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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Answer to the Cranky Old Man... Well, How was YOUR day?

I like to read other people's blog posts.  Well, DUH, I'm a blogger.  I'm not THAT self absorbed that I only  write my own and expect the world to bow down at my feet.  OK, maybe a little.

While reading over at the Cranky Old Man's page and came across his post "How Was Your Day?" (You can read that post by clicking on the blog title).  I thought it would be fun to "rebut" his post from the perspective of the Millennial Mom.  No disrespect, of course...

So, Joe - thank you  for indulging me.

Please go on over to the Cranky Old Man' page.  He's pretty cool for a cranky old guy.

Dear 70's / 80's Dad:

I'm not even gonna ask how your day was, because I'm quite sure it was sheer H.E.L.L.!

Can I tell you?  I'd trade places in a second!  Maybe with you, because being a stay at home mom is a bitch too!

Let me share my day with you and give you a little run through in the day of a "Millennium Mom"  - A Millennium working mom.

5:30 am - The hubby has just left for work, so I decide that it's also time for me to get up.  I stumble out of bed and head directly toward the coffee maker.  Feed the cat & work to caffeinate quickly.  I have an hour and a half of peace and quiet until the heathens wake and disrupt the sanctity of my morning.

7 am - They're up and already fighting because one got to the toilet quicker than the other.  For the love of all that's holy - go pee in the other toilet kid.  While trying to ignore the incessant bickering, I prepare clothing for children's school day, pack lunches, get breakfast on the table and hit the shower.

7:15 am ish - My gosh, they're arguing AGAIN.  Mommmm she's copying me.  I try to ignore and quickly hide in my room to dress and prep for my day.  Knock, knock, knock - MOMMMMM  I need YOUR mirror.  Ugh...  #2 How come SHE can come in your room but I can't?

7:45 am - Crunch time.  Are they dressed?  Is their hair brushed?  Teeth brushed?  Beds made?  Do I have lunches in the back pack?  Is my lunch prepared?  Crap - what will dinner be...  let's take out chicken.  Yeah, chicken will do.  Heathens in unison, "Chicken AGAIN?  We just had chicken.  I want Spaghetti OOOOO's."  Is it too early for wine?  Will they frown upon a wine-o at work?  Just a random thought...

Still racing through the house ... the 8 am "Get the Led out" is on the radio. I have 5 minutes to have them at the bus stop.
Husband calls.  "Hey, I just called to say good morning.  What are you doing?"
Ohhhhh, you know - I'm just sitting here with my feet up, awaiting my full body massage & eating bon bons.  You?  (Yeah, that's sarcasm.)  Crap, the bus is here.  Gotta go - bye.

I grab the kids and race to the bus stop.  The short one, of course left the bedroom light on and didn't brush her hair. The 10 year old thinks that a hoodie is perfectly acceptable to wear in 10 degree weather.  Lord help me.

Fortunately, I remembered to warm up my truck - but... I still need to shut down the stuff the kids left on, lower the heat... all those things I do to be a frugal mommy.  I get into my car and hit the highway where there is, of course, traffic.  And CRAP - I forgot to actually take that chicken out of the freezer.

I live North.  North is where we city folk move to get away from the city. There is one major highway,  which means that every idiot on the planet is hitting the highway the same time as me.  I also have road rage. I get cut off about 3 times and selfishly giggle to myself when the jerk behind me rear ends me, mentally thanking my husband for leaving the trailer hitch on.  How's your grill buddy?  I digress.

I intentionally get to work 15 - 20 minutes early to settle in.  Not today, today I come in - to a ringing phone.    I rush to turn off the alarm and grab the phone.  It's the "Mother Ship" a.k.a. our parent company.  They're mad.  They want to know why XYZ was shipped to Puerto Rico when it should have gone to Venezuela.  I'm not in the shipping department, but since I am who I am there... I do the work.  No one's happy.  Three customer calls, one angry sales person call and 4 angry "alien" calls - I am either shaking from anger, stress or too much caffeine.  Hard to tell.

2:30 pm - I leave the office & race home to get the children off the bus. Ugh, dinner.  Wendy's it is...

3 PM - Kids exit the bus - bickering.  Can I go to so & so's house?  I have Girl Scouts.  Can you bake 956 cup cakes by 4 pm for my Girl Scout meeting.  I said you'd do it.  I have cheer leading, I have karate.  OMG. Calgon take me away.

3 days a week the short one has counselling.  2 days a week the older has cheer practice.  1 day a week there is tumbling.  Let's throw karate and cheer competitions in there as well.  All activities perpetually over lap one another, so I'm in and out of the house daily until about 8:30 pm.  I squeeze in dinner, a few loads of laundry, run the vacuum, dishwasher, pay the bills and whatever else needs to be done.

8:30 PM -  I finally get home.  Hubby is perched at the dining room table reading the paper and wondering where dinner is.

So, how was YOUR day?

Ever sincerely,
The Millennial Momma
(formerly stay at home mom / single mom)

I hope you enjoyed my slightly tongue in cheek version of my day.  I'd love to say this is total fiction - but sadly this is, mostly, an actual day in the life.

Cheers :)

Again, thank you to Joe for indulging me and thank you all for reading my blog!

Have a great day!

~Jenn

**  As a side note, this blog post is in no way meant to put Joe "in his place".  I absolutely adore Cranky Old Man.  He reminds me of my dad & step dad while I was growing up - except, ya know - he'd be my really cool uncle since he's too young to be my dad.  No disrespect :) Thank you again, Joe for indulging my sillinesss. **

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dear Me: Part 2 - You are worth it

 Everybody has insecurities of some sort, spurred on by the deep dark things in their lives that made them who they are & created certain fears. Visible or invisible.

