Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kooky Holiday Cards

Shocking my family members has been a past time of mine since I was born. My first Christmas as a wife and mom meant my first family holiday card.

We are a mix breed family; my husband is an atheist, but comes from an Orthodox family and I am a Catholic Jew that practices both when appropriate. Many of my more religious family members know this about me and have accepted my unconventional ideas. However, when I put my daughter on our Christmas themed card holding Christopher Hitchens’ book The Portable Atheist with the caption, “Will you just look at what my parents consider bed time stories!” I received frantic phone calls worried about my daughter’s welfare. For my Hanukkah card I featured my daughter flashing her red panties wishing everyone a little silliness for the holidays.

My cards have become so infamous I have already received cards from friends and relatives that can’t wait to see what I come up with next. I haven’t mailed all my cards because I haven’t received them from so they are a little late.

I have wrestled with card companies for the past three years. I was excited to be ahead of the game until I made the unfortunate decision to try new card company My Publisher that sold a Living Social coupon. When constructing the cards the image and choices kept changing when I proofed them. I called to find out why when I learned that I would have to pay separate shipping fees for every card and I make at least four every year. In the end their designs were not more clever and cost more to ship. The representative who was unhelpful and rude said that while their company is not more convenient, creative, or cost effective, they had better paper quality. I canceled the coupon and when back to
The best bang for your buck is and I really appreciate that they save jpeg files of my past orders that I can download. The only drawback is that Vistaprint’s regular paper stock is not as nice as Shutterfly, which is a little more costly if you don’t use promo and coupon codes.

I ordered photo mugs this year from Shutterfly and they sent me an extra one and didn’t honor my discounts. I called expecting another face-off between me and a representative, but they actually fixed the charges and told me to keep the extra mug. I didn’t get the same treatment from who argued with me to the point I almost went into labor. The tracking for a purchase claimed to have been delivered, but was not so I asked them to look into it. I had already discovered that they had delivered a package to an old address in Kentucky that had been deleted from my account so it was conceivable that there was another mistake made. Serves me right, I should buy my gifts from companies that support American manufacturing.

I hope I never have to call Customer Service again at least for the rest of the year. I have been getting super contractions in my big holiday turkey in my belly from trying to reason with telephone reps that turn conversations into a personal battle. I hate it when they say, “I wish there was something I could do, but it’s our policy to ignore reason and keep you on hold for half an hour for us to tell you this.”

Here are a few Crazy Christmas Cards I found online that tickled my beard.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shopping for Mama

When you are as stuffed as a Thanksgiving Turkey 11-24-11

These are a few of my favorite places to shop when feeling like a stuffed turkey. This is my third pregnancy and I thought I was done at two so I gave away many items that I now can’t remember who I gave too. Luckily, in the past year new sites have hatched to give me better options to buying items that I can continue to use after pregnancy.

I found that I needed house dresses and lounge wear that looked presentable but could withstand being washed frequently. I will have three little snotty-nosed, sticky-handed, and poop-making podlings by January that will challenge my presentation.

Here are a few chic places to shop when you are expecting a life change, like say turning into a stuffed turkey, or for the stuffed turkey in your life. Word to the wise: the best gift to give a pregnant woman is a massage every day, but if you are looking for something you can wrap…..

1) Green Dragon
Many of their designs are suitable for growing pouches and made of the softest, durable cotton. I first started buying Green Dragon when I found they sold pieces a Pea in the Pod. I kept buying the collections after the second pregnancy and found they were suitable for my third pregnancy.

2) Rosie Pope Maternity
Because nothing is more aggravating than being hugely pregnant and in New York, Rosie Pope opened a boutique for the women who wanted comfort and chic clothes to drape over their life-bearing bosom. Rosie scored a reality show called “Pregnant in Heels” on Bravo. Notice that some of the pieces are very New England chic like the Montauk Dress. It would take a New Yorker.

3) Mine for Nine (
What a great idea! Rent your maternity wardrobe. You need a whole new one anyway and as soon as you don’t need it you give it away, like me. Then, if you are also like me, you need it all over again. Recently I couldn’t remember who I gave my maternity coat to and had to go sniffing around friends for a new one that I could button. At Mine for Nine you can rent a coat or a gown, perfect for the holiday season, for a month or longer. The rate decreases the longer you have the garment. For example a Shabby Apple dress would rent for $20/month or $79 to buy. For a Jules & Jim coat that to buy would cost $303 you can rent for $79.

4) Hatch by Two Birds
Previously launched in September the 12 pieces collection created a stir in socialite circles in New York and was passed onto me by a non-pregnant/ non-mom friend who loved the pieces because there was little not to love. The owner Goldman released Two Birds Bridesmaid when she couldn’t find gowns that suited her discernible taste. So when she got pregnant she did the same and made clothes that she and her friends would wear if they happened to turn into a pumpkin for some months. All I have to say is, ‘Can I be your friend?’

