July 26, 2012


Last summer, I signed my son up for a swim intensive that I heard was a MUST DO on the Mommy Train to Raising a Perfect and Overly Extra-Curricular'd Child.  Jonah proved to be tough as nails through the two week boot camp, but unfortunately, this summer, something changed. His willingness to swim ceased. He became scared. Unsure. Nervous.

Knowing that forcing him to swim is pretty much a parenting no-no, for the past few weeks, we decided to take a lax approach and ignore his fear all together. When he made strides and efforts to do something "brave," like un-dig his fingers from our necks in the pool, we showered him with praise. Little by little, he decided he was going to "swim." (Kind of). One night in the bath, he told me that he could put his face in the water (and hold his nose). (Before you say "big deal, he's almost 5," you have to remember how terrified he was).  So he shows me...

J: Isn't that so brave, mommy?
Me: Jonah, I am so proud of you. I knew you could do it.
J: Yep! Because I trusted myself.
Me: Aw, I love that. You "trusted" yourself???
J: Yep. And now I can put my face in the water.
Me: Jonah, this makes me so happy.
J: How happy?
Me: Like (holding out my arms) sooooooooooooo happy.
J: Is your whole body happy?
Me: Yep. My ENTIRE body is happy.
J: Your head?
Me: Oh, my head is SO happy.
J: Your feet?
Me: (Wiggling my toes) My toes are jumping for excitement.
J: Um... Your tummy?
Me: Yes, my tummy is smiling with happiness.
J:  (He grins mischievously) Is, um... is your tushy happy?
Me: Jonah, yes. Even my tushy is happy.
J: Mommy, I have a question. But I need to use a bad word. But we're in a bathroom. So I will whisper it...
Me: (I tilt my head, unamused) What is it, Jonah?
J: Mommy, is your Pa.... Pa.... Pa... Is your PACHINA so happy?
Me: Yes, Jonah. Yes. Even my "Pachina" is happy.

I guess my boy is on to something. Life is good. Very good. So, I am happy... From head to toe and everything in between.

July 25, 2012

July 17, 2012


It's amazing to think that in one instant, your world can be turned upside down. Last week, for one instant, my world turned upside down...

On my way home from a meeting, my phone rang. It was my babysitter. She was in tears and inaudible. Then I heard, "Hi, Jennifer... This is Officer (???) with Los Angeles Fire Department. Your babysitter and son have been in an accident."

I stopped breathing.

"Everyone is okay though, ma'am. Your. Son. Is. Okay."

I clutched my wheel.

What happened in the next 15 minutes is a blur: The Officer asked if I'd like them to go to the Emergency Room via ambulance (which he assured me wasn't necessary)... The Officer told me where they were located... . He put Jonah on the phone... Jonah said, "Hi, Mommy," in the softest and sweetest way... Jonah put the fireman back on the phone.... The fireman told me to drive safely... I told him I'd be there in 15 minutes... I asked again what happened... He told me: HER CAR FLIPPED.


At some point, not wanting to, I hung up the phone. I needed to get to my baby. I heard his voice, so he's okay. But the car flipped???? HOW can they be okay? But they are, I think. I pray.

I called his dad, then my boyfriend P, then my mom. Everyone knows. Everyone is on their way.

Thank god everything in Los Angeles REALLY IS 20 minutes away from each other.

As I got closer to where they were, the panic set in. For 2 blocks, cars were backed up. I could see at the intersection that the street was closed off and cops were diverting traffic. Up further ahead I could see fire trucks and ambulances. And when I stopped crying and snapped out of it, I could see a red car on it's back, with the wheels in the air.

I stopped breathing again. My boy. My boy was in that car.

I screamed this to a car trying to merge for the diversion. She couldn't understand what I was saying. I screamed from the center of my being to roll down her window and LET. ME. OVER. MY. SON. WAS. IN. THAT. ACCIDENT.


She let me over. LA Drivers are the worst.

I got through the barricade and parked. And ran.

And saw the car. Oh my god, the car.

Jonah  was standing with P's sister. I clutched him. He burst in to tears and I became unglued.

He was in THAT CAR?!

His eyes were red. The fireman came over. The redness was from the gun powder in the airbags. But he is okay, they think.

They tell me a complete stranger, a woman, pulled him out...

They tell me the fire department arrived less than a minute after that...

They tell me the CAR SEAT SAVED HIS LIFE.