Me?
I have mommy issues.
Yep, honest and truly - at my age I still have mommy issues.  Most of my issues, I'd ignored until the short one came into our home and I realized that she is a shorter version of me.  Well, parts of who I used to be.

NO, my mother was nothing compared to what her mother is (and that is a positive for me), but I get the short one's "stuff".  I get her insecurities and I get why I've done some of the things I've done in my life.
The things that I see her doing makes it all so clear to me now...

So part two, "You ARE worth it", is not only for my short one - but also for those of you out there with mommy issues or insecurities that you don't realize you have.  The things that give you that little twinge of the "I'm not good enough."

As a woman and a mom of girls, I get the importance of mother / daughter relationships.

There were many times in my life that I longed to have a bond with my mother.  I don't ever want my girls to feel they don't have a closeness with me.  I strive for this bond with them.

I wasn't always secure in my own skin.  Sometimes I'm still not, but I am who I am and I'm good with me.

When I was younger, I longed to be the daughter of a mommy who took an interest in me and my life.  Someone who taught me what it was like to not just be a woman, but to be a wife, a mom, a friend.  I longed to have the mother who believed in me, who wanted me to succeed.  Someone who did things with me and supported me.  Someone who told me I was good, strong and worth it.  Someone who was my biggest cheerleader.  Many of these things I had to figure out on my own and do for myself.

I'm not here to bash my mother.  We all have issues and she had her own mommy issues that made her who she is.  I get that.  I forgive that and I know that it's not my fault she didn't know what to do with me.

Seeing the short one's actions, I often get upset for her.  She is a very needy little person.  Very sweet - very affectionate and very love starved.  I see her vulnerabilities & others do too.

These are the types of issues that allow women like me, young girls like the short one and others in a similar position to settle for less than they deserve in their lives.  To twist yourself into a knot to gain the love and attention of someone, anyone.  Something that takes years to figure out that you deserve more - you are worth it.

I get this... If you don't feel you have the love or connection with the person who carried you into this planet - how could you possibly bond with anyone else?

Deep huh?

Listen, I KNOW that I was awkward as heck when I was younger.  I had my outward facade, but I didn't know how to mask it as much when I was young.  I could only carry the presentation so far until the weirdo came out.  This is the stuff I strive to save the short one from.  The things that I am trying to help her to get control over.  Not change her, but let her realize that not everyone will embrace her inner weirdo.  To not settle for less than she deserves.

That happens a lot you know...  I can remember hearing on the radio a while back, Howard Stern I believe, where he would say to go for the girl with the crappy home life because they're an easy mark.  Wow.  That sucks - but ya know what, it's that longing for love and acceptance that puts women in that vulnerable position.

Don't think for half a second that you're hiding it.  It's plain as day and will be there until you look in the mirror and decide - I DESERVE MORE.  I AM WORTH IT.

Getting over whatever it is that brought you to the point of feeling inadequate isn't always an easy road.
I settled many times through out my life.  I often accepted or settled for less, because for a very long time, I didn't realize that I deserved more.

Every single person on this planet has a purpose.  There may always be someone trying to knock you down - to tell you that you're "not".
I'm here to tell you that you ARE worth it.

Don't ever settle for less than what you strive for.  Don't believe those who tell you that you can't or that you are unable, unworthy, undeserving.

You ARE worth it!

As always, thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Look Who Got a Liebster!!


I am incredibly honored and overwhelmed that The Madness of Mommyhood even thought of lil ol me for this award! 

Thank you SO INCREDIBLY MUCH!

Ya know when you're a fan of another blog or page, you think – "Pfft, they don't even know I'm alive."  Well, guess what?  SHE KNOWS I'M ALIVE, SHE KNOWS I'M ALIVE!!!   So yeah, I'm doing back flips across the room.  (OK well in my brain I am, sheesh.)

Never heard of the "Leibster Award?” 
Well, let me tell you - it's beyond an honor to receive.
Why?  It's a nomination given to you by another blogger - your peer.
That's amazing and wonderful!
It's way better than being in the phone book!!
People know your name!!
You're somebody!
(think the movie, The Jerk)

In all seriousness, this blog award is meant for and given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers on their blog page.  Bloggers who pour their heart out through their fingers and into the blog-o-sphere & who deserve our recognition and support.
Again, I’m honored.

The reason the award is passed on to other bloggers is to help spread the word!
To provide recognition and have another person feel the "she knows my name" feeling while getting to know each other.

So again, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!


From what was passed on to me, my predecessors have researched the word leibster.

Leibster is a German word meaning; sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.
That alone makes me smile.

The Rules are simple:
1. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you, and then create 11 new questions for the bloggers you pass the award to.
3. Choose 11 new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award to and link them in your post.
4. Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
5. No tag backs.

Drum roll please, as I prepare to pass the torch...


1.  A Mom's Life http://rylansfamily.blogspot.com/
2.  A.D.D. Music Mamma http://addmusicmamma.blogspot.com/
3.  Blisfully Discontented http://blissfullydiscontented.blogspot.com/
4.  Snarkfest:  http://snarkfestblog.blogspot.com/
5.  Mommy Drinks because You Cry http://glugglugmommy.blogspot.com/
6.  Sooperdad Blog of Awesomeness:  http://sooperdad.blogspot.com/
7.  Story of a Girl:  http://liveunscripteduncut.blogspot.com/
8.  Deezy Does It:  http://deezydoesiteezy.blogspot.com/
9.  Miss Banana Pants:  http://missbananapants.blogspot.com/
10.  The Greek Housewife:  http://thegreekhousewife.blogspot.com/
11.  The Epistolarians:  http://theepistolarians.blogspot.com/
11 ½ The Plucky Procrasinator:  http://pluckyprocrastinator.blogspot.com/

 I needed to cheat... because My Plucky Girl DESERVES this!


