Three Announcements

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 8.09.35 PMAll I’m trying to do is stay afloat. That’s it. Parent my child, work, breathe, repeat. I’ve been so stressed out I barely eat. Seven months after giving birth, I’m practically back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 85 pounds. It wasn’t about working out or eating right. It’s all about surviving a natural catastrophe in the form of San Francisco’s stormageddon. I honestly just want to crawl into a dry cave and sleep for 8 hours straight. I’m not asking for much!

Despite the bump in the road I’ve been facing, my blog is chugging along like the Little Engine that Could. I’ve got three announcements to make. Ready?

1. Let’s start with the accolade. Dear Vixen is listed as one of FlipKey’s Top 20 San Francisco-based Bloggers. I am beyond thrilled to be nominated along with some of my very favorite local blogs. I feel like I won the lottery!

2. For several months now, my site has been mobile-friendly. That’s right. Bookmark my site on your mobile device. Dear Vixen is reader-tested, cell phone approved. Don’t forget you can get my posts sent directly to your email by subscribing (find the below graphic on my site header). It’s easy. No need to bookmark!

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 8.31.58 PM3. I’m slowly making improvements to my site. Baby steps. I added a page on some of my favorite books. Take a look and let me know if I’m missing something epic! Favorite books.

Holman Ranch to the Rescue

When I was a kid, I had family who lived in the Monterey area, which meant I spent time there building sandcastles, digging clams, and eating ice-cream on Cannery Row.

Remember the movie Splash? During a tough time in his life, Tom Hanks’s character longs to return to Cape Cod. That’s the same kind of draw that Monterey and Carmel have for me. Whenever I’m down, I want to pack my bags and head to that rugged coast.

I’ve had a mini-vacation planned for a while now. As part of a media tour, Holman Ranch hosted me and four other bloggers, including our guests, for a wonderfully-relaxing stay. The timing couldn’t have worked out any better because my life has been bitter chaos lately. Holman Ranch turned my salty tears into a rainbow of serenity.

Holman Ranch is located in the picturesque town of Carmel Valley, a two-and-a-half hour drive south from San Francisco.

carmel valleyThink of Carmel Valley as the new Sonoma. Wineries span the whole area, but there are numerous tasting rooms within walking distance of each other. You can literally hop from one tasting room to another, have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and not even have to drive.

carmel valley wineriesHolman Ranch is a major business venture comprised of vineyards, olive groves, event space, accommodations, horse stables, and the newly acquired Wills Fargo restaurant. Both the ranch and the restaurant have been open since 1928! Charlie Chaplin frequented the property so often he had his own room. Other celebrity visits included Vincent Price, Clark Gable, and Marlon Brando. Check out this picture of Joan Crawford milking a cow.

joan crawfordOur stay in the hacienda couldn’t have been more relaxing. I swear I could have jumped into the historical pool (first one built in Carmel Valley). And this is the month of December! The weather was gorgeous.

hacienda1hacienda2hacienda3hacienda5hacienda4hacienda6To say that we were wined and dined is an understatement. The winemaker Nick gave us a tour of the vineyards and the wine cave, where we got to taste straight from the barrels. What an amazing experience, especially since these are award-winning wines. Make sure to check out the Holman Ranch tasting room in town.

vineyard1vineyard2vineyard3vineyard4vineyard5vineyard6The highlight for me was dinner at Wills Fargo restaurant, now owned by Holman Ranch. The food was decadent–exactly the way I like it–ending with a molten lava cake. OMG! Plus there was live music. We were boogeying and getting down with the locals. I had such a great time.

wills fargo1wills fargo2I am trying to figure out how to host my own event or family reunion at the property. Given the backdrop of vineyards and rolling hills, the estate is a stunning venue for weddings. While walking around the ranch, I kept envisioning what a beautiful wedding we could have had there. Maybe one day we will renew our vows when Franco is all grown up and running his own startup.

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Quote of the Day

smartest_thingThis quote came through my Twitter feed this morning and I just wanted to say Hells to the Yeah.

I can’t remember a time in my life being this stressful. If I were a celebrity, I’d check myself into a treatment center to deal with off-the-chart anxiety. A few weeks ago, we were rear-ended. Then I got sick. Last week, our 2-bedroom, 2-bath home which wasn’t even that big to begin with flooded. We are now essentially squeezed into a 1-bedroom place.

So with that backdrop in addition to being new sleep-deprived parents, Dean and I have been at each others’ throats. This is real, like Real Housewives kind of drama as we increasingly became frustrated with each other and the yelling escalated.

I write this because I’m so tired of all the personal blogs that never talk about the negative. That’s not reality! It ain’t all weekend getaways and wine country and fancy things. Life has ups and downs, and right now we are really down.

I love this quote because even though women are more independent these days, there are still so many women who are dependent on their husbands. I did a rough mental survey of my friends. If all of our husbands left us today, I’d say about 25% of my friends would be on the street. My statistics are skewed because I tend to have ambitious, career-oriented friends who went to grad school. But even then, about 25% of my friends would be penniless without their husbands. Isn’t that outrageous?

