happiness is

I had a great birthday you guys. Full of happy and busy and mellow…and just magical.

And when you’re lucky enough to share a birthday with some of the most amazing people, and maybe even get to have a birthday brunch with one of them, you can’t even believe how damn lucky you are.

 

nichole&jill

Seriously. Brunch with some of the loveliest people on the planet??! It was a birthday morning that dreams are made of.

groupbrunch

And then all of a sudden, I was hit by a Facebook/Instagram post that…blew me away and brought tears to my eyes. I just love this kid.

proudmama

I honestly don’t know how to explain how much happy filled my day. And I also don’t think I can explain how my funny little posts leading up to my birthday just made it all the more wonderful. It just…set the tone. If that makes any sense at all. And maybe one of the biggest happiness lessons I’ve ever learned.

I’ve seen and loved this quote for years…

what you focus on, you get more of.

Those words have never meant more to me. I focused on happiness…and it just keeps spilling out of me. (Oops, my happiness is showing.)

I’m not mad about it.

In fact…

I’m pretty damn happy about it.

continuing the happy

I know it’s cheesy. I do. But I’m just going to have to own up to the fact that I love Disneyland. Ridiculously so.

I was 19 years old (and pregnant, I kid you not) the very first time I went to Disneyland. The only ride I could ride was Pirates of the Caribbean. (Which may or may not be one of my very favorite rides to this day.) One day I’ll tell you the story of taking a picture with Winnie the Pooh and the biggest belly competition, but I’ll have to save that for another day because I’m too busy making an ass of myself and my love for all things Disneyland.

Here’s the thing: my cute little family of four has THE BEST time in Disneyland. We do. We never fight about where to go. We walk through those gates and we don’t have to worry about jobs or school or all the other things we always have to focus on. When we get there? It’s all things family. All day. And we’re awesome at it, if I do say so myself. We just have so. Much. Fun.

Over the years, we’ve been so lucky to travel to the Happiest Place on Earth with some of our nearest and dearest. Our kids have gotten so good at FastPass and single-rider that we are pretty efficient, even when coordinating two families. Plus, we’re all pretty cute.

photo (3)

But I have to tell you something: Running through Disneyland is an absolute HOOT. I mean, as Sarah and I trained for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, I knew it would super awesome, but I really couldn’t have imagined how fun it was to run through the park. I’M SORRY BUT IT’S TRUE. Plus, we’re pretty damn cute. Still. Or again.

tinkerhalf peter&wendy tinkerhalf

I really don’t mean to sound so lame. I’m thirty-something years old and one my of my Happy Places is The Happiest Place on Earth. I should be more dignified. I should. But I just don’t think I have it in me. At all.

I’m just a big ‘ol kid. I just can’t seem to help myself.

things that make me happy…cont’d

I can’t explain it. I’m not even sure that I want to. I just woke up with a heart that was a lot lighter than it has been.

My words are a little stuck right now. So I thought I would share some things that I saw today that made me happy. Or inspired me.  

I love this mama.

I mean…it’s not called “Oh Happy Day” for nothing…

Magnolia trees. And cute humans.

I also can’t wait for summer.

You are my wild. It still makes me happy.

 *    *    *

Yesterday, I started celebrating my birthday week. I couldn’t help myself. Apparently delicious pizza with delicious company was an order. Happy!

fire   

And then I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of the roses in my back yard. Happy!

 roses

 But you know what else?

This guy. This guy makes me happy.

laughingcouple
taken by the lovely and talented Sarah Maren

I sorta, kinda feel the need to celebrate my birthday every day this week. And not with any big fanfare or party…just with little things that make me happy. Whatever that may be. And starting all the things that I included today. I don’t mean to be annoying or self-centered…I just wanted to share my happy places in case you needed a change of pace after last week.

The world needs a lot more happy. And I hope that you’ll share yours, too.

It’s Time To Get All Pollyanna Up In Here

It’s hard to not feel like the world is completely upside down and bat-shit crazy. Because it kind of is.

Like most of us, I’ve spend a lot of time worrying about the world that we live in. Especially when tragedy and terror hit so close to home. Obviously, Boston and Texas have been on our minds a lot. But there are so many things that have happened this week that aren’t “breaking” news stories on every news source or channel.

It’s been a rough week.

I want to fill up my little space here with some goodness, light and happy. I want to make you laugh or smile. At the very least, I want to give everyone a giant, squishy hug. (And you know that I could. I’m a professional hugger, I GOTCHU.)

So, because you love to humor me, here are some of the things that have made this week a little lighter and more beautiful:

Paisley:

paisleypup
This dog. THIS DOG will warm the cockles of your heart. Yes, I totally just said cockles. I might even do it again if you’re good.

Beautiful Scenery:

sunset

One of my favorite pastimes is finding beauty in the world around us. I was walking the (cockle warming) puppy dog earlier this week when I was wowed by this sunset. I keep going to back to look at this picture because it makes me happy, ok?

