Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tuesday Morning

Fourth born babe learns just how to keep his mama swooning.

My Movie from Mrs. Habit on Vimeo.

February Farewell

For as long as I can remember I have clung to this lasting notion that I (despite a life long lot on the sunniest side of the West Coast) am actually a lover of rainy weather. Even so far as romantisizing myself in alternative life scenarios played out on the outskirts of Oregon, cooped up in an old craftsman's style home cooking bone broth while the boys play cards at the table and the rain pours steadily onto the lush green overgrowth surrounding us wild abandon outside. Just one, of an array of similar visions I cling to as lingering fantasies based on how much I enjoy real weather whenever it's here. Which use to be not that often. And made me app to believe that I might in some circumstances anyway even come to thrive in it. An ideal this past month however proved (indefinitely) untrue. This winter as promised being one for the books. A blessed end to the shriveled state of our poor drought ridden landscape, but also a serious shift in what most of us born and bred here on the West are accustomed to. Dousing us with more rain on a regular basis than I can recall in all the years before. Starting mid November and rolling right through the tail end of February. A month that already threatens to push me into a streamlined state of depression due to just how dim and dismal the light gets. Mingled with the death anniversaries of loved ones who passed, and birthdays no longer celebrated. Love lost attached to the bitter string of closing winter months. February is what I always call it the "season in between." A title of a post I wrote the first year I started this blog. In honor of the same topic. Where even then when I felt most guarded sharing intimate thoughts publically in blogging form, must have felt moved enough to address a bleak state of heart because it felt desperate enough to warrant it.

Yet this year, and with all the rain we've had, it seems a little worse. A stinging reminder of how much weather affects our mood. Why people pay real money for light altering mood lamps. And how lucky I am to live where the sun is mostly out and shinning all year long because honestly I worry about the person I would become if it weren't. I've wondered too, if my underlying apathy has lately something do with the current state of today's politic turn. Seems a fair theory, right? Especially weighing if you (like I) are against nearly everything that's currently rising. Where maybe I had come to accept that the 6 or so weeks until Spring returns I can exist inside of a blurry, blue state of mind but somehow the feat of it all now seems to offer up a little less light on the horizon, which was always the beacon of promise to count on. In spite of the persistent calls to resist & overcome, I would say it feels - on certain days - like the feat at hand is only growing harder everyday. So even when we find solace in between the dark days to unearth humor and light in comedy shows, dinner dates, and weekend adventures, overall, the reality of life in the news feed right now sits pretty heavy on the heart. Regardless of what sites you lean on. Fake or real, liberal or right. Feeling a bit outside of it all is a valid stance I think for a lot of us feeling slightly defeated. Divided. Dismantled and unsure.

Not to mention how cruelly a lasting cold streak settles itself in the hallows of your bones no matter what you do or wear to try and ward it off. Sinking most noticeably into the crooked curve of my spine where my teenage scoliosis has only continued to twist and crook with age. An ache that reminds me only in winter just how offset the frame of my whole body really is at this point. Pain that dissolves as soon as the sun returns but tells me exactly why older people with arthritis up and clamor to the swamps of Florida to settle in the sweet bliss of warm and cushioned joints. And as much as I love a good excuse to hunker down and soak up the brooding hours of a rainy day at home, I think I've had my share. With respect, there's only so much Leonard Cohen and spiked coffee I can take before I'm itching to be outside with some heat on my skin, atop a sandy beach in July. Bare footed, in sundresses and straw hats, with the slight sting of that first sunburn on my shoulders, and longer days, and ripe watermelon sliced and waiting on the counter.

Where the fantasy of the East Coast lifestyle has faded faster than the reflections of all the pretty rainbows we've counted with glee all winter long. Where reality hints at what I could become without the crux of sunshine I've come to desperately depend on. An unmotivated women in a bathrobe finding new excuses by the hour to climb back in bed. Or eat a second plate of pasta in front of a television we keep on too much. Competing with laundry that piles up in heaps in the face of such sinking moods. Where I find myself armed with a whole new respect for the ladies who endure much longer, far colder winters with snow and rain on repeat who could and should openly scoff at such trite complaints from a California blogger crying about a month of solid rain. But I read the book on Living Danishly and found myself cringing at the thought of being holed up in the dark for so many weeks where dusk should be. I hear Missy Elliot explaining on the stereo on why she "cant stand the rain" and it sounds like a new anthem I probably took for granted the year it came out in '98. And mainly, I find myself checking the weather reports on the daily hoping for the prediction of sunny days ahead. I'm so tired of these gray skies and scattered showers I use to claim I loved. Before I knew them as intimately as I do now. This year, let it be known I learned about being a better women in the Spring, and a richer mother in Summer. And how grateful I need remain if only for the fact of good weather on my side, serving as soothing aid to precious head scape.

