent.  I work at a body shop and today's my day off.  I've got my tools in the trunk and I could fix that really easily."

I said "Okay, sure, give me your card and I'll think about it."

He then proceed to tell me that he was usually really busy working, today was his day off but that it would be easy for him to fix and he could do it for only $80.  He then jumped out of the car, got out some tools from the trunk and said he was going to show me how he could easily pull it out without taking the door off.  He introduced me to the people in the car, his father, sister and kids.  He said that it would only take a few minutes, then his father also got out and they started drilling a hole in the car!  :( 

I said "Hey, what are you doing?!"  I told him that I didn't have $80 and I hadn't told him to do that, and he said they said "you won't even see this when we're done, it just how we access it" and that I wouldn't have to pay them if I wasn't satisfied, and that there was an ATM nearby.  He was also going to give me his business card and his personal phone # in case I had any questions or problems.  I somehow got suckered into agreeing to pay $60 for it and he promised it would look good as new when they finished. 

Which I doubted, but felt afraid, because two guys with sledgehammers were now standing next to my now-damaged car and I was alone with my 2 children.  So I went to get the money and when I came back and went to pay them, he pretended we had agreed on $160, and wanted $100 more and started to get mad.  I told him my husband used to work for the DA and I could get him there to settle this!   Suddenly $60 was fine with him and he was in a hurry to leave.

I asked him why there was still a dent (which now had some white substance on it) and he went on and on about how they had filled the holes with matching clear coat which would not show, and  applied a special cream which would "pull out the dent"  after sitting on it for a few hours,  but was very toxic, so I shouldn't touch it or let the kids or any pets near it until it dried.  When it turned blue, it was done "curing" and I could wipe it off.Of course I didn't believe there was any substance that could do that, but I was also starting to be afraid of them.    And he had suddenly run out of business cards  but jotted down what was supposedly his name, "John" and #, on a piece of paper.  

So, they  "pulled" the previous dent but left another new one and 2 drilled holes, and they took $60 and made me feel threatened with my small children in my arms.

My husband is really mad at me for falling for this one but the whole thing started off was the drilling holes in my car part that got me sucked in and afraid.  Yikes!  

I tried to call Pacific Division to report it, but couldn't get a live person on the phone.  Called our Senior Lead Officer on his cell phone and he said that since I had agreed to give them money (I did feel coerced, though!  Come on, someone standing next to you and your kids with a sledgehammer in their hands!) then it becomes a business transaction rather than a crime, that I would have to go in person to report it to the detectives in the West LA Fraud division.  I have a photo of the guy's back license plate, it was a white older model car, Buick maybe?

Yeah, I guess one day I will look back on this and laugh.  But right now I feel really sick to my stomach about it and it doesn't seem very funny!  Just wanted to  post this because I'm *usually* pretty street-wise (I tend toward my New Yorker attitude of being in a hurry and not even interacting at all with strangers in a parking lot let alone falling for this kind of thing.)  So anyway, be on the lookout and don't even engage with these kind of people and certainly don't get suckered by them!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Guest Post from Lauren: Ruckus Reader Event at Zimmer Children's Museum

On Sunday, I went to the Zimmer Museum.  I went in a room there was snacks in.  We met a girl named Lauryn (but she has a different way of spelling it!).  Lauryn showed me how to play the Ruckus Reader on an Ipad.  I liked about it, the My Little Pony game.  If I had an Ipad I would like to play it.  I colored with the Crayola color game.  It was cool!

Afterwards, I did a lot of other things.  I went in the play ambulance and the ball pit.  It was fun!  My favorite part about it was the boat that had balls around it, to represent water.

Upstairs there was a stage that was for dress-up.  There were mirrors and at the top of the mirrors there were words that said "today I would be".  I dressed up as a flower princess.

The airplane was cool!  I liked its wings.  I pretended to fly it.  I think it was a real airplane! But I think it was abandoned.

Lauryn's mom gave me a gift bag and some My Little Ponies!  I love getting gift bags, of course!  Thank you, Lauryn's mom!

(I am making a FUNNY face in this picture!)
I want to go back some day!

Note from my mom:
If you go:


  • Sunday, 12:30–5:00 p.m.  
  • Monday, closed
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m 
  • Friday, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.   
  • Saturday, closed


    $8 Adults
    $5 Children 2-17
    Children under 2, free
    Grandparents free on Tuesdays when accompanied by grandchild

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Part 2 Adventures: Who Needs an Appendix Anyway?

