Better Things are on the way! {Mom Giveaway}

I've been talking up the new FX show Better Things for over a week. Thanks for FX, I have a new favorite show! Thursday nights at 10 pm are booked for this season, which says a lot since I'm a huge fan of How to Get Away with Murder, which is on at the same time! Serious choices are happening.

If you read my first Better Things post, then you know I love Sam and her gang, but last week's episode (episode two) introduced us to Sam's mom, Phil. How do I explain Phil? I can't, you have to see her in all her British accented glory. Don't miss a moment of Sam and her life as TVs best mother.

To celebrate Sam, and mothers everywhere, FX has sent me a gift basket to giveaway to one of my readers. What fabulous swag can you look forward to? Giveaway items include:

Ray-Ban Sunglasses
Leather Clutch for mom’s things
Emergency Beauty Kit
Hypoallergenic travel pillow
Ultra-Soft travel pillow protector
Essential Oils Blend Mini

Cool Blue Tooth Keyring and Ray Ban Sunnies in a ultra hip black leather clutch!
Super soft travel pillow!
Glamorous Ray Ban Sunnies in their signature case!
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog about your current guilty pleasure. Starbucks? Chocolate? Grey's Anatomy? Currently mine is Better Things... So tell me yours for one entry. For extra entries, visit my Facebook page, visit my Instagram feed, or SHARE THIS BLOG POST! When you do, tag me so I can count your entry. This giveaway will close MONDAY 9/25.

Have fun, and don't miss tonight's new episode of Better Things!

Embracing My Mess {Life Lately} September Sixteen


For weeks I have been trying to embrace my mess. To love and thrive in the chaos that is my life.

In my mind, there are so many things to say, to write, to share. I'm overwhelmed at where to start.

I'll start with summer and go from there. 

I spent the summer in organized chaos. A sweet symphony of being over scheduled and overjoyed. It was a balancing act, trying to stay on top of obligations while still maintaining some spontaneity. We spent the summer dancing, literally, with both girls at the studio. School ended and recitals and competitions began. Then a full schedule of summer classes. I worked in between being at the studio with the girls and being home, but only part time which makes me incredibly happy. Part time has finally allowed me to moonlight as a sometimes working mom, bringing home "light" bacon, just enough to fund our Target addiction. We swam at my mama's pool. Sometimes all day, sometimes all night. Fresno boiled and baked us in the hot sun. Our bodies tan and sun kissed. Our ears plugged with chlorinated water and our hair tangled and crunchy. It was beautiful and glorious and exactly the kind of summer I have always wanted to give my kids.

I spent late nights with my neighbors and friends. Taking and laughing and sharing meals. Watching the Olympics and cheering for team USA and committing ourselves to insuring that one of our kids will be an Olympian one day and then we can all go and cheer USA together. Ping Pong or Women's trampoline has top billing in this house. Who needs gymnastics?

The Hubbs and I spent the summer trying to keep up with the girls and each other. Sundays spent lazily. Sometimes, most times in bed, watching movies with bad words and napping, among other things. There were no designated date nights. Just easy, lazy, summer nights, enjoying our company, our surroundings, and our shared sense of humor. There were heated political debates. We almost got a dog. We sent each other private messages on Instagram that were always inappropriate, but perfect if you know us in real life. Summer is our best season, it always has been. 

Then school started and the organized chaos just became chaos. From school to dance to home to bed. On loop like some kind of video surveillance, titled, "Insight into an over scheduled life". This year I have a fourth grader and a first grader, which is hard for me to believe. Our homework schedules include 20 minutes of reading and at least 20 spelling words a night. The first week of school was rocky at best with a new dance schedule and back to school kicking us around. Exhaustion set in, and by the first Friday, we were fried.

When I think about this school year, I can see the road ahead of me. All I can see are bumps. A rocky road filled with a schedules and obligations. Not only have I committed my daughters to a hectic dance schedule but I've also committed myself. I don't always just drop them off, on Mondays and Wednesdays I sit for 3-4 hours at a time. I'm at dance as I write this. I'm going to email it to myself and copy and paste into my blog template later. If I didn't email myself my writing, I may never write, I'd never get it down. This year I'm also on the schools PTC executive board, serving as the secretary. Which means I'm at all events early; movie night, back to school night, open house, you name it, I'll be there. I'm still a Girl Scout leader and our scout year begins this Thursday. School has been in session for a month and I'm already thinking about June.

