Brrrr, it’s (genuinely) cold outside

Nov 16th, 2015 Boyhood, Life

Hard to believe, but it’s cold here in LA today.  The woolly hats entirely necessary.  No faux hipster styling here.  No beanie and scarf, while simultaneously wearing a T-shirt shenanigans.  It was genuinely cold.

Trying to get Skyer into a jacket was a challenge.  The hat even more so.  As he currently tends to do, he takes his steer from Jaxon, who, thankfully in this instance, is pretty tuned in to his personal comfort level.  As soon as Jaxon got a hint that it was fresh outside.  He bundled up.

Chilly Kids LA

Beachwood Boys Bundled up

Kids in Batman Hat

I have to say that personally, I’m sort of into this seasonal weather.  For one thing it gives me an opportunity to dig out some of my long neglected sweaters and jackets myself.  For another, there is more than something to be said for experiencing the “rhythm of the seasons”.  Maybe I am just still too cynical but I frequently find the irrepressible heat and sunshine taxing.  Like the bubbly travel companion who won’t stop talking, is always peppy and puts a positive spin on everything, LA weather tends to grind me down sometimes.  Jeez – I really am channeling the cynical today. And all it took was a hint of British weather to do it.  Guess we are all products of our environment.  Still, needn’t worry I’m told that it’l  be back up to 80 degrees by mid-week.  Crisis averted.

Jaxon really got into character with the whole biker jacket and NY hat attitude.

Cool kids fashion

Skyer needs little, or no, excuse to strike up a pose.  I’m not quite sure what this is.  Part yoga, part karate, part…who knows what…

Great leg stance though Sky.

Cool Kids Fashion

Off to school we go boys – “enjoy” this cold snap while it lasts.

Cool Kids Fashion

Skyer’s Birthday

Nov 1st, 2015 Boyhood, Entertainment

So Skyer is now officially three.  Yikes.  It’s a truism to say it of course, but the time has flown by. Skyer’s turning three also means that we have been in LA for two and a half years.  That’s already half the time that we lived in New York.  Hand on heart, I can’t say that I feel half as connected to LA as I do NYC, but I guess you could argue that I am getting there.  In any case, and as we all know only too well, it’s not about you anymore.  In fact, it’s not really about you at all.  It’s about a collective.  And that’s a good thing.  In fact, it’s a great thing.

Events like this certainly help.  We took over a gazebo in one of our nearby parks and set up for our Lego themed celebration.  Word to the wise, if you are planning on hosting a children’s party first thing in a public park, be prepared to negotiate with the “locals” upon whose patch you might inadvertently be encroaching.

Without wishing to be too self-congratulatory, the party went off seamlessly and without a hitch. So, rather than philosophize about the passing years, or the yardstick that kids provide on measuring my own life, I’ll simply say we had a great time and let the pictures speak for themselves.

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We got the help of some professionals in setting up the Lego play area – complete with a phenomenon I had never seen before – “springy” sports Lego.  Which actually made a little game of basketball, soccer or hockey almost possible.

Lego PartyLego Party

The Lego villages were also a great hit.

Lego PartyLego PartyLego Party

The puppy dog bounce house – a tried and tested party fave – also worked well and was – more importantly – bump, and tear free.  Although they do get pretty sticky and sweaty – even in October – in LA.

Lego partyBounce House

Cupcake and “happy birthday” time.

Lego Birthday

Then, what better way to burn off the sugar, than with some piñata thwacking?  This time it was poor old Emmet who was in the firing line.  The kids certainly seemed to rejoice in taking him down.

Kids PiñataKids Lego PiñataKids Lego Piñata

Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye and thank everyone for coming.

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Take me out to the sauna, er… sorry, the ball game

Sep 22nd, 2015 Boyhood, Sport

It would be hard to imagine a more fiercely hot day on which to choose to introduce the boys to organized professional sport.  LA Dodgers stadium on Sunday was a cauldron.  And not from the intensity of the competition between the Dodgers and the Pirates.

What can I say?  An oversight on our part.  The idea that somehow the 100 degree weather would be more bearable inside an immense four sided concrete structure, surrounded by thousands of other bodies all fiercely perspiring, had escaped us until we actually arrived.

Rarely, have so many, sweated so much, in pursuit of so little.

Ice cream, slushies, multiple bottles of iced water – you name it we chugged it, slurped it and quaffed it.  We held containers to our foreheads, tipped ice cubes down our backs and fanned ourselves with oversized foam fingers.  All in search of a momentary respite from the unrelenting heat.  And, even festooned in our brand new hats as we were – that we eagerly purchased on the way to our seats – we knew it was going to be a tall order.

