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Reel Mama: May 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Pickle

I love the farmer's market.  If you live in LA it is just the thing to do, the place to see and be seen and to buy your restaurant quality ingredients for those fabulous gourmet meals you prepare nightly, and the smart dinner parties you host on the weekends.  But there is the idea you have in your head, and then there is the reality.  If your refrigerator is anything like mine, it’s so crammed full that if you added so much as an olive, neigh, a caper, the whole thing would come crashing down on you in a greasy avalanche of leftovers.

So how did the lady at the farmer’s market convince me to buy so much stuff today when I knew I didn’t have room?  Because I know that Leilani, even at her tender “I-only-eat-Mac-‘n-Cheese” age, must eat a rainbow.  This has been hammered home in the parenting paperwork I received since before Leilani was born.  It is now exploding out of my files and threatening to take over the bedroom like the Blob in that B-grade sci fi movie.

So I’m looking at my haul from the farmer’s market.  Radishes are in there--I don't even like radishes.  And beets.  I’ve never prepared beets before in my life and have no idea where to start.  And come to think of it I don't like them either!  With all this I have to get really creative with how I pack my refrigerator.  I start to put jars on their sides, to stack them in interesting ways.  I am proud of the architectural integrity of my newly stacked cathedral of condiment bottles…until the inevitable happens.  Disaster strikes!  An upside down jar of sweet gherkins starts leaking all over the shelves and the vegetable drawers below.

So, after emptying the refrigerator, taking out its guts so to speak, hosing down the veggie drawers, scrubbing and sanitizing until my knuckles are raw (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little), all those wonderful veggies remained uncooked and I STILL end up opening up that can of Chef Boyardee for my daughter.  I gaze over at the beets, and fantasize about the fabulous borscht I’ll prepare...someday.  After Leilani graduates from college.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Girl with Lots of Stuff

I always wanted a cool nickname.  Something like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  But when I was little my dad’s nickname for me was “The Girl with Lots of Stuff,” and that included an overstuffed book satchel and a lunch box.  Today “lots of stuff” is an understatement.  Today I’m a mom, and I have to plan for every single eventuality.  For the “nows,” the “laters,” the “what-ifs,” and the “just in case.”  Today my stuff isn’t just double or triple the amount it was when I was eight years old.  This is “Girl with Lots of Stuff 2.0: The Mommy Version.” 

The amount of stuff I carry with me now is scary.  For the first time in my life I’m ripped.  I’m like a female bodybuilder (minus the steroids of course). In Africa the ladies carry the laundry on their heads to the watering hole.  I’m seeing this as a practical solution to my desperate need for a hands-free moment, so I’m starting to practice my head-balancing skills.  I’ll start with a few board books, and eventually work my way up to the bulk-sized box of wet wipes from Costco.

My mommy mantra is “Be Prepared!”  Case in point, I never regret having that extra outfit when the diaper explodes in the grocery checkout line or car sickness strikes. I’m glad I have five clean sippy cups, because Leilani will throw two of them on the filthy concrete in the parking lot on the way to the puppet show and the other two will go MIA, held hostage by my car’s knee-deep ocean of “effluvia,” my dad’s favorite euphemism for crap.  My car is the worst: it’s like the Baby’s R Us going out of business sale during the apocalypse.  Now I’m schlepping my usual three tote bags plus Leilani and her new favorite sidekick, the Easter basket shaped like Elmo’s head. Until I figure out the feng-shui path to parenting, I will proudly continue to build muscle mass while ensuring that Leilani never goes without, not even for a second.

Okay now the car is loaded, the key is almost in the ignition.  No wait, I forgot the kitchen sink!  God, I need help.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Night for Magic Wands

Tonight was a night for magic wands.  It was a night for transformative nose wiggles.  If only, with one gesture, I could tame the leering pile of dishes in the kitchen sink.  Vanquish the judgmental pile of laundry on the bedroom floor.  Tonight, I was even too tired to push a button on the microwave.  Exhaustion simply wasn’t the word, so I’ll try another language.  I like the way the French say it.  Je suis crevée.  Basically, I’m exploding from exhaustion.  The bottom is falling out of my insides.  I’m so tired I’m falling apart, and I can’t move. 

I knew that motherhood would hurt. Thirty-four hours of labor will do that to a girl.  But what about the hurt that no one talks about?  The stubbed toe caused by the toy carelessly thrown on the nursery floor?  The back pain from lifting the infant car seat in or out one too many times.  And the heartache, standing in the driveway, when your daughter drives away to a college on the other side of the country without looking back.  I have no doubt this is how my own mom felt when I did this myself.  And I know that one day it will be me standing in the driveway, and it will be Leilani, off on the adventure of a lifetime, leaving without looking back.  At that moment I won’t be able to move. 