February has come and gone and I know I'll be getting through until the seasons turn and the ebb and flow of my fickle mind perks again. And I know that when it returns, it'll be quick and easy. Like it had been there stalking the close of those dull shadows in February's farewell all along. Ready to revive and reset me. Like a forgotten lamp in a ragged bathrobe, just waiting to be plugged in.

Scenes From a Weekend

Blue and Gold Boy Scout Ceremony

An occasion in which the whole den comes together in front of an audience stocked with family and friends (or in my case, 5 extra kids who squeezed into the van upon hearing details about the event, mainly to catch sight of their typically "too cool" for everything older cousin staring in a retelling of the history behind Scouts, in vintage suede chaps) The whole crew clad in old uniforms so cute they look as if like they wandered mistakingly off a Wes Anderson flick, all properly skinned knees, folded maps, binoculars, crooked glasses, patch flecked shoulder sashes, and all. Leon, for some reason bearing an uncanny resemblance to a Cuban dictator once he slipped into his 1950's get up, while Rex (in 60's era scout digs) had to be found and scolded for sneaking outside and skateboarding in the parking lot, nearly shredding his. And then Arlo - in classic Arlo style - begging me not to post anything of him without his consent (which I honored, respectfully) only to be later undercut by his father's life long love for a good pranking oppurtunity, who logged into his Instagram account while he was in the bathroom and posted a pic of him and his equally image conscious cousin (who was dragged into the play last minute to play a bride to the founder when the original participant failed to show) showing Arlo, outfitted in full Native American fur & fringe and London (his self proclaimed Tom Boy skater girl sidekick) in a royal purple coat and matching wool hat, with a fittingly cringeworthy caption. A hack job Arlo later laughed off when he realized it did not in fact cost him his whole fine tuned "edgy tween image," but actually gained him 7 new followers. *Sadly still deleted upon discovery. Because, "So embarrassing!"

Another fun footnote being the flurry of praise I received for offering help in the kitchen on my way to find Hayes (who I caught drowning more lemonade from the cups of distracted strangers during the frenzy of fittings I was focused on in the backroom than I care to address) and was directed to the far corner of a church kitchen where I spent 35 mins alongside a retired guy wearing a gingham hot mitten named Ernie lining frozen biscuits on industrial sized metal trays, slathering them with heaps of butter and sprinkled with garlic salt that seemed to dazzle everybody on site enough to garner a round of applause following the props from our den leader on stage who may or may not have realized they were the simple outcome of a Costco sized frozen bag. The biscuits, trying their hardest to upstage the whole feast (which actually wouldn't be hard seeing how scout festivities typically don't cary much draw for the few foodies on hand) and two days later my kids are still asking why I can't make them every single day and I'm left still trying to find the heart to tell them that much butter on a daily basis might possibly kill them. That and our Costco card expired 5 years ago.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stuck ON

Big Little Lies. HBO's new adaptation of the 2014 novel, written by Liane Moriarty. 

When I was first approached about a collaboration to host a series viewing party for friends, I may have let out a little shriek of joy (anyone who knows me can attest to my life long passion for holding preview parties in honor of award shows, movie debuts and series finales that I've carried out since I was 10 - or younger if you count my obsession with the Academy Awards - so if there is any way to make a career out of hosting parties for casual couch cable reviews in the company of good friends, wine, and in home dinner delivery, I need to know how to get myself to the front of the line, Ok?)

Fact is, I was already dying to see this show. My niece and I (who share identical taste in cable television) were already counting down the days to premier night since catching wind of the stellar cast in a series teaser making the rounds late night on HBO a couple months ago. The special perk of viewing it addition to the generous sponsorship of HBO's complementary "party in a box" which offered up everything I needed to host a party, from serving dish wear, to champaign glassware, candles, wine gift cards, all food expenses and childcare paid for, was merely icing on the cake. I invited a handful of ladies to eat and watch it with with me at my home this past Sunday, and with just two episodes down the hatch, I think it's safe to say we're all equally hooked and looking forward to the watching the whole season unravel. 

