Hand Jive

Until recently, I would have told you that my most unusual job experience was working as a street vendor on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, selling tie-dyed t-shirts from a shop called The Wizard of Odd that said things like, “When the going gets tough, the tough get growing.”  I was 20, working alongside one of my besties, and spending every dollar earned on beaded jewelry and vintage halter tops. Needless to say, it was awesome.


But my street vending gig might have gotten knocked off the top spot.  Because last month, I was asked to be the pair of hands in a series of cooking demonstrations sponsored by Hidden Valley Ranch.  (The videos are embedded in various summer food & entertaining blog posts on Momtastic.)


For one long day on set, my hands had to pour, mix, shred, stuff and chop while the rest of me got to kick back sans makeup and shoot the breeze with the crew, which included a food stylist–the job I want to have in my next life.  (I don’t know what’s happening here but I think she is blow drying the cheese to keep it melty.)


It was super fun yet definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, as I normally don’t cook in public and I’m not exactly a culinary school graduate.

Scariest moment:

Having to demonstrate the “right” way to chop vegetables.  Luckily, when the video is sped up, it actually looks like I have decent knife skills.  But the food stylist was cringing the entire time.


Most embarrassing moment #1:

When I cut my forefinger with a bread knife and production had to stop down for 20 minutes so I could finish bleeding. So much for those knife skills!


Most embarrassing moment #2:

When I accidentally referred to my work as a “hand job.”

Most delicious moment:

Making these deconstructed s’mores and eating like 17 of them while the crew set up for the next shot.  I highly recommend washing them down with some rose sangria.


Below are the rest of the cooking demo videos for anyone who wants to watch, Mom.

But before I go…what’s the strangest job you’ve ever had? I really want to know.  Please, the weirder the better.











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My Kids Have Two Different Moms (And They’re Both Me)

I think 89% of you read this already via social media, but I liked this post and wanted to make sure it got to the anti-Facebook crowd.


You should see me with the baby. I kiss and cuddle, hold and rock, murmur and nuzzle. Every interaction with her is sweetness and light, and my patience knows no bounds. I play peek-a-boo, sing silly songs, read stories over and over and shower her with praise for the tiniest of discoveries, like finding her belly button.

So who’s the crazy bitch parenting my 5-year-old? The one who loses her temper, rolls her eyes and yells—loud. The one who scans the room for favorite toys to snatch away in punishment? The one who doesn’t even try to hide her frustration and exhaustion from her impressionable young daughter? Oh right, that’s me also. They’re both me.

“You never yell at the baby,” my 5-year-old astutely notices. “The baby doesn’t know right from wrong,” I tell her. “And you do.” But is that fair, or even completely true? Sure, my preschooler knows the rules and frequently breaks them, but at her age, she’s not exactly in full control of her impulses. She’s still learning. Why can’t I cut her more slack?

This is the hard part of being firstborn, I think. Compared with a helpless baby, older kids seem so big and competent—even if they’re barely out of diapers. I wonder if my expectations have been out of whack. I’ve noticed that she bristles when I call her a big girl. Sometimes, she still wants to be my baby.

Keep going…it’s over at mom.me.

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Ready or Not, The Baby is Turning One

Chloe Mom almost one

Milestones are raining down on me. The baby is talking: Mama, Dada, up, agua, boo(k).  She is trying to walk, and can make tracks by hopping forwards on her knees, like a little talking bunny.  Worst of all, she is turning one.  I have whiplash.  I feel dazed. I am milestoned (adj) – in a mopey, conflicted and sentimental state of mind caused by babies growing up too fast.

Really, how can my second (and last) baby be turning one already?

Don’t tell Viv, but when she reached her first birthday 4+ years ago, my main emotion was relief.  Relief that I’d kept her alive in one piece for an entire year.  Relief that she was finally sleeping through the night. Relief that soon, she’d be able to tell me what was wrong instead of just melting down in the car, the stroller, the store—all places where I felt helpless and panicky.  As a newbie mom, I felt that way a lot.

