An Open Letter To Our Latest Addition

MySurreaLife and our beautiful little girls March 2016

Dear Sweet, Nearly Four Year Old, Little Girl In Our Care,

I got a call from our Foster Family Agency (FFA) on January 22, while I was at work, at around 2pm.  They called to see if we could temporarily provide a home for a 3 year old girl (you!) while they looked for another home to house you, and your two older sisters.  I only thought about it momentarily before I called daddy, excited at the opportunity to have another little girl join our 5 year old little girl living under our roof.  He also thought we were ready to add to our family, if even just temporarily.

I called our FFA back at 3pm and at 8pm, you were at our house!  You had two pigtails and you walked through our door, a little timid, but with a huge smile on your face.  We asked you if we could give you a hug.  You nodded yes and me and your five year old foster sister gave you a big hug.  We were so excited to meet you.  You two played together in the playroom and watched the new movie remake of, “Annie,” which you already had seen and loved.

The past two months have been wonderful having you in our home.  You and your sister have had a lot of colds, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t manage.  You’ve met a lot of our family and friends and you are so loved by everyone.

About a month ago, you started having court mandated visits with your birth mom and your little brother.  After these visits with your mom, you both act a bit mad and sad, which makes perfect sense.  It must be so hard for you both to try to understand this new reality of not living with your biological family, but getting to see them every so often.  I’m so sorry you have to go through this, but I am so thankful I get to be the one who helps you cope with your anger and will continue to show you that I will be there to love you no matter what.

Last week I learned there is a possibility that you and your siblings will be moving to a relatives home.  This relative has an adult son living with her that has to be approved, so it doesn’t look like you will be going there anytime soon, if ever, but it is something that is in the back of my mind.  Knowing you might have to move again, to a third home since being removed from the only life you knew breaks my heart for me of course, but it really hurts me for you.  You have finally seemed to be adjusting to life with us.  You love going to school three times a week and whenever your foster sister isn’t around, you are always anxious to be with her.  I love that you are bonding, to her, and to us.

Today when you had a hard time going down for your afternoon nap, I put daddy on the phone and he almost instantly calmed you down.  I don’t know why or how, but you went right to sleep after you talked to him and that absolutely warmed my heart.

I just learned that your alleged biological father went into the DCFS office to talk to your social worker.  He says he has full legal custody of you, but if that’s the case, where has he been your entire life?  Why have you never spoken about him?  I wonder if you even know him and I wonder why he is coming forward now, especially if he’s never before been in your life.

The most crazy thing about your entire situation as a foster child is how many people are working on following the law trying to help you, and how rarely those people are on the same page about what they feel is best for you and your future.  Your DCFS social worker, who is not even two years out of college, is doing everything she can to reunite you with this person who wants you all to live with her.  I wonder if this alleged relative of yours can afford the $3000 dental work you need to have done because your teeth were not taken care of your entire life before us.  I wonder if she can handle the immense responsibility of having four children to take care of, four children to get bathed and dressed every night and fed and dressed and taken to school every morning.  I wonder how you will be with all of this, immediately and for the rest of your life.

For now, I must go to work and organize someone else’s life.  I am thankful for being able to be paid to organize and make sense out of a mess.  All I want is to be able to do that for your life, make sense of the giant mess.  For now, I will have to keep worrying about your very uncertain future.  However temporary your placement may be with us, my love and concern for you and your foster sister is everlasting.

My Behind the Scenes Experiences of the ACM Awards 50th Anniversary Show

I got to the airport Wednesday morning and was surprised to be going through airport security without any familiar faces. I knew of at least four other women who would be traveling on the same flight as I to Dallas, Texas for the 50th anniversay award show for the ACMAs (Academy of Country Music Awards).

I cleared security (phew! ha), put my shoes back on and and gathered everything I absolutely couldn’t live without while on a plane for 3 hours.  I walked through the airport, found my gate, and more importantly, I found a placeto eat. Being the sleep lover I am, I didn’t leave any time to eat anything before arriving to the airport. Being the food lover I am, I had to find something to eat sooner than later.

Stomach and brain growling, I got some eggs and breakfast potatoes, jalepenos and salsa. I only became excited about eating once I also had the hot and spicy stuff. Salsa and hot peppers would save for me the bland food that looked like it had been prepared days earlier. Whatevz. I was hungry and feeling adventurous.

