Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween: Nailed It!

Image courtesy of mom.me
Don't fret if you haven't yet found your perfect Halloween costume. (I'm actually in that camp, although CC said she wanted me to go as Queen Amadala to her Princess Leia. That was before she decided to be an ice princess, though.)

If you don't have the duds for trick-or-treating, why not just dress up your your nails?

Check out these spooky, fun and sparkly Halloween-themed nail polish shades that I wrote about for mom.me. With names like Malice (Chanel) and New Flesh (Deborah Lippmann), they're sure to inject a little holiday fun into whatever you're doing tomorrow night, whether it's hitting that awesome Halloween party or digging into your child's candy when she's not looking.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Back to Mr. Bones -- with Baby, Too!

CC gets excited for Halloween at Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch

Despite getting very little sleep -- how could I possibly have forgotten this part of newborn life? -- Ian and I made a point of getting out to take CC and Baby Clark to one of our favorite Halloween hot spots, Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch in West Hollywood.

We haven't been to the trendy Halloween outpost in a few years, but it was important to me to introduce Baby C to some of our favorite L.A. haunts. He is, after all, part of my L.A. story -- and the sooner he learns that we're a family on the go, the better. (Actually it helps me to get back in the swing of things after being at home in a baby haze these past couple of weeks.)

While he slept for most of our visit, CC had a great time checking out the petting zoo and sliding down the skeleton bouncy water slide -- yes, it was a scorcher this weekend. (I nearly opted to slide down with her.)

Cooling off at Mr. Bones
We also kept up with tradition and took pics inside the big hollow pumpkin -- it's amazing to see how CC has changed over the years -- and woke Will from his own newborn haze to get a Bone-sy pic of him, too.

CC and Mama
Why does our son look as if he's throwing gang signs?
Not only that, but included in the price of admission ($4 for adults; $2 for kids), we also got to take home two little pumpkins, which CC had lots of fun decorating.

Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch
702 N. Doheny Dr.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Monday, October 22, 2012

Big Sister's Coming Around

CC helps out with the baby.
It turns out that the idea of being a big sister is a lot easier than having the role thrust upon you in real life.

CC has been so excited to have a little brother, but his actual arrival has been a little bumpier than expected -- at least when it comes to sibling love at first sight.

Of course she loves him -- and has said so -- but she's been understandably skeptical about how everything is supposed to work.

Ian and I expected that. And it's OK. She wants to feel loved, secure and that she hasn't been displaced by this tiny little guy. I get it, too. She was our one and only for almost six years.

But over the weekend, she started making her way closer to her brother -- watching me change his diapers, dancing in front of him while one of us held him, and looking him over as he lay in his bassinet.

Now she's gone a big step further. While he was lying down in his Nap Nanny, crying as newborns can, CC grabbed his paci to comfort him. She squatted down to his eye level, handed him the pacifier and talked to him, singing and cooing as his eyes focused on her face, mere inches from his own.

It was amazing to see.

Friday, October 19, 2012

'Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted' DVD Review

If you can get through Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted without singing Marty's now classic "Afro Circus" song -- or at least without it getting stuck in your head so much that you hear it even in the shower -- then you are a way stronger person than I.

The third installment of the DreamWorks Animation franchise, about four New York City Zoo animals who just want to get back home, is another fun take on the whole "fish out of water" -- or, in this case, lion out of Central Park -- theme.

After landing on Madagascar and then dropping down into Africa, Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) are desperate to leave and wind up making their way to Europe -- Monaco, no less -- as a pit stop on their journey back home. The opening scenes of the friends trying to cooly break into the Monte Carlo Casino is a fun, bumbling version of something out of Mission: Impossible.

Soon after, a crazed animal control officer (Frances McDormand) is hot on the gang's trail, and they need to blend in. Stat. Enter a traveling circus, and the Gotham gang are on their way. Not only that, but there's a scheduled stop in the Big Apple to boot. And while there are some intimidating characters on this circus train -- Hello, Bryan Cranston as the no-nonsense tiger Vitaly -- the zoo friends discover that they have a lot to offer this colorful troupe as well.

The two-disc Blu-ray/DVD pack (SRP: $30) is a fun combo that includes the movie, special features and the clever addition of Marty's rainbow wig. (The DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures teams know their audience -- in fact, Ian has already put it on.) In addition to catching the film itself, viewers can see interviews with the cast, directors Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon, as well as see some deleted scenes.

