Friday, March 15, 2013

Sitting Shiva

Or in my barrio we say "sitting Chivas". Olé!

This friday evening, can we just take a moment of silence to mourn the fact that this still exists:



But this does not:



Lame

Monday, March 11, 2013

In my continued effort to dress myself down for being a human being...Family Dinner


I'm not alone in wanting more family dinners with my kids right? I mean, I'm not alone in being guilty of making separate meals for them and allowing them to eat them at the coffee table in the living room while watching a movie, so that we can eat like civilized people at 8 after they've gone to bed. It's not like they want what we're having anyway. And it's not like these bills, laundry, school lunches, emails, and stinky bathrooms are going to take care of themselves. We DO sit down for family dinner several nights a week, but I find that it requires so much effort on my part, that most nights, though I know the benefits, and enjoy it immensely in the moment, it just doesn't happen.

Family dinner requires thinking ahead so that there are the proper ingredients to make a meal that your whole family will eat. A meal that your whole family will eat. I've already lost myself, and I'm guessing a lot of you.

In our house, we have me, who likes:
 tacos, indian food, pizza, thai noodles sushi, cheese plates, pancakes, nuts in everything, and wine

Nipper Knapp who likes:
sushi, salmon, cheeseburgers, indian food, pizza, pancakes, is allergic to nuts, and IPA

Jack who likes:
quesadillas, toast, fruit, pizza, chicken nuggets, pancakes, and goldfish crackers

Charlie who likes:
Oatmeal, turkey meatballs, scrambled eggs, pancakes, pizza, and all fruit.

Please note neither of my children will eat pasta or soup or vegetables. LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH. If someone comments and tells me to melt cheese on broccoli, I can't promise I won't wreck the place.

The boys and I out for pancakes last week. Out for pancakes because our kitchen had no bacon. 

You see where this is going right? If we could all live on pizza and pancakes we would. Actually some weeks we do. Thank god for Nipper and his green smoothies (me=hypocrite I KNOW) or none of us would ever poop ever.

Yesterday at Trader Joes, I found myself with a shopping cart filled with snacks and wine. No real ingredients for meals. $176 of NOT food. It's not all junk, I count fruit and yogurt, and the stuff for smoothies as a snack, but still, nothing to make a meal. A friend told me she grocery shops once a week. ONCE. Huh? One of us goes almost every day. I was freaking out about this the other day, and Nipper Knapp said "meh, it's very French to shop every day". Uhm, yeah, if I was riding my bicyclette to the boulangerie maybe. But I'm driving le prius to Trader Joes every day for stuff like apple crushers and ouefs. Merde.


I can't lie, I was never a foodie. I didn't scour the local farmers market looking for escarole (which I still not sure is a fish or a lettuce). I was never able to whip together gourmet meals from what was in the kitchen. But I did enjoy food of all kinds, and I enjoyed trying new recipes. I miss Thai food. I miss curry. I miss tapas night with garlic, and stinky cheese. There used to be some variety in our diet, and there used to be some adventure. There used to be time, and mental space for thinking about food. I don't want to blame the kids. It's not their fault. It's mine, right? I could have forced them to eat the things I love. I could have left the bowl of Phat see ew in front of them at every meal until they learned to like it, but I'm not that mom. So now they eat kid food and I'm afraid they always will.

I'm always envious of people who are amazing cooks. People who's kitchens are the true center of their homes, and whose kids bok choy. I have been thinking about having a breakfast nook built in our kitchen. Kitchen renovation will solve all my problems! (that was the sound of Nipper fainting) It would give us extra kitchen storage, and a cozy place to sit, do homework, nosh. I have this fantasy of my boys sitting there reading books and coloring while I make some Barefoot Contessa style feast that they both love. We sit and we eat, and the boys say the darndest things. We laugh and carefully note them, remembering to write them in their baby books, so we can all laugh about them later. When I confessed this daydream to another mom recently, she replied laughingly "oh I know, it's all so Leave it to Beaver!"

But is it? Is it an absurd and outdated notion that I want to enjoy food with my family, to teach them to enjoy each others company? Is it really all just going to be meals on the go, and faces in screens? I know, I'm starting to sound like such a MOM, and one of those whoowhoo people that want to touch your chakras, but dudes. My boys are still so little and it's only going to go faster. Soon they'll want to have dinner at a friends house, or in their room, or none at all because they have after-school activities, or are fasting for political prisoners somewhere (I have high hopes for their evolution). So I've got to get to it now.
one sausage, one veg, and one everything for us! 

