Saturday, November 29, 2008

Life Changes... does this happen? I know I'm sounding like some old woman here (and, according to my children, I'm sure that would be an apropos description...) but how did time fly by so fast? I was hunting for some old (and I mean OLD) family photographs of our Irish ancestors for my daughter's school project and I ended up looking at toddler pictures of my girl. I tell you what...there were a couple of things that just jumped out at me about those ca. 2001-2002 pictures:

1. She has the exact same smile and personality that she always had.
2. She was really cute.
3. I was really un-cute at that particular point in time.
4. Oh - and I have no idea where those freaky pictures of our starving Irish ancestors luck on that front.

Right now - she's across the street. We just let her go over - trusted her to do that. I suppose it's no big deal to let your 9-year-old cross the street by herself to hang out with a friend (even if you are a little weird, like I am...) but there is something about that happening while I was looking at these old toddler pictures that just hit me RIGHT IN THE HEART. It's good though - you know, it makes me wonder what my parents think as they see me come home for the holidays with my own (wild and crazy) crew. Do they remember me as a 3-year-old with curly brown hair? I bet they do...and I wonder if they compare me to my kids?

Everyone tells you to cherish the moments - because they go so fast. But what they don't tell you is that sometimes you just can't cherish the moments while they are happening - it's only after they are gone that you realize a beautiful thing passed through your life.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Here's our tree. If you know where our house is, you should drive by one evening in a few weeks after all our lights are up on the outside - it's so cozy and beautiful!

As I looked at the ornaments I've received over the years (primarily from my grandmother) and I pondered the book I've been reading ("How to Find Meaning in the Second Half of Life"), I decided that I am now strong enough to reach out to some family members who are not part of my life. It seems kind of obvious to me now that I really think about it, but I'm a grown up and can now make my own decisions about how to be in relationship with others. (What a wild concept, right???)

It's my experience that many people feel they can only choose between extremes on many issues. We can be super-religious or we can be atheist, we can buy into the smooshy Hallmark versions of holidays or we can go off into solitude during the holidays. I know that I have a tendency to see things in black and white. But...I'm a reasonably intelligent woman and I've decided that I can define my own life and my own decisions. I'm sure I'll slip up a few times on the way -- but in the meantime, I'm going to reach out and take some risks. As a matter of fact, I plan to write a long letter to my grandmother, telling her what happy memories I've had looking at these ornaments. As my blog audience, I'm counting on you guys to ask me about this in a few days - to see if I've really written (and mailed) the letter. Ok?

Thursday, November 27, 2008


When I saw the football sitting on the table (after the boys had thrown it around for a while) with the flowers and the pies, it seemed like such a perfect Thanksgiving picture that I had to take it. I spent a good amount of my afternoon "stalking" the kids. They were having fun down the hill, in the woods, creating secret forts and it was fun to just eavesdrop on the kid conversations and try to catch glimpses of them through the trees. (That's why I'm standing on the chair - trying to get a better view.)
My pies seemed to be a pretty big hit - especially the chocolate pecan pie. But the highlight of my day was when I lying on the floating dock and I could close my eyes and feel the waves rocking it back and forth. Although later in the day, when I dozed off (in a bed) I kept dreaming that I was sleeping on the dock and was waking up right before I was about to roll off into the lake! (It apparently made quite an impression on my subconscious.)

Thanksgiving Stratego with Little General Patton

It's Thanksgiving Day and since the older girls were getting quite annoyed with the Kindergarten kid brother, I figured I needed to find something for us to do. As we walked into the living room, he pointed at Stratego and said: "That would make me happy." So we sat down and played a round.

I had totally forgotten about this game! But once I saw all the little pieces, I remembered playing it for hours as a kid, although for the life of me, I can't remember who my playing partner was. Maybe my own kid brother? My little boy had to remind me of all the rules. For games like chess, Stratego, etc. - he pretty much only has to hear the rules once and he has them down. As I was setting up my pieces, he advised me to surround my flag with bombs for protection. I can recognize good advice from an Army Guy when I hear it, so I did it. For the rest of my pieces, I just sort of stuck them wherever and ended up having my front lines completely decimated because I'd put a bunch of low numbers on the first two rows. As my son wiped me out, he just shook his head at me and said: "Mom, why did you put all your low numbers up front?" I laughed and told him I didn't know. (Note to self: I probably would not be very successful as a military strategist. So I'll take that career option off of my list.)

