It Will Be Ok, Mom. (Back To School Post)

As our crazy busy summer came to an end, I started brainstorming all of the original content I would create for this blog as soon as the munchkin headed off to school in the morning today. Wanting for weeks to write for you, I quickly learned that shuttling her around to various summer camps in a part of the country I was previously unfamiliar with (new roads, traffic patterns, tourists!) while maintaining a home that is undergoing renovation was too much to do. But this morning our little family rose and readied early and walked down to the elementary school bus stop on Coast Highway. With the grey Pacific Ocean on the skyline, and a row of anxious kiddos on the bench, we waited for the big yellow bus to pick up our first-grader before we walked back up the hill to get on with our first post-summer day in our new home. My husband got on his calls, and I got started on the kitchen and laundry before sitting down to write something brilliant for both new and loyal RPM readers who have been so patient with me this summer.

Except that this won’t be brilliant, and it won’t be original. Because I am freaking out.

My little Inara, my “radiant light,” has always been very independent, and I have always encouraged this. Due to circumstances in our lives when she was born and very young, we have spent weeks and even months apart at times while she was with her father or other family or while I was traveling for work, and although it is never easy to say goodbye (and actually seems to get increasingly harder for me), we’re pretty much pros at it. She’s been in Miami while I was in New York, Los Angeles while I was in Dallas, various U.S. cities while I was on the other side of the world, and every single time our goodbyes were a simple “bye Mama!” and off she went with her little Disney Princess rollerboard suitcase and bouncing blond ponytail. So why then, when putting her on a yellow school bus to go a mere 4 miles down the road for a piddling 7 hours, did I have a mild panic attack?

Maybe it is because of all that we have been through together. I know it is cliché to want to sit down and pore over baby albums (ok, unorganized envelopes of pictures and Facebook posts) but watching this 6-year old California girl in her Laguna Beach hoodie and sparkly rainbow high-tops jump up with excitement when the bus came over the hill, all I could think about it was how far we have come. She was born in Manhattan, and brought into a marriage that was already drastically crumbling. A year later her parents were separated and she and I moved to a small garden apartment blocks away from LaGuardia Airport in Queens. I had a steady job that I loved and that supported us both, but I often relied on neighbors and friends to help with childcare when work required long hours and frequent travel. There were sweltering hot days spent in a basement laundromat and days when our eyelashes were covered in ice as I carried her across snowbanks and slush puddles to her day care center. After a few years, our lives changed drastically for the better when we moved to Dallas, where she got her own room (and closet), a pristine swimming pool, an adoring new step-dad and a loving new extended family. We both adapted to a new school and new friends quickly, and she stood by my side during my wedding and for opening night performances, fashion shows, museum outings and park explorations whenever my blogging and social life allowed it. When we decided as a family to move even further west earlier this summer, she welcomed the change with open arms and has turned into a California beach girl quicker than I could have imagined. We’ve spent more time together this summer than we have been able to in years past combined, and although we were both looking forward to school starting, (“I need new kids to play with, Mama!”) it has been a great experience exploring new interests and a new town together. So really, walking down to that bus stop this morning was just another adventure in a long list during her short 6 years. But to me, it felt much bigger than that.

I know there are many more big steps like this one. I know that this feeling of losing my baby is only just beginning. I have notifications on twitter, instagram, facebook, text and email with words of encouragement, advice, and warnings about the future. But regardless this does feel like a seismic shift in our lives. I filled out the proper paperwork and got her registered for her new school, but I we have not had the opportunity to meet the teacher or see the classroom or get an idea of what she would be doing today. This is all her. Her stories will be breaking news to me when she steps off that bus at 2:40 this afternoon. Is she scared? Probably not. But my heart will be racing all day thinking about that possibility. I’m sure she’s being adorable and making friends and absorbing information into that overactive brain of hers like always. but until I know this I will not be calm. Maybe all this time it hasn’t been me comforting her through all of these changes in our lives; maybe it’s been the other way around. While she’s been clutching that silky purple blankie for comfort, I’ve been clutching her. And as she boarded that bus this morning, eager to face a new adventure, I had to walk home without my lovey.