Upon walking up to the cash register to pay outrageous airport prices for very un-outrageous airport food, at eye level in the refrigerated drink cooler, I noticed a familiar sight, glimmering; Angry Orchard, gluten free, yeast free, slightly alcoholic apple cider available for sale. It is so rare for me to have an opportunity to enjoy alcohol. Even though I still quite enjoy it, my ever aging self just can’t tolerate alcohol like I could in my younger years.  I had a half day of travel ahead of me.  “Nothing” to do on an airplane for a few hours. This was the opportune time to have at least one drink.

I got my million dollar tray o’ food, my glorious drink, and my $37 bottle of water, found a table, but before setting everything down, I looked up and saw three of my four work colleagues sitting at a table at the end of the restaurant, also drinking and eating. This day was proving to really be off to a nice start.  I made my rounds of hugs and sat with my back to a wall of TVs talking about the guilty verdict of former NFL guy something Hernandez.  I joined my pals and tore into my foods and drinks alongside them.

MySurreaLife breakfast at Bob Hope

We were excited to see each other. Working on award shows together for the past few years, a good number of us have really solified a nice extended family for each other. Through illnesses, relationships and their problems, children and everything that comes with having children, this group of us women have been there for each other, on the phone, in prayer and in person when we have needed each other. These award shows have proven to be a fun way to work, meet and make friends.

In addition to being together, we were also excited that we were headed to Dallas to work this show. We had been working on the show for years and it had most always been held in Las Vegas. We knew the layouts of the Vegas hotels where the two simultaneous shows ran. We knew how to get from point A to B easily enough. We knew the time it would take to expect talent to arrive to the destinations we needed them. We knew from working with country musicians  and their crews in years past that they were easy to work with and polite to us, unlike many mainstream artists and their entourages. We also knew the AT&T Stadium we were about to be working in for the next week was massive.

MySurreaLife free night in Dallas

A lovely sight as a friend and I drove to dinner

Once we landed in Dallas, I was fortunate enough to have a friend from college, who now lives in Dallas, come to pick me up.  She took me to say hello to her children, my three goddaughters, and then we ate a lovely meal together and caught up on our lives, face toface for the first time in over a year.  Not-okay.com that it’s been so long since we’ve seen each other. Beyond-okay.com that we we able to squeeze in time together before I had to report for work.

MySurreaLife in Dallas the night before my work on the ACMAs 2015

A friend from college and my view while we ate dinner together in Dallas at LTO.

My friend dropped me to the hotel where the production had us staying.  The next morning the ordeal that was the ACMAs 50th anniversary award show began for me.

MySurreaLife ATT Stadium

As we were driven on the shuttles to the venue, the enormity of AT&T Stadium was apparent from miles away. Instant anxiety brewed in my gut and intensified as we walkedinto the loading dock, down into the belly of the beast.  We met our team leaders and were taken on a tour of the space where we would be spending the next long, stressful four days.

MySurreaLife ACMAs rehearsals

I am a part of what’s referred to as the the “talent flow” team. We are the go-between of our team of talent escorts and the team of stage managers who essentially run the entire on-stage part of the show.  If talent isnt where they need to be, myself or a collegaue get ahold of the escorts to find out where the talent they are assigned to are in the venue or elsewhere.

Literally every show there is an issue with our walkie talkies. The issue is either that the walkies dont reach everyone who needs to talk to each other or they are static-y or there are just too many people trying to reach each other. In recent years I have learned to instead rely on my cell phone to communicate more effectively with those I need to be intouch with. Having a cell phone service that is not AT&T, I was not surprised when my cell service didn’t work as well as it did elsewhere. It worked enough for me to call and text escorts; that was all I cared about.

MySurreaLife Texting Escorts at ACMA 50th

What my screen o’text messages typically looks like after an award show. This is exactly what it looked like after the ACMAs 50th.

All three days of rehearsals, and even the dress rehearsal the day of the live show (day 4) were all stressful. We asked escorts specifically where to go with their assigned talent but a couple of the talent who were needed with me in the “holding room” immediately when they arrived, instead wanted to go elsewhere, such as, to stage, or to their dressing room. The problem with those requests was that the stage was being used for someone else’s rehearsals, there were no dressing rooms being used on rehearsal days and when people decided to go elsewhere in the massive stadium, it really set the time back getting them where they needed to be.

