Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why I Hate People...

I really try to like them. I have often tried to be that person who never says or thinks a bad thing about another human. I cannot tell you how often my New Years Resolution is to become a genuinely, truly "nice" person, who can get along with everyone, and for whom the phrase, "not a mean bone in her body" would be a fitting description.

But alas, I am NOT that person and today I realized, it's not (just) because of me. I am not simply wired to be a snarky, semi-cynical grump. It's the fact that I'm just far too sensitive to the crappiness and all-around bitchitude of others to be Miss Mary Sunshine.

Never in my life have I striven to be more likeable than right now. I'm not trying to be someone I'm not or anything crazy like that--I know this isn't high school; I've gotten past that angst and I do believe that I am likeable as I am, but I'm definitely mindful of how I present myself to potential friends in this new environment. Which is everyone, basically. All the time. (well, probably not the woman at the table next to me in Panera clipping her fingernails, because....ew.) So perhaps the coming rant is justifiable only in that I was made to feel so utterly unlikeable today that a little piece of me shriveled up in humiliation.

Today was our Music Together class, which has been up to this point a bit of a roller coaster. Lovely to be in a class already; establishing a routine; something familiar for us, since we have taken several rounds of Music Together in the past year. Lovely to chat with some of the moms and realize that perhaps these are the early days of some wonderful future friendships. But not so lovely when your kid is, not the worst behaved in class (because there are some doozies), but at least the most aggressive. This new side of Ethan--the hitting, kicking, throwing sand side of him is really bumming me out, and I have found myself in the past several weeks falling all over myself to apologize to other moms and establish a time-out structure that actually feels like discipline to Ethan without being based in shame or humiliation. He's great at saying, "sorry", but I don't think he has the foggiest idea what he's apologizing for, nor is it clear to him that we're leaving parks and classes because he's just hit another toddler.

For the most part, other moms have been graciously understanding, sensing my abject horror at my child's behavior. That's, to some degree, the wonder of this sisterhood of motherhood (do I get points for how awkward that sounds?). If you have a child, you've either "been there", or you know you're destined for it sometime in the future. When I am groveling for forgiveness when my beast (and yes, I am a bad mother, my child answers to the name "beast" now) walks up to another toddler on the playground and just "thwack!"s him, most moms realize that I am simply them in another form, and that in ten minutes they could be dealing with the same "thwack-y" toddler themselves.

It is very much a "there, but for the grace go I" kind of experience. And most of us recognize that. We appreciate seeing the offending toddler's mom address the situation, because nothing gets our hackles up like seeing our child hurt (bodily or in feelings) without the situation being rectified, but unless the attack is egregious or results in real harm, the mom code says we stay out the game of disciplining another's child, lest we send that mother all kinds of "I'm better than you" signals and we know how we'd feel if sent that message ourselves.

I guess MomBitch in my Music Together class missed that "Sisterhood of Motherhood Memo" and today, she decided to have at me, via her child, during class.

We arrive at class early and with my best intentions to keep Ethan from messing with the window shutters. This was last week's debacle, as he instigated a mass exodus away from the song circle to the window shutters for a rousing game of "opencloseopencloseopenclose" that had many of the mothers looking at me like, "my child would never have done that if yours hadn't given him/her the idea." Joy.

So we sit as far from the windows as we can get without being outside in the parking lot. Perhaps the parking lot would have been a more productive place for us because shortly after we took our place, MomBitch and her Spawn come in and park themselves next to us. Spawn is wearing a shiny new pair of sneakers and the color captivates Ethan. Like a toddler captivated by a color (duh), Ethan attempts to touch the sneakers. Spawn is displeased with the attention and tries to move away. Understandable. Ethan follows him, on his knees, trying to touch the elusive sneakery goodness.

Of course, I call Ethan back, tell him to leave Spawn be, and begin to get up to retrieve my sneaker-stalking son. It's at this point that MomBitch decides to teach her child how to scold my child. "Spawn, tell Ethan not to be a naughty boy. Tell him to leave you alone; you don't want him touching you." Fortunately Spawn doesn't have the capacity for full sentences, and just keeps moving.

Perhaps you might have heard a loud "bang" at around 9:30am PST today. That would have been the sound of my jaw hitting the floor as this woman called my child "naughty". Or no, I'm sorry; told her son to call my child "naughty".

