Stranger Danger

I talk to strangers.


And I talk to little kids and pet dogs I encounter.


It brings joy to my life.  And sometimes maybe a little sparkle to someone else’s day.

I was thinking about this while I was on my (almost) daily lunchtime jaunt around the neighborhood.   I encounter all types of people, moms with strollers, elderly couples holding hands, dog-walkers.  I always offer a smile and a nod.  Sometimes I get an acknowledgement.  Often times, I don’t.

In the checkout line at Target I am known to play peek-a-boo with babies and make small talk about the weather with the cashier.

We are a dog-friendly office, and stopping to pet a furry friend is a great way to meet somebody new.

I realized while I was out today, that I need human contact.  I need that connection.  And I think a lot of us do.  But don’t know how to go about it.  I used to have a lot of insecurity in unknown situations.  Social angst.  I had fear of being rejected.  Until one day I didn’t.  I found myself asking more people how their days are going.  Or what weekend plans they have.  It catches people off guard.  What I have found is most people will answer.  Graciously.

And for those that don’t, I no longer take offense.  Not everyone is built to talk to strangers.

But I am.

Give it a go.  Because you never know whose life you might touch with a daily dose of friendly.



Packed Up the U-Haul and Moved From Beverly Hills….(or where has Life In Beverly Hills Been for 3 years)

I always get a good chuckle from wandering through old blog posts.  There was a time when LIBH was my outlet for sarcasm, for venting, for human contact, for sharing the crazy positions I found naked Barbies in.  I don’t think any of the blogs I used to follow, over there on the right, exist anymore.  It was the hip thing for a long time.  Mommy blogging.

As my kids napped and I sipped away at that socially acceptable late afternoon Mommy Cocktail, I wrote. And rewrote.  And edited.  And posted about my life.  The little snippets I thought were funny and I wanted to share. And I waited….for comments. For reaction.  Stalking the number of views on my page.

This was before the world became overly obsessed with likes and tags and hashtags and snapchat and Instagram.   Before our president used 140 characters to set policy on a regular basis.  I’ll admit, Facebook as taken over as my outlet for the most part.  But I need more….I don’t vent my anger, air my dirty laundry, or use profanity on Facebook.  It just isn’t ladylike.  But here…well that’s a different story.

It was always sort of anonymous here.  In Beverly Hills. But that was before Beverly Hills relocated a little east.  There is nothing to hide here…the curtains are always open.

Not everyone gets a fresh start to get things right the second time around. But Beverly Hills did.  It wasn’t without pain.  It wasn’t without heartache.  It wasn’t without bumps along the road.   But there are lessons learned along the way that should be shared.  Victories to be celebrated.  And some failures that may help someone else who may be on the same journey I am, but perhaps a few steps behind.

Pull up a chair, grab a beverage, and sit back to enjoy the ride.

Of Epic Proportions

I have a tween now.  A beautiful, smart and talented 10 1/2 year old.

She’s sweet.  Kind.  Courteous.  Loving.  Most days.

But I have one word for you.  Puberty.

Need I say more?  Well I think in these past 6 months I have become an expert on meltdowns of epic level proportions.  We are talking I-could-write-a-book expert.  It came on out of nowhere.  And with a vengeance.  The closest I can come to describing it is comparing it to a Pit Bull snarling at a rare steak dangling from a string just out of reach.  You get the picture.

And while I get that her body is changing in a manner that she can barely wrap her head around, I think the health video she saw last spring planted a seed in her mind.  See at the tender age of 9 (ok, two weeks before the big double digit birthday) the girls went into one room at school, and the boys in the other.  And they watched “THE VIDEO” about their changing bodies.  It covered your basic hygiene needs.   How their bodies are changing.  The usual stuff that I have covered with her in detail over the course of the last few years.

But the one thing they touched on that I had not covered with my best girl is the mood swings.  She heard those words.  And now it is used as a license to ill.   The reasoning.  The excuse.  And while I am not faint of heart by any stretch of the means and can see through pretty much any line of bullshit my darlings try to sell me…this one, puberty, might just end up breaking me down.

This week for example….the 5th grade had a field trip to the zoo. And the appropriate attire was necessary for a chilly February day in Michigan.

She picked out gray leggings and a short sleeved t-shirt.  To which I added a hoodie.  The only hoodie I could find in the pit that was clean and hanging in her closet.  It was also gray.   As the clock to departure time ticked away, the meltdown came on.  She was going to look like a gray buffoon wearing gray pants and a gray sweatshirt.   Once I managed to find a camo hoodie, to which I commented the animals wouldn’t be able to see her (a comment to which I got “The Glare”), it came to earring choice.  She hardly wears earrings.  But today, of all days, 5 minutes before she was to report for her safety post, she decided animal earrings were a MUST.   I came into her room to find every earring she owns spread across her carpet.  And more tears because she couldn’t find a matching pair.