In fairness to us, we did manage to make the best of it.  Although also in fairness I would suspect that a night game – or – let me think about this for a moment – a game played on any other day of the year, other than one that we chose, would have more bearable and enjoyable.  We stayed to the fifth innings.  Skulking in the shadows of the lower tier while taking in the game.

If the role of the parent is all about creating unforgettable memories for your children…well maybe not, but I don’t think it will be our last visit to the stadium.  Both boys seemed sold on the experience and the spectacle that unfolded before them.  The in-crowd entertainment, the hubbub of the fans, and the mere collective energy and focus that goes with watching sport definitely resonated.

I’m just not not sure who they felt had best earned their cooling-off shower at the end of game. The players.  Or us.

LA Dodgers StadiumLA Dodgers

It did not take long for Skyer to start to feel the heat.  We spent as much time going up and down the stadium steps in search of shade as we did sitting in our seats.  Think of it like a series of short bursts on the most crowded Stairmaster you have ever seen.  That also happens to be located in a sauna.  Filled with people at different points of the work-out – going up and down – feverishly juggling, drinks, snacks, all eager to get to their seats and carry on sweating some more.

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Skyer got especially into the game.

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Beachwood Boys Club – MVP on the day.

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How to look after two boys and work at the same time (spoiler alert – I failed)

Sep 18th, 2015 Boyhood, Fatherhood

So no school, no one to help me supervise the boys, and a lot of work to do in preparation for tomorrow’s taping.  What to do?

Brainwave:  why not let today, be an extension of the weekend, when the boys had played in the front yard with scooters and bikes?  Genius.

Admittedly that had been under supervision of more than one adult, and, needless to say adults who had not been distracted by the prospect of an impending work deadline – but – I mean come on, how different could it be?  Plus, anyway it was a weekday.  The boys would surely tune into the fact that I was on my own, trying to multi-task, and so adjust their behavior accordingly?  Be a little less reckless with their downhill runs.  Take care of each other.  That’s it – I was giving them a valuable lesson in self reliance.  Oh, this was going to be great.

I hatched this brilliant plot in a matter of minutes.  It was perfect.  Perching myself just outside the front of our house, I could continue to be plugged into the WiFi and the boys could entertain themselves.  It was a beautiful complicity.  What could possibly go wrong?

As luck would have it, nothing catastrophic.  Although it turns out that the slope outside our house was a little steeper than I thought and so the sight of Jaxon hurtling toward me at an alarming speed was a little more distracting than I had anticipated.  Also, it turns out, that without an adult’s active input – well, the boys got bored pretty quickly.  Shocking.  What happened to that theory of – “having more kids is a great idea, ‘cos they’ll just end up looking after each other”?  At what point does that actually happen I wonder?

Now scrambling, I had to find a plan B.  Yes I know what you are thinking – TV.  Well, full disclosure, that is frequently my Plan B (sometimes my Plan A) – but on this occasion Plan B was our local, go-to, park.  Just down the street (certainly by LA standards) lying within the perimeter of Griffith Park is Bronson Playground.  A shaded haven that we frequently visit because even under the unremitting glare of Los Angeles’ brutal sun, it remains shaded and cool for almost the entire day.

Kids and a car

Turns out I wasn’t the only parent in a similar predicament.  Bronson Park was teaming with kids at home from school.  Who knew?  Now I wouldn’t go so far as to call our visit to Bronson a form of child internment – I was after all in there with them – but on certain days there is something to be said for the enclosed sanctity of a designated kids space.  I did even finally manage, guiltily I may add, to sneak in a little work.

Kids in Park


So we cracked, and finally ran a lemonade stand

Sep 16th, 2015 Boyhood, Life

What can I say?  It was insufferably hot, we’d talked about it a lot and got the boys worked up into a little bit of a frenzy about it (note to self: – never, ever, mention anything to a toddler in passing. They just don’t get the concept), and there were still enough hiker traffic to justify doing it.  And – moreover – it was for charity, thank you very much.  More Rachel’s idea than mine and at a price where we were practically giving it away (25 cents), we rolled out the pitchers, the buckets of ice, our home made sign and set up shop.

Dare I say it? – there’s money in them lemons!

First off to the market for provisions.  (Barbecue afterwards, just in case you were wondering what any of that stuff had to do with making a glass of lemonade.)

Kids at the supermarket

Then down to some serious sign making…

Kids Lemonade StandKids Lemonade Stand

Next – wait for the punters to start flocking.  And in fairness, they did.  A lot of tourists who really wanted to have their picture taken with the sign and the boys.  I guess they thought it was part of the “Americana” experience.

