Screw Bedtime! – Why I’m Still Helping My Daughter Fall Asleep Every Night

My bedtime routine leaves something to be desired.

I’m spending up to an hour each night sardined into my daughter’s twin bed (oh why, oh why didn’t I buy the double?) waiting for her to just pass out already.

Sleeping Viv

This was not my idea. My kid claims she can’t fall asleep without a parent snuggled up beside her. Even after all the bathing, teeth brushing, hair detangling, story reading and stuffed animal choosing, she still needs help winding down in the form of made-up stories, “back scratchies” and the reassurance of my physical presence. Only then do the yawns start, her breathing deepens and she finally succumbs to sleep.

The whole process — which involves much wiggling and the occasional elbow to my face as she tries to get comfortable — can feel endless, and I become keenly aware that I am not (a) having dinner with my husband, (b) enjoying some well-deserved personal time or (c) catching up on reality TV with a glass of wine.

So why do I keep doing it? Why not just say goodnight and shut the door? Because only in the quiet darkness will my daughter finally tell me what’s on her mind:

“Mama, I said unkind words to Emma today,” she’ll confess, out of the blue.

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The Lies I Tell My Carnivore Kid About My Vegetarian Diet

I’m a truth-telling mom, most of the time. I don’t shy away from the tough topics, and my 3-year-old daughter knows more about the uterus than the average adult male. But when it comes to my vegetarianism, I’m a big fat liar.

I never meant to be a vegetarian. As a small child, I made the connection between the cute animals at the farm and ones on my plate and vehemently refused to eat them anymore.

farm animals on plate big

My mom indulged me, working hard to find alternative sources of protein so I wouldn’t stunt my growth. This wasn’t easy in the pre-Whole Foods 1970s, so props to her. That said, I am only 5’2”.

As a grown-up, I still love animals, but I’m fine with people eating them, especially the humanely raised cage-free sorts. Unfortunately, after decades of avoidance, I’ve completely lost my taste for burgers and wings. Most meat — even the leanest, most ladylike chicken breast, is totally gross to me.

However, I feel strongly that animal protein is an important part of a balanced diet for a growing child, and I’ve bent over backwards to become a mom who may not eat meat but cooks it with a smile. This is sometimes a little scary, because I’m serving my daughter food I haven’t personally sampled (hello, Salmonella?). Luckily, my husband is usually willing to be her royal taster.

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Huckleberry Cookbook Giveaway

I have very good news.  One of you is going to win a signed copy of the brand new Huckleberry Cookbook, by Zoe Nathan.

huckleberry cookbook

For those of you who don’t live in LA, Huckleberry is the always-packed Santa Monice eatery known for its farm fresh brunches and decadent sweets.

Huckleberry restaurant

I was lucky to meet chef/owner Zoe Nathan in a mommy & me class when our almost four-year-olds were just babies.  When she started working on the cookbook, I got to sample some of the delectible dishes as a volunteer recipe tester (seriously, best job ever), so I can personally vouch for how fabulous the cookbook is.  Or you can just look at these pictures.

huckleberry cookbook images

Whether your family likes bacon cheddar muffins, blueberry buttermilk scones, fried green tomato tartines or poached eggs with pesto and snap peas, these incredible recipes will make you want to serve breakfast three meals a day.  You know, breakfast, brunch and brinner!

And since Zoe’s a mom, you’ll find recipes made to amuse your kids, like egg in a hole or even green eggs and ham.  (They will like them, Sam I Am!)

The book is also packed with tips and tricks for shopping, stocking your pantry and getting the most from your cooking tools.  I love this feature in a cookbook — it’s why I have so many Ina Garten books on my shelf — for the insider advice.

To win a signed copy of the hot-off-the-presses Huckleberry cookbook, just leave a comment telling me your favorite breakfast dish, whether it’s something you cook at home or order up at brunch.  One winner will be randomly selected from the commenters using on Tuesday, 9/16/14 so enter before then.

Until then, I’ll be busy stuffing my face with cornbread pudding and fingerling potato hash.

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What I Learned On My First Kid-Free Vacation


After three and half years in the parenting trenches, my husband and I took our first adults-only vacation (our honeymoon) at a resort in Big Sur, California. I didn’t feel too guilty about leaving our daughter behind with her grandparents, because ice cream. The real question was, would I be okay? As a stay-at-home mom, I didn’t have much experience with separation. It felt weird to be flying the coop.