Many of the escorts at this show were new to the job. Escorts are typically sourced from the area where the show is held.  Since we rarely, if ever, do shows in Dallas, new people had to be recruited for this event. It is rare that new escorts have the confidence to tell someone they’ve only ever seen on TV that they’re needed somewhere other than the place they requested to go. This was the case for this event. The two times that really set us back were two times an escort didn’t firmly, but kindly let the talent know where they were needed and why. I put the walkies and my cell phone to good use this show! I used both so much, the battery on both my cell and my walkie died. Fortunately, we had extra batteries charged and ready for this situation and a colleague let me use her portable charger, saving the *my* day.

MySurreaLife inside ATT Stadium for ACMA rehearsals

Being gluten and dairy intolerant leaves me few choices for quick go-to foods on show days. I pretty much subside on these during the days of rehearsals leading up to an award show.

I was fortunate enough to have a family member of mine who works close to the stadium come pick me up (and even treat me!) to lunch at Chipotle on of those first days of rehearsals.  Not that Chipotle is not delicious, but it was literally the most filling and wonderful meal of my entire time in Dallas. I digress.

The rehearsal day before the show was horribly stressful. After a long ten (twelve?) hours, my colleagues and I got back to our hotel and went downstairs to eat in the hotel restaurant. To my extreme delight and surprise, the restaurant bar had Angry Orchard on tap, and they also had Fireball. Not even a month before this jaunt to Dallas, my aunt taught me about the delicious pleasure of mixing Angry Orchard cider with a shot of Fireball. Although I do not condone drinking to fix problems, on this night, this drink was how my day ended on a good note.

Show day came early that next morning. Not feeling super rested from the previous long days, the alcohol in my system certainly did not help with getting a restful night’s sleep.  Oh well. Win some you lose some.

After a small snafu about what time to bring in a big name talent and where to take the rest of talent upon their arrivals, dress rehearsal actually started on time. As i mentioned earlier, there was only one elevator coming down to the stage / field area from the bus area where most all talent would be waiting. It was a terrible oversight on the part of the production planning people. There also didn’t seem to be a way around it, so there was that to be dealing with, and did we ever have to deal with it.

For the actual live show, I was again assigned to be stationed at the holding room, making sure on-stage talent was where they needed to be at certain times. On more than one occasion, more than one stage manager would ask me for updates of where our escorts were with their talent and on more than one occasion, for five to ten minute stretches I would report back to the stage managers that the escorts were with their talent, either waiting for the elevator or on it.

Besides the elevator debacle, and a missing escort or two for some key on-stage performers, after all of the ridiculously long, stressful rehearsals, the show went smoother than I had expected, thank goodness.

I took an hour or so to watch parts of the show on TV the other day. After all the headaches and stomach burning I caused myself from stress during those days working that show, as I watched it on screen from the comfort of my own home, I was filled with such pride and even a smile or two, thinking how insane it was behind the scenes getting people where they needed to be to pull it all off.

Grammy Sunday in LA this year had nothing to do with the Grammy’s for me

Growing up in Arizona, I had always wanted to live in LA.  It was so close we visited family and friends who lived in LA often; I always loved the energy of  LA.  When I was finally old enough and on my own enough to make the move, I did and have never looked back.

This past Grammy Sunday, I was able to sleep-in, thanks to my husband who gets up with our little girl on the weekends so I can get a bit more sleep than usual.  What a guy.  I woke up, feeling rested and refreshed, and then anxious.  I had forgotten, and in the fog of having just woken up, remembered I needed to take fresh flowers up to my boss’ house and be out to my cousin’s house in Whitter by 2pm.  My cousin and his wife kindly give us many of their daughter’s outgrown clothes and toys to us regularly.  Talk about a blessing!  Whittier is at least one hour from where we live and there was no way I would be on time.  I   called my cousin to make sure my late arrival was okay, and fortunately it was.