So where was I?  Oh yes, my abdomen was hurting on the lower right side, I had a fever and chills and the pain finally got intense enough that I asked Ryan to drive me to the emergency room.  I changed into my oldest, most comfortable sweatshirt and sweatpants, topped off with a pink Snuggy, and we were off.  (If you know me, that's a sign that I'm really sick, I rarely ever wear sweatpants!)

When we had almost arrived at UCLA, I started feeling better, probably from the Tylenol kicking in.  I almost decided to go back home and see if it would go away.  What if it was nothing serious after all?  I could be wasting everyone's time.  Luckily I did go in.  The admit nurse told me that I probably had appendicitis and that she'd had hers out the month before and "it really wasn't so bad.  I was expecting it to be so much worse."

When I got back to the hospital bed and they did my vitals, my fever was up to 100.5.  They offered me morphine, which I declined.  The first doctor came and immediately prodded my ovaries.  They did not hurt (which could have been a sign of ectopic pregnancy, the other malady that presents with similar symptoms).  She told me that they would send me off for a CT scan to be sure of diagnosis, but it was likely appendicitis.  Then an older male doctor came and poked and prodded me some more and informed me "that is not your appendix" but that they would do an ultrasound.

My cell phone was not working and Ryan was out in the waiting room looking after the kids, but for some reason texts went through, so I texted my brother (see this old post about why I don't text) which was my only form of entertainment while waiting.  I had him call my parents to tell them what was going on.

Meanwhile, they did do the CT scan, but the last-minute surprise was that they had to inject me with radioactive dye, so I would not be able to breastfeed for 48 hours.  This ordinarily would have concerned me but I just looked at them with glassy eyes and said "you do what you have to do" and decided to just pump and dump later.

I pumped and dumped in the ER, which was awkward and painful.  But getting the dye-contrast CT was the right decision because the scans came back showing that I did indeed have appendicitis and needed immediate surgery.  I never saw the male doctor again, who had told me it was not my appendix, and they did not need to do the ultrasound.  Good thing for modern technology!

Next, they wheeled me upstairs to the surgery room where at the last minute everyone was in a tizzy because I was wearing contact lenses and still had my underwear on.  Once everything was off, they had me wear an oxygen mask and explained that when I woke up my throat would be sore because while I would be unconscious, they were going to put a tube down my throat to help me breath.  Then I had a last minute panic thinking that the anesthesia was not taking effect, and worrying that I would remain awake for the procedure.

Then, I woke up about 2 hours later in a private room, with a vague memory of having been in a recovery room and even having spoken with a nurse.  My throat hurt but other than that, I felt a lot better.  My ribs did feel like I'd been bear-hugged.  There were 3 incisions, covered with bandages.  2 along my bikini line and one coming out of my belly-button.  I was strapped to all kinds of heart monitors, IV machines and each leg was hooked up to a machine which would "massage" it by lifting it up and raising it while squeezing like a blood pressure cuff.

Whenever I had to get up to go to the bathroom, I had to get the nurse to unhook all of the apparati first.  I did not sleep very well because of the leg "massagers".  The nurse told me that "some people actually like them".  I can't imagine who would.  I did manage to get her to surreptitiously agree to turn them off for 1 hour so that I could catch a nap.

No one had been very clear on when I was going home because "it is up to the doctor" but I did not see any doctors again until about 10:00 a.m. the next day.  There was also some confusion as to my breakfast diet.  Originally they brought me jello and beef broth "for your liquid diet" but since I'm a vegetarian, I didn't want that.  And I wasn't told of any planned liquid diet so I think they had me mixed up with another room.  I ordered and ate oatmeal and toast.

When it came, I hadn't realized they were going to bring just oatmeal.  No cinnamon, raisins and brown sugar.  They were nice and went back to the kitchen for the other things, but told me next time I ordered, to think of anything I might like with the meal besides the word it said-i.e. dressing with a salad, mustard, mayo, salt, milk for coffee, etc. and to make sure to say all of the other words on the phone.  Weird.