5) Destination Maternity
They partnered with Motherhood and A Pea In The Pod to offer a full range of affordable pieces along with investment pieces. They also have Heidi Klum’s collection along with some of my favorite non-pregnancy brands that have come out with maternity lines - Ella Moss, Velvet, Graham & Spencer, Hale Bob, and Bailey 44. It’s definitely more commercial than my other picks but sometimes you need a place to see lots of variety.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Have Children Will Travel

In the beginning of our lives together my husband and I decided that we were going to maintain our jetsetting lifestyle no matter the extra baggage of an infant. Our child was going to be better behaved because she would be magnificently cultured. Guess what? Cultured babies barf and cry too.

Lyra took her first flight when she was three-months old and I learned my first dire lesson of flying with an infant. Bring an extra set of clothes for yourself.

We were going to New Orleans with my dad for his reunion at Tulane. I was struggling with breast feeding so most of my milk was being pumped and stored. I had to tote a fridge pack for the milk that held me up at every security check.

On this trip after having all the special searches performed on the bottles of milk that I had previously pumped, I had to manually pump more while on the plane because Lyra hurled all over us as soon as the plane took off. However, she wasn’t a loud baby, just a pukey baby.

We quickly change planes in Atlanta on the return flight. I will never take a flight with a stop in Atlanta again. The flight was late and when we finally got off the plane there was an announcement for our party to go to the nearest airline representative. The problem was there were no representatives, just crowds of people who were in need of a representative.

Lyra took this moment to projectile hurl all over me. We had ten minutes until our flight left. I held the baby against the puke splatter, then threw our carry-on items on the stroller and ran through the crowd dripping curdled milk droppings as I went. When we got to the gate as the plane was boarding I ran to the front of the line not caring who I was pissing off. I was covered in puke, damn it! I was ready to start throwing the vile stuff at someone because the entire packed airport seemed not to care about a mom and an old man struggling to get to the other side of the planet to catch another flight.

“Mam, we have been calling your name on the intercom,” the ticketing agent said.

“Yes, well you didn’t have a representative available for us to talk to and we had ten minutes to make it from the other side of the airport. Don’t you tell me we lost our seats on the flight?”

“No, it’s that your family has been calling the airline and airport. They found a donor for your dad. You were instructed to take the next flight home.”

“Well, isn’t it this one?”

We were able to board stinking like the aftermath of a bulimic episode. We were not able to sit beside each other which made the rest of the trip hard because I had to balance all the accessories that come with the baby and I stunk.
In the end the hospital donor committee didn’t chose my dad as a kidney donor recipient. It would take almost a year for him to finally be chosen.

The next year, Patrick and I traveled to Europe and little Lyra puked her way across Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Romania. For six hundred dollars we got the bulk head seats with a bassinet attached in front of our seats for Lyra. She used the entire flight to Munich to stand up in the bassinet and flirt with the rest of the plane.

We had given her Benedryl in hopes it would make her pass out faster. Ha! Our ‘cultured’ baby was too resilient. She didn’t pass out until the last hour of the eight hour flight. She then had to wake up for landing. It was murder. All I wanted to do was sleep but when we got to the Sofitel hotel in historic Munich we had to wait around in the lobby because the room wasn’t ready.

I have gotten in the habit of warning hotel representatives that my baby will cry and disrupt the lobby if they don’t get a room open before nap time. I always call ahead and tell the hotel I need an early check-in and sometimes it helps. However, there are too many times like the time in Miami that the Gansevoort gave us a room with a filthy tub. I had to call numerous times the first two days to finally get the manager to come up and clean the tub himself.

When my son came along 23 months after my daughter he turned our family of three into four. His first air trip was to Los Angeles for a trip that ended up the coast in San Fran. That took place last summer when we took three airline trips over the course of three months. The experience was so grueling we have not traveled on a plane with the children since. It isn’t so much the children as the hassles that have been created by understaffed and inhospitable rules created by the airlines.

The biggest problem is fighting with ticket agents to get seats together and pre-boarding privileges (I will never fly Delta again who refused to pre-board us on numerous occasions). I was bumped off of a three Delta flights and stranded in Cincinnati pregnant, and alone with a toddler trying to get to Louisville (only 1.5 hours away to drive). My mom drove up to Cincy after I was stuck in Cincy for six hours because I was bumped off of every flight that left every hour to Kentucky. I cried a lot on that excursion trying to convince anyone that stranding me overnight with a toddler for being bumped off a half hour flight was close to criminal.

Lyra was still a lap child then. I recently read a segment written by a flight attendant who stated that lap children should be illegal because they are not safely secured in even minor plane mishaps. The FAA published report in 2005 stating that more families are choosing to drive over flying in recent years which is putting them at significant risk since it is more likely to get in a car wreck than a plan wreck. It called to allow for airlines to offer seat straps or seats so parents did not have to travel with bulky car seats. Funny how that report didn’t translate to the airlines because none of that happened.

