The very first sleepover

The first sleepover has happened.

That is, with Sweet Pea and one of her 2 BFF’s. Who, btw, will be referred to throughout the remainder of the post as “J” 🙂 And in honor of the momentous occasion…a first sleepover for two 6-year-old besties…. I planned a girlie adventure, and set the bar kinda high. Shocker, huh? I settled upon a trip to a little girls’ paradise. Stay with me. I swear I’ll get to the details (and pictures), but first I have to tell you about what happened on the way over the hill.

 

(a bit of expository information ) 

The room Butter Bean and Sweet Pea share is a source of frustration. I can’t keep it clean and organized, and they won’t. Therefore, it is, quite honestly…the bane of my existence….on a daily basis. So I normally just leave it alone to avoid going bat-shit crazy. However, if company is coming over, I spit shine the entire house. Including their room. I imagine that most of you do the same with guests approaching the doorstep, right? If you don’t, you either have a housekeeper, or you’ve achieved a level of “I don’t give a rat’s ass” that I aspire to. Regardless, in my Friday morning, mad dash to clean shit stuff up, I happened upon a scrap of paper in their room upon which the sentence “I love ____” was written about six times. In a row, in Sweet Pea’s 1st grade handwriting. There was a name in the blank, but I’ve left it out to protect the innocent…lol. Anyway, I sort of giggled at the discovery, left it where I found it, and moved onto the organization of doll clothes and barbies into designated wooden bins.

 

Then, on the way to The Grove, this conversation happened:

J: I wonder where _____ lives? 

SP: I don’t know.

Me: Who’s ____? (knowing full well who it is, because I have seen this little boy’s name written 3 hours earlier)

J: He’s a boy in our class.

SP: (giggling, but remaining silent)

Me: Oh. Who likes him?

J: I do. And so does SP.

SP: So does ___!!! (insert name of the other BFF who isn’t present)

Me: Wow. He’s popular! Why do all of you like him?

J: Because he’s hot!!! Except for that tooth. Something needs to be done about that.  

Me: What??!!

J and SP, in unison: He has one tooth that is really big.

J: And kind of crooked.

SP: And he’s eight.

(giggles all around, including me–because I simply can’t believe what I am hearing)

Remember, they are six years old, so it’s all incredibly innocent, and cute, but the magnitude of their observation is not lost on me. 

With this, Sugar Bean, in her infinite, 13 year-old wisdom says “This is going to be a problem in about 7 years.”  I should add, that Butter Bean has remained silent the entire time, and I am waiting for her bombshell, which never comes. *whew* Not sure I could take much more, quite honestly. The conversation ends as a One Direction song comes on, and I am subjected to “road trip karaoke” for the next half hour. Swimming in a sea of awesome, right?

A view from the front seat.

A view from the front seat.

The good news is, we made it to our destination, which was The American Girl Store, where we had an appointment to have Savannah’s, Lauren’s, and Sally’s hair done. Before you ask….yes. They have an in-store salon for such affairs, and you can pick the hairstyle you want from a page full of possibilities, priced according to the complexity. Just like in real-life. If you want highlights, you gotta pay. The prices max out at $20, which is a far cry from what I fork over when my roots shine through, but still. I am not a doll. So, here is a glimpse of what it looks like. Notice SP’s doll…Savannah…sitting in the chair behind them 🙂

Sweet Pea & J, in front of the  AG  Hair Salon

Sweet Pea & J, in front of the AG Hair Salon

While the dolls were being treated to hair makeovers, we  I decided to explore the store, and take advantage of a photo-op spot inside, and outside 🙂

J, BB and SP with "Saige"...AG's Girl of the Year.

J, BB and SP with “Saige”…AG’s Girl of the Year.

 

Dolls with cool hairstyles? Check. Cool outfits for dolls? Check. Let's roll.

Dolls with cool hairstyles? Check. Cool outfits for dolls? Check. Let’s roll.

 

After looking at every possible corner of the store, we picked up the dolls and headed out the door and across the street to our next destination….