The Buddy Holly Story

The Buddy Holly StoryI have never been a big fan of jukebox musicals. They can be fun but in general it’s lazy musical theater, meant for audiences afraid to try anything new. The shows take a collection of already published music from one particular person or band or genre, and either loosely connect them in an effort to form a story (Mamma Mia!, Movin’ Out, Rock of Ages) or use them in telling the story of the singer/band (Jersey Boys, The Boy from Oz). Critically, occasionally they work well and often they fall flat, but audiences (particularly those not familiar with or appreciative of the more original work on Broadway) tend to love them. Producers do to, because they come with an established fan base ready to splurge on tickets to see music they already know performed by people who remind them of the musicians they already love, and they get to say they saw a piece of theater. For those of us who prefer edgy, sexy, and original music (Cabaret and Pippin are two of my favorites), it’s frustrating to see more and more popping up on Broadway when there is plenty of original work to use, but at the same time I love any reason to get people in theaters. And one of the best parts of these types of shows, particularly the smaller casts of touring productions, is that you get an impressive group of extremely talented people playing multiple roles and multiple instruments. Big Bopper

The Buddy Holly Story is one of the original jukebox musicals, originally opening in 1989 and running on London’s West End for 12 years before a successful Broadway run and international tours. It was critically acclaimed and popular before the more formulaic eye-roll-inducing Mamma-Mia-inspired flops took over the Great White Way (Lennon, Good Vibrations, Ring of Fire, Hot Feet). The production I saw last night, currently playing at The Laguna Playhouse, is a cast of 14 dancers-singers-actors-musicians, many of whom have been playing these roles in multiple productions. For Todd Meredith, this marks his 15th time in the title role, in addition to performing all over the country in a Buddy Holly tribute band along with bassist (and trombonist) Bill Morey, who is in his 5th production of TBHS. Pinch-his-cheeks-adorable Emilio Ramos reprises his role of Ritchie Valens (almost stealing the show with his La Bamba, my favorite performance of the night), and a boisterous Mike Brennan plays the Big Bopper for the fifth time. This isn’t just a job for these guys, these are parts they were born to play and they are killing it up there. I am not ashamed to say that when it came to the end of the story, the night the proverbial music died, I got a little teary-eyed. And I KNEW how it would end! This little jukebox musical and its stars grabbed at my heartstrings.

The Buddy Holly Story

Why not go? If you hate Buddy Holly music (and who hates Buddy Holly music?!) you won’t like this, because that’s pretty much all it is. If you prefer shows with elaborate sets, precision choreography, deep plots or spectacle, this show is not for you.

Why go? Do you find yourself tapping your feet or singing along every time Peggy Sue, That’ll Be the Day, Chantilly Lace, or Johnny B. Goode comes on the radio? Are you AT ALL interested in the history of American music? Do you need a wholesome show to take your kids or in-laws to? Most importantly do you (like me) enjoy  watching really talented people doing what they do best and having a hell of a good time doing it? Then go. Go, sing along, get up and dance, and leave the theater with your cheesy cardboard black geek glasses remembering the short life of the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.

SIDE NOTEif you see it at The Laguna Playhouse, or ANYTHING at The Laguna Playhouse and you measure 5’4″ or below, don’t get balcony seats. I had to sit on the edge of my seat to see anything below the performers’ shoulders. Petite problems. 

The Buddy Holly Story is playing at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, California through August 10th. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com. For other productions around the country and the world, visit www.buddythemusical.com.

 

 

 

Sundays in the Park

Jayne and Inara in Bluebird Park, Laguna BeachFresh air, laughing children, food and wine, dancing neighbors and live music; there are few things that elicit a more favorable response than a classic summertime music concert in a park, especially when it’s free. A quick Google search shows how many options there are nation-wide for experiencing free musical concerts in public spaces, and we are all better for it. My family has enjoyed performances in Central Park in New York and Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, and now thanks to the Laguna Beach Arts Commission we have this opportunity again in our new home of Laguna Beach.