Not really. Just a little. With every bump in the road, there will be a blessing. I know that, I have faith in that. Blessings will come when I least expect them, when I think I can't take another step. I've learned that blessings always rise from mess and chaos. Little moments that make all the bullshit matter. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I overbook my life? It's nature. I've always been an "over booker". If over scheduling my life was an Olympic sport I'd be a gold medalist. I said yes to all of those things. I have committed myself to a busy year. Don't feel sorry for me, I want to do all of those things, I wanted to do them when I signed up. But I also want to be lazy. I want to watch everything in my DVR and sleep in on Sundays. And I will. Don't worry about me. I'm lazy most days. Laundry is rarely folded, dishes pile up. Please never stop by my house unannounced because my bathroom looks like a fairy tale wasteland with Lalaloopsy dolls in the bathtub and the remains of a murdered tube of toothpaste in the sink. Towels litter the floor because that's my life. Please always give me 10 minutes to pretend I'm the kind of mom who cares when mostly I don't. Little by little, toothpaste glob by toothpaste glob, I'm embracing my mess. Even when I'm embarrassed by the towels and the Lalaloopsy dolls.

With school back in session and something that resembles a schedule falling into place,I've been trying to get back into blogging. All summer I tried. But the pull. The pull to be with my family. My friends. The pull to watch new TV shows. The pull to spend all day at the pool. The pull was greater than the pen. I missed it, I did. When I found a spare moment, mostly late at night, I did write, a little fiction, a little fact. Mostly, I left it, the keyboard, the screen, and for the first time since I started this blog it felt right. It felt okay, like a relief to be able to leave it. To surrender and say, "I'd rather go to yogurt than type on that keyboard". I used to feel so guilty when I'd skip a post. I'd be mad at the world if I couldn't make it to the screen. It would feel like I failed. But in the last year something clicked. My blog, while fun and self serving, wasn't my only identity. My page views or lack thereof no longer dictated how I felt. The comments became non existent, no matter how heartfelt or how much I bled into the post. I got more interaction on Instagram and Facebook and so I started to post little bits there, but soon that fell off too. Soon I didn't know what every single person I followed are for breakfast or lunch. I didn't watch all the Fallon or Kimmel videos that were trending. Last night I got into bed and realized I hadn't been on Instagram or Facebook all day. Something that hasn't happened since I got my first iPhone and added the appropriate apps. Really, it was the first time in years. I was surprised that I didn't miss it. I was surprised that it didn't bother me. 

This is me, currently, embracing my mess. Embracing my chaos. This is me as my patience is pushed to the absolute limit, because I am scheduled within an inch of my life. So overbooked that when I forget to buy new tights for ballet or realize that I forgot the spiral bound notebooks or HOLY SHIT WE ARE OUT OF TOILET PAPER, I lament and rant and eat chocolate. Messy happens, it's happening right now.

I never wanted to be "That Mom". The messy one. The late one. The crazy/bonkers/batshit mom. I resisted so hard that it almost killed me. Then I let go. I let all previous expectations go, and embraced the chaos.

This is me, I'm proudly, "That Mom", embracing my mess.

PS: After I emailed this to myself. Ran home to prep dinner so the Hubbs could finish it. Went back to the dance studio to get Daughter #1. We walk into the house and Daughter #1 exclaims that she forgot her lunch box at dance. I went back and got it after dinner. Because it wouldn't be a Monday without more mess.

PPS: Check out another Messy Mom on FX's Better Things. Click here for details!

Profanity over Perfection: Why FX's Better Things is Everything!

Image via Better Things Facebook Page

Better Things on FX is the perfect portrait of motherhood if your brand of motherhood includes; sarcasm, profanity, and very awkward situations. Rated MASL (mature audiences/sexual situations/language), it’s not going to be every mom’s shot of whiskey, but it is without a doubt, my cup of tea.

