All posts by Theresa

5 Reasons why you need a Mom Group

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Me and my sidekick.

Let me just cut to the chase, prior to having my baby, the term “Mom Group” made me, well, cringe. I imagined the “stroller parking lot” at CPK teeming with crusty strollers filled with gummed up yogurt melts, crushed Goldfish, Cheerio smithereens and shellacked with a thick coat of apple juice. I envisioned a herd of moms trying to hold a conversation and eat a civilized lunch while their infants screamed and toddlers built forts under the table. I feared that along with my bundle of joy, my “parting gift” from the hospital would include a pair of black yoga pants, a spit-up stained tee shirt, an eighty ounce coffee mug and a year subscription to the “I Only Wear Slut Buns” club. Let me also say that I was foolishly under the impression that everything would be all rainbows and gumdrops after MY baby arrived. My plan would look something like Reese Witherspoon with her new baby; pulled together, glamorous, calm and collected. Little did I know the shit storm that was about to be unleashed into my world.

Flash forward to having an 8-week-old baby and after having yet another humiliating breakdown during my lactation consultant appointment, she kindly suggested (urged) that I join a Mom Group. I was so lonely and sad that I agreed to go, seeing that I wasn’t meeting anyone while holed up in my bathroom crying. So ladies, I bestow upon you this pearl of wisdom, unless you are a “sister wife” (minus the total creeper husband) and have your Mom Group living with you, you need to get your hustle on and find yourself a team of supporters. Here are the top five reasons why:

1 – Surprise! Your problems are not unique!

During the depths of our eight-week pediatrician-imposed lockdown, I was completely unaware that there were other new moms out there struggling with the same problems. My baby that won’t sleep anywhere other than the Ergo? Yeah, I had nothing on the mom who had to run the vacuum while bouncing on a yoga ball, humming and breastfeeding at the same time. Morale improved already! Strapping on the Ergo began to actually heal my back; it was like popping a few Doan’s and washing them down with a slug of Wild Turkey. And what I had coined “The Warthog Routine” (the snorting, grunting and frantic head thrashing when feeding) was happening right before my eyes to other babies. Previously, I was convinced it was an early indication of some terrible and rare condition. Not that this is a contest in one-upmanship, but talking with other moms who are in the trenches with you is such a relief. Just knowing that someone else was raising a baby warthog was enough support to keep me going until our next meeting.

2 – Bitches unite!

Perhaps you enjoy the alone time spent sobbing while folding onesies and listening to your baby howl but believe me, you need lady friends. Your baby may be the sweetest, cutest little peanut in the universe but after your partner goes back to work and you are flying solo – suddenly you are staring down the barrel of week six with 12-hour days ahead of you, and the one-sided conversation starts running bone dry. After being out of normal society for weeks, I was so desperate to talk and be around other people, I didn’t care if you had 10 heads, horns, and a tail. If you were at this Mom Group meeting you were fair game and I was going to be your friend, come hell or high water. When I walked into that room, I reeked of desperation. I needed friends who understood what I was going through. Being able to commiserate over your newly found night sweats and hideous mood swings is something only a new mom friend would understand. (Bonus: Your husband will thank you for this since he bears the brunt of both problems.)

3 – You need to get the hell out of the house.

Rejoining the free world seems like an insurmountable task during those first couple of months. Prior to my Mom Group, brushing my teeth required an hour of preplanning and scheduling. After joining the Mom Group, I would turn up the music extra loud to drown out the weird baby noises that gave me massive anxiety and gussy myself up; slap on some lip gloss, put my hair up, dredge up a cute outfit from the bottom of my closet, strap her into her car seat, then immediately take her out again to change her entire outfit due to an up the back blowout diaper and arrive with a few minutes to spare! No sweat (under-boob sweat doesn’t count). Waking up knowing that you have a plan for the day is a game changer, even if it is just going to Starbucks, everyone is just happy to get the f*ck out of the house.

4 – Your breast pump is not talking to you.