If you live in LA, and you haven't been, you suck. Seriously. Go there now.

If you live in LA and haven’t been, you have no soul. No excuses. Go there. NOW.

Honestly, I never order dessert, hate chocolate, and avoid sugar like it’s acid. Not because I fear weight gain, or cancer, or any of the other effects said to be the result of too much sugar…but simply because I am not a sweet eater. My taste buds just prefer sour or salty. However, I do appreciate a good candy store, and holy hell….DYLAN’S is the very best one I’ve ever visited. The candy in there could have been laced with crack and I would have bought it for The Beans  (plus one), simply because of the way it was displayed. And the background music was a remix of the theme from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” AND “Ice cream and Cake and Cake”. Talk about suggestive marketing. Screw subliminal…Dylan has it going on, and I’m certain he knows it.

Look beyond the adorable little girls, into the mecca of sugar heaven.

Look beyond the adorable little girls, into the mecca of sugar heaven.

Bags of candy in hand…and a call to The Man to see if he was gonna meet us (NO)…and we decided it was time to eat, for real. So, this was the scene at dinner:

Obviously, I couldn't be IN the picture, but I was honored to have these cuties as dinner companions.

Obviously, I couldn’t be IN the picture, but I was honored to have these cuties as dinner companions.

Major props to our waiter, Michael, for enduring the high intensity sugar-rush that took over immediately after their food was consumed. I really hope the tip was enough 🙂

The ride home was priceless. More road trip karaoke involving “Trouble” by Taylor Swift, which Sugar Bean managed to record on her phone, but I can’t figure out how to upload for your enjoyment. Major fail, I know. My apologies. But the night continued to be a party. Fingernails were painted, popcorn was popped, movies were watched, farting noises with a strategically placed straw in an armpit resonated at unnatural volumes(gee…I wonder who taught them THAT?).

And then came bedtime, which got off to a fantastic start, and ended with me making the 10 minute drive  to her house, with a tearful J at 12:30 am. Bless her heart, she fought the good fight, and wanted to stay, but just wasn’t comfortable.  I totally get it. First sleepovers are scary at six.

Wait..who am I kidding? First sleepovers are scary. Period.

But there is always next time 🙂

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Eye Yoo Wee, Mommy!!

beachgirls

I hadn’t planned to write today, as I already have a good kick-ass post scheduled for Valentine’s Day. (Yes, that’s what is known in Hollywood as a ‘teaser’, so you’ll need to come back to see what the fuss is about)

However this morning for some reason, I kept thinking about when Sugar Bean was a toddler, just learning to talk, which inevitably reminded me of the day I was almost in tears….convinced she would NEVER say ‘I love you too’ despite me saying ‘I love you’ to her 8,000 times a day. Then my mind connected the dots of ‘I love you’ with the upcoming holiday, and….BAM…here I am…writing, in the middle of the dang day when I’m certain there is laundry to be done, errands to be run, babysitters to book (this has so far, been an unsuccessful task I might add)…you get the point. Because the story of her 1st “I love you, too” is good for both a tear, and a giggle.

Back to Sugar Bean.

As I mentioned, I constantly tell The Beans I love them, all day long, every day. It’s nauseating, I think. Since you never know when life will catch you by surprise, cut things short, leave you hanging…and because, I can’t remember either of my parents ever saying it to me –although I’m certain they did– I want to make sure it’s fresh in their minds. Even if the last words they’ve uttered to me are “YOU ARE THE MEANEST MOMMY EVER!” because I’ve refused some request. Anyway, I started doing this immediately after Sugar Bean was born. So, by the time she was 18 months old and talking up a storm….you can imagine my disappointment at the fact that she never seemed to say ‘I love you”, “I love you too” or anything that sounded close. To me.  What did I know? I wasn’t given the ‘Toddler Talk for Dummies Guide”, as a shower gift.

The scene would play out like this, day after day….

Me: “I love you.”

SB: (smiling, silent) 

Me: “SB, mommy loves you.” 

