Sipping in the Suburbs at Sipurbia

Last weekend was reserved for two things: unpacking my living room and going to Sipurbia. My living room has been in boxes since we had our floors redone last year and I needed to get it unpacked and put back together once and for all. (Yes, I said last year, but it was December. And I’m a busy person. So shut up.)

sunday funday at wine and beer tasting event sipurbia
Sunday Funday at #Sipurbia

 

But we were hit with an unexpected flood (I guess all floods are unexpected) due to a home plumbing repair gone wrong. So instead of returning my living room to its former glory, I spent most of the weekend mitigating the damage of the flood. Which included (but was definitely not limited to) emptying all of the books off five floor to ceiling book shelves. And then re-shelving them. (Thank you, Mom and Aunt Debbie – I couldn’t have done it without you.)

But this is not a story about the flood, or the brand new floorboards that need to be replaced (not all of them – just a few), or my disaster living room that keeps me from having company over to my house.

It’s a story about an unlimited wine and beer tasting event called Sipurbia.

Because who says no to that? (Not me!)

So, on Sunday afternoon when we finished our damage control (with the help of my mom and step-dad – again, THANK YOU!), instead of tackling the living room or (you know,) resting, we decided to go to Sipurbia as we had originally planned.

Because as my mom said to me Sunday morning, “You like to do everything.” And she is not wrong. (I like to have fun.)

Sipurbia was held just a few miles away from my house at Paramount Ranch, a national park where they have filmed literally hundreds of movies and TV shows including American Sniper (which must be why my friend Karin saw Bradley Cooper in Westlake Village a few years ago, because why the hell else would he be in Westlake Village?) and HBO’s Westworld. Plus the event benefited an awesome charity called the BumbleBee Foundation, so the beer and wine weren’t the only things there to make you feel good!

Westworld Church Paramount Ranch
Selfie time in front of the Westworld church.

Because I am a nice wife I acquiesced volunteered to drive, so my wine drinking was limited, but my lucky husband’s beer drinking was unlimited. (Very unlimited – everyone was extremely generous with their pours.) My favorite wine was Cielo (so good) and Dave’s favorite beer was Santa Monica Brew Works (he thinks – remember his beer tasting was unlimited).

In addition to taking selfies, we stopped by the cutest photo booth in the world, Shutter Bus Co. and posed for some fun photo booth photos.

VW Bus Shutter Bus Co Photo Booth
Seriously, how cute is this photo booth?

 

I drank a little more wine. Dave drank a lot more beer. We shopped at the stalls and danced to the Spazmatics, which everyone knows is the best 80’s cover band on the planet.

Spazmatics best 80's cover band in the world
Day drinking meets day dancing – what could be better?

 

And we ran into a bunch of our friends. Including my friend Kim (AKA Agoura Hills Mom) and her husband Stewart.

suburban friends at sipurbia
One of these days we’ll learn to take selfies without cutting half of someone’s face off. (Sorry, Kim!)

 

Who knew life in the suburbs could be so fun. (Actually, I totally knew that.)

When we were talking about our weekends at the office on Monday a twenty-two year old said to me, “You have the most fun life.” (I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m trying.)

A co-worker (much) closer to my age said, “You are always doing something. You have really embraced this age.” (I don’t know if that’s true either. But I’m trying.)

And while my house (and quite possibly my life) might be a total disaster, one thing is for sure: I’m definitely having fun.

 

 

My 2018 Academy Awards Red Carpet Review

So. My timing hasn’t been great this year.

You may remember the night of the Golden Globes was on my son’s 21st birthday.

And the Oscars? They are rudely happening on the night of a business trip to Las Vegas.

mandalay-bay-hotel-room
My red carpet view.

 

What the mother-loving what?! Can’t these freaking awards be the earth to my sun and revolve around my schedule? Sigh…

So I’ve decided to hand the reins over to my daughter. I have to admit, I don’t even know who all of these people are, but I uploaded photos of dresses I hated and dresses I loved and I’m letting Marley do all the commentary. (Which, I have to be honest, is more than just a little bit hard for a control freak like me. But I trust her. Mostly. Besides, I’ve got a work dinner I’ve got to get to.)

And so, may I present to you, Marley Ross’s snarky Academy Awards Red Carpet Commentary…

andra-day-oscars
Andra Day

Marley: She looks like she ran out of time whilst getting dressed and decided to steal the fancy hotel duvet cover. I just don’t know who looked at this and really thought, “this is it, this is the perfect dress.”

 

emily-blunt-oscars
Emily Blunt

Marley: I guess she also decided to steal and thought to take the canopy from her daughter’s room and give it to a stylist to fix a little. The color is very pretty, but it’s such an ugly dress.

 

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Gina Rodriguez

Her dressed are always beautiful, and this one is no exception. The color, the style, and the design is just all perfect for her.

 

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Nicole Kidman

Marley: She looks like an old Barbie doll, but not in a good way. The dress is hideous, but the color makes her look great. The style is just such a miss, though.

 

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Selma Hayek

Marley: The only good thing about this dress is the color. And how it makes her waist look great. Everything else is just ugly. The sequins. The diamonds. Just… all of it.

 

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St Vincent

Marley: Okay but why? This is just the worst. Even her face seems like she’s thinking “God help me.” The shoes look like hooves.

 

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Taraji P. Henson

Marley: This is my favorite dress of the night. It’s so perfect for her, its just beautiful. The slit it stunning, and the top part of the dress is so well designed.

