By Brandy Black
By Brandy Black
Our 16-month-old twins are walking. Penn with a fast trot and Bella, a waddle and a shake. They are both proud with every step they take and are beginning to understand things, particularly orders from their older sister. “Don’t touch my castle.” They wouldn’t dare upset her, they live for her entrance every morning, laugh at everything she does. She rules with an iron fist, getting on their level and in their face when they upset her. We stand back and debate when is best to intervene. The twins are fighting now too. They shove and hit when they don’t get their way and fight for our attention. We are officially out of the baby stages and into toddlerdom. Having been through this before I’m excited for what’s around the corner. This is one of the worst stages, impossible to go out to eat or go anywhere for that matter because Penn and Bella don’t listen. It’s not that they don’t want to, they just don’t understand the rules yet. When does that happen again? At night when all the children are tucked in their beds, Susan and I began to calculate the tough months ahead and it is daunting. Yet their little brains are emerging and it such an exciting thing to watch.
I have been waiting for the day that our oldest can actually play with her siblings and it’s been unfolding before our eyes. Sophia made a fort underneath Penn’s crib and all three of them squeeze under with toys. They giggle and peak-a-boo out at me. They throw food at each other at the dinner table and I can’t resist smiling before I scold them. We have dance parties before bed and all three of them spin around and stomp their feet. My life is full, it’s complete with these children and I could not have known the joy that there laughter would bring me. I have never known what it’s like to be part of a big family until now and I wouldn’t change the smell of pancakes and the screeches of joy for anything.
Although I turned in my Audi and bought a large American car, one that I never would have imagined ever owning, I proudly tote my children around and thank the universe daily that I am so lucky to be blessed with these souls. It is a constant struggle keeping ahold of what I envision Brandy Black to be. I get lost sometimes. Being a parent can consume me and I fear that I’ve lost touch with who I am but I remind myself that change is inevitable and I will always be who I am, who I always have been and who I want to be in the end.
By Brandy Black
After a long weekend solo with 3 kids and lots of support from friends, I poured myself a drink, sat down to catch up on emails and work and found this in my inbox.
By Brandy Black
My perfect day has changed so much since having kids. It starts with a workout at Barry’s Bootcamp. I’m a true fan. I have been going to the West Hollywood location on and off for over 12 years. Susan thinks I’m crazy to trek all the way out there for a one-hour workout but even the drive is cathartic for me. I have twenty minutes to listen to my own music or better yet, sit in silence. And even though I drag myself up the stairs from the parking garage dreading the pain I’m about to endure as I round the corner I know I’m going to feel amazing at the end of it. I make small talk with the twenty-year-old treader next to me hating her hot body, but everyone around me is either on the news, a celebrity, or incredibly young and they ALL have hot bodies. I look in the mirror and think. I’m almost 40. I am proud that I can still handle Barry’s. Sure enough I walk out dripping in sweat and feeling like the weight of the world was left on the gym floor. I crank up the music and drive to my second favorite destination, Fresh Pressed Juicery on Santa Monica, I grab three akelizers (their best drink) and off I go. This was my lovely perfect morning today.
I came home and my wife and I got all the kids ready to do the Observatory Hike in Griffith Park. Susan is always complaining that we never get to do the things that she wants to do—hike, go to Ojai for the day, or see live music. These are top on her list and not so much mine. I love hiking but not with a 4-year-old and twins. It’s exhausting. But I have had my perfect morning, I’m feeling inspired, our oldest appears to be growing up and rarely asks to be carried so I’m game. We gather the team and off we go. Sophia is in a great mood skipping along, the twins are in the double mountain buggy stroller and we are hiking. It’s a perfect day and I’m suddenly realizing what an asshole I’ve been for not letting this happen every weekend. I breathe in fresh air and listen to my daughter chirping away and running from vista to vista. It was a bit steep at times and took both Susan and me to push that blasted stroller but we prevailed and made it to the gorgeous Observatory atop the park. We hydrated, wandered, and headed back down. Suddenly I began slipping, Sophia fell to her butt and Susan (the trainer) was sledding down the hill in her super cute but worthless treadless Pumas. I’m traversing the hills, Sophia’s crying and telling us to “throw her down the mountain” because she’s suddenly not having fun anymore and Susan is panicking in her super cute worthless treadless shoes. I began cursing this hike, the babies were crying, the sunblock was wearing off and this was no longer fun.
Fun. What does it mean really? One minute it’s a blast and the next I’m being screamed at wondering why I tried so hard in the first place. I sat, exhausted, watching the Super Bowl with friends realizing that some days I’m winning and then there’s a blackout and suddenly I’m losing. I guess I should just be proud that I’m out on the playing field.
By Brandy Black
I have been dreading these days, the final decision, the waiting and the lottery! I saw “Waiting for Superman” by myself and sat sobbing in the theatre. How could it have gotten this bad that we leave our children’s education up to chance? Private school might have been an option before the twins but now public is the logical choice and truthfully I’m a supporter of public schools. It is daunting making such impactful decisions. My wife is finally starting to catch up with all that has been weighing on me for the last 6 months. I have done my research -immersion, charter, magnets; I have finally navigated my way through the challenges, the tours, the applications and now, I wait. Wait for the day when we find out if our daughter is one of the lucky ones or if she waits patiently with a number for her fate. I envy the people who have real choices rather than chances. I lie awake at night burdened by this process until I remind myself that everything happens for a reason and things work out the way they should. I don’t think a worrier like me could get through life without understanding that. Our daughter thinks that she will make the choice. I tell her about the schools, the rules, the fun and inform her that once we “decide” she can give her final word. I’m not sure how I will finagle that if there is only one choice, but I’m prepared to cross that bridge later. It’s all about baby steps right now. Sleeping through the night is first on my list.
By Brandy Black
It’s a family tradition to see snow around the holidays. Typically we’ll drive somewhere for the day but this year we decided to get a cabin in Big Bear, CA at Christmas. This turned out to be a great destination for our family because it’s only 2 hours away from Los Angeles, which is perfect if you are traveling with little ones. We have three kids! I will warn you that chains are a requirement to have with you over the winter season (this I did not know) and those switchbacks can be a bit dizzying, but once we got to our quaint town and adorable cottage in the snow, we were thrilled. Chalet Devora was a prime location for skiers, just a quick 10-minute walk to the slopes. We were set up on a hill, which was a little intimidating to drive on ice, but worth it for the sledding around the back. Fully equipped with Christmas trees (yep there were 2) and festive holiday décor, the place was lovely. It even had a hot tub! Although when we all got in one snowy night it was about as hot as a lukewarm bath so you might want to warn them to crank up that heat!
What to do with kids in Big Bear
There is a great little ski camp at the slopes that we enrolled our daughter in for 2 hours. It was her first time skiing and she came out with a good snow plow and the desire to ski down her first bunny hill. I couldn’t believe I was more terrified than she when we all went up on her very first chairlift.
There are a couple nice inner-tubing places that are great fun for kids. We spent the afternoon making snow angels, having snowball fights, and sliding down the hill.
I wasn’t sure if there would be much to do with the babies (they are one). People thought we were crazy motivating with twin babies, but they had a blast. We took them to Big Bear Village and bought a sled and pulled them around in the snow. We happened upon a tiny hill that every toddler in town has spotted and had great fun listening to them giggle as they traversed through the snow.
What to Eat
If you are a foodie, you might not be terribly impressed with the restaurants, but I thought it was just what you’d expect from a lovely little village town. I couldn’t get a good sidecar to save my life but I enjoyed my meal and fireside table at Captain’s Anchorage. They even had the 80’s salad bar.
We had a great trip and will surely do it again, although my next ski destination is Mammoth. Any recommendations before we go?
By: Brandy Black
By: Brandy Black
This weekend I did the thing I’ve always feared I would. I may have created that 4-year-old memory that my oldest daughter will remind me of for years to come. Nope, she won’t remember the Nutcracker or sitting around the living room singing Christmas carols, or picnics in her bedroom. She’ll say, “Remember that time Mama, when we showed up 3 hours late to my friend’s birthday party, remember how everyone was leaving as we were arriving, remember how heartbroken I was? Remember how you stole my moment by crying even harder than I was so much so that I stopped to console you?” She won’t remember the part about her first soccer medal that day and dessert before lunch and fun times at Kidspace or the little white bag of treats I put together for her so that she could feel like she got the goodie bag from the party that I botched! Nope, she’ll simply remember that horrifying moment when one of her friends was shouting “Everyone’s leaving, the party’s over.” And I will remember her tiny hand in mine squeezing tightly and the utterly sad look on her face.
I have tried to avoid these moments as a mom; I swear I attempt to elude them so much these days that I’m terrified to volunteer to be snack mom or anything else for fear that I’ll fuck it up like I did Shabbat the other day when I stood around with the other moms wondering who in the world would forget their child was Shabbat girl until suddenly it hit me, it was ME! Thankfully Sophia missed that part, had no idea what a true failure I am and the teachers protected me from the wrath of the children by getting another class to share with us –but how horrible am I? I handled that well; I realized people mess up, we’ve got a lot going on in our life but this time, this party, it just broke me. I’m becoming overwhelmed and it’s all I can do to get through the day. When I think back to this past year, I hardly remember any of it. Sometimes I don’t know how I got my children from point A to point B, I just do it, I wake up and do what my iphone and my wife and our au pair tell me to. I convince people that I’m in charge and I know what’s what and I’ve got this three kid thing licked but the truth is I’m a mess. I fear people are judging me, well let’s face it, I’m sure they are but mostly I fear my children are going to hate me for all my mistakes. I want to be perfect for them, to show them what a good mom I am but I realized at the end of the night when I was tucking my daughter in and apologizing one last time, that my imperfections will one day help her get through hers and when she’s sad because something has gone wrong, I will remind her of my bad days and failures and this I hope will help her through her day.
Or maybe this is what I tell myself in order to get through my own.
By Brandy Black
It’s easy for a company like Chick-Filet to put money behind organizations that are anti-gay marriage when they have no association with these couples who are aspiring to have equal rights. But what happens when you put a face and a story behind the labels? Does it make a difference?
My wife and I were recently asked to participate in this project “What if you couldn’t marry the person you loved?”
By: Brandy Black