I stopped at the store with our little girl in tow, then up to my boss’ house, then to Whitter.  The drive to Whitter from Beverly Hills (what a thrill) was absolutely gorgeous to me that day.  My navigation took me on surface streets from West LA down the Wilshire corridor, past the La Brea Tar Pits and past the Wiltern Theater.  I reminisced about years ago when two of my friends and I got invited last minute to see a Lady Gaga show at the Wiltern.  This was when her first album The Fame had just started to really blow up.  I think “Poker Face” was the radio single at the time.  I forget who opened for her, but as we stood in the raised VIP area, I was thrilled at my spot to watch the show.  I was a foot or so above the other people in the standing room only venue.  I was right at the wall that separated the two areas so I could lean on something, which was nice because I was wearing boots with heels.  Gaga came on and I remember thinking that the performance of the first song was nothing short of spectacular, but I can’t remember what the first performance was.  I’m pretty sure I can’t remember because shortly after my daze in happiness begain with that first performance, Kanye West’s big head was escorted to stand directly in front of me.  I was literally pushed aside to make way for Kanye.  I didn’t want to cause a scene as I had been escorted into the VIP section by someone who got tickets for us for free, and I have no idea how he got the tickets, but I didn’t want to be kicked out.  So I stood to the side and slightly behind Kanye, staring at his giant noggin mere inches from mine.  We got to meet her, take a photo with her after the show, and I even got a personalized autograph from her for my little brother.  All’s well that ends well I guess.  All that reminiscing about the Wiltern at a red light.  So, that happened.

MySurreaLife.com Wiltern Grammys 2015

My navigation continued to direct us towards downtown LA, when it finally guided us onto the freeway.  As I drove the two blocks through downtown LA, I just then realized that the Grammy’s were going on just a few blocks away.  A few friends were there working, and for the first time in forever (homage to Frozen), I wasn’t sad about not being there.  Just two or three years ago, that would have been all I cared about doing or getting myself to somehow.  Five or six years ago was the last time I went to an award show and wasn’t working, that show was coincidentally the Grammy’s.

As I drove through downtown Grammy Sunday 2015, I didn’t even want to be a spectator backstage, like I was the last time I was there.  Who was I becoming?!  In that moment I realized that I was becoming a person with different priorities, and I was totally fine with that.  I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the beautiful, sweet little girl in our lives, looking out the window at this city.  I had never been more thankful to be driving away from “Hollywood,” and towards our extended family’s house, especially on a day with hardly any traffic.

Tuesday en Nueva Jork

It was 5am on a mildly cold December evening when we shivered off the minor chill in the air and unlocked the door to the second floor apartment in the walkup on 65th St.  We rented this place from a company called “Ideal Oasis” which is, in my experience, the worst short term apartment rental company ever.  DO NOT RENT FROM THEM.

As I was saying…

My friend Andrea and I had just finished “breakfast” at a diner in the city, accompanied by Jeru the Damaja (a rapper). At first I was put off by his abrasive yet quirky behavior at the bar where we ran into him but he grew on me after he told me how he actually learned to rap from his aunt and was raised around twenty – one females.  “I know females. I’m telling you!” he said to me from across the booth at the diner as we waited on our breakfast faire to arrive and soak up the alcohol in our system.

MySurreaLife Jeru the Damaja Dec 2014

When Andrea and I laid down on crunchy, squeeky mattress on top of the scratchy, once-white sheets, we both laughed at loud at the ridiculous accommodations we were staying. It was 5:30 am when I set my alarm for 11:30 the next day. Fortunately we were a bit drunk and drifted right to sleep but I did not feel rested come 11:30am.

I had a meeting to get to with Universal Attractions Agency, an agency I had been hired by earlier that month to do publicity for surrounding “Get On Up,” the James Brown biopic.  I was meeting with them about Paystr and the meeting could not have gone better. The gentlemen I spoke with understood the software I was bringing to their attention, and even better, understood the many routes they could take to use the software for huge sales growth for them and their clients.

I had brought a bag of materials (& a change of shoes!) for the meeting and now also had to cart it with me to my next stop, which was anywhere I could get some food to prep myself for the next round of drinking in store.  This time, it was to celebrate my little sister’s thirty-third birthday.  She had just moved to the city earlier that summer and had been going non-stop with work ever since.  I could not be more proud of her for her hard work and determination to do a spectacular job.

We ate and ate and ate (and drank and drank and drank) and had a WONDERFUL evening at the David Burke restaurant Kitchen.  Fortunately in my old age, I know enough to drink lots of water while drinking lots of alcohol, so by the time we left, I was barely tipsy.  Ahhh, to be a grown up, and also to know enough to eat lots of greasy food during alcohol consumption.  Below are the wines we drank that night.  The sommelier of Kitchen kindly arranged the labels from the amazing selections of wine we had that night, onto one piece of paper as memorabilia for my sister.  Awesome.com

MySurreaLife What We Drank Tuesday at David Burke Kitchen

When en NYC, eat at the best spots in town, of which, Kitchen is definitely one.