They tell me they've seen worse...

We learn that it was the other driver's fault... But blaming someone as I pick up a breathing, healthy, 4 (almost 5) year old and wrap my arms around him tight seems unnecessary right then and there...

A half hour later, we were giving a nurse at the ER details of his accident.

Jonah was terrified. He wanted to go home. He wanted nothing to do with doctors or shots. He hates shots. I had already tortured him that day with a trip to the dermatologist for a rash (no shots). He didn't want "a doctor day" anymore. He wanted to go home and play video games. I wanted to go home and play video games. But we are here, and he was in my arms. 

We waited for about 4 more hours until he was evaluated by the doctor. Then a trauma surgeon. Then the chief of trauma surgery. Jonah told every doctor that they were doing the same thing. "The last doctor looked into my eyes too. Someone needs to do something different. How come you all do the same thing?"

He made everyone laugh.

The "repeating" doctors came to a consensus: He really was okay and no intrusive imaging or observing overnight was necessary. He could go home. HE. WAS. OKAY.

I was happy that they repeated this. And I am tortured by the thing they also repeated: "His Car Seat Saved His Life."

We were just about to get him a booster.

That night, 4.5 hours after his supposed bedtime, I kissed him tighter and breathed prayer into his entire body.

He was in THAT car?

The next morning, Jonah insisted on going to school. Nothing hurt. Nothing felt funny. Nothing except talking about the accident bothered him.

He wanted to go to school. As a cowboy. And I didn't stop him.

I was told the next day by his teachers that he requested some time to sit down and tell the kids after playing in the yard about "the crash." He turned off the lights. Sat all the children in a circle. Got out two toy cars and reenacted their accident.  He told them how important it was to wear a seatbelt and stay in a car seat. NOT a booster. He told them that every doctor did the same thing but he went home and is okay. He asked them if anyone had questions. The children, of course, got excited and started talking about cars and crashes they had seen. Jonah told them to stay "on topic."

He's okay. I.... I am still in shock. Still in disbelief. Still perseverating on the "what ifs."

Everything feels more fragile and more important now. And while I hope to close my eyes again at night without seeing the car flipped and my son crying, I know I will never take for granted another moment of time spent with a cowboy named Jonah again.

July 11, 2012


Not exactly wordless, but it's definitely nice!

July 9, 2012


A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of having lunch with my friend, author and trend/marketing expert Jane Buckingham. Jane is one of those people who you could talk to all day... She is not only brilliant and interesting, but she's polite, poised and elegant. We're not that far apart in age, but I want to be her when I grow up. I asked her if I could share one of her posts from "The Modern Girls Guide to Raising Decent Daughters" -- Though I'm trying to raise a decent son (or mensch), I love the issues Jane raises and the insight she has to parenting....  Here's a post about popularity, friendships, and how much or little as parents we should think about getting involved in this part of our children's lives.  (Thank you, Jane!)

We all know who the popular kids are. That golden 10% of the class who everyone talks about,; everyone likes; everyone wants to be like. They’re the ones whose hair seems preternaturally shiny and bouncy. They never get a zit or an ugly sweater. They were perfectly portrayed in the classic Mean Girls? These days they’re even the smartest kids in the class. They have perfect easy lives, right?
For the 90% of us who weren’t popular (I STILL feel like I’m going through an awkward phase), there seems to be a goal, almost as strong as getting your kid into college, to have one’s child be popular.  But should we really want our kids to be popular? Well, there is a difference between being popular and having friends. Having friends is essential. Being the IT girl may not be.
Girls tend to create a small more intimate group of 3-4 friends or have a best friend while boys may have a looser but larger group of friends and not a notable “best” friend. Ideally, your child will have friends who support them, keep their secrets, help them have fun, have a similar sense of humor and passions. Not surprisingly, it is the quality of the friendship rather than the number of friends that is most important.
As early as the tween years, kids will seek the approval of peers by being “in” versus “out.” For them, being part of the Popular group signifies that they are “somebody.” To “not be” means they are “nobody.” And while today’s teens seem to be becoming increasingly more tolerant of differences and individuality, often meeting peer standards for dressing and behaving can a big deal to kids. This isn’t about not being invited to a party or being on an IM chat, it’s the risk of being cut out or badly labeled.