Last week I had to make 2 pans of lasagna for the teachers at Jack's school. Only because I had volunteered for this, did I make one for us as well. I knew the kids wouldn't eat it, but if I was going to be in the kitchen, why not cook for us as well. This is part of the bad thinking that gets me into trouble. Why am I willing to cook for guests, but not for myself and my kids? Nipper Knapp and I got three dinners out of that lasagna, and even though they ate something else, 2 out of those 3 were attended by both kids. We laughed, told stories, played a round of "what is Charlie doing" wherein we all do exactly what Charlie is doing. It was mom heaven. And it doesn't happen enough.

I must find a way to make our brains think 7 days out, and force myself to cook a meal, and have them help, when what we want to do is anything but, because we are exhausted. I have to force myself to not be paralyzed by lack of will, fear of ingredients (is this the thing that will be on the list of things that will kill us all this week, and if so should I just feed everyone more goldfish, which will obviously kill us all), and the inevitable bad dinner, where it doesn't go over, and everyone is cranky, and no one sits for more than a minute.

And I have to remember that there's nothing wrong with all of this failing from time to time. Because frankly sometimes Mama wants to eat a bag of goldfish with a glass of wine in front of the tv instead of the organic quinoa and brussels sprouts feast that I sprang on them last week.

Is anyone out there feeling my pain? Or do the rest of you have a live in chef? You do. I knew it. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

mix mix mix


Every night Nipper Knapp makes a smoothie. Every night. Am I opposed to this? No. Do I have a problem with kale, or berries, or the intermingling of soy milk, and frozen peaches? NO. I don't. Don't I want him to be healthy? Don't I want him to live FOREVER?! YES! YES I DO!

But something happened. I dunno when. I can't pinpoint the day. Don't know the last time I was able to tune out the once gentle whir of the blender. The last time, I didn't mind pausing The Daily Show, not once but 3-4 times, so the smoothie would be just right. The day it felt personal. One day, I realized that every time he said "you want a smoothie?" I started silently planning ways to destroy him. At first it was just a chin tuck and an eye roll from the other room. "No thank you". But at some point I became openly hostile. It was volcanic. Not explosive, just the rushing hot magma of marital contempt. "Smoothies?" he would text innocently from Jack's room after he heard me leave Charlie's bedroom to go downstairs. "I'm having wine" I'd write back, but I might as well have said "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO CRUSH MY SOUL, AND WHY CAN'T WE JUST RUN FREE LIKE WILD PALOMINOS?!" And then imagine me on the stairs doing an elaborate full body, arms raised, "why god why" move. Nipper Knapp would call this a spastic seizure. I call it a tiny fissure.

I don't know much. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there's a chronic leak in the portion of my brain that once held important facts. Stuff like, the inner workings of a bicameral legislature, and how to fix my hair like I did the summer after college. But here's the thing about marriage. It's a marathon, blah blah blah. If you are a trained runner, someone who wants to be in the race, it's not the distance that kills you, it's the tiny blister left untended, or the unusually high temperature with not enough water, or some other banal detail, that can be your undoing. "We could have kept going, but for those fucking smoothies". Right.

One day, after much sighing (me) and much apologizing, and I'm sure eye rolling (Nipper Knapp), we both realized it is a stupid problem, and said it out loud. "You hate my smoothies." he laughed. "I hate the sound." And we came up with a solution. And this my friends is how two people grow old and completely the same kind of crazy together.

Poor Nipper Knapp, look at this face. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Twinkle Mouth

Our dear friends, and old neighbors are in a band. It's an 80's band, and it's awesome. If they ever come to your town, I demand you put on your Frankie Goes to Hollywood tee and go see them. Great show. When we were in SF over the holidays visiting them, they had just gotten these cards printed, so I took one to put on our fridge at home. 


Tonight Jack took the card off the fridge and wrote a practice note to Santa inside. He says we have to send it to him with 2 quarters inside. I told him we don't bribe Santa, but he insisted. He drew a picture of a cookie, then a tiny pic of Santa's face.