It’s different this time. Calmer. Easier. Faster. Too fast. When I compare the baby koala who just wants to snuggle with the 5-year-old giraffe who mostly wants to argue (albeit in endlessly creative and sometimes charming ways), it’s especially hard to let go–to allow the pure-love cuddle monkey to become the complicated kid.  But it’s not up to me. (It’s not, right?  Just checking.)  She insists on growing up.

love my monkey


The ending of this first, precious year with Chloe has reminded me, strangely, of graduating from college—and not just because both involve lack of sleep and cleaning up puke.  I loved college. It was the only time in my life when I had freedom without responsibility, which, if you’ve ever had the pleasure, is quite the giddy high. For four years, my whole mission (other than passing grades, whatever) was to connect with all of these smart, curious, open-minded, adorable people, explore ideas, live in the moment, feel my feelings, try on personas, experiment with style, discover music, dance until sweaty, travel anywhere and otherwise figure myself out. I was a lucky brat and I just hope college is still around in 15 years so I can spoil my kids the same way.

Anyway, during my senior year in that utopian fantasy, the real world began to loom large. I became hyper aware of counting down the final moments of a special time slipping away fast. “It will never be like this again,” I sobbed, dramatically but not inaccurately. Because the truth was, it would never be like that again. But it would be other things. Some even better.

That intense happy/sad feeling is here again, as I watch my baby, whom I swear was born just last week, lunge towards toddlerhood. How can she be turning one, when she is my last baby, and I will never get to experience all that heavenly baby sweetness again?

Dave thinks I’m out of my mind. He can’t exit the baby phase fast enough. To him, it’s the year of Dad feeling useless and Mom being cranky and irritable with everyone except the baby. He prefers what he calls the “camp counselor” phase of parenting: games, chores, catch, funny songs and dances, inside jokes, secret donut runs.  He and Viv are having a swell time together these days, while I’m home getting high off the smell of Chloe’s fuzzy head. My baby.

Things will never be like this again, but they will be other things, some even better. After all, babies can’t play Yahtzee, ride Space Mountain, climb the Statue of Liberty or watch all 10 seasons of “Friends” with me.  There’s a lot to look forward to, I know, but for the next few days, I can’t look anywhere but down. Down at the baby in my arms, while she’ll still let me.

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19 Reasons I Can’t Possibly Lose the Baby Weight Right Now


My baby is turning one. While a lot of mamas are back to their pre-pregnancy weight by then, I’ve still got a ways to go. And frankly, I don’t really care. In fact, I bristle at the implication that I or any recently pregnant lady should be racing to shrink down. (Shut up, tabloids.)

Here are the many excellent reasons why I can’t possibly lose the baby weight right now, thank you very much. And if you need an excuse, feel free to borrow one of mine!

1. I use carbs to keep me awake.

2. My spare tire provides a nice cushion for the baby, like a human Boppy pillow.

3. It’s bad enough I yell sometimes from being tired and overwhelmed. If I was tired, overwhelmed and starving, they’d have to call CPS.

4. Full-fat dairy is recommended for one-year-olds. It’s also delicious.

5. Why pay for a gym membership I’ll never use when I could spend that money on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime?

6. Counting calories requires brain cells I lost from being pregnant twice.

Don’t stop now! Head over to mom.me to keep reading…

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Breastfeeding Holds the Nurses Don’t Teach You (But Your Baby Will)

If you’re planning to breastfeed, a hospital lactation consultant will show you different positions for holding the baby while nursing. You’ll hear terms like “cross-cradle,” “side-lying” and “football hold.” These are fine and dandy for early breastfeeding, but trust me, your growing baby will have other ideas.

Here are the real nursing holds you won’t read about in books, but every breastfeeding mama knows:

1. “Pound the Ketchup Bottle” – While nursing, the baby uses a free hand to bang rhythmically on your boob, as if trying to get more milk to come out.

Pound the Ketchup Bottle

2. “Hooter Hider Hater” – Baby flails his little arms and legs in a windmill motion, successfully removing any and all discreet coverings from your boobs.

3. “Titty Twister” – One of your nipples is busy giving milk. The other nipple is being spun like the Wheel of Fortune. Because Baby’s other hand needs something to do, apparently.

Keep reading the list at mom.me…

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