Better Things is a new comedy on FX about single mom Sam, and her three daughters; Max, Frankie, and Duke. Sam is a struggling, but working actress, busting her ass to get to casting calls, going over lines last minute. Sam also provides her voice to a kids cartoon, and we see her testing out her characters voice in the sound booth, only to be interrupted by a telephone call from one of her kid's teachers. Sam is a hard working mom both outside and inside the home. Her daughters all test the best of her abilities in their own ways, and Sam does her best to stay afloat. Even when she says that she is “dating her daughters”, she still finds quiet time to text a “buddy”, and enjoy some fun flashbacks, until the sexting runs cold.

Think that Better Things doesn’t sound relatable? There are three super relatable scenes from the Pilot!

The show opens with Sam and her youngest daughter Duke in the mall. Sam is sitting on a bench opposite another mom, while Duke stands beside her sobbing uncontrollably. You can see other kiddos jumping in a play area in the background, Sam is on her phone. The mom opposite Sam is just staring at her as Sam stares at her phone. Casually Sam looks up and explains to the woman that her daughter wants a pair of six dollar earrings in the store ( as she points to an unseen location). As Duke continues to cry, Sam explains that Duke doesn’t even have pierced ears, but she wants six dollar earrings, and she (Sam) is not buying them. Sam then tells the woman to go and buy them, no really go and buy my daughter these earrings… After the woman stares at her for a beat, Sam says, Well if you aren’t going to buy them then stop staring!!!

I’ve never laughed harder or related better to a scene on a television show!

In another scene with Sam and Duke, Duke begs her mommy to lay with her at bedtime. Sam is torn because she really wants to lay with her daughter but knows that if she does she will most certainly fall asleep. Sam tells Duke that she has so much work to do that she can’t fall asleep, but Duke presses harder, and finally Sam lays down next to her in her tiny bed. Sam tells Duke not to touch her with her “magic baby hands” because they will make her fall asleep, and if she falls asleep nothing will get done. The camera pans away and in the next shot we see a sleeping Duke and Sam. Sam opens her eyes, you see the realization that it’s the middle of the night, and you see the “Oh F&ck” look on Sam’s face.

Image via Facebook

I could feel Sam’s panic, and totally understood the impending doom. I too have fallen asleep with my kiddos, only to wake up at two in the morning and realize that the lunches never got made, and the spirit wear shirts are still in the wash. Also the "magic baby hands" are a real thing, I swear.

The third relatable scene was on of Sam in the car with her teenaged daughter Max. Max wants her mom to buy pot for her so that her mom can make sure it’s organic. Sam is driving and trying not to drive off the road while looking at her delusional daughter. Her daughter continues to talk with her mom about drugs and sex and it brings Sam to the edge. She finally yells, “Hide things from me! Please!”. That look on Sam’s face is so familiar because sometimes there are just things that my kid talks about that I just don’t want to know, and someday she will be a teenager and I will need her to hide things from me. Or maybe, at the very least, ease me into it very slowly.

Image via Facebook

I have no doubt that Better Things on FX will be one of my favorite TV shows this fall. To me it feels like a reality show, but for many moms Sam maybe over the top. I’m 99% sure that Sam doesn’t have a Pinterest account and her Instagram, if she has one, is filled with snaps of her kids in poor lighting, or over filtered selfies. If she has Facebook it’s most likely filled with profanity and memes that cater to the mom of a certain age and stress level. Better Things is a show that my best friend and I should have written, because while it seems over the top, it’s incredibly accurate. Even if you don’t relate to the situation in the scene, you will relate to the emotion of that scene. I laughed a lot, but I also cried. Better Things just gets me.

I think my favorite scene in the pilot was the end. We see Sam on a movie set, pulling up her Spanx and readying herself to get shit done.

Like every mom, everywhere.

Better Things is Everything.