Mind you, this woman made no eye contact with me, nor did she attempt to respond to me when I picked Ethan up and said, "so sorry", having moved internally, in a nano-second from shock, to anger, to humiliation, to complete and utter self-loathing that I'm raising a "naughty" child.

Within minutes I have gravitated back to white-hot anger (because, please, I am an emotional time-bomb these days. shocking). How DARE she?! Right? Right? Thank you.

But that's not it. Later in the class, during "egg-shaker time" (shoot me. seriously.), Ethan decides that Spawn's shakers looked mighty good, and he makes a move for them. CLEARLY not okay, but also clearly toddler-appropriate behavior. So of course, I give it a second to work itself out, then call to Ethan to leave Spawn alone, and when that didn't work, I again get up, go to the middle of the circle, and collect my egg-shaker stealer, returning to our spot in the circle, again apologizing and having Ethan apologize as well.

What did MomBitch do during this? Well of course. Instruct her son once again to let my son know he's naughty, bad and mean. Brilliant. During the rest of class, I am sure the air temperature right around me was about 10 degrees higher than the rest of the room as I contemplated the passive-aggressive nastiness of a woman who would use her son as a mouth piece for her disapproval of my son's behavior. Especially when she can't bother to address me or respond to me addressing her.

I totally get teaching your child to advocate for him/herself--I think that's important and appropriate. But teaching your child that they have the power to label another child as "naughty" or "bad"??!! Step OFF, bitch.

And can I tell you what MomBitch did for most of the class? Let her child run around like a lunatic, ignoring it when herefused to hand in sticks and egg-shakers when the teacher asked, and she herself had to be asked several times not to talk during song time.

So I know the type of person I was dealing with, and over the course of the day, I've let my anger subside for the most part. But seriously. This is why there's a little part of me that just hates people, and has to start making peace with the fact that I will never be that "not a mean bone in her body" person; I said nothing to her (except for the attempts at apologizes that fell on deaf ears), but the thoughts about her that ran through my head for most of the rest of the day completely take me out of the running, I'd say forever, for "Miss Mary Sunshine".

Oh, and in "Sarah's First Earthquake" news...didn't even feel it. How is that possible??!! I was on Hollywood Blvd, being all touristy with my parents and Ethan, and somehow we felt nothing. 5.4 on the Richter scale. 0 on the Sarah scale.

Ah well.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

One Month Later..

So it's closing in on one month since Husband, Ethan & I took this giant leap of insanity faith and I have to say that life in Los Angeles hasn't been quite as traumatizing as I had expected it to be.

Certainly I miss the comforts, familiarities, and of course the friendships and family of home. I also miss the Starbucks that was down the street from us in Arlington, where the baristas actually, I dunno, MADE your drinks when you ordered them. Here, they tend to unpack some muffins and clean out the frappaccino blenders after taking your order, seeming to be mulling it over until you're never quite sure they're actually going to bestow your grande skim chai upon you or what. Maybe they're giving me time to reconsider and go with the bottle of water instead, because, you know, this is LA.

Anyway, I've noticed several quirky things about Los Angeles (beyond the apparent obsession with donut shops & high colonics) and I'm not quite sure yet whether they amuse or annoy me.

1.) Traffic Lights--My father has a special talent for turning traffic lights red. I clearly recall from my childhood, driving in cars with my father and being amazed at his propensity for finding the red lights. A trip to my friend Laurel's house, when navigated by him, was at least a full ten minutes longer than if my mother were behind the wheel. I don't know why this was the case, but if Dad was driving and we were approaching a traffic light--it turned red. With staggering consistency. Any time we found ourselves sans Dad and still hitting the red lights, we would joke that Dad was hiding in the trunk of the car and that's why we couldn't get down the road any faster than one light at a time.

Apparently my father is in the trunk of my car, and all other cars on the road, at ALL times in Los Angeles because this city seems to have a strict "You get through one light at a time, Missy. Don't even THINK of speeding up to get through that yellow. It ain't gonna happen" rule. I'm fairly certain the brilliant civil engineers who planned the timing of the city's traffic lights are to blame for the hulking brown-grey clouds of smog that hang over the city. It's not the glut of cars on the freeways; it's the millions of cars idling at every. single. traffic. light in the city and then revving their engines in a futile attempt to sneak through the next light in the row before it shuts them down again. Driving to Target today, a mere five miles from my home, I was stopped at no fewer than ten traffic lights. Seriously, Dad, get OUT of my trunk.