11 Questions Presented to Me:

1. Where do you live?
I live in New Jersey
2. What is your favorite book?
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
3. What is your favorite hobby (besides blogging)?
Traveling.  If I had endless time and funds, I would travel constantly.
I love seeing different places & experiencing different cultures.  Even here in the US.
4. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Prime Rib & Roasted Veggies
5. If they made a movie of your life, who would you pick to play you?
Hayden Panettiere.  The girl’s got spunk!
6. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Someplace warm & tropical.
7.  Do you have a lucky charm?
Yes, it’s the heart key chain my son made for me when he was in 3rd grade.
8. What is your birth sign?
Virgo
9. Name one thing on your bucket list.
Sky diving
10. What is your favorite candy?
Lindt Lindor White Chocolate Truffles
11. What was the saddest moment in your life?
When my brother, Eric died.

11 Random Facts About Me:

1. I am the happiest in my life now, than I have ever been.

2. I have 2 biological children who are 10 years apart.

3. I am a foster parent, because I love kids & believe every kid deserves to feel safe and loved.

4. I got my one and only tattoo at 42.

5. I love to watch “kiddie” shows (ala Pretty Little Liars).

6. I  was and always will be a daddy’s girl and I miss both my dad & step dad terribly. 
(gotta partially steal this one because it applies for me as well)

7. I am a pretty tough chick.  I’ve been through a lot and I don’t quit.

8. I still refer to my baby brother as my baby brother even though he’s 41.

9.  I am totally addicted to coffee.

10. I am an incredibly proud Navy momma.

11. I survived 2 suicides in my family – my dad & my brother.

11 Questions for my nominees:

1.  Who in your life do you most wish to be like?

2.  Other than parenting, what is your greatest accomplishment?

3.  If you had your choice of living in a region where it’s either only cold all the time or only hot all the time, which would you pick?

4.  What is your biggest phobia?  (ie: birds, snakes, spiders)

5.   How old were you when you got your first paying job?

6.  What do you like the best about where you live?

7.  What is the one place you’d most like to visit before you die? 

8.   What one piece of knowledge, that you’ve learned from your own experience, do you find most important to pass on to your child?

9.  Early bird or night owl?

10.  What is your favorite meal to cook?  (opening a can of spaghetti o’s counts)

11.   If you found out you were expecting a child, how would you react?

Thank you again to my wonderful and amazing presenter The Madness of Mommyhood.  You can find her Facebook page here (click here) and her blog page here (ditto).

I encourage my nominees to go forth & present.
Help others be known that they are loved.
Just like I love you!

Big, fat, juicy Jenn-ism smoochies all!

~Jenn




Friday, January 25, 2013

How to age gracefully without falling on your face...


As IF...  she says in her best Alicia Silverstone voice from the movie Clueless.  I don't want to age!

I may not know much about being graceful or not falling on my face, but I do know a little bit about getting older...aging.  And yes, it sucks.  Beats the heck out of alternative, though.

It's already been established - I'm no spring chicken anymore.  Ugh!  Even typing out in this blog that I'm almost 50 makes me want to vomit.  Really.

Just the other day I was 20 something and out partying in the clubs until 3 am, catching a few z's, getting up for work at 6 and doing it all over again.  Now - I fall asleep on the couch by 10 pm - if I make it that far.  Seriously, WTF?

I can remember being an early 30 something & my 40 something boss blurted out that after 40 there's just not much elasticity in your skin anymore.  I was thinking - holy crap.  That sucks for her.  She'd better do something about that!

So, now here I am....40 something.  My teeter totter officially tipped toward the next zero a few years ago, and I'm rolling down hill fast to that big 5-0.  No, I'm not graceful about it.  I've chosen to ignore it!

I've still got a few more years before I actually get to 50 - but when they say time marches on, they really got it right.  What they neglected to say is that it marches right straight across your face.

This freaks me out.  I've adjusted to the fact that I'll never again in my life be a size zero.  That's cool.  I was much too skinny then anyway and I like a good ice cream Sunday as much as the next chubby chick.  Cheers, sweetie.  What I have issues with is LOOKING older.  A case of supreme vanity...

I've done OK so far.  If I do say so myself.  I've been complimented many times by people telling me they thought I was only 37.  Woot!  I'll take that!  I can't remember if there was alcohol involved - but who cares!  10 years younger is 10 years younger.  Talk young to me, baby.

For the most part, genetics have been kind to me.
Oh, no no no -- for my skin, only for my skin.  Fortunately I've been able to escape much of the other stuff floating in the family gene pool. Genetically, my family has great, youthful looking skin.  I don't take that for granted.

I'm going share some other stuff with you on keeping that youthful appearance.

Guys, you don't need to leave - you don't want to end up looking like Robert Redford either.  While he was quite the hottie in his day, he hit the wall hard much younger than he should have.  Robert not selling it for you?  Let's check Kris Kristofferson and Clint Eastwood.  We cool now?  Wanna keep reading?  Good!