SB: (still smiling…giggles…runs off)

Me: (furrowing my brow)

She did, however, randomly utter the words “EYE-YOO-WEE”….a lot. But never really in response to my endless, sappy proclamation. Which always left me with a puzzled, “WTF?” look on my face.

This went on for months, I tell you. Until one afternoon, The Man and I were in the car cruising down Beverly Boulevard on our way to who knows where, with Sugar Bean strapped into her car seat in the back, happy as a clam, when I looked at her and said “I love you” and she responded with “Eye yoo wee too mommy! Eye yoo wee too!” 

WHAT!???!! 

There it was!!! My heart swelled with joy, and my eyes with tears. Then I realized, all those months, my dumb-ass thought she didn’t love me, when she had been saying it all along.

Unsolicited.

Needless to say, I made The Man pull over so I could yank her out of her car seat and shower her with hugs and kisses 🙂 The following Christmas, I took her to a cool new store called Build-A-Bear and (after two hours of coaxing) recorded it on one of those thingys you stick inside the paw of the bear, and gave it to The Man as a gift, hoping to capture it forever. What they don’t tell you is, the recording devices have a shelf-life, dammit. Still have the bear, but he no longer has Sugar Bean’s voice. Now that she is older, I receive beautiful things like this, which will weather the test of time, both in memory and in print 🙂

The moral of this story is: Leave it to a toddler to come up with a freaking genius way to say “I love you” that sounds nothing like it, but really sums up the meaning quite well.

“EYE + YOO+ WEE”

I + You = We

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Like mother, like daughter…and some horn tooting :-)

It has come to my attention over the past 6 months, that two of  The Beans are gifted writers. Sugar Bean is making straight A’s in Advanced English, and Butter Bean was named “Writer of the Month” for her class in December. Woo-hoo…they can take over the blog when I die, right?!

So, it really came as no shock to me yesterday when I picked Sweet Pea up from school and she announced that she’d been given an award for writing at the morning assembly. Another chip off the old block….yippee 🙂 Normally, I would have been there to see her receive the award, but for some reason, I didn’t get a notice about her accomplishment. Apparently, the Korean Parent’s Association presented awards to the students based on an essay each of them wrote about New Year’s Resolutions, to commemorate Lunar New Year.  And Sweet Pea was one of two students to win in her class. She received the certificate pictured below, along with a Barnes and Noble gift card!!

IMG_1327

 This in itself had me BEAMING with pride. 

What brought me to tears, literally, was when she showed me her essay. It’s short and simple, but so powerful. Especially to a mama who is trying very hard to make sure her Beans realize the importance of  these lessons, through living examples like this.  Anyway, here is what she wrote, and illustrated. I believe it speaks for itself:

IMG_1326

If you look closely, you can see the two kids depicted on the left are saying ‘No toys’ and ‘No fair’, and on the right, there is Sweet Pea holding bags of toys to give them as they exclaim “Toys!”, “Yay!”. What an incredible drawing. Even if My Bean is the artist, and I do say so myself.

I wept silent tears of joy all the way home from school, knowing that even when The Beans have bratty, selfish moments, and I would swear it’s not….parenting by example really is sinking in 🙂

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Eating mudpies

God made dirt. It won’t hurt.

I’m not sure there has ever been anything written about parenting multiple children more true than this ecard. Yes, it’s effing hilarious. But the truth often is, right? It also reminds me of the perceived ‘Curse of the Middle Child’, and the over-abundance of photographs I have of Sugar Bean and Butter Bean as infants and toddlers, but the lack of pictures of Sweet Pea during those stages. For awhile, I was worried she might think we stole her, and couldn’t take pictures because of it…lol. Anyway, I believe the photo ratio has finally evened out because THEY ALL LOVE THE CAMERA. And the feeling is mutual 🙂

But, I digress.  Back to eating dirt.