BLL is the kind of show that's almost demands a call to your best friend the day after, to mull over Monday morning (Leave it to David E. Kelley to forever hold court in that specific talent)With a setting and tone being everything I tend to love innately in any series I fall hard for on screen. Much like The Affair, it shares that same sexy, broody beachside appeal, but anchored here on the West Coast, specially, inside the jaw dropping shores of Monterey where wealthy women (played by big name stars) seek to show us just how complicated life can prove behind the glossy shields of some of the country's most enviable real estate. With a stylistic edge leaning on smart, slight campy undertones, but more centered (like a more proud, sophisticated soap opera) with stalking egos played by Hollywood big whigs, sloping sun soaked wooden decks, and one riled up Reese Witherspoon at the root of it all already raking in plenty of praise for her role as Madeline. Which The Ringer predicts: "We’ll spend many sunset-soaked moments pondering the answers to these questions, but ultimately, they are hardly the ones that matter. Because as much as BLL is a satirical, skewering, and prickly ode to lush interiors and Nicole Kidman’s perfect honey-blond dye job, it is also a suburban murder mystery. David E. Kelly has given us the True Detective we deserved, with dashes of Desperate Housewives drama and Valley of the Dolls undertones for good measure. The only trick: In addition to not knowing who did it, we do not yet know who was killed."

It's true, we don't know yet know the circumstances surrounding the murder at the core of this story, but I can say that I'll be tuning in every Sunday night until we do. And then likely long there after. Even when the only party surrounding me is the last of those fancy wine leftovers, and one tired dingy dog at my feet after the kids have all gone to bed and the last of my Sunday night belongs to this new stinging suburban drama where the dirty secrets will likely always outweigh the sharp wardrobes and killer landscape it's so prettily encased with. 

- Big Little Lies / Sunday's at 9:00

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When the same songs that made your heart swell at 17 do the same at 37.

Friday, February 10, 2017


"You don't ever have to pay dude. My mom gots it. Every time"
- Rex declining his friends offer to pay his own way into the movie we were headed for.

"It literally hurts. Like watching your ex get fit, move on, and then hook up with a pretty blonde on an exotic vacation you see while trolling the timeline on his Facebook."
- Friend, over breakfast on the hurt involved in seeing Barrack looking well rested, well adjusted and pretty damn fine in his newly tipped baseball hat, shorts, and abs.

"I hope Siri jumps out of that dumb phone and smacks you in the face one day!"
- Leon, to Rex, feeling newly neglected on a weekend because of an ipod housing a sharp lady named siri.

"I would have like that."
- Leon's response to me explaining that the reason I didn't buy them anything in D.C was due to the only notable loot being Obama memorabilia. Which apparently he would have appreciated. #tears

"Was Leon's mom there?"
- Leon's classmate, asked of Leon's teacher during a video on Martin Luther King showing protesters in Washington marching for civil rights. Because if you've been to one protest you've been to them all. Even if they happened decades before your birth . . .

"I think I was probably more willing to work out a deal with him over the others simply because he had a Hillary sticker on his car. Is that wrong?"
- Me, to a friend in regards to the real estate agent who came to negotiate the price of our house. Driving a Kia with an "I'm with Her" sticker on his bumper.

"No, I got it from the tooth fairy on Christmas."
- Rex, on the mysterious yellow toothbrush I found in the bathroom and wondered aloud where it came from.

"If I tell him to bite you, he's going to bite you."
- Rex, to Leon. About Hayes who now serves as his tiny loyal hitman just waiting for word (or reason) for attack.

"Can't you just drop us off and go to starbucks like all the other moms?"
- Arlo, not amused by my habit of parking next to the curb at the skatepark and clapping when he is shredding.

"Can you not say "shredding" to my friends?"
- Arlo, not amused by my use of the term "shredding"

"I'm not going there and making all those dumb girl pictures. I only do that on Valentines Day."
- Rex, declining a second term of the after school program "art smarts" which apparently involved too many still life flower paintings for his liking.

"You just got back from a week long trip hanging out with a bunch of ladies dressed up like Vaginas and you're worried going to see a band play at a dive bar makes you look bad?'
- Mike, in response to me fretting over asking his parents to watch the boys two days after my return from D.C. to see a country band at a neighboring bar.