2.) Weather reports--okay, what the hell is with three forecasts in one viewing area? How crazy is this? Apparently you've got your "Downtown" forecast, your "Valley" forecast and your "Beaches" forecast. Granted, the job is still a cake walk for a trained monkey, as each forecast is the same as it was the day before, but the vast difference in temperature is astounding to a girl from the East Coast, where the temperatures don't start to vary with any significance until you've gone from New Hampshire to Virginia. Here, ten miles is the difference between 75 and overcast and 95 and sunny.

3.) Cancer warnings--most of us are used to the warning labels on cigarettes. Sure. No one who's lighting up these days is remotely in the dark about the perils of puffing away. So sure, we have those warnings here. But we also have cancer warning labels on cars, restaurants, grocery stores. Apparently there is something call "Acrylamide" that is present in almost all foods that are cooked a certain way and apparently said "acrylamide" will kill ya or make you have babies with three heads. So any establishment that produces things like french fries is supposed to have a warning label at its entrane letting you know that consuming their food could be hazardous to your health. Yes, here in the state of California, thanks to Proposition 65, we are bombarded on a daily (perhaps hourly) basis with the reminder that EVERYTHING causes cancer and we're all going to die. Wicked cheerful.

4.) Priuses--or would that be Prii? Whatever the plural of Toyota's hybrid? Yeah. I think Husband & I moved here a little late because clearly we missed the great Prius give-away. Every other car on the road is one of these fuel efficient, innovative, Leonardo DiCaprio-approved automobiles. They are the rabbits of the automotive world here (and I don't mean Volkswagons; I mean horny little bunnies), as they seem to multiply in numbers by the day. There's a house down the street that I swear has spit out a new Prius every time I walk by. There is one parked in almost every driveway (no doubt while it's owner drives their Hummer other car to work). I fear that when I go to register my car here I'm going to find fine print that says I can only register a Nissan Murano if I pinky swear that my next car will be a Prius.

5.) Radio Stations--So, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought, for better or for worse, Los Angeles was the entertainment capitol of our nation. Why is it then, that I cannot find a radio station here that plays music produced after, oh, let's say 1985? Holy armful of black rubber bracelets, Batman. If you want to hear Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me", Devo's "Whip It" or A-ha's "Take on Me", this is the place for you. Los Angeles' radio selections seem to be the product of some 80's throwback spending hours in his basement, pouring over vinyl LPs on a quest to create the perfect mixed tape. If you're interested in hearing Cold Play's "Viva LaVida", you're going to need to tune in someplace else, because unless you can time-warp them in, I think LA's got another 15 years before they start playing Cold Play.

It's so bizarre--clearly the influence of bands like Fall Out Boy are felt here; young men walk around with their dark hair awkwardly swept across their foreheads and eyes in a gravity-defying mess that is reminiscent of my teenage love affair with Aquanet and my to-the-sky bangs. But you can't hear Fall Out Boy on the radio. Those boys probably hadn't fallen out (of their mother's wombs) when most of the stuff that's on the radio here was being made.

Perhaps I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get XM.

I'm sure these things will become commonplace to me, and the weird warnings on our way into Cheesecake Factory and the eleventy billion lights I sit through to get five miles down the road will become just part of the fabric of my daily life. I mean, really, I hardly even giggle anymore when I drive by the "colon hydrotherapy" place down the street, so I must be adapting, right?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Life bumping into the D-List...

Or, "Even Relatively Obscure Celebrites Like Their Veggies Fresh"....which is, I guess, why Husband, Ethan and I cannot go to the local farmer's market each Sunday without running into a bevy of D-listers.

The thing about living in this area, just outside of Hollywood, is that EVERYONE seems to be "that guy/girl that was on that show, once." We are not dripping with A-listers in these parts (I think they're tucked up safely in the hills above me), but our neighborhood seems to be rife everyone who has ever been an extra in a movie, in a commercial, or had a recurring, but not starring role, on some television show a decade ago. And let's not forget aging rockers.