Fifty-two year old Bluebird Park is enclosed by fencing and surrounded by quiet neighborhood streets. The park includes a soft grass lawn, picnic tables and barbecues, drinking fountains, shade trees, sidewalks, curvy slides built into a hillside, scooter/tricycle paths with tunnels and bridges, big kid areas for climbing, spinning and playing basketball, little kid playing area with sand and baby swings, and clean and safe restrooms. As a parent, if you are anywhere in the middle area of the park you can see almost everywhere else. Dogs are not allowed so although they are missed, it makes it even more comfortable for parents to let all the munchkins run loose. Situated in Bluebird Canyon, only 4 blocks inland from Coast Highway (that’s PCH for most of California), it gets enough of an ocean breeze that it doesn’t get too hot, and it’s inland enough that the wind doesn’t get too cold. In short, add the music and all the fun residents of Laguna Beach with their food and wine, and you get a family paradise in 1.7 acres. Bluebird Park Laguna Beach

When my husband and I were dating, he brought me to this beautiful town by the sea every opportunity we got to get away. Usually we had to fly out Sunday afternoons and would miss the opportunity to experience the Sunday evening concerts in Bluebird Park, with the exception of one time. I remember how happy he was then and how romantic the evening was, with our packed picnic dinner we had prepared earlier that day and a few bottles of wine, laid out on our picnic blanket on the lawn. I’m sure I fell more in love with him then. The acoustics in the canyon were perfect for the music, played on a tiny hill on one end of the park with little amplification needed. We loved being there together but we both hoped to be back one day with my daughter so that we could attend the affair as a family. This past Sunday night, five years after we met, we finally had that opportunity as they kicked off their 31st season of music. Grateful Dead fan at Music in the Park, Laguna Beach

The genre is different every week, and this season started off with a Grateful Dead tribute band, Cubensis. We hadn’t paid attention to the schedule in advance, but we figured it out fairly quickly by the crowd. The people-watching was a blast and seeing my little Manhattan baby twirling around with adults in tie-dye handing out stickers and “Free Hugs” was priceless. With our picnic blanket nestled amongst early-afternoon campers on the front row with only the dance area between us and the band, my husband and I held each other and chatted with new neighbors, once again enjoying a picnic dinner we’d cooked together. But this time we also watched my daughter as she danced and played around the park, slid down the hillside and played tag with neighborhood kids. We followed her to the monkey bars holding hands, glasses of wine in the others, and in a perfect moment he admitted how happy he was to be back in Bluebird Park, this time as a family, for the occasion. It really is that special.

If you live in Orange County or will be visiting this summer, make time in your schedule for music in Bluebird Park Sunday evenings. The bands play from 5-7pm and you can claim your picnic spot no earlier than 3pm. The park is located at 798 Blue Bird Canyon Drive, Laguna Beach and parking is limited so walk and/or take public transportation if you can. Next week (July 20th) we look forward to Zydeco with Lisa Haley and the Zydecats (of course- we got married in New Orleans!), then Soul with Stone Soul (7/27), Beatles music with Beatroots (8/3), Irish with The Fenians (8/10), Reggae with Lesterfari & Kings Music (8/17), and finally Blues with Tom Nolan Band to close out the season on August 24th. Suffice it to say that if we are in town, we’ll be there. And in the Laguna spirit, we can always make room for one more.

Music in Bluebird Park Laguna Beach 2014 Schedule

What Have You Done for You Lately?

Happy Wife Happy Life

“Baby, what have you done for you this week?”

It was such a simple question, but it jarred me. I’d met with contractors, unpacked some more boxes, shuttled my daughter to her soccer and swimming and beach exploration camps, cleaned the house, did the laundry, organized some files, hung photos and got the back patio in working condition. This was all for us, for our family, which I am of course a part of. What did my husband mean what did I do for me?

It’s such a common story that I feel ridiculous writing about it; mothers putting themselves last. Whether working ourselves to the bone for our families, always the last to sit down at the table (if at all) and the last to take some time specifically to take care of ourselves, motherhood martyrdom is ingrained in us from childhood. And as much as I’ve fought the instinct in support of all women having a full life regardless of parental status, the idea of taking time away from my family management duties to get a manicure or take a dance class or write a blog post simply does not compute these days.

But my husband pointed out something important: taking care of myself is taking care of my family. When fulfilled and happy, I am a better wife and mother. Lately I have been a stressed and irritable mess, unable to enjoy the things that used to make me happy. Is it really so much better for them to have that around doting on them and the house? He is right, it does make sense, yet why is it so hard to do?

Home RenovationsI have already documented the long list of work that needs to be done around me, and I am more anxious than anyone to get our mid-century modern cottage remodeled, the floors replaced and the garden flourishing because I am the one who spends the most time in this house at the moment. I don’t want my daughter’s summer to suffer because of the home projects so any time I can take away from the house I use to focus on her. When my husband is home over the weekend I plan dinners and activities to do together to make the most of his time here with me. But he noticed that when at an exhibit opening at the Laguna Art Museum last week that I was fully smiling for the first time in a long while, and urged me to do more activities like that while he was away. It is really hard, because it feels selfish. And I don’t want to be selfish mom.

