Taking Stock {October 2016}

I haven't blogged in so long that I was looking for a way to come back and not write an extremely long post about life. In the past I've always loved the Taking Stock posts because they give readers a look into what you are doing right now. What you are loving, living, and eating which is super important right? Here is my Taking Stock for October.

Anything and everything that is pumpkin and also gluten free. The Trader Joe’s pancake mix is amazing and smells like all your pumpkin spice dreams are coming true. It’s a must in this house, because you can very easily turn it into Pumpkin Spice Gluten Free Donuts! I know. Life changing.

Dinner. At least once a week. Hot dogs and tater tots count right? I mean I do have to turn on my oven and all.

Starbucks Iced Tea. I’m not supposed to have it because I’m supposed to stay away from caffeine, but once a week I treat myself. It’s so bad, but also so good.  

Munching: On this fantastic gluten free popcorn mix made with SkinnyPop popcorn. I used gluten free ingredients to make it gf friendly. It’s so easy to make: Buy one bag SkinnyPop popcorn in the original flavor, one bag candy corn, one bag white chocolate chips and one bag mini chocolate chips. Mix popcorn, 2 handfuls of mini chips and half a bag of candy corn together in a bowl. Melt the white chocolate chips and pour over mixture in the bowl. Stir to combine and pour out onto parchment or wax paper. When cool eat, or eat immediately! Add sprinkles if you want! Super yummy and easy to make!

I read Winter Storms, by Elin Hilderbrand, who is one of my favorite authors. It’s a story that is set during the holidays which I love and its also the last book in a trilogy which totally breaks my heart. I also finished In Twenty Years, by Allison Winn over the weekend. It was fantastic, especially if you are on the verge of forty. I loved it.

All the boots. All the scarves. All the skinny jeans. And the all the cold weather so I can wear all these things.

For skinny jeans that will fit a petite person who carries their weight in their mid section and also has a flat ass… For a friend. I’m asking for a friend.

To 90s alternative on Pandora. Always 90s alternative on Pandora. Also the Chili Peppers new one that was released over the summer.

Precious hours watching New Girl. Before October I had only watched a few episodes, but now, I’ve seen everything except the current season. I always knew I’d love the show, but I just didn’t realize how much. I haven’t laughed this hard in years, and I laugh so loud that I scare the kids. I’m pretty sure Nick Miller is my spirit animal!

That the Giants would have made it to the World Series. Totally bummed that this wasn’t our “even” year.

Cooler nights and mornings. That way I can fake some fall fashion before the temperature is back up to 80 degrees!

And counting down the days until our Disneyland Trip! I have been to the park almost twenty times, but never when it’s decked out for Christmas. I’m beyond excited.

That I changed my schedule to have Wednesdays off. It’s the day we have the most dance classes, so it just made sense.  

Wondering: How next Tuesday is NOVEMBER FIRST!

Loving: Running. I know, but don’t hate me. A few years ago I became one of those people who loves to run after a lifetime of hating it. I have a 5:30 am call time with some girlfriends and it’s so fun to go and gab with them, but even better I get to run the “bitch” out. That’s what my neighbor says, and I believe her. It totally helps!

Hoping: That I can finish my Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving weekend. Praying on this also.

Marveling: That another year has past, faster than the last.

Needing: Boots. My others are trashed.

Wearing: The amazing boyfriend cut shirts from Old Navy and Rockstar jeans, which I will admit, I hated Rockstars in the beginning. But they fit really well (except in the butt, they sag, a lot!) and the mid rise waist guarantees that my crack will not show at work. No one wants to see “old lady crack”.

Following: Dan Rather on Facebook. I’m a liberal, so I may be super biased, but I love what he posts. He brings a historical element to this election that I find fascinating.

Noticing: That I have missed blogging and writing so much, but also noticing that I don’t feel as guilty as I used to when I skip it.

Thinking: About the Christmas story that I’ve been writing for two years may need to see the light of day.

Pinning: Gorgeous things for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Also delicious things for both holidays.