A City So Nice…

It had been just under one year since I was last in New York City. After my father’s December 13, 2013 funeral, I needed to make seriously amazing lemonade out of the terribly sour lemons life had handed by family with my father’s November 30 death. My sister showed our little girl how to make snowballs in the backyard where our father grew up. It is such a bittersweet memory seeing them running and playing where my father grew up when he wasn’t physically there with us to participate or at least watch with us.

Living in LA, I figured if my three year old “Z,” and my husband and I would be across the country in Pennsylvania for my father’s memorial, we should head even further East and take in the sights of the holiday decorations in New York City. As we drove the couple hours from where we were in Pennsylvania to New York, I told our little girl we were on our way to New York City, a place we knew well from the movie, “Buddy the Elf.” As we approached the Lincoln Tunnel, I  asked her, “do you know where we are sweet girl?” “The Lincoln Tunnel. Remember Buddy the Elf walked through here to go see his dad in the Empire State Building?” She beamed with joy and I did as well. Raising a fellow Will Ferrell fan is not difficult, but it makes me proud none the less.

We shared magical memories that trip. We made snow angels in Central Park with “Auntie Kristina,” one of my friends who lives in the city. The snow was damp, but we all made sweet snow angels and even a super cute tiny snowman. We met family from Connecticut in Rockefeller Center & had a delicious dinner with them and another friend from my college days.

Planning my trip back to the city this year, I couldn’t let Z know I was going back without her. I told me husband, and anyone else who I knew might spill the beans, that we were to only speak of me going to “The East Coast.”

I wanted to go to the city this year to spend my beautiful sister’s 33 birthday with her. Talk about outdoing my last trip when I didn’t think it possible!

Monday, December 8
I arrived into the city and met our other, surrogate older “sister” Andrea at the terrible VRBO I found online, via IdealOasis, which is anything but. Side note, don’t ever use them. I wasn’t thrilled with my apt find, but I tried not to care much as we had places to be and people to see! We weren’t going to be in the room much anyway, so I could suffer through it, or so I thought.

Andrea and I hopped in a cab and headed to mid-town to one of the restaurants my sister co-manages. We got out of the cab, barely stepped foot into the hotel where the restaurant lives when I was greeted with a football player strength tackle of a hug from my beautiful, sweet little sister Natalie. I was glad she was happy to see me as I was so very happy to finally be with her again too.

We ate like kings that night (& subsequently every night that week, but more on that later.) Lobster BLTs, a Cauliflower steak for our vegan Andrea, various wine pairings; everything was beyond delicious, and exciting. From the moment I walked in to the hotel lobby / restaurant entrance, I saw my sister in her workplace, confident and respected, working, yet loving it and that was what I really came for, to see how she was really doing, in her everyday. It was a sigh of relief for me to see her thriving in her job, and genuinely happy. Tired, but happy.

After our meal, which was one of those extremely lengthy meals because we took our time eating and talking and talking and laughing and eating and drinking, my sister invited us up to Spyglass, the rooftop bar the restaurant group also operated. She told me to walk out of the elevator, go right and just look directly ahead. Thinking nothing of it, I did what she said and was nearly knocked off my feet by the incredible view.

MySurreaLife Empire State from Spyglass Dec 2014

The top of the Empire State Building was so close we could touch it and the lights were doing something I had never seen them do before; they were dancing, in blue, white and red. Prince William and his Kate were in town and we were told the dancing lights were a tribute for them. Andrea, Natalie and I joked that we secretly knew the lights were really for our arrival into the city.

MySurreaLife Underberg at Spyglass

We had drinks at the bar Spyglass and I again watched with such pride as my sister was greeted with such respect by employees she manages. We stayed after closing time, and even after security told my sister they were leaving. I expressed my pride and amazement with her that we were in this beautiful bar with one of the most incredible views in the city, and she is so high up on the food chain that security left, leaving us there after them. My heart and soul just beamed with pride at my baby sister’s career accomplishments here in the great city of New York.

Andrea and I went to a party to meet up with one of her close friends, and my aquaintence through her, Jarobi, who is best know as a member of Tribe Called Quest and he’s also an incredible chef. Being in the city for my sister’s birthday,

I decided to also take the opportunity to schedule some business meetings for a company Andrea and I work with, Paystr. Paystr is a digital sales application for anyone who creates digital content, to sell their content on their own site.   I took the opportunity we had with Jarobi to make sure he knew about Paystr. I’m so glad we spoke to him about it as he has been in the studio recording new music and now he can sell it all by himself. #Boom

Tune in next time for Tuesday’s happenings which include waking up in a bed bug ridden bed, going to a meeting at Universal Attractions Agency, meeting my sister and a party of 6 others for an unbelievable, unforgettable dinner at David Burke Kitchen and moving from the not Ideal Oasis to my thoughtful friend’s apartment one block from Central Park.

New York Sister, Here I Come

I sat on the Virgin America flight for nearly two hours, boucing between sleep and glazed eyes watching the movie previews on the tv in front of me.  I couldn’t believe how much I already missed my four year old who I haven’t been away from for more than three days in the past nineteen months.  I’ll be away from her for six days this trip and I’m sure it will feel like more of an eternity for me than to her.  I worry about her constantly.  Is she ok?  Is she happy?  Has she had enough food?  Is she warm enough?  And these are my worries when I’m in the same city as her!  I am so blessed to have found such a good school for her, a school that can warm a lunch we pack for her daily, a school that sends us daily updates on if she ate her lunch and snacks, and even sends us a photo of her with the updates, which will really come in handy for me, being away.  I’ll get to see how her dad dressed her and if he did her hair or not.  I am laughing to myself just thinking about how much of a tom boy she’ll probably be this week, even though she is such a girly girl.

I am super excited to have a little time away though, to be able to have a drink at night and not have to wake up at the crack of dawn with her for a couple days. I’m relieved to have some adult time with my sister and a few friends I see less and less as the years go by.  I’m thankful to be visiting New York City, a city so magical this time of year.  I’m nervous about keeping warm enough.  I’m excited to have potentially huge meetings with one talent booking agency and one record label about digital sales processing for their digital content.

It is times like these that I reflect on MySurreaLife.  How blessed I am to literally have everything I’ve ever wanted.  I have a beautiful little girl who could not be more fun to be around, I have a great family, an amazing group of friends who are essentially family.

Don’t Ever Work for Christina Milian

That time I worked for Christina Milian to secure items for gift bags to be given to guests of her daughter Violet’s first birthday party, and didn’t get paid, or thanked.

MySurreaLife Christina Milian daughter Violet 1st bday

MySurreaLife Violet 1st bday Christina Milian

MySurreaLife Violet Christina Milian

A Video, of Jesus

A video, of Jesus walking on Sunset Blvd.  Yes, THAT Jesus.

Click the photo for a link to the video

Jesus on Sunset Blvd. MySurreaLife

Big Rob Little Lady Jeepin

Big Rob, Little Lady

I am so blessed to have been friends for the past decade with one of the most incredible men, a man who has become my big brother.  I was introduced to “Big Rob”, as much of the world knows him, back when I was just a twenty something child (over a decade ago).  Ever since then he and I have kept in touch and in doing so, we became the best of buddies.  A time came when Big Rob needed a place to stay and I just happened to have a vacant room and so we became roommates, off and on, for the next seven years.

Big Rob is awesome, for many reasons, but mostly because he takes the time to see people in his life who matter to him.  Last year, he was in LA for work, and we planned a night of he, me and our little lady.  Ever since then, our little lady now considers Big Rob her buddy, as evidenced by the photos here.  I love that I’m able to introduce her to, and have her understand that people I introduce her to, are safe and that it is safe for her to be kind to them.

Thanks Big Rob for being the best Big Brother to me and such a wonderful Uncle to her!!!

 

Big Rob Little Lady poolside

 

 

Big Rob Little Lady Jeepin

Big Rob Little Lady

Big Rob Little Lady My SurreaLife

Moving is so Moving!!!

Screen shot 2014-09-04 at 10.51.47 AM

For the past seven years i have lived in a condo on the top floor of a beautiful condo building in an idyllic neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles.

