One morning last summer in Colorado, while the girls slept in, Bill and I hopped in the pickup and drove to my family home about 20 minutes away in Little Woody Creek.

This white clapboard, green shuttered, rambling house looks a little out of place in Colorado where everyone usually builds “mountain homes” replete with huge pine logs, antler chandeliers and Navajo rugs, but that just makes me love our old Colonial even more.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Photo of the House

My mother moved our family here when I was 7. She had eight children and proceeded to turn every big closet into a bedroom and every sofa into a bed, barely cramming us all in. We had one bathroom (yup, 7 girls 1 bathroom), 27 acres, and a big red barn. I walked to school everyday through the hay fields with my best friend Emily Smith, who lived up the road. And thus my love affair with Little Woody Creek began.

Over the years this house has become the center of the family. It has hosted all of our Thanksgivings, Christmases, and 4th of July BBQs. Six of my sisters were married there: three in front of the fireplace and three (including me) under the big cottonwood tree in the back yard.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Bill Macy

Eventually my mother decided the house was too big for her and another era began. My older sister moved in and raised her three children within its embrace. And yes, they too, walked through the hay fields to school every day.

My Father died there in 1985 and my Mother in 2009. Their ashes are buried together under a rose bush in the backyard.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Rosebush

A lot of deep living has happened in that house; a lot of ritual and meaning. And in this modern world where ritual is shoved aside in service of convenience and meaning is replaced with material possessions, there is a sacred place in my heart for that Little Woody Creek house.

But last summer after Bill and I arrived in our pickup, we climbed into a D9 caterpillar excavator, raised the bucket over the roof of the living room, opened its jaws, and dropped the lever.

I started to tear that house down.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Tear Down Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Tear Down

Here’s the story. Last Christmas, thanks to my family’s generosity, Bill and I became the proud owners of my family home in Little Woody Creek. The thought of growing old in that house (okay, growing older) felt like winning the lottery.

But it turned out the house was built with super glue and staple guns. The final blow came with the engineer’s remark,

“No one should step inside that place without a hard hat.”

With a perfect ironic twist I had to tear down the very home I was trying to preserve.

But…. WE DECIDED TO REBUILD THE EXACT SAME HOUSE ON ALMOST THE EXACT SAME SPOT!

We are giving the soul of the home a new body. We found a fabulous designer Lonni Paul who, in the spirit of What the Flicka, is a single mom with two wonderful kids, trying to juggle it all. When I told her we wanted the same “feel” in the new house as we had in the old one, she insisted on visiting Little Woody Creek before the house was torn down. She walked through the house quietly, drinking in the ambiance, and has been my north star ever since.

She GETS IT!

I have never had a designer before, and after experiencing how talented and SMART Lonni is, I swear I will never do another project without one. Actually, without Lonni!

We are going to build it well. We are going to build it as if it was built a hundred years ago and as if it will last another hundred.

This new body will be a hundred feet farther away from the creek and closer to the potato field, but hopefully the soul won’t mind a bit and will continue to swell with more Thanksgivings, Christmases, weddings, and grandchildren walking to school through the hay fields.

The building project itself seems full of family and meaning. Our contractors, Divide Creek Builders, are a local family who have been building houses for generations. Max and Gus Filiss (cousins) immediately built a serious fence to protect the rose bush that shelters my parents’ ashes. Dean Filiss, the father, has spent hours planning how to save the two lilac bushes, that my mother planted outside the kitchen door.

So as we proceed we wanted to bring you along on the journey. We have been scouring showrooms, we joined HOUZZ, we have a gazillion boards on Pinterest devoted to plumbing, tiles, doors, lights, flooring, etc.

We want faucets, sinks and tubs that look antique, we found one! Kohler has an “Artifacts” line that is perfect. We even tested out some bathtubs in the showrooms.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Felicity Huffman

Well, here we go. There are a lot of decisions to make in joining the past to the future, choices with the guide of tradition as our Polestar.

I will send updates every once in awhile and since I am terrible at decisions, I might ask you to weigh in.

Any electricians out there that want to get into show business?

Here is to home, family and deep roots.

Love,
Flicka

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We are turning 4! Happy Birthday! We have a lot to celebrate.

It’s no secret how much I adore Anne Lamott, who wrote a wonderful book called HELP. THANKS. WOW. She writes that there are three simple prayers that can get you through anything, from the extreme to the ordinary. I thought that template would be great way to write about our birthday.

HELP!

