Posted in The Happy

Tire Swing

We drive over the gravel as the rocks and dirt kick up behind the car. We pull alongside a minivan and turn off the ignition. The kids hop out of the car before we can say, “Wait!” We hold hands as we head pass the little shack on the left with the organic honey and knick knacks to buy. I blink to get the dirt out of my eyes as the spores attack from every angle. We head up to the right towards a makeshift square made up of bales of hay with a Peanuts flag waving from the top. We stop at the tree right before and see the kids waiting to be pushed on the tire swings. The tree branches hang over to give shelter from the dark sky and full moon, the only real light. The kids laugh and scream as they fly through the air on the tire that used to be too high for them and now they drag their feet when they come back towards the tree. I breathe in the air, thinking I can smell the baby Christmas trees that will be for sale in less than eight weeks. When the kids have been given equal time on the tires with the promise that we will come back for one more push before we leave, we head over to the pumpkin patch. Twinkling lights light the way as we check out the orange and white pumpkins that have been picked up, put down, dropped, and deposited in one of the wheelbarrows scattered throughout. Once we decide on a couple, their dad goes to have them weighed while I take the kids on a hay ride. We cough and sneeze but still laugh as we circle the farm in the darkness.

Scarlet Tire Swing

Ever since we moved back to the OC last year, I have been trying to make the kids as comfortable as possible and help them realize that making them leave everything they knew was a good thing. Taking them to new places, encouraging them to find new friends, and hopefully establishing new traditions. We have been taking the kids to multiple pumpkin patches since they were babies. But their favorite was Wickerd Farm. It has all the caveats that other pumpkin patches have plus the beloved tire swing. So I am making a list of places to take the kids this fall so we can make some new memories.

Wesley Tire Swing

OC Children’s Book Festival

Curls loves her books and what better way to encourage that with a book festival geared specifically towards her and her brother. On 9/30 they will have 125+ authors and illustrators plus book sellers and other vendors.

Annual Sandcastle Contest

Since we are lucky enough to live close to the beach and the weather will continue to be warm until November, the Corona Del Mar sandcastle contest on 10/7 will be fun to check out.

Disneyland’s Halloween Party/Knott’s Spooky Farm

The Disneyland Halloween party is an event we have been going to for years. The kids love wearing their costumes, seeing others dressed up, trick or treating throughout the park, and riding Haunted Mansion decked out a la Nightmare before Christmas. They close the park in the early evening to regular guests which helps with the crowds and also put on a fireworks show narrated by Jack Skellington with Disney villains making an appearance. Knott’s Spooky Farm is not as done to the nines as Disneyland but seeing the Peanuts gang in costume is fun.

Irvine Park Railroad

Irvine Park Railroad has paddle boats, a train, a hiking trail, and a pumpkin patch during the fall. They even do a weigh in for large pumpkins. Now we just need to find out if they have a tire swing….

Do you go to a pumpkin patch before Halloween? Or do you buy your pumpkins from the store?

Tire Swing

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in California Livin', Good Things

The OC, Part Deux

The country is moving one step closer every day to becoming Gilead. My rage is leaving me exhausted and sad. I feel like I have been shouting from a cliff since November 2016 and only my echo is answering me. But we only have 7 days until the last day of school. The holiday weekend is coming up. And this past weekend my family and I enjoyed OC Market Night and the Cuban restaurant Habana. It was fun, relaxing, and delicious. I don’t see our country turning back in the right direction any time soon so I hope we all have little things that can keep us moving forward.

Friday at OC Market Night

When you know it’s going to be a good night

img_9075

Taste the Rainbow 

img_9106

Ferris Wheel was a Hoot (As in a hoot where it goes for too long and you want to vomit)

img_9110

img_9136img_9149

Free candy and props so we would advertise for them (It worked)

img_9182

Sunday Brunch at Habana:

Next door to our favorite macarons (anybody else want an Airstream because of I Love Lucy??)

img_9222

Wilson boys (and lady)

img_9224

You best believe I went back for seconds (and thirds)

img_9242

Civilized conversation 

Family

img_9269

After brunch conversations and snuggles with Totoro 

Obligatory Doggo Pic: Met her Highness Astro while walking around The Lab

img_9322

My bunny 

Always

img_9332

And one more from my soapbox:

img_9351

PLEASE VOTE!!