Recently the New York Times published a great story for families traveling with children. Many airlines have started charging for the little amenities that made traveling with kids a little easier. It’s truly horrible that while we pay through the nose to travel with children there is no mercy or hospitality that can make everyone’s life better. For example, seating families at bulkhead seats allows the kids to have extra room to get up, stretch their legs, or play games on the floor. These seats cost extra money and are not guaranteed to be seated together.
Here is a cheat sheet from the article:

1)American Airlines
Pre-Boarding: No, Families must pay $10 a person
Seating: Bulkhead seats are only sold 24 hours before flight for fee
Stroller Gate Check: Only for collapsible strollers under 20 lbs.

Pre-Boarding: Yes, children under 2 years or with boarding fee
Seating: Bulkhead seats reserved for passengers with disabilities & then sold for $10-65
Stroller Gate Check: Yes

Pre-Boarding: Yes, children up to 4 years after pre-boarding privileged groups
Seating: No seat assignments, families must find open seats upon boarding
Stroller Gate Check: Yes

Pre-Boarding: Yes, children up to 4 years after pre-boarding privileged groups
Seating: Bulkhead seats reserved for elite passengers or sold for fee
Stroller Gate Check: Yes, but only small collapsible types

5)US Airways
Pre-Boarding: Yes, children up to 4 years or with boarding fee
Seating: Reserved for passengers with disabilities and at the discretion of gate agent
Stroller Gate Check: Yes, except non-collapsible types

6)Virgin America
Pre-Boarding: Yes, for “small children” or with boarding fee or privilege class
Seating: Bulkhead are reserved for fee when booking or 24 hours before flight
Stroller Gate Check: Yes

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Hardest-Working Hunk in Hollywood: Pittsburgh's Joe Manganiello

Five years ago before babies and husband, I never had crushes on celebrities. I was aloof to chiseled looks and smoldering smiles. The crushes I did have were hold overs from the 80s like Kiefer Sutherland in Lost Boys. So it is no surprise in my “desperate housewife” status I convert back to vampires in my pregnant and married hormonal overload.

It was a fellow mom that first turned me onto HBO’s True Blood series and Joe Manganiello, who plays Alcide the noble werewolf character. Normally, I am more of an Eric Northman-type, the wicked, blond European vampire character, but I made an exception for Joe since on top of looking like the sexiest lumberjack alive he is a Pittsburgh native with a heart of gold.

I got a chance to talk with Joe this past summer and, as I said celebrity doesn’t usually faze me, but in my hormonal pregnant state I was just a tad bit over excited. What I discovered was that Joe, a Carnegie Mellon grad, is a serious actor who uses his Pittsburgh work ethic as a secret weapon when amongst the Hollywood glitterati.

His recent reported split with his fiancé has put him back on the market, although he never really left my married mom fantasies.

Here are some excerpts from our chat.
Do you think that your move from Pitt to CMU was really pinnacle for your training as an actor and for your career?
JM: “CMU was my dream that was my goal. My goal was to go to CMU. Growing up in Pittsburgh, CMU is really legendary and I got into the acting game later on in life than most of my classmates at CMU or most of the kids that go to CMU. There are a lot of performance arts kids there from around the world. There’s also kids that have been acting from a very young age and that wasn’t my path.

I was an athlete pretty much right up until the time that I went to college. Because of that, I don’t think I had enough understanding, knowledge, and training. I don’t think I had enough practice behind me to get into Carnegie Mellon so obviously at the end of the day, in hindsight, I was capable of going there but I don’t think I had enough under my belt to get accepted to that school.

I actually didn’t apply to any other schools. When I didn’t get into CMU I put in my application at Pitt and went there for a year and loaded on theater classes across the board to the point that my guidance counselor was telling me ‘You’re making a mistake because you’re taking all of your theater classes your first year and you’re not going to be able to take anything more for the rest of your time here. You’re going to be taking math and science for the rest of your time here.’

But in my mind I didn’t expect to stay there, at Pitt, past a year. I was only at Pitt for a year to load up for everything I possibly could, get enough under my belt and work that year so that whether I got into CMU or not, I know that I tried my best and did the best that I could. So yeah, I did really put all of my eggs into one basket.”

Since you didn’t grow up in theater, what was it that turned you onto to an acting career?
JM: “Thinking back now, I mean obviously it worked out. It’s so crazy to put everything into that one basket. I don’t know what it was, I have always been artistic my whole life and that was probably the predominating factor in my personality being artistic, whether it was writing stories, or drawing pictures, going to art classes, creating characters. I was always good at the arts and there was something in me that just drove me towards it.

It’s got to be every parent’s worst nightmare to have a kid who’s working for sports scholarships, as big as I was, and have the possibility that I did athletically or even academically but there was just something in me that knew that this was it. There was something in me that just would not accept anything less.”

