Lauri Peterson shares what life has been like for her and her family after taking leave from The Real Housewives of OC.
It was so nice to sit down with Tamra and enjoy lunch without a million distractions. I was able to "check my problems at the door" and enjoy my girl time with brain candy topics. It was so relaxing to sit in the warm sun, overlooking the breath taking views of the Laguna Beach coastline and talk about boobs! I never talk about boobs - at least I never thought I did until I watched this series. Anyway, I was able to briefly escape from my reality of dealing with the aftermath of Josh's arrest which included serious things like jail, bail bonds, rehab facilities, doctors, brain scans, attorneys, hearings, etc...Thank you Tamra for the "Calgon" call - remember the bath commercial, "Calgon, take me away!" (I probably just dated myself. The lunch was just what I needed and I'm glad that Tamra reached out to me.
I love catching up with the girls. I have come to the conclusion though that I enjoy the girls better on a one on one basis. I find them less confrontational, more conversational and more importantly - quieter! I must have really sensitive ears, because I get really agitated with loud screams and shrills. I prefer to relax and have a chill conversation. I also prefer to go unnoticed in a public setting, which is hard to do with the entire gang.
Of course I've been watching the series - I'm addicted! The Havasu episode left me nauseous though. I got a knot in my stomach watching it. The series seems to be drifting away from documenting the individual housewives' lives and instead is more focused on bringing the housewives together to see who will fight who. I run from this type of drama. I feel life is complicated enough without adding drummed up drama. Also large groups of drunken people make me nervous. Thank God that my alcohol allergies limit me to one drink. Tamra, please tell me my eyes were playing tricks on me and you were not riding the fountain! Maybe I'm just jealous that they had so much fun? No really though, I did get jealous when I saw the footage from the Del Mar Racetrack. Two of my favorite things: horses and big hats. I really had wanted to attend the races, but I was just not in the partying mood at the time. I must say all the girls looked stunning in their hats.
The two new girls Gretchen and Lynne have their work cut out for them! I really don't know either of them that well, but I would tell them to hang in there and not to stress over the other housewives. Everyone will kiss and make up - they always do! I do find Gretchen to be charming and I have complete respect for Lynne for keeping her marriage together - something none of the other housewives have done, myself included! We have all been divorced. Go Lynne!
As far as Gretchen is concerned, where do I start? I do agree with her comment to not judge unless you have been through the same situation. I think giving advice without first hand experience is dangerous. You never know how you will react unless it happens to you.
Whatever Gretchen's relationship was with Jeff is between them. I hope that the rumors that I have heard about her turn out to be untrue. I never had the chance to meet Jeff so I can't form an opinion. Obviously, he wanted to be with her and she wanted to be with him for whatever reasons. He was a mature man and quite capable of making his own decisions. I personally have never been attracted to older men and think that a big age difference would present challenges that would be difficult for me based upon my personality. For example, I have a lot of energy and even George, who is only eight months older than me, has a hard time keeping up with me. (Are you reading this George?) I am way faster than him. Just ask him about his pulled hamstring muscle some day!
I think looking after a loved one with an illness is extremely difficult. I can relate to Gretchen in some ways through Josh's difficulties, but perhaps even more after caring for my father who suffered a massive stroke 20 years ago that left him paralyzed and in a condition that doctors felt he would not live long after. Once my father was stabilized after his stroke, I flew him out to California from Idaho where he was living with great intentions of giving him back his life he once knew with intensive physical therapy. My goal was to get him self sufficient and I dreamed of seeing him walk again. I nursed him around the clock for several months until I eventually wore myself out. My family and I reached the conclusion that he would probably receive the best care in a facility with trained staff set up for people with disabilities and 24-hour nursing care. I was defeated and felt inadequate for having to surrender my father over to a nursing care facility. I do feel sorry for Gretchen and I understand the myriad of emotions that she must have been feeling. Seeing someone suffer is excruciating and not being able to control the illness and achieve the results I wanted, was frustrating for me. My father, God rest his soul, lived 20 years after his stoke, passing away September 16, 2008. Even though his quality of life was questionable, he never gave up his humor, was peaceful and blessed with the additional years he was given to see his grandchildren born and raised. Over the years, he was able to manage his wheelchair well enough to sneak out of his room and turn on the other patient's televisions to BRAVO when the Real Housewives of Orange County first aired. I miss you Dad!