Personally, I was scared shitless when Sugar Bean came along, and I was a new mommy in Los Angeles. Because, y’all….I was raised in the South, by a mama who was 40 when I was born. Which, in itself was not cool for the 70’s. I mean, from what I understand, she was told there was a 50/50 chance I would either be of genius level intelligence or suffer from some sort of mental deficiency, simply based on her age, and the risks associated with having a baby during ‘THE CHANGE’. And I guess the jury might still be out on which one I grew up to be depending on whom you ask. My point is, because most of my childhood friends’ parents were the ages of my older siblings–I’m the youngest by 12 years in my family–which meant my mom’s friends had teenagers, not toddlers….I was a solitary child. Didn’t really have friends over to play, for this reason, and hardly remember going to others’ homes until I was well into elementary school.  Playing with other kids wasn’t referred to as a ‘play date’ when I was young and  ‘Mommy & Me’ groups/classes didn’t exist. In other words, the raising I got in the South, and the parenting I witnessed my siblings exercise upon my nieces and nephews, didn’t really jive with the world of motherhood in Los Angeles I was thrust into in 1999. To say I was clueless, is, well….an understatement. So I did the only thing I knew to do…try and fit in. Especially since the alternative, stereotypical (and often mocked) familiar traits of a Southern mama involved standing around barefoot in my front yard, with my baby girl propped on my hip wearing nothing but a diaper while  gossiping  with my neighbor about what ingredients she used to make her version of a 7-layer Surprise (it’s a dessert). No, I’ve never made one, and we lived off Melrose, so I never ventured over to meet the neighbors either.

OH. THE. HORROR.

At first, I attempted to do everything the other ‘hip moms’ did. I had a fancy diaper bag, and bought Sugar Bean’s clothes from trendy little boutiques I heard about, to wear on play-dates, or to our Mommy n’ Me classes. Hell, I even jumped on the bandwagon of ‘organic’ baby food, which was rumored to be an absolute must for my angel, despite the fact that all it’s really made of is vegetables grown in the dirt with only sunlight and water to help them along. In other words….just like the ones I helped my Papa tend to in his garden…my whole life. Once harvested, pureed, jarred, labeled and sold at inflated prices in stores like Whole Paycheck, Whole Foods, it’s then referred to as gourmet organic baby food.  Who knew? We went so far as to hire a nanny for a little while, to be an ‘extra pair of hands’, because I convinced myself I needed help…with ONE CHILD…even though I was a SAHM, without so much as a shred of a job beyond housewife/mother. My siblings were laughing, my girlfriends were laughing, my in-laws were laughing, and in hindsight, it’s rather embarrassing, I have to admit. Why, you ask? Because it was obvious to everyone but us, that The Man and I were clearly , trying to Keep Up with The Whoevers. It ended up biting us on the ass some years later, after Butter Bean was born, when said nanny went rogue on us and almost turned our fairytale into a “life imitates art” exhibit straight out of  “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”. THANK GOD my sisters had some sense, and managed to stage an intervention.  But that, is a post for another day….and several bottles of good Pinot  🙂

Things moved merrily along, and we added Butter Bean to the mix, just when Sugar Bean started Kindergarten.  Given my over-achieving, type A nature, and obvious need to ‘win’ I even took part in the evil world of competitive birthday party throwing. If you know what I’m talking about, you’ve probably done it…at least once. If you don’t, it’s best not to even ask for details. Trust me on this one, and laugh at the notion…if it were in fact an Olympic sport, this village idiot would be decorated like Michael-freaking-Phelps.

