Wine Country Taught Me All I Needed to Know About Taking a Vacation.


There aren't many moments in life that are perfect. Some would say there is no such thing. There are many moments that you want to be perfect and expectations are so high and the moment built to such an extent that there's no way in hell it will be perfect. So many moments that are surrounded by such high expectations. Weddings. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Vacations.

Ah, yes, vacations. To say our family's luck with vacations has been been far from perfect, well that would be an understatement. But something happened on a trip we took this summer. Dare I say it, we had a perfect vacation. Maybe it was because I did very little planning for this trip. Maybe it was because there was lots and lots of wine involved. Maybe it's because it was just the two of us allowing for lots and lots of wine to be involved. Maybe it was the universe deciding we deserved it. Whatever the reason, however it happened, I am grateful.


The Central Coast of California is gorgeous. I love it there. It has become my happy place. I plan to live there when I grow up. For now, I am happy just visiting. The hubs and I were able to get a way for a few days to the wine country of the Central Coast. During the trip I kept catching myself saying, "It's just so pretty here!" over and over again. I wasn't worried about what our plans were, I was just focused on being in the present. Being where I was.

This is not my nature. My nature is to plan and plan and plan some more and then stick to that plan because that was what I had planned. Being a planner has served me well in my life, but planning also sets a high bar. It sets a level of expectations that are hard to meet. The expectations are usually only in my own mind because I'm the one who's been pinning on Pinterest boards for months on end in preparation for the perfect vacation. The actual vacation is never as good as the one I've created in my mind.

This trip was different because I didn't have any expectations going in. I was just happy to be there. Instead of worrying about getting to the next thing, I payed attention to where I was. The hubs and I had made some plans, a rough sketch, but we weren't married to them. If we were on our way somewhere and saw an antique store that looked good, we ditched our plans and stopped. If someone recommended a restaurant, we cancelled reservations and followed the recommendation instead. We were actually being a little spontaneous (emphasis on the word little) and it felt good.


I'm not sure that the spontaneity will continue when it comes to our family vacations. Okay fine, I know it won't. In fact, we are taking a trip this fall that I am already knee deep in planning mode for. Spontaneity for just the hubs and I for a trip three hours north is one thing. Spontaneity for a big, whole family, memory making trip is another. Yes, for the trip this fall I will plan and make reservations and book activities. But here is what I've learned: once the vacation arrives I will focus on being in the present. I will try my best to be flexible to whatever the universe brings our way. I will pray that Mother Nature cooperates and that illness stays far, far away.

And when it doesn't, when the plans go belly up and the weather doesn't cooperate, we will order pizza and drink wine and be grateful. Wine Country taught me that.


Home Goods Happy Husband


It started when I mentioned wanting a reading nook.

"What's a reading nook," the husband asked.

"What do you mean 'what's a reading nook?' It's for reading." I was already annoyed.

"But what is it?" he asked again.

"It's a cozy spot to READ. A comfy chair, good lighting, a little table to set your coffee on. You know, a reading nook." I explained as if speaking to one of our children.

"What's wrong with the comfy chair that you're currently sitting in?"He was trying to catch me on a technicality.

"Oh this won't work. It's too close to the T.V."

"Too close to the T.V.? It's everything you just described. Table, light, chair. The whole thing."

"But it's all in front of the T.V. It's too tempting. This chair is for watching not reading. I want to be tucked into a little corner with a chair that's all mine and whose only purpose is to wait for me to come and read in it."

"Have you been watching HGTV? Does this have something to do with Pinterest? There's plenty of chairs in this house that would be happy to let you read in them."

He grinned. He knew what he was doing. He started listing off chairs in different places all over our house. Yes, it was true. There were plenty of chairs in our home, more chairs than we had people to sit in them. Buying a new chair seemed ridiculous, frivolous, stupid, but I couldn't help myself.

Finally I yelled, "CAN WE JUST GO TO HOME GOODS, PLEASE! Let's just me look. I just want to look."

And the husband, being the wonderful guy that he is, agreed to go.

"Better I go with you than not," he said.

***

Home Goods on a Saturday was probably my first mistake. People were everywhere. I knew I needed to act fast so some other woman didn't get to my chair first. Was I sure that my reading nook chair was even there? Did I even know what I was really looking for? No, not really. But I sure as hell didn't want some other woman getting to it first.

There were plenty to choose from. But, much like Goldilocks inspecting and finding wrong with the furniture in the home of the Three Bears, I found wrong with almost every chair in the store.

That chair is too small.

That chair is too big.

That chair is too hard.

That chair is too soft.

It didn't look like I was going to find it. The store was crowded causing the bargain hunting high to wear off. When I had started to succumb to the fact that we might be leaving the store empty handed, I saw something.

"Look at that one," I told the husband.

I was pointing out a chair not for myself, but for him. When I saw it, I instantly knew that he would like it. You see, my husband is a lover of different. He wants the rare things that no one else will have. He doesn't want them because they are expensive or showy. No, he wants them because they are unique. He loves unique. Part of the reason we named our children what we did was because they weren't names that you hear every day. And when I saw this chair, that's exactly what he thought.

"Now there's a chair you don't see every day."



It was love at first sight. He was grinning from ear to ear and once we saw that it was marked waaaaaaaaay down, well I was almost certain that this chair was going home with us.

"We have to have it! It's so cool! Don't you think it's cool? Where can we put it? Should it go outside? No, it would get ruined outside. Inside. Where can it go inside?"

You know when you take your children shopping and you go looking for one thing and they end of begging for another? And you know how annoyed you are when they do that because that's not what you came for but their excitement is so pure you can't help but want to buy it for them just because you know how happy it will make them? Yeah, that's what this was. This chair was NOT the chair that I came looking for. This wasn't a reading nook chair. Far from it. But it was clear. We would be going home with this chair.