 

whoopi-goldberg-oscars
Whoopi Goldberg

Marley: Oh Whoopi… who hurt you like this? The color and style is good, but that’s about it. The design looks like something from another century.

 

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Haley Bennett

Marley: Okay but seriously, this is the ugliest thing I’ve seen, and I’ve seen our President playing tennis. I don’t know if that’s the fur of one hundred raccoons, or the hay from one hundred barns. I genuinely cannot tell.

 

Allison Janney
Allison Janney

This is a really simple but gorgeous dress. It’s perfect for her.

 

ashley-judd-oscars
Ashely Judd

Marley: Another simple but beautiful dress. The color is very complimenting for her.

 

betty-gabriel-oscars
Betty Gabriel

Marley: This is my second favorite dress. The top is stunning and the color is so unique.

 

elza-gonzalas-oscars
Elza Gonzalez

Marley: I think this is the perfect dress for her. I really love it.

 

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Gal Gadot

Marley: That dress costs more than mine and Chandler’s college tuition. And honestly, I think it’s ugly. It’s reminds me of the 20’s but not in a good way.

 

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Helen Mirren

Marley: I love the blue and how everything matches so well.

 

jennifer-garner-oscrs
Jennifer Garner

Marley: The length is perfect, the color is perfect, and the style is perfect.

 

jennifer-lawrence-oscars
Jennifer Lawrence

Marley: This dress looks like somebody robbed a Coinstar and took only the nickles to glue together for this dress.

 

laura-dern-oscars
Laura Dern

Marley: This is so flattering and beautiful. A great choice for her.

 

adam-rippon-oscars
Adam Rippon

Marley: He looks like he just left some bondage event and forgot the Oscar’s were happening.

 

daniel-kaluuya-oscars
Daniel Kaluuya

Marley: God I love him. He looks amazing in this suit. And very attractive 11/10.

 

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Lin Manuel Miranda

Marley: The blue is a great color and he’s just adorable.

 

jordan-peele
Jordan Peele

Marley: This suit is great. The off white, the black tie, and the antlers pin that if you’ve seen the movie you’ll understand. It’s a great ode to his debut movie and just a really great outfit.

Well, there you have it, friends. I do disagree with some of her picks, but for the most part, for a kid who spends most of her time in leggings and hoodies, she’s got a pretty keen eye for fashion. (She takes after her mother that way!)

Photos credits: fashionista.com and

What’s Your Aha Moment?

Unedited ten minute writing prompt from my last writers’ group meeting. The prompt: Describe “that moment”. 

Oprah says you’ll have an “Aha moment.”

“What was your Aha Moment?” she asks. As if I’m supposed to know. But the truth is, I haven’t had one yet. It seems Oprah’s had a ton of Aha Moments, so who knows – maybe she stole mine.

“I made cauliflower mashed potatoes,” she says on TV. “Get them at your local supermarket.”

Oprah-Oh-that's-good-garlic-mashed-potatoes

But I searched my Vons high and low and I could not find those fucking cauliflower mashed potatoes anywhere. Maybe it’s because I’m a Trader Joe’s shopper.

So it seems not only can I not find my Aha Moment, I can’t even find Oprah’s Aha Moment even though it’s advertised on national television. During prime time.

There have been times I thought I’ve had an Aha Moment. AHA! That’s what I’m going to do. This or that or fill in the blank, but I’ve never done any of those things. I don’t even remember what any of them were because I didn’t do them. Aha meet blazy.* Blazy is the winner.

So that moment? I’m still waiting for it. Maybe I’ll find it one day in Vons next to Oprah’s cauliflower mashed potatoes.

 

*Blazy is a term my writing group came up with that means being blasé about your laziness.

Get Ready for Some Grown-up Fun in the Suburbs at Sipurbia

So, there’s this young woman in my office named Angela who is super chill. (My seventeen-year-old daughter will never read this, but if she did, she’d roll her eyes all the way to the back of her head and say, “Mom! Don’t talk like that.” Anyway.) Angela said to me, “I saw this thing that looks really fun and made me think of you, but I don’t know if you’ll be offended by it.”

“Uh oh,” I said. “What is it?”

“It’s this wine and beer tasting event called Sipurbia,” she said.

sipburbia-wine-and-beer-tasting

“I know what that is!” I told her. “What would offend me about it? The fact that is sounds awesome?”

She giggled and shrugged.

“Or that it sounds like something a suburban mom would do?”

“Yeah, maybe that,” she said coyly.

“Well, that’s what I am,” I told her. “At this point, I sort of have to own it. Plus, it sounds like a lot of fun.”

“It does,” she agreed.

And you know when a fifty-year-old suburban mom (I know, I turned fifty two-and-a-half years ago, be quiet!) and a super chill twenty-five-year-old think something sounds fun, you know it’s going to be fun!

So, you’re asking, what in the heck is Sipurbia? It’s a wine and beer festival happening right here in Agoura Hills at Paramount Ranch. And when I say wine and beer festival I mean there will be unlimited (yes, unlimited) wine and beer tastings from local wineries and breweries. So please. Leave your car at home and make sure that Lyft app is downloaded on your phone.

Sipurbia wineries

Sipurbia breweries

There will also be food trucks, lawn games, cool vendors, and music. And when I say music, I mean the The Spazmatics (which everyone knows is the best 80’s cover band in the world!), 3 Strange Dayz (for those of you who prefer 90’s music), and a DJ to keep things going when the bands are taking a break.