July 5, 2012


Like most of you, I love summer... I love the sun, I love the beach, I love the outdoors, and I most certainly love margaritas (which I most certainly drink in the winter too.... Thanks to the never changing seasons of Los Angeles).  Anyway, it occurred to me the other day as I was reading through the rules and regulations of my son's new summer camp how different life is now... This thought of "life then, life now" occurs to me often lately. In fact, as I sat watching fireworks last night from our balcony at home, I couldn't believe that 14 years ago from that very moment, I was standing over the canals in Venice with my best friend... contemplating staying in Venice through the night or moving on to another city...

14 years ago, I graduated college from New York University and set out on an 8 week backpacking adventure through Europe with my best friend Lauren. Armed with a "Let's Go Europe" and some traveler's checks (remember those???) we had a few small goals:  walk down cobblestone streets, visit museums, smoke a lot of cigarettes, meet new people (aka boys), make out (with boys. Not each other), spend little to no money, get fat on gelato, go to a topless beach, and eat as much baguettes and Camembert cheese as possible (which we also got fat from)....  

What's so crazy to me looking back is how lucky I am that the world changed so drastically AFTER our trip... Back then, we had no idea about bed bugs or "The 10 Dirtiest Things In a Hotel Room..." We opted for some potentially dangerous Youth Hostels... Nowadays, most people go out of their way to stay away from train stations. Not us! The cheaper the better.  There weren't cell phones... Instead we used calling cards and used a "pull and pray" method to reach loved ones and fill them in on our whereabouts...  We traveled effortlessly and easily through borders and cities. The threat of terrorism or anti-American sentiment never a concern.  In fact, after Lauren decided to return home early, I ended up traveling by myself for 10 days (2 of those days in Amsterdam. Btw, even then, nothing I'd EVER recommend to a female traveling solo). At that point, I had already been just about "everywhere," SO after a "Dazed and Confused" stop in Amsterdam, I hopped on a train and headed back down to the South of France. Because I could.  I'll never forget having to share an overnight sleeper car with a German family who shamelessly shed all clothing before getting into bed. (If there was Social Media back then, you'd see plenty of photo updates of me hanging over the railing of a train, trying to shake off their body odor with lovely American cigarettes).

Did I mention that wearing overalls was in then too?

Ah. Things have changed.... personally and globally.

But back to Venice... 

So... 14 years ago, on July 4th, we stood on the canals of Venice after convincing a Gondola driver to let us hitch a ride back to the "gondola station,"  wondering if we should stay in Venice for the night... We had tried to check in to a few different hostels but all of them were booked and unavailable. We read and heard that if ever in a bind, sometimes convents, YES, convents, will take you in and let you stay for a small fee. Somehow we found one... 

Please imagine, if you will, two Jewish girls from Beverly Hills and New York City marching up to a medieval looking building with a huge wooden door and an iron ring to knock. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.... The door swings open.... A nun appears. We say in broken Italian and English that we're looking for a place to stay. With no spoken response, she slams the door CLOSED. 

We took that as a sign from above and headed to Zurich... I think... Or maybe it was Rome. Or Florence. I can't remember. 

As a side note, as I've written about a dozen times, I have a horrible bird phobia. Knowing we couldn't find a hostel to stay that day in in Venice, Lauren challenged me to a bet: If I could stand in St. Marco's square, holding bird feed, thereby attracting the pigeons and allowing them to rest on my arms, she would pay for a hotel room. A real hotel room.

It didn't happen. But I think to this day, the echo of my screams can be heard throughout all of Venice.... 

The point and reason for me writing about my European adventures is that a) 14 years ago seems like eternity and b) I am jealous. I'm jealous of the opportunities that post collegiate students have... Or any young person that really has no responsibility. I must admit that there is a sadness to knowing that I'll never get to gallivant through Europe for maaaaaaaaaybe more than 7 to 10 days a time (sans child) and I'll certainly never be able to do it without updating the world via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook etc... Someone back here will know of my whereabouts at all time and I probably wouldn't want them to know just how much Camembert I had consumed..... There would be no such thing as saving film for Trevi Fountain or Trafalgar Square... I'd be able to point and shoot AND check the shot until my arms looked just right and my smile looked just candid enough.... 

Yes, oh yes. Things have changed... personally and globally.

Going to savor my moments of summer camp forms and kindergarten registration now... in 14 years, Jonah will be 19.  I'll start saving for a calling plan now....