He said "Look mom, a cookie" and then "there's Santa, twinkle mouth, sad eyes". 

"What? What does that mean"

"wait, let me draw it on the back, bigger." 

He does, and then, pointing "See? Twinkle mouth, sad eyes", and then gave me a look, like, "you get it now?" and walked away. 


Yeah yeah kid, that's right, red coat, white, beard, twinkle mouth and sad eyes. That's how Santa has been described since always. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Oh to have your problems



At every stage of my life I have looked back at my younger days and thought "oh to have those struggles, what a fool". I was thinking this kind of thing when I was nine. I actually remember thinking wistfully about "baby problems" somewhere around 6th grade. 

I worry about Jack. He's like me in so many ways. He has WAY too much angst for a 5 year old. Actually he has way too much angst for a human, much less a 5 year old human. The list of things he worries about it endless, and unpredictable. I find myself trying to plan, and explain things for him so thoroughly, and inevitably I fail to mention some tiny thing, or fail to imagine, that some aspect of an activity will cause him CRIPPLING anxiety. Then I fantasize about how I used to be able to take drugs when life got crazy or unmanageable. Then I snap back to reality, and try to talk him off the ledge because, really he is going to be FINE if Miss Alison (the apple of his eye), or ANYONE ELSE ON EARTH walks him, the 72 feet from his classroom to his after school taekwondo class, that he loves. Instead of mommy or daddy coming in the middle of the day, for the 32 second walk from his classroom, to his taekwondo class, THAT HE LOVES.

This of course does not happen in one sitting. Or even one afternoon. This tragedy unfolds over days and weeks of us talking around and around, trying to get to the nut of what is happening. Until finally after 3 weeks of asking every 3.27 minutes, "how many days until taekwondo?" And "what is the plan for taekowndo?" And "who is going to walk me to taekwondo?" Which we establish over and over, HE LOVES! We finally get to the bottom of it. "I don't like to listen to the other kid's names being called, and knowing their parents are outside, and they are going home with their mommy and daddy, and I am going to taekwondo" (WHICH YOU LOOOOOVE!!!), he finally croaks out in between sobs, one afternoon at the kitchen table. OHHHHHHH! I get it. Poor bubs.


How bad is your life when your biggest problem is that you love your mom and dad so much, that you hate to think of other kids getting to be with theirs, instead of going to learn how to kick ass Korean style.

I ask him if there is something he can occupy himself with while the kid's names are being called, if there is any way to maybe solve this problem ourselves. "I could read a really long book!" he exclaims. I want to eat his face. "Yes! I think that's a great idea! We'll tell Miss Alison our plan tomorrow! Right before pickup, you grab a long book, and start reading. Do you feel better? Good. I love you"  And I do. But, god, I want to rough him up a little. How on earth is he going to get through dating, and braces, and libertarians?!

The next day, I see his teacher in the morning, and I begin to explain our problem, and proposed solution. She cuts me off at the pass. "Actually I have a plan, because he's not the only one who is struggling with that. I have decided that I will personally walk them all over to taekwondo BEFORE parents get here for pickup." Done. So...he is not alone. I am not alone.

I am always isolating myself like some uninitiated teenager, when I have a hard time with something. I stupidly believe I am the only human being to ever struggle with say, mom fatigue, actor self loathing, or, "oh my silly husband doesn't seem to understand that stockings don't go in my pants drawer just because they go on my legs-itis" (yes, this IS the most passive aggressive way I could think to tell him). Yup, I'm the only one who ever felt like they were failing miserably at work/mom/marriage balance. Apparently I've never heard of Oprah.

And frankly, Jack is my easy child (for now). This morning, I discovered, that no person in the history of humankind has ever experienced as much despair as Charlie Tru when you try to put a pair of socks on him. Socks! Soft, cozy bamboo socks. I mean, you would think I was trying to saw off his leg with my teeth. Good thing we don't live in an actual cold climate, because it looks like he will be spending the winter in crocs with no socks. Heh, baby problems.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

no YOU shut up

Yesterday Nipper Knapp told me that I should just change the name of my blog to wallpaintcolor.com. But he's stupid (at least 12 I.Q. points ahead of me for his ability to remember every single thing that has happened in every single sport. Ever. I'm just jealous.) (Also he went to UofM which gives him a point or 2 just for sheer volume of students...) And maybe he's just mad because he saw this in the downstairs bathroom last night:


Paint chips just make Nipper Knapp ANGRY!!!!