Yeah, holy heck.  Right?
I will NEVER resort to the knife or allow people stick needles in my face.  The thought alone just freaks me out.  Yeah, I've heard the ol "Botox isn't bad." thing.  No thanks.  Have you ever seen the old lady in Real Housewives of Miami....  yeah - not for me thanks.

Let's just work with what we've got, shall we?

So here we go...
Cream up.  That's right - slather moisturizer all over your face.  Often.
Guys you don't wear make up - so you're good to throw that stuff on your face any time of the day.  The elements are brutal.  Not just sun exposure - but the cold winter air - brutal.  Get the good stuff like Eucerin or something.  Spend the money.  Put it on as often as possible.  Hands, face - whatever you want to keep young looking.  Keep in mind, it's not a magic potion and it will only do so much.

Women, take your make up off before you go to bed.  EVERY NIGHT - ALL OF IT!  Also, try to not wear sooo much of it that you look like a completely different person.  My daddy always told me that no man wants to wake up to a woman who's face is in the night table drawer.

Wash your face with baby wash.  Really!  I use baby oil for my eye make up & baby shampoo or baby wash for my face.  (be sure alcohol isn't in the ingredients.)  Heads up... baby oil in your eyes stings.  Ha, I just got a mental vision of you guys ala Mel Gibson in What Women Want.

After washing I put lotion all over my face, neck & chest.  I started seeing these little rings around my neck & upper chest...  Freaked me right out.

This won't make the wrinkly lines go away, but it will keep them at bay.

Drink water - LOTS OF IT.  Stay hydrated!  I'd love to be the first one to tell you that coffee counts, but sadly it doesn't and it dehydrates you.  Yes, you will be peeing like a race horse all day long - but your skin will glow.  It's also good for your digestive health, etc.

Stay out of the damn sun!  I am a former sun worshiper.  I was spared facial damage from the sun, but only because I've always taken care of my skin.  If you're going to go out put heavy duty sun screen on your face ESPECIALLY AROUND YOUR EYES.  Your eyes take a beating & are the first to wrinkle.

Speaking of eye wrinkles... Sunglasses.  Always.  Not just for the summer, but always.  I have a few pair everywhere.  Squinting makes wrinkles.  Even when it's not very bright out, you're squinting.

Let's move on to hair...  Some things we can help, some things we can't.
Genetics sometimes suck for guys.  No biggie....Really!  Just do us all a favor, yourself included.  Do NOT resort to the comb over or plugs or weaves.  If it gets so thin that you can't deal.  Shave it all off and grow a goatee!  Trust me!  It gives you a whole new edge & chicks dig it.  Have you seen pics of my hubs??  Au natural baby...  :)

Women - conditioner.  Condition, condition, condition.  Especially in the summer time.  Keep a little travel bottle in your beach bag with the suntan lotion.  Put it on your hair before you go in the sun & after you get out of the water.  Also, slather it into your dry hair before bed.

Teeth.... Another thing my daddy used to say... Be true to your teeth and they'll never be false to you.  Brush  & floss those bad boys - regularly.  Yes, FLOSS!  Don't skip dental appointments.  White teeth are fabulous.  All of them are even better.  Get it?

Oh, and no one likes chronic halitosis.  Invest in Altoids if you have an issue.

I'd like to tell you to lay off the sauce because it's just no damn good for you, but I just love my wine and I'm no hypocrite.  It's heart healthy!

Besides, alcohol has been helping...  Well - you know the rest.

I hope my ever flowing plethora of knowledge fountain has enlightened you in many ways.  Now go forth and be young fogies!

Cheers!

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn


Thursday, January 24, 2013


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Event Dates: 2/1-2/14

Free Blogger Opportunity! 

Grab the code HERE to repost on your Blog.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Where the heck is that Parenting Manual??

I am on a roll with this parenting stuff lately...

Mainly because I'm so smart about all this (cough, cough).

It's funny writing these things out.  The words swirl through my head, but when they come out of my fingers and onto here it gives me a whole new HOLY CRAP realization...  sort of like I had the other day when I was discussing how my mother ripped me out of Catholic school & deposited me into the local public school.  Then I realized - WOW - I did the same thing to my son.
In my defense, totally different issues and I was really helping my kid, not myself.

ANY WHOOOO.
That whole thing gave me the realization that we tend to repeat the same patterns our parents did.
Some may call it the generational curse or sins of the parent...Me, I just call it learning what we see.

Hard to break those habits & learn what's good when what you grew up seeing wasn't fabulous.

I'm going to put this out there again because it's really the truth - I am NOT trying to throw my mother under the bus via my blog.  While it is true that we do not have a "real" relationship and haven't had one in more than 15 years, I know that she would agree that she didn't do her very best parenting with me.  I'm not trying to trash her because I truly believe that she didn't have a clue what to do with me after I was born.

That gave me the brilliant idea of discussing first kids.

As a top expert in the field of screwing up, I give you my theory on parenting your first child.

I was a first born.  I know that when my mother first had me, after the initial disappointment wore off that I didn't have a penis, she still looked at me and thought - OK - I have this kid.  Now what the hell do I do with it?

Really, Did any of you parent people get the instruction manual that comes along with your kid?  I still can't find mine.  The only thing I go on now is experience.

The experience that my beloved first born did not have the benefit of.

When I was a kid, there were many, many times I'd said, "Why does D get to do that???  You never let ME do that."  Well it's easy.  The first kid??  Practice.  Yup - I said it.  Practice.

Oh stop... I know some people are getting all up in arms right now thinking how awful it was of me to say that.  Tell me truth...  were you an expert with your first kid?  If you say yes, you're lying!