When Husband and I first came out here, for what I refer to as the "See honey, Los Angeles isn't the hellpit you think it is" tour of '08, I have to admit, I found it pretty novel to see "celebrities" at every turn. No one super fancy--just your Finola Hughes', Lance Bass's and Bob Sagats of the world. The most interesting interaction was with Dakota Fanning and her whole family in the Baja Fresh on Ventura Blvd. Ah yes, you know you're super cool when you're a little star-struck by a 12 year old who was once in that movie with Tom Cruise (War of the Worlds. So bad. But she can scream like a banshee, bless her heart). They all sat at the table next to us and complimented us on the gorgeousness that is our son (note to self: start lining up auditions so Ethan can support your lazy ass from now until he ends up in therapy and/or rehab).

Now that we actually live here, I don't bat an eyelash when I see people like Julie Bowen (Carol Vessey on "Ed" and ex-wife of Jack Shepard on LOST) or Dave Foley (30 Helens agree he was wicked funny on "Kids in the Hall") at our local park, playing with their kids. Husband and I have a running tally of celebrity sightings, so I silently tick it off in my head, and go back to prying other childrens' toys out of my beast of a son's hands (have I mentioned that this transition to LA, in conjunction with his developmental age, has turned him into a kicking, hitting, "NO"-ing mess of two-iness? Good times).

When I turn around in line at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf after ordering my blended iced green tea (please tell me it's just green tea and ice and WON'T make me fatter. Please. Lie to me), and see Brittany Snow ("American Dreams"--you could carry her around in your coat pocket, she's so tiny), it doesn't phase me. She's just a girl who used to be in that show that time, waiting in line for her nonfat vanilla latte like the rest of us.

But it's the farmer's market that seems to bring them out in force. This past weekend I had a conversation with Carnie Wilson while our kids were on the pony ride (oh yeah, Ethan's first pony ride? Loved it. His favorite part? When the horse in front of him lifted his tail and pissed a river right there for the whole world to see). Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters is there pretty much every week and we see at least 3-4 other people every Sunday that we know, but can't place. Most of the time while we're meandering through the stalls of strawberries and hand-milled soaps we're saying, "Was he....? No, that's not it." We watch just enough television to be able to identify the guy who played the Dharma project worker on the island when Desmond first arrived. No more, no less.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not star-struck or anything like that. Talking about orange crocs with Carnie Wilson doesn't make me feel supah-cool. It's just such an odd thing--to be standing there in a crowd of strangers, or to be walking down the street, and to see some other human being who you *know*, even though you don't know them. The normalcy of it all is surprising to me.

On a different note, thank you for all your kind words about losing Penny. We said goodbye to her on Tuesday evening and it was quite possibly the most guy-wrenching decisions of my life and an all-around craptastic experience. The grief of it really took me by surprise, but I suppose after fourteen years of taking care of another living thing, when you make the decision to end it's life, for whatever reason, it is going to cut to your heart. However, there's only so much sitting on the couch and sobbing into a fistful of tissues one can do over a dead cat before one's sanity starts to be questioned, so I'm sucking it up and going on with life (except for those times when I do sit on the couch sobbing into a fistful of tissues....shhhhh, don't tell).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hello, you...

I've started three blog entries this week; obviously none of which have seen the light of day. One is about the fiasco that was my Monday afternoon with the furniture delivery man, a.k.a. "It Ain't My Business to Move Your Current Mattress so I Can Deliver Your New Mattress, but I'll Gladly Watch You Haul It Down the Hallway Yourself Man" (hated him) and the other two are variations on the theme of my reflections about life in Los Angeles thus far, focusing on the quirky things about this area that have annoyed and/or amused me in the past weeks.

But I've not finished any of them because it seems every time I try to get something written, my Penny kitty decides to come and curl up with me, competing with the computer for my attention. Normally I allow her to lie here and purr, curled up to my leg, comfortable with her little motor running against me. I write, she chills out and purrs. It works for us.

But this week, when she's gotten up on the couch, curled up next to me and given me those "love me" eyes, I have not been able to keep the focus of my thoughts or the desire to write anything, certainly not anything amusing. So I end up putting the computer down and giving Penny kitty some serious under-the-chin scratches and belly rubs.

See, sometime in the coming week, I'm going to have to let my Penny go. After a week of her clandestinely throwing up little puddles of blood, and an obscene amount of money for a kitty endoscopy, we've found that she has a tumor in her tummy. She is absolutely hating taking the medications to help her feel better, and I don't have the heart to put her through the twice daily indignity of cramming a syringe of medication down her throat.