I'd love to know if this kind of things fills him with apathy, dread, fury, or secret excitement that someone wants to give him a brand new mint green pissoir. I'm so generous.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jacaranda house


See how nicely the dark wood looks against the blossoms? That's how my wall will look with persian violet gates! 

Trumpets! We have a winner! After buying SEVEN different colors of brown samples, for the brick wall, I finally chose one. The ONLY one that Nipper Knapp said he absolutely didn't want. But hear me out. The other ones looked too poopy, or to drab. The lighter ones, that I thought I'd love looked like nursing home spit up. I chose Willow. Nipper Knapp thought it was too grey and would look like cinder block. BUT...I had a revelation.


We both agreed that red gates would be cute, and they always say a red door will help sell your house and make it look like a home. The problem with that is we are not red people. We are blue people. Green people. Sometimes pink and orange people. But never red. It didn't go with anything about us or our house. It made everything seem very traditional, and our house is anything but that. I even tried a "parrot red" that had a lot of orange in it. But next to my lavender plants, the jacaranda tree, and purple and turquoise pots...Hey! That's when I had the revelation. We could paint the gates the same color as the jacaranda blossoms!


I didn't even have to go to the paint store. I have an entire drawer FILLED with paint swatches. I took the purples out in the yard and matched them as best I could with a fallen blossom. The true match would have been something too close to a unicorns and rainbow outfit I had when I was 9, so I went with a slightly more subdued Persian Violet. It looks amazing with the green, brings out the jacaranda. Brings UP the brown in the Willow. AND it goes with ME! Oh and Nipper Knapp says he actually likes it. Hooray! WIN!


Great. Done. Well except the painting part. When am I going to get a chance to do that? Who fucking knows. I'm a working mom you know. But aren't you proud that it only took 2 weeks to pick the color? Well, 2 weeks of talking, and a year before of thinking. Someone pat me on my em effing back. Then take my husband and kids for a long walk so I can eat ice cream on the couch in my underwear without being mauled. Daughters don't maul you right? They just sit nicely on the couch with you until they are 9, and then they tell you your'e whole life is a lie. I could live with that.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

I need a hero


You've heard this one before. Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love. Girls get's married, buys house, has babies, loses identity, goes creatively adrift, girl's husband insists she take grueling acting intensive to get her mojo back, girl is filled with dread, but goes. Acting intensive is scary, rewarding, and yes grueling. Girl remembers that husband is best friend in the world, and possibly saver of sad previous single life. Girl smothers husband in fit of grateful hugs and tearful kisses due to lack of sleep, emotional instability and gratitude. Husband laughs at crazy wife. Baby does something adorable, kindergartner says something brilliant. Ray Charles sings... You've heard this one before. Right? 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Can we please have a moment of silence for the mom staring at her appliances


That thing where you are so stunned your kids are asleep that you can't remember one thing on the list of things you've been thinking you need to do all day, and you stand in your kitchen for a full three minutes silently staring at the blender. That.




Saturday, September 29, 2012

Let the simplification begin! (right after this...)

I shouldn't start right back with the swearing, because I know we are on tentative terms here, but seriously, fuck this fucking house sometimes. How can I love my house, and want to burn it to the ground and take the kids to live in a coconut hut in tahiti at the same time? Something happens when you get married. Something no one tells you about. Or maybe they do, but I don't listen to people when they talk because most of the time they are SO boring! You start to acquire stuff. All kinds of stuff. At first it's cute little stuff like dishes, and towels. But then it's bigger more serious stuff like couches, and cars, and ouef cribs, because no baby of mine is going to live with hard edges! Never mind that now, you have buy round sheets, and a fancy vacuum, and a hutch for all those dishes, and new tires for your car, like every five minutes.