Right now, what I'm most thankful for is that I can laugh with my children and that this morning I was able to just hang out with my boy. I hope that all of you have a Thanksgiving Day which is full of smiles, laughter, and even some good-natured teasing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chocolate and stress....

Ok...most of you know that I gave up sugar years ago. And I eventually got to the point where I didn't even want it anymore (I know that sounds bizarre, but it's true). About 7 or 8 months ago (I lose track of time easily) I started a new job and a new phase of life. Although it's been good for me professionally and even personally - it has NOT been good for me in terms of sugar intake. Tonight I am baking my Thanksgiving pies (2 pumpkin, 1 chocolate pecan, and 1 raspberry cream) and I have succumbed to the lure of the semi-sweet chocolate morsels.(Mmm...isn't the word "morsel" delicious? I bet I gained 2 pounds just thinking of that word...)

Now - one night off of the bandwagon wouldn't be the end of the world, but I hereby confess to my blog-o-sphere that I have fallen off the wagon OFTEN in the last few months. I assume that it's related to stress and, to be perfectly honest, it generally happens after I've had a drink or two and my inhibitions are down.

So here's the this sudden lack of willpower related to the new professional stress in my life OR is that just a convenient excuse for falling off of the wagon because (maybe, just maybe...) I wasn't enjoying the ride anyway. The truth is, when I allow myself to eat chocolate - even just a little bit of it - I am so happy and at peace. (For about 30 minutes, then I'm wracked with guilt and, often, a stomach ache.)

One of my dearest friends used to roll her eyes at me and tell me that I wasn't happy unless I was finding something to give up - something to sacrifice in my life. I'd like to scoff at that analysis but she pretty much hit the nail on the head. Even if I do have a moderate tendency towards asceticism, however, isn't it a valuable thing for me to give up sugar? Isn't it healthy?

I sort of hate the fact that I can't wear a few of my jeans anymore - that's way sucky. So...I suppose I need to recommit to this no-sugar decision. Ugh. Kind of like those church camps where on Thursday evenings you were pressured to "re-dedicate your life to the Lord." Man...I hated those Thursday night services. (Note: if you aren't a recovering Southern Baptist, you might not know what I'm talking about.)

Hmmm.......well - I don't feel like re-committing to anything right now. And it has nothing to do with the bag of semi-sweet morsels (oooo....morsels....) that is calling to me from across the kitchen...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Art Therapy

This afternoon, at our new church, we went to a family craft thing where the kids got to make ornaments and the grownups made an Advent wreath. I have some pretty awesome memories about the Advent season from my childhood, including lighting the Advent wreath every evening at dinner. I'm excited about the idea of sharing that with my kids this year.

Now, since I was the primary architect of our Advent wreath, it's important to note that it's a bit wobbly. (And, yes - I know the white Christ candle is missing from the middle of it - the church forgot the white candles so I'll have to add that later.)

We had a funny marriage moment during the creation process that I simply must share. A couple of my purple candles just refused to stand up straight so I decided that the solution would be for someone (enter husband, stage right...) to jam metal spikes up through the base and into my candles so they would stop wiggling. As I explained how I needed him to skewer the candles as I held the wreath up high, I saw a look of confusion cross his face and he said: "We're supposed to push these posts up through the bottom? Where's our model so I can see?" At that point, it was my turn to look confused and I replied: "Model? What model? This is art!"

We both smiled as we realized it was classic us - me trying to figure it out as I go (by the skin of my teeth, if necessary) and him expecting to follow an engineering diagram. As it turned out, he wondered if it might be more effective to "spike" the candles from the top (at which point I agreed that might be a good idea and noted that other folks were stabbing from the top - not the bottom). So he did that and so far, so good. It even survived the car ride home.