I know that I didn't know what the hell I was doing when I first had my son.  I just flew by the seat of my pants.  I knew he had to eat, be loved, be bathed, be changed... all of that normal nurturing stuff that came naturally to me.  BUT -- Oh, you can't let a 2 year old watch Scream??  My bad...
Yeah - stuff like that.  The what the hell are you doing's that startled the ever living crap out of me.  The stuff I truly didn't know what to do or how to do it!

I had nothing to compare being a parent to.  No prior experience.  No one guiding me through the specifics.  My childhood was pretty much a horror story.  At 7 years old, I mostly raised my brothers.  I could do this.  Yeah...No.  It was a learning experience.  Truth is that my brothers and I are lucky to be alive!  Pfft, 7 year old in charge.  What the heck?

With my son, I did everything I thought I knew on how to be a good mom - but the fact was, I didn't know what that was.  I was really good at the love part and all that other stuff... but play dates?  What the hell is that??  When we were kids, we were never home.  We just showed up at our friend's house and voila... play date.

I knew nothing.  Everyday was a new and different adventure.

It was only in experiencing the day to day life with my child that I learned to figure out what works and what doesn't.  Watching what other parents do & how they handle things.  How much freedom is allowed, how much is not, etc.  By the time #2 came along my darling son was 10.  I had 10 years of learning under my belt.

I never once dropped #2 on her head.  Never.

I'm kidding, I'm kidding... I never dropped my son either.

#1 is older now and he has made me so proud.  I refer to him as my magnificent creation.  He hates that, but he is a well adjusted young man, who has overcome his childhood.  Right, K? (insert nervous laughter here)

From time to time, he will look at what his little sister is doing and say, "I can't believe you let her do that!  You never let me do that..."

Well... now I know better.

Kids don't come with instructions!

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roots and Wings

When I was younger, I moved around a bit.

Not "military brat" moving around, but enough that it impacted me.

I spent the first 13 years of my life in one town.  I had my friends & my "go to" places.  Everything was familiar & I had a sense of security.

And then...
Just like that, the rug was ripped out from under me & I had to start all over.  Not just once, but twice in one year.

If you read my last post (Dear Me:  You're so much cooler online) you can pick right up and understand that moving around as a kid SUCKED for me.  I also didn't have a stellar childhood or family life, but that's a whole other topic & probably something for a mental health professional to sort out.

I totally get the mental image of being uprooted!  Imagine a tree that's planted & has been in the same spot for 13 years.  Then you rip it out of the ground and try to plant it someplace else.
Yeah, doesn't work out so well....It always struggles to re-root & thrive.

At 13, I was removed from the comfort of the school I'd attended since kindergarten & deposited (halfway through 6th grade) into the local public school, only to be uprooted again and deposited into the public school system in a whole new town mid 7th grade.  Twice in full year's time I had to start from scratch.

Not an easy feat.  Not only because I was scared to death - but again, I did not have a stellar home life.  I had no secure "safe place".  I had to figure everything out all over again.

This became my life lesson and main motivator when dealing with my own kids.

I have lived in the same area for the past 16 years, and chances are I'll live here for the next 12 years and until all children have graduated high school.

Before you get all impressed about my staying put for so long - my town is 80+ square miles.  I've had some room to roam in this town.

I love where I live and am now settled where I am, but as with any other town - there are issues.  It's about being on top of the issues, not moving your kids around.  Heck when I was in high school there were drug busts weekly.  My step sister lived in a more upscale town with a "better school".  The only thing "better" was that they had the better, more expensive drugs.  I digress...

When my son was little he started off, as I did, in the local Catholic school.  Wow, now that I'm writing this, I see it in a different way, hmm.  His start was similar to mine, except I kept him in the same town, with the same friends.  (You can do a lot with 80 square miles)  Anyway, in 3rd grade we had some issues with the Catholic school/church (you can read about that here) so I put him in the local public school & into a private school until high school.  I tried to keep things as even for him as I could.  Same friends, same area.  Our life was total chaos.  I did whatever I could to find as much normalcy for him as possible.  Roots.

I also slowly gave him small freedoms.  A few at a time so he could learn how to be without me.

He had no problem spreading his wings & of course got into some teenage trouble.  What teenager doesn't test the waters?  Happily, he is now a wonderful, well adjusted young man.

All kids will test the waters, but they need to learn to fail and fix it on their own as well.  They also need to know they have a soft place to land when it's too much for them to handle.

Now I have the girls.  My daughter & the short one.  If the short one stays (fingers crossed) she will also remain in this town until graduation.

My school of thought on this is that they develop a sense of security.  To some degree, they know what to expect.  Consistency.

These things didn't come easily for me as a child.  No, I didn't have the same home life that I work to give my kids now.  I had to "reset" so many times that it screwed me up a bit.

I had no consistency and in my young adult life.  I kept moving because that's what seemed normal to me.  All I had was wings without roots.

Each part is as important as the other.

The roots to know who you are, where you're from and what you stand for.

The wings to know that you aren't bound to your spot.  That you have the ability to soar.

Roots & Wings.

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn




Monday, January 21, 2013

Dear Me: You're soooo much cooler online.... really...

Despite the fact that sleep eludes me, I do my best writing when I first climb out of bed.

In my foggy existence, I can still recall the things that plagued me in my dreams.  The things that used to be and the realities of what are.

One of the wake up life realities??  I'm sooo much cooler online!