One day inevitably, this stuff starts to own you. Your daily life is all about maintaining the stuff, instead of laying on the floor with the kids, and eating food out a bag (most good food comes from a  bag, go ahead argue with me...Doritos. Done)

I've been in this giant purge since Charlie was born. Sending boxes of clothes to our beautiful niece, who looks much better in them than I ever did. Donating carloads of toys to the daycare (sorry Buzz), and throwing away MASSIVE quantities of papers, birthday party favors, and broken things that I WILL NEVER FIX. Adding one more body (albeit a bison sized body) to this house, was our tipping point. The amount of stuff, just became too much. Clothes, toys, furniture, papers, art projects, books, broken stuff, old stuff, unfixable stuff. Endless amounts of sorting and decision making. When what I want, every day, is to just sit. To swing in the swing chair and tell stories, and watch them play, to color, and read books (books are never on the list of too much stuff), and just have peace.

Our house is tidy, every thing has a place, but as the mom, I have a catalog of every single thing in it, including the stuff in bins in the basement. The catalog is now so large, that huge chunks of important stuff has been edged out of my brain. I am a nervous wreck at all times, even when there is nothing wrong. And I've decided it's because of the stuff.

So this year, I am open to all and any suggestions for living more simply with kids. I'm canceling catalogs, clicking unsubscribe on spam emails, signing up for online bill pay for anything that doesn't require monitoring. And no more new stuff until the old stuff is all used up. Both boys have clothes drawers that barely close. Jack has 7 pairs of shoes that fit him right now. Absurd.

I'm going to stop beating myself up about not having planted tomatoes in the raised bed yet, because truthfully I always let them wither on the vine, because I don't have time to make my own damned spaghetti sauce to preserve. Also, I like Rao's. Sue me. What a failure! People can see my failure from SPACE!

More time to write, play, eat (no more cadging a few bites of mac and cheese standing up), less time maintaining stuff. I know it's not New Years, but I'm getting an early start. 2012 has been all around stink town, so I'm calling it officially closed. 2013 starts right now...

The first project, I need your help with? Paint chips. And this doesn't count as new stuff, this counts as not letting the old stuff crumble to dust. Don't  you love how we get the psychoanalysis out of the way before we move on to creative endeavors. SO healthy. One should never pick paint colors with a muddled mind.


Our neighborhood is one of the oldest in LA. Our house was built in 1928. Or maybe 1929, I can't remember, and you know why. It's called a transitional house because it's neither spanish nor craftsmen but at odd little mix of both. To me it's a stucco farmhouse. It's got a pitched roof, but terra-cotta tiles on the porches. The oddest thing is our flour de lys retaining wall. There are several of these in the neighborhood. The owner of another one down the hill, said they are french foreign legion bricks. I don't know if that's true, but it makes me like them 3% more than I do which is not much. We can't replace the wall because we are in a historical overlay, and they'd fine us, or put us in stocks with a sign around our heads that says "killer of context" or something like that. I don't mind the bricks themselves, so much as the overall effect of the dark red square bricks with the old white, chipping mortar. Oh and the GIANT concrete fleur de lys, on each pedestal. It looks like a french brothel in Tijuana to me, and I don't want to go to there.

If you tell me we should paint the trim to match the wall, I'll faint, because 1. that's not going to happen and 2. I have a strong inclination we should... Marija fait boom.

The other people painted their wall, and it looks so much better. Like almost cute. So I'm in. Let's do this thing. Before you go and tell me I shouldn't paint brick, and I'm going to regret it, my life is filled with bad choices, and this will be the least of them. Also it's happening, so get on board.

In full sun under the loverly flour de lys (should we knock these off?)

In shade

Our house is a pale jadeite green with white trim. We have lots of trees and shrubs with soft foliage around the house, and in the spring the jacaranda tree is filled with purple blossoms. The terra-cotta makes is tricky to pick a wall color. You can't go too cool, or it just looks too disjointed. So here are my options, and maybe this is too haphazard to even see, but I'm not going to start painting swatches until I've at least narrowed it down to 3-5 colors.

This is the color combination that Benjamin Moore has on their site as being complimentary. I like it, but think the black bean soup would be too dark for a giant brick wall?

this is the color of our house










What do you guys think? Dark? Lighter? Brown? Greige? Should we paint the Fleur de Lys toppers the same color, or a different color? Should we take a baseball bat to them and tell the HPOZ it was hooligans? Someone tell me what to do?!

Here are some pics of our neighbors houses. Their paint is so cute, and I'd like ours to be complimentary.