Nothing like starting the holidays with a little family teamwork. Not to mention tons and tons of glue and glitter.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Babies and Beaujolais Nouveau

This posting is an ode to my friend who came over to our house tonight with her 10 month old baby boy (she knows who she is!). The kids had mac and cheese and the grownups had saffron pasta with marinara sauce (sounds fancy but it was all store-bought). We watched Little Mr. Man pull on my schnauzer's eyes and beard (my dog was so patient - almost co-dependent the way he kept going back for more abuse!) while we drank the Beaujolais Nouveau she brought with her.

It's great when she comes over and the funny thing is that because she is such a popular figure in our household, it's always so noisy as both of my children compete with me to tell her the latest stories from our lives.

The reason I love hanging with her is that she is my role model for life - she waited to become a mom, and because she did, she seems to appreciate it so much more than I ever have. When I watch her little one do his funny little baby things, and then I consider the fact that I am reading "Are You There God?" with my eldest, and getting ready to send her to middle school in a mere year and a half, I remember all over again that my kids are what it's all about (as opposed to, you know - organization, career, going out to movies....or other stuff like that).

You'd think that would not be a difficult concept for me to remember...but sometimes it really is.

So thanks Mom-of-Little-Mr.-Man, for reminding me what life is really all about.

Friday, November 21, 2008

This is a test posting....

What you are about to experience is a test posting of the emergency blogging network. If this was an actual posting, you would be instructed how to respond and make fun of the blogger...

My mom has said she reads my blog. My dad has said that he and my mom DON'T read my blog but that if I ever want them to read a post, I should let them know....

Hmmmm......what is one to think of that? I know! Let's test it out and see if Mom is reading my blog!

Here's the topic du fur coat.

"What????" you say "Jenn the vegetarian has a fur coat?????"

Yes, dear readers. I do. I have a fur coat. It belonged to my grandmother and she wasn't wearing it anymore, so when I graduated from law school, she passed it on to me for my fashion enjoyment. (Thinking, presumably, that I would be attending fancy soirees as a high-powered lawyer...I know....I only wish...) It is hanging in the back of my closet (I presume it's still there) and I have been informed by Mom that it would be unacceptable for me to go another winter without wearing it out and about. (She has a's a gorgeous coat and feels fabulous.)

So the fur gantlent has been thrown to the ground and I have picked it up. I flat out refuse to wear it to work (even if it would be a "power statement" as Mom suggested) BUT I will have at least one very nice holiday party to which I will wear an exquisite blue silk cocktail dress I recently purchased (for an obscene amount of money) and I have committed that I will wear the fur coat to that event.

Is it not just classic Jenn for someone to have to twist my arm before I'm willing to wear a fur coat? I've been trying to figure out the basis for my resistance. It can't be animal rights because I wear leather and that would be hypocritical for me to be anti-fur but not anti-leather. (Let the record show, however, that I do feel guilty for wearing leather...but I'm not yet feeling guilty enough to dump my boyfriend Cole Haan.) So what is it that just makes me push back against the fur? I think it's because it seems so....socialite-ish. And, as most of my dear readers know very well, I am pretty much the exact opposite of a socialite.

Having said that, however, I must admit that I'm starting to get a wee bit excited about putting on my silk dress, my blingy-gold heels I just bought today, and my fur coat and walking into the party...looking like all that. So...Mom, if you're reading this, you were right! And I'll be sure to send you a picture of your fashionista girl when I go out on the town.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Single Girls.

So here's something I didn't expect when I switched jobs 7 months ago...I went from working at a place where almost everyone is married (with kids) to a place where almost everyone (almost everyone I work with anyway) is single - with no kids. I'm also one of the "old people" at this new job, and - well - I don't think I was at my old job. I like to believe that my "coolness" factor is still there, however....

Anyway....speaking of the "coolness factor...."

