Monthly Archives: September 2011


Wow…what a difference a week makes! Last Monday, Greta couldn’t make it through a whole dance class, and this week at her “redo”, she couldn’t wait to get back in there. I don’t know if it was the gentle drilling I did at home — we watched the ballet and tap scenes from “An American In Paris” like, fifty times! — or the fact that her teacher let her start the class clutching her “Angelina Ballerina” DVD for support, but, for whatever reason, Greta really rocked it this week. Hooray!

And, hey, even if she didn’t rock it, I’d still be proud of her for getting back in there and facing her fears. Seriously, I learned my lesson last week…live and let live, baby. But, lucky for us, she loved the class, so, that is where you’ll find her and me and anyone else who’d like to come watch on Monday afternoons for the next three months.

Now, if anyone knows where I can score some cheap ballet and tap shoes in a toddler size 5 1/2-6, please, hook a brother up. That shit’s expensive!


Filed under Daddy stuff, Good Baby

My new, crunchier Meetup Group!

After waiting two days to be “approved” by the team leaders, I found out just now that I have been accepted into a new Meetup Group for stay-at-home-parents. Hooray! Actually, it’s mostly for SAHM’s, but, hey, at the end of the day, we’re all doing the same thing and mostly dealing with the same issues, so…I can hang with the ladies just fine.

Unlike my rocking once-a-month Meetup Group on the Westside (last month we went to the beach in Santa Monica and Greta and I had so much fun we ended up staying all damn day!) and the other, less-awesome group that dumped me, this new Meetup Group has over 375 members! Yikes! The coolest thing about them though is that they meet all the time in all different parts of the city, Glendale, Pasadena, Los Feliz, Burbank, the Westside, you name it, they’ve had a Meetup there!

The only thing I’m a little worried about is that the group is called “Crunchy Moms”, meaning, all-natural, organic-eating, cloth-diaper-using hippie moms and dads and little hippie kids. Now, coming from Santa Cruz, that is totally cool with me, I mean, I can get my hippie on with the best of them, but, I dunno how genuinely crunchy we are as parents.

Sure, Greta eats healthy stuff, we recycle practically everything we use, we try to buy safe, green toys when we can and hello, we drive a hybrid! So, that should count for something, right? Judging strictly from their pictures and profiles, the group seems to be populated with some very cool, totally non-judgmental chicas on all ends of the crunchy scale, so, hopefully, we’ll fit in just fine.

Oh, and did I mention that there are exactly two other SAHD’s in the group? Yep, two other dudes like me (one of them is even a writer!) in a group of 375 members. Hmmm…I’m either gonna love this group to death or they’re gonna burn me at the hemp log stake for letting Greta play with Barbies. Either way, it should be an adventure…

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Filed under Daddy stuff, Intuitive Parenting

The worst stage parent EVER!

OK, so on Monday, Greta had her first trial ballet class. I say trial because the dance school here gives you one free session to see if your kid is ready for the teacher-student environment of the classroom before you sign up for regular classes. Pretty cool, huh? Especially considering how much the classes cost! Whew…

So, I get her all “balleted-out” with her favorite shirt and tutu, her favorite ballet slippers, a big flowery headband, the works…she looked adorable, seriously, the cutest kid there by a longshot. The minute we walk in, Greta meets the teacher and is all smiles as she follows the other girls into the studio to warm up. I tired to take her hand and walk her in, but she was already gone. Good sign, I thought, she knows what she’s doing…no hand-holding necessary for my little superstar!

So, then the class begins, and all the parents in the lobby lean close to watch the closed-circuit TV feed from the classroom. Actually, I was probably the only one “leaning close” as the other parents seemed to be seasoned dance class veterans.

Then my brother and sister-in-law and Mrs. Yeti arrive to watch Greta’s “debut”. It’s a big moment, we’re all terribly excited to see Greta decimate her peers on the dance floor (um, actually, maybe that was just me again) and guess what happened? Nothing. Literally!

Instead of flitting through the air like a tragic, love-struck swan, Greta just stood there with her head bowed and her arms at her side for almost the entire class. I know I should have felt nothing but compassion for this shy little girl staring at the floor, but, honestly, all I could feel was mortified. Seriously, I wanted to run in there, pull her aside and shake some sense into her: “You dance at home, you dance at Target, you dance pretty much anywhere we go, but you can’t do it here, where it really counts?! What’s wrong with you, kid?!” Yes, I know, I totally suck as a parent. But, I’m sorry, that’s how I felt at the time.

