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Thursday, May 28, 2015

seventeen / fifty two

Hayes, 4 years: ...he's starting to pull the "I'm scared" card at bedtime. I'm not sure if it's just another stall tactic, or if he really is scared of something so I'm trying to hear him out and assure him that he's safe, we're right in the other room and god dammit Hayes, you better get back into bed or you won't be getting a sticker for your chart! As a child, I was terrified of my bedroom, which was on the 3rd floor of our house, away from my parents and older sister. I think I slept in the guest bedroom, which was connected to my sister's room via a bathroom, for almost two years because I had irrational fears of sailors climbing in through my little sister's bedroom, which was located next to mine on the 3rd floor (I know...random). I can distinctly recall the feeling of dread I would have when I would try to sleep in my room - there was no rhyme or reason as to why I was scared, but I was and the fear was real, so I'm trying to keep that in mind and be patient with Hayes as he goes through this.

Greyson, 18 months: ...he's starting to string multiple words together and is labeling EVERYTHING! So he'll point out "Lolo's keys... Daddy's keys... Mama's coffee..." and tell us exactly what he's eating "dilla!" {quesadilla}..."a-ruh-ca-da" {avocado}. He's also becoming aware of when he's going to the bathroom; he'll clutch his diaper and look at me very seriously and say "poo" (he says poo regardless of whether he's going number one or number two). I'm trying to encourage him to become interested in his potty and have managed to get him to willingly sit on it a few times this week (in his diaper and full clothes but we're making progress here, folks!). Potty training is still a ways off (we don't intend to do it until next Summer) but I believe it's never too early to start talking about it!

Esther Cohen: ...Goodbye house! The old structure has been completely demolished and we have a nice blank canvas for the new house. We have a meeting next week with our builders to discuss what trees will be staying (as you can see, we have some gorgeous ones on the property, but sadly I think most of them will have to be cut down to make room for the much bigger abode) and to talk about the general timeline and milestones. This week, they're supposed to be laying the foundation and grading. Exciting stuff!

Gorgeous tree - look at all of those twisty branches! Sadly, even though this one is my favorite, I think it's 100% going to have to go as the house will likely need to go right on top of it.
We might be able to salvage this one, which is in the NW corner of the lot. It would be perfect for a treehouse, but might block out all chances of the sun to shine on our pool, which will be located to the right of it.
The only structure still remaining last weekend was the West wall of the former garage...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Esther Cohen

It's been a crazy couple of weeks for us, filled with lots of paperwork, signatures, inspections, more inspections, crossed fingers and toes, excitement, sadness and a little bit of trespassing ;-)

As I mentioned yesterday, our physical contingency on Livonia (or the house that has been affectionately called The Cohen Kibbutz - visit our neighborhood and you'll soon understand why) was lifted on Monday evening, which means that we're pretty confident that the sale is going to go through (or the potential buyers will be saying goodbye to a large chunk of change they've put into escrow for their deposit). 

The Kibbutz passed inspections with flying colors (well, sort of... but we're not on the hook to pay for any of the repairs so we consider that a win) and we've now spent a fair amount of time with the woman who will be the next resident of 1431 Livonia. She'll be moving in with her two teenage daughters and she really seems to genuinely love the house, which means a lot to this old sentimental bag of mush who is almost brought to tears when I think about the day we have to move out of our first home. Knowing it's going into good hands makes leaving it behind easier and I hope it treats her family as well as it's treated ours over the past four and a half years.

First family picture in our new home!
They've made some good traction on the demo of the new house over the past couple of weeks and they expect it to be fully demolished by tomorrow, at which point they'll deal with the foundation and begin the build. Our builder is confident that they'll be able to get it done in 6 months; we think it'll be more like 8-9 months so we anticipate moving in toward the beginning of 2016. 
The original house was a three bedroom, one bath, single level home that was just over 1,000 square feet. It was built in 1944 and I'm pretty sure the same owner lived there the entire time. The kicker is the lot size - it's an almost 7,000 square foot lot, so that leaves plenty of room to built a nice sized home (for LA proper at least!) and include a small swimming pool. We're tearing down the whole thing (well, supposedly leaving part of the front wall...) so it'll be brand new and hopefully just the way we like it ;-)

We've been driving by every couple of days like crazy stalkers and following Grant's lead (I would NEVER if I were on my own), we sneaked in the open fence and took a peak around. Hayes thought it was awesome and asks to go back every day (he also asks if Greyson and Greta will be coming with us to the new house - ha!). We even ran into a future neighbor of ours who invited us to a neighborhood block party where they shut down the entire street over Labor Day weekend - these kind of events would never happen in our current neighborhood so we're looking forward to living in a more normal area where our kids could potentially have friends and where we aren't looked at like the weird ones for not wearing yarmulkes and tzitzits.