Around 10:00 a team of doctors marched in and said that everything looked fine, and I could go home at noon.  One of them told me that the rib pain was because they had to inflate my abdomen with air, stretching my ribcage.  So, Ryan and William came (William's separation anxiety could be a whole other post!) and waited around with me, and around 1:00, the wheelchair escort finally arrived and we went home.  On the way out, they gave me discharge papers with prescriptions for pain medicine and a note telling me not to lift anything over 10 pounds for 4 weeks.

So that is the surgery story.  Moral is, if you are having lower right abdominal pain with fever (also supposed to present with nausea, I didn't have any so that threw them off initially) then go to the emergency room immediately.  Don't wait because it's very serious and life-threatening if it bursts but if you catch it early, it's not a huge deal, as you can see from the above.  Oh, I will never be a bikini model now but we can pretty much agree that was not going to happen before! ;)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Part 1: Adventure on the new Light Rail Expo Line

On Sunday we had an exciting adventure that ended with a hospital trip but started out innocently enough.  Lauren had been begging me to take her on a ride on the new Expo Line.  There's now a Culver City exit at Jefferson and La Cienega, only a few miles from our home, and we decided to finally visit the Science Center.   So I took the kids and the Maclaren and headed out on Sunday morning.

We drove over to the stop, parked in the large free parking lot (which was mostly empty), paid $1.50 x 2 for one-way tickets and hopped on the light rail.  (They leave "every 15 minutes or more often".)  Lauren's face lit up, she probably caught my excitement at mass public transit finally coming to the westside.

It was clean, fast, efficient, and nearly empty on a Sunday morning.  We got off at Expo Park/USC and landed directly across the street from the Science Center.

There is a beautiful rose garden in front and Lauren grabbed my phone and took this picture.  

Inside, it was a smorgasbord of science delights, so many exhibits and bright and shiny moving objects that the kids didn't know where to focus first.  It was a little bit hard running after William and when I bent down to put him back in his stroller, I thought I might have pulled a muscle.  It hurt near my hip.

The kids' favorite part was the Ecosystems exhibit, where there was an aquarium with a clear tunnel in the middle that they could walk through, while fish swam overhead.  Lauren also wanted to explore the gift shop but by then, but we'd promised Ryan to be home in time for lunch (note, they have a Cafe and a McDonald's) plus my hip/abdomen was hurting so much that I just wanted to urgently get home and off of my feet.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
We left and caught a train back, drove home, and I had an agonizing 10 minutes waiting to turn right onto La Cienega into an endless stream of cars, which made the driving the longest portion of the trip.

Finally got home, went directly upstairs and into bed.  I had a 99 fever.  I put a heating pad on my abdomen, curled up into a fetal position and tried to rest but the pain got worse.  Finally around 4:00, I asked Ryan to take me to the emergency room...

(To be continued in Part 2)

  If You Go: 

Light Rail Expo Line Info:

  • La Cienega Station is the westernmost station that's currently open.  Parking is free.
  • Light Rail Tickets: $1.50 for ages 5 and up, per one-way segment (if you change lines, pay another $1.50) or $5 for an all-day pass.  Credit cards are accepted.
  • Schedule: Trains run every 15 minutes or more frequently
    La Cienega Station
  • Strollers and bikes are allowed on board 
  •                 California Science Center Info:

  •  Hours: Open daily 10-5
  • Admission: FREE!  (Donation suggested) 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fun at the Skirball

In January, I took the kids to the Skirball Center on a Friday afternoon.  It was Lauren's 3rd time and Willie's first.  They had so much fun running around in the very photogenic garden outside that they would have been satisfied even if we hadn't gone in!

But once we did, we got assigned to the 3:00 group, were given time stickers, and we waited downstairs, where Willie tried to infiltrate the display's security system to smash some ancient pots and pans.

Once inside the exhibit, the animal sculptures made of recycled materials are fascinating!

They loved running around playing with the stuffed animals (2 of each, of course)

Their favorite part, by far, was sweeping the rubber fake poop.  I would post a photo of that, but it looks so realistic, it's the kind of thing that might really embarrass them someday, so you'll just have to go there to see for yourselves!  