Kids Lemonade Stand

Or maybe it was the free (homemade) cookie that came with your cooling beverage?  All THIS for 25 cents I hear you ask?  As I said, I feel as though the business model needs some work if we are going to maximize opportunity and market share. There were reports of a rival stand down the street where they were charging upwards of 50 cents per glass.  A significant premium.

Kids Lemonade Stand

With all that being said, we still managed to turn a profit.  Off to count the takings…

Kids Lemonade Stand

Finally time for some after work front yard chalk art.  Jaxon calls this one “Space Monkey”.  I actually think this is pretty good.

Kids Chalk Art

(Back) to school haircuts

Sep 12th, 2015 Boyhood, Life, Self Discovery

God, I miss the seasons. It’s the end of summer and yet it’s still hot as hell and humid too. Thanks a lot SoCal. So much for dry desert heat. So not that you’d know it, but summer is over, and school has begun.

The early stages of childhood seem to be replete with milestones. I wonder if this is more for the parents’ benefit the child’s. To help us get a handle on the chaos and uncertainty that is busy unfolding – or perhaps more accurately sometimes – unraveling, before them on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Secondly, can you really use the word “milestones” when they are only two years old?  “Yard-pebbles” perhaps? Anyway, learning to crawl, first words, first time you get thrown up on…whatever momentous moments you choose for your timeline criteria charting – regardless – the first day at school has to be a legitimate marker whatever your criteria.  And that’s because it’s memorable for the child as well as the parent.

And so it was quite a moment for us all, when two year old Skyer – having followed his brother across the courtyard and through the corridors of school for the past two years, only to retrace his steps moment later – finally got to stay in his own classroom. With his own cubby. His own name tag. And his own teachers.

Such a moment necessitated (back) to school haircuts of course. Initially just for Skyer. But once Jaxon saw the reaction that Skyer’s new “do” got, he wanted to make sure he was in on the make-over action. So he got some sharper edges put on the sides and back for his first day back as well.

Nothing like a fresh trim to put a spring in your step.  And an extra bounce in your karate chop.

Back to School HaircutsBack to School Haircuts

Down and out in Paris

Aug 25th, 2015 Boyhood, Travel

It may seem a little extravagant to tack on a trip to Paris after all that gadding about in Mallorca, but to be honest, Los Angeles is so far away from Europe that, well, once you’ve put in the 12 hour flight – and the transfers each end and the security checks, etcetera, etcetera, you sort of feel as though you owe it yourself to make the most of it.  If that sounds overly indulgent – I guess that it is – but I’ve also done it the other way and rued what felt like a missed opportunity.  So anyway – Rachel needed to be in Paris for work and we at the Beachwood Boys Club thought that we would tag along for a few days and see what the bright lights had to offer.

Beachwood Boys Eiffel TowerLa Maison Champs Elysees

I had forgotten how beguiling Paris’ sweeping boulevards, iconic architecture and lattice of bridges that form like capillaries across the heart of the city really are.  A cliche of course, and lost on the boys, but no less true for any of that.  Although we did find a rather cool kids climbing wall and play structure while walking along the south bank of the Seine on Saturday night, so maybe they’ll remember their walk along the banks of one of the world’s most famous rivers for that reason, if nothing else.

We also found this fabulous park right in the heart of Paris, which allowed Rachel to focus on her work and for me to sample day-to-day Parenting Euro style.  Happy to report that it’s pretty similar to US style.  Although I fear the crowd at the Jardin du Luxembourg had never quite witnessed the rough and tumble of Skyer before.  He was in rare, fearless, form, thoroughly throwing himself into the mix.

Parc de Jeux, Jardin du Luxembourg

Parc de Jeux in the Jardin du Luxembourg – or Luxembourg Gardens to you or I – is a fabulous tree lined, shaded, beautifully maintained kids playground – located on the Left bank.  It boasts a slew of climbing structures for all ages as well as a substantial sized sand box.  There is a nominal 2 euro entrance fee.  But it’s good for the entire day and very much worth it.  After traveling all the previous day, the boys were eager to stretch their legs and have some fun.

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No park in Paris is complete without characterful old men playing pétanque.  Jardin Du Luxembourg is a sprawling maze of manicured gardens, imposing statues and lush lawns.

Jardin Du Luxembourg

And now, as far as I am concerned, some cute young ones messing about as well.

Jardin du LuxembourgJardin du Luxembourg

Ah yes! Parisian parks.  Not too many parks in the United States can boast one of these.  17th Century Manicured flower beds, grandiose gravel walkways and a Palace, fit for a Medici.

Jardin du Luxembourg