She's an old girl, going on 13 or 14, if my math is right (which if you know me, is kind of a long shot--it's not my forte). We are currently waiting for biopsy results and I know the veterinarian is going to go through a list of treatment options including surgery, chemo, radiation, etc. I just can't wrap my brain around putting an elderly cat through those types of measures, nor can I imagine what that would cost. And for those of you who have been reading for awhile, yes, this is the same cat who's teeth we just spent a small fortune cleaning---awesome.

So that's all from me for right now. She's curled up next to me, all purr-y and sweet. So I'm off for a bit of quality time with the little beast until it's time to say goodbye.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Beach Bum...

I guess this was inevitable. Living ten miles from the beach and being otherwise unemployed and unfettered with a pesky social life, we've become weekly regulars at the beach by the Santa Monica pier. Yeah, life's rough, I know.

Kita and I wait for the rush hour to pass...I'll pause so you can chuckle and shake your head at our naive optimism...and then we pack our kids up, switch on the Garmin (well, I switch on the Garmin and she follows me best she can through the freeways), and head out.

Last week we were ever so blind-leading-the-blind, messing up our parking permits and desperately searching for a bathroom. Garmin took us to the 2-hour parking lot, which requires taking note of your parking space and then popping coins into a machine, pressing buttons to get the correct amount of time on your ticket and then going back to your car to put the ticket on your dashboard. Please. With four kids and all the accouterments they require for a trip to the beach, we're lucky to have even stepped foot on the beach at all with the time allotted to us.

And speaking of the beach, the little ones have dubbed it "the desert walk" because it's about a quarter mile from the second you step onto the sand to when you get to the hard-packed sand-castle worthy sand. I just go ahead and count the walk to and from the water, Ethan and three bags in hand, as my workout for the day when we go. It seems fair.

The water feels like home to me. I grew up in the Frozen North (as described by Honduran Husband), otherwise known as New Hampshire and the beach water up there is tough to handle anytime before August. The water here is very similar and I can say with certainty that when Husband goes to the beach with us, I will be the one jumping waves with Ethan while Husband sits on the blanket, shaking his head at his "polar bears". Ethan and I love the cold water. We spent a lot of time jumping in the waves. He is definitely my son (as if there was any question of that?)

So here are some pictures of the little man and his friends, Evie, Lucy and Nonie, adapting to live as beach bums quite nicely...

The Santa Monica Ferris Wheel...

Chicks dig Ethan...

Ethan, Lucy and Evie dabble in mud sculpture while Nonie attempts an escape...

Ethan and Lu dwarfed by the massive expanse of the "desert walk"...

What's with the swim trunk ties? Are they magnetically charged to lead E to the water? Weird.

For those of you in the "OMGah, he looks just like his father did at that age...." camp; here you go. Yes, I know. It's as though I gave the child none of my own genes at all. My pregnancy was all a sham; Ethan sprung, Athena-like, from Husband's forehead.

Ah, at least some proof that he's actually my child. Chilling in the chilly water...

Taking "here's mud in yer eye" literally...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

All is Right with the World...

Because Ethan now has one of these:

See, before Ethan had one of these:
He was a cranky, pouty, tantrum-y mess of a thing.

Now, he happily gets in and out of his Cozy Coupe, opening and shutting the door, checking the stickers to make sure they are still adequately stuck, filling up the gas, and dumping his sippy of water into the back storage compartment. He is proficient at pushing the car backwards with his feet, but he has yet to quite figure out the whole forward motion. The wheels are still a bit stiff, so in a few days, I'm sure he'll be speeding up and down our driveway. Thank god it's shaded because I think I've seen what my summer is going to look like. And it looks like this:

"Baby, you can drive my car..." Oh wait, no you can't. It's mine. All mine...

"Um, can we trim these vines down a bit? They're really messing with my ride...

Ethan makes random attempt to free himself from the car, but, siren-like, it lures him back...

Car fueled by Ethan. Ethan fueled by Starbucks blended lemonade...

Because the orange crocs crack me up...

Fill 'er up! With screwdriver juice, apparently?

Finally, unadulterated joy. I'll take that, thanks!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

"Very Not Pretty!! Very Not Pretty!"

This was the emphatic assessment by my son of last night's fireworks display. Here I was, thinking since this child shares 50% of my genes, he'd be ALL about the fireworks. Apparently the "fireworks junkie" trait is way recessive.