The same phenomenon as the hairdryer applies to the breast pump – turn it on and suddenly you think you have heard the doorbell or the baby crying – turn it off, go check, find nothing and repeat. I spent hours with that pump. HOURS. 3 out of 4 times I would have to turn it off because of phantom noises. Chalk it up to reasons 1, 2 and 3. Or perhaps I was so desperate for someone to talk to that maybe I did just hear the pump say, “Your hair looks great”. Thanks, Medela! Love you too, guuuurl!

5 – Your baby will be happier.

I know this sounds a little extreme but hear me out. After I joined the Mom Group and gained a shred of sanity back into my life, I could see in my baby’s eyes a new sense of calm, a new understanding if you will. Despite being my personal stage-five-clinger, she was happy to be surrounded by other 2 month olds who also hated the car with a burning passion and she thrived each time she spit-up someplace new. She needed all of the same things I needed, friends with something in common, new places to go and new people to see. And I swear, after I started slowing down a mile out from a red light so we never had to actually stop, when I looked in the rearview, she winked at me as if to say, “Yeah Mama, I got you”. We were a team.

The women in the photo below are my Mom Group. They are the ones who welcomed me with open arms when I arrived at my first Mom Group meeting. I would not be where I am today without what they gave to me – hope that things would get better, shoulders to cry on, ears that listened to the good, bad and ugly, they never judged or made me feel like I was doing it all wrong (even when it felt like everything I did was wrong). They had advice and suggestions when needed, kept me company and gave me laughs through the long nights of breastfeeding on our chat group. When everything else in my world was falling apart, they were there for me and THIS is why you need a Mom Group.

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Photo Credit – Lisa Rayman Goldfarb Photography

Laguna Beach – A Review of Sorts

When the question arose as to where we could escape LA for a night and get a little well-deserved R&R, Susan Dearest jumped at the chance to suggest her old stomping ground, Laguna Beach. Perfect for families, perfect for Christmas shopping, lunching, hot tubing, day drinking, tide pool exploring and the like. Theresa and Susan Dearest packed up their families (Kelly Dearest was sadly being a solid professional and had to stay behind to make TV and stuff) and we headed down the 405 to the little paradise that is Laguna Beach.

We started off with a little lunch at The Hotel Laguna, where we were served-up some grub by a lovely waitress. We can attest that the best things about this restaurant are the service, the fries, the view and the wine. These are the only really important factors of any establishment, really.

Hotel Laguna, great views, even in the rain.
Hotel Laguna, great views, even in the rain.

After soaking up the rainy day view of the gorgeous coastline whilst sipping on some vino, the men folk decided to take the girls to explore the tide pools but not before Susan and Bram started arguing about the correct way to install a car seat…in the pouring rain. Note* Bram is Theresa Dearest’s husband, whom Susan Dearest adores but this just proves the fact that car seat installations are just fuel for any man and woman to get into it. Theresa and Susan were then off on their own, sans offspring, to shop, sip and get massages.

Now, as we were trotting up and down Forest Ave. doing a little shopping, we decided that we’d better find a place to book massages before the day got away from us. It was quickly agreed upon the best place to do this would be sitting down, discussing it over a glass of wine. We stopped in to the Watermarc and were served up a crisp glass of something by a wonderful young man named Brandon…or Dylan…or David Silver. Either way, the dude knows his way around olive stuffing (get your mind out of the gutter). He was great at small talk but we were left to wonder, when he left his job at the Watermarc a few years prior, he said he went to do other things but was very unspecific about what. Later that week we saw a man on Facebook who had gone missing and we could swear it was Brandon, Dylan, David Silver. He seemed wholesome and all-American but we believe there’s more to him and only time will tell…only time will tell.

Anyhoo, the only people who would take us for last minute massages were the fine folks down at Beach Feet Spaaahh. Yes, the name alone won us over. When we rolled into the establishment, we were greeted by a lovely woman and led into a room where we needed night vision goggles to see each other. We were told to undress and lay down in these BarcaLounger-type chairs. We hadn’t realized this was going to be a group massage. I asked if we could have private rooms and after some hysteria and some shuffling, we ended up in tiny little massage/storage rooms. Theresa with a man who had just finished-up eating his sandwich and Susan with a cute little woman whose fierceness and super-human strength were still yet to be discovered.

So dark you needed night goggles.
So dark you needed night vision goggles.

Theresa relives her experience. – “The massage room was as wide and as long as a Twinkie. After hopping on top of the bed with me, he was able to slide the door shut and his workspace became the empty inches on either side of my body. My massage began with this slight man walking up and down my back, kneeling on my ass while rubbing my shoulders and standing on my shoulder blades – all at once. Despite this barbaric-sounding rubdown, it was surprisingly relaxing once I got over the claustrophobia and fear that my ribcage would be crushed beneath his feet.”

In conclusion, we’d totally go back. The price was right, they were accommodating and they stomped on any stress we were holding onto prior to our visit.

After such an exhausting day, we decided the best thing to do was to swing by the ol’ Montage Resort and Spa for a little aperitif. As we stepped out of Theresa’s car, the Valet asked her how the surf was this morning. It was as if someone had asked her who the 35th President of Zimbabwe was despite the fact the roof rack was loaded to the gills with surfboards (her husband’s). She immediately stripped us of any cool I was clinging to by actually driving around with the boards to begin with. I’m a total poser. Ah well, let’s get a drink. The Montage Laguna Beach might just be one of the most relaxing places on the planet. It is gorgeous, has amazing views and the staff is never, ever pretentious there which makes the joint extra classy. It’s also one of the most festive places to hang and you can’t beat the free snacks when you order a drink. While we were sipping on our spirits and recapping our masaaggggghhh experiences, there was buzz about the lobby by some mature folk regarding some “Justin Beaver” kid who had jumped on the piano the night before. Right after we eavesdropped on this heart-racing piece of news, coming from the piano was the “Beave’s”, “What do you Mean?” The Dearests went ape shit like two tweens who just got their first bras. I jumped from my seat only to see the Montage Piano player, jamming with passion, creating a hole in my tiny, little heart. Later we found out that The Biebs had been at The Montage Beverly Hills the night before. Timing is everything, people.

Our happy place.
Our happy place.

After one of the loveliest restaurant owners in town at Alessa’s fit our party of six in on a Friday night, without a reservation and we chowed down on some delicious Italian treats, we headed back to the hotel with our exhausted four year olds in tow. We had decided to stay at The Ranch at Laguna Beach because they were throwing this pre-opening special. We paid in the $300’s and I am unsure what the post-opening prices will be but they really need to get their heating situation figured out before that. This is the text message chain that ensued between Susan and Theresa Dearest the morning after a not so restful evening.

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Nacho

*Nacho happens to be Susan Dearest’s cat – a sweet bundle of brown and white fuzz with a penchant for hauling ass out of the house whenever a loud and curious child appears. Unfortunately, for Nacho, her food and water are kept inside, so she can only take a sip of water or a bite of food when the coast is clear. Sometimes Nacho will silently appear in the kitchen, sneakily walking to the doorway, always listening, always on guard for that insane child to come darting out of the living room wielding a gymnastics ribbon wand and screaming the words to The Lion Guard – sending her flying back out of her cat door, starving and parched, once more. Sweet girl. So thirsty. All. Of. The. Time.

Sweaters back on after shutting the heat completely off.
Sweaters back on after waking up completely naked and delirious from the heat.

After a horrific night’s sleep, we gathered the troops and headed off to the Balboa Island Fun Zone. This place is always a good time with kids. We rented a little boat and toured around the harbor for an hour. We got to ogle some sea lions and watch the rich people cruise by on their Kardashian-like yachts while we were slumming it with the travel potty on deck in case of emergencies (which of course there were). Wealth is relative. Right before we took off for home, I volunteered to go on what was the longest Ferris Wheel ride of my life. I’m not sure why they keep it going so long but the girls were super jazzed while I was praying to keep my lunch down.

Here we gooooo...the 75th time around. HELP.
Here we gooooo…the 75th time around. HELP.

All in all, a fantastic time was had by everyone – hell, we may have even sweat off a few pounds overnight – and you can’t knock that! We are definitely excited to see what The Ranch will have to offer once they are completely up and running – it is sure to be an awesome place. So many fun places to visit in the Laguna Beach area – delicious food, fun shopping, beautiful hotels and family friendly activities. We are already looking forward to our next visit – although we may skip the Ferris Wheel ride next time, just sayin’.