One of my new work buddies turned 30 today and was given the new Beyonce album, which inspired her (and some of my other cool 20-something single friends) to show me "Single Man Dances to Single Girls." Have you seen this? I only ask because I get the impression that I might be the only person on the planet who hasn't seen this video. But this could be a scientific study - my hypothesis is that the closer you get to 40, the less likely you are to have seen this video.

For those of you who might be reading this around kids...well - it's a great video but not one you'd want to play for your kids. Let's just say that when I watch this guy (who is presumably from Greenwich Village, and I say that out of pure jealousy for the hip life I assume he must live, not as a criticism of his lifestyle...which of course I shouldn't presume...and as Seinfeld would say..."Not that there's anything wrong with that...") I feel two things: (1) really, really fat (he even makes Beyonce look chunky) and (2) like the world's worst dancer.

I mean, really - this guy rocks!

Anyway - as a tribute to all my new single girlfriends - I give you "Single Man Dances to Single Girls" ... and thank goodness I'm going out with a bunch of them tomorrow to see Twilight!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big Girls...

One of the songs on my "regular rotation" right now is Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal)." Good song and man, sometimes I just need to hear it.

It's been (to put it very mildly) a rather stressful week at work. And of course, I always manage to throw a few personal stressors into my life on any given week - just for the heck of it. (I could never be accused of making my life too easy...)

So the concept that "big girls don't cry" had me asking myself: "Really???? Are we sure about that??" The truth is that I hardly ever cry anymore -- but I'm not sure that's a good thing. Granted, it's undoubtedly best that I don't burst into tears at work or at my children's elementary school - but it seems to me that if I allowed myself to have good cry every now and then, it might be quite healthy.

I'm not even sure I know how to really let go and cry anymore. Do you remember those really heart-wrenching cries you had as a kid or even as a teenager? (Maybe guys didn't cry like that as teenagers...I wouldn't know...but girls often do.) During those cries, you feel like your whole world is falling apart, but after it's over you have a really good perspective on life. And the solutions just seemed to emerge after that cathartic release.

I guess where I'm going with all of this is that if it's true that big girls don't cry...I'm not sure I want to be a big girl.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mom of Rambo

Tonight, as I was wrapping gifts for my kids, I started to count how many toy guns and gun-related/army-related STUFF my son will be receiving from me and/or Santa Claus (that troublesome old geezer...). It is really rather shocking.

I can just hear the "tsk, tsk-ing" of the non-parents, or the parents of daughters, or the parents of boys who have not yet developed a fascination with the American Military-Industrial Complex. Trust me, throughout the entire course of my life I'm sure I would have been voted "Most Likely to Give Peace A Chance" so the fact that I'm outfitting my son like a miniature Rambo is irony at its highest level.

[Interesting artistic side note: I learned the song "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" when I was about 6 or 7 and instantly fell in love with it. I thought it was the most beautiful and meaningful song in the entire world and I've been singing it ever since. As a matter of fact, it was a regular staple of my lullabye repetoire for both my children - including my own little General Patton.]

Here's the big picture, as I see it, however. The key characteristics of my little boy are as follows:
- Yes, he wants to be in the Army when he grows up. But he wants to be a doctor in the army so he won't get shot and so he can help people. (Really - I think he just sees camo as pretty cool - and who can blame him?)
- He is actually quite tenderhearted. During the soccer season, anytime someone would fall down (regardless of what team they were on), he would run over to them (ignoring the coaching and the soccer ball) to make sure they were ok and help them up, if needed.
- He still cuddles with me.

So he might love his guns (and man, if you want to see a happy 5 year old boy, just hang out with us on Christmas Day when he opens his Clone Trooper Blaster) and I know he spends hours setting up his model military planes and toy soldiers just so - but when it comes right down to it, I want him to be true to himself and I don't think there's anything I could do to change his feelings about guns and the army (exept for maybe add a healthy dose of guilt - we moms are pretty good at that, you know). So my philosophy is that we keep emphasizing that real guns are dangerous (and we keep them out of the house, thank you very much) and we don't permit toy guns to be pointed at people, but within those limits - we let him be a boy. Because, after all, he'll have to be a man much too soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Good Karma

I honestly should appreciate my karma more often than I do. All things considered, my karma should be - well....crap. (Sorry for the semi-potty language in my blog but "crap karma" was such great alliteration that I couldn't pass it up.) But for some bizarre reason, I've got good karma. Go figure.