If you go:


  • Tuesday–Friday, 12:00–5:00 p.m.  
  • Saturday–Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Closed Mondays


    $10 General

  • $7 Seniors and Full-Time Students
  • $5 Children 2–12
  • Free to Members and Children under 2
  • Free to all on Thursdays
Included with Museum admission

Disclosure: We were provided with free passes to get in this trip (thanks, MomsLA!), and we have also been there several previous times on Thursdays when it is always free. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Go-To Recipe: Spinach Souffle

Hard to believe from the name, but this recipe is my family’s most-requested dish, the one that has my kids begging for second and third helpings! 

Recipe: Spinach Souffle, adopted from Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Get out a 9 x 13 glass Pyrex pan and oil bottom and sides with approx. 1/8 cup olive oil, then sprinkle 1/3 cup breadcrumbs on bottom.

Mix in KitchenAid mixer: 
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ pounds frozen spinach, defrosted and pressed to remove excess water
  • 1 pound of cottage cheese (can use feta, ricotta or a combination of all 3)
  • ½ cup Romano/Parmesan blend
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (or almond meal if you are doing gluten-free)
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 ¾ cups shredded extra-sharp New York cheddar (you can cheapen out and use other cheddar if your other cheese are sharp)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Mix and pour into pan.  Sprinkle ¼ cup of grated extra-sharp NY cheddar on top. 
Bake at 350 for approx 1 hour until golden brown on top

Serve warm or chilled.  The recipe is very forgiving, can swap other kinds of sharp cheeses.  Just keep the spinach/egg ratio and have fun experimenting! Great brunch food but we also have it often for dinner!

Disney, baby!

Last week I was invited to an event for I'm not normally someone who goes nuts for Mickey Mouse insignia.  So I was surprised at how much I actually liked their new baby line.  The company seems to take the reputation of their name very seriously and only work with high quality brands.  Their new offerings are more reminiscent of Disney than "in your face" Disney.  They've put together as a magnet site that pulls all of their officially licensed baby products into one place.  So if, say, you're at a baby shower and see someone open a Pooh mobile that you had your eye on, you will find out exactly where to buy it by searching Disneybaby, from there you can buy it on Amazon, Target, Babies R' Us, Giggle, etc. with just one click.

I was able to see and touch the new items from the spring line, and here were my favorites:

  •  "Lion King" changing pad.  It felt soooo soft and plush.  I loved how it reminded me of Lion King yet could also fit into the decor of anyone who just liked animal prints.  From Disney: "Turn baby's nursery into a sleeptime safari with the new Disney Baby The Lion King Nursery Collection. The collection furnishes parents with everything they need to outfit a nursery, including a 4-piece crib bedding set, modern canvas wall art, a musical mobile and an animal print window valance, among other wildly adorable items."

  • Their new bodysuits which have 2 sets of snaps so baby can wear them longer or as Disney puts it "The only infant bodysuit with a patent-pending design that "grows" with baby, the DISNEY CUDDLY BODYSUIT™ features a second row of snaps for an inch of longer wear." Great idea! These 101 Dalmations bodysuits were especially cute.

  • Lavender and Chamomile scented baby wash. I had a chance to wash my hands with it and it smelled like baby perfume, mmm!  Not overpowering, but a sweet and innocent fragrance.   These Winnie the Pooh Water Activated Disposable Washcloths are a great idea for clean-ups on the go, when you want a sweet smelling babe.

r more Disney Baby, visit

Disclaimer: I was provided with lunch and a gift bag.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Wrong Kind of Red on Valentine's Day

Around here, we heart Valentine’s Day.  Pink!  Red!  Chocolate!   Baking treats!  Paper scraps!  What’s not to love?!­­­

I wanted to blog about the cute heart-shaped cheesy pretzels we were going to make, or post some photos of the cards Lauren made for her class.  But alas, I unexpectedly spent the entire day at the pediatrician’s office, the emergency room and then the pharmacy.

The full William ER story: A few months ago he cut himself just above the eye, on the corner of our nightstand,  I took him to the doctor and was told that he did not need stitches.  We left with ophthalmic ointment. 

 On Sunday he got a small cut in the exact same spot after sliding off of Lauren's bed. It looked the same as before, so I just applied the same ointment.

Then on Wednesday morning, he tripped and fell and hit his face on the side table and somehow split open the same cut in the exact same spot, only deeper. I took him to his doctor's office and they said he needed stitches, and so off we went to the ER.