So let’s talk about True Blood. They incorporate real wolves into the series and I’m wondering how that works and if you’ve gotten a chance to bond with your wolf. What it’s like to work with them on the set?
JM: “Yeah I have. There’s a wolf in particular, who plays Alcide when he is in wolf form. I got friendly with the wolf handlers and they actually let me come up and visit the wolves any time I want, so I get to go up and hang out with my wolf and take him for a walk”

Does any of that relationship play into when you’re channeling your character?
JM: “I watched and studied wolves in their habit, watched a lot of videos, hung out with wolves in preparation for the role while I was shooting just to pick up what they were like. You just got to throw these things into a pot, stir it up and see how it turns out. I have learned a lot from hanging out with wolves. There’s nothing that displays my relationship between me and my wolf because we’re never on the screen together.”

What is it like working with Oscar-winning actress Anna Paquin?
JM: “She’s great. I love what she’s done with the role. I love how she’s brought the characters from the books to life. She’s so good, so likeable and there are days where she’ll have an emotional scene to do and she’ll basically be crying for 10 hours straight and just to watch her work is amazing. I love the fact that my character’s storyline intersects with her a lot. She is a fantastic actress and is just a great, very warm and friendly person. I can’t say enough good things about her”.

How do you stay humble in Hollywood? You went out there right after college, right?
JM: “I did, yes right after college. Most of the people that I admire the most are usually the people that have great character. Character is a word that I heard a lot, both growing up in Pittsburgh and from my dad. At the end of the day it’s really about character and if you don’t have character that will catch up to you at the end.

You come from Pittsburgh, although there are no steel mills anywhere anymore, but that work place attitude is still there. I didn’t want to be known in acting for my talent, I wanted to be known for my work ethic because if I worked as hard as a I could then it’s either going to happen or it’s not. As it turns out I worked as hard as I could.

How do I stay humble? I’m the one who’s in the gym twice a day working out for this show. There’s a lot of work and I don’t get a lot of time to myself.

It was easy for me to handle this because my parents are so grounded and I come from a city that is so grounded. Pittsburgh doesn’t tolerate that; they don’t tolerate people thinking they’re better. Look at the football team, you act out and you’re gone. That’s definitely something that’s in my core as well.”

So when you’re away from Pittsburgh do you still watch the Steelers, the Pens? Are you kind of the Pittsburgh boy on set?
JM: “I don’t miss a game. I actually had to make an appearance in Hollywood at a casino and I realized that my plane flight was going to intersect with the Steelers/Dolphins game this year so I actually changed my flight, changed the time so that I could make sure I could watch the whole game. I’m just that kind of man.

So when I was back in Pittsburgh for Christmas they let me come on the field right before kickoff at the Jets game and I extended my vacation back to Pittsburgh to see the Winter Classic. I am very active in Pittsburgh sports and also Pittsburgh as a city. I came back and did a charity event for the Salvation Army over Thanksgiving. I love my city and every chance I have I love to give back and I just love to be around my friends and fellow Steelers fans.

What’s your favorite script or play?
JM: “Oh well I played Stanley Kowalski in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’”

Is there someone else out there that you would want to work with in your career?
JM: “Growing up I was a huge fan of Gary Oldman. Gary Oldman was one of the real reasons why I became an actor”.

(My mommy-centric question)Do you want kids?
JM: “Yeah, I do want kids, absolutely!

Favorite places to visit in Pittsburgh?
JM: “Primanti Brothers in the Strip District and the Andy Warhol Museum”

What is your favorite drink?
JM: “Coke Zero…I don’t drink alcohol”

In my fantasy world Joe would agree to a photo shoot with my daughter as Little Red Riding Hood. The setting would be a simple tea party table with delicate china that Joe's 6'5" frame would have to fold to get down to my daughter's level.

I actually told him this and he said, maybe out of politeness, that he thought it would be cute too. Such a gent.

He is more than welcome to babysit me, I mean my kids, anytime.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupy Libertine! Protesting Everyday Fashion Trends

While I was covering New York Fashion Week Spring 2012 this past September, I got to interview a few designers about their collections for next year and sneak in a few questions about how their childhood still inspires their creativity.
The most standout designers that really captured the rebellious sentiments of what would become the “Occupy Enter City Name” movement was the Libertine show by Johnson Hartig.

Johnson launched Libertine in 2000 with Cindy Greene, an Indie rockstar in Fischerspooner. Cindy later went off to explore other creative ventures leaving Libertine to Johnson’s whimsical and bold intuitions. It is befitting to Johnson’s persona that the term “libertine” is defined as “a person who is morally unrestrained” that has roots in 17th century France and Britain. Johnson captures a vintage rebellion with a tailored edge, inspired by elegant and highbrow themes. He is like a dandy court jester who has the ability to make fun of the aristocrats while frolicking amongst them.

Backstage at his downtown show at Exit Art, another little rebel yell to the commercialized Lincoln Center shows uptown; I found Charlotte Free the pink-haired model that is hard to miss on the runway. I asked her if a mama could rock pink hair and she gave me a few pointers on how to use beet juice instead of dyes. She was super sweet. I will have to try it one of these days since my Romanian husband cooks a lot of beets. I just need to figure out how to avoid dying my entire head pink. With my beauty skill level I would end up looking like something my 3-year-old daughter painted.