I'd had high hopes for our first big 4th of July celebration. Ethan's first two 4th's were rather mundane, consisting of screaming for hours leading up to and following the fireworks, completely oblivious to their existence (his first 4th) and sleeping through the fireworks, completely oblivious to their existence (his second 4th). So this year, I wanted to buck that trend and introduce him to the festivities.

Fortunately we seem to have moved into the most 4th-of-July crazed neighborhood in all of Los Angeles. Friends of ours who also made this move cross country told us about the kid's parade that makes its way through our streets at 10am the morning of the 4th. See, they have a leg up on us because their moving truck actually got here last week, hence they actually live in their house right now and not in some hotel room five miles away. Because of this they have already met half the neighborhood and their kids are already in playgroups and classes for the summer. I, on the other hand, when our stuff arrives, someday, am going to be sitting out on my front fence with a cranky toddler and a sign that says, "Please be my friend!".

Did I digress? Did I get all melodramatic crazy? Ooops.

So considering we had to commute to our own neighborhood to join in the festivities, we woke up early, braved the batshit crazy breakfast crowd at this godforsaken hotel and then headed over to our house. After checking to see that the cats are still alive and glowering at us, we headed over to our friends' house one street over to find that we are, indeed, ill-prepared.

We have a stroller for Ethan because we aren't entirely incompetent. But we have no 4th of July bling. The girls' bikes were draped in shiney red, white and blue garlands and their helmets were equally bedazzled. Ethan's stroller? Brown. His shirt? Brown. I wanted to make a sandwich board that said "WE'VE ONLY BEEN HERE A WEEK. WE DON'T KNOW FROM YOUR CRAZY 4TH OF JULY FANCYPANTS PARADES!" But then, these guys have only been here a week, too, so that foiled that idea.

Thankfully they lent us a length of garland which we whipped around E's stroller and VIOLA! Festive. And thankfully some real estate agent had gone around the day before shoving red, white and blue pin-wheels in peoples' mailboxes, because that meant we not only had shiny garland, we had a kicky pin-wheel, too.

The parade was surreal. Like the neighborhood just threw up red, white and blue all over itself. But in a good way, you know? Kids on bikes, trikes, scooters, in wagons and strollers. And all of them decked out in red white and blue clothes and sporting some kind of patriotic colored (b/c I'm tired of writing "red, white and blue) noisemaker or hat or whatever. Basically if you could find one in the right color, you could have strapped a red white or blue kitchen sink to your head and you'd have fit right in. And I mean that in a good way.

We didn't just haphazardly wander through the neighborhood, either. We followed the big brightly colored (guess what colors?!) banner, and the guy whose wagon was wired for sound. He pulled his little Radio Flyer wagon with a boom box and amplifier in it, and the sounds of "Stars and Stripes Forever" echoed off of every house in the neighborhood. People not actually walking in the parade came out onto their porches and front lawns and watched us go by, waving little American flags at us in patriotic approval.

After the five block parade, we all ended up back where we started--some woman's house, three streets over from our own, for lemonade and fruit salad (I'm sure there was other stuff, but that's what we had).

It was lovely to feel like part of a community, considering we don't actually even live there yet. It was so much nicer than having to wear helmets to the hotel dinners to protect ourselves from the rabid crowd of spaghetti wrestlers.

One of our friendly neighbors (please don't ask me her name, I cannot remember it for the life of me) told us about the fireworks down by the river (and be assured I will be writing about the Los Angeles "River" soon, too), so last night we put Ethan back in his stroller and headed down to get a good seat.

Having deprived myself of 4th of July fireworks for the past two years, I started feeling giddy somewhere around 5pm. So we might have gotten there a little bit early. By like an hour. With a toddler. Past his bedtime.

Are you picking up what I'm putting down here? Recipe for disaster. But Ethan was being a real trouper; no signs of sleepiness or crankiness. We talked to him about what the fireworks were going to look like and sound like and even had him yelling "KaBOOM!!!" and giggling happily in anticipation of the real thing. We played silly games with balloons and "let's fall down on Daddy over and over again" until it was dark enough for the pyrotechnics to begin. The first "thwump" sound of the shell leaving the tube led to a beautiful red burst in the sky followed by a powerful "kaBOOM!!!"