The straw that broke the camel’s back, though, was the comments about how I never get to come to anything anymore.  Because Life In Beverly Hills is now a full-time working outside the home Mom.  It broke my heart.  Avery was inconsolable about all of it.  To the point where she finally went, splotchy faced, to school head hanging down low.  With cookie earrings, a camo hoodie, and a runny nose.

And there wasn’t a damn thing I could say or do to make her feel better.  My philosophy is that there isn’t anything that is a big enough deal that we can’t handle together.  We talk, we hug, we cry.  And we fix.  That’s just what we do.  To not be able to fix her 10-year-old emotions did a number on me.  And if I recall it wasn’t until I was about 22 that I realized my mom actually did know what she was talking about all those years.  It’s an uphill battle…to which I bring a sword and shield….and an endless supply of Kleenex.

Is it too late? Will you take me back?

It’s a funny thing…reading old blog posts.  And seeing what things happened in my life that were “blog worthy”.  I dedicated a lot of time to the writing and upkeep of Life In Beverly Hills.  It was my baby.  Before I had two babies…

It’s hard to believe that this, what I used as the outlet for the funny and not-so-funny hair pulling, blood pressure rising moments in my life, has fallen to the wayside.  For a couple years there I was averaging 1 post a year.

Things have changed.  A lot.

CSM has officially retired.  The new ruler is Hockey Mom.  She’s a hoot.  You’d probably like her.

There’s the PTA Mom in me too.  Yet another humorous part of Life In Beverly Hills.

The peeps are now 10 and 6.

My Best Girl is on the verge of tween-ness.  I don’t recall this age of transition…but as I recount endless stories to my Mom, she assures me that I was just as bad.  If not worse.  Selective memory isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The pit that I call Avery’s room…the fact that I can’t see her floor and 9 out of 10 drawers are hanging open at any given moment … well it seems the apple doesn’t fall far the tree.

Carson is a maniac.  We survived Kindergarten.  Without one single call from the Principal’s office.  On June 12th I breathed a sigh of relief.  We made it.  Could be that he is growing.  Or it could be the dimple that pops when he gives a killer smile.  Not sure.  And I don’t care to know.  Only 12 more school years to go.

I have sprouted a few many gray hairs over the past couple of years.  And so duly noted by the gentleman at Home Depot who asked me if Avery was my granddaughter.  Um.  No.  Thanks, Jackass.  (That Home Depot trip was immediately followed by a trip to the salon for a color).

I survived a One Direction concert sitting on the main floor.  Without earplugs.  Even live every one of their songs sound the same.  Not that I could hear one lyric over the squealing of teen girls.

I sat for countless hours in an ice arena watching my daughter come into her own on the ice.  And watching Carson not listen to the coaches.

My life is full.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t need this place…and that I don’t need to be heard (read) by the three people who still, after all of this time, come around to see what is happening in Beverly Hills.

It’s Not Always About the Medal

I have a confession to make…I am a Swim Mom.

It’s like a hockey mom or a soccer mom, but with sunscreen and flip flops.

And not only am I a *Swim Mom* but sometimes I  am ****CRAZY**** Swim Mom.

Those aren’t always proud moments but I sometimes just can’t control Her/Myself.

I guess I should backtrack and tell you how it all started.  I am a warm weather girl.  Hands down give me 100+ degrees and 150% humidity over -40 and snow any day of the week.  Any month of the  year.  So the opportunity came to join our neighborhood pool last summer.  And when we joined everyone said “You HAVE to do swim team”.  Um.  Ok.

I signed My Best Girl up, and took her to her first practice.  At an outdoor pool.  In May.  In Michigan.  I think her lips turned a permanent tint of blue at that first practice.  But she loved it.  She didn’t even know that she was in the  “Maybe swim team isn’t the best fit for your child” group.  You know it – the group that swims in the lane along the wall in case they start to drown.  Yeah.  That was Avery.  But she pushed on.  She swam all summer and when it was over, she asked if she could swim on a winter team.

And so we did.  We spent the fall, winter, and spring shlepping to swim practice 3-4 times a week.  And she continued to love it.  And she continued to improve.  Let’s face it, she worked her ass off.  She swam in every meet that was offered.  She picked hard events.  She didn’t come in first, and she didn’t come in last.  But she kept improving.  100 IMs, relays, 100 breaststroke events….she took it all on.  With a smile.  I’m not kidding.  She smiled down every length of the pool.