Johnson was jumping around each model adjusting hair and hems, basically avoiding the pregnant mama standing in the corner with a camera. However, he did come up to me and give me a peck on the cheek, “Sorry darling I am crazy.” I was like, “Wow!” maybe I will forgive him for making me wait an hour or more for a little interview that would only last five minutes. For a moment I felt a little glamorous to be greeted like a friend by a world famous designer.

Although Libertine has been an exclusive label only available in brick and mortar stores in places like Bergdorf, Saks Fifth Avenue, and in locations like Tokyo, he has had a few collaborations with Target and Converse. He even partnered with way-out-there artist Damien Hirst.

His trademark is painting or printing graphics on beautiful pieces, sort of mixing it up while keeping it sophisticated. Sometimes the image is an animal or a design painted across a perfect suit or blouse.

For this season he created striations of white on black that evoked a winter forest silhouette on some pieces. The slogan “Tax the Rich More” appeared on a skirt. Most of the collection appeared with painted graffiti-like “X’s” and “O’s”. I thought it was a nod to the political sides like red and blue states, but actually Johnson told me it was hugs and kisses because “What’s a kiss without a hug.”
Not surprisingly his childhood was inspired by his own little world that he began creating and also in part by the elegance of the women of the 60s and 70s.

“When I was a kid I had a little bit of a morbid curiosity with death,” he says after we establish he initially mistook me for someone else. “I remembered I would build these mausoleums for Kennedy and Abe Lincoln out of bricks; then I would go around the neighborhood and pick little bits of ferns and foliage and landscape these mausoleums. It started with statues you got from gas stations.”

Many of his collections are modern vintage interpretations of flirty, but feminine looks. “I think women were super glamorous then and women paid attention to their hair and make-up and what they wore.”

Ironically, the Maybelline make-up artists were told to give the girls a 60s look with only slate eyelids and a little lipstick. The persona was that they didn’t need much more to look rebellious. I think the look is very “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” minus the Goth outfits and tattoos, of course.

The whole time I was straining to keep standing in heels and a pregnant belly I couldn’t help to admire Johnson’s collection of large diamond animal rings on each finger from Van Clef archives and Cartier. When he would button a jacket or puff up a model’s hair it looked as if the little sparkling creatures were guiding his hands or doing his bidding.

Of course, I was standing there a long time staring at him rubbing my belly like a Buddha doll trying to summon him to come and talk to me. I got a little kiss out of it at least and he approved of my baby’s name Lazar, Americanized to sound like “laser”.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Mama

When I was in college my favorite Halloween costume was to dress as a pregnant Catholic school girl using my old AHS uniform stuffed with a pillow. Maybe my karma came to bite me in my butt because a decade later I got pregnant after a Masquerade Ball on Halloween weekend. Two years after that I was pregnant again, but too tired to party. A year later and I am super-duper pregnant on Halloween.

Funny, I tend to think your last trimester is something like Halloween every day. I wake every morning feeling like a cross between a giant duck and a bloated walrus. At the end of the day my fat suit feels a hundred pounds heavier and my skin feels like plastic wrap trying to keep a large Tupperware bowl fresh.

The most disturbing idea I found scouring the web for ideas were not all Zombie Babies bursting from the womb, but actually a woman who had painted her outie belly button like a huge nipple. The effect of creating a huge breast was so surreal it reminded me of a perverse Jap animation. My naval never pops out during pregnancy. Mine is like a black hole that gets flattened the bigger I get so I had nothing to work with or I probably would have painted my belly like a big boob.

On a poll of my friends I got suggestions to dress as a Kangaroo, a Cow, a Mummy, a Nun, and the man who had an alien jump out of his belly at a diner on Spaceballs movie. Another friend suggested going as a Shotgun Wedding Bride – Ha! I did that for real!

I got married at plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana barefoot and pregnant not far from Angola Prison. I even got to sign our paperwork at one of the prison’s shared office buildings. The prisoners were being kept in a building that resembled a dog kennel with a small area for each inmate to go outside, maybe to pee. Some of my wedding photos were even taken beside a prison bus. Beat that!

For fun I decided to experiment with decorative belly painting. My friend and purveyor of StyleSegment painted a cute Fishbowl Baby on my belly that matched my kids’ fishbowl heads. My daughter and son have huge blond heads that are in the 97 percentile for their ages. Their bodies are in the 5 percentile so they are like little lolli-pops.

Over the weekend, my husband and I will be attending a technology themed costume party. We are going to as Facebook and Twitter. I get to be a big white bird and he gets to be a bald white dude that resembles the Facebook silhouette.

Some other notable sites that I found while looking for interesting ways to dress up my belly include;

My Monster-in-Law: A Familiar Tale of Nightmare Proportions:

When meeting your partner’s parents everyone is overtly nice and polite. That wears off quickly if they are a Romanian grandmother that has come to live with you for months at a time. It is not that my mother-in-law is particularly horrifying to meet, but to live with – yes. To put it bluntly, she sucks the life out of you, sort of like a vampire.

