By Brandy Black
I realized as soon as I had three kids that balancing attention is a tough job. I worried that they would all blend together in my mind and I wouldn’t notice the little things that I always had with my first born. In some ways that feels true, I haven’t written down the first sneeze or the first smile or the first laugh or the twins discovering their toes. But what I hadn’t prepared myself for, having been an only child, was the very distinct personality differences they would all have at such a young age. Bella, 17 months old, is obsessed with shoes. We may have our very own Carrie Bradshaw in the house. She picks out different ones every day. She not only picks them out for herself but for of the rest of us too. Her concern is constantly about shoes. Why aren’t we all wearing shoes all the time? She insists on wearing them with her pajamas. She waddles around with a confidence like she runs this place. She has also recently taken a liking to a particular floral (floral is in you know) cover-up for her dresses. Yesterday in the hot heat she would not let me take it off. When it’s wet from washing her hands she screams if I try to remove it. This morning, she dug it out of the laundry basket and held it up to me. I told her it needed to be washed and she began screaming. When I put this wrap on her, she smiles and pets it and then waddles off to something else.
There is no blending in for this little girl, she has her own ideas and everyone will listen to them. She has begun what friends of ours have coined “the Bella drop” in which she drops to the ground back rounded and head to the down, screaming when something goes wrong. I remember learning a version of this for Drill Team in high school and it’s quite hard to drop yourself from standing like that. We think she may be a cheerleader. She’s got the moves already.
She is a foodie. She loves any kind of food and fully expects to be fed when anyone near her is eating. She is that kid that will follow other kids to their treats assuming their parents brought enough for everyone.
She sits on my feet every morning while I blow dry my hair. Her brother wanders around picking up toys, babbling but Bella plops down on my feet, stares up at me and waits patiently for me to be done. She is a little lover, she will walk right up to you and sit right down on your lap. She loves to be held and could ride around on my hip forever.
Bella Bell, you are our sweet baby girl.
By Brandy Black
I judge. I don’t mean to, I don’t want to, I swear I won’t but I judge. When I see a mom walking down the street with their child attached to a leash, I judge. But if I have learned one thing from parenting, it is that the minute I started feeling high and mighty, I fall, it’s inevitable. I broke down and bought back packs with leashes attached for our twins. My wife fought me all the way through the purchase but the fact is, safety is my priority. I had no idea how hard it would be to keep track of two 17-month-old toddlers in a public place. We were at The Grove this weekend and I could not take my eyes off our son, he would zip around so fast and of course his twin sister running the opposite direction. Having three kids makes it next to impossible to ensure that they stay by your side. So, I did it. I sometimes get brave and decide to take all three to the park alone and a few minutes in I wonder how I’m going to get the hell out of there. I begin to notice all of the unsafe playground equipment and the potential for falls. When I asked Susan about how she handles it she said “you just have to infer that they are going to be safe or that if they fall it won’t be that bad.” And that is where we differ. I can’t handle the notion of my kids being unsafe on my watch. I worry all the time. I’ve always been a worrier, I convince myself that worrying will make me more vigilant so I can’t seem to let it go. My wife doesn’t worry much from what I can tell. I’m envious that she can live in that state. What must that be like? No wonder she falls asleep the second her head hits the pillow.
So the leashes hang on their cute little hooks by the front door, waiting to keep our children safe one day soon.
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
It’s that time of year, when the sun pops out from behind the clouds and we all begin to think about traveling with our families over summer vacation. I found that planning a trip to Hawaii is daunting. I scoured through websites looking for the perfect house to rent and either ran into red X’s on the preferred dates of travel or simply couldn’t find anything in our budget. After much angst we settled on Hilton Waikloa Village in Kona on The Big Island. We stayed in a two bedroom suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean in one direction and an open lawn with a hammock in the other.
Although this resort is huge, so spread out that you can take a tram or a boat to get to dinner, it was a blast for the children.