I was doing everything right, or so I thought, until it came to discipline. That is the one area of “Parenting LA Style” that always baffled my mind, as it seemed to be entirely absent from the motherhood spectrum as exhibited by the moms I encountered, once Sugar Bean started school. You see, I was taught to obey when my mama or daddy said “No”. Not to ask why, and then be given an explanation, followed by a ‘choice’. If I didn’t behave as I was told, I faced consequences, sometimes involving wooden spoons, belts or switches I had to fetch from the yard myself. There was no talking back, or ‘using my words’, no timeouts and certainly no dedicated ‘cool down corner’, complete with burning candles and calming music, for me to go and chill out in, if I disobeyed. I can just imagine the place my Daddy would have put me in had I ‘used my words’…lol. Nonetheless, I did my best to conform, only reverting to REDNECK MAMA every now and then when I just didn’t have another feasible choice. At the end of the day, I’ve done what works for our family, and used a combination of methods that appear to be most effective. Punishment fits the crime so to speak, and it’s different for each Bean. I guess that’s all we can do, right? Sure, my way is different from the vast majority of moms in my circle, but nobody judges. Anymore…lol. But I have tried REALLY REALLY hard to make The Beans say ‘yes ma’am, no ma’am/yes sir, no sir’, in an effort to hold on to some shard of dignity when we visit the South. Not only is it ingrained in my personality, it’s just plain respectful. I’m 41, and I still say it when responding to those older than I by a span of years. It’s about 50-50 at this point with The Beans, and it does set them apart from the pack when they utter those words in mixed company. Also, I must give them props for their table manners and social graces, and for remembering never to call their friends’ parents by their first names. Not even when THEY give permission. Simply unacceptable.  Basically, I’m trying to raise open-minded, socially aware and tolerant, respectful, independent, strong women who have impeccable manners and behave like Southern Belles. Oh, and to know when to utter “Well, Bless your heart”  as opposed to “WELL. BLESS YOUR HEART!” 🙂

Right about now, you may be wondering how on Earth this is all going to come together at the end of the post, and why I chose to write about it today. It’s because Sugar Bean is 13 now. THIRTEEN. She thinks I’m over-protective, and admittedly, I am. All of her friends have a Facebook page and I am making her wait, under the ‘terms of service agreement’ that you must be at least 14. I flipped out when she signed up for Instragram, and gave this long spiel about NEVER posting pics of herself, or sisters, because I worry about cyber-geo-tagging of pictures. Again, I warned her of the threat of the people behind the profiles not being whom they say they are, and assured her it has nothing to do with my trust in her, but my distrust of others. So she made her account private, and posted pictures of her toenail polish, our dog, and our bearded dragons. That got old, so she deleted her account. All of her friends stay connected via some form of social media, and I am depriving her of that. I also feel like she doesn’t try and forge friendships as often because she is afraid of not being able to participate in activities that appear to be normal for the tween set. And I don’t want that.  Am I crazy for being so protective?  I mean, I did relax and relent on the issue of allowing her to walk down to a pick up spot with her friends after school each day. Of course, I’m there waiting when she arrives and there is no ‘hanging out’. Go ahead, call me a Helicopter Mom. No, wait…don’t. I’ve never been one to fight her battles, or forbid climbing on a jungle gym out of fear she might fall. So maybe I’m more of a Tent Mom. You know, attempting to shelter her from the possible storm that may be awaiting her in the world of social networking. Hmm.

I realize I am a big hypocrite, as I am baring my soul here, being public and posting pictures from time to time….of The Beans. And maybe I am being too paranoid. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, so I talked about it in a therapy session this morning. Turns out, my doc has a 13 year old daughter, and he talked me off the ledge. Reassuring me I am doing all the right things…staying involved, monitoring things, and explaining my concerns and hesitation due to my skepticism of others, not because I distrust her. Then he admitted his 13 year old daughter has a Facebook page. It’s the way EVERYONE connects, arranges outings, and communicates in general. He also said the chances of any of my valid, yet paranoid concerns, coming to light for Sugar Bean under my watchful eye, would be basically less than being struck by lightning. Twice.

So, after much deliberation, both through internal dialogue with myself, and discussion with The Man and The Doc…..Sugar Bean will be connecting to the social networking world this evening.

But she has no idea….yet 🙂 I imagine her reaction will be better than when she got her iPhone for Xmas.

Breathe in, breathe out….breathe in, breathe out…repeat.  Oh, screw it. Who am I kidding?

I’m gonna need a Xanax washed down with some Jack Daniels before sitting down to sign her up on Facebook.

The teenage years are going to put me in the dirt….eating mudpies.

 

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