Thursday, December 8, 2016

Four Seasons Wonderland

Stepping into the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village this past weekend felt as close as I could imagine to walking into a John Hughes Christmas movie. With old fashioned holiday songs on the stereo, bellhops buzzing in black suits, handing out champagne to guests waiting in to check in, towering grand firs decked in rich gold ribbon glistening happily in the center of the lobby with a toy train circling round the bottom and children gathered, glossy eyed over this whole glorious scene as their parents and grandparents, dressed in wool coats and diamonds, secure their room key.

I've never stayed at a Four Seasons before so my first impression was a dazzling one. The boys and I (Mike, always buried with shop orders this time of year) came as guests for a night to experience and review the Winter Wonderland extravaganza. Which came with the added bonus of a surprise room upgrade. A 7th floor (swoon worthy) suite with more space (and beds!) than I even realized hotels could manage. My boys, more accustomed to stacking bodies onto fold out futons, or sharing cots as a more luxurious alternative to sleeping bags (which is more typically the case) splayed out on the ground whenever we travel.

This room, it was really something else. Three TVs, a big Jacuzzi tub, wide window views, and antique china. So cozy it was a hard to even want to venture out. But we did. Obviously in the good name of the Winterland adventure where we sipped hot chocolate under machine powered snowfall. Ate gourmet hamburgers for dinner, decorated sugar cookies with Mrs. Claus, laughed so hard it hurt watching Rex and Arlo spilling across the lot of a makeshift ice rink in skates they couldn't control, hitched a train ride with Hayes, and then showed up after all of it to sink our bones into that incredible heated indoor pool straight out of my wildest childhood fantasies where we stayed for almost two hours. I could have stayed there all night, but the Let it Snow festivities wore the boys out royally so it was only a matter of time before the terry cloth bath robes made it back on and we were all shuffling our way out of the hotel arcade room, and into bed for a late night movie to unwind.

Before we left our last indulgence was the breakfast buffet downstairs where characters mingled with guests and tables full of big families gathered in matching plaid pajamas to devours plates stacked high with all the delicious goods offered. Rex claims that he ate 8 pieces of bacon (all to himself) and if you knew anything about his love of bacon, one might be tempted to believe him.

Just before we were leaving, as life goes, I got a phone call informing me of an old family friend's unexpected passing. A call that sent a shock through my bones and a crack in my heart. A new despair I knew waiting outside of those big glass doors as I gathered our things to leave. Picking up my grieving best friend from the airport. Thankful for our night together, where we lived briefly inside of that sweet winter dreamland with all the best parts of the holiday season to hold us tight.

Winter Land Info Available HERE 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Introducing Morning Light Gift Studio

My friend Kate has always had a serious knack for gift giving. Which I've probably mentioned fact of here before. And the reason her latest endeavor, a meticulously curated online gifting box shop, comes as great news for those of us who tend to struggle a bit in that area. Especially this time of year, when we all know the holiday gift dilemmas can really pile up.

Each of the boxes offered by Morning Light are a perfect combination of whimsy, aroma, texture, and practicality. With themes ranging from exotic salts, to locally sourced honey, tea, incense, textiles, and ceramics. All items pulled from the small (beloved) shops she adores most, with names as enduring as "Beaded Man" "Take it Easy" "One More Cup of Coffee" and my personal favorite: "I Love You Anyway."

In honor of the grand opening Morning Light Studios is offering free shipping for all orders placed up until Monday. So drop by, have a look & maybe take advantage for a friend deserving. I know I have a few in mind already.

Welcome to the web Morning Light.

*Additionally, Morninglight is committed to providing a portion of sales to the Sierra Club, the nation's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hopelessly Joan

On her 82nd birthday. Still regretting the time I missed the book tour at UCLA all those years ago when she cancelled due to a fall. And I vowed to make it up at some point. But never did.  