I think, to some degree, we can all relate.  Especially we blogger folks. HERE, online - the shades are down.  We can say whatever the heck we want & no one says much about it.  People don't know who we really are, what we really do.  We can hide behind the keyboard.  We can also let down the walls and be who we actually are with a little extra flare of awesome.

Truth?  I am a mess.  Really.  I know that at first glance it appears to people "in real life" that I've got my shit together.  That I'm insanely popular and was always this way.  I AM the chick that people can't wait to be friends with....

Ennnn, wrong (yeah, I couldn't figure out how to spell my sound effect.)

Let's start back in school.  I really CAN go all the way back.  I didn't fit.
At least that's how I felt.  I went to Catholic school.  I was ultra honest with the things that went on around me. Not only did I horrify the nuns on a regular basis, many of the kids would ask me why the heck I would say the things I said.  What?  I was just being honest.  I can't help it if the life around me produced jaw dropping responses.  That was part one - and that was also the part that prompted my mother to remove me from Catholic school, immediately if not sooner, and deposit me into the local public school.  Where I again - did not fit.

OF COURSE every one wants to be a part of the popular group.  Entering into the public school, one of the popular girls was the only girl I knew.  Not only was she the popular girl - but she was the queen of the mean girls.  I didn't get the whole "groups" thing, so even though I did have a circle of friends and a friend who was really super kind to me (Diane B, if you ever read this, you are this friend).  I finally started to feel like I fit & then.... Uprooted & moved onto another town.  I was there for like 5 minutes and gone...

Wanna talk about culture shock???

I went from knowing how to navigate my life and taking my brothers where they needed to be to a place where I knew nothing and no one. Uprooting us was not easy.  Separating us was worse, but that's another blog.

We moved anyway.
I had the same responsibilities, but knew NO ONE, except my cousin, Jill & the girl who lived downstairs when I moved across town.  I was totally naive.  TOTALLY!
This girl, though my age was having sex.  I was definitely NOT.  I think I was 13 or 14, I can't remember.  She had me totally convinced that being a virgin was totally uncool!  No, I didn't run out and rectify that - but I did lie about it.  Yeah, surrrreeeee  I've had sex.  Lots of it.  So now... as the new girl, meeting new girls - that put me in the big ol SLUT category.  Those girls never hung out with me again.  I moved AGAIN and never discussed my non-existent sex life again, but those stories did follow me.

I eventually found friends who were more like I was.  On some level, we all "fit" together - but ya know - there's always one queen bee who doesn't want your ass around and makes your life hell.  No problem.  I am who I am & always was.

The one thing that you all out there probably know by now is that I don't conform.  I don't fit, I move along.  I may try to twist myself in a knot to fit at first - but if I can't bend in a certain direction - I move along.  Even in my young teens, I knew that things just shouldn't be that hard - if they were, move along and dance to the music in my head.  There will be someone else who is dancing to the same song.

I, of course, did have friends.  Many actually.  Like minded, wonderful friends who I have kept all these years.  Well, most of them.  I don't talk to EVERYONE, but I am in a position that I can still pick up a phone, say hey and pick up where we left off.

I may, in the real world, dress a certain way or act a certain way or carry myself a certain way that may lead you to believe that I think I'm this very secure person, who is very used to being the popular girl.  Truth, the only reason I haven't acknowledged you directly yet is because I'm so busy concentrating on not tripping over my own two feet that I didn't notice you standing there.

I just ain't everybody's cup of tea.  (I forget what movie that is from.)

This, my friends, is one of the reasons I'm such a fan of online friendships and blogging.  That exterior wall, the facade that everyone sees first, does not exist.  We all get to see what's real - what's on the inside first.

This is also the reason that I will keep my kids here, in this town, until they graduate.  Roots & wings, folks - roots & wings.  (yes, this is a multi-purpose post and obviously a lead in to a future post)

You see, I know that as much as I make a blubbering idiot of myself and trip over my own two feet - if people hang around long enough to look beyond the surface, they get to see what's real.

THOSE are the people worth keeping.

Yup, I ain't everyone's cup of tea.  I am the best me I know how to be and I love all of you for hanging around.

I know I skipped around a bit here, but ya know... it's less than 6 am and I'm only on one cup of coffee.

Cheers!

Thank you for reading my blog!

You all have a fabulous day!!

~Jenn

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dear Me: Some things I've left out... Part 1

A while back my friend Cassie over at Fire & Rabbits asked me to do a guest post for her Dear Me:.  As I thought more and more about that post, there's so much more I need to say.  So, over the next few posts - I'm going to expand upon that.

A little more of what I wish I'd known back then.


I'd love to say that I followed the very bohemian peace, love and tie dye example of frugality my parents lived while I was very young.

Fact is, I like stuff!  Who doesn't?

What I don't like?  Bills & Debt.

I can still remember my first credit card.
I was 18 and everyone told me that Bamburger's (now solely Macy's) gives EVERYONE a credit card.  Of course I applied and was declined because I was only working part time.

Getting a credit card, when all my friends had one and I didn't, became a challenge.  So I applied, applied, applied.  My first cards? Mandee's & Stern's.  I shopped like it was my job.  Every day I got a new outfit.  I was most definitely stylin'.

I worked.  I went to school.  I paid my bills.  I bought a car.  I applied for more credit cards.  I bought more stuff.  I paid more bills.

After a while, I had plenty of stuff - but I had more debt at the end of my money than I could deal with.  So I got more jobs.  I was young and single, I had no one else to account for but myself at the time, so I just rolled with it.  That was the habit I formed for myself early on.  I wasn't working to live anymore.
I was working to pay off my debt on the life I used to live, for stuff I didn't even like anymore!