Giggling: With my husband at night after the kids go to bed. A few nights ago it was at Revenge of the Nerds. Before that A League of Their Own. Most nights its memes on Instagram.

Feeling: Like I want time to slow down. My favorite time of year is the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have a feeling that they are going to fly by this year.

What are you taking stock of these days?

Better Things are on the way! {Mom Giveaway}

I've been talking up the new FX show Better Things for over a week. Thanks for FX, I have a new favorite show! Thursday nights at 10 pm are booked for this season, which says a lot since I'm a huge fan of How to Get Away with Murder, which is on at the same time! Serious choices are happening.

If you read my first Better Things post, then you know I love Sam and her gang, but last week's episode (episode two) introduced us to Sam's mom, Phil. How do I explain Phil? I can't, you have to see her in all her British accented glory. Don't miss a moment of Sam and her life as TVs best mother.

To celebrate Sam, and mothers everywhere, FX has sent me a gift basket to giveaway to one of my readers. What fabulous swag can you look forward to? Giveaway items include:

Ray-Ban Sunglasses
Leather Clutch for mom’s things
Emergency Beauty Kit
Hypoallergenic travel pillow
Ultra-Soft travel pillow protector
Essential Oils Blend Mini

Cool Blue Tooth Keyring and Ray Ban Sunnies in a ultra hip black leather clutch!
Super soft travel pillow!
Glamorous Ray Ban Sunnies in their signature case!
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog about your current guilty pleasure. Starbucks? Chocolate? Grey's Anatomy? Currently mine is Better Things... So tell me yours for one entry. For extra entries, visit my Facebook page, visit my Instagram feed, or SHARE THIS BLOG POST! When you do, tag me so I can count your entry. This giveaway will close MONDAY 9/25.

Have fun, and don't miss tonight's new episode of Better Things!

Embracing My Mess {Life Lately} September Sixteen


For weeks I have been trying to embrace my mess. To love and thrive in the chaos that is my life.

In my mind, there are so many things to say, to write, to share. I'm overwhelmed at where to start.

I'll start with summer and go from there. 

I spent the summer in organized chaos. A sweet symphony of being over scheduled and overjoyed. It was a balancing act, trying to stay on top of obligations while still maintaining some spontaneity. We spent the summer dancing, literally, with both girls at the studio. School ended and recitals and competitions began. Then a full schedule of summer classes. I worked in between being at the studio with the girls and being home, but only part time which makes me incredibly happy. Part time has finally allowed me to moonlight as a sometimes working mom, bringing home "light" bacon, just enough to fund our Target addiction. We swam at my mama's pool. Sometimes all day, sometimes all night. Fresno boiled and baked us in the hot sun. Our bodies tan and sun kissed. Our ears plugged with chlorinated water and our hair tangled and crunchy. It was beautiful and glorious and exactly the kind of summer I have always wanted to give my kids.

I spent late nights with my neighbors and friends. Taking and laughing and sharing meals. Watching the Olympics and cheering for team USA and committing ourselves to insuring that one of our kids will be an Olympian one day and then we can all go and cheer USA together. Ping Pong or Women's trampoline has top billing in this house. Who needs gymnastics?

The Hubbs and I spent the summer trying to keep up with the girls and each other. Sundays spent lazily. Sometimes, most times in bed, watching movies with bad words and napping, among other things. There were no designated date nights. Just easy, lazy, summer nights, enjoying our company, our surroundings, and our shared sense of humor. There were heated political debates. We almost got a dog. We sent each other private messages on Instagram that were always inappropriate, but perfect if you know us in real life. Summer is our best season, it always has been. 

Then school started and the organized chaos just became chaos. From school to dance to home to bed. On loop like some kind of video surveillance, titled, "Insight into an over scheduled life". This year I have a fourth grader and a first grader, which is hard for me to believe. Our homework schedules include 20 minutes of reading and at least 20 spelling words a night. The first week of school was rocky at best with a new dance schedule and back to school kicking us around. Exhaustion set in, and by the first Friday, we were fried.