We went to UCLA Westwood and got fast-tracked into the pediatric exam room, but then waited for a long time.  I was left to entertain a hungry toddler (yay for breastfeeding at least!) while shut up for hours in a small room full of expensive medical equipment that he desperately wanted to break!  Then they finally brought in the "papoose" and strapped him in, screaming, and they injected him with lidocaine and attempted to stitch the cut.

Three ER doctors saw him, plus they consulted with a plastic surgeon.  They were torn on whether to give stitching so close to the eye, could risk infection.

They said it was a really freak thing for him to injure the same place again so soon.  After 5 hours there, we left with an open wound and prescriptions for more opthalmic ointment and an oral antibiotic. Now if we can only keep him from reinjuring himself!

And if there is a lesson in all of this (besides "go to UCLA Santa Monica, they are quicker") it is that I am so lucky to be one of the people who gets to wait 5 hours.  I know people whose children have serious chronic health problems, for whom hospitals are a way of life.  We're really fortunate we only go for occasional scrapes.  For us to be ignored meant that doctors were busy looking after graver cases than ours.  And for that, on this day of love and roses, I am grateful!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Time I Almost Got Sent to Los Calinas Women’s Detention Center

It was a dark and stormy night…oh wait, wrong story.  Okay, maybe it was storming a little but it was daytime.  It was 1999 and it was the last summer of college.  I was taking one class and working at my university’s catering sales office.  I was living at my parents’ house and commuting 38 miles each way, but often crashed at a friend’s place, who lived close to campus. 

One morning I’d spent the night at the friend’s house but had car problems so I ended up having to walk to work.  I had a brick-like cell phone so as I walked, I called the office to tell them I was going to be late, and to get my friend/co-worker Felicia’s sympathy for the long uphill trek.  She felt sorry for me and relayed this to my boss Julia who decided to let Felicia leave and pick me up.

You’d have to understand this about where we went to college-the parking situation at the time was terrible for students.  There were no parking garages, only massive parking lots on the outskirts of campus, and to get in to the center, you’d wait for a shuttle bus or take roller blades or skateboard to get yourself in.  There weren’t assigned lots, just assigned lot types where, as Julia put it, the parking permit was really a hunting license.  So if Felicia had a car parked in one of the yellow student lots, it would have taken her a good half hour each way just to commute to her own car. 
Instead, Julia tossed her the keys and told her to use her white Dodge parked in the green lot nearby. 

A few minutes later, a car that I didn’t recognize pulled up next to me as I walked.  Felicia rolled down the window and told me to get in.  I was happy to see her but somewhat surprised at the vehicle-an old Dodge hatchback. 

  “Whose car did you borrow?”, I asked.

“Julia’s!  Isn’t she nice, she lent me her car to come get you!”

“Really?  Because I thought Julia had a Dodge caravan.”  I looked around the interior of this Dodge hatchback with its piles of papers and fast food wrapper.   Julia came from a family of interior designers and she did event catering for a living.  Her car was kept pretty clean and I couldn’t imagine her wolfing down Big Macs on the way to work.

“Well maybe it’s Karl’s car.”  Karl was her teenaged son.  His father was a chef.  He may have been a secret slob and fast food fan but somehow I didn’t think so.   I glanced at the piles of papers on the floor and saw an envelope addressed to the phone company with strange name written on the return address. 

“Um, Felicia?”  It dawned on both of us at once that we were somehow in a stranger’s car.  The key to Julia’s Dodge Caravan somehow fit in this hatchback’s lock.  We then attempted to return the hatchback to the green parking lot but by then the space it came from was taken by another car, so Felicia had to park in an adjacent lot.

We ran upstairs to check with Julia, in case this was really her car.  She got a very puzzled look on her face and told us that no, she had only the Caravan.  We ran back outside to the parking space the hatchback had come from, to find one worried looking grad student and 5 UC policemen scratching their heads. 

Felicia meekly approached.  “Um, I think I can explain…”

The grad student was so relieved to have her car safely back and the police got a good laugh out of it.  But they did tell us that, had they spotted the car in motion, protocol would have been to arrest us at gunpoint and take us directly to Los Calinas Women’s Detention Center. 

And that, my friends, is the story of how I almost got arrested for grand theft auto!  

Haven’t told that story in a few years but every time I do, other people seem to have stories of keys fitting more than one lock.  What’s yours?