What I Read {Behind Closed Doors: Book Review}

It's very rare that I purchase books that are of the psychological thriller genre. It's not that I don't like that genre, it's just not what I uaually read. Rarely do they have the happy endings of chick lit. They hardly ever end with a feeling of hope or forgiveness like in YA. The only reason I read Gone Girl when it was published was because everyone on the planet was reading it, and the reviews were excellent. It was excellent, so good in fact that at one point I had to stop reading and take a breath. I can't even tell you how entertained and disgusted I was after reading Gone Girl, which until recently was just about all the psychological thriller I could take.

That is why I was shocked when I had to finish Behind Closed Doors in one sitting. In one sitting! I could not put this book down. I had to get the entire story, I had to know how it started, how it ended, how little side stories of George Clooney or a sweet little puppy fit into this giant puzzle of a book. At times I knew I was reading important information, and was racing to figure out its importance!

Behind Closed Doors is the story of Jack and Grace Angel, presumably the most perfect couple. Jack, is a successful lawyer in London, Grace is the portrait of the perfect modern housewife. Jack is not only a successful lawyer, but also a champion for battered women. His most successful cases were battered women seeking divorces. From the very first chapter you can sense that something isn't right in their perfect world. Over the course of a intimate dinner party you learn that Jack works so hard to provide a luxurious life for Grace. Grace works hard in the home to prepare near perfect dinners, keeps her figure in tact, and travels the world with her husband. Everyone at the dinner party is so envious of Grace and Jack Angel. Even their surname is a dead giveaway that all is not right in this world.

To really review Behind Closed Doors, I would have to give away so much of the book. This review would be one giant spoiler alert. I don't believe in doing that. Not every wants to know what they are getting into, not everyone wants to know the climax. I don't want to give anything away because you have to read this book. You have to be so taken aback by the chilling and frightening secrets surrounding the marriage of Jack and Grace Angel.

Told both in past and present chapters, it's not until the middle of the book that you find out exactly why these two are together. You find out their motivations for staying married. You find out how helpless a person can be. For the first half of the book, I was so sure that this was a story of hidden identity. Jack protects battered women, some going through a divorce, perhaps Grace was one of those women. And maybe she killed her husband, and now under a different name, she is married to the champion of battered women, and hiding in plain sight...

Oh, how I wish this was the case. How I wish this was the big hidden secret of their marriage.

It was not. The secret is sinister and bone chilling. Your heart and stomach will drop. Your heart will race, and you will be on the edge, mentally screaming at the book.

I'm not usually like this when I read books. I read nice chick lit and sad emo YA novels. I close a book at the happy ending, the happily ever after, the hopeful sunrise. This book was none of those things. Still this book was everything. This book had me in it's grasps until the end. I still can't believe that I read this entire book in one sitting, something I haven't done since college. There was never a moment where I was falling asleep or bored in anyway. Trust me when I say, it was on the edge excitement the entire time. This book was written in a way that there was never a moment that you could walk away from the story. Every chapter ended with a new mystery, a new question to answer. It made for a fantastic read.

Behind Closed Doors has been compared to Gone Girl. I get it, Behind Closed Doors is that good. But it's so different from Gone Girl. Behind Closed Doors brings forth the unbelievable, the shocking, the breathtaking. It's tragic and horrifying. I can't stress enough how this book will blow your mind and chill you to your core.

You will love every minute of it. I promise.

Pick up Behind Closed Doors today from your favorite bookseller.

Behind Closed Doors, published by St. Martin's Press 2016.
This post was sponsored by St. Martin's Press, via an advanced reader copy.

This Summer {2016}

It's August 1st. There are exactly 21 days left until our first day of school. Twenty-one days. How is that possible? This summer it has all gone way too fast. We are not ready summer! Do not leave us yet!!

A few weeks ago I read this interesting article about what we "should" be doing this summer. I'm pretty sure it was written from a dreamers stand point, like what we should all want to do this summer. Still it left me feeling a little sad. We may not make it to the beach this summer, or to a theme park. There is no way we will walk in a meadow and catch fire flies or climb a mountain top... It just left me thinking. Have I made the most of this summer? The more I think about it, the more I'm sure I have.

This summer I served ice cream for dinner more than once. It's super easy clean up if you use cones. Easier clean up if you go out for ice cream. Plus around Fresno, it's just too damn hot to cook.