I love my husband, but I don’t financially need him. That’s coming from a place of female empowerment. I came into our marriage with my own skills, with my own savings and financial security, and if he wanted to bolt, I could go it alone…no problemo.

The past few days I’ve been asking friends, “Do you fight with your husband? Like really fight?” No one seems to talk about it so sometimes I think Dean and I are the only couple in the world who fights.

I’m here to blog about reality. For realz. It’s not all roses!

Worst Day of My Life

Yesterday has to rank as one of the worst days of my life.

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First, I want to preface that my experience yesterday does not compare to a death in the family, divorce, a sick child, miscarriage or terminal illness. Those are tragedies. Those are painful experiences that span long time frames.

While what happened yesterday was challenging and emotional, it was not a tragedy. It’s something that we will overcome.

Tuesday night, I welcomed the pitter-patter of the rain and I reflected on the peace and quiet of our home. My husband was traveling for work, so I was alone in bed. My mom was asleep on the couch; she was helping out since Dean was away for the week. Baby Franco was being so good, sleeping through the night alone in the nursery.

At 4:30am, Franco woke up. When I opened the door to the nursery, he propped his head up and flashed a big grin. I took one step up to enter his room and dipped into a pool of water. The nursery and the adjacent bathroom were covered in half an inch of water.

“Oh God! My baby!” I screamed as I waded my way over to Franco’s smiling face. His crib was a protected island in a room that had flooded. I scooped him up and kept muttering, “Oh my baby. My poor baby.” Thankfully he was ok, but I was in shock.

My mom who is paranoid by nature made me even more emotional. She scolded, “This is why I told you Franco needs to sleep in your room. I knew having him on the other side of the house was a bad idea. Can you imagine if we found him this morning underwater?!”

“Mom! You are not helping.” I cried as I held Franco in my arms. I asked my mom to hold Franco while I made phone calls.

Luckily Dean is in Boston this week. I knew I could reach him with the time difference. He was very calm, probably because he couldn’t see the extent of the damage!

Next up, I made a handful of calls to plumbers. I got through to someone who came over at 6am. If you’re in San Francisco, call Fast Response. They are the best! The plumber said it wasn’t a plumbing issue. He placed a call on my behalf to a water damage recovery company. In addition, I made more calls to other repair companies. Because the rain was so bad Tuesday night, plumbers and the water recovery companies were booked solid.

Someone finally did come to suck the water out. A dehumidifier is running 24/7. The rooms are a wreck and unlivable. The hardwood floors are unsalvageable. Apparently the walls need to be opened up and dried. We are at high risk of a mold problem.

Earlier in the morning, I also sent a frantic text to my real estate agent. “Help! Two rooms in our home are flooded. Isn’t the remodel work guaranteed?” I was alluding to our property being a brand new remodel when we purchased it.

He called me later on in the day, “I don’t know if this will make you feel better but three other clients had flooding in their home.”

We are going to work with the seller and the contractor who did the work to assess the damage and see what can be done. That’s where we’re at. Our home is a disaster, but everyone is safe which is all that matters.

I am so very thankful to live near family. My dad drove over immediately. My parents spent all morning trying to mop up as much water as possible, dealing with the different contractors, then laundering about 100 towels! They deserve a medal for handling everything, allowing me to come into the office to work, and urging Dean to stay in Boston to finish out his work week. He would have otherwise high-tailed it home.

I was a mess yesterday, but trying to take deep breaths. I’m grateful as it seems like all the parties involved (real estate, insurance, contractors) are trying to help.

How to Live Longer

I watched this really interesting segment on 6o Minutes about people who live long lives (i.e., 90+ years).

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There’s this retirement community in Southern California where residents filled out an extensive questionnaire asking about lifestyle. A neurologist discovered the data (going back to 1981) and not only has her team analyzed what they found, they are tracking every single resident who is still alive to determine what is the secret to longevity.

Here are the links to the video clips. It’s a fascinating watch.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the research. The following factors contribute to longer lifespans:
  • 45 minutes of exercise a day. 45 minutes is better than 2 or 3 hours. Doesn’t have to be consecutive and doesn’t have to be taxing. Simple activities like walking or gardening are fine.
  • Consumption of alcohol every day (i.e., 2 glasses of wine, 2 martinis, 2 beers, etc.). Does not matter what kind of alcohol.
  • Consumption of caffeine (the equivalent of 2-3 cups of coffee per day).
  • Being social.
  • Later on in life, it is better to be a little bit overweight than it is to be underweight.

Where am I on the longevity spectrum? I don’t exercise nor do I drink caffeine. I don’t have wine every day, but several times a week I have a glass of wine. I am fairly social. Plus I am underweight vs overweight. MAJOR FAIL. Maybe I’ll live to 70?

How do you line up?

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