She comes from the old country and the old way of raising children, with lots of order and regimented intervals for every piece of life. There is to be no spontaneity and you must speak Romanian.

Absolutely nothing in the world pleases her and you will rarely here a kind word from her. She counts saying “good morning” as being nice to me. Instead she tells me quite bluntly that everything we do is “no good”. The clothes I bought for my children are “no good”. The shoes I bought for the children are “no good”. The way I feed my children is “no good”. Every day and for hours she can go on about the most benign details. For instance, she thinks yogurt should not be served straight from the fridge, rather room temperature. Yuck.

She putters around the house telling my husband and me every possible thing that she thinks is wrong and refers to a fifty-year old Communist era book of how to take care of babies.

When I asked her what she thought of my son because last year she said he lacked personality as an infant. She said, “He is so sweet when he sleep” and “So difficult when he awake.” That was the sum total of her reflections.

My husband is the polar opposite of his mom; spontaneous and carefully cluttered around the house. We are figuring life out as we go. My mother-in-law likes to cry dramatically about how America has changed her precious child and even turned him into an atheist. The irony is that Patrick was always this way he just ignored his mother and censored himself like a good vampire baby.

Why is it that most of the men I have dated have behaved this way with their moms? I have watched them seemingly listen to their moms while doing their dutiful best to ignore their complaints or diatribes usually propped up in the kitchen more concerned with eating. Patrick even asks me, “Why don’t you ignore her?”

Well I will tell you why! She is in my face all day telling me the pants I put on my son are too big and she doesn’t have to close the baby gates because they can open them anyway. What is it with Europeans that dress their children in clothes so tight they get camel-toe wearing a diaper!

This past week has been the hardest. I can’t even look at her anymore. She wants to be told specifically what to do and specifically what time. Although we wrote a guide she raved that it wasn’t enough and nothing is organized enough for her. This is a woman who can spend hours, I mean hours, grating carrots very slowly with the smallest knife in the house. One day she ranted about how she folded bibs and burp clothes so perfectly then the kids messed them up.

She wanted to leave the first week, not because of me, but because my kids were not minding her. She raised her arms in the air and proclaiming that she never had such problems with her children. They never refused to eat or get dressed, or had tantrums. You can imagine this woman making her kids respond to a whistle.

It is a familiar story of the mother-in-law turning into a monster-in-law. She flipped on me this week contorting her face into a scary monster screaming that she couldn’t put shoes on my son because there were too many to choose from. Her face was contorted in such a way that even now I cannot look at her for fear I will see the monster again. I mean she is from Transylvania after all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mama Does Montreal

Appearing on today

Since ballooning like Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka with my third pregnancy in four years, my husband and I decided to forgo our long awaited adult-only trip to Paris and go to the next best thing on the North American side of the planet, Montreal.

I had just returned from a week in NY covering Fashion Week and felt a little guilty that I was leaving my kids again, but that wore off.

The plans for our week excursion to the predominately French speaking city were left to my husband. To break up the drive we decided to stop in New York’s Finger Lake area on the way up. Patrick tried to be thoughtful and booked us into a farm house yoga retreat. Did I mention he has never taken a yoga class in his life?

We drove up late because I waited until the last minute to pack, go figure. The roads back to the yoga farm were dark and not well marked. I was on edge for good reason. The place was an old house on a farm next to a lake.

Our host was a kind older woman with long braided hair. She led us to our room that was so freezing I couldn’t pee. We were left with an electric heater that looked like an old radiator. Sharing our room were five very large spiders on the ceiling. I was livid and weeping all at the same time.

After I burst out of our room to find a thermostat our host offered me tea to warm myself and to call the nearest hotel only an hour away. However, there were no rooms available for miles around. So I took a Benedryl, a pregnant woman’s sleep aid, and slept the lights on.

In the morning I forced Patrick to participate in morning yoga. The house specialty was Dance Yoga. Patrick wore my Mama-jamas for lack of any suitable attire. It was so funny he refused to let me take a photo. My morning laugh quickly faded when we got to the farm house yoga studio that was laid out with carpet mats instead of rubber mats and had a distinct smell of animal. Of course, I got the mat with the mysterious stain on it. I refused ‘Down Dog’ and ‘Child Pose’ along with any other position that put my head too far to the ground.

There were animals everywhere along with peacocks and horses. It was pretty, but I am one of those people that try to admire nature from a distance because it makes my skin crawl with hives. This country girl has gone urban much to the dismay of my backpacking husband. One day when I am dead I will become dirt so there is hope for me yet.

Needless to say, I was very anxious to get over the border. The road to Montreal took us past a Thousand Islands which was fun to see in the autumn sun from the Canadian side’s lookout tower.

There are island castles from the early 1900s. Most notable is Boldt Castle that was built by George Boldt, the founder of the luxury hotel industry and New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria. When his wife died he stopped his ambitious construction on the island and the huge austere castle was abandoned like a ghost mansion in the middle of the water. In recent years, Parks and Recreation bought the estate for a dollar, but had to invest millions to restore it.