So, on our first night away, instead of the usual bedtime routine of mac ‘n cheese, bath time and stories, we had cocktails, a candlelit dinner overlooking the ocean, and a long soak in the infinity hot tub. It turns out a little separation wasn’t so bad! What’s more, I made some pleasant discoveries about my relationship and myself:

I like monopolizing my husband. As rewarding as it’s been to see him evolve into a wonderful father, I’ll admit it was nice to have my husband all to myself again, holding my hand and making me laugh. It felt good to have uninterrupted conversations and really focus on each other. And let’s face it; it is way easier to flirt when you can grab an ass instead of wiping one.

Without chores or childcare, there is literally nothing to fight about. At home, a sink full of dishes can have us sniping at each other like Al and Peg Bundy. On vacation, we’re more like characters from a Fitzgerald novel: “Shall I open another bottle of wine?” “Yes, darling, that would be lovely.”


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5 Things That Went Hilariously Wrong At My Wedding

In the anxious days leading up to my wedding, married friends warned me that no matter how much I planned, some little thing would inevitably go wrong and it wouldn’t be a big deal. I counted five things:

1. It Rained

walking to altar

When you plan a Malibu wedding in July during one of the worst droughts in history, you’re all but guaranteed fabulous weather.  All but guaranteed.  (Cue Alanis Morissette: Isn’t it ironic?  Don’t you think?)  Yep, moments before I walked down the aisle, it started to drizzle—not that I would have known, since every time I asked “Is it raining?” I was assured, “No, of course not.” (That’s what you’re supposed to tell the crazy lady on her wedding day.) Luckily, the fan-style wedding programs we’d created to protect ceremony guests from heat worked as makeshift umbrellas, and the rain didn’t last long.  They say rain is good luck. I’ll take that over being pooped on by a pigeon any day.

2. I Couldn’t Walk in my Dress

dress dancing in field

I was so excited to find my fantasy bridal gown that I never noticed how constricting it was or that it weighed more than I do. Walking in my dress felt like swimming in wet cement. I made it down the aisle okay but was terrified for our first dance. Dave and I had been secretly practicing a routine at Arthur Murray for months, not telling anyone so as to avoid raising expectations. A good move, as it turns out, since I could barely execute the steps and was just grateful not to fall down (See #5). For the rest of the night, my power dance move was to stand still while shaking my skirts a la Cha Cha DiGregorio in Grease. It was a look.

3. The Flower Girl Melted Down


Dave and I feel incredibly lucky that we could share our big day with the other most important person in our lives, our 3-year-old daughter, Viv. But being a mommy bride is not without its challenges. Here was one: we got married on a ranch that happens to feature an old timey merry-go-round. This seemed like a fun, kitschy place to shoot photographs of the bridal party, and although I couldn’t walk in my dress, I somehow managed to mount a pony in it. Everything was going swell until the flower girl lost her mind, wailing at peak volume, “But I want to sit on the ROOSTER!!!”  I managed to calm Viv down, but the photographer suggested I leave her out of the photo “because she’s the only one here who looks sad.”

4. I Cut the Cake Before the Cake Cutting

Viv and cake

After the photos, Viv bounced back, partying like a rock star at the reception. Our babysitter wanted to take her home at 10pm before another meltdown could erupt, but we hadn’t yet cut the cake and Viv wouldn’t budge. That’s when I realized, Mom comes before Bride. When no one was looking, I hacked into the back of the cake, serving a yummy chocolate wedge to my little girl so she could go home happy. Thirty minutes later we cut the cake officially.

5. I Fell on my Butt

on my butt

As the night flew by, I forgot about all the little problems and got lost in the moment – dancing with my favorite partner, surrounded by everyone I love with an amazing 80s band playing songs like “Don’t Stop Believin.’”  I was having so much fun that I landed right on my ass.  My new husband pulled me up so fast I didn’t think anyone even noticed…anyone except the friend that managed to capture this genius photograph and the other friends who are cracking up in the background.

And in the end…none of it mattered.  It was perfect.   But if you want to share with me something that went wrong at your wedding, please do leave a comment.

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