This picture of my kid:

hairsdid

She got to get her hair done for the very first time last weekend for her birthday. As you can see by the look on her face, she is not exactly pleased by the moment I chose to take a picture. I’m trying not to laugh just looking at this. She’s hilarious. Often.

Mike Wazowski

mike!

I don’t care what anybody says, a coffee mug can brighten your mood. I highly (HIGHLY) recommend a coffee date with Mike.

Cockle warmer!

pup!
You know you were needing another picture of the puppy. Outside, napping(?) during spring break a few weeks ago.

You Drive!!!

So this kid is hilarious. I will be forever grateful to SueBob for posting this yesterday when we all needed it the most. WORRY ABOUT YOSELF!!

 Love

love

Go love on some people today. And this weekend. Basically, love all the people all the days. Just do it.

Cockels!

I Should Really Start Taking More Fridays Off

Here’s what I’m going to tell you. When one of your dearests asks if you can take a Friday off to go wine-tasting, you are going to want to say yes. Because DUDE. Are you kidding me with this view?

VINES
Stunning view of one of the vineyards near DK Winery. And one of my favorite pictures I’ve taken on the iPhone.

I have no business pretending I am any expert on South El Dorado County wineries and wine country, but I have to pretend I’m an expert on South El Dorado County wineries and wine country for a minute. Because it is so lovely up there, I just can’t keep it to myself. That’s rude.

Fair Play wine country is the best kept secret, let me tell you. I had no idea that this little wine country nestled in the Sierra Foothills existed.

WINEGLASS
Perry Creek Winery – the beginning. (Also, please don’t remind Sara that there’s a decorative snake on the back counter. Just, don’t.)

My dear Sara had a Living Social deal for a lunch experience at the Perry Creek winery in Fair Play, CA. What we didn’t know before heading up there, is how amazing our experience would be. You started off with a couple of tastings before being lead on a personal tour through their winery. Our new friend Hadrian took us through the wine-making process. (We all seemed to geek-out on all the steps and information we learned yesterday. IT. WAS. FASCINATING. NO JOKE.)

BARRELS

 

Once we made it through the various processes and visited the barrel room, we headed back down the hill to the tasting room for actual barrel tastings. Fascinating and amazing.

BARRELTASTING
YOU GUYS, this was so great. (Everyone got a turn serving wine out of the barrels. I declined because KLUTZ.)

 

Ok, so I know that timing is everything. The four of us were scheduled for this deal, it was a Friday at noon and they were not overly busy…but it was so much fun. We had an absolute blast. Well taken care of…the wine is fantastic. And, word on the street, is that this tour is free to wine club members, or so I have heard. Harvest time is in September/October and I would love to go back and see some of the wine process in action. But can I tell you again how much fun we had?

GALS
Me, Elena, Sara and Courtney: my partners in crime

No one asked me to write this post…no one cares. But when you have such a great time in such a beautiful and stunning location, you want to share. I still can’t get over how beautiful it was up there. There are so many wineries to visit and gorgeous views to see. Even on the ride home.

ROADVIEW

Seriously. Perry Creek and other Fair Play wineries? A must do. You’ll absolutely love it.

Living the Unplanned

I wasn’t sure that I was going to have more the one child. It’s not that I didn’t want more kids after Beezus was born, it’s just that I didn’t know if we were meant to. I had always dreamed of having a big family. But being so young and unprepared…and after struggling so much to just survive, I shoved all those dreams in a drawer. Whenever I got asked if we were having more kids, I just got in the habit of saying no. It was easier that way. I said it with such conviction, I think that I even started to believe it. Somewhat.

Deep down in my heart, and in the very back of my mind, I grieved the big family that I’d never have. I watched friends get married and starting their families. I often wondered what that felt like. They made married life look like such fun. And then when it was time for them to start having kids? Excitement. Everyone was so excited for them. Including me. I was. I really, really was. But I couldn’t help but wish it had been that way for me. And I knew…I KNEW that it was part of the deal. Unplanned, teenage pregnancies don’t get celebrations. They don’t. And they shouldn’t. I knew this. But that doesn’t make it any easier when you believe that you will never have that. That you will never be on the receiving end of that kind of joy and celebration.

And so I pretended that kind of sadness and disappointment didn’t exist. I continued surviving and fighting for my little family of three. It was hard. God knows it was hard. There was so much baggage to deal with. So much uncertainty. So much hurt. And I kept on being happy for my friends and for my family and all of their joy and triumphs. I threw myself into being supermom. Or trying to be. Whatever that is. But I never stopped wondering. No matter how deep back in my mind those thoughts were, I never stopped thinking about it.

All of a sudden it was time to celebrate Beezus’ fourth birthday. We were planning a (cup)cake decorating party. The family would be there of course, but a lot of preschool friends would be joining us this year as well. I used my lunch hours to run all the errands. And the Friday before the party, I was finishing up. I was busy making sure I had everything on my list. I had one more stop to make when I started to feel awful. I remember thinking “If I don’t eat something RIGHT NOW, I’m going to puke.” And then I couldn’t think of anything else. And then I started counting days and months and…realizing that maybe there was a reason that I was feeling like I might be sick. And then I worried. And wondered about all those little pills I took every day. Well, then that would be impossible, right? But that small percentage people would talk about? Would I really be a part of that small percentage that could get pregnant on birth control pills? Of course I could. Because, of course. And all of a sudden, there was one more errand I would need to run on that lunch hour. Not that I needed it. I knew what I would find out. And I knew that I was already at least a couple months pregnant.