One final note before we move onto the pictures - this house needs a name and we need your help, dear readers. We'd like to incorporate "Cohen". The house is located in Cheviot Hills on a street called Esther. We will have a pool. It's our second home. Go!
(for now, we'll call her Esther Cohen, and here she is...)
The original detached garage, which I'm sure is no longer standing at this point...
Ginormous lot with gorgeous trees, many of which will sadly have to be cut down ;-(

Hayes in his new room...

A couple of days later...
Goodbye floors!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

sixteen / fifty two

Hayes, 4 years: ...he just loves his friend Theo, who we went on a playdate to the California Science Center with earlier this week. His teachers say that him and Theo have a very familial relationship and treat each other like brothers more than friends. Listening to them interact with each other is hilarious.

Greyson, 18 months: ...'no' is now a very often used word in his vocabulary, but he says it with conviction, so it comes out in a very forceful, "nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno!!!". I really wish he would unlearn the damn word!

Chanel: ...Hayes gave me the worst mother's day gift of all: strep throat. So I've been battling that this week, on antibiotics thank god, but just feeling overall lousy.

All jokes aside, we actually had a lovely belated Mother's Day this past Saturday, eating our traditional Mama's Day brunch at The Lobster overlooking the pier in Santa Monica and then finishing it off with a family ferris wheel ride. I'm a lucky gal to gave such great guys in my life and I often wish I could freeze time and live in this moment forever.

Grant: ...he finished off his career in politics this past weekend (or so he says) by hosting a Water Town Hall at a local elementary school. Purpose of said town hall was to help educate people on how they could conserve water (25% of their usage, to be exact) and I have to say, I was damn proud of him! We didn't get to stay for the panel Q&A, but he had a pretty good turn out of over 100 people. Well done, bigou!

Physical contingency has been lifted on our house so it looks like this sale is going through! I'll post tomorrow with more details, including some pictures of the progress that's been made on the new house ;-)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

fifteen / fifty two

Hayes, age 4: ...he's been a little under the weather this week, complaining of a sore throat and earache. When I told him I thought he should stay home from school today, he said to me, "But I don't want to stay home from school! I want to learn something!". 
Hope he's always that thirsty for knowledge!

Greyson, age 17 months: ...sometimes I think he knows just how special his older brother can be, as evidenced by his look of amusement on his face in the picture above. His eyes say, "there goes Hayes again!" and I can see him mentally shaking his head...

Grant & Chanel: ...had a lovely weekend in Miami attending our friend's wedding at the W South Beach. We stayed at another friend's hotel, the Metropolitan COMO and I can't recommend it enough - you felt like you were in Europe (in a good way) - great service, clean and comfortable rooms, good food and amazing spa. We came home on Monday refreshed and rejuvinated and really felt like we'd had a good vacation.

And on a completely other note, we finally broke ground on the new house this week! Here are some snaps of the old house being knocked down:

As of yesterday, they'd already torn down half of the roof and they were busy at work as I stalked them in a slow drive-by on my way into the office. They expect demolition to be done by end of this week and grading and foundation complete by the end of next week, so we're making progress!

We had some inspections done on Livonia earlier this week so are trying to sort through all of that laborious paperwork but everything's looking good for the current offer, although we're still having our first and hopefully final open houses this Sunday and Tuesday in order to secure some back-ups. Everything is moving fast and it's slightly overwhelming but we're excited to be moving beyond the seemingly never-ending limbo we've been living in lately. Onward!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Motherhood from Many Perspectives...

I am so lucky in that I have a lot of amazing mamas in my life. From friends, to sisters, to mothers, to grandmothers, the mamas nearest and dearest to me range in age and personality and there's a little something to learn from each and every one of them.

For Mother's Day this year, I decided to ask some of the important moms in my life the same five questions. I assembled a panel of sorts that consisted of the following:

-my older sister, Jess, a thirty something mother of four (Hank, 5, Gus, 2, and the newest additions to our family, the twins, June and Dylan, 4 months). Jess spent her twenties and early thirties working in advertising and marketing and has recently taken on motherhood full time because, well, that's what you do when you have four kids under the age of 5!
- my own mother, Penny, a sixty something mother of three girls who in a former life was an elementary school teacher, but has devoted herself to being a stay-at-home mom ever since my older sister was born. She now lives in Scottsdale with my dad and is an animal mama to two cats and a dog.
- my husband's mother, Nini, a fifty something mother of two (Grant and Victoria) who has owned and managed a wide variety of her own businesses, most recently an adorable shoe boutique in Laguna Beach called Tootsies. She lives in Dana Point with Grant's dad and we see them both often when they come up to LA to get their fix of the boys (we call ourselves lucky to have built-in babysitters, Nini and Pa have somehow tricked themselves into thinking they're lucky to have the weekly responsibility = win-win!).
- Nini's mother and Grant's grandmother, Myrna (who we also affectionately call Mother Myrn or GG for Great Grandma), a seventy something mother of three (Lisa, Nini and Shane) who had her kids young (she was done with her child bearing years by the time she was 23!) and spent her working life as a public school teacher. She now lives in one of my favorite places, Angel's Camp with Grant's grandfather, Olie (or G Pops).
- Grant's other grandmother, Shiffy (or the other GG), a ninety something (but swears she isn't a day over 39) mother of four (Leslie, Mark, Darryl and Nancy) who spent years at a time raising her brood as a single mom while her husband, Grant's late grandfather Lester, was in the military. She moved up from San Diego a few years ago and now lives nice and close by in Northridge.
- and then of course, there's me - a thirty something mother of two (Hayes, 4, and Greyson, 17 months), who works in experiential marketing and lives in LA - but you already know all of that, I hope, since you're a devoted reader of this blog!

I picked five questions that I thought would provide an insight as to what kind of mothers each of the women on my panel were. Everyone's at different life stages, everyone has a slightly different parenting style and I respect each and every one of these women immeasurably. I've included my responses to the questions as well, so enjoy!

Q1: What is the best piece of advice you've received as a mother?
(Jess):  "Sleep begets sleep!"
(Penny): "Be happy, enjoy life and don't take things too seriously. It is a new experience to be a mother and have to take care of a new wee one and none of us are perfect, but you will be a great mother who will love your children always."
(Nini):  "This one is tough but I think probably most important is to be as consistent as you can and follow through."
(Myrna): "Go with your instincts. Trust yourself. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it...I think it's super important to learn about child  development so you understand what he/she is capable of..."
(Shiffy): "Be patient and listen, listen, listen!"
(Chanel): "Everything is a phase. Choose your battles. And remember to breathe."

Q2: What has been your favorite part about being a mom?
(Jess): "Watching my kids grow into real little people with their own personalities and interests has been amazing. Seeing their relationships with each other develop is also one of the most rewarding and entertaining experiences of my life.
(Penny): "I have enjoyed every moment of being a Mother; watching all of you growing up at each stage and wondering what was going to happen next, or what thoughts were going to come out of your mouths next. Never a dull moment! It is also fun to see how all of you have grown up to be loving parents."
(Nini): "My favorite part is that it keeps going and changing/evolving. The relationships are constant for life but different and sometimes surprisingly so and you get to add in new relationships (daughter-in-law and grandkids)."
(Myrna): "My kids have given me great entertainment and joy!! Also wonderful to watch them parent."
(Shiffy): "Knowing I have healthy, smart kids, who do exactly what I say ;-)"
(Chanel): "Having a front row seat to their childhood and watching them discover and interpret daily things that we might take for granted or not think twice about has been fascinating. They make me laugh everyday and I love being one of the people that they count on to make things right - I love feeling legitimately needed in their life."

Q3: What have you found the most challenging about being a mom?
(Jess): "Always having to put my needs behind those of others has been really hard at times.   It's been a challenge to remain patient and loving and reasonable when I'm tired, stressed out, hungry and (insert any other basic need here).  Sometimes I don't succeed at doing it and the feelings of guilt and failure that come along with that are hard.  It's also a challenge to not be too hard on myself :)"
(Penny): "I would have to say that I just loved all of you as little girls so much. It was a big shock when the teenage years began and I wondered what I had done wrong. These were certainly the worst years for both your Dad and I as we were so concerned about you making the proper friends and not getting hurt emotionally or physically. You, too, will no doubt, go through this stage."
(Nini): "The most challenging would be that you have to develop different parenting styles depending on the needs and temperament of each child."  
(Myrna):  "The relentlessness of being responsible for their care is mind boggling!"
(Shiffy): "Knowing how to keep them safe and healthy and always being there for them, which I know I wasn't."
(Chanel): "Remembering sometimes that they are little irrational people who can't be reasoned with and keeping my cool in trying situations. And if I don't handle a situation the way, in hindsight, I think it could have been better handled, feeling guilty about that. It's also been challenging to be the bad guy; to discipline and say no and be the voice of reason - I hate to disappoint them."

Q4: If you could wish for one thing for your children, what would it be?
(Jess): "Good health always."
(Penny): "I hope and wish that each of my girls find their true love and friend to live with and raise their family and hope they all live a healthy, happy and worry-free life with their loved ones."
(Nini): "The most important thing that I wish for my children is an "inner strength" to be self-fulfilled, strong, happy, kind and peaceful." 
(Myrna): "One wish would be that they have great physical and mental health!...Luck is good too!"
(Shiffy): "I wish them good health, contentment, goodness and unlimited wisdom."
(Chanel): "Beyond good health, which should always be #1, I wish for them to have the freedom to be whoever they want to be and the knowledge that I will always be there for them."

