On Tuesday I didn’t leave the office until 7:30pm, only to get on a conference call later on that night until 11pm, and then I checked my Blackberry every couple hours before returning back into the office at 4:45am. Good times, I tell you! Good times.

This is a quick post to let you know I’m still alive and hope to be back to my normal self and schedule soon. I swear I’m seeing stars as I type this right now. My pillow is calling me.

Check out these Christmas pictures of my baby and my husband. Unbelievable, right? There’s no denying who the baby daddy is!

Franco, at 7 months, is on the left – taken this past December at the Fashion Square mall in Scottsdale.

Dean, at 8 months, is on the right. Not sure where that picture is taken.

Don’t they look exactly the same?!

Addicted to the Podcast Serial

I have a really addictive personality. I’m cognizant of this, which is why I’ve avoided certain things in life, like cocaine. Friends of mine would tell me how addictive cocaine was and I knew it was a substance I needed to stay away from. I think they say sugar gives you the same type of high as heroin or some other illicit drug, which is probably why I’ve spent the majority of my life shoveling gallons of ice-cream down my throat.

A while back a colleague recommended that I try the video game Candy Crush. She gushed, “It’s so addictive.” Now why would I want to waste my precious time playing a video game?! No fucking way.

Recently everyone’s gone hog-wild over the podcast Serial. I figured I had to listen in since everyone’s talking about it and I didn’t want to miss out on the discussion. OMG. After listening intently to Episode #1, I was glued to my headphones for days!

A quick background on my relationship with podcasts. For the most part, I like podcasts, but they’re not easy to listen to. It’s hard to get them on my piece of shit Blackberry. Even if I am able to access them, sometimes my connection sucks and they don’t download. Podcasts have caused me a lot of pain and suffering. What I love about the Serial podcast is that you can listen to the episodes by going directly to the website. You don’t need to download a podcast player. You don’t have to have an iPhone or Android. All you need is an internet connection! They made it so easy to listen, not to mention the entertainment value, that I willingly punched in my credit card number when they started asking for donations to fund a second season.

Back to Serial. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, you need to pronto. Listen while you’re commuting or walking the dog or like me, strolling your baby around the neighborhood for the thousandth time because he won’t nap in his crib.

I’m dying to discuss. Can we please? I’m starting Club Serial, an online club to talk about the podcast.

The Most Important Post You Will Read On My Blog

It’s December 31, 2014–the last day of the year. Not that I’ve had much time to myself lately, let alone time to think, but I have been reminiscing about the past year and trying to distill what I’ve learned into a brilliant post for you to read and carry into the new year. To my surprise, the most important thing I learned in life, I learned this year.

In June 2015, I turn 40. And in my four decades of living on this earth, I learned this most important thing that I will share with you today. It is the most critical piece of advice I can impart on you:

You deserve all that your heart desires. It may take some time, even a long time, to obtain it, but if you keep fighting, it will come to you.

I’m not going to get into all the medical details, but my husband and I struggled with infertility for years. Not a surprise since we are both old! Doctors and specialists told us the likelihood of conceiving naturally was very slim. The only viable route for us was IVF, a very expensive and laborious process. Everyone chooses their own path to motherhood, but personally, IVF was not for me. I was also positively bemused by so many couples who had their first child through IVF, but then ended up having their second child naturally.

I was certain we could conceive naturally, but wasn’t sure exactly how to go about it. I did a ton of research, sought out experts, solicited the advice of healers (acupuncturists, therapists, gurus). Some things worked, and others didn’t. But I persistently moved forward, keeping what worked, and discarding what didn’t. It’s easy to say, this is my goal, it’s something I need to work on alone. While this is ultimately your dream, you need the universe to aid you in your desire. We all need assistance.

Do you think Michael Phelps won all his Olympic medals by working and practicing really hard by himself? Hell no! He had coaches and nutritionists and sports therapists and masseuses helping him be his best. We all need a team of experts. And I believe in surrounding myself with people who can help. Yes, it is ultimately on me, but there is a support system out there. Be resourceful and utilize it!

We conceived naturally three times, two times ended in miscarriage, which was the darkest period in my life. Those losses were very hard for me to reconcile. As a devout Catholic, I wanted to punch God in the face. Here Dean and I were, a holy, prayerful, church-involved couple and that’s how God treated us, by taking away our babies. What is the point of prayer if God doesn’t answer our prayers? We are not Christmas and Easter Catholics. We are the kind that know the whole congregation, that stick around after mass to greet the other parishioners.

I turned away from God for a while, but returned because my faith is everything. God is not a magician. He is not a vending machine who doles out what I want at the exact moment I push the button.

They say it is hard to understand life as it is happening to you, but one day, you’ll be able to look in the rear view mirror and it all makes sense. Steve Jobs alludes to this in a Stanford commencement address, that he took a seemingly useless typography class in college that eventually formed the basis for the beautiful Apple fonts.

During that dark period in my life, I lost faith in God because I felt he had robbed me of my babies, robbed me of motherhood. While that was extremely painful, I can see now that God was preparing me for a more appropriate path. Life has always unfolded in exactly the right way. I need to trust in that and God’s plan–for it is never wrong. I can genuinely see that now, despite the losses. Also, because of my faith, I have confidence that I will meet those children when I pass from this earth.

I knew in my heart that I was going to be a mother. It wasn’t an easy path, but through intuition, persistence, sheer belief, and the help of the universe, I was able to get there. The same advice applies to whatever you desire, whether you want to find your life partner, transition to a new career, start a company, or retire altogether.

I think the disconnect is that most people don’t stick to it. As soon as they come to a roadblock, they stop and there goes their “dream.” It’s like blogging. In the 10 years I’ve been blogging (2015 marks my 10 year anniversary), I’ve seen so many bloggers come and go which speaks to the lack of persistence. It’s so easy to talk a big game. It’s a lot harder to act and keep chugging along.

Side note/insight: I love rejection! The more rejections I get, the closer I am to my goal. 

Lastly, my favorite quote:

“To be nobody but yourself–in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else–means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. “ E.E. Cummings

Three Announcements

All 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!

3. 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.

Think 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.

Holman 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.

Our 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.

To 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.

The 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.

I 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.