I kept it from everyone at first. And I’m not even sure I slept at all that night. But I had a party to get ready for and a four year old to celebrate, there was no time for me to feel any feelings or tell anyone about what was going on. I think my sisters suspected something. My husband suspected nothing, bless him. But thankfully, the party went off without a hitch and the kids had a blast. I ate plenty of nachos to ward off any morning sickness.

I can’t remember if I told my husband I was pregnant later that night or early the next morning. To be honest, I don’t even remember how I told him. Just like I don’t remember how I had told him four years prior. Once again, we were looking at a pregnancy that we hadn’t planned. At least this time we were married. And in our twenties. And owned our own home. But we were still unprepared for this turn of events. There were about two to three hours of “HOLY. SHIT.” before something changed in both of us. And then it was “this is ok!” and we thought of the office and how it would need to be turned into the baby’s room. And then it was “we’re having a baby!” and it started to get exciting. And then we were excited. My heart pounded.

My dad happened to call a little later, just after we had told Beezus the news. My older sister had stopped by their house and I think he invited us over as well. My brothers were already there – they still lived at home, so we called my younger sister and told her to meet up at Mom and Dad’s. We said nothing and gave them no specific reason, but practiced with Beezus what she would say while we drove over. I think we were the last ones to get there. And as we gathered in the kitchen, Beezus suddenly became shy and forgot everything she was supposed to say. And so I brought my face close to hers and whispered the prompts in her ear. In the tiniest of voices, Beezus announced.

“My mom. Is having. A baby.”

My mom said over and over how you could’ve knocked her over with a feather she was so surprised. She had believed me when I had said no more kids. My sisters knew something was up from the birthday party. My brothers probably reacted just as you would imagine teenage boys would. And even if my family was still worried about us, or were in disbelief, they were happy for me. For us. There wasn’t the sadness and disappointment and fear that had been there years before. It was my moment. Right there, in the kitchen in the home I grew up in, my family handed me my moment of joy and celebration that I never thought I would have.

I know it might sound a little silly. And the more I read over this, the more I wonder if I’m going to hit publish because it makes us sound like the most irresponsible little turds on the planet. But somehow I have to find a way to let that go. Because what I’m learning as I go back and write about all of this, is that I’m the person I am now because of all the unplanned. We are this awesome family of four made out of the unplanned. For whatever reason, this is how our family was blessed to be ours. It wasn’t meant to be easy. But this is part of our story. An important part of our story. And as unconventional as our family is, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Easter Something

Easter is in four days and I’ve done nothing to get ready. No decorations. No candy and gift shopping. Nothing.

Yes, we’ve been busy. Yes, I had so much laundry to do. But I am sitting her surprised at how little time I have left to get festive.

I did Easter so well last year. (I owe most of that to Courtney and our whirlwind Michael’s trips. Also the family visiting from out of town, maybe.)

eggs
I got CRAZY with a pencil and egg dye last year

I read a blog post the other day about Easter being a time for new beginnings. I’ve always felt that way, but I feel it especially this year. Ironic that there has been a lot of new for me lately. This website. Being more open about it. Big decisions. New goals. Daring greatly. Loving much. Opening my heart and my mind just a little bit more. It’s all very timely.

I took the day off today because my kids are on spring break. I’ve been awake since 5:30 thanks to a weird noise the dog made. Sure, we have errands to run (someone is getting the rest of her braces off) but having a calm morning jump-started my brain. I’ve had a few hours to just think. Think about a lot.

Yesterday I felt unsettled. One of those days where you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. Or at least you’re not doing anything right. And sometimes all it takes is a good night’s sleep, a 5:30 wake up call, and a prayer that never left your heart to remind you that you’re not doing everything wrong.

And since I couldn’t just NOT decorate something. I went to the garage to grab the tub of Easter stuff. If nothing else, there is a duck to wish you a Happy Easter if you come to my house now. And nothing says “we love you” and “Happy Easter!” like a duck, plastic eggs and embroidered Easter basket.

easterbasket
quack and eggs

 Or something.

 

 

finding beauty…and quoting Madonna

greenery
the view from walking the puppy yesterday. I love where I live.

In a previous blog-life, I was searching for beauty amidst this life of chaos. As I started moving toward this next big adventure, and with the help from the dearest of friends, I came to realize that telling the stories of us didn’t have to focus on the chaos of us.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of chaos…but it’s not my focus any longer.

What hasn’t changed is looking for beauty wherever I can find it. I love pretty things. Pictures, clothes, people…nature. What is it that Madonna says in Vogue? Beauty’s where you find it?

I couldn’t agree more.