The Real Housewife of Santa Monica

Archive of ‘Parenting’ category

Top 3 Gifts Every New Parent Needs

I have like 5 posts started that I can’t seem to finish so I decided to be more concise.

Instead of onesies, baby blankets and tiny socks get your new parent friends these:

1. Dustbuster. Maddie was about 4 months old when G gave me a Dustbuster for Christmas. At the time I was so mad at him. What a TERRIBLE gift. As if I am expected to do all the housework! 6 years later I still have it and I don’t know what I’d do with out.

2. Headlamp. You don’t need any lamps in your bedroom for a few years of you plan to co-sleep. How many nights did I end up in bed around 7:30pm with the baby? Was I ready to sleep? No way. We had one of those babies that demanded to be held and bounced for hours on end. (I know, operator error…) With my headlamp I was able to read my stacks of New Yorkers while bouncing her on the exercise ball. I just put the magazine on the bed and was able to pass the time. Headlamps are also great if you need to get up in the middle of the night (and you will) without waking the other two or three people in the room.

3. Last but not least Ear Plugs. Our first baby was the wake up shrieking type. After a year of sleeping no more than 1-2 hours in a row I was hallucinating and planning to fake my own kidnapping when G picked up some earplugs from Rite Aid. We started taking turns sleeping with her but we both wore earplugs to dull the shocking wake ups. Now I wear them to drown out G’s snoring, breathing or any signs up human life, Root Beer’s wee hour barking forays in the backyard and the kids cries. Yes, over a year ago I instructed both kids that I am to be woken only if they are covered in vomit or their room is on fire.

That’s it for now!

The First Days are the Hardest Days

…don’t you worry anymore.
– Grateful Dead

I listened to that song over & over & over again when I started an ill-fated & short lived boarding school stint. Now with M starting school for the first time, it keeps looping in my head. On a side note, does anyone know what “Uncle John’s Band” is actually about?

My “you could do MORE if you really wanted to be a good mother” voice (inspired by Pinterest) made itself heard the first morning of pre-school. You know what I’m talking about

It seemed simple: Maddie would hold up this adorable sign:

in her perfect outfit, with hair in two neat pigtails & a cheery smile on her face.

[I am unable to find the origins of this pic - seems the blog it came from has been taken down.]


Oh well, Maddie has never been able to go with the flow and that’s what I secretly like about her. But it can make all our lives harder at times. Like yesterday for example.

As we waited outside the classroom for the teacher to let the children in, I had that sick feeling I always had on the first day of school. I tried like hell not to project it but I’m sure I failed.

M seemed to be in relatively good spirits.

Do I look as ill at ease as I felt?

As we walked in the teacher gave each child a name tag (masking tape, actually) to wear on their shirt.

Bea ran right in and took over the play kitchen.

Bea, you are not a student here.

I’ll spare you the details except to say that after staying on a bench for 30 minutes with Bea who was in desperate need of a nap, I finally gave M a hug goodbye. She was really good about it, even gave me a kiss (which she doesn’t do), then thought better of it, grabbed my hand and let out a shriek from the bowels of hell. I felt like I was in Sophie’s Choice as she was wrenched from my arms and I walked out with Bea. I wept in my car for a minute, then headed home.

When I arrived later the teacher told me that she cried “often & LOUDLY” adding, “She’s got some lungs on her!”

Egads. I know. You think I don’t know that?

When M saw me through the window, wouldn’t a normal person come running & try to get out of there as soon as possible? What does M do? She smiles at me and yells, “NO!” and runs back inside to play in the kitchen.

Frog Pillow had a very important seat.

On the way out M showed Bea how to drink from the water fountain.

When we got home M pronounced pre-school fun.

“Do you want to go back tomorrow?”