Today I called the WDW Advance Dining Reservation line and, by some wild miracle, was able to get ALL of the dining and entertainment reservations I wanted. Now...I'll qualify that by pointing out that I did not try for a "princess breakfast" (darn it all....maybe I could just go by myself) but I was able to get a pretty late seating at the California Grill at the top of the Contemporary so we could watch the fireworks one night. And that's not half bad.

Anyway - back to my karma.

As mentioned above, the WDW stuff fell into place. It is also worth noting that all my Christmas presents are simply happening with very little effort on my part and the weather FINALLY turned cold. The Irish girl in me is cynically waiting for the other shoe to drop. ('Ok, I know the redcoats are just around the corner...stop teasing me with all this good luck....")

The Buddhist philosophy (in my very limited understanding of it) is to just accept good or bad as it comes and not allow outside events to control how you feel. (A HECK of a lot easier said than done, I'd like to point out.) In other words, even if all sorts of great stuff is happening, one should not allow one's happiness to be dependent upon those things because everything in life is transitory. (That sounds depressing but it goes the other way too - you shouldn't get bummed when bad stuff happens because things always change.)

The funny thing is, I'm honestly not sure what to feel about all my blessings. And I'm not just talking about the current, "light" blessings like Disney World reservations - I'm also a bit perplexed about my "deep" blessings - like my family, my education, and my career. Although some work on my part was required, for the most part, I am blessed because I was born into a family that gave me everything and more than I could ever need. This completely throws me. I feel like I'm holding a priceless crystal vase and I have no idea what to do with it. I don't want to leave it on a shelf to get dusty but I'm scared to death of shattering it because of my careless way of handling things.

So the question remains...what am I supposed to do with these beautiful blessings? And is it really ok for me enjoy them when deep down - I don't believe I deserve them? I know the philosophically-correct answers to these questions but knowing something and incorporating it into my life are two totally different things.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Countdown to Mickey....

...or, more accurately in my case - Belle.

We are going to DisneyWorld! (Whoopeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!)

I probably went to WDW at least 4 times as I was growing up - the best one was when I was in High School and a cute French guy flirted with me. (ooo-la-la...) As an adult, I had an opportunity to go for a few days when my eldest was in preschool and my youngest was a little baby. Normally we wouldn't have gone with a baby but we joined my parents there for a convention and it was fun. Ever since then, however, I've been anxious to go back there when my youngest was old enough to remember it. So...we took the plunge this week and made a downpayment on a Spring Break vacation.

I know - Spring Break will be busy. But a couple of my friends from my last job recommended and I think that website will really help us plan out the best use of our time. Here's the good news/bad news of this trip as I see it:

1. Princesses - This is a rather interesting situation. You see, my eldest (my daughter) was only barely into princesses as a preschooler. Five years ago, I used the excuse of going to WDW with a 4-year-old girl as my own personal excuse for hunting down all the princesses with ruthless abandon. We even scored a seat at Cinderella's Castle for the Princess Breakfast. ( was so, so, so fabulous...) My eldest thought it was fine at the time, I suppose, but now that she is 9 and has completely rejected all things girly, there shall be no princess breakfasts or other princess hunts. Now, most normal parents would think...score! We don't have to be in the "Princess Hordes!" I, however, am not a normal parent and I am a moderately devastated that I won't get to be 2 feet away from Cinderella, Jasmine, and (my personal favorite) Belle.

2. Spring Break - The good news is that we're about to go to WDW!! The bad news is that Spring Break is one of the busiest times to go. Hmmm....But I have great faith in Tour Guide Mike and my very obsessive-compulsive tendencies to plan our vacations out the wazoo. Tonight I'm trying to figure out exactly where I need to make dinner reservations - so wish me luck in actually getting those reservations. We considered going when the kids were still in school but I couldn't stand the idea of getting those nasty letters from the school district for unexcused absences. Yikes. Those letters always give me the impression that they're about to come in and take my kids away from me. And I've only gotten them before because I've forgotten to get Dr notes when they've been tardy. I can't even begin to imagine what they'd say if I took them to WDW for a week.