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in California Livin'

Birthday Boy

You hopped unseen through the grass when we came to pick you up. We could see the rustle of the blades with your movement and a blur of black and white. When you landed at the destination of our feet I smiled through tears. Your tiny three pound body showcased the heart on your booty, which was the sign I needed when we picked you six weeks before.

We brought you home and put you in a giant crate to separate you from your sister, Casey the Lab. You cried until we let you out. You sniffed Casey, she sniffed you, and that was the end of it. She potty trained you after many months of destroyed pee pee pads. She let you boss her around. You were great snuggle buddies. When you chewed through the carpet, Casey didn’t rat you out. When you chewed through the carpet pad down to the concrete, she kept quiet. You finally stopped when we gave you tennis balls to chase. You play with them to this day.

When your first human sibling arrived, you sat in front of her bouncer and stood guard. You were equally protective when her brother came home.

You poop when you’re nervous, which basically means you smell up the vet’s waiting room at every visit. You like to dig into purses if you can smell goodies, like the Chicken McNuggets out of your grandma’s handbag or the chocolate she bought for your human siblings (and then refuse to throw up).

img_6326-1

When your sister Casey passed away we knew you would need a new companion. We took you to the animal shelter so we could introduce you to one. As soon as Duke Nutella came into the greeting area you pushed a tennis ball to him with your nose. You were unfazed when he barked at you.

These days the world is your ice cream where you lick anything and everything. You like your almost daily walks even if curbs are an obstacle. You follow Duke everywhere he goes. He has unwillingly become your seeing eye dog as you have cataracts. You still like to snuggle, the perfect Oreo spoon.

You bark at random with short and loud yaps as if to say, “I’m still here world and I am not going anywhere!(Also “Get off my lawn!”)” You are absolutely right Boopers, Boop-A-Doop, Oscar Bugs, and Oscar Meyer Wiener. Happy 15th birthday Old Man.

img_6319

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in California Livin'

You’re Alright Charlie Brown, Part II

Disneyland announced this week that they are raising their prices again. And as much as my kids and I love the big mouse, one trip a year is about all we can do. But now that we are full fledged OC residents, we get to take even more advantage of our Knotts Berry Farm passes.

Five years ago we made the harder-than-it-should-have-been decision to not renew our Disneyland passes and switched to Knotts. Curls was five and Red was three. Camp Snoopy was their YouTube before they found YouTube. These days the Snoopy Bounce House is gone and Lucy’s Tugboat is now Rapid River Run. Instead of strollers and hand holding, they now run from ride to ride. Their favorites are Jaguar, WaveSwinger, and the Log Ride. The annual passes are still affordable, including both regular and water park (no blackout dates) and parking. We now have two souvenir bottles instead of one. The kids still cheer when we suggest going. On Super Bowl Sunday we drove the 15 minutes from our house to the park off of Beach, hoping for small crowds due to the big game. The crowds were bigger than we expected but the park was celebrating the Peanuts gang:

They had Instagram worthy backdrops:

Meet and greets with Pigpen, Peppermint Patty and Schroeder:

Pure happiness:

I need all of these as gifs:

Smooches 😘:

img_5915

Till next time:

img_5925

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in California Livin', The OC, Word Therapy

Sunday

There were many a Saturday morning during my childhood where I would wake to the sweet smell of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls with frosting (if I was lucky I would get the packet with the leftover goodness). Then my mom would take my sister and I to the nearby town of Colton to visit the auction, aka the swap meet. We would get treats to eat and I would always leave with something Betty Boop or Gumby and Pokey.

This past Sunday Hubby and I took Curls and Red to the Orange County swap meet. It is located near the beach and this particular winter day it was in the mid 80s. We walked around for maybe 30 minutes before the fairground food smells lured us to their dungeon. And as always it was to the Mexican food:

Is there any better reason to live in California than tacos?

img_5384

Red eating a jalapeno in 5 parts

 

Makes the smart choice and switches to nachos

img_5386

I love this person the most

img_5393

Fun with mirrors

Getting the lay of the land

My kids asking for everything at the Swap Meet

Novelty cards from the 80s (no kids were harmed by eating the 30 year old gum)

img_5444

Kona Ice and Brain Freeze

img_5463

Swap Meet Offerings

 

Smiles and parkour

 

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in The OC

Friday Favorite: Fullerton in Photos

There is something about living in a place where you feel content and at peace. That place for me is Fullerton. The diversity of people, architecture, and entertainment are all front and center in this small town in the OC. I am Dorothy and Fullerton is my Kansas (no ruby shoes required).

There are the amazing houses:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The Fox Theatre was built in 1925. One of my favorite memories with my husband is watching The Beatles’ A Hard Days Night in the parking lot of the Fox on a summer night. Restoration has been going on for years and I truly hope it gets finished so my kids may enjoy it.

Local businesses:

Angelo’s & Vinci’s Ristorante

Angelo and Vincis

McClain’s Coffeehouse

Coffee Shop

Carl’s Liquor (Don’t ever change Carl)

Carls

Mum’s the Word (love, love, love this name for a flower shop!)

Mums the Word

And my go to, the OG of fast food that has never let me down, and now I can walk to it…

Del Taco.jpg

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in Calming the Voices, Word Therapy

Anxiety, Panic, and Pessimism: Take A Seat

Back at home.  A house, while smaller, has character and a tranquil backyard (my kids are so tired of hearing about the character of Fullerton houses but I am in serious architectural hog heaven).  There are so many places we want to visit in the OC that I have to keep reminding myself that those places aren’t going anywhere and neither are we.  And for the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m not stressed about bills.  That is when the voices start to close in and try to sabotage my brain.

I have had a good life.  I grew up in a nice home, have loving parents, and was never really told no.  In adulthood I met the love of my life and we have two great kids.  But I also grew up feeling less than, was bullied relentlessly, and never felt pretty.  My husband and I have survived hard times but they have left their mark.  They put me in the lowest place I have ever been.  Those times made me stronger, weaker, and made me appreciate what I have.  But it also introduced me to my greatest fear: a feeling I never want to revisit.

These days I am the manager of our household, making sure everybody is taken care of and is getting what they need from their life.  That ranges from making sure hubby is getting the time to study calculus after work, to the kids having an after school activity to work out their energy, to Oscar getting his daily walks to stretch his old legs.  I exercise, write, clean, and read.  I of course always want more time to write but how can I complain?  I know how lucky I am.

Then I start to hear, “This can’t last.  Happiness doesn’t stay.  The happier you get, the harder you will have to fall.  Before Prozac those thoughts would make me believe I was alone in this feeling.  I now know that isn’t true.  But Prozac hasn’t chased away the “happiness is fleeting” thoughts.

I’ve never considered trying to calm or manage those destructive thoughts before.  Being rational wasn’t an option and all I did was let the panic take over.  I know I can only control so much and the rest is life telling me who is in charge.  Deep breaths, being responsible, and continuing to work hard is my new way of combating the negativity.  And try not to be so hard on myself because I have recently learned a lesson: Being nice to myself is not only good for me, it is also good for the ones I love.  Such a hard lesson to learn and continue to believe.  I feel like I have to train my brain like writing it on a chalkboard over and over again.

Posted in Word Therapy

Coming Home

It has been two weeks since we have moved back to the OC and we have almost found our groove.  The kids are a little less mad at us today for taking them from their friends and school, hubby is tackling his new job, and I am starting to find bits and pieces of my sanity around the house.  My brain has been on overdrive since we exited Chapman Avenue off the 57 freeway.  When I first arrived here in August of ’93, I was a hopeful 18 year old who couldn’t wait to start her freshman year as a theater arts major at Cal State Fullerton.  Today I am a 42 year old mother of two who is trying to define herself as a writer.  Memories of the former keep playing bumper cars with my present and I am trying to process it.

At 7 am my Iphone alarm goes off so I can get up and feed my pups.  Their tiny nails echo down the hall as the three of us walk outside to get their breakfast.  Within a few minutes I wake up Oscar and Duke’s human sister and brother to get ready for school.  At 815 am the kids and I head out the door to drop them off at school.  Once I greet Scarlet’s teacher at drop off I leave their school and head home.  Several CSUF students line the streets as they head to class on their longboards, scooters, or on foot.  They listen to music with their earbuds and backpacks secured.  I think of the 7 am Political Science class in the Ruby Gerontology Center that I should have known better to sign up for and barely managed to pass.

Once I am home and running shoes are on, I head out for a jog around the city.  I pass more students as I near the school and envy them.  I still have nightmares about missing classes and showing up on the day of a test.  But damn if I don’t miss learning and interacting with other students.  I can’t learn enough these days, as if I am trying to make up for the time I wasted back then.

When I run errands around the city I pass the Bank of America where I used to deposit my $6/hour job checks from Express.  I pass where Off Campus Pub used to be and I would spend my Thursday nights drinking, dancing with my girlfriends, and judging the shoes of all the males (My rule: Don’t wear your nasty kicks or flip flops if you plan on asking a girl for her number).  The apartment complex where I lived in no less than 3 apartments has been repainted gaudy fall colors (mustard, olive green, etc.) and houses a lot more students.

The Brea mall hasn’t changed much except that my favorite French restaurant is gone (I miss you chicken and garlic sandwich with bruschetta!) and I can’t eat a sun dried tomato bagel with a large ice blended coffee for breakfast from the Nordstrom Espresso bar like I used to.  The pet store where I would peer in the window and gush over the puppies on my break will now only be able to sell puppies from rescues and Wesley and I gush over the animals together.  It’s more fun to clothes shop for the kids then it is for me and watching their eyes light up when I buy them nitro candy makes me smile.

Every week I write up the dinner menu for the following week so I can make my grocery list.  In my twenties eating at home was unheard of and rolled tacos with guacamole and shredded cheese with a diet coke (oh the irony) from Alberto’s on Placentia Avenue was what’s for dinner.  These days it’s chicken, rice, and vegetables (otherwise known as “Yuck” according to my kids).

Weekends are spent going to the movies and dinner, laundry, and recouping from the week.  The bars of Newport Beach aren’t missed and neither are the feelings of inadequacy as I looked around/danced in the late 90s.

Do I miss the freedom of my youth?  Who doesn’t?  I wished I had finished my college degree sooner.  But today I feel a wholeness that comes with having a family that I adore and love spending time with.  Gray keeps trying to stage a coup on my dyed hair, the crow’s feet and wrinkles are a part of the landscape of my face and I suspect the waddle is coming:

I will continue to struggle with growing older and hopefully find peace with it.  But instead of obsessing about it today I will show my kids why the OC feels like home.  And maybe give the kids a tour of the Fullerton Arboretum that I used to break into at night with my dorm roommates…

 

Posted in California

California is My Happy Place

My blog is having an identity crisis. I like to write about movies, music, and what is going on in my life. That doesn’t make me much different from a lot of bloggers. So for awhile now I have been thinking about why I love the bloggers that I do. Kelle Hampton is a mom in Florida who has three children. One of them is beautiful Nella who has Down’s Syndrome. Kelle is hilarious, throws Pinterest worthy parties, and loves in a way that I envy. Kristen Howerton is an OC mom of four. Two of them are adopted, Jafta and Kembe. She doesn’t shy away from hard subjects like racial profiling and politics. And then there is Glennon Doyle Melton. Glennon resorts to kindness in her hardest moments. As somebody with social anxiety and an inherent mistrust of people, she has taught me that love always wins.

They say to write what you know and love. I love my family. I love being a California girl, even if my pale skin, freckles, and dark hair screams Midwest. My husband, kids, and I are a single income family so we are always watching our expenses. But we also like to go out and do things. We want to get on a plane in the future to places like Tokyo, New York, and somewhere tropical. Until then we paint California red every chance we get. We are about an hour outside of the OC and LA, and even closer to Palm Springs. We like to go to museums, concerts, amusement parks, plays, etc.  I will be taking you as my readers on our adventures while showing you what is worth visiting, what food is worth eating, and what events you shouldn’t miss. Look for my first post on Knott’s Berry Farm’s Soak City next week. Happy Hump Day!

Sweet Vibes