3 Reasons Not to Judge Your Friend’s (i.e. my) Parenting

In my late 20′s I remember watching my friend’s sister feed her kids a huge plate of raviolis (previously frozen in a large Sam’s Club bag) with jar sauce and thinking, “She really should serve them some vegetables or salad with that. Also, they don’t even have napkins.” and probably 3 or 4 even more helpful thoughts. That was at a time I happened to live alone and, after yoga class would make myself adorable little salads with shaved fennel & homemade dressing which I dabbed off my lips with cloth napkins. This woman, however, had 3 small kids and her bedridden mother living in her dining room. Our realities were different.

Before we had kids G and I agreed they wouldn’t watch TV until they were two, and then they’d watch only educational shows for limited amounts of time, that we weren’t going to let the kids take over our lives (that they’d have to adhere to OUR schedules) and that we would never let them interrupt us, that they’d be eating sushi, jalapeƱos & whatever else we were into at the time. We also promised each other never to argue, to let each other have free time for exercise or socializing, to have “date night” once a week, not to buy too much kid gear and probably 100 other well-intentioned thoughts.

Now that I’m in the meat of it with two daughters who’ll be 4 and 2 in September, I really have to laugh (and cry) at myself: the Ghost of Christina Past. After a week’s “vacation” with the whole family (read: poor or no sleep, 2 hour flights that felt like trans-Atlantic ones & a lengthy hike at altitude with a 35 lb kid backpack) including upon return: 1 solid day of prolific toddler vomiting followed by three days of 5:30AM wakeup calls, this (short) list, along with a chorus of heavenly angels, appeared like an apparition in my crazy head during a much-needed SOLO shower. G had to lock the door & carry Bea shrieking into another room to get her away from me for 10 minutes.

In the shower I came up with a short list (it was a short shower) of three reasons why I shouldn’t judge anyone else’s parenting (unless of course, they are injuring their child.)

(Next blog posting: 1 Reason Not to Judge your Friend’s Over-use of Parentheticals)

Here they go.

1. You don’t have the whole picture.

Let’s use the example of my friend’s sister serving ONLY tortellinis for dinner. Yes, moms “should” serve fresh fruits & veggies often. But I was only over there at her house for about an hour. I had no idea what had been going on before then. For all I know they placed in a swiss chard-eating competition that morning!

In my case, my kids will eat piles of fruit all day long. By dinner time, I’ll either make something with veggies in it OR depending on what else they’ve eaten over the past day or so, or how tired I am, will resort to some form of pasta. Dry pasta, fresh tortellinis, raviolis. I’ll use homemade tomato sauce, jarred tomato sauce, fresh pesto, jar pesto, or just olive oil & parmesan cheese. I used to try to make EVERYTHING from scratch but I was getting so stressed out and exhausted that I was yelling at everyone and just generally miserable. Not to mention the dishes facing me later. If someone showed up at dinner, it wouldn’t “Look” like a balanced dinner but that is only a snapshot of a second of that day. They’d really need to see the film version…

2. Parents are always changing.

After the school year (I taught 6th grade) ended in 2010, I faced what felt like a long very pregnant summer home alone with my almost 2 year old, Maddie. Since she had been in daycare full time that year, I really had no idea what to do with her. I was tired during the day. One day we sat together on the couch watching Sesame Street and eating Trader Joe’s Veggie Chips (read: green, orange & tan potato chips).

[photo from

Photo from Trimble Crafts on Etsy

Why did I write this post? Do I sound defensive? I really don’t have the clarity of mind right now to know. Have I been judged unfairly by anyone? I don’t know – I doubt anyone’s going to say something to me directly. My purpose for this posting was twofold:

1. You know how you sort of wish that someone you know who has died would come back & let you know what it’s like “over there?” Since my single self has “died” I thought I could come back and share the “other side” with “living” i.e. others who either aren’t going to have kids or are but not right away. It’s not about the kids – it’s about the friendships that strain due to the new demands and an opportunity for understanding.

2. To quiet the critical voices in my own head (that are judging me.) I need 3 reasons not to judge my own parenting too harshly.

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