3. My Obssessive-Compulsive Tendencies - The good news is that we will have a plan, the bad news is that we might have TOO MUCH of a plan. I'll need to watch myself and make sure that I remember the chill factor when it comes to a vacation plan.

Oh...and it just occurred to me...I bet the little shampoos from the Disney resorts will be AWESOME!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

'Tis the Season

You think I'm a Christmas freak for putting this picture on my blog before Thanksgiving, right? Come on - admit it....

The truth is, I had a rough day and I came home pretty much emotionally drained. But when I finally made it upstairs, I found out that my husband had set up this little Christmas tree for me in our bedroom and I just about cried because it made me so happy.

You see, I've always wanted a Christmas tree in my bedroom so that I could fall asleep with it glowing away. So, on Tuesday (a day we took off work to go shopping for the kids while they were in school), I grabbed this tree at Target so that I could set it up in my bedroom. It's great to have it up now and it's interesting because as I type this post, I'm sitting on my bed and I can see the picture of the tree on my laptop screen and the real tree is in my periperal vision.

I'm in such a searching mode right now in my life. Tonight it really has me pondering what I need from Christmas this year. I've done Christmas so many ways throughout the years. Some years I've had the energy and stamina to be focused on making the perfect recipes and crafts. Some years I've been more focused on religious meditations. Some years the gifts have fallen into place and I've found the right thing for everyone on my list, but sometimes the gifts (or lack thereof) become the bane of my existence.

Tonight - as I look at this bedroom tree I've wanted from the time I was a child (when the dark first began to frighten me) - I realize that what I need this year is light.

I don't want glaring light that will make me squint or shade my eyes. That would be too much for me right now. I only need a few tiny pinpricks of light to soften the dark. The dark will never be extinguished, and maybe it shouldn't be, but a few tiny light-diamonds will keep it at bay. So this Christmas, I want soft light - on the inside and all around.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Dog Blog Post

We have a dog.

Our dog is bald.

Our dog is odd.

He smells our breath.

He hides from rain.

He barks at squirrels.

He barks at bikes.

He licks too much.

He snores all night.

My kids love him.

He loves my kids.

And I am glad

He doesn't bite.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Elves Nearly Find Peace....

What elves...and how did they find it?????
[Note to reader: if you don't have any idea what the Myers-Briggs personality test is - this will probably mean nothing to you...not that any of my other postings necessarily make tons of sense, but this one may seem particularly ODD.]

Well...I got my latest Myers-Briggs results this evening and I thought it would be kind of funny to come up with a phrase using my MB letters for the title of the posting. (Ok, ok - maybe it was just funny for me. But it's my blog and I'll make up strange mnemonics if I want to.)

I got a handy, dandy little explanation of myself (a single-sided 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper) and it is possibly my most treasured possession right now because, when I read it I feel very validated and affirmed. (This is a good thing. Affirmation is mentioned about 3 times on this guide-to-Jenn-and-her-oddness because ENFPs "need affirmation from others and need to affirm others.")

Oh, yeah - another fun little quirk about ENFPs is that we "experience a great depth of emotion and diverse feeling." No way, you're kidding me, Jenn!!! Really, guys, I'm serious! (Now please affirm me already, ok????)

I've always assumed that I'm not "normal" because I've defined normal as a person who sees the world factually - not emotionally. (You know, someone who's the exact opposite of me - think of the phrase "Icicles Shred Through Jelly.")

But it turns out that I'm a perfectly normal Extroverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving person (thought I'd throw out the real words that go with the letters just for the heck of it).

I'm normal! (Ok - I admit that might be a bit of an overstatement.)

Let's go with...I'm definable! Woo-hoo!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Please attach your own oxygen mask first...