I had lived in LA for 3 years, in two rented apartments before deciding it was time to purchase  a place of my own.  The first apartment I lived in LA was on Hollywood Blvd. I moved in with a friend who was in dire need of a roommate.  Her roommate had been deported back to New Zealand and she was freaking out about how she would cover her rent.  I had been wanting to live in LA literally my entire life so I took the opportunity to help her out and move into her one bedroom apartment.  She and I lived in that apartment for about six months and until there was a newsman across the street from our building reporting on how a murderer was apprehended in the building across the street from ours. Time to leave!

We moved into a cute two bedroom walk up in another part of town and it became what my roommate coined, “Holman Hostel.”  We had so many people stay there with us over the years. It was great.  What was not great was the amount of money a person spends on rent in LA. When I calculated what I had spent in two and a half years, I was determined to instead spend my money on equity in a property.

I had been attending open houses for three years, seeing what’s available and what’s out there.  My roommate would come with me sometimes.  We turned the excursions into a verb; we often went “open housing.” For three years I saw what I felt were mediocre places. While visiting a friend’s apartment in the Valley one day late in 2006, parking was limited near their place so I had to park half a block away, which is the first time I saw the building that would become my sanctuary for the next seven years.  I loved how it looked from the outside and I loved the location. I took down the realtor’s number, went to see the unit and, upon walking in, knew that was where I would live. I’d never felt so at home within such a short time of being present in a relatively strange and new place.

I made an offer, it was accepted and I moved in. Knowing I would need minor assistance paying my mortgage while also being able to have money left to live off of, a couple people moved in with me into the new 3 bedroom condo. For years I had various roommates.  My roommates had fun friends who would come visit.  It was a nice, central place for us all to enjoy doing nothing together every once in awhile.

I loved the central location of where the condo is in the Studio City and I also loved the proximity of everything from where I lived; the Hollywood Bowl was a 10 minute drive, Hollywood, a 15 minute drive (without traffic of course, which never happens, but still).

When my fiance moved in, I asked one of our remaining roommates to move out so we could live as alone as possible for awhile.  Our other roommate, Big Rob, was nearly always gone on tour with whomever he was working with at the time.  When my fiance and I decided we wanted to become parents through the foster system, we realized we had yet to live alone, together, and wouldn’t ever live alone again once we had a child.  Tearfully, I had to ask Big Rob, the best roommate ever, to also move out.   Being the best roommate and best friend a gal could ever ask for in a guy, he totally understood and had no hard feelings on the matter…at least from what I think!

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My fiance and I lived together for a month or so until our beautiful three year old little lady was placed with us.  What a crazy first night that was; for my husband and I realizing we had a three year old person, we didn’t even know previously, to care for.  A few months later we realized we needed to move my husband’s eighty-five year old mother in with us as well.  Family of four in a three bedroom condo.  It was do-able, but tight, especially with all the stuff we had – three family’s furnishings started to become unloaded at every possible opportunity, but we realized just getting rid of our stuff wasn’t going to be enough.  We wanted to be able to let this child go explore and play outside in a backyard.

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Back to “open housing.”  All the houses we looked at for months and months that were in our price range had nice little backyards, but were only slightly, if at all, larger than our condo, until one day, my husband and our little lady were shown a house just three miles away from our condo.  My husband didn’t think I’d like it for many reasons until one day he suggested going to see it.  Once I did, I was really surprised at how perfect it was for us, with the exception of the gynormous pool in the backyard and no grassy yard for our little girl to play.

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We made the decision to put in an offer and were shocked to find that there were already three offers on the property, one of which had just been accepted.  We were slightly crushed, but not too surprised as beautiful homes in our price range and our preferred location are few and far between.  We were shocked again when we learned that the first offer had fallen out of escrow and we were up.  It was a month long process of paperwork to the loan officer, banks, and realtors, but we made it through and are the proud new owners of a single family home.

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It’s interesting to me to realize how little I think about our condo.  I think that maybe I don’t let myself think about it too much because I would miss it too much.  Then again I rationalize that it was time to move onto a bigger space for our growing family, but I do miss that space, and our neighbors, and the area, immensely.  Even our little girl talks, unprompted, about how she misses it.  It had amazing energy from the first day I saw it.  This new house is getting to have good energy, but it’s taken some time.

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Why is moving so moving?!?!?!  Am I too sentimental or what. Sheesh.

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The kitchen in the new house, before we moved in.