We're definitely a Madagascar-loving household. CC has seen the first two movies I don't know how many times. And while I had to suspend my disbelief quite a bit as the foursome popped up on the coast of Europe (guess that's an easier swim that to the East Coast of the U.S.), the movie is a clever and funny ride.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How Health Insurers Are Getting It Right with Moms *Sponsored Post*

Having recently spent a few days in the hospital to give birth to L.A. Story's newest addition, Baby Clark 2.0 -- not to mention in light of the upcoming election -- health care and health insurance have been on my mind a lot lately

While we usually think of health insurers as some big, anonymous organization that covers the bulk of the medical bills (at best) and a monolith of red tape and restrictions (at worst), I was happy to hear that one group, WellPoint, the umbrella group of Anthem BlueCross BlueShield (which also happens to be my health insurer) is looking to be more active in their members' lives -- moms in particular.

Last week I participated in a conference call with WellPoint representatives to talk about what they have to offer in the way of mom support (pre- and postnatal), preventative care and fitness help(!).

"We want to bridge the gap between traditional care and a family's need for access and timely support," said Dr. Ellen Silver, medical director, clinical strategy and innovation at WellPoint. "The industry is recognizing that you need more from us, and insurers are taking a much more active role, giving you access to tools to make more informed decisions."

You might be surprised at what they have on their parent-friendly menu of inclusive services. I know I was.

24/7 NurseLine:  When you need quick, after-hours (or any hour, for that matter) medical advice, just call a toll-free number to speak with an experienced nurse. Has your child fallen and lost a tooth? Your daughter has shoved an eraser up her nose to see if it would fit (Guess what? It does!). Should you attempt to take it out yourself? How do you get rid or prevent those seemingly ubiquitous classroom bugs, lice? A registered nurse will be available to answer questions and direct you to the best course of action. Whew!

Future Moms: While the NurseLine is such a great idea and helps me rest at night knowing I can get someone on the phone if CC gets a little eraser-happy, the Future Moms program got my attention even more. This program gives expectant moms access to tools such as risk screening and educational support to help them maintain a healthy and informed pregnancy. There are also lifestyle tools for lactation and nutritional support. But what really grabbed me was the program's acknowledgment that moms need support even after baby is born. So they offer a post-delivery follow-up to see how things are going, and that includes a screening for depression, which we hear so much about. Very nice to know that support doesn't end at birth.

Personalize Your Health: Through a Web portal, you can access ways to achieve goals in fitness, nutrition, weight management and kicking butt (the cigarette kind, that is). Through tailored health programs and certified online coaching, moms (and dads!) can get motivated to change the way they eat and exercise.

Fitness to Fit Your Lifestyle: And speaking of exercise, this program gets personal when it comes to fitness. WellPoint and its affiliated plans have partnered with FitOrbit.com to offer affordable ways to track and maintain your exercise regimen, including access to trainers via phone and live chat, fitness plans that you can do even at the park and healthy menus for more nutritious meals. (Keep in mind that this is an extra service, but WellPoint is offering readers a discount to FitOrbit that can be accessed through this link.)

As a mom to a 5-year-old and now a newborn, I was more than happy to see that insurers are looking beyond doctor's appointments and hospital visits and recognizing the being healthy happens at home, too. While we might not always need the NurseLine, it's great to know that services like that are available as part of your insurance package. Not only that, but you can also feel like an active participant in your own health care routine -- and know that even your health insurer has your back.

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, for which I was compensated, in partnership with The Motherhood and Anthem BlueCross BlueShield. The views expressed in this post, however, are my own.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

L.A. Story's Newest Addition

Welcome to the world, Baby Clark 2.0! Our newest addition was born on Friday morning, with Daddy, CC and Grandma nearby. He's such a joy and such a calm little baby.

CC loves being a big sister -- she's told everyone we meet! -- and we love having such a new, wonderful little person to adore.

Stay tuned! You'll definitely be seeing more of the little guy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Last Days as an Only Child

I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, but somehow I just haven't found the right words. I guess I get overly nostalgic thinking about it, and like other things, I push it off for one more day.

With the new baby on the way, there's been so much excitement and joy from all three of us. Whether it's been Ian and I thinking about baby boy clothes and vacations for four or CC telling us that his name should be Tom, Jerry...or Target, this pregnancy has been a fun ride.

But as it's approaching, I keep thinking about our little girl who has been, up until now, our one and only. For 5+ years. And because I grew up as an only child, that just seemed to be the norm. While I've been over the moon with excitement to have another one -- and a little boy at that! -- I've been a little teary-eyed at the thought of something slipping away.

Maybe that's just because it's a change. Maybe I'm just over-thinking everything. Maybe I'm just hormonal.