This analogy is not mine, but it is really hitting home for me tonight...

In the event of an emergency, please put the oxygen on yourself before assisting your child.

We went to a parenting support group thing-y at church tonight. The facilitator really knew her stuff and knew how to boil it down to the core essentials. I chose tonight as the night we HAD to go because the topic of discussion was: "Eating Issues." (Ok - I hear the laughing out there in the audience and I know exactly who is laughing at this point. So you can stop now.)

About halfway through the group it hit me like a ton of bricks that I have given food all kinds of power in my life, so really it's not surprising that my kids (especially my daughter) have glommed onto the idea of daily food battles with me. (Kids are able to push our buttons with amazing, almost surgical, precision.) A number of other, rather obvious but nonetheless PROFOUND insights washed over me for the remainder of the evening.

I'm desperate not to lose the insights I gained, and I supppose that's why I'm blogging about it. The key point for me, however, is that until I can be ok with me (I mean, really ok with me) and until I can give up the idea that my happiness depends upon what other people (including my family) think of me...then I won't be giving my kids what they need.

Because what they really need is a mom who is taking care of herself. At that point, they can hopefully say to themselves: "Oh, that's how you live life. You take care of yourself, you love people, you enjoy life. I can do that." Instead of saying: "What do I need to do to make sure everything works out? Is that person happy with me?"

Now...the only tricky part will be breaking about three and a half decades of habitual self-talk to the contrary. But the good news is that at least now I can see the oxygen mask dangling in front of my face. It's right there. And I'm about to grab it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nature Speaks

I've been writing poetry. I don't think I've mentioned that on my blog. The interesting thing I've noticed is that when I can't figure out how to explain someting, I end up using a nature analogy to do it. I know, of course, that it is very common to do so (i.e. Robert Frost). Somehow it is so satisfying to me when my feelings are all in a mush and they finally start to make sense as something in nature clarifies the truth for me - so to speak.

Today we went to the Zilker Botanical Gardens. It was CRAZY busy there so it was less peaceful than one might want if one was searching only for solitude or a place to meditate. But we had a great time. There is one part of the gardens that's called "Lauren's Trail" and when I saw the memorial stone it stopped me cold. Lauren was born in 1971 - the year of my birth. She died 5 years ago, and she was apparently a poet and an environmentalist. The memorial had a piece of her poetry on it.

As we left, on our long trek back to our car (we had to park way far away...), my eye caught a pretty piece of yellow in the dirt by the road. It was a dead butterfly in pristine shape. In the picture of the butterfly, you can see my son's hand under my hand as I held it out so my children could admire it's beauty. I knew instantly that this butterfly was special to me - I could tell that my soul was whispering a secret so I didn't want to let go of it and I brought it home with me. However, it wasn't until I saw the butterfly picture that the message came through loud and clear.

I credit Lauren and the butterfly for offering me this message:

Even after the end arrives - the end of a dream or the end of a love - the beauty it offers remains, if we choose to carry it with us.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Free Samples!!!!

I realized I had to supplement my "shoe therapy" post...I missed one of the most obvious and fabulous things in the whole samples, baby. (Oooooo....I just get all tingly thinking about them.)

As a matter of fact, this is what a big sucker I am for free samples:

Sephora (a fancy-smancy makeup store), as many of you who read this are aware, is all about giving away free samples with their orders. And once you spend $100 bucks there, you get to choose from a really special (i.e. bigger) free sample. Oooooo. How cool is that, right?

Bear in mind, gentle readers, that although I think makeup is a lot of fun in theory - I rarely spend more than 4 minutes throwing it on my face and use the same 3 products every single day of my life.

However, for someone whose idea of adventurous makeup application is putting on eyeshadow, I have spent an UNGODLY amount of money at - primarily in my neverending quest to get more "free" samples. (Yes, I'm quite aware of the irony - they aren't free at all when I'm finding excuses to spend hundreds of dollars in my quest to get them.)

[Observant readers of this blog will note that this free-sample fetish is very similar to my obsession with hotel swag. One might ponder what it is about teeny-tