He’s dead and I’m not over it.

chinatown and pelican hill 008I’m in the second year of my husband’s death. I have had the memorial service. I have received all the condolences and prayers of the first year. I have his ashes in a box in his office. I have tattooed his handwriting on my wrist. I have answered the question “how are you” a million times. My kids have had grief counseling and I have read one million books to help with the grieving process.

Your life goes on and it should.

My life goes on and it should.

But what you need to know..is that I will never get over it. Every day at some point, something happens that makes me miss him.

Sometimes it’s that moment in the morning when I realize that the kids won’t ever see us embracing in front of the coffee machine again.  (Yes I said embrace! Just go with it!) I was always cognizant of that moment. We were showing the kids that no matter what happens in the day, we were a team. We showed affection. We showed a partnership. I was always proud of that hug in the kitchen. I knew the kids were watching.  I hope they remember it. That hug is important.

Sometimes that moment of missing comes when the boys are fighting and I am at my wits end. I want to hear his voice cutting through the air telling them to “shut it down.” They listen to him. Maybe because they are scared of the hand on the back of neck that grabs hold and guides them up to their rooms. lol My hand doesn’t have that power.

And of course….I miss him during math homework. That’s a given!!

I know when they learn to drive, when they go on their first date, when they graduate, get married, have a baby…..I will feel his absence.

And I am a lucky one.

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I was loved by him for almost 27 years.

My kids have many memories of him.

I believe he is around. I am aware of his signs. And yet I will still miss him.

You guys……his clothes are still in our closet. I know some people think that is weird. But I have shared a closet with him since I was 19 (don’t tell my mom.)  It’s comforting to me to sit in there surrounded by his trendy jeans and beat up shoes. He had an LA homeless kind of style. lol

Since I’m spilling secrets, I’ll go ahead and tell you that his sandals are still in the corner of his office as if at any minute he will slide into them to go out on his porch and sneak a smoke. I hated those sandals. And the secret smoking. And yet they bring me comfort now.

A year seems like a long time and yet a split second all at once. You know what I mean. Doesn’t high school seem like yesterday? Hate to tell you, but it was more than a year ago. (don’t ask me how much more…that’s rude!)

So when you ask me how I’m doing…I’m ok. But it’s different. There’s a heaviness in me that you may never notice. I don’t really want you to.  But I need you to know that I will never be over it.

You can always ask me about him.

I never want to stop saying his name. You won’t be reminding me of something I’d forgotten. You won’t be making me sad.

I am sad.

With great love comes great loss. 

But I choose to focus on the love. I choose to sit in gratitude. What an amazing gift I was given.

I know how to love greatly! And I know I will again! That is a gift.

Life is not supposed to be easy. We came from easy.

We will go back to easy.

Life is meant to teach us…and most of the lessons come from adversity.  I embrace the lessons but it doesn’t mean I get over the loss.

You know what I just realized? I don’t want to get over it. I never want to get over it.

I grow because of it.

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Thanks for listening. It helps.

xoxo

 

The last real day….

This week it will be a year since Hunter died. On October 1st he went into the hospital and October 5th he died.

I don’t want to commemorate his death. Why would I want to give any focus to the worst week of my life? That’s not how he wants to be remembered anyway. I’d rather focus on his life. His birthday. Our anniversary.

And today.

September 30th. This was the last real day Hunter had. A year ago tonight, sleep apnea would damage his brain and he wouldn’t recover. But let’s not think about that. Let’s focus on the day.

Most weekend afternoons after running kids all over town to different activities, Hunter would be in his office watching football, paying bills, reading. I would be running around the rest of the house, yelling at kids, making lists, pretending to get organized for the week ahead but really just procrastinating on social media. We’d catch glimpses of each other but no real connection. Until the weekly budget talk…which never ended well for me. Then we’d give each other a quick peck on the lips and I’d go upstairs for the night while Hunter binge watched some  20 part documentary on quantum physics.  A typical day without a moment of true awareness of each other. Or what we mean to each other.

But last year was different. We went to the beer festival!  We were out of our routine and out of the house. We held hands. We talked about life. We said I love you a lot. We kissed more.

What a blessing that on the very last real day of Hunter’s life, we were a couple. We loved. We connected.  September 30th will always be a reminder to me that life is short and that daily connection is important.

I was lucky. Not everyone gets a beer festival on the last real day of their loved one’s life. If I hadn’t had it, then we more than likely would have had a typical weekend of passing each other in the kitchen. No hand holding. No kisses. No intentional connection.

So on this day, September 30th, and every day after, I want to encourage you to take a moment to connect with your person. An intentional connection. It doesn’t have to be an afternoon at the beer festival. It can be 15 minutes of coffee, or even 2 minutes of really seeing each other and saying I appreciate you.

I hope you can go for longer than that though.

And I hope you hold hands.

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It’s summer! Now what?(Plan B activities in Los Angeles)

We’ve just begun our summer break and I am already googling, “Things to do with Kids in Los Angeles.” This is a search I make anytime I’m with the kids for more than 24 hours. I told myself I wasn’t going to overschedule them. I told myself I don’t need a bunch of overpriced summer camps to entertain my kids; they can figure it out themselves. But after several full days of online gaming and wine thirty starting earlier and earlier, I realize I may have a problem on my hands. So I’ve got to have a Plan B.

Lucky for you, my problem is your gain! Take a look at some of the Plan B’s. This is a list of the not so obvious things you can do around Los Angeles. Some I have done, some my friends have done, and some need to be done by someone soon. Feel free to add your own suggestions or reviews in the comments!

  • The Skyspace and Sky Slide in DTLA. This just opened! It’s got killer views of the city and a glass slide that takes you from the 70th to the 69th floor on the outside of the building! 1000 feet in the air! You read that right. Tips: Splurge for the VIP Sky Slide combo ticket so you bypass lines! Check it out!
  • LACMA Friday jazz nights! It’s free! Grab a blanket, a cooler, and let the kids run free. The museum is free after 5 for Los Angeles residents on this nights. Here’s the lineup. Fridays from April to November.
  • Surf lessons! Yes you can go to the beach and not surf, but why not shake it up a bit and hang ten with some rad instructors. (That is surf lingo.)  Most recently we went with Go Surf. 2 instructors for 3 kids. Other friends have suggested LA Surf and Swim,  MalibuMakos, and Santa Monica Surf School.

boys beach

  • IFly! Ever wanted to skydive but that whole falling out of an airplane thing scared you off? IFly has you covered. Skydiving experience without the worry of falling to your death. It’s located in Universal City Walk which is an event all on it’s own.
  • Museum of Death. I don’t like museums. And truth be told I’m a big scaredy cat, so this might not be good for me, but finding things to entertain the older kids can be difficult. If you think they can handle it, why not go check out death up close and personal? Museum of Death.
  • The Museum of Jurassic Technology. Speaking of museums, this is not one. It is, but it isn’t. I was told that it was actually something for a movie, but then someone else said it was an art installation, but then someone else said ….you get the picture. It’s intriguing and there’s a Russian tea room. Something to think about….or is it? Museum of Jurassic Technology.
  • Grand Central Market food booths. In Downtown LA there is a national caliber eating experience. With booths like EggSlut, Sticky Rice, and Horse Thief BBQ there is something for everyone!  It’s an adventure in eating!Market
  • Chinatown Summer Nights. Every 3rd Sunday of the summer months, Chinatown opens up to bring you food trucks, food and cultural demonstrations, and hands on activities. Some have been known to leave with a turtle or two. Click here to get the 411.
  • Watts Towers. Take a tour of the artwork and get a bit of history and cultural in South Central. Definitely take the guided tour.
  • Santa Monica Trapeze School. Everyone goes to the pier for the amusement park and beach. Why not do something different? Fly through the air with the greatest of ease.  I took my 16 year old nephew and even he had blast. I honestly recommend this for the whole family. It’s a blast. Make reservations, the classes fill up! catch me
  • Horseback Riding. One day a few summers ago, I asked my kids what they would like to do for the day….for some reason, horseback riding was the answer.  I took them to Griffith Park. There are two options for you. For little kids there are pony rides. It’s an enclosed pen and the horses will walk or trot. My kids loved it when they were little. Pony Rides.  For older riders you can take a guided trail ride with Griffith Park Horse Rentals. INFO AND RESERVATIONS:(818) 840-8401 Another option for horseback riding is Sunset Ranch.
  • Movie nights at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I didn’t realize that there were kid friendly movie options here, but it seems they do offer some. You can bring a picnic and beer/wine. A DJ spins music before and after the movie!  Check out the lineup here.
  • Greystone Mansion. This is a place to come and “stroll.” You can pretend it’s your lavish estate and you are walking the grounds, sitting on benches and admiring the gardens and fountains. Kids have lots of space to run off their summer energy. If the walls of the mansion could talk, you’d hear a tale of wealth and murder, but for now, you can only peek in the windows. The mansion itself is closed unless you are attending a special event. Here is the current calendar of eventsGuided tours are suspended for now, but are supposed to resume in December 2016.  Yay!
  • Escape Rooms! A great family bonding activity. You get locked in a room and have a limited amount of time to solve the clues, get the key and escape the room! A group of us did Trapped in a Room with a Zombie which was super fun, but not really best for kids. A few options for the younger crowd: 6 escape rooms for kids.

LOS ANGELES ADJACENT 😉

Here are a few options within 45-60 minutes outside of LA.

  • Royce’s Arcade Warehouse. You guys, they have free game day on Saturdays 10-3. This place rents and repairs old school video games and pinball machines. PacMan, Frogger, Donkey Kong! If it’s working and on the floor, it’s free! You do have to drive to Chatsworth, but who cares!? Check it out! 
  • Adventure Playground! This is in Huntington Beach, but man is it cool! Forget swing sets and slides, this place has do it yourself treehouses, wooden rafts, and a mudslide. A real outdoor play area for kids. Bring a change of clothes and shoes because your kids will get muddy! $3 entry fee for kids 16 and younger. adventure

 

  • Malibu Wine Safari. Yes a safari with wine! I want to do this with my girlfriends, but since we are talking about kid stuff, they have a Family Tour during the week that still involves wine but serves lemonade to the kids. Wine pairings and wild animals! what could go wrong! Here’s the info!
  • Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. This is a fun place to go have lunch in Malibu and then hang by the beach. They rent beach chairs, umbrellas etc and have tasty cocktails! If you really want to do it up, you can rent a beach terrace for the day! Paradise Cove.

WANT MORE IDEAS?

Check out these websites for current events and activities around Los Angeles.

We Like LA

Red Tricycle

 

Ladies Who Lunch.

lunch ladies

The first rule of Ladies Who Lunch is you don’t talk about Ladies Who Lunch.

And if by chance you forget this rule, then don’t forget Rule Number Two:

If you fess up to lunching, always include a long list of all the errands you ran, tasks you completed, laundry you folded, etc. etc. before said lunch. It lessens the guilt.

Well guess what? Forget the rules. We don’t need them! I’m going to take away any guilt you may have for lunching, brunching, or cocktailing. It’s not lunch, ladies. It’s a business meeting. It’s a strategy session. A support group. It’s freaking therapy!

meeting in the ladies room

Think about it.

We are a company of women. We come together as moms, wives, friends and colleagues. Our business is family and these lunches are crucial to our work development. If you aren’t lunching(or brunching or cocktailing,) then you aren’t reaching your full potential!

These powwows empower us. They reboot our focus, inspire and energize us. The discussions we have at these lunches develop work and leadership skills. They are morale boosting. We solve problems, strategize and advise our colleagues. Damn! What are we waiting for?

Gather up those friends! Make a reservation! Plan a lunch in the park or drinks on the veranda (if you have a veranda, can I come?)  You owe it to your family! You owe it to yourself!

Let’s start lunching, ladies!

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The predictable New Year’s Eve post!

I hate being predictable.

But inevitably, the last day of the year makes people want to share things.  They want to tell the world what they will carry into this new and untainted 2016.  They want to give uplifting advice on how to start the new year right.

It also makes people want to party.

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Dreams of ringing in the new year while having the time of your life! But it usually falls short. As Jennifer Lawrence so eloquently put it, every New Year’s Eve I just end up “drunk and disappointed.”

I had party plans, but then my party people bailed.

I’m fine with it.

This year, I won’t be fooled by the New Year’s Eve promises.

Now my plan is to ring in the new year with my husband and kids! Game night, pizza, and a ceremonious bonfire made up of our broken dreams and disappointments.What happened in 2015, stays in 2015.

aggie bonfire

Pizza and fire!  There’s no way this won’t be amazing!

This will become a new tradition! Ain’t no party like a family party!

This night will bond us together. A perfect example for my children that starting the new year as a harmonious family is always the better choice! We will ring in the new year with love and laughter and a renewed sense of life’s endless possibilities!

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Or I end up drunk and disappointed.

I’ll keep you posted. 😉

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Forget the stress of planning a trip…..F-Stress and go for F-Scape!

Ever had this conversation before?

You: Let’s take a trip somewhere!

Husband: Sure.

You: Great! I want it to be fun and different and really showcase the city we choose.

Husband: Ok.

That’s it.

Were you expecting more? Me too. But that’s where it ends. It’s where it always ends. The idea of a trip sounds great, but the planning of the trip can be overwhelming!   That’s why when Luxury Travel Mom asked me to review the new F-Scapes packages from Fairmont and Cadillac, I was up for the challenge. They plan it all! All you have to do is pick the place….and pack your bag! And maybe pack your husband’s bag. I don’t know what your arrangement is. Anyway, go check out my review on  Luxury Travel Mom and stay awhile. She’s got lots of great travel ideas for families. xo

Fairmont Cadillac

They see me rollin’……

 

Fairmont Cadillac

 

There are 12 days til Christmas!

I have a lot to do. So much actually that when I realized I only had 12 more days til Christmas, I decided to get my butt in gear……and write a parody to the 12 days of Christmas. Because writing a song is way more fun than doing most of that other stuff. Yes, I am the queen of procrastination. You’re welcome. If you know the tune….sing along! 😉 Happy Holidays!

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There are 12 days til Christmas and I can barely breathe!

I don’t have a Christmas tree!

There are 12 days til Christmas and I can barely breathe~

-My cards need addressing

~And I don’t have a Christmas tree!

There are 12 days til Christmas and I can barely breathe~

-I’ve got to order presents

~My cards need addressing

~And I still don’t  have a tree!

There are 12 days til Christmas and  I can barely breathe~

-Buy teacher gifts

~I’ve got to order presents

~My cards need addressing

~And I still don’t have a tree!

There are 12 days til Christmas and  I can barely breathe~

~CREATE CHRISTMAS MAGIC

~ Buy teacher gifts

~I’ve got to order presents

~Someone print me labels

~And I may just get a fake tree.

There are 12 days til Christmas and I can barely breathe!

~ I need holiday sweaters,

~CREATE CHRISTMAS MAGIC

~Buy teacher gifts

~I’ve got to order presents

~Someone print me labels

~And it’s terrible I don’t have a tree.

There are 12 days til Christmas and I still can’t breathe!

~I forgot to adopt a family

~ Where’s a stupid sweater

~CREATE CHRISTMAS MAGIC!

~Buy teacher gifts

~I’ve got to order presents

~The cards will be new year’s

~And I may just get a fake tree.

There are 12 days til Christmas and I can barely breathe!

~The kids need to meet Santa

~ I forgot to adopt a family

~I despise Christmas sweaters

~THAT ELF FORGETS TO MOVE

~The teachers can have gift cards

~I’m screwed with the presents

~The cards will be for New Year’s

~And I’ll pay someone to deliver a tree.

There are 12 days til Christmas and I am hyperventilating!

~Order Christmas dinner

~The kids must meet santa

~ I forgot to adopt a family

~ Forget the sweater party

~ OH THAT CHRISTMAS MAGIC

~The teachers can have gift cards

~Argh the presents

~The cards will be for new years

~And I’ll get that tree if it kills me.

There are 12 days til Christmas~ my heads between my knees!

~Does Amazon do wrapping?

~Why am I hosting dinner?

~The Santa line’s a nightmare

~ I forgot to adopt a family

~We don’t wear sweaters in LA

~WHY’D I BUY THIS ELF?

~The teachers can have gift cards

~I’ve got to order presents

~Again with the cards

~and I really just need a Christmas tree.

There are 12 days til Christmas and I think I may pass out!

~Batteries aren’t included,

~Gifts can be in bags,

~I will just order precooked

~The kids can email Santa

~I feel bad about the family

~Enough with the sweaters

~WHERE’S MY CHRISTMAS MAGIC?

~Teachers like coffee

~Is it too late to order presents?

~No one is getting cards

~ But I’ll definitely get that damn tree.

There are 12 days til Christmas and my true love said to me:

~Just enjoy the meaning,

~Batteries can be purchased,

~Dinner will be fine,

~The kids should go see Santa,

~Give to Salvation Army,

~YOU HAVE CHRISTMAS MAGIC,

~Gift card for the teachers

~Amazon Prime will save you

~I’ll address the cards,

and let’s go get the Christmas tree!

Forget Stranger Danger- I’m scared of the Good Samaritans!

marge jail

The situation is out of control. Did you read the story about the mom who was arrested because her daughter was at the park alone? Cliff notes:

Mom works at McDonald’s. 9 year old kid sits at Mcdonald’s while mom works. Kid begs mom to go to the park nearby. Mom gives kid a cell phone. Kid goes to park. “Good Samaritan” sees kid alone and calls the cops. Mom gets arrested.  Kid goes into foster care. And they all live happily…wait, nope that’s not right.

Or what about the parents who were investigated for allowing their daughter to walk to the post office? These are just two examples out of many.

Are we so far removed from the days when kids left on their bikes in the morning and didn’t come home til the streetlamps came on that we call the cops on parents before knowing the full story?  Most of these stories are not about neglected children. The kids are well taken care of, given a cell phone and allowed to head to a neighborhood park for an hour or two.

Listen, I don’t know if I would trust my 9 yr old to go to the park alone, but not because of stranger danger. I would worry about the other people at the park….and the park itself. My 9 yr old is a bit mischievous.

kid on big wheel edit

I don’t know the kids in these stories. I don’t know the parents. I also don’t know the area in which they were “left.” All of those things are factors in how I would handle the situation. What I do know is that kids from the 70’s and 80’s were left to their own devices ALL DAY and we not only survived; we thrived.  We had street smarts. We gained self confidence and independence. We knew how to entertain ourselves.  And yes, we also all have a story or two about the “strange man down the street.”

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I worry that the kids today, my kids, are too supervised, too protected, and don’t get the opportunity to explore and use their instincts.  I’m trying to find a balance.  I don’t want fear to raise my kids. And now while I’m attempting to find that balance, I have to worry about police showing up at my door.

police edit

 Is it more dangerous today than when I was growing up?  It seems all the 24/7 “bad news” is having quite an impact on us but is the threat real? I don’t think so. I think now we are so afraid of the 10% chance that we forget to focus on the 90% chance that it won’t happen.

Like I said, I’m working on a balance. I’m going to squash that lump in my throat when I say yes, you can walk to the neighbor’s house without me watching you. I’m not going to sit out front when I agree to let the kids play in their own front yard. Hell, I may even get crazy and let them ride their bike around the block by themselves! Try not to judge me too harshly.

And if you happen to see my kid, alone but happy, please don’t call the cops. (Unless that cop comes to my house with his own boombox.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just the tip!

Let’s play a game. 😉 Why are you looking at me like that? Have you heard of it? Well, let me tell you how it works.

I will give you a tip and then you give me a tip. It will be fun! But it’s not a game you can play alone. So are you in? Come on…it’s just a tip. I will only love you more.

I’ll start and give you a few I’ve heard lately.

tips

1. Keep flossers in your car. Then when you are driving kids around town, you can pass them out and make them floss! (It also comes in handy when you had spinach for lunch!)

flosser

2. Kid always rolling out of bed? Line up a pool noodle with the edge of the bed and under the fitted sheet!

pool noodle

3. Want apples for your kid’s lunch, but hate the browning? Cut the apple and then put it back together with a rubberband!

apple

4. Crazy coughing at night? Put Vick’s Vapor Rub on their feet, cover with socks…. a little more on the chest and they are off to Dreamland… uninterrupted!

feet

5. Easily peel your banana! Find the end of the banana opposite from the stem. Pinch and twist. Then you can peel your banana and uh take a bite!

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Ok! It’s your turn! Leave a tip! Don’t be scared.

It’s just a tip.

Pretty Little Liars

I was awoken one recent Saturday morning by a 7 year old boy in tiny underwear.  “Mom,  I have an upset tummy. I saved it for you if you want to see.”  Not on the weekend buddy. Never on a weekend.

You may be asking “What the hell? Gross.” Let me explain. My kids lie. They lie to get out of going to school. They lie to get out of trouble. They lie for fun.  It’s a problem. So much so that I must have a “visual” if anyone is claiming to be sick.

Ferris Bueller's fake out

It’s been a problem since the kids were very young. When my daughter was 3, she bit herself and then blamed her 1 year old brother.  When my son was 5, he carved his name in my husband’s leather chair and said he didn’t. Hey, I said they were good liars, not geniuses.

hayden chair

The lies can be creative, detailed and unneccesary: “I brought a pet Lizard back from Mexico. I hid him in my backpack on the plane. His name is Fred and he likes to roam the house free.”

Or conniving: “Mom, I just found some extra Christmas money! (It’s July) So I’m going to buy some apps. It’s my money, so it’s my choice.”

Is this a phase? Am I kidding myself thinking they will grow out of this? Does a phase last 3,4,6 years?   Will my kids become con artists?  A dirty rotten scoundrel?  Either boy could play a great Ruprecht.

dirty rotten scoundrel

Time will tell. I guess for now, I will  insist on “visuals” when sick, require 2 forms of proof when hearing any story and ask very specific questions regarding showers: Did you wash your hair? Your armpits? Did actual soap touch your skin?

Maybe they will channel all that creativity into something profitable…and honest. In the words of Justin Bieber…(yes I see the irony) NEVER SAY NEVER.

never say never

Who else has pretty little liars?

Please tell me I’m not the only one!