One of the reasons I wanted to write for this blog is that the idea of a Real Posh Mom, a woman whose life is not just about being a mother but about being a well-rounded woman as knowledgable of world events and the arts and fashion as she is of kindergarten academics and Frozen lyrics, was what I have always strived to be. I managed do be that in New York and Dallas, and I knew it was a perfect fit. And yet here I am letting myself down in my new home as I shift my priorities to deal with the mounting maintenance and renovation responsibilities and forget to take care of numero uno. And that needs to stop.

Spa DayI meant to look for a barre fit class I could start taking this week, and I meant to write a lot more, even if only for my personal journal. Neither happened aside from this post, but I suppose the intention itself is a step. With the holiday weekend and turning 35, I did allow myself to enjoy some relaxing time with family and friends, but now I look around the house now and think of all the things I could have been getting done during that time. There is always mom guilt, especially when I paid for a babysitter to play with the munchkin so that I could finally get my first mani-pedi since the move. (Although that was more of a public service.)

My husband loves to say “Happy Wife, Happy Life” when he insists I follow my passions and take steps toward personal fulfillment, and I am truly grateful to have such a supportive partner in my life. We should all make more of an effort to make ourselves a priority, but will we ever be able to do it without the guilt? Will unpacked boxes and piles of laundry always haunt us?

And Miles To Go Before I Sleep

IMG_2519 Over the last two weeks my house has had a steady stream of visitors, from inspectors, plumbers and electricians to old friends, new neighbors (and their dogs) and a babysitter. I still wake up surrounded by boxes and I can’t remember where I’d decided to place the things we have already unpacked. My almost-6-year-old is literally bouncing around the house, making forts out of everything and threatening the crystal I haven’t found a shelf for yet. At least once a day she has a boo-boo and at least once I day she gives me one. Suffice it to say my home is utter chaos. Moving

Two weeks ago we moved out of a three-story townhouse in Dallas and headed west to “grow up with the country.” Actually so that we could renovate our little Laguna Beach cottage while my daughter went to a public school that would encourage her natural curiosity and intelligence the way that the expensive private schools in North Texas would. My husband is still based in Dallas most of the week, making this home renovation project my full-time job in addition to caring for the munchkin and starting a new life in a new community. It is a challenge, and one I took on willingly and excitedly. But now we are here, and the list keeps on growing. New plumbing, new wiring, new floors, new paint, new front door, and new windows occupy the same place in my head as get registered for school, find summer camps, make new friends, get active in the community, attend that wine tasting, see a play, visit a gallery, set up play dates, find a new doctor, change my address, reach out to publicists, make weekend family plans and arrange more important than ever date nights. Oh, and this writing thing! I am overwhelmed, but it is better than being bored. IMG_2478

Given the intensity of these projects and goals, I have no choice but to get healthier and remain healthy. This mom needs more energy than ever and that requires healthier food and exercise. How lucky then that we can walk three blocks to a beautiful beach and are literally surrounded by ocean and state parks! Thus far every Saturday we have visited the Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market, where the munchkin samples every fruit, cheese, and nut that they will let her try, and we walk away with our reusable sacks full of fresh local food for the week’s meals. On my list for immediate resolution is to buy a grill for our backyard patio, where I plan to cook the fish, vegetables, and anything else we find over the next months and possibly years. I have no idea where to start when it comes to purchasing one, so undoubtedly that will be another few days of research.

For now, I have successfully registered the child for soccer, swimming, musical theater, art, and beach/ocean exploration week-long summer camps. We are now members of the Laguna Art Museum and the Laguna Beach Parents Club, and have made friends with our neighbors and their kids. We have a dentist and a regular babysitter that we adore, and plans are in the works for the first set of renovations on the house. Have I mentioned we’ve only been here two weeks? It’s all in effort to remain a “real posh mom” providing the best that life that has to offer for my family. Hopefully, regardless of how successful or how disastrous these projects turn out to be, my stories will be educational or at least entertaining fodder for our readers. And please- if you have any advice, I am all ears. Back to unpacking… and maybe the beach. IMG_2260