At night we played freeze tag with the kids on the grassy grounds. Once tucked in and with the babysitter we had picnics by the water.
There were several restaurants to choose from including Chinese, Italian, Mexican and the children’s favorite, the morning buffet!
It was a great place to stay with kids and although we struggled traveling with three little ones. The resort did not disappoint. If you are off to Kona with kids you must check this place out!
By Brandy Black
I should have known what direction my 40th birthday trip was going when I woke up the morning of our flight with a terrible cold. If I knew then…
Our first day in Hawaii was spent at the pool with all the kids. I hadn’t quite thought through how challenging, even with three adults, it would be to manage twins and a five-year-old. Just getting out of the room was exhausting, the sunblock, floaties, diapers, wipes, bottles, snacks, the list was endless. Then I had the bright idea of purchasing an oversized (literally as big as I am) turtle for Sophia to float around on. I wasn’t thinking, didn’t consider that we would be toting that damn thing around for the entire week. I just saw the smile on my daughter’s face when I agreed to her plea. Once all kids were finally in the pool and on our floats, we quickly realized the water was freezing cold. I know it’s always warm in Hawaii but on the occasional 70 degree day it sure would be nice if the pools were heated! Our water is warmer in California and frankly the weather too! My oldest said “I thought it was supposed to be like summer in Hawaii?!”
“Me too baby.”
After about an hour of freezing our asses off in the pool just to say we did, we decided to have lunch and that is when it all began. Sophia complained of a tummy ache. At first it was minor but it continued to escalate and by the end of the day she just wanted to be in the room. We scrambled to think of what might have caused this and came up with the natural solution- constipation. She has struggled with this in the past because of her deathly fear of pooping (that’s a whole other blog) but all was typically resolved with a little MiraLAX. And shit! I didn’t bring it! I brought the entire house in our three suitcases but didn’t think to bring the MiraLAX! So off Susan went on a 40-minute walk to the nearest grocery store while I juggled three kids with the nanny. When Susan returned she happily held up a box of ExLax! ”Why did you get that?” I say, with an instinct that five is a little young for Exlax. It turns out that’s all the market had and there were no other stores anywhere near us. I asked to see the box, convinced it wasn’t safe and Susan read aloud ”Yep, it’s fine, it says half a pill for five.”
Reluctantly I agreed. Suddenly a few hours later the pain was worse. Our daughter was officially not enjoying the vacation. We eagerly awaited a poop to make it all better. The next day, no poop and still serious belly pain. By the afternoon we had to call the resident doctor onsite and she advised us to race to the hospital for fear that it was appendicitis. Now I was in a panic. Not only had we discovered at this point that Susan read the box wrong and Exlax is not for young kids but it can also make appendicitis burst! We left the twins with the nanny and called a cab to the hospital which was 40 minutes away. Sophia at this point was screaming “take this pain away, please why aren’t you fixing this?” and I in a full-blown panic. On the way to the hospital Sophia finally fell asleep spread out across my lap. What a relief -until I realized that I was wet, she was wet, the cab was wet and it really smelled! Yep, she shit all over everything and get this: I didn’t bring back up clothes.
We finally pulled up to a small driveway and I was convinced we weren’t in the right place. It looked like a Veterinary Hospital. We finagled our daughter out of the cab and walked into a dingy little waiting room full of a family of Hawaiian people sitting around talking. We signed in and then had to wake our finally peaceful daughter. She began yelling “What are you doing? Why are you doing this to me? My belly. My belly.” I insisted the doctor give her something for the pain but logically they wouldn’t, they needed to see what the problem was first. They wanted Sophia to pee in a cup but she refused to drink water because she knew the pain it would inflict. After much yelling and getting transferred into a private room because we were bothering the other patients, Sophia finally fell asleep again. I began calculating the hours that we were going to sit by her side watching her sleep with no real answers since she was certainly not going to wake up and pee in a fucking cup. After convincing the doctor that she had to come up with another plan she decided to do x-rays. Sure enough we identified the problem, Sophia was 100% constipated. The nurse came in a few minutes later with an enema and handed it to me.