Last September was difficult for me. Josh started serving his time in custody the day before my father passed away. I went through the motions at the time, but I was withdrawn and emotional. For the sake of the other children, I tried to put on a smile, but I felt empty behind it. I'm trying more now to focus on the positive side of every situation that comes my way and to look for the lesson to be learned. My father defied the odds of his stroke and received 20 years of life that we didn't think we would get with him and Josh, well, he is safer for now. George and I visit Josh on weekends. He looks good and seems to be handling custody as best as he can. He is clearheaded and back to his normal weight. I recognize my handsome son again! Jail, however, is ugly. After visiting him, I feel dirty, not because the facility is physically dirty-- it's hard to describe, but I just feel like I need to shower to get the feeling off of me.
Josh just turned 20 years old on the 20th of December. He celebrated with other inmates that made him a cake out of Top Ramon and I sang Happy Birthday to him over the jail phone with a glass window between us. I am usually able to fight back my tears when I visit, but not that day. Jail has made me realize how important touch is and how I've taken this sense for granted. I ache to hold him. I missed him terribly on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as this was the first year in 20 years that I have not been with him during this special time. I quietly watched all of George's and my children enjoy Christmas Day, but I did not feel complete. Josh is anxious to get all of his struggles behind him and yet his impending release in a few weeks causes him anxiety. He worries if he has the strength to beat his addiction and get away from his friends that enable him. George and I have been trying to help him formulate a plan that will help him.
Despite the challenges that life has brought me, I am thankful for my family and friends that continue to give support. My Mom and George are always there for me. I rarely go more than a day or two that I do not talk to my Mom. She is such a strong, loving, wonderful and insightful person and I am so lucky to have her in my life. George continues to be my backbone. He never lets me down and is such a great source of both strength and knowledge. I really am thankful for him.
All of our daughters are doing great. A silent competition exists to see who can get the best grades in school. Sophia and Bria are really into their horses and love to ride. Softball season is drawing near, so George and I will soon be taking up residence at the local parks again! I am trying to get my butt in shape for sitting!
Sophie still plays the violin. I just bought her a new full size violin to accommodate her new size. Sophie and Bria are both growing at a rapid pace and morphing into beautiful young women before our eyes! Although Bria is one year older, Sophie is too competitive to let Bria pass her up in height. They both measure in at 5'2"! Where did our little girls go?
Danyka, George's 15 year old, is as beautiful as ever and working on obtaining her drivers permit. Don't worry everyone - I will give a public warning when she gets it! Danyka reminds us of a little filly with these crazy long legs and bundles of energy. She has officially caught up with my height and is now 5'8 and a half inches tall! We are working on building some kind of "boy guard" for the property to keep the boys away!
McKenzie, nearing 20 years old, has flown the coop and is all grown up! She is serious about her college studies and has put in several applications to transfer to a University to further her studies. If you watch MTV, you can't miss seeing her in a music video or two. She is as gorgeous as always and currently a brunette.
Ashley is still managing her life quite well on her own. She will turn 24 at the end of this month. This makes me feel so old! She works part-time in the retail business and is currently finalizing her A2Z skin care line. I have been using her products and have had so many people positively comment on my skin. Guess it is working! Even though she has her own place, she spends many overnighters with us. All of the girls enjoy her being around and really look up to her.
With all the craziness that life dishes out, George and I were able to take the girls Christmas shopping in New York. This has become an annual pre-Christmas tradition as there is nothing like it to put you in the holiday spirit. We do it all - shopping on 5th Avenue, Park Avenue and Madison too, Empire State building for the view, Central Park carriage rides, visiting my Bravo family at 30 Rock and gazing at the billboards at Times Square. New York at Christmas is so magical! We always meet George's parents "under the clock at noon" at the Waldorf to catch up over lunch. If we aren't five minutes early, then we are considered late according to George's father who, by the way, is a retired Nuclear Submarine Captain. He can be intimidating at times, although I have found him to be quite a "softy". At the age of 75, he still works as chairman for an international investment group with an office in New York where he has worked for 20 plus years. Both of George's parents are extremely intelligent, savvy and interesting to converse with - easy to see where George gets his "smarts" from!
After Christmas, we managed to squeeze in Park City for some skiing, snow angel making and New Years celebration with our youngest daughters. It was so much fun. Formerly an Idaho girl, I love the snow (when it is on my terms) and think it makes for great family time and offers a great excuse to snuggle! We brought in the New Year with friends from the OC and a club full of Housewives fans at Harry O's and Tattou.
Happy New Year to everyone - may it bring both health and happiness!