You can imagine what happened next. Well, you don't have to, I guess, since I already told you at the beginning of the entry. First there was a look of complete shock and awe, then his bottom lip popped out and his face crumpled into a big old weepy mess. Hands immediately went for Mama and that was the end of that. In an attempt to shake him from his, "no no no no no," I said, "Ethan, aren't they pretty??!!" To which he said, "Very not pretty! Very not pretty!" and followed that up with "Go! Go!"

So, we went. In a mad dash to pack up our stuff and scurry out of the way, lest we piss of the other people who had been waiting for an hour to see the show and DIDN'T have a terrified toddler on their hands, and to avoid any further emotional scarring of our son.

We tried to stop a few times, the farther away we got from the actual display, but each time, Ethan would only peer out from his hiding spot in my neck and say, "no no no no". Okay.

So maybe next year.

But until then, here are some pictures of yesterday's festivities...

Ever so patriotic in brown. Note festive pin-wheel

Lucy in her 4th-of-Julymobile...

The wagon wired for sound. And the banner. Pre-parade

These people mean business. They love them some 4th of July.

"What's more American than watermelon and an American Flag?", Ethan wonders...

Having abandoned the brown stroller, he opts to be carried by mommy, also wearing brown...wtf??!

The end of the parade hones in on nap time

Ethan and Lucy compare flags

My, but that smog makes for a beeeouuutiful sunset, doesn't it?

A little "fall down on daddy over and over again"

The wonky family self-portrait

The exceedingly unhappy little man moments after leaving the fireworks display.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Hello, Good Buy

Otherwise called "The One Where I Admit to a Serious Target Addiction"

I have lived in Los Angeles for seven days (and I use the term "living" loosely considering we are still setting up camp at the Residence Inn). I have been to Target...seven days in a row. What is wrong with me?? I live in a hotel for cripes sake! Where am I putting all this stuff?

In my defense, not one of those trips has been out of boredom or desperation (Husband would cough the word "liar", if he were reading over my shoulder, but he can just start his own blog if he's got something to say about it, mkay?). Each trip, each day, has had a specific purpose that hadn't presented itself the day before (plus, I think breaking the trips up might do a bit to keep the credit card company from calling to ask if my card's been stolen by a crazed spendaholic who thinks Target is the only store on Earth).

During the first few days we were here, we thought nothing of the daily trips. "Let's get some snacks, milk and water for the hotel room!" Done. Next day. "You know, if we're going to be here for a week, I think we should get some regular shampoo, conditioner and body soap so we don't have to use the hotel's freebies the whole time." Done. Oh, I also bought a cowboy hat that day. It's kicky. I will probably only wear it once, then catch sight of myself in a shop window and be HORRIFIED that I thought I could pull off a low-cost (or any cost, for that matter) cowboy hat and throw it in the nearest trash receptacle. But I had to have it. Sarah wrote about this in her blog the other day and I assure you, Sarah, I'm not trying to copy--this phenomenon of "going in for "this and that", but coming out with "this, that and eleventy billion others" is the story of my love affair with Target.

Then there was the day of "You mean the moving truck won't get here until NEXT Monday? This child HAS to have some toys by then or we will all end up on the evening news!!" Done. Next day..."We're going to the beach tomorrow? We have no beach towels!!" Done. On that trip, I also realized I'd forgotten where our baby sunscreen had gotten to, so I had to buy more. And more water and snacks.

Today? Nail polish remover. Baby thermometer. Baby nail clippers. Little Tykes Cozy Coupe, aka the Flintstones car. Our friends, Toby and Kita's, girls have one and we cannot go over there without Ethan becoming a screaming, howling, weeping mess when I try to unglue him from the car. And really, they have three kids of their own, so having them adopt him for the sake of avoiding that scene is something I'm not really comfortable asking them to do. Maybe if they only had two of their own, you know? Yes, the tantrum is that bad!

So we bought him his own today, shoved it in the car next to him on the way home and then had to deal with the trantrum he threw at just removing him from such a close proximity to the box itself. I'm not sure what's going to happen when we actually put it together and tell him it's his to keep. He will either A.) lose interest in 10 minutes or B.) insist on living, breathing, eating and sleeping in it all. summer. long. We shall see.

So that's it. Seven days of living in LA; seven days of Target. I can't stand it. I need to detox. No more Target this coming week.