Each day every ache and pain is washed away.  Each day every sacrifice disappears.  When I receive that unexpected kiss that Leilani hadn’t wanted to give me all day.  Or that embrace that makes me know that, no matter where life takes her, no matter what fabulous adventures the wide world holds for my Leilani, she will never really let me go.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Must do laundry, now where are my pearls?

It’s Mother’s Day, and today I’m thinking about my paternal grandmother, Bertha May Ivy, née Broadway.  My grandmother took motherhood to another level.  A modern-day Southern Belle decked out in pearls and petticoats in the fifties, she had dinner, prepared from scratch, always on the table by 5pm.  At that time, each day without fail, my grandfather walked through the door, home from his job as a manager at the aircraft manufacturing plant. 

Chocolate cake with lots of frosting was always up for dessert.  She even found the time to iron the sheets. She raised two kids and always had an impeccable appearance.  She went to the beauty shop every Saturday like clockwork, all without a babysitter or nanny.  How did she do it? I don’t know!

Flashforward to my life.  Every day my house looks like a bomb exploded, or we’ve been robbed (only nobody found anything worth taking.)  My uniform is not a silk dress and heels.  No, it’s an unwashed pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt that I’ve had since high school, the same thing I wore yesterday in fact.  Makeup?  Hell no!  Shower?  Maybe, if I’m lucky.  Deodorant?  I’ll try to remember!  I’m not a good Southern Belle.  Dinner?  The same thing every night…a frozen Trader Joes entrée.  Dessert?  A few squares of dark chocolate (for my health, you know).

In fact, I’m sure my grandmother is looking down from heaven and frowning on this.  I’m sorry, Maw Maw!  Show me the way.  Show me how you did it!

So this is my world, a losing battle on the household chores front…but I know I won something very special when I became a mom.  Amid the tantrums and accidentally stepping on the peanut butter sandwiches tossed from the high chair, there are moments of sheer magic.  Like my daughter saying her name for the first time and pointing to herself.  Or even when she repeats a funny word (the latest was “nalga,” Spanish for butt cheek, during a diaper change). 

The truth is for moms that every day is Mother’s Day, and the greatest gift we can give ourselves is to enjoy the ride.

I’m about to go to bed now.  Maw Maw, I hate to tell you this, but I didn’t iron the sheets.  In fact, I never have, and I know I never will.  Oh well.  I won’t lose too much sleep over that one!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I always wanted a sidekick.  You know, a Robin to my Batman.  Or a Shaggy to my Scooby (or would it be the other way around?)  My husband isn’t a sidekick.  He’s a partner, a fellow Wonder Twin, a right foot to my left foot.  (Okay honey, you can be the left foot if you want.  That one did have a movie named after it, after all).  Then my daughter Leilani was born, and my fondest dream was realized.  Leilani has become my ultimate sidekick.  She goes everywhere with me.  She even looks just like me, only much smaller.  I call her Mini Me.  And together, we accomplish amazing things. 

Today, for instance, she loaded my grocery cart with spray-on Coppertone Bronzer that I hadn’t planned on buying.  Leilani, having been born in LA, is a true California girl.  Even though she’s only 18 months old, I have a feeling she’s already commenting on my pale nurse-hose legs with this gesture.  On Saturday my sidekick was teething.  We shared a devil’s food-flavored frozen yogurt to sooth her swollen gums.  I’m teaching her to love chocolate.  Yesterday my sidekick started pulling old grocery receipts out of my purse and taking them to the kitchen, where she tossed them into the flip top trash can.  She carried them there one at a time, and her focus in this activity sent me a clear message: Mommy, you need to get organized.  It’s time to purge.

But tonight, as midnight approaches, I have a different sidekick.  Of the canine variety.  My 12-year-old Chihuahua Kika.  A few days ago I came across a random tote bag in the back of the closet.  Curious, I opened it, and out poured a mere half of the extensive wardrobe I’d invested in for Kika before my daughter was born.  This includes a ballerina outfit with a tutu, a shiny pink princess outfit with a cape and silver trim, a witch’s costume for Halloween, even a Santa outfit for Christmas.  And who could forget the faux cashmere sweater cape with feather trim fastened by a silver charm necklace I purchased in Coral Gables, Miami?  (Should I be admitting all this?)  It reminded me of just how much history I’ve shared with Kika. 

Before Leilani came along, Kika wasn’t the family dog: she was the family princess.  Now Leilani is here, and I can’t count the number of times Kika’s favorite Blue’s Clues stuffed dog toy with the corroded nose has gone unthrown as she sat waiting patiently while I handled one more diaper explosion, or shared one more happy dance with Leilani.  The treat begged for in the kitchen, not placed in her waiting mouth.  The sweet little head looking up adoringly from her basket, gone unpatted and uncaressed.  Before, Kika wasn’t just a lapdog.  She was an appendage, practically a growth on my lap, curled up while I worked on my brand new screenplay, which eventually became the screenplay I’d been working on too long, and still I could look down, and she was there.  Kika, you may have been dethroned as the princess, but you will always be my first real sidekick.