I tried to hide my disappointment. "Well that's not the chair that we came for. But it's cool. And it's a good deal. So. Fine. You can have your chair."

Oh how happy my husband was. He was the epitome of their slogan. He was indeed "Home Goods Happy."

I, however, was not. I was not happy. No where close. Wasn't he just bitching about already having too many chairs in the house? Sure, this chair was cool and different (and quite a bargain) but it would now require a new home in our home. This meant rearranging. I didn't mind rearranging for a chair for my reading nook. That was totally acceptable. But this? This was just going to annoy me.

Watching the husband proudly parade the chair through the store up to the register, you could see it on his face. His face said to everyone we passed, "Look what I found and you didn't!" I knew that face. That face is what Home Goods is all about. That is the face of "I got to it first and now it's mine!" I understood that face and because I myself have had it many times before. I stopped being annoyed. How could I be annoyed when this damn chair clearly made him so happy? Home Goods Happy.

I'll admit, the chair has grown on me and the new arrangement of the living room furniture looks pretty good. We have named him Mr. Chair (after a reference to one of our favorite T.V. shows.) We've had it for a couple of weeks now and no one has sat in Mr. Chair.

"You still haven't sat in Mr. Chair," I pointed out to the husband last night.

"I know, but look how cool it is!"

So the next time you come over to our house, and you see a really unique chair that is actually more comfortable than it looks, feel free to comment to my husband, "My what a cool chair you have!" He will beam as if you had just complimented one of our children.

And please, feel free to have a seat. Someone needs to.

Have Fun and Wear Sunscreen

We have been non-stop, on-the-go, crazy busy this summer. We just came home from one trip only to turn around and get ready for the next. I'm not complaining. It's an awesome problem to have. 

Being that it's summer and we're outside a little more than usual, I find myself asking my children multiple times a day, "Have you put on sunscreen?" To which they either mutter that they already did or turn around and head upstairs to apply it. Often we leave the house with everyone forgetting. It's a habit we're trying to get into, the remembering before we leave the house, but one we have yet to master. What I have gotten good at is always having sunscreen with me wherever we go. I always keep our Beautycounter sunscreen on the ready for anyone near me, passing it around for everyone to use. I lathered up the other day before one of Palmer's golf tournaments. About 9 holes in, my oldest touched my shoulder and said, "Mom, you need more sunscreen. Isn't that what you're always telling us? To put on more sunscreen?" Ah ha! So they do listen!

But my son was right. I needed more sunscreen. Unfortunately it was too late. My shoulders were sunburned. Yeah, when the bottle's instructions tell you to reapply every two hours, it's not just words on a bottle, there to take up space. It's there for a reason. Yes, I was not setting a very good example for my children allowing myself to get sunburned. Especially when I am constantly nagging, "You don't want to get sun cancer, do you?"

Beautycoutner and Stand Up To Cancer have created this excellent graphic how important it is to stay safe when you're under the sun. Sun protection is an every day thing, not just when you're by the pool or on the beach. That's why I love Beautycoutner's Protect Sticks (both face and body.) They are easy to apply and easy carry in your purse or your car. My husband likes the face stick because he can easily keep it in his pocket when he's out on the golf course. They are all easy to apply and then REAPPLY, something I obviously need to be better at. 



Shop all of our Beautycounter sun protection products by visiting my personal website at beautycounter.com/stepheniefreeman.

Take Care of You


I loved the part in the movie Pretty Woman when Julia Robert's character would hug her friend Kit De Luca and Kit would say, "Take care of you." I have always loved that line. To me it was like saying "be careful, I love you, take care of yourself" all combined. I wish I could use that line, but I don't think I could pull it off the way Kit and Julia could.

Genuinely caring for other people is an excellent quality. It is a quality I strive for. I don't like fake care. You know, the people who act like they care, asking you about yourself and then not caring one bit about the answer? Yeah, that kind of fake care. And of course there are the people who care so little they don't even bother asking or pretending. These people don't even care about acting like they care. A while back I was feeling hurt about the lack of interest some people were showing me. They seemed to have absolutely no interest in how I am, who I am, or what I do. I got all worked up, allowing the negative emotions to take over, when my husband said something I needed to hear.

"It doesn't matter."

Now normally, I would let a statement like this one to absolutely go all over me. I would fire back a quick, "OF COURSE IT MATTERS!" But it seems that with maturity come perspective and I have learned that he's right. Other people's interest in how I am, who I am, or what I do doesn't matter. I don't have to care about whether or not other people care. As long as I am mindful to take care of myself, I shouldn't put any energy into worrying about the fact that other people don't.

You see, when Kit says, "Take care of you" that is exactly what she's saying. Be sure to take care of yourself. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Don't expect anyone else to do it because they won't. The expectations that you are putting on others to care for you or about you will only leave you disappointed and hurt and bitching about it to your husband.

I recently stumbled upon an Instagram feed by a life coach who shared these 12 tips about self care. I love these. They are simple and true and and worth repeating as often as necessary.

  1. If it feels wrong, don't do it.
  2. Say exactly what you mean.
  3. Don't be a people pleaser.
  4. Trust your instincts.
  5. Never speak badly about yourself.
  6. Never give up on your dreams. 
  7. Don't be afraid to say, "No."
  8. Don't be afraid to say, "Yes."
  9. Be kind to yourself.
  10. Let go of what you can't control.
  11. Stay away from drama and negativity.
  12. LOVE.

I often speak about making healthier choices in life. These 12 steps do just that. Caring for yourself is always a good choice. Be good to yourself and maybe, if you're lucky, others will be too.