Q5: What question would you ask your own mother?
(Jess): "What is the moment you were most proud of me?"
(Penny): "I wish I had sat down and spoken to my Mom a lot more to learn more about her family life, her feelings, her opinions. I would have enjoyed listening more to her experience of married life and having her family. She was a wonderful person and a great Mom and I didn't know if I ever made her feel that way. I miss her every Mothers Day."
(Nini): "I can't think of anything I would want to ask Myrna that I haven't already asked her." (how's that for an open and communicative relationship?!)
(Myrna): "My mom's been gone a long time and my "issues" long resolved... I guess I'd just like to know if she's having fun!!"
(Shiffy): "If you knew my children, what score would you give them?"
(Chanel): "If you could change anything about your life, would you?"

This Mother's Day, I sadly won't be with my little guys - Grant and I hopped on a plane to Miami this morning and we'll be spending the weekend partying in the city where the heat is on at a friend's wedding. But I'll be thinking about the two little people who call me mama, along with all of the other mom's in my life - and will raise a poolside mojito in their honor.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

fourteen / fifty two

Hayes, age 4: ...he's recently decided he likes fruit (finally!) so after dinner goes something like this:
"I want some fruit too, Mama. I like fruit now!.
First I'll have some watermelon. Then a little pineapple. Pineapple is delicious. I like pineapple now.
Oh, can I have some apple, too? I'd like an orange too.
Now I'd like one strawberry and three blueberries.
GRAPES! I want some grapes too!
See how much fruit I'm eating, Mama? I usually don't like fruit but now I do!"
I'm not complaining - kid is finally getting some damn fruit in his system!

Greyson, age 17 months: ...newest trick? Yelling "HURRAH!" at the top of his lungs when we sing The Ants Go Marching. He knows it's hilarious and I laugh every.single.time.

Grant & Chanel: ...so this is happening:

Our first open house was scheduled to be this weekend (which, truth be told, was super inconvenient as we were going to be out of town and coordinating what to do with Greta and ensuring the house wasn't in shambles with the boys running wild was proving to be quite the pain in the ass) but we've pushed that back since we actually received quite a lucrative offer this week that we've accepted (ahhh!!). After having a couple of false starts in the past, we are waiting until everything goes through to get too excited, but it's looking promising and it's likely that we'll have to vacate our humble abode by mid-July and will spend some time back at our old stomping grounds, the Palazzo East. Hayes is thrilled because this means that he'll finally be living his dream of residing in a (town)home with stairs. I'm feeling mostly sad, even though this is a great thing and we're thrilled to have made such a profitable investment when we bought the house in 2011, because the reality is setting in that we'll be leaving our first home. New adventures ahead, I suppose, but I will miss our little Cohen Kibbutz and hope that it brings the new owners as much joy as it's brought us over the past 4.5 years.

In case you're interested, here is a link to the professional photos we had taken of the house:

We're still going to have an open house next weekend to try and get a back-up offer in case this one falls through, but fingers crossed this is the real deal!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Conversations with Hayes...

Hayes is at an amazingly entertaining stage in his life where I find myself laughing out loud multiple times a day at the latest silliness to come out of his mouth. He's so innocent and naive, but so inquisitive and clever and the combination of all of the above results in some seriously silly conversations and observations. 
Some of my favorites, as of late:

When moving the outdoor patio furniture cushions into the garage in anticipation of some coming rain, "Greyson, we need all hands on deck!".

"But first, my breath needs some chocolate milk."
When giving Greyson an unwelcome kiss goodnight, "Come here, you little slob!"
(he calls his brother a slob! What?!)
When seeing a plane flying overhead:
"Hey! It's a plane!
Hello plane!
Mama, do you think they heard me?"
When getting his stuff together for our trip down to Pelican Hill last weekend:
"I'm all packed for the hill!"
When talking about whether he's hungry or tired:
"My tummy is up to here..." {motions to a spot on his tummy with his hands}
"My eyes are down to here..." 
It's all poop, all the time around here. I hear the phrase "Poop on your face!" and "Poop comes out your penis. Pee comes out your butt!" (which he learned from his cousin, Hank) at least 3 times everyday. 
He is still obsessed with anything Octonauts, but has recently become interested in another show called PAW Patrol, so there's lots of talk about characters Rubble and Chase, except he doesn't understand that their names aren't their catchphrases, so he calls them 'Rubble on the double' and 'Chase is on the case'!
And he's brutally honest. He spent Saturday night at Nini and Pa's and when I told him I missed him on Sunday when he got home, he smiled and said, "Well I didn't miss you!". Thanks a lot, kid!