Of course, no one there would have known that. I just kept smiling and laughing nervously as she stood there sucking the fun out of that roomful of cute-ass kids. My brother described her best as looking like the dude from “The Blair Witch Project” in that final, spooky-ass shot in the movie. And, sadly, that’s exactly what she looked like, just standing there completely still with her head bowed. All she needed was some long black hair to hang in her face and she could be the next great Japanese horror film monster. Oy, it was a nightmare…

And then, maybe halfway through the class, she started to move. First her feet, then her hands, and then she actually followed the teacher from one end of the studio to the other, imitating her moves the entire time. One of the seasoned vets nearby turned to me and said: “Wow. She’s doing really good for her first time!” To which I responded in total disbelief: “Really?!” Urgh, I’m such a prick.

Then, the funniest thing happened. The teacher left the room for a moment and Greta suddenly stood up and dramatically twirled up and down the line of her peers. Sure, she looked a little crazy and yes, the other kids looked at her like she was a little crazy, but, hey, at least she was moving!

Of course, the minute the teacher returned to the studio, Greta stopped dancing. And when the girls took a break to change into their tap shoes for the second half of the class, Greta left the studio never to return. It was like: “Cool, I’m done. Let’s go to the park.” Still not sure of what to do or say, Mrs. Yeti and I just told Greta what a good job she did and then made her wait till the class ended so we could talk to her teacher about what to do next.

The teacher and the other people working at the school assured us that, in fact, Greta did really well for her first time and suggested we try the free class one more time next Monday to see how she does. I was still skeptical of the whole thing — and it’s not just the money talking, because my Mom is paying for the class — but agreed to bring Greta back next week for another session.

And then we went to the park where all I could do was think about what I had done wrong. Did I over-hype the class to Greta? To others? To myself? Did I push her into this? Was she ready for a ballet class at two-and-a-half? Did she even care about any of this shit as much as I did? Yikes…my head was spinning and like I usually do when my head spins, I fell asleep. Yep, right there on the park bench, in the middle of a really good story my brother was telling. Sorry, hermano!

And when I awoke a couple of minutes later, I realized that the problem wasn’t Greta at all, it was me. Again, I think my brother said it best when he asked me: “What did you think was going to happen today?” BAM! Good question, man. I came clean and admitted that I thought Greta was gonna burn the place down with her mad ballet skills, and even as the words flowed over my lips, I knew how wrong my entire approach had been.

This class was supposed to be about and for Greta, not me, and my role as a parent was to shut my big mouth and bring her back next week for our second free class. If she likes it, cool, if she doesn’t, well, that’s cool too. And if she wants to stand there like a character from a freaky Japanese horror film, that’s also totally acceptable. I brought her to the well, my Mom paid for the water, but that doesn’t mean she’s gonna drink it.

And you know what? That’s fine. Seriously, nothing good ever grew in the shadow of a nasty-ass stage parent. So, from here on out, no pressure, kid. Be yourself. Love yourself. Dance or don’t dance. We’ll be there to cheer you on no matter what you do.

But, seriously, can you try and decide if you like this stuff before we invest in the real tap and ballet shoes? That shit’s kinda pricey…


Filed under Daddy stuff, Good Baby, Mommy Stuff

Strange days and sticky feet…

Yesterday was kinda weird. Woke up super early for a conference call with my “nemesis” and then had to wait one whole hour for him to call me back. Yep, one hour I coulda been sleeping! Nice. And then, was all set to feel vengeful and angry when I hung up, but, the truth is, I just felt kinda sad. I’ve known this dude for a while now and, yeah, he totally screwed me over and things are probably gonna get really ugly from here on out, but, all I could feel was sad when we hung up. Urgh…maybe I’m too nice.

Anyway, five minutes after I got off the phone the clouds moved in…literally! It had been sunny and nice all morning and then, the gloom set in. Perfect timing, really cheered me up…thanks, weather Gods. On top of all that, Greta wasn’t feeling well, so, we were housebound for most of the morning.

Tried to cheer myself up by cleaning — call me crazy, but that usually works — and then, the vacuum broke. Yep, our fancy-ass Hoover LiNX broke again. But one good thing about fancy-ass vacuums is that they have awesome, thousand-year warranties, so, all I had to do was drive it to a local repair shop where it should be fixed and ready to cheer me up again by Friday. Hooray!

To celebrate this news, Greta (who assured me she was feeling “much better”) and I swung by Toys”R”Us on our way home and admired all the shiny new “Star Wars” and Barbie stuff. Good times! Actually, really good times, we were there for almost two hours. I don’t know which of us had more fun, but, it was, by far, the best part of my day. Speaking of fun, did you know they have Darth Vader-shaped USB drives? Ingenious!