I don't recommend this.

After several life lessons & paying off all of my credit card debt, I've resigned to no more credit cards!  Well, that's not exactly true - always have one emergency credit card that doesn't get used.

If there's anything I could stress, more than anything else, it's to live within your means!

Did I have my Escalade?  Yes.  Did I love it?  Yes....  I loved my little Cadillac lifestyle!  Did I love the $800 per month car payments?  Nope. I also didn't love the $3500 transmission repair bill.

That's a cruise, and I love to travel!

I've learned to scale my life down and love my Jeep.

Would I love a big 3500+ square foot home?
Once upon a time, yes!  Now - it's just more to clean. I'm happy with my little house, with smaller bills and less to clean.

In my opinion, it's a trap.  A gilded cage.

Working to pay off debt isn't living - it's stressful!

Have you ever been a position of ducking out collection calls?

Think Confessions of a Shopaholic & get back to me - because those people are relentless!  Trust me.  Not a game you want to sign up for.

Shopping is FUN!!  Things are GREAT!!  You can still have amazing....
You'll just have to work harder in life. You may not want to do more school.  Just do it!  School is time consuming & hard - but I've got news for you, life is hard.

That little dream of find a rich handsome husband to sweep you off your feet & take care of you for the rest of your life....  Um, probably not going to happen.

Again, stay in school - go be someone.  Build your own life & then if you choose, find someone like minded to share it with.  Trust me.

Go be you & have fun.  Not everyone can roll around in hundred dollar bills.  It is what it is, and that's OK.

Live your life and quit trying to keep up with the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn




Friday, January 4, 2013

Always something to be thankful for...Reflecting back to November 2012

(This was written during the hurricane aftermath & never posted.)

A while back I put up a post on things that I was grateful for.

I haven't gone back to re-read it, but of one thing I'm sure - that list has changed dramatically in the wake of all of the destruction around New Jersey.

I am still without power since Monday...  So 7 days now at this writing.  I haven't seen a real news broadcast on television and have no real idea what's going on outside my general 15 mile vicinity.  I haven't ventured much outside of this area because, frankly - I'm afraid to use the gas. Also, traffic lights are out on the highway so getting out of town has become difficult.

This is meant to be an upbeat and positive post.  I'll do my best.

It's amazing how much "stuff" we really have.  So much excess that I didn't even miss.  Well, maybe I missed it a little bit, but I've been able to make due without so many of the normal "necessities" of my daily life.

We have no power.  That has been the general theme of the week.  The running / not running of the generator.  I just got water yesterday.  We didn't have the proper adapter to hook into the generator to run the well pump.  So no water was one of the things that had me teetering on the edge of sanity.

Let me run through my day, as it is currently.
I haven't been able to get to work, nor have the children had school.  No power anywhere.

I wake up early and stoke the fire because it's cold and we need heat.
Get more fire wood & put it into the stove so that the kids won't be cold when they get up.  It's dipped to the 30's here at night & it's cold in the mornings.

I am NOT a morning person and coffee is one of those things that not only motivates, but calms me and makes me feel human.  I don't fire up the generator until the kids are awake  my very kind neighbor who starts it for me is awake.  I have come to make my coffee with the French press, so I need to boil water, pour it over the grinds and wait.

Next I go out to siphon water from the pool into 5 gallon spackle pails and bring them into the house. Some water for toilet flushing, some to boil on the stove to clean dishes, the kids and myself.  (Don't worry, I use bottled water for my coffee.  hee hee)

I can cook on my stove top since I have a gas stove.  There have been hot meals every morning, afternoon & evening.  That was a plus.  The minus side - I had to cook up quite a bit of food, as did the neighbors so things didn't go bad.  Food was a free for all.  I may have gained about 10 lbs this week in sheer quantity.  I feel like a cow.

Now I need to wash those dishes in the boiled up water.  It still feels gross knowing it used to be in the pool, but it is what it is.

Get myself & the girls dressed & head outside to haul wood from the woodpile in the back to the log ring in the front.  I broke the wheelbarrow (don't ask) so it's Jenn powered hauling.  Ouch.

House cleaning time.  We've had every kid in the neighborhood at our house.  Frankly, I love it - but no one has been careful about wiping feet, etc.  Who cares (myself included) - there's no power.  That leaves me with the task of sweeping & dry mopping the wood floors and shake out the area rugs outside.  No vacuum.  Sucks too much juice from the generator.  Ha ha, Sucks ... I made a funny.  (yes, I'm punchy too)
We need the generator for more important things, like the refrigerator.  So I have to sweep almost EVERY ROOM.  Not a complaint - I had to obsess somewhere to keep my mind off things.

The rest of the day was spent picking up branches & doing what we can do outside to clean up from the downed trees and all the crap that blew over or into our yard.  What's trash, what's burnable in the wood stove.

Hubby has been working around the clock - so I've been set to do as much as possible, so that whenever he's able to get back home - he can just eat and sleep.

Since we had no running water, our neighbors who have a whole house generator, opened up their home to us and most of the other neighbors. Of course I didn't want to take advantage & go every day - so we had some stinky days in between where baby wipes had to do.

May I recommend Huggies One Wipe Cucumber Green Tea wipes?

I know this doesn't seem like a lot - but when you're in it, along with all the emotional stuff - it's really overwhelming.

Now that you have a little bit of my day - I can now tell you what I'm grateful for!

Strength.  God has given me some fairly large challenges in my life.  Ones I've come through, clearly more knowledgeable than I was aware - until now.  I'm a survivor.  I know how to stoke a fire.  I know how to start a fire.  I know how much wood to put into the stove before bed time that the stove won't over heat, nor will it burn out by morning without leaving me hot embers.  Not only do I have the ability to get my butt up and out of bed to do things, but I know what I need to do and I do it!

Wonderful neighbors.  Our neighbors helped with the things I wasn't able to do - like start the generator.  I had no clue what to do.  I didn't know to read the fuel gauge (don't laugh).  After watching my one neighbor start it for me, I realized I had the right idea - I just wasn't pulling out the choke far enough.  Lesson learned & I can start it without bothering anyone.  Thankful!

Although I spent the majority of the days after the hurricane alone because hubby has been working his tail off, I am grateful that he has a job to go to AND that I still have one to go to when I am finally able to go back.

I am incredibly thankful that the US Navy allowed my son to call home, while out to sea, to be sure we were OK.  Just hearing his voice for 5 minutes almost made me forget how crappy things were.

I'm thankful that even though folks around me have some pretty major tree damage, our home and property were spared.

My kids & the neighborhood kids - Ah.May.ZING!  These kids have been so incredibly well behaved.  I feel like I've gained some new kids as we've all been in each other's houses so much.  It's like a giant family.  The kids have adapted and never complained.  Not about being bored, no about being cold (and it's cold) nothing.

Now, in retrospect - as it's a few months later and I'm finishing this post - what a big baby I was to complain about no power when so many are left without a home.

It's the new year.  As I finish off this post it's Friday, January 4, 2013.

I look back at 2012 and am thankful in so many ways that the year is behind me.  Some of it has played out in my blog... other stuff, well - it's not for the world.  I've come through smarter and stronger.

Today, I sit in my warm, well lit office in front of a computer powered by almighty electricity.  I had my lunch at my desk.  I have a warm coat to put on.  A well maintained vehicle to drive to my home, that is still in one piece and I say Thank you God for sparing me and my family.

I have SO INCREDIBLY MUCH to be thankful for - more than I've ever realized.

...and I'm thankful for the opportunity to really count my blessings, which you are all a part of.

Wishing you much love, thanks, health, happiness and moments to be thankful for.

Big Wet Smoochies to all of you!
~Jenn




Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What was the defining moment?

Have you ever been around someone you've known for several years, or even someone you just met wondered what the heck happened there?

What was the defining moment in their life to rob them of the spark that made them who they were?  The thing that changed them.

I know a few people who fall into this category.  In some instances, I know exactly what it was that snuffed out their spark - the defining moment in their life that changed them.

This story could be about anyone...but today, it's about my old friend and neighbor, Bill.  Rest his soul.

Back when was young and single, I rented an apartment above a warehouse.  Alongside my apartment was another smaller apartment rented by an older single gentleman.

Now, I - as you've learned by both this blog and my Facebook page - am very friendly.  I love everyone & I take a genuine interest in people.
He had no other choice but to be my friend.

Early every morning while I walked my dog, I'd see Bill go off to work. Every evening, we'd come home from work about the same time.  He with his 12 pack of Bud in hand.  Me, ready to rest up for an evening of partying.  I didn't cook often because it was just me, but when I did I'd always invite Bill for dinner.  He never took me up on my offer.  His standard response was that he "had chicken out".  He was always friendly and helpful.  If I needed a hand with anything, he was immediately there to help out.  One afternoon he told he that he'd made a pot of stew to take to his cabin but wasn't feeling up to it - did I want to come for dinner.  I accepted the gesture.

When I went into his apartment, I was suddenly saddened.

His kitchen had a small table with just two chairs.  His living room had one wing back chair in front of the television and an end table with an ash tray over flowing with cigarette butts.  Almost as if he'd never expected any company or didn't want any.  No other being, besides his parakeet, Sparky.  I hated that bird. "Domesticated" birds and I just don't get along. I'd walk in and this tiny little thing would dive bomb me.

Anyway, over the months and years that I lived in my apartment, I'd look out for Bill.  I made sure he had a meal even when he "had chicken out".  If I didn't see him going off to work, I'd check on him to be sure he was OK. We became good friends.  I learned much about Bill and his defining moment; the moment where he caught the love of his life (his wife) with his best friend.  The moment that turned such a good soul into a total loner. Love gone horribly wrong.  Something that shut him down and closed him off.  I felt sad for him.

As my life went on, Bill stayed a part of it.  I got married & moved away. He became best friends with my ex-husband.  He was my son's Uncle Bill and a part of our family.  He fished with my ex and did things other than sit in his apartment with that bird, but never even tried to find love again.  "There's a lid for every pot," he would say.

I consider myself incredibly lucky and extremely blessed for the happiness in my life.  I know that my life could also have taken a horrible turn.  I could have become jaded toward love - a cynical, bitter woman.

It amazes me how love can both flourish and kill a person.  How love, so deep could crush the soul of one, while taking flight in another.

Have I been ensnared by the trappings of love in my life?  Absolutely.  I can tell you with absolute certainty that the heart wants what the heart wants - but the heart lies.

I too have a defining moment that changed me.  It put up walls, created unrealistic fears and held me back for years.

What I learned is that as much as those walls may have protected me from the hurt and pain - they also kept away the good.  It wasn't until I learned to trust again and tear down my walls that I was able to find great love and happiness again.

There may be a lid for every pot...  but who's to say that another lid won't fit better?

Do you have a defining moment?

Thank you for reading my blog!

 My very best to each and every one of you for a happy, shiny new year!

Love and Smoochies.

~Jenn