I started WTF with a big, HELP! It was because I found mothering my two children frightening, alienating, lonely and relentlessly difficult. And I found very little companionship or understanding in my experience. All I could think was, “I must be doing this wrong, I am the worst mother ever, and I NEED HELP!” So I created a website where it was safe to share any kind of parenting experience you were having no matter how ugly or unpopular. I heard from parents across the globe; we shared, laughed, taught, learned, and a wonderful community was born. WTF was my answer to HELP!

THANKS.

To all of you who visit WTF, write for WTF, read WTF, and join in the community with your humor, your honesty, your highs and lows – THANK YOU.

Anne Lamott writes, “Prayer means that, in some unique way, we believe we’re invited into a relationship with Someone who hears us when we speak.” Our WTF community invites us all to share and makes sure that we are heard.

WOW!

We have a lot of “wow” this year at WTF. We now have over 150 contributors and have almost doubled our reach since just last year. We have been listening to what really interests you and what sparks conversation. We are thrilled that EVERYONE has something to say and we have facilitated discussions on a huge variety of issues.

As a way of showing our gratitude and to prove we are listening to all of you, we revamped the site! (Also it’s LA people – a makeover is mandatory!)

We have new categories, a new look, and easier ways to find the content readers are looking for.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at what we have in store for you at WTF!

Come check us out.

You are welcomed.
You are valued.
And most importantly, as Anne Lamott says, “You do not have to get it together, before showing up.”

Happy Birthday WTF – it’s going to be a great year.

I recently finished a mind-bending 6-week run of The Anarchist; a play by that genius David Mamet. It was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done…But let me back up.

When I was asked to do the play, I thought “Ahh, yes! Going home to the theater!  This will be fun, this will be easy!” I was feeling confident; I had just finished Season One of American Crime playing a tortured, racist mother whose son had just been murdered, and I thought, “Nothing could be harder than that!” This adventure was going to be a little vending machine of joy; I would put my quarter in and get a delicious chocolate covered dose of adoration…with nuts.

The director, Marja Lewis-Ryan, was unknown to me, but I was assured she was a skilled professional.  When she dropped off the script at my house, in her khaki pants and green vest, I thought she was selling Girl Scout Cookies. Literally, I wondered if this “director” had hit puberty yet. I have socks that are older than she is.

And then rehearsals began…in my living room.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Living Room Rehearsal
This is my living room – lamps on the floor and Rebecca looking beautiful as always.

My furniture was pushed up against walls or shoved into bedrooms, there was masking tape all over the floor marking the stage, and my husband and daughters were relegated to walking across the lawn to reach the kitchen.  When we had people over for dinner they all sat against the walls – it looked like a Pentecostal Revival Meeting.

90% of the time, in rehearsals, I had no idea what I was saying, or more accurately what any of it meant. I kept having recurring dreams that I was drowning, or wishful dreams that my costume transformed from prison garb to a princess dress.

My friend, Rebecca Pidgeon, and I were the only two actors “onstage,” talking non-stop for 75 minutes straight.  The play was short–but if you measured it by meaning, density and brilliance it was a marathon.

Finally, we moved from my living room into this tiny, run down theater in Hollywood where the seats were broken and the bathroom was around the corner by the dumpster – the same dumpster where homeless people or desperate people (I think I just described the same people) often took dumps or vomited.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Rehearsing In Theatre
Rehearsing in the actual theatre.

The first few weeks in front of an audience felt like I was committing Seppuku (but without the honor part); flinging my guts around the stage for 75 minutes while speaking a different language.  I was not serving the play well, to say the least. The audience left saying things like, “Wow, that was a lot of words she had to learn!” Or, “Oh My! Did that place have air conditioning?”

But wait! There’s more; having done TV for years, I’ve become very comfortable with a distant audience i.e. people judging me from the comfort of their very own couch. In this theater the front row was literally 6 feet away from me. As I wrestled with my lines, I saw every yawn, every butt shift, and every dig in a purse for the crinkly mint. And to a certain young man with size 14 white sneakers I wanted to say, “STOP BOBBING YOUR FUCKING FOOT.  IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE DIRECTING A 747 TO LAND ON STAGE!”

Where was that vending machine of adoration?

Which leads me to the idea of desire and expectations. Most of the time there didn’t seem to be an upside to this project … at all. I was working to the max of my ability, I was climbing Everest with no oxygen, and no one got it or cared. It was like engaging in this weird antiquated endeavor like shearing sheep, carding, spinning, weaving the wool, and then sewing your own clothes. At most people could say is, “Wow you did that…why?