So for the past few weekends, I've wanted to make it all about CC and me. I've wanted these last few weeks to be extra special. And we've had fun -- going here and there, watching movies, playing My Little Pony, drawing pictures. But I've also needed lots of naps, which has meant CC playing on her own. And she's been great.

A couple of weekends ago, I asked her what she'd like to do with Mommy before the baby comes. She had to think about it.

Before she answered, I said that I wanted to do something that she wanted to do because our family was expanding from three to four, and that I'd be spending a lot of time with her little brother once he arrived.

She looked at me for a second -- thoughtful but also a bit perplexed.

"Turn that frown upside-down," she said to me and smiled.

It really took all I had not to start crying. But I didn't want her to think that I was sad. Because it wasn't sadness exactly. I guess it was just change.

But she didn't see it that way. Kids in her class are getting new brothers and sisters, and this for her is just life -- what people do. While she might be a little off-center wondering how all of this will play out, her world is still moving along at a normal 5-year-old's pace. This is what happens in families.

And it is.

When she finally got around to telling me what she wanted to do, she said, "Crafts. I want to make crafts."

So I went to Target and bought a big bag of colorful pipe cleaners, fuzzy balls, googly eyes and glue, and we went to work. We made a lion, a turtle and other silly creatures.

And what's funny -- and what I should have known all along -- is that, no matter what, we will also do it again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Waiting for My Baby

Disclaimer: This is not my preggo belly, but it could be. (Photo courtesy of A Dream Adoption)

There's this line in the movie Casablanca about people who are desperate to escape Nazi rule but instead get stuck in the film's eponymous, world-wearying Moroccan city. Instead of being the ones who can catch that plane to Portugal or Lisbon, they are the not-so-lucky ones. The others: "The others wait in Casablanca, and wait, and wait, and wait."

As I'm nearing the due date for my second child (it's Friday, Oct. 12), I more than ever can understand that feeling of waiting. Not that I'm in any way comparing my unborn son to say, Nazi rule, despite his seemingly complete tyranny over my once 35-pounds lighter body, but I do feel ready to move forward and get on with post-natal life ...but I can't just yet.

Honestly, I do feel a little stuck and out of the driver's seat. (Busted. Yes, I'm a total Type A.) Obviously, I want him to "cook" for as long as he needs to, but I also want to meet him, see him and get started with this whole multi-child life.

In an effort to make me feel better, yesterday Ian said something along the lines of, "If someone told me to arrive on the weekend, I wouldn't just show up on a Wednesday and say, 'Hey, I'm here.'"

But if my baby can hear my thoughts -- my typing -- in addition to my heartbeat and gurgling stomach noises, please know that it's OK to come early. I'm totally fine with that.

I guess I imagined everything would happen the same way as last time. I had stopped working on a Thursday and had CC the following Monday. Got. It. Done.

This time I stopped working last Friday. As Monday, even Tuesday, came and went, I realized that it's true. No two pregnancies are the same. (I guess that should prepare me for no two children being the same, as well.)

Of course, he could come on time. (Has any baby actually ever done that?) And that would be OK, too. I mean, it's almost Thursday now.

But, please, baby, don't come late. The thought of waiting around for another week and a half to be induced will definitely have me going as stir crazy as those desperate internationals in Casablanca -- and without the benefit of some awesome cocktail from Rick's Cafe Americain to liven up the waiting game.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Coming Attraction: L.A. Story on 'The Ricki Lake Show'

If you remember this article that I wrote for mom.me about circumcision -- and the one Ian wrote to counter my belief that our son should be circumcised -- well, let's just say that they both got some attention.

Ricki Lake attention.

Last month, Ian and I were invited to talk about our views on the new Ricki Lake Show. And it's now scheduled to air on Thursday, Oct. 11. (Check local listings.)

In addition to seeing us, you'll also be able to check out different doctors' points of view and see a man who got circumcised at 37!

It's a really informative and entertaining show, so tune in and let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coming Attraction: Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival

"Fish Tank Fantasy" will screen at the Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival
CC and I love our film festivals, and this weekend marks yet another one just for kids, the 8th annual Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival.

Kicking off on Oct. 5, the kid-friendly fest, which features more than 100 live-action and animated films from around the world, will run through Oct. 7 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, aka LACMA.

While there will be tons of free screenings for families, including the opening night film The Mighty Ducks, there will also be free drawing and animation workshops for the kiddos. And yes, I said everything is free. Just be sure to get there early -- it's all first-come, first-served. Click here for the schedule.

