The first two-thirds of my family’s summer was cannibalized by my 10 year-old son’s baseball tournaments. The tournaments started with Thursday night games and ran through the entire weekend, sometimes even continuing through Monday or Tuesday of the following week.
In summers past, our weekends were spent at the beach or swimming all day with friends, afternoons spilling over into evenings when someone thought to open a bottle of wine. The kids stayed in their bathing suits all day, their hair squeaking and whitewashed from chlorine and sun, their bodies’ corners and crevices breaded with sand. Certain images come to mind from those summers: the rainbow swirls of wet towels piled in a heap, the glint of sunlight off the fine blond hairs on a little ones back, children draped across sofas and each other like cats, hot and drained of all strength, watching a movie.
Before baseball, my younger two kids, ages eights and five, would still be free to have summers like that. Their older brother certainly did at that age. Instead, they were carted all over L.A. County for double-headers in the scorching heat. Instead of showering sand off their little bodies at the end of the day, I was washing sweaty, black rivers of dirt off their feet, hands and faces. Our summer weekends changed in nearly every way (except the hot dogs!)
But throughout it all, my kids never complained (God bless them!) They had a fun little posse of team siblings they loved playing with at the games, they enjoyed the freedom of hitting up the snack shops for candy or peanuts and – thanks to one incredibly patient dad – even learned how to keep score and track the boys’ stats. It could easily have been a miserable summer for them. In fact, it was quite enjoyable.
Still, I had been wanting to reward them for being such good sports, so when my girlfriend, Melissa, invited me to attend the Levi’s Back to School event hosted by Au Fudge’s Jessica Biel and Estee Stanley and benefitting baby2baby – a non-profit that provides low-income children with diapers, clothing and other basic necessities – I saw my chance.
Au Fudge, which opened last spring in an uber-posh neighborhood in West Hollywood, is like any other beautifully-designed gourmet restaurant, except this one has Au Pairs on hand to entertain patrons’ children while they eat.
The kids had their faces painted, painted on swatches of denim, and explored the indoor treehouse and mini-arcade while enjoying lemonade mocktails, gourmet chicken nuggets, shoestring french fries and chocolate-coated s’mores. All the while, my girlfriends and I sipped on rosé settled in for some good old-fashion people watching: Jessica Biel, her Seventh Heaven castmate Beverly Mitchell, Rebecca Gayheart Dane, Jennifer Meyer, Taboo, Entourage’s Dania Ramirez, Kim Raver, L.A. Stylists Jessica de Ruiter and Samantha McMillen, Tia Mowry and more. (Yes – Jessica Biel is as stunning in person as you’d expect her to be. A natural beauty in every sense of the word.)
Thanks to Levi’s, we left with customized Trucker Jackets, embroidered with my my kids’ names, a couple pairs of jeans and a pair of 511’s painted by The Sasha Project. It was the perfect reward.