Plus, if that weren’t enough the event benefits The Bumblebee Foundation, which gives financial and emotional support to families affected by pediatric cancer. So by going, you will not only be doing something good for yourself. You will be doing something good for others.

Here is all the info you need:
Website:  www.sipurbia.com
When:  Sunday, May 6th 2018 from 3-7 p.m (last call at 6:30)
Why: Benefiting Bumblebee Foundation (www.bumblebeefoundation.org)
Where:  Paramount Ranch 2903 Cornell Rd, Agoura Hills, CA 91301 (just off Kanan)
What:  Beer. Wine. Music. Food. Charity. Memories.

sipurbia-wine-and-beer-festival-supporting-bumblebee-foundation

Look, Dave and I are actually going to be in Napa that weekend for a wedding on May 5th, but we’re hauling ourselves back home early Sunday morning so we can go to this thing. It sounds that fun.

Tickets: $40 (GA) & $100 (VIP) per person until 2/28. (And then they go up, so get them NOW!)
But because I’m so nice (and I want to hang out with you) if you click here to purchase tickets you will get 25% off if you use coupon code ROSS25

Hope to see you there.

 

 

This Suburban Life

yogi-tea-fortune-happinessI sit at my writers’ group on Saturday night with my third (or maybe it’s my fourth) glass of wine in my hand and feel so lucky to be int this group of smart, funny, kind women who happen to be great writers. They encourage me and hold me accountable and don’t judge me. We laugh and cry and commiserate and tell each other our triumphs and heartaches and fears. I look forward to our meeting every month. I know that the next morning I will write “Writers’s group” in my happiness journal for Saturday, February 10th.

A little after midnight I receive a text from Dave asking if I’ve heard from Marley yet. She’s at a concert downtown at the Shrine and she said she’d text us on the way home. We knew it would run late, but it seems too late. I tell him I’ll come home and wait up for her.

Rina lives down the street and Dave dropped us off so we could take a Lyft home, but Kim only had one glass of wine and even though she lives in the opposite direction she says she’ll give us a ride. Julie’s husband dropped her off too, installing Uber in her phone so she can get home that way. Kim offers to drive her home too, but she declines, saying she lives too far (all the way in Thousand Oaks). We tell her Lyft is better and she promises to download Lyft next time. We tell her to text us when she gets home.

Marley’s phone goes straight to voicemail and she does not answer texts or Facetime. I’m not quite worried. Yet. But I’m tired and want to go to bed. Marley calls at 12:44. She’s sorry! No service! She can’t believe how late the show went. They are on their way home, but might stop for a quick bite to eat once they get in the Valley. I tell her fine, as long as they go through the drive through.

I sit on the couch with the dog snuggled next to me and try to read my book , but it makes me too sleepy, so I scroll through Instagram the blue light from my cell phone keeping me semi-alert. Julie group texts to thank Laurel for a lovely evening and to let us know that she is home safe and her Uber cherry has been popped. I let them know that Marley is on her way home. Drunk “I love you” texts circle around. I try to doze off but don’t really and Marley walks through the door at 1:45. She had fun and I’m happy that live music gives her the same thrill it gives me. Since it’s technically Sunday, maybe I’ll hold onto that feeling for my Sunday happiness journal entry.

Sunday morning I wake up late, but not nearly late enough. I’m lucky that too much wine and cheese and not nearly enough sleep did not net me a hangover. I have a cup of coffee and make toast out of the Trader Joe’s beer bread I made for dinner Friday night and chat with Dave. I’m meeting my mom at Costco at 10:00, but have to run errands first so I need to get moving. I go to Bed Bath & Beyond for hairspray, mascara, and a nail file, using my $5 off $15 coupon. I text my mom and ask if we can meet at 10:15. I didn’t get going quite as early as I’d meant to and I’m running late as usual. Then I head to Target with a return and pick up cedar balls and store brand peanut butter for the dog’s Kong. Small, but necessary suburban errands.

We take our time and Costco and buy too much and chat in the parking lot after loading up our cars as our frozen items grow warm.  I don’t get home until almost noon. I put the groceries away, make myself some tuna, and start some laundry. At 1:00 I insist Marley wake up. I spend the rest of the day on the laundry, organizing papers and filing, getting my tax documents together for my appointment with our accountant on Thursday. Sunday busy work.

Rina and Kim and I have been texting throughout the day. Rina has clothes she had put aside for a clothing swap that Kim and I went to a couple of weeks ago that Rina was unable to attend and wants us to come over and look at them before she donates them. We were supposed to go over at 4:30 but she is stuck at a birthday party and it’s looking like 5:00. Too late, I say. I need to start dinner. Maybe another night? Kim calls me at 4:59. “I’m coming over to get you. I’m already on my way. I need to cross this off my list. It will only take a few minutes.” I inform my family I’m being kidnapped and dinner will be a bit later and head out the door.

We go through Rina’s clothes quickly. Rina’s family is going to a friend’s for dinner at 5:30. Kim has been hiking all day and still needs to make her Sunday trip to the market. And I have to make dinner. But it doesn’t feel rushed. It feels nice to be with my friends, even briefly. A quick reprieve from the busyness of a Sunday evening. Again I feel lucky. To live in a Shangri-La at the northern most end of Los Angeles. To spend a Sunday doing mundane and ordinary, yet useful things.