Wait. No. I didn't say that. Maybe just no Target weekend. Maybe.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ode to a Play Group...

So, I'm going to bring the whole room down now while I kvetch about missing our play group. Because today was the first play group that Ethan and I have missed due to this whole "Let's go live in a hotel in LA until we're old enough to actually be excited by the free spaghetti dinner" thing we're rocking right now. (Because our stuff? Might never show up. "Never" being Monday of this coming week. But still. Gimme my stuff!!) And I'm feeling a bit blue. Okay, I'm feeling "bottle of wine and pint of Ben and Jerry's" blue.

Let me preface the self-pitying tirade I'm about to embark upon by saying that there is a part of me that is LOVING Los Angeles. Truly, the weather? Doesn't even seem real, it's so nice. The people in our neighborhood? Do not walk by without stopping to talk. We've found parks to play in, beaches to frolic on (Santa Monica pier? Love it.), and farmer's markets to peruse just blocks from our house. It is impossible not to be happy here---when you're not thinking about what you've left behind.

Tonight Husband & I shied away from anything new in the way of culinary experience and took ourselves to tried and true PF Chiangs for the same spicy chicken and chicken with broccoli that we always get. Delightfully comforting (if frightfully unhealthy). As I looked around the room while waiting for someone, anyone to bring my fitful child a smiley-cat'd plastic cup of water, I noticed three separate tables of girlfriends drinking and chatting, sharing a couple of dishes together and I immediately wanted to mash my face into a heaping bowl of ice cream and sob. It occurred to me--how long will it be before I can sit around a table with a group of girls and laugh and share drinks again? Cue hyperventilation and bottomless pit of loneliness feeling. And thus my whiney, sad, self-pitying post.

So I knew I was going to miss the moms. The thing that was so great about this play group was that it just happened. There was no signing up, no walking into a crowd of "we already know each other and get along famously; what can YOU bring to the group?" moms, no sense of "joining" something.

I have a hard time with that sort of thing, mainly because when it comes to making friends with groups of women, unfairly to them, I tend to get stuck mentally in my all-girl high school, where alternately ostracising and taunting random girls, at random times, was a legitimate form of entertainment (think Mean Girls). The fear of being that random girl was just too much; it was always easier to hang out at the table of slightly misfit almost nerds and count down the days until college while scribbling down random musings in my ratty journals. After four years in an all girl high school, I couldn't even fathom the idea of rushing a sorority in college. Basically, the idea of joining anything as a means of making girl friends made my skin crawl.

Which is why this play group was so great--we all just happened to sign up for the same Mommy & me yoga class when our kids were about three months old. We all smiled shyly at each other across the room for several weeks and then slowly started chatting in between postures. When the sessions ran out, one of us said, "hey, we should all get together for coffee since we know we have this time slot free."

And thus it began. Coffee every week for months; then, when the kids were old enough to think sitting around in their strollers was a sucky way to spend their time, we moved to the church nursery of one of the mom's and we've been there ever since. A few new moms joined along the way and became as much a part of the group as the four or five of us who "started" it. The moms have been such a huge support to me in the past two years; we've shared so many, "oh my god, why won't this child sleep??!!" talks and "Is it normal that he's...." questions. I'm not sure if I'd be the mom I am today without them. I knew I'd be lonely without them and miss them. But the thing is, I didn't realize I'd miss the kids as much as I do.

Last week, as we rounded the corner from the elevator to the play room, we were greeted by Lilly's big cheery "HIIIII!" and I immediately wanted to get the mover's on the phone and tell them to turn around, that I couldn't do it. Nope. Not leaving. Gotta stay! I have this tremendous group of kiddos to watch grow up.

How is it that, while it occurred to me, and I'd already grieved, that there'd be no more ladies' nights out with the mamas, I had glossed over the idea that I was also leaving these sweet little girls who I'd been watching grow up for almost the past two years??!! These are the kids Ethan outgrew colic with, got his first kisses (and bites!) from; they are his first friends who he won't remember. For some reason, this turns me into puddles of weepy mush on my hotel-hard couch and I can do nothing but watch hours of Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood reruns at night, fighting the urge to go down to the lobby and buy more Hagen Daz (yes, this hotel has it to. But they also have spoons in the room).

So here's a little taste of what I might have missed today. Please note Ethan's burning desire to "all fall down" before the song calls for it. um...he's precocious like that...