Onward to Montreal where urban comfort awaited me.

Driving in the city limits the freeways immediately felt different. The interchanges were high above the ground level and entangled messes of spalling and cracking concrete that appeared unstable as if they were ancient ruins. It was lovely and bizarre like a European movie from the Eastern Block of Communist countries.

We stayed in Old Montreal at a cute little hotel that had big beds, tall windows, and exposed brick walls called Auberge du Vieux-Port with a view of Lawrence River. It was a welcome change from my experience at the yoga farm. The first night we took the hotel’s recommendation and ate at a restaurant not far from the hotel. The place had a nice jazz ambiance, but the food was lackluster.

I wanted French cuisine and dag-nab-it I wanted my husband to speak French. His mom and sister are French teachers and he was fluent until now it seems. So I made a new rule: No French speaking, no nookie. It didn’t really work, but I tried.

The first day walking I got pooped on by a bird. I guess these days I am a large target. My way-too-small-for-a-pregnant-lady Missoni for Target sweater got hit along with my Doncaster blouse. I felt so dirty.

On a lark I sent a message to my Canadian double Sarah Lolley, who happens to be a journalist with beautiful red hair, the monopoly on all domains with our name, and lives in Montreal. I discovered her years ago when I Googled my name and was trying to create a Twitter account and domain url for my work. Surprisingly, she responded quickly and suggested meeting for lunch.

We met her upstream in Old Montreal at a little café tucked away in an old industrial building. Sarah was working that day, but aglow with her plans for her wedding only a week away. We discovered that we are the same age and the same Zodiac sign, Aquarius, and wore the same nail polish color.

The Canadian version of Sarah Lolley grew up with a physician as a parent like me, but she studied Pre-Med and wrote in the field before turning to covering feature stories. Did I mention she possesses an effortless beauty and has gorgeous red hair? The name Lolley is English and she is first generation on her dad’s side. Funny enough, we both knew there is another Sarah Lolley that lives in Birmingham, England, who strangely enough is also a writer.
As we compared our parallel lives she mentioned that there were hill-billy Lolley’s that live in the Deep South, could you believe?! Umm, yeah I can because that was where I got my name. My Louisiana granddad was ostracized by the family because he married a Jew so I don’t know any of them personally. My dad has an old family Bible that traces our name back to Lincolnshire, England. This Sarah was an original well-spoken, well-educated, well-languaged, and well-coiffed Lolley. On the other side of the table was me, a well-rounded, like a watermelon, version that had spent the last fifteen years writing about rock’n roll and fashion not really contributing to civilization until having babies.

She left us with a list of restaurants that were all freaking amazing. Tip: Don’t ask the concierge for a restaurant recommendation; ask a local or your Canadian double.

Auberge Saint-Gabriel
is artsy, bizarre, innovative, and meaty. The restaurant’s lobby is more an art museum like Louisville's 21c hotel than a bar. At the entrance, a huge whale skeleton hangs from the ceiling. A circular grassy turntable seats people waiting for a table. End tables for drinks seem to levitate from metal chords. The ambiance was all me and the menu was all Patrick, meat. The menu reads: "Everything from snout to trotter." He had a veritable food-gasm ingesting their pure style of smoking and curing various forms a meat. Rabbit was even on the menu. I ate salad and dessert while he drank an entire bottle of wine by himself while eating his chosen prey.

He was so happy and goofy walking through the old cobble stone streets I was wondering what they were soaking the pig in. Then it dawned on me that he isn't use to downing an entire bottle of wine by himself. All the times I have seen my husband drunk have been when I am pregnant and of course sober. His drunken state reminds me of my high school boyfriend when he first got high, laughing a lot and unable to wipe the grin off his face. All that was missing was Patrick singing songs to wake the spiders hanging from the street lamps.

This was how every night went and I should have been more ambitious to take a video of my beloved Patrick drowning his face in bits of animal parts and fermented grape elixirs.

The last night we spent at DNA an amazing contemporary ambiance supported by a Vancouver benefactor who supplies Canadian wines and farm goods from his own vineyards. Apparently, the meat is so fresh that the farmers can be seen carrying goats into the restaurant on their backs from their cart.

Can you tell I am a bit of a vegetarian?

Next week, Accidental Mama goes to see Jean Paul Gaultier and shopping!

The Greed of Green

The blog entitled the Greed of Green has been taken down because of a Cease and Desist Letter from lawyers representing E. Sota (Riverside Development) and Diana Lynn (One80 Real Estate).

It was never my intent to cause "defamation per se". My husband and I bought a home from Ernie and Diana. It is lawful for us to review and discuss this experience.

We are still saddened by our glorified cave. It is hard to escape it or dismiss the severity of its recent transformation from bright and sunny to dark and dismal when this is where my little brood play and we live.. staring at a wall that for us represents the Greed of Green.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Accidental Mom: Topless with Baby: Dedicated to the fight against ...