Happy Viewing!

Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival
Oct. 5-7, 2012
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Daily Dose with Jillian Michaels -- Toddler Tantrums

A friend of mine is working on a YouTube parenting series, Daily Dose with Jillian Michaels. The series is from health and wellness site Everyday Health, and it tackles common parenting issues such as toddler tantrums.

In this video, fitness expert Michaels talks to kid whisperer Dr. Harvey Karp about how to deal with little ones when their emotions get the better of them. If you subscribe, you'll get an installment daily (natch!) at noon EST.

(I totally could have used this video this morning, btw...and I don't even have a toddler!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dads Anthony Anderson & Charlie Grandy Talk 'Guys with Kids'

"Guys with Kids" on NBC

If you haven't yet seen Guys with Kids, the new parenting comedy series Wednesday nights on NBC, it's worth a look. It's pretty funny to see child-rearing from the dad's perspective, especially when marital (and non-marital) relationships are involved. Hello, awkward!

I had the chance a few weeks ago to chat with star Anthony Anderson and executive producer Charlie Grandy about parenthood -- both are dads -- and the show.

Here's a snippet of the convo:

L.A. Story: These days, guys are more involved in child-rearing than ever before. So how has your experience been, just being the more involved dad and not just, you know, the one we see on TV from the 50’s?

Anthony Anderson: You know, it’s crazy. There was a study on 60 Minutes or one of those news programs that I was watching before we even shot the pilot, and they were talking about how stay-at-home dads are on the increase.

There are more fathers in the Mommy and Me classes than ever before. There are more fathers who are making play dates than the mothers than ever before. And, you know, a lot of people look at them and say, how could you? How could you send your wife off to work while you sit at home with your kids?

Because it’s seldom looked upon negatively when you say “stay-at-home mom.” It’s only looked upon negatively when you say “stay-at-home dad.” Why can’t this husband and this father empower his wife and support his wife for going out and making a career, (while) staying at home to raise the children?

Charlie Grandy:  I agree. I think just in terms of fathering, the more time I spend with my kids, and the more I do, and even just hard stuff -- getting up in the middle of the night and the changing the diapers and staying with them when they’re sick, and, going to the hospital -- you just feel so much more connected them.

And just being with them, those little moments, can turn, not just like weeks or days around, but weeks or months around, just when you’re like, OK, well, I know I’m doing something right. 

Anthony Anderson: Since I’ve been working with the show, and working with these children on the show and kind of getting into this character of Gary, it’s actually made me want to be a better father.

It makes me want to have a better connection with my children at home, because all my children have known from me is dad is on location. They were born into my career. So that’s all they know. That’s all they see is, you know, me on a plane, them on a plane, going to exotic locations and working and having fun.

But now that I’m doing this show, I can look at my son, who’s 12, and look at my daughter, who’s 16, and I’ve already realized that I’ve missed out on a lot.

But doing the show makes me want to stay home. I no longer take the weekend golf trips or whatnot. It’s like, you know what, I want to stay at home this weekend and just hang out with my kids, even if we don’t do anything but sit by the pool.

L.A. Story: What have you guys learned from your wives about mother -- or fatherhood -- rather?

Charlie Grandy: It’s just the amount of strength that she has and the digging deep for those reserves of strength and not complaining. I mean, it’s really just as hard as it gets -- just putting a smile on your face and knowing that you get so much out of it.

And that’s what a family is, it’s just working and helping your kids and supporting each other. I guess if there’s one word, it would be patience. (That's) what I’ve truly learned from her.

Anthony Anderson:  Charlie said the exact same thing that I was going to say. I can’t add anything more to that. Strength and patience -- those are the two things.

L.A. Story: How do you both give your wives "me" time? 

Charlie Grandy: I’ll send her to a hotel. I mean, if she needs to get away, there are some times when she’s just burned out and I can see it on her face. And one of these is coming up very soon, because I’ve been at work a lot. It’s just like, go. Take a weekend, and you know, just go, and take a friend, don’t take a friend, whatever you want to do.

And you know, it’s funny, she’s incredible, because I’ll send her away for a weekend, and on the second day she’s like, 'Can I come home now? I’m bored. I don’t want to sit around here.'

So, it’s really that. Pay attention to those times, because she won’t take it herself. So you kind of have to kick her out the door and say, 'Get out of here, you need a break.'

Anthony Anderson: Right. I do the same thing, except, Charlie, my wife calls and asks if she can stay a week longer.

Charlie Grandy: Well, I don’t have teenagers yet, so, we’ll see.


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