“Do you want to do it?”
“What? No, I don’t know how to do it!”
We agreed that she should do it while Sophia slept and I would be standing by on the gurney in case she woke up. I was above Sophia and with no warning from the nurse, shit came spraying out of my daughter, all over me! ”Well that happened fast” the nurse says with a friendly tone.
We got back to the room at 3AM and hoped to wake to a better day.
Suffice to say, the days didn’t get better. Sophia still struggled through pain, our twin daughter threw up on me, I think because the food in Hawaii was a bit different for her. The wind was howling, making our beach trip a disaster that culminated in our double stroller toppling over and hitting a woman in the face. We were dying to go home early from our never-ending trip but the doctors actually advised staying because travel only makes constipation worse.
The final leg of the trip, a red-eye flight which had been recommended by veteran friends with twins, was a nightmare. The kids didn’t sleep well, Sophia shit all over herself in her sleep on the plane and I swear the flight attendants sent in a Hazmat team to clean up after us. Oh and after arriving back at our house at 7am, I had scheduled a work meeting at noon that same day. I think I’m still recovering.
By Brandy Black
We spent my 40th birthday in Hawaii, all 6 of us – me, my wife, our three kids, and the nanny. I had been planning this for months. Who better to spend my big milestone birthday with then my wife and children?! After packing and planning for days we were off to the airport, big floppy hats and all. The flight started off rather pleasant, one twin my me, my wife with the other, and our 5-year-old pleasantly entertained by the mini screen on the seat back in front of her. All was smooth until she spilled orange juice all over herself and the seat. Suddenly I had to pass a twin over to Susan while trying to juggle our food trays and manage a screaming kid who was now wet and uncomfortable and oh yeah, I packed a back up plane outfit for each baby, but didn’t consider needing one for our oldest! This began the long list of complications that came with our trip to Hawaii.
By the time we arrived we were all thoroughly exhausted and hungry. We gobbled down pizza, leaving food all over the floor around us, and raced back to the room to put all the kids to sleep. We had a date on my birthday night after all the littles were tucked snuggly in their beds. I cried over late-night drinks about how grateful I am to have the family that I do and all the sweet friends that sent in letters and videos for my big day. My wife had compiled everything and played me a DVD upon arrival. It was all that I could have asked for.
But what was about to come in Hawaii was not at all what I had bargained for…
By Brandy Black
I remember my first plane ride as a child. I made an X on each calendar day counting down to the moment I would fly high up in the sky. It was so exciting. I was thrown back in time today when my 5-year-old daughter told me that tomorrow she would have a big smile on her face because the day after we will be going to Hawaii. But the part she is most excited about is the plane ride. She doesn’t recall every being on an airplane, which is funny because she’s been on several but I guess it’s been a while for air travel since the twins arrived.
Tonight I walked Sophia through every detail of arrival at the airport, security, seatbelts, the lights that turn on and off with instruction to the passengers, the flight attendants, the food, the drink cart! She practiced what she would order. I can’t wait to watch her experience all these “firsts” again. I am bracing myself, thinking about holding a baby on my lap the entire trip while trying to juggle ipads, drinks, food, and toys for Sophia. I won’t even have Susan next to me as we are not allowed to have two infants in the same row. I worry about the passengers around us. This trip could be incredible or an utter divorce-inducing disaster. Susan and I travel really well…without kids. Vacations with kids is like Space Mountain—lots of dizzying twists and turns never really knowing where you’re going to end up. One minute the children can be happy and grateful and the next they are screaming at the top of their lungs in a public place and Susan and I have nothing better to do than take it out on each other.
So we venture forward, creating lasting memories. Celebrating big birthdays and watching our children grow up. Wish me luck as I zoom through the friendly skies.
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.