"Worst day ever."
- Rex, bummed about no real life breathing yellow bird as a gift on his birthday. Later to be overridden by the proclamation "best day ever" after a successful skate session with his friends.

- Hayes, approx 10 times, loudly, during lunch with friends. Thanks to whomever taught it to him and is responsible for it being (unfortunately) one of the only words he can pronounce clear as day. Especially, it seems, in restaurant settings.

"Where are you reading this stuff?!"
- Arlo, resentful of the new "no screen Wednesdays" which forbids all usage of electronics in the house midweek. Which I found in an article suggested by a friend on Facebook, thank you very much.

"Can someone pay me?!"
- Leon, finally frustrated by his allowance debts forever expanding.

"Dad said no one wants chickens or lamas and I should just tell you"
- Arlo, breaking the news on their true feelings behind the prospects of country (canyon) living.

"And did she seem happy? Or, like, suuuper sad?"
- Me, forever digging. While hearing Leon's teacher had them tune into to watch the inauguration in class.

"He doesn't seem the least bit bothered by my admitting that I just might leave him for a tall Danish Women." 
- Me, to my bf on a phone call home from NY. In which my lady crush on Helena seemed to fall on easily approving ears.

"He's orange!
He's gross!
He lost the popular vote!"
- Recounting a protest chant stuck in my head with enthusiasm to Hayes, at bedtime, instead of the regular (this little piggy) Which I think he may have liked a lot better.

"Siri, how many tacos does it take to circle the moon?"
Leon, bitten by the siri bug.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Trials of Two

It's always odd to me, how much we manage to forget in the relatively short span that we have between subsequent children. Each newborn, arriving with their own sense of mystery in way of all the small (but enchanting) phases of babyhood we are often so quick to loose touch with. Asking ourselves about things we've already been through and should already be keen on. When DO they eat solids again? Is this normal? Should I be potty training by now? Why isn't he talking?

There are only 16 months between Leon and Rex so the bulk of their early years kind of rolled in to one. But in the nearly four years that stand between Rex and Hayes, I've found myself, on occasion, feeling almost like it was my first go round. Namely, in regards to the trials of two. And just how manic and unreasonable these little toddlers beings can be. *Not Arlo though, because he owned that whole saint complex that allows our first borns to trick us into a lifetime of high / false expectations in which we are forever deciding another child is a great idea. But definitely the other three. Which is not to say they aren't completely adorable in the midst of the madness. They are. They have to be.

Once Hayes turned two it was like a light switch flipped on an inner sleeping beast. Replacing the timid babe I was accustomed to with a temperamental little brute who lives in a constant state of flux defined by endless reason for complaint and irrational demand. Also, non stop requests for water. Which he doesn't always even want, but more enjoys the power of requesting. A fact eased of course by that cute halo of curls and flashing blue eyes that certainly help mask the new grit he now carries with confidence. Combined with a tendency to throw food he disproves of, bite brothers out of protest, break random household items for fun, and crumple to the floor in department stores without warning in response to me refusing to buy him the giant fire engine (which he already HAS) on isle 10. Big watery tears dribbling down his cheeks, flailing limbs. The whole shebang.

These days, the tantrums aren't awful, but regular. And when he isn't being completely irresistible (because with the amount of kisses and affection he smothers me with on the daily, there really isn't a better description) our time consists of trying to figure out just how the hell to keep a seemingly belligerent two year old, happy. And most times, one out of the five of us proves more successful at doing it. Rex, being his obvious favorite. A dynamic that's intriguing from a mother's stand point considering how different personalities in a family can be the source of effortless connections or strained brotherly kinship. In this house, we have an equal share of both. And it's no secret how much he adores Rex, whom he calls "Rockie" (which is also obscenely cute.)

But back to being two. And irrational, unpredictable, insatiable and reckless. Pulling your mom by the arm to open a fridge stocked with everything you suddenly refuse to have anything to do with. Dumping expensive shampoo bottles in the bathtub just because. Clearing a table lined with magazines (or toys) when the urge strikes you (which is often) Biting yourself out of frustration and then biting others when that frustration and self mutilation goes unnoticed. Basically two is nuts. And even though I've been through it three times before, I still find myself with a spinning head and frazzled nerves almost daily. On my worse days, even lowering myself two the constricted psyche of a toddler - proclaiming, usually in defeat, that there will not be anymore fruit snacks simply because "I SAID SO!"