Extra Photo on Flash Drive - Qty 1 - 7074A


And time came for summer team.  So it seems that Avery has a good *swim* birthday.  I didn’t understand that until this year.  The cut off for determining summer age is May 31.   That puts her on the 8&under team.  She turned 9 on June 11th.   Got it now.  These young swimmers are limited to 25 meter events.  And this year, with a winter of swimming behind her, she is swimming in the points races.  She is helping her team earn points to win meets.  And she is doing well.  Her best events?  Freestyle and Butterfly.

You may be wondering where this post is going…well here’s the meat and potatoes of my point.

We had a mini meet this weekend and families/swimmers picked their events, unlike the dual meets where the coaches assign strokes. Avery was pumped that she could pick a 100 meter individual medley and a 50 breast stroke. And a rocking relay team.

The anticipated day arrives. We are at the pool at 7:30. Warmed up. Ready to swim. Wouldn’t know we had two factors working against us…

It was 90 degrees at 10am. And based on the events she picked we had 3+ hours between events. Time to wait. Time to wither. Everyone knew she was tired. Her coach told me later she knew something was off because she wasn’t chattering up a storm.

And without complaint, without tears….my best girl climbed up on the blocks not once, but twice, to face her challenging events. First the 50 breast. And secondly the IM.

She completed them. It was work. And she didn’t come in first. She didn’t come in last. Her attitude when she was finally wrapped in a fluffy towel with a Gatorade in hand??

“Now I have times in both events and have something to work towards improving.”

She didn’t care about the medal.  Neither did I.  I was proud of what she accomplished that day at the pool.

We packed up our cooler, deck chairs, 432 wet towels, snacks, sunscreen, and miscellaneous swim meet accessories and headed home.


As a little added treat…*Crazy Swim Mom* (aka CSM) came to our dual meet on Monday night.  She’s elusive…but Wendy caught a snapshot of her.  That’s her, crouched by the pool. yelling “Stroke” Or “Pull” Or “Kick”.  Hard to say.  Avery got her two best times in her events so whatever CSM yelled, worked.


I know how Clark felt

I am sure that during the holiday season, you all – like us here in Beverly Hills – probably watched the Christmas classic “Christmas Vacation”.  I mean the season just isn’t complete without at least a dozen viewings.  For us, the first time the DVD gets dusted off is Thanksgiving weekend.  This year was no different.

Before I get into this years debacle, I should give a little history of the Beverly Hills Family Christmas Tree.  When we relocated back to Michigan after the stint in Texas, we got our tree out the day after Thanksgiving.  What we didn’t take into account was that our ceilings in Texas were a tad bit higher than our little 1940’s rental.  By about 14 feet.  As we set up the tree, there wasn’t room for the star, or the top 3 feet of the tree for that matter.  So off we go to English Gardens to see what they had.

There has been a marriage long debate about real vs artificial.  Our first tree was real back in 1999 and it was a beauty.  Until the needles starting falling off.  I was picking up needles until about June, so I thought NEVER AGAIN.  Of course is was a $25 tree from lot next to the local YMCA that had been up for a month and a half. Fast forward a couple years to our first Christmas in Dallas.  We got swept up by the beauty of the holiday season (read: 75 degrees and sunny) and decided to pick up another real tree.  Over to the lot we go…and to our amazement people were loading up their trees in the backs of convertibles.  Joy and peace and love was in the air.  We wandered the lot…selected our tree and went to pay.   With a little laugh I pointed out the sign that read “Live Trees Imported from Michigan”.  HA.  Our beautifully wondrous genuine Michigan tree set us back – are you sitting down? – $200.  Yup.  I didn’t add an extra zero.  You are reading that right.  You can bet your bottom dollar that this imported tree was probably cut down some time mid-August.  And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it barely made it through the entire holiday season.  Lesson learned.  Fake trees from here on out.

At English Gardens we selected a lovely prelit tree.  I was all about making it easier on myself.  Brought that little gem home and in three easy steps – PRESTO – instant lit tree.  And the tree served us well for about 5 years.  Two years ago, I pulled it out and plugged it in.  And a strand was out.  Off I rushed to English Gardens and got one of those clicker things to test the lights.  Fixed the strand and all was well.  Last year, half the tree was out.  Back to English Gardens I go.  (Do you see a pattern here?)  Their current trees had a new bulb structure so I spent quite a bit of time digging through bins to find enough spares to fix my tree.  And that I did – sorta.  I tested and replaced EVERY single bulb on this tree.  I think it’s something like a 450 light tree.  Did it work?  Well, most of it did.  So I took matters into my own hands, after two days of fussing, and strung extra lights in.  No one was the wiser.