This summer I have slept in more than once. Chucking all obligations. I have laid in bed for over an hour, scrolling social media, listening to my kids play, ignoring requests for breakfast. This summer I have skipped my alarm altogether on Sundays, and it felt so right!

This summer I have spent multiple days in pajamas. Letting my girls follow suit. We have eaten snacks from the pantry for meals, and watched Cartoon Network all day. These are the same days that were spent reading in bed. Enjoying a summer best seller with a happy and hopeful ending.

This summer I made lame excuses so I could go to Target alone, after dark. That way I could blast the Red Hot Chili Peppers, that always feel like summer. Throwing on a hat and flip flops just for a few moments alone. To enjoy the school supplies where the Halloween candy soon will live. Taking my time, wandering but never lost.

This summer, the Husband and I were able to watch half a movie, together, uninterrupted. A real movie with bad words and adult content. Which means the kids can't watch it. Which means we get to be adults again.

This summer I took my kids to Starbucks on multiple Sundays. Those Trenta cups make the best water cups, so I made it my mission to get a new on each week. Most Sundays this was the only adventure we went on, spending the rest of the day at home. Maybe there was a baseball game on, or an 80s movie. Maybe we saved our energy and went swimming later in the day. Maybe we did nothing at all, but those Starbucks Sundays will always be my favorite.

This summer I stayed up late, way too late. But the house was so quiet, and no one ever asked for water or goldfish. No one needed me to scratch their back or comb out tangles. It was so quiet that I was able to watch what I wanted to watch on any electronic devise of my choosing. There were no fights or whining about anything in those late hours of the night. It was perfect and just what I needed.

This summer I didn't write as much as I thought I would. I thought about it from time to time, but I was so busy with other things. Maybe that makes it less of a priority, and I'm okay with that for now. I also went days without posting on social media. Not because I made a conscious effort, but because I was in it. In the moments. Forgetting the phone all together. I can't say that it was a bad thing. It was kind of refreshing.

This summer I decided that my kids could be bored. I let them find themselves bored. If not now then when? I want them to experience down time, and what it feels like to be schedule free. So much of there time during the school year is filled with obligation and activity that I really wanted them to know what summer break feels like. So, we were bored. Sometimes we found a new show to binge. Sometimes we colored those cool adult coloring books that takes hours to finish a page. Sometimes we packed it up and went to swim at grandmas. Boredom didn't hurt them one bit, it inspired them to be kids. Kids with some freedom to be bored.

This summer I decided that six in the evening is the perfect time for a good swim. Or a good time to go to Target or the grocery store. It was kind of nice to decide to do something after spending all day doing nothing. It was easy to decide to throw on a hat and find some motivation to do anything. Especially if anything included ice cream or slushies.

This summer I declared that swimming could very much take the pace of a bath. Maybe baths are overrated when all you do is swim. Why wast soap? Chlorine is close enough right?

This summer I woke up in a bed of legs and tangled sheets. Legs that aren't mine. Tangled because we all fell asleep laughing or reading. Tangled because they all crawled into my bed anyway. It's the best and worst way to wake up. Best because those little people love you so much they can't stand to be away from you for even a night. Worst because your legs are asleep, you are sweating from all the body heat, and you really have to pee. This summer I woke up in a tangled bed so many times, it almost seemed comical. Still, there is something so sound and content about waking up in heap, listening to the tiny snores of your children.

This summer I wanted to live the laziest life. I wanted that for my entire family. The school year gets so bogged down with obligation. In just 21 short days we will be back at school, lunches will have to be made, homework to be done, dance classes to rush to. I wanted to enjoy the downtime, take advantage of the days that were free of classes or appointments. We didn't do a single bucket list item. We didn't complete a single suggested summer homework worksheet. I don't feel bad about it. My kids are healthy and happy, tanned and perfumed with chlorine. This summer we said yes to pajama days, yes to nights at the pool, yes to chips and Popsicles for dinner. Because summer never lasts as long as it should.

In twenty one days it's back to reality.

Until then, I'll be enjoying the last few days of this summer.