Why was I doing this incredibly difficult thing for no reward, no recognition, and no money?! And it wasn’t leading anywhere. I felt shallow and petty for asking these questions, but this was not what I wanted for my quarter! I picked the wrong vending machine! I wasn’t getting a chocolate covered treat, but an exhausting dose of failure.

Let me cut to the chase: the play was a success and ultimately we learned to do it well. I might even venture to say we did it justice. And I was in front of the correct vending machine; I just wanted the wrong thing with my quarter.

Okay, here’s what did drop down.

-I was in service to something greater than my petty desires. The Anarchist is a brilliant play and 70 people a night were gripped by the genius of one of our greatest playwrights, at his best.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Coffee and Scripts
Script and coffee – a necessary pairing.

 Marja Ryan-Lewis, IS an ace, she has vision, guts, and talent. I hope to work with that “girl scout” director for many years to come.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Pup in the Theatre
Yep, we brought the dog!

-The play became a family undertaking; my girls came with me to the theater most nights. They worked the box office, hung out backstage and tried to keep the dog (yup, brought the dog too) quiet. They also stepped in as post – show bartenders. They now make a mean margarita.

-I was lifted and supported by friends that I have known since NYU. Robert gave volumes of life saving notes. Sarah, Todd and Kate showed up for early previews and guided me away from the false and toward the true …over whiskey sours. Scott, whom I met freshman year in philosophy 101, spent hours on the phone with me, explaining what the multilayered play meant.

-I got to know the “Brasil Coffee” guy next door who often times made artistically obscene pictures in my latte.

coffee
Brasil Coffee and Classic Latte Art.

-I met up with an old and trusted friend, the audience, who always let’s me know when I’m a little full of shit.

So, I was mistaken about the kind of vending machine I was in front of. I didn’t get my expectation of easy gratification and recognition. I got a chocolate covered dose of humility, love, education and gratitude – and in this season of Thanksgiving – I am reminded of that. What more can I ask?

Happy Turkey Day,

Flicka

“Happy October! How crazy that it is already fall? For this year’s first autumnal Felicitations, I’m excited to introduce to you food crafter and fellow mother, Sarah Michelle Gellar. We are welcoming her as this month’s guest editor for What The Flicka!” – Felicity

I am so excited to be the guest editor on What the Flicka this month! Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, even in Southern California where children decorate pumpkins in their bathing suits!

I’ve chosen #makestuff as What The Flicka’s theme for October and contributors will be sharing their own experiences with crafting and spending fun, quality time with their kids. I thought this would be perfect, as October is all about the creative and spirited holiday of Halloween!

Anyone that knows me knows of my crafting love (read: obsession). As a child I always loved art class even though I was by no means the most talented. As an adult I discovered crafting. Whether its food, jewelry, flowers, photography, crafting can be found everywhere.

I recently took my passion for crafting and turned it into a business. This week we officially launched Foodstirs, a culinary lifestyle brand focused on healthier and creative baking kits! The idea came after my friend and Co-founder, Galit Laibow, and I went shopping to recreate all those Pinterest pins we saved, and realized not only were the available ingredients not appealing or good for you, but it took a lot of work to make something that took only a few seconds to save on a board. So after a year of recipe tasting and brand building, Foodstirs is up and running!

Now not all crafts are created equal…or edible in this case! Another great creative outlet we do as a family is painting. Sometimes we will roll out a large canvas, sometimes it is project based, and one time we even painted all of my husbands old sneakers (another great way to get your men to clean out their closet).

We also love family story time. Some nights, (or even) days, we all pile into bed and one kid picks a random word and off we go. We take turns adding to the story, and just listen, as it gets crazier and crazier. The last story started with the word Monkey from dad, then my daughter named it Chi-Chi and my two and half year old added the word pinch (thanks preschool) and suddenly we began the tale of Chi-Chi the pinching monkey.

For this month you can expect me to try out holiday apples, ghoulish cupcakes, leaf art, and DIY costumes for the kids. So share your stories with me and #makestuff this month. It may be DIY Halloween costumes (see my inspo here), fun fall decorations, or even a ghost themed cookie!

Happy New Year! An unorthodox sentiment, but every parent knows the New Year starts in September.

Kids show up for their first day at school; a building full of people who seem to know what they are doing, a place where they are pushed outside their comfort zone, continually asked to reach beyond the familiar to the unknown, risk failure, and finally take it on faith that this shit will pay off. 