When I think about this school year, I can see the road ahead of me. All I can see are bumps. A rocky road filled with a schedules and obligations. Not only have I committed my daughters to a hectic dance schedule but I've also committed myself. I don't always just drop them off, on Mondays and Wednesdays I sit for 3-4 hours at a time. I'm at dance as I write this. I'm going to email it to myself and copy and paste into my blog template later. If I didn't email myself my writing, I may never write, I'd never get it down. This year I'm also on the schools PTC executive board, serving as the secretary. Which means I'm at all events early; movie night, back to school night, open house, you name it, I'll be there. I'm still a Girl Scout leader and our scout year begins this Thursday. School has been in session for a month and I'm already thinking about June.

Not really. Just a little. With every bump in the road, there will be a blessing. I know that, I have faith in that. Blessings will come when I least expect them, when I think I can't take another step. I've learned that blessings always rise from mess and chaos. Little moments that make all the bullshit matter. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I overbook my life? It's nature. I've always been an "over booker". If over scheduling my life was an Olympic sport I'd be a gold medalist. I said yes to all of those things. I have committed myself to a busy year. Don't feel sorry for me, I want to do all of those things, I wanted to do them when I signed up. But I also want to be lazy. I want to watch everything in my DVR and sleep in on Sundays. And I will. Don't worry about me. I'm lazy most days. Laundry is rarely folded, dishes pile up. Please never stop by my house unannounced because my bathroom looks like a fairy tale wasteland with Lalaloopsy dolls in the bathtub and the remains of a murdered tube of toothpaste in the sink. Towels litter the floor because that's my life. Please always give me 10 minutes to pretend I'm the kind of mom who cares when mostly I don't. Little by little, toothpaste glob by toothpaste glob, I'm embracing my mess. Even when I'm embarrassed by the towels and the Lalaloopsy dolls.

With school back in session and something that resembles a schedule falling into place,I've been trying to get back into blogging. All summer I tried. But the pull. The pull to be with my family. My friends. The pull to watch new TV shows. The pull to spend all day at the pool. The pull was greater than the pen. I missed it, I did. When I found a spare moment, mostly late at night, I did write, a little fiction, a little fact. Mostly, I left it, the keyboard, the screen, and for the first time since I started this blog it felt right. It felt okay, like a relief to be able to leave it. To surrender and say, "I'd rather go to yogurt than type on that keyboard". I used to feel so guilty when I'd skip a post. I'd be mad at the world if I couldn't make it to the screen. It would feel like I failed. But in the last year something clicked. My blog, while fun and self serving, wasn't my only identity. My page views or lack thereof no longer dictated how I felt. The comments became non existent, no matter how heartfelt or how much I bled into the post. I got more interaction on Instagram and Facebook and so I started to post little bits there, but soon that fell off too. Soon I didn't know what every single person I followed are for breakfast or lunch. I didn't watch all the Fallon or Kimmel videos that were trending. Last night I got into bed and realized I hadn't been on Instagram or Facebook all day. Something that hasn't happened since I got my first iPhone and added the appropriate apps. Really, it was the first time in years. I was surprised that I didn't miss it. I was surprised that it didn't bother me. 

This is me, currently, embracing my mess. Embracing my chaos. This is me as my patience is pushed to the absolute limit, because I am scheduled within an inch of my life. So overbooked that when I forget to buy new tights for ballet or realize that I forgot the spiral bound notebooks or HOLY SHIT WE ARE OUT OF TOILET PAPER, I lament and rant and eat chocolate. Messy happens, it's happening right now.

I never wanted to be "That Mom". The messy one. The late one. The crazy/bonkers/batshit mom. I resisted so hard that it almost killed me. Then I let go. I let all previous expectations go, and embraced the chaos.

This is me, I'm proudly, "That Mom", embracing my mess.

PS: After I emailed this to myself. Ran home to prep dinner so the Hubbs could finish it. Went back to the dance studio to get Daughter #1. We walk into the house and Daughter #1 exclaims that she forgot her lunch box at dance. I went back and got it after dinner. Because it wouldn't be a Monday without more mess.