Headed home, made dinner, watched a little Tivo and then I hopped in the shower where I discovered a foam craft sticker stuck to the bottom of my foot. Lord knows how long it had been there, but I had to practically chisel that thing off. It was really, really stuck. I know, totally symbolic, right? Something stuck on me, feeling stuck in general, suddenly unsticking myself from a former colleague, wow…you could go on and on…but all I know is that, like a band-aid, once I ripped that thing off, my foot felt fantastic and I slept like a baby.

Three cheers for the unstuck!


Filed under Daddy stuff, Writing Stuff

Beating the heat: Burbank style

Whew, I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but the dogs days of summer are definitely upon us down here in beautiful downtown Burbank. Seriously, the past couple of weeks have been total stay-inside-and-watch-movie weather. Actually, we stay inside and do other things too, but, movies are more fun to blog about.

So, our movie of the moment is “Enchanted”, which, in my mind, is pretty much a perfect film. Great story, fantastic cast, awesome songs and best of all, it makes New York City look even more lush and magical than it already is. So cool! And let me tell you, as far as re-watchability goes, “Enchanted” is right up there with the best of them. Trust me, I’ve watched it at least once a day since Friday, so, I know of what I speak.

Another way we beat the heat is by going to IKEA. Yep, the Swedish-furniture-shopping mecca is actually home to one of the coolest indoor play areas in town. Actually, it might be the only indoor children’s play area in town…um, you know, that’s free.

Anyway, we’ve been going there since Greta was a baby (seriously, “IKEA” was one of her first words!) and lemme tell ya, she could play on that Virre kiddie slide and PS Lömsk swivel chair for hours. Hell, she even gets a kick out of arranging and re-arranging the pint-sized Mammut furniture. She’s so meticulous too, it’s like she’s setting that shit up for a party or something. Hilarious!

And finally, our third, and favorite, way to beat the heat in Burbank…the good old public library! Specifically, the Buena Vista branch. Not only do they have a super cool playground and park just outside their back door, but their children’s department is excellent and beautifully laid-out with fake trees and stuffed animals everywhere you look. We started coming here as soon as Greta could leave the house without the fear of large birds snatching her away from us and she loves it. And yes, “library” was also one of her first words.

Oh, and best of all, the library, like IKEA, and one tiny little corner of our living room, is totally air-conditioned! So, yay for that!

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Filed under Daddy stuff, Movie Stuff

Unsolicited Advice

Hey again. Nope, I’m not dead, I just feel like it. Had a very fun, but very eventful Labor Day weekend and I kinda just wanna sleep for the rest of the week. But, seeing as that’s not really an option…I might as well blog about what’s on my mind right now. And what’s really chapping my hide at the moment is the age-old phenomenon of unsolicited parenting advice.

I know it might seem like I talk about it a lot, but, I don’t talk about it nearly as much as it happens. I mean, shit, if I had a nickel for every piece of unsolicited advice I’ve been given over the past two years, well, I’d retire now and move the family to the tropics. Seriously, we’d be billionaires.

I don’t know why it is, but, when it comes to child-rearing, everyone wants to weigh in with their ever-so-helpful advice. For the record, there have been times when I’ve sought that advice, and, in that case, well, bring it on, sister or brother, or whoever. But, if I’m not asking for your opinion on something, then, seriously, your job as a good human being is to shut the hell up. Especially when my toddler is throwing a fit or crying.

My favorite is: “Wow, she’s a handful!” which is almost always uttered when she is, indeed, being a handful. It’s like looking up into the pouring rain and saying: “Wow, it sure is raining!” No duh! I mean, seriously, if you ain’t helping me put out the fire, then step the fuck aside, because anything else you say or do at that moment is just more fuel for the flames.

And it’s not just tantrums that bring out people’s inner early-childhood-expert. Pick a topic, any topic, and we’ve been given advice on it, sometimes by total strangers. A woman at Von’s once corrected the way I was putting Greta into the shopping cart. Yep, she said I was doing it wrong. And random strangers are one thing, but when advice comes from someone you love and respect, it’s even worse.

I’m not naming names, but, earlier this summer I was almost reduced to tears by the harsh, totally judgmental parenting “advice” that flew out of the mouth of one of my favorite people. It just about killed me, and it was then that I realized that I was totally done listening to other people’s advice about how to raise my kid.

If my daughter is happy and healthy and bright and beautiful then we are obviously doing something right. So, whether you’ve had kids or your own or not — yep, even the childless singletons give free parenting advice these days, which is just insane to me — please, for the love of God, keep your unsolicited parenting advice to yourselves.

Until you’ve walked a mile in my Crocs, you don’t know my pain, baby. So, zip it!


Filed under Crazy Relatives, Daddy stuff, Good Baby, Intuitive Parenting