With that said, I probably won't be reading up on parenting books or even asking for help or suggestions because if there's one thing I have retained - it's that all these phases are fast and fleeting. And they always move past and out of them quicker than can ever really believe. Part of the reason our sanity is saved I suppose. With light at the end of the tunnel forever flickering in the distance. Plus I still cling to the same philosophy that's always lead me: Instinct and Intuition. Guiding me through bouts of self doubt whenever they rear their head.

So for now, we are soaking up the sweet stuff and getting through the hard stuff. Books piled into our bed at night. Colors learnt in the slow swell of our afternoons. Potty training talk, futile jokes coming attached to a sense of humor evolving. Swings at the park that breed flushed cheeks in winter begging for kissing. Tiny feet in suede boots. Naked weekends in the backyard with the sun on his skin. Watering plants and cleaning up the messes that trail him wherever he goes. Because there are, so, many, messes. With the only bright side being, never more than there are kisses.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

Week In Review

Hard to believe how long this week (for one reason or another) is already feeling. And to think, it's only Friday. 

- Last Saturday, as word of our house falling out of escrow surfaced via email we were encouraged to open it up for another women who was "very interested" (on a last minute notice "walk through" with a showing that ended up sitcom worthy as far as absurdity is concerned) For instance, an overprotective dog who tried to intimidate her by barking viciously (as much as a short poodle can) the entire time she was here, and the whole lighting in our backyard going black the moment she wandered outside to check out the yard, in addition to exploding fire logs bursting open flames (which has never happened before!) onto the lounge area where we were all gathered, causing a frenzy of children to leap out of their seats to the grassy patches below for safety. A neighbor who came to check on us after seeing additional sparks shooting furiously from our main chimney. In other words, one mild catastrophe after another which became so ridiculous we got to a point where couldn't stop laughing. Good news is, she must have a sense of humor because she put an offer in (much higher) than the one we initially accepted the following morning. Which apparently means we're moving. Soon. Where, and when, is still to be determined. Trying not to stress over that one but...

- Sunday, a small dinner with family and a few friends in honor of Rex's 7th birthday. Chicken and steak and ice cream and cake for a boy who's still bitter over not getting a bird as a gift but willing to forgive us in lie of stickers and legos serving as temporary supplements. 

- Mid week included much of the regular. School lunches, homework, skate parks, music lessons, wrestling, biting, failed potty training attempts, one week long disabled iPod, and hospital scare for my mom, a student of the month award for Leon (most respectful) as well as two lost teeth resulting in frantic cash hunts at 11:30 at night, just as the tooth fairy should be readily drifting off (had she been more prepared for such events) Regular life events wedged sweetly in between real world news events that permanently have my head spinning and my heart aching. The ban, the wall, the lies, threats and tweets. The horrors at this point that come daily with the likes of Conway, Bannon, DeVos and their intentions, that can hardly outweigh the glory that is other news: Beyonce twins, Oprah's prime time return, and a viral video of 65 zookeepers in China hugging panda bears for a group photo. Yet still the world turns. 

- Thursday lunch I spent in downtown Pomona (which is so much cuter than I knew!) where we talked about how to stay connected and active in resistance. A helpful hour I gained new insight and access to a Facebook group she started to share articles, info, points of action and donation. Much needed considering just how hard it is to get caught up with kids and tight schedules and put the reality of all this ugly political stuff on the back burner. Hopefully some of you are finding similar means of support. 

- An end of week late night movie date with Denise finally got us to the theater last night just before LaLa Land up and disappears. Of which my review remains meager but approving. Pretty settings,  a classic love note to L.A, with good chemistry between the two of them and effective emotional tackling of how we all feel about "the one that got away" - but a little "sadder" than I expected. Still well worth the money. Maybe not as amazing as the hype suggests, but good. And in my case, better seen without the husband in tow. Like I had planned last month. But fell through. Thankfully. Seeing how similar musical themed movies have played for us on date nights in the past. 

- Up ahead, a Boy Scout event where cooking chili and pancakes is the main agenda. An overnight trip to Santa Barbara at a cute hotel with a few friends in a celebration of a birthday. A whole lot of cleaning up, clearing out, and I guess, at some point, thoughts on packing. 

For now though, a loving link to the Doen Journal highlighting some of the sentiments behind a few women who marched last month in protest. A good and valuable read that I'm proud to be included in. 

Cheers, to Friday. 
And surviving it all the best we know how.