As I get older the opportunities to learn new things and be pushed outside my comfort zone dwindle. I also don’t exactly seek them out because, well … they are outside my comfort zone – and the older I get the less I like being … well uncomfortable.

I recently had a taste of that sort of challenge and realized how brave our children are to step into school every day.

I just started shooting the second season of American Crime. It’s an anthology; a new hybrid for network TV and an actor’s mecca. Every year it’s a brand new story with new characters in a new setting.

felicity huffman american crime

Just as a returning student feels different from the person she had been the year before, I felt changed. Walking onto the set felt new; I was unsure, frightened of making mistakes, worried about being bad, hoping to do good work and not sure what was required of me.

The first day the director said, “Felicity, maybe a little less like Cruella de Vil and a little more… human?” And he was right.

Compared to what students go through my unease was minor, but I was still outside my comfort zone.

But I was choosing that situation, which makes a huge difference. Our kids don’t get to choose what subjects they take! “Hey Mom! This year I’m only going to take P.E. and snack!” My daughters often say stuff like, “ What’s the point of school? I need to learn what taxes are and how to pay them. Not that an imaginary number becomes a real number when multiplied by an imaginary unit!”

I understand her point of view. Now that I have been out of school for a thousand years, I realize it wasn’t the STUFF in school; the subjects, the facts or the rote knowledge (90% of which I have forgotten) that really impacted me. It was being forced into new situations and subjects and those life lessons that really educated me.

Problem solving, making hard work habitual, learning how to be a good friend, making stupid mistakes, figuring out how much of a “yes” is in that “no,” learning how the power system works and how to make it work for me; were my true education. This was everything from “why was Ruby Linder mean to me for all of second grade?” to “Is it okay if my professor looks down my blouse as long as he passes me in computer programing?”

Finally, school populated my world. I am not a naturally gregarious person, so without school I would now own a lot of cats instead of having a lot of friends. In short, its deep value was pushing me outside my comfort zone every day.

This is all to say, I salute and celebrate kids for walking into a building every day full of the unknown, the challenging, the potential of failure and the constant question, “Why am I doing this?”

Maybe we all need to show up for the first day of 2nd grade. It’s good to step out and be scared, to not know the answer. It sure makes me feel alive, awake and expands me. And maybe as I drop my daughter off at her first day of 9th grade in a new school, I will have a deeper empathy and appreciation for her.

Here’s to our courageous children, and here’s to us being open, really alive and outside our comfort zone.

Happy New Year!

Love,

Flicka

Oh man, I can’t believe we are almost at the end! It makes me so sad!

I want time to slow down and make summer stretch on and on. It’s like getting to the end of a really great book, so you read more and more slowly, in smaller and smaller increments to make it last. I want to live more slowly and make this last month of summer feel like two months. I want the mornings to be even MORE languid, with my family staying in their pajamas ‘till 2. I want the gentle summer evenings to stretch out endlessly. I want to hang onto having dinner at 8pm and not climbing into bed ‘till 11. Because we can! Because there’s NO SCHOOL TOMORROW! Yippee!

I know this isn’t very p.c. – but now that my kids are a pleasure to hang with, I hate school, and think Horace Mann was a douche for inventing them.

I admit, when my daughters were younger, summer vacation was fun for about 3 weeks. After that the shine quickly wore off. If I had to take one more trip to the park, play one more game of UNO, make one more healthy snack, I was going to run away to the heavenly island of oblivion, TARGET, and never come back. I couldn’t wait for school to start up again and be free of my kids.

But, now that my girls are 13 and 15 I realize these summers together have a short shelf life and their expiration date is fast approaching.

A Mom once told me, “If we do our jobs well, we work our way out of a career,” i.e. our kids won’t need us anymore. Pretty damn soon my girls won’t want to hang around making waffles late into the morning, or curl up in our bed watching movies late into the night.

I guess I should see that eventuality as a healthy thing, but these long summer days feel precious and few and I don’t want them to end.

Okay, well here’s what I am going to do. Be sad and full of longing for something that hasn’t even ended yet – because that’s the kind of crazy I am.

But also I am going to squeeze every moment of summer out of these last few weeks– and stay up late, and get up late, and make waffles, and swim in the pool, and maybe even play a few games of UNO for old times sake.

How are you guys spending these last few weeks?

What is your version of waffles and late summer nights?

I wish you Happy Last Weeks of Summer,

Love,

Flicka

PS – WTF is up with school starting in August? There should be a law against that. Dumb ass school boards.