Friday, December 2, 2016

Sandy Hook Promise

As difficult and unfortunate as it is to accept as a parent these days, the reality of gun violence in schools is something we're dealing with as a nation far too often. A reoccurring nightmare on the evening news showing scenarios we can't even begin to process, no matter how many times we see similar scenes play out.

I know I can't even describe the recent heartache I felt rushing to my boy's elementary school to drop off a forgotten backpack last month and having to sit outside of the office for nearly an hour while the administration ran through a series of protocol during a campus wide "lockdown drill." Designed to ensure teachers are well equipped to safeguard their classroom within a matter of seconds, on high alert, and children shown how to properly react in the face of such a terrifying threat. In my day drills consisted of simple duck and cover during earthquakes, while my children are learning how to hide from guns, in a place they should feel safest.

In partnering with Sandy Hook Promise, a cause dear to my heart as a parent, I was asked to help spread light on some of the vital warning signs leading up to gun violence in schools by sharing this short and powerful film highlighting early evidence of mental illness or distress, that too often goes overlooked. In doing so, I'm hoping we might help open eyes and ears to the unsettling mindset behind these kinds of attacks, reminding us to be more awake and in tune to our surroundings, as well as talking to our kids about the devastating effects of bullying before real damage is done, working to  instill an early sense of empathy, insight, and vigilance, in whatever environments they inhabit.

For me, it was also a good reminder of how I need to make sure I keep the lines of communication open, especially during the more fragile teenage years, so my kids feel comfortable coming to me when they do see things that find concerning in any way. Communication, as always, being the key component here.

The Sandy Hook Promise website offers plenty more insightful tips and information on how to spot and treat these early warning signs to help aid mental illness before it becomes another tragic statistic. In which I strongly suggest you have a look.

This post is in partnership with The Sandy Hook Promise Foundation

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Scenes From a Weekend

This weekend, in between the scatter of rain showers and listless beachside flings with a few friends over a feast of grilled salmon before Thanksgiving, we became a rotating hostel for boys. Where friends and neighbors came to crash, friends of friends, and basically just one sweaty head after another that came spilling though our doorway all hours of the day. For three days straight. Which gave way to loosely agreed upon sleep overs, towers of pancakes stacked in respectable fashion on the dining room table in the morning, bebe gun lectures in the afternoon, and non, stop, wrestling because boys aren't happy unless they're knocking each other around - rattling walls and slamming bodies into another with all the force typically wasted on their younger brothers. Because on this block, its all brothers. Girls are a rarity and if they have it their way it'll remain that way. Or at least until junior high rolls around.

All of these amped up dirty little souls piled into that beat up red Rover on a Sunday unleashed into the dusty mouths of that big dirt field to roll old tires down the hill, shoot arrows, and climb trees.

Perfect chaos in constant need of a clean up crew.

Wild and wickedly adventurous boy growing up too fast. Right before our eyes. Spouting in the quiet corners of this winter season. Eating too much, breaking everything in sight and laughing themselves into tears in the cold midnight crux of that sweetly glowing wooden playhouse outback that they're always too scared to ever really pull off overnight.

Words of Wisdom

“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.”
- Audre Lorde

Thank you Ina. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Where the Mountains Meet the Sea

Most of us are still in bed this morning, lounging as long as possible before the bustle of Holiday duties comes calling. But in the midst of my regular news reads I just stumbled upon this most intriguing couple in interview opening up their stunning dream home - hand built in the 60s and designed on a cigar box - over on Freude VonFreuden. What's far more inspiring than the gorgeous architecture and stellar design aspect though is the story behind a home their family have a hand in building.

Listen to them speak about the significance of it and see if it doesn't sweep you away too. Of all the things I read this morning this one was by far most uplifting. What beauty resides in their home and union.

And a very Happy Thanksgiving to anyone reading here this morning, on brief break before the oven pies and stuffing steal you.

"Do you enjoy working together?
Gawie: I think it’s very nice.
Gwen: We fight sometimes. We work together. We push it."

Full Article Published Here