The Accidental Mom: Topless with Baby: Dedicated to the fight against ...: Appearing on today I love the name of maternity lines because a good majority of them remind me of porn, like HotMilk, Fie...

Topless with Baby: Dedicated to the fight against Breast Cancer

Appearing on today

I love the name of maternity lines because a good majority of them remind me of porn, like HotMilk, Fierce Mama, and Boobs. At what feels like the most unattractive point in a woman’s journey into motherhood the retail world like to remind you of how you got there.

Truthfully, I need a sense of humor. After all I am currently pregnant with my third baby in four years. Maternity clothes are sort of like toddler clothes, they get worn and washed and still have snot stains on them. I have also had a bad habit of giving away my maternity clothes every time I get my figure back, only to lose it again to my husband’s commando sperm.

The irony is that being mommy, at least for me, is not at all sexy. Even though half of Kentucky may have seen my boobs when it came time to breastfeed I was embarrassed!

When I was a teenager growing up in Kentucky, I was what you might call a Catholic schoolgirl gone wild. There was little to do in Fern Creek accept bowling and lake rides on whomever’s boat was handy.

My best friend Beth would opt to flash her well-known derriere to the fishermen and I would join in with my assets that were definitely not my flat butt. The goal was to see how many old men we could get to fall out of their boats.

When my little girls became painfully hard with mother’s milk much to my husband’s delight they were like torture devices strapped to my chest that wouldn’t fit comfortable in any ‘boulder holder.’ When it came time to put them to use my daughter was so small and frail that she was suffocating when I tried to put to use what my crash course in parenthood and breastfeeding with toy dolls taught me.

My husband wanted to give our little girl Lyra nothing, but nature’s gift so he took to preaching to me about how to properly insert my huge raspberry nipple. Back then I could only get this to work when I could escape to the car to peacefully wrestle my boob into her mouth after squirting her in the eye numerous times.

Because she put up such a fight and screamed at the whole process, breastfeeding in public was not possible. I couldn’t manage to use a Hooter Hider either because I couldn’t see what I was doing and would end up trying to hide my entire head under it just to hide myself from the world.
I ended up spending most of my time hooked up to a milking machine that deflated my buxom bosom. After six months I was done after my daughter bit me and laughed. My boobs were so sore from being hooked up to a machine I bleeding into the suction cups.

A year later my son was came along and changed the whole boobie-exposing experience. His attachment to my chest quickly turned him into my personal bra. You wouldn’t have guessed he was born with a short little serpent tongue, sometimes called ‘tongue tied.’ I refused to cut any part of him and there was no need. He had such enthusiasm for the boob he easily learned to hold on via suction. Here is where my topless adventures began again.

My son Luca wouldn’t take a bottle unless it was my milk. He even slept using my boob as a pillow like a blanket or favorite toy. So when he was three-months old I took him with me to New York when I covered Spring Fashion Week 2011. He had been inside me the previous season in February when I attended the runway shows for the first time in my glorified Mama-Jamas. It was cold and I couldn’t fully button a single coat that I had brought with me. My belly stuck out as if I was trying to smuggle a watermelon into the shows.

This time I was hoping to have a drink of free champagne, didn’t I deserve it? I brought my sister with me as my nanny and booked a room at the Empire Hotel across from Lincoln Center, the new home for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. My enthusiasm for the trip got a little out of hand the night before the flight at Pittsburgh’s Fashion Story event. I woke with a gallon of tainted milk in my chest. I had to drain myself of the vodka-infused mixture before taking off with my little guy.

I would like to suggest to the retail maternity world to make more pockets in clothes. I have never needed pockets more than I need them now. I tend to stick every contraption I can into my bra including my son’s favorite pacifier that is shaped like a hotdog nipple. In my rush to the airport I lost the pacifier and forgot to put my garment bag into my suitcase with all my well planned clothes.

The result: I had to run through the airport with a baby stuck to my breasts. During the entire plan ride I remained exposed for fear my son’s high pitched screams would scare the pilot. In New York, we all endured the worst taxi ride of all our lives. They just don’t make cabs equipped for car seats in the back, but that wasn’t the problem. My son hated the noise and just wanted to nestle into my boobs for comfort and fear.

My sister spent most of the trip in our room away from the bustling parties and urban noises letting my son sleep on her boobs and listening to the whistling tunes of Brother Bones, a 1920s vaudeville singer.

During my breaks from shows she would bring my son over for his feedings and so I could expose my working mammary glands for the likes of Anna Wintour. When I was looking for a quiet place to sit I found her at Avery Hall tucked away enjoying tea or coffee. If I had a twitter account back them I should have sent out a message “Anna Wintour saw my boobies!”

Breastfeeding is liberating at the same time constraining. Because my son doesn’t put up a fuss about being my nipple cover I often even forget my boobs are even exposed until someone says “Umm, Miss you’re falling out.” Oops I did it again.