Finding Your Life

I so clearly remember a certain New Years Eve when I was much younger, probably around nineteen. It was close to midnight and I was at a party, feeling like I was about to burst out of my skin with unhappiness. I absolutely knew that where I was wasn't where I was supposed to be. I said my goodbyes and ran out of there, into the street, to my car, and just sat and sobbed.

I hadn't yet found my life.

Here I am, so many years later. It's 7:30, New Years Eve again. Sitting on the sofa, in my bathrobe and my reading glasses, with Kayla snoring beside me on the floor in front of the fireplace. Chloe is watching Good Luck Charlie on the ipad and Ron is upstairs with his computer. We had dinner out, and it was a little too noisy, and a little too crowded, and we waited quite a bit too long for our food.

Today, I pruned roses in the winter sun, Chloe and I took a walk to the playground and slid down the slides, I spread ten bags of bark that Ron was kind to fetch for me from Lowe's. I ate my leftover homemade garlic and potato soup with kale and goat cheese for lunch. I sipped an Island Girl martini with dinner and we toasted the New Year above the noise. The Christmas decorations are all stowed away, the mantle is clear and fresh. We are all here, safe and together.

Tonight we'll watch the ball drop, on the East Coast version, so that New Years arrives at 9:00. I'll hug my girl tight, and tuck her into bed just like any other night.

Here I sit, writing, with a small smile on my face. This life I found is the right one.


2012 Christmas Time Capsule

Once Halloween hits it's just dominoes falling until the year is over. And here we are, almost finished with 2012. We did a good job this year of spreading Christmas out. Hanukkah was early, we had several get togethers with friends over a few weeks time, we always do gifts on Christmas Eve and stockings on Christmas morning. And then, happily, all of us on vacation at the same time. Such a treat.

Just a little 2012 Christmas time capsule...

This year, Chloe decorated our mantle herself. Difficult for this wants-it-a-certain-way Mom, but she told me, "You might just love it." And I did.

We bought the kit Gingerbread House, but the graham cracker cottages Chloe created were more fun.

Old fashioned Elk Grove Christmas Parade. Hot chocolate, friends, camp chairs and plenty of girl scouts dressed up as packages and Christmas trees, complete with lights draped around them. And Santa in a hot rod.

A good friend's party, where Santa made a ukulele strumming appearance. And then proceeded to strip off half of his Santa Suit and heavily partake of the champagne mimosas.

Lots of happy kid faces. Love.

My mom always takes the best photos when Chloe is with her. I think this is the girl my mom thought I would be...chatty, brunette, snuggly. These two definitely share some identical genes.

My favorite picture of the season. This is how I think of my girl...snuggled up with me. She still fits perfectly.

It was a very American Girl Christmas. Julie and Mackenna both got new holiday outfits, we made them matching penguin emblazoned pjs, and Mackenna scored her snazzy red wheelchair. Life is good in doll land.

Christmas Eve presents. Followed closely by fondue. Gotta add in that seventies vibe kind of food to go with all the avocado green in our house.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. (Especially to worn out pets.)

Hope you had a wonderful holiday:)


A New Birdfeeder and A Very Fat Rat

My old birdfeeder, loved though it is, has drawn its last feathered feaster. A favorite gift, the bottom has just about rusted through. Ron got me this new beauty for Christmas and I finally filled it and hung it beside my daisy tree this morning.

Then I made some peppermint tea and waited at my kitchen table, watching through the window. Took awhile but the finches came first. They seemed pleased with the little perch, securely eating. They are happiness incarnate, those little flighty beings. Pretty soon one of the squirrels showed up...I have a couple of them, literally, as I've seen them consummate things in my tree. This feeder is supposedly squirrel proof but we'll see. They are tenacious.

Next, our newly resident rat. Just started seeing him a couple of days ago, and I keep a pretty good eye on the feeder so I think he's relocated here from somewhere else. Or just grew up super fast. Now, I'm not sure why a rat is so much different from a squirrel but we all know it is. This one must have be living off of the spilled bird feed because he is the healthiest, fattest, shiniest haired wild rat I have ever seen. He runs, okay, waddles, along the top fence boards and hides in the vines. He also climbs right directly up the pole that holds the feeder, but since the squirrel baffle is there, he can't get in. And yes, he's kind of cute in a rattish way. I am very much hoping that he stays outside and doesn't encounter the rat bait in our attic. I'm more than happy to host him in the yard, where he's part of the wild menagerie of garter snakes, voles, birds, squirrels and one old deaf dog, but he needs to know his place.

So, Very Fat Rat, please stay outside, where all you need to worry about are threats that you understand. Rat bait is a horribly nasty thing and it's best if you steer clear.


My Start 2013 Off Right, 30 Day Blogging Challenge

I am a big believer in New Years Resolutions.  They are a reset button for me, a time to take stock, a chance to begin again, fresh and new. Sometimes I'm relaxed about them, and other times determined and detailed. Usually they don't last for a tremendously long time, but it feels wonderful to get back on track, in a groove where I feel I belong.

This year, I'm feeling mighty ambitious. Maybe it's the time off work that has cleared space in my brain, maybe it's the full and gorgeous moon, maybe it's too many desserts. But whatever, I'll take it.

And just in case my list of ten things (each with subcategories) isn't enough, I made myself a spreadsheet. Yep, color coded in Excel and everything. Type A much?

One of the things I'm determined to do is get over the voice in my head that stops me from writing. The one that says, "You aren't good enough," and "Why should you write a blog when there are a million other people already doing the same thing?" And, "Really, who cares what you have to say about your simple little life." And then I google stats like "100,000 new blogs are created EACH DAY, just on Wordpress, as of 2011." Not helpful. It gets overwhelming if I think about it too much. And then I'm paralyzed and another day goes by and I don't write.

So, one of my resolutions is to post each day for thirty days. And not worry so much about WHAT I write about, or if it's good enough, or interesting enough, but just do it.

So, if you are one of my lovely readers, please bear with me. Feel free to read or not, and if it's ridiculous I apologize ahead of time. But maybe, just maybe, it will be freeing and will bring some fun things to the surface that really are worth sharing.

And if not, at least I can check that box on my pretty spreadsheet.

How do you feel about resolutions? Please do share.


San Francisco Getaway: Gorillas, Tory Burch Bags, and Reindeer

Each year, around Christmas, we take a couple of days and head to San Francisco to enjoy Union Square all decked out for the holidays, to warm up a bit, to see the puppies in the Macy's window, and to eat way too much delicious food. The last few times, we've gone as a family, but this year, it was just Ron and I. We desperately needed a little grown up time away, and it didn't disappoint.

Intercontinental Hotel - San Francisco - Christmas Tree

When we first started traveling together, eighteen years ago, we used to argue because I'd make comments like, "I'd love to come back here, alone, and walk around the cemetery." And then I'd be grumpy because I wasn't alone and couldn't just see what stories all those headstones told. Can't really blame the guy for getting a little annoyed with me.

Somewhere along these years, we figured out that what I really need is time built in for me to wander around, exploring, by myself. It doesn't need to be  a ton of time, but it's necessary. I set out with my bag over my shoulder, my comfy walking shoes on my feet, and feel eighteen again. Free, with the possibility of anything ahead of me. It's wonderful. In reality, I just walk the city streets, shop a bit, have a nice lunch, browse a bookstore, take some photos, people watch. But I return refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to be a couple again. It's one of the things I most appreciate, now, about Ron. That he understands. That he sends me off on my adventures with a smile and is there, ready to hear my stories, when I return. 

And I also so appreciate that we enjoy the same, simple, things. A new restaurant, a walk along the water, a good movie, happy dogs chasing things. That neither of us wants to be out late, that we both like a modern hotel and a good nap. It's easy to forget how well we really do get along in the day-to-day treadmill of home-school-work-home. Of Chloe, work, and everything else coming first, and our time together way down on the list. Date nights are fine, but going away for a couple of days, just two, adds up to much more.

So, San Francisco, you beautiful city you...

A beautiful walk around Fort Mason, and a few stairs...

Fort Mason - San Francisco

This beauty...

Fort Mason - San Francisco

Sailboats. The best part was the "Dock Dog on Duty" sign (didn't get photos, darn) and the Dock Dog himself, regally keeping guard, resting in the sun on the slats. Have to settle for a photo of the boats and fill in the red and white staffy with your imagination.

Sailboats - San Francisco - NowThisLife.com

The street vendors always remind me of my dad. He and his girlfriend would drop me and her three kids off to walk around the earring and art stalls while they hung out at the Buena Vista drinking Bloody Marys. I cannot even imagine parents doing that now...probably we should! The bar is still there on the same corner, but not too many vendors in that area. These happy faces live in Union Square instead.

Street Vendors - San Francisco

Neiman's tree. Simple this year, but definitely grand. Overheard some ladies bemoaning the fact that their daughters want bags that cost more than they spend on themselves. The saleswoman directed them to the "less expensive" Tory Burch section. Apparently one daughter has earned the nickname "fancypants." Wonder where she's learned that from?

Neiman Marcus - San Francisco - Christmas Tree

Have you seen the Neiman Marcus/Target collaboration? Kinda fun. Especially this bike...

Neiman Marcus - Target - Bike - NowThisLIfe.com

A beautiful afternoon at the zoo. Vixen made a surprise appearance.

San Francisco Zoo - Reindeer - NowThisLife.com

And so did Aslan.

San Francisco Zoo - Lion - NowThisLIfe.com

Velvety Floyd. Open house at the Giraffe barn at 3:45. Close up viewing of three beauties feasting on Acacia. Such gorgeousness.

San Francisco Zoo - Giraffe - Floyd - NowThisLife.com

From a cast of a late Silverback gorilla.

San Francisco Zoo - Gorilla Hand - NowThisLife.com

And here's the current king, Oscar, keeping vigilant watch. A line of people stood behind glass directly in front of him. They watched him watch them. A standoff.

San Francisco Zoo - Silverback Gorilla - Oscar

And just because I always have to take a photo of a flower, this unidentified lady.

San Francisco Zoo - Flower

And that's not even to mention the bridges and the painted ladies and the views and the sunshine. Here's to getaways with people you love..may there be one in your near future. And may it hold many happy moments.


Who doesn't love a paisley hippy Menorah?

The first night of Hanukkah at our house means the dinner table set in blue, white and silver, a little Chinese food, and then lighting our paisley painted hippy Menorah at sunset. Being that I, the not Jewish one, am the most interested in honoring the tradition, it's an invented sort of celebration. Chloe lights the candles and then we take turns telling a short something we are thankful for. It's a ritual I look forward to each year; one of my favorite parts of the holidays.

In my vision of how things should go, this always is a lovely, heartfelt time, with all three of us connected by a moment of gratitude. Celebrating the fact that the lighter days will come again, that the winter solstice is almost here, that the sun always comes out after a dark night.

In reality, there is often joking around and choruses of "You go first, I don't want to go first" and "I'm thankful for my toys." And by the eighth day we're all a bit tired of the whole thing and get pretty silly.

Tonight, some sweetness, a candle, family, and light. A little break from the everyday. And I do love that we have the most colorful Menorah I've seen. It always makes me smile.

And then, back to American Girl dolls, the Kings game, and laundry.

Happy Hannukah!

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