Early on this year, I thought to myself…”Self, maybe I should look into getting a new tree this year.”  So I took myself back to (you guessed it) English Gardens.  If you have priced “realistic looking prelit trees” in recent years, you will understand why I am now on a low-dose aspirin regimen from the heart attack I suffered following extreme sticker shock.  It turns out that our little old tree was going to make it ONE more year.

(On a side note after mentioning to Hubby that I thought maybe we needed a new tree, he told me that Avery said “Dad, we should get Mom a new tree this year because she really swore alot at the tree last year!”  Leave it to my  7 year old to remember one of my NOT finer moments.)

This year, I drag the tree down from the attic in the garage.  Rearrange all my living room furniture to accommodate my tree.  Set up the stand.  Assemble the tree.  Connect all of the plugs.  Hit the switch.  NOTHING.  Not a single fucking light worked on my tree.  My patience, wearing thin but not yet gone, allowed me to disconnect and reconnect all of the plugs inside the tree.  Flip the switch.  NOTHING.  So I did what any normal, sane, level-headed person would do.  I shook that stupid tree.  And shook and shook.   Flipped the switch.  Half a strand at bottom of the tree on one branch came to life.  By this point, it is 10:00 at night.  I am tired, frustrated, over wrought that I do not have a working, easy to assemble prelit tree.

I know how Clark felt.  I really do.  Hours and hours dedicated to lighting and perfecting the best damn holiday decorations of the year.  And what happens?  You are standing on your front lawn, with your family watching, with a drum roll and you get….nothing.

I threw on my coat, grabbed my purse and keys, and went directly to Target.  Spent about as much on lights as it would have cost me to get a new tree.  Came home, strung the lights, trying my best to cover those burned out ones permanently attached to the tree.  Strung the beads, hung the ornaments, and lit the star.  Perfect.

Then Avery walks up to the tree, points to one of the non-working lights and casually shouts out “Hey Mom, do you know you have a bulb out?”

“Why, yes, yes I do, Avery.”

A New Year, A New Day

Here it is, January 2nd and the word RESOLUTION has been lurking in the back of my brain….poke poke poking.  The little angel on one shoulder says “This is the year of Dana, the year of change, forward progress” and all of that sentimental BS.  The little devil on the other shoulder is saying “Why bother?  You will just be a failure.  Forget about it.”

And in the end, Good Prevails Over Evil and I have made a list:

1.  I will TRY to keep my car cleaner.  My traveling radius is generally no more than 5 miles from my house, and there is a fast food joint and gas station on every other corner.  Keeping enough crap in my car to sustain a family of four trapped by an avalanche just isn’t necessary.  I have Avery – now a very mature 7 1/2 – to assist.  Carson – a 3 1/2 year old mini Taz – is a lost cause when it comes to picking up after himself.

2. I am going to keep a list of the books I read in 2013.  I have seen goals on other blogs and I think I could do 24 books (2/month) in the upcoming year.  I am ALWAYS open to suggestions for reading.  Particularly mindless trash with extraordinary entertainment value that really doesn’t burn too many brain cells. (I did just go to the library today and load up my bookshelf with all manner of books.  I usually pick them based on their cover art.)

3. In 2013 I am going to be more open to change.  Let’s face it, I pretty much live within my comfort zone 24/7.  I am challenging myself not to fear the unknown (too much anyways)…you never know what might lay right around the corner of that new opportunity.

4.  Gym, diet, weight loss…you know how this one goes so I don’t think I need to expound any further.  Just putting it out there…I actually got to the point this holiday season where I was (shhhhh…wait for it) SICK AND TIRED OF STUFFING MY FACE.  Shocking, I know, right?

5.  I am NOT going to give up drinking coffee.  I love it way too much.  Love the flavor, the aroma as it brews and fills my kitchen.  However maybe it might be a good idea to CUT BACK from my usual pot that I drink each day.  It is, I admit, a bit excessive.  M.O.D.E.R.A.T.I.O.N.

6.  I will do a little more thinking before speaking.

7.  I will practice patience and tolerance.

8.  Last but not least, I am going to attempt to revive Life in Beverly Hills…Michigan.  It might take some work, some stretching of the old funny muscles which have lain dormant for years months, and maybe trying to rally some readers into giving me a chance to entertain them.  (Hey, according to my dash board 11 whole people visited my blog today.  Or maybe it was just my mom coming back 11 times – not really sure.  Although I don’t think she reads this…)

This is a year NOT about fear of failure but the chance to possibly do something AMAZING!