I go home and Dave and Marley are watching TV and I smell popcorn, their hunger unable to wait for my late dinner. After a dinner of roasted chicken, roasted cauliflower, green beans and rice, we all clean up and then I walk the dog. I choose “new country” on Pandora and decide to do a two and a half mile loop. Dave and Marley want to watch something that doesn’t interest me, so I retreat to the bedroom to read my book. It’s only 8:00, but I put on my pajamas and snuggle into bed early at the end my my ordinary Sunday in the suburbs. I am content.

What will I write in my happiness journal for Sunday? All of it.

My Daughter is an Unorganized Mess and it’s All My Fault

This is my typical morning routine:

Get up at 5AM.

Do my 7 minute workout app.

Go to the gym for a 5:30 class or write. (Translation: go to the gym or fuck around on the internet while doing everything in my power to avoid writing.)

Take Marley to school. (She has zero period and her first class starts at 7AM.)

Take the dog on a two and a half mile walk.

Get ready for work and be at work by 9AM (ish). (I’m really supposed to be there at 8ish.)

But on Monday I wanted to be at work early, so I walked at 6:00 during my workout/fuck around on the internet writing time instead of after dropping Marley off at school. And then I remembered that is was finals week. Finals week has a different schedule and the kids go to school later. What time did Marley have to be at school?

We did talk about finals the night before and whether or not Marley was prepared (she swore she was, but I never saw her crack a book over the weekend), but we never talked about what time school started. Or we started to, but never finished the conversation. We must have gotten distracted by a squirrel or something.

I stopped mid-walk and tried to find the schedule on my phone, but either the school’s mobile app doesn’t have that information, or I’m not mobile app savvy enough to figure out how to find it in the middle of a dog walk when it’s freezing outside (45 degrees – BRRR!), so I texted Marley, whose morning routine is to get up at 6:00, grab her cellphone off the kitchen table (because we make her turn it in at 10:00 at night so she can go on her iPad or laptop or whatever and roll her eyes at how stupid we are to think that we are helping her go to sleep at a decent hour by taking away her phone), go back to bed until 6:40, where she takes all of ten minutes to get ready for school so I can drive her, to see if she knew what time finals started. But since she goes back to sleep she didn’t answer.

So I texted my friend Kim because even though her kids aren’t in high school, she’s the Communication Coordinator for the school district, plus she gets up early to actually write, so I figured she’d have access to that information.

Screenshot1
Yep, that’s me. Crazy

 

Screenshot2

So I was right that is was finals week. But finals didn’t start until Wednesday. And on Wednesday morning when I banged on her door at 6:50AM because she hadn’t come out and was going to be late, she yelled from the other side that her final didn’t start until 7:40 so she was still sleeping.

Even though I swear on Tuesday night (keeping the Monday morning debacle in mind) I asked her what time her first final was. She told me that she thought it was at the regular time, but she would check. She must have checked, but she never told me. And I should have remembered and confirmed, but I must have been distracted by a squirrel. Or something.

So I guess it’s me that’s the unorganized mess. And in five months she’ll be eighteen. I’m not sure she stands a chance.

My 2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Review

I have to tell you, it’s pretty hard to be snarky about Golden Globe fashion when everyone is looking so fabulous wearing black and standing in unity against sexual harassment.

Also, for like five minutes there was a chance that I was going to be a seat filler at last night’s awards. Okay, so it was a slim chance, but I had an in (or thought I did) and I was working it. So instead of blogging about the red carpet, I would have been living it. (Well, from the sidelines.) But that is a story for another time.

Plus, yesterday was Chandler’s 21st birthday. So instead of sitting on the couch with my laptop snarkily typing away, we were busy getting messy at the local peel and eat crab restaurant. (Side note: I was really looking forward to buying Chandler is “first drink,” but the restaurant only serves wine and beer, neither of which he likes (not that he knows that since he just turned 21 yesterday), so I didn’t get to do that, but he loved the food and it was fun and funny eating everything with our hands, and he told me it was the best restaurant we could have gone to, so I’ll call that a win.)

Chandler birthday
Not so red carpet ready

So, what I’m trying to say is, this year’s post may not be very snarky. It seems kind of wrong with all the love and unity that was going on last night. But Marley and I did try our best. (Plus, she’s a teenager, so it kind of comes naturally.)

Nicole Kidman

When it comes to bad fashion, Nicole Kidman rarely disappoints (Marley: Nicole Kidman always wears an ugly dress) and I’d like to say last night was no exception, but this dress isn’t so bad. I don’t like the like the wingy sleeve things, but other than that this is a pretty dress and a big improvement over what she usually wears.

Nicole-Kidman-2018-Golden-Globes-Red-Carpet
Nicole Kidman (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

 

Alison Willams

Marley: Yikes! It looks like she’s repping Target.

Me: Um.. I like the bottom.

Allison-Williams-Red-Carpet-2018-Golden-Globes
Allison Williams

 

Debra Messing

A lot of women chose to wear pants last night as symbolism for taking back their power. I loved that message and most of the looks, but Debra Messing’s part dress/part pants ensemble is a no for me. Also, she needs to fire her makeup artist. That green eye shadow she was sporting is a big no.  (I love you, Debra, so sorry, but, NO!)

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Debra Messing
Debra Messing

 

Kate Hudson

Marley: It looks like the lamp from A Christmas Story.

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson

 

Kendall Jenner

Marley: I like the dress, but why is she there? You know what it looks like? One of those princess cakes – where the dress is the cake.

I’m with Marley. Why is she there? Plus, the dress is a little much for me.

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Kendall Jenner
Kendall Jenner

 

Kerry Washington

Yes, yes, yes! I love her dress, her boots, everything. I think she looks fabulous.

Marley: I love Kerry Washington, but she looks like a sparkly trash bag.

Marley is wrong.

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Kerry Washington
Kerry Washington

 

Like I said, it was kind of a struggle to find bad dresses last night. Even the bad dresses weren’t terrible. Plus. Love. Unity. Girl Power. All that stuff. So here are some women (and men – you’re welcome) who I think looked particularly fabulous last night.

Laurie Metcalf

I think the part dress/part pants look really looked for Laurie. I think she looks fabulous.

2018 golden globes laurie metcalf
Laurie Metcalf

 

Reece Witherspoon

Reece always makes my best dressed list and this year is no exception. She looks classy and gorgeous as always.

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Reece Witherspoon
Reece Witherspoon

 

Dakota Johnson

The front of Dakota Johnson’s dress was subtle and pretty, but the back of her dress – wow! I love it! It’s gorgeous.

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Dakota Johnson
Dakota Johnson

 

Mandy Moore

Marley: It’s simple, it’s pretty, the red band is a nice pop of color. There’s nothing special about it, but there’s also nothing wrong with it. It’s a nice dress.

I think Marley is wrong. This dress is stunning.

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Mandy Moore
Mandy Moore

 

Laura Dern

I absolutely love this dress and Laura Dern looks hot!

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Laura Dern
Laura Dern

 

Halle Berry

I love her dress and she might win for most beautiful woman on the planet.

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Halle Berry
Halle Berry

 

Ewan McGregor

I love him. You’re welcome.

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor

 

Chris Hemsworth

Swoon. And again. You’re welcome.

2018 Golden Globe Red Carpet Chris Hemsworth
Chris Hemsworth

 

So that’s it. My not-so-snarky red carpet review. Did you watch the Golden Globes? What did you think of fashion? Let me know what I missed.

 

Photos borrowed from Just Jared, Huffington Post, and CNN

Seeking Out Happiness in 2017

2017 was a challenge.

A buffoon was sworn in as president, beloved musicians succumbed to depression or hard living (RIP Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Tom Petty), a madman killed 58 people at a country music festival, and Mother Nature showed us through hurricanes and wildfires that climate change is no joke

On the home front, a tree fell through my house during a storm in February.

fallen tree
The thing keeping that tree from laying flat on the ground is my house.

Okay, through my house is an exaggeration. It fell on my house, creating a big hole and lots of damage and a ton of drama. And due to the drama (battles with the insurance company, contractor issues, etc.) we weren’t able to get new flooring until the end of the year. So instead of looking like this four days before Christmas:

decorated for Christmas
I love my living room at Christmas.

My house looked like this:

IMG_2234
Welcome to my nightmare.

Yes, ten months later. Because of the tree.

And no, my house did not look like this all year. But the scheduling for our flooring could not have been worse – new laminate floors throughout the house the day after Thanksgiving and new carpeting in the bedrooms four days before Christmas.

Sigh…

But I did manage to put together a Christmas in miniature in our den.

yule log
When you can’t put your tree next to your fireplace, move your “fireplace” next to your tree.

The kids got the gifts they wanted. And both told me separately that it was one of the best Christmases they’ve ever had.

Swoon…

And amidst the chaos, a bunch of good stuff happened as well. Things both humongously big and infinitely small. And I tried as best as I could to capture them in my happiness journal – the calendar that I keep to write down my happiest moment from the day before when I get up early to write (or more often not write) and drink coffee in quiet solitude.

And on January 1st, I sat down in my living room (that looked better than the picture above, but was (and is) still deep in boxes) with a glass of champagne and my happiness journal to reflect on 2017.

Here are some of my moments. Some of them big. Some quite small. But all of them filled me (at least momentarily) with joy:

January 3:  When Chandler told me good night he said, “Sweetest sweet dreams in the whole wide world and have good luck.” (Which is what I used to say to him when he was little.) I will miss him when he goes back to school.

January 21:  Marching with Marley and Arlyne and Marisa and thousands of other women for women’s rights. The signs. The sisterhood. The feeling. All of it.

February 12: I went to a clothing exchange and was talking to a woman who lost 90 pounds (the hard way – through diet and exercise) and she told me what a blessing the exchange has been to her because she could never have afforded to buy clothes in all the sizes she’s been. Listening to her gratefulness made me so happy and grateful myself.

March 23: Watching Marley audition for TedX. Wow! That kid is amazing.

March 24:  Writers’ Group – Julie telling us that Lily by Any Other Name is going to be published. I’m so happy for her.

April 28:  Heading out to Stagecoach was fab, but the highlight of my day was Chandler calling to say he got into Berkeley. OMG! Berkeley!

May 7:  My mom’s 70th birthday party. I really think she had fun. Seeing her face when we brought out the cake. I love her so much.

May 20:  Hearing the first drum beats of Sunday Bloody Sunday as U2 opened their set literally filled my heart with joy.

Joshua Tree tour stage
Yep, our seats were crap, but U2’s Joshua Tree concert was amazing.

June 11: Chandler clipping a rose from the front yard because he loved the pop of color against the gray sky. And knowing that I taught him that – to seek out everyday beauty.

June 23:  Driving home from Friday night yoga, I was singing in my car. At a stoplight I looked at the car next to me and saw Steve (also driving home from yoga) rocking out in his car.

June 26: Waking up early to read The Goldfinch. It’s so good.

July 16: While I was making dinner we were listening to music and Dave was sitting on the couch reading, I noticed he was swinging his feet back and forth to the music. That made me smile.

August 20: Taking an hour long nap on the couch in the afternoon. Heaven.

August 25: Dad literally crying tears of joy at dinner and telling us this was his best birthday ever. (My brothers and I flew out to Texas to surprise him for his 70th birthday.)

September 23: Tailgating at Coastal Country Jam. All of it. All of it. All of it. Hanging with Lindy and Kerry. Getting a pic with Matt Ramsey. Meeting so many people. Putting my feet in the water. The music. The love. Dancing on the truck. Sharing all of it with Rita who feels it too. Best day ever.

tailgating
Most fun you can have in a parking lot.

October 13:  Awesome date night. Dan Wilson at the Troubadour. I loved what he said about writing: It’s 10% hope (at the beginning), 80% self-hatred (in the middle) and the last 10%… Well, I didn’t die. OMG! So true!

Dan Wilson at the Troubadour
Seeing a singer-songwriter sing his songs and tell his stories is something everyone should do.

November 1:  Singing Something Just Like This at the top of my lungs in my car. There were sun rays beaming through the clouds. It was magic.

November 17: I say it every month, but only because it’s true. Writer’s Group fills my soul with love and my heart with happiness.

December 18: I said to Dave, “I made you laugh,” and he said, “Every day.”

So yes, 2017 was a struggle. But also, it was pretty great. I’ve read time and again that the key to happiness is gratefulness. And I am grateful – for the big moments (did I mention Chandler is attending Berkeley?) and the little moments (whether it’s for giving her a ride or making her breakfast or putting her clothes in the dryer (but only so I can put mine in the washer), Marley tells me “thank you” every day) and everything in between.

 

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me a big moment and a little moment that made you happy in 2017.

 

 

 

I Just Lost It (Again)

Four years ago I participated in a six-week, Biggest-Loser-Style fitness and weight loss challenge called Just Lose It at my gym, Stevenson Fitness.

I wrote a weekly blog post about the program and my process and how terrible it all was.

Actually, it wasn’t terrible. I mean, it was because it was so damn hard. (And I’m not talking about the grueling workouts or the clean eating, I’m talking about the fact that I couldn’t drink wine for six weeks!)

But it was also awesome, because I lost 12 pounds, 4.2% body fat and a whopping 13.5 inches of flab. (Almost 4 inches were from my waist!) Then I continued on working out with my teammates and eating clean(ish) and went on to lose four more pounds. I even started running (something I had never done or had any desire to do) and ran in a 10K race. Yeah, I was rockin’ it.

Weight loss results
Me, four years ago partying it up after my final weigh-in

Well. That was four years ago. I managed to keep the weight off for two years, but then. You know how it is.

Eating healthfully takes planning and that takes time and who has that?

My plantar faciitis flared up again and I was unable to workout for a few months. (What did you say? I could have ridden the bike and done upper body? I can’t hear you because I’m plugging my ears and saying, “La-la-la-la-la.” Also. Shut up.)

And I got a new job a year ago that likes to keep its employees (very) well fed. (Turns out I forgot the word “no” was in my vocabulary when it comes to treats in the breakroom.)

Also, I was drinking a lot of wine. Like, one or two (or, okay, sometimes three) glasses a night. Not every night. But let’s say if a month has 30 days, then I probably had wine 28 of those days. So, okay. Every night.

And blah and blah and blady-blah-blah-blah. (Insert reasons and excuses here.)

So that 16 pounds I lost? It slowly crept back on. With a couple more. I found myself heavier than I’d ever been except for pregnancy and postpartum. Bleh.

And even though I obsessively got on the scale every single day (so it’s not like I didn’t know), I somehow managed to convince myself it wasn’t that bad. I mean, okay, so most of my pants didn’t fit anymore, but I still wore a medium top. (And the same shoe size!)

And then I saw this picture of me and almost cried.

Shane McAnally

And I’m not talking tears of joy because I’m with Shane McAnally, Nashville’s hottest songwriter and producer. And not because my bangs are all jaggedy. (Seriously, WTF is going on there?) Because look at my face. It’s so fat. And my face is always the last place I gain weight. It’s like my body hits maximum capacity and there is nowhere else for the fat to go, so it floats up to my face.

I knew it was time to get serious and do something. And since my gym was starting another round of Just Lose It, I decided to give it another go.

But as excited as I was to participate in the program again (well, maybe excited isn’t quite the right word), I also felt  a bit of dread. Not because I had to give up my beloved wine (okay, maybe a little because of that) or because of the hard work I was going to have to put in (okay, maybe a little because of that too), but because I felt like a bit of a failure. I mean, I succeeded in this program four years ago, and here I was again, three pounds heavier than when I started the first time.

Would everyone think I was a big loser (and not the right kind) for joining this program again?

As it turns out, it was quite the opposite. What I got was encouragement. High fives, and “way to goes” and “you look great.”

We all fall down. And when we do we have a choice: sit there in the dirt and cry about our fat face (as we’re stuffing it) or stand up, dust ourselves off, and cry about the wine we’re not drinking and the dark chocolate almonds with sea salt we’re not shoveling into our gullet because our mean trainer has given us a clean eating diet and making us do hard workouts six days a week.

Okay, that was a terrible analogy, but you know what I’m saying. The real failure is not falling down. It’s not getting back up.

So for six weeks…

I got up every morning at 5AM and did a seven minute workout that at first was really, really hard and by the end was (almost) easy.

I ate clean. (Bye bye wine, dark chocolate and break room goodies, and hello chicken, chicken, more chicken, vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and quinoa.)

I recorded every thing I ate and drank in a food journal. (Boy is that eye opening. If you’ve never kept a food journal, you should try it some time. You’d be amazed at how much mindless eating you do throughout the day. At least I was.)

I drank an ocean full of water. Daily.

I weight trained three days a week at 6AM (good morning!) with these awesome ladies under the guidance of our trainer, the mean, terrible, awful awesome Christy. (I do not think there was one workout that I did not whine at her. Or swear at her. Or both.)

Just-Lose-It-Workout-Program
The Iron Maidens (Yes, you are correct. We rock!)

I worked out three days a week on my own doing sadistic cardio routines created by the Just Lose It evil masterminds. (We were encouraged to do our cardio as a group, but our schedules never seemed to line up. Stupid jobs and kids.)

I went to multiple Happy Hours and only had club soda with a (teeny-tiny) splash of cranberry juice with a lime squeeze. (Make that Unhappy Hour.)

Also I stopped drinking wine. And eating chocolate. (Oh, I said that already? Sorry.)

It was terrible.

But also. It was amazing.

I felt great. (When I wasn’t achy and hungry.)

I slept great. (Turns out not drinking wine and being physically exhausted from grueling workouts helps you sleep. Who knew?)

And about half-way through, I started looking great.

In the end I lost 14.4 pounds, 6.9% body fat and 14.75 inches! (5 inches from my waist alone!!!) Even better than the first time. (Okay, okay, I had more to lose this time. But still.)

And did I mention that it was a contest? We competed as a team. (Sadly my awesome team, the Iron Maidens -great name, right?- were robbed and did not win.)

But we also competed as individuals and guess what? All that hard work, clean eating and whining about not drinking wine paid off, because I was the biggest loser of all. (Meaning, I was the winner!)

So, yes, I am a big loser. (Exactly the right kind.)

Just-Lose-It-After-Photo
Me, trying to recreate my Just Lose It post-final-weigh-in photo from 4 years ago. Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on with my hair, and I still have (more than) a bit of toning to do, but I’m still kind of rockin’ it.

 

 

 

My 2017 Emmy Red Carpet Review Because I’m So Qualified to Give Them

Okay, so I have to confess. I didn’t know the Emmy’s were on last night. It’s not that I forgot or that it slipped my mind. It just wasn’t on my radar. At all.

Sorry, but I’m very busy. Friday night I went see Hall and Oates/Tears for Fears in concert. Yes, it was awesome and you should be very (very) jealous.

Saturday morning I went to a 9AM yogaish/boot campish class at Malibu Winery. This guy was my instructor.

AdamVonRothfelder
Adam Von Rothfelder (I won’t tell if you google his name to see if he has any underwear model pictures. Hint: he does.)

Again, it’s okay if you’re a little jealous.

Saturday afternoon I got a much needed haircut and root touch up. Not that I’m mostly likely 100% gray or anything. (No need to be jealous about that.)

Saturday night Marley and I went to the Green Day concert at the Rose Bowl. You should be most jealous about that, because Oh. My. God. They were amazing. And Marley got us the total hook up when she snapchatted that she was there and a friend saw her post and messaged her that her brother was working the show and he hooked us up with floor passes. And if you’re wondering if being on the floor is really a lot better than being in the shit seats (almost) all the way at the top, the answer is YES!

And then Sunday, I completed the fabulousness by doing laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning my room. (#livingthedream) Also, I saw my mom and step-dad who just got home from a three month vacation. That, of course, was so nice.

See. I’ve been busy.

So at 8:15 on Sunday evening when we had just sat down to watch our DVR’d America’s Got Talent semi-finals and I envisioned myself falling asleep on the couch 30 minutes later, Marley got a text from my friend Laurel asking if she could babysit later in the week and was she going to be snarking on the Emmy’s with me tonight.

We missed the Red Carpet! We missed the beginning of the show. And I was so tired. I came this close to saying, “Screw it,” and just not doing it this year. But we do this for you, not for us, so we decided to rally. Marley sat next to me on the couch while we simultaneously watched the show and scanned the internet for Red Carpet pictures.

So I present to you our (Unplanned-Oh-Shit-Totally-Last-Minute) 2017 Emmy Red Carpet Review:

The Nope

Ajiona Alexus

emmys-2017-red-carpet-ajiona-alexus

 

Marley: No. It looks like she’s wearing a diaper, the way that thing V’s and it looks like the designer didn’t have enough of the same fabric, so just used whatever he had and it was the first time he used a sewing machine.

Me: She is stunning, but there is just way too much going on there. It looks like a Project Runway designer tried way too hard to be cutting edge. Maybe without the weird train thing. But even then, Marley is right about the whole diaper, V thing.

Zoe Kravitz

emmys-2017-red-carpet-zoe kravitz

 

Zoe Kravitz made a lot of people’s Best Dressed list. Not ours.

Marley: That dress looks like it was made with Dollar Store pom poms mixed with piñata.

Sarah Paulson

emmys-2017-red-carpet-sarah-paulson

Marley: Oh no! She looks like a burrito.

Me: a burrito?

Marley: Yeah, you know, wrapped up in tin foil, to go. Wait, that was Sarah Paulson? Oh no. I love her. Sweetie, no!

Me: Also, what’s with the hair? Sorry, Sarah, Marley and I are in agreeance. We love you, but your Emmy look a two thumbs down, no!

Tracee Ellis Ross

emmys-2017-red-carpet-tracce-ellis-ross

Marley: That dress is terrible. Disco ball gone wrong.

Me: I think she and Sarah Paulson share the same terrible designer.

Jane Fonda

emmys-2017-red-carpet-jane-fonda

I am very conflicted because I love Jane Fonda – she looks great and has obviously made a deal with the devil, but the Barbie pink color and sorority-girl pony tail are not working for me.

Mandy Moore

emmys-2017-red-carpet-mandy moore

Marley: She looks like she’s wearing a Double Stuffed Oreo.

Samantha Bee

emmys-2017-red-carpet-samantha-bee

Marley: Ugh. No.

Me: I love Samantha Bee, but I’ve got to give her dress an F. (Sorry, Sam!)

Anna Chlumsky

emmys-2017-red-carpet-anna-chlumsky

Marley: The way the red carpet reflect in her dress looks like Hurricane Irma, you know, the eye of the storm.

Me: Reflection or not, I call her disco ball dress a no.

The Men

Milo Ventimiglia

emmys-2017-red-carpet-milo-ventimiglia

Marley: At least he doesn’t have the pornstache.

Me: I think he looks dreamy.

Donald Glover

emmys-2017-red-carpet-donald-glover
Stephen Glover and Donald Glover

Marley: See, Donald Glover looks. He’s always stylish. He always looks nice. I just love him. But he’s quitting rapping and that makes me sad. 

Rupaul

emmys-2017-red-carpet-rupaul

Marley: It looks great because it’s RuPaul and everything looks good on RuPaul. On anyone else it would be hideous, but RuPaul is a god.

Jason Bateman

jason bateman

I have searched the internet high and low for a picture of Jason Bateman on the Red Carpet last night, but cannot find any. This is obviously a crime against humanity because he looked yummy.

Marley: Oh god, Mom. Do not call people yummy. It’s disgusting.

Anyway, please enjoy this picture of Jason and his beautiful wife Amanda Anka from the 2013 Emmy Red Carpet. He basically looked the same: beautiful.

The We’re Not Sure

Reece Witherspoon

emmys-2017-red-carpet-reece witherspoon

Marley: I think she looks great, but I don’t like it.

Me: I love it and the color is spectacular, but it looks a little too casual for me. Fabulous, but casual.

Issa Rae

emmys-2017-red-carpet-issa-rae

Her dress was gorgeous. Well it would have been if it didn’t have those weird unnecessary asymmetrical sleeves.

Marley: I don’t like that weird sleeve and I don’t support it. They just seem wrong.

 

Jessica Biel

emmys-2017-red-carpet-jessica-biel

She looks gorgeous – the boppit side ponytail totally works for her. The more I look at the dress, the more I like it, but I still don’t know – depending on the angle it goes from gorgeous to weird. Marley says no, but without any snarky commentary. She’s making a lot of Best Dressed lists, but also some Worst Dressed lists. I’ll ask you, what do you think?

The Yes!

Michelle Pfeiffer

emmys-2017-red-carpet-michelle-pfeiffer

Talk about deal with the devil! I think Michelle Pfieffer might just be the most beautiful woman in the world. This dress is stunning and so is she.

Thandie Newton

emmys-2017-red-carpet-thandie-newton

Marley: That’s a pretty dress. It looks like a prom dress, but it’s pretty.

Me: She looks like a princess. I love the simplicity. Gorgeous.

 

 

Kate McKinnon

emmys-2017-kate-mckinnon

Marley:  I love it because I love her and she’s good.

Me: I love it too. Classy and simple, yet fabulous.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

emmys-2017-red-carpet-julia-louis-dreyfus

Marley: Yeah. Um, I know she’s great, but it looks like she has a centerpiece from a wedding table across her dress.

Marley is right about Julia Louis Dreyfus being great. She is 100% wrong about her dress. It’s fabulous. And she looked amazing.

Laura Dern

emmys-2017-red-carpet-laura-dern

Marley: Part of it looks like a disco ball and is poorly put together. The bottom look like sad cheerleader pom poms. Not the nice ones, but the ninety nine cent store ones. what is with iall the pom pom dresses this year? Yikes!

Again, my darling daughter is very misguided. I love this dress, including the (not sad) pom poms.

Nicole Kidman

emmys-2017-red-carpet-nicole-kidman

I saved my favorite dress for last. Just like this year at the Oscars, Nicole has moved from my Worst Dressed List to my Best Dressed List. I freaking love this dress. (In fact, I think it would look good on me.)

Marley: Eh. I don’t like the diamond part. (Marley is 1000% wrong.)

So there it is – My and Marley’s 2017 Emmy Red Carpet Review. Oh, and if you want to see more of Marley and her fashion advice, check out this Buzzfeed video where she helps give one of the Try Guys a makeover. (Yes, my daughter in a Buzzfeed video – so cool!)

 

And as always, I love your comments. What did we get right (everything), what did we get wrong (nothing), and what did we miss?

 

Most photos were taken from here, some from here, and the one of Adam Von Rothfelder here.