PPS: Check out another Messy Mom on FX's Better Things. Click here for details!

Profanity over Perfection: Why FX's Better Things is Everything!

Image via Better Things Facebook Page

Better Things on FX is the perfect portrait of motherhood if your brand of motherhood includes; sarcasm, profanity, and very awkward situations. Rated MASL (mature audiences/sexual situations/language), it’s not going to be every mom’s shot of whiskey, but it is without a doubt, my cup of tea.

Better Things is a new comedy on FX about single mom Sam, and her three daughters; Max, Frankie, and Duke. Sam is a struggling, but working actress, busting her ass to get to casting calls, going over lines last minute. Sam also provides her voice to a kids cartoon, and we see her testing out her characters voice in the sound booth, only to be interrupted by a telephone call from one of her kid's teachers. Sam is a hard working mom both outside and inside the home. Her daughters all test the best of her abilities in their own ways, and Sam does her best to stay afloat. Even when she says that she is “dating her daughters”, she still finds quiet time to text a “buddy”, and enjoy some fun flashbacks, until the sexting runs cold.

Think that Better Things doesn’t sound relatable? There are three super relatable scenes from the Pilot!

The show opens with Sam and her youngest daughter Duke in the mall. Sam is sitting on a bench opposite another mom, while Duke stands beside her sobbing uncontrollably. You can see other kiddos jumping in a play area in the background, Sam is on her phone. The mom opposite Sam is just staring at her as Sam stares at her phone. Casually Sam looks up and explains to the woman that her daughter wants a pair of six dollar earrings in the store ( as she points to an unseen location). As Duke continues to cry, Sam explains that Duke doesn’t even have pierced ears, but she wants six dollar earrings, and she (Sam) is not buying them. Sam then tells the woman to go and buy them, no really go and buy my daughter these earrings… After the woman stares at her for a beat, Sam says, Well if you aren’t going to buy them then stop staring!!!

I’ve never laughed harder or related better to a scene on a television show!

In another scene with Sam and Duke, Duke begs her mommy to lay with her at bedtime. Sam is torn because she really wants to lay with her daughter but knows that if she does she will most certainly fall asleep. Sam tells Duke that she has so much work to do that she can’t fall asleep, but Duke presses harder, and finally Sam lays down next to her in her tiny bed. Sam tells Duke not to touch her with her “magic baby hands” because they will make her fall asleep, and if she falls asleep nothing will get done. The camera pans away and in the next shot we see a sleeping Duke and Sam. Sam opens her eyes, you see the realization that it’s the middle of the night, and you see the “Oh F&ck” look on Sam’s face.

Image via Facebook

I could feel Sam’s panic, and totally understood the impending doom. I too have fallen asleep with my kiddos, only to wake up at two in the morning and realize that the lunches never got made, and the spirit wear shirts are still in the wash. Also the "magic baby hands" are a real thing, I swear.

The third relatable scene was on of Sam in the car with her teenaged daughter Max. Max wants her mom to buy pot for her so that her mom can make sure it’s organic. Sam is driving and trying not to drive off the road while looking at her delusional daughter. Her daughter continues to talk with her mom about drugs and sex and it brings Sam to the edge. She finally yells, “Hide things from me! Please!”. That look on Sam’s face is so familiar because sometimes there are just things that my kid talks about that I just don’t want to know, and someday she will be a teenager and I will need her to hide things from me. Or maybe, at the very least, ease me into it very slowly.

Image via Facebook

I have no doubt that Better Things on FX will be one of my favorite TV shows this fall. To me it feels like a reality show, but for many moms Sam maybe over the top. I’m 99% sure that Sam doesn’t have a Pinterest account and her Instagram, if she has one, is filled with snaps of her kids in poor lighting, or over filtered selfies. If she has Facebook it’s most likely filled with profanity and memes that cater to the mom of a certain age and stress level. Better Things is a show that my best friend and I should have written, because while it seems over the top, it’s incredibly accurate. Even if you don’t relate to the situation in the scene, you will relate to the emotion of that scene. I laughed a lot, but I also cried. Better Things just gets me.

I think my favorite scene in the pilot was the end. We see Sam on a movie set, pulling up her Spanx and readying herself to get shit done.

Like every mom, everywhere.

Better Things is Everything.

What I Read {Behind Closed Doors: Book Review}

It's very rare that I purchase books that are of the psychological thriller genre. It's not that I don't like that genre, it's just not what I uaually read. Rarely do they have the happy endings of chick lit. They hardly ever end with a feeling of hope or forgiveness like in YA. The only reason I read Gone Girl when it was published was because everyone on the planet was reading it, and the reviews were excellent. It was excellent, so good in fact that at one point I had to stop reading and take a breath. I can't even tell you how entertained and disgusted I was after reading Gone Girl, which until recently was just about all the psychological thriller I could take.

That is why I was shocked when I had to finish Behind Closed Doors in one sitting. In one sitting! I could not put this book down. I had to get the entire story, I had to know how it started, how it ended, how little side stories of George Clooney or a sweet little puppy fit into this giant puzzle of a book. At times I knew I was reading important information, and was racing to figure out its importance!

Behind Closed Doors is the story of Jack and Grace Angel, presumably the most perfect couple. Jack, is a successful lawyer in London, Grace is the portrait of the perfect modern housewife. Jack is not only a successful lawyer, but also a champion for battered women. His most successful cases were battered women seeking divorces. From the very first chapter you can sense that something isn't right in their perfect world. Over the course of a intimate dinner party you learn that Jack works so hard to provide a luxurious life for Grace. Grace works hard in the home to prepare near perfect dinners, keeps her figure in tact, and travels the world with her husband. Everyone at the dinner party is so envious of Grace and Jack Angel. Even their surname is a dead giveaway that all is not right in this world.

To really review Behind Closed Doors, I would have to give away so much of the book. This review would be one giant spoiler alert. I don't believe in doing that. Not every wants to know what they are getting into, not everyone wants to know the climax. I don't want to give anything away because you have to read this book. You have to be so taken aback by the chilling and frightening secrets surrounding the marriage of Jack and Grace Angel.

Told both in past and present chapters, it's not until the middle of the book that you find out exactly why these two are together. You find out their motivations for staying married. You find out how helpless a person can be. For the first half of the book, I was so sure that this was a story of hidden identity. Jack protects battered women, some going through a divorce, perhaps Grace was one of those women. And maybe she killed her husband, and now under a different name, she is married to the champion of battered women, and hiding in plain sight...

Oh, how I wish this was the case. How I wish this was the big hidden secret of their marriage.

It was not. The secret is sinister and bone chilling. Your heart and stomach will drop. Your heart will race, and you will be on the edge, mentally screaming at the book.

I'm not usually like this when I read books. I read nice chick lit and sad emo YA novels. I close a book at the happy ending, the happily ever after, the hopeful sunrise. This book was none of those things. Still this book was everything. This book had me in it's grasps until the end. I still can't believe that I read this entire book in one sitting, something I haven't done since college. There was never a moment where I was falling asleep or bored in anyway. Trust me when I say, it was on the edge excitement the entire time. This book was written in a way that there was never a moment that you could walk away from the story. Every chapter ended with a new mystery, a new question to answer. It made for a fantastic read.

Behind Closed Doors has been compared to Gone Girl. I get it, Behind Closed Doors is that good. But it's so different from Gone Girl. Behind Closed Doors brings forth the unbelievable, the shocking, the breathtaking. It's tragic and horrifying. I can't stress enough how this book will blow your mind and chill you to your core.

You will love every minute of it. I promise.

Pick up Behind Closed Doors today from your favorite bookseller.

Behind Closed Doors, published by St. Martin's Press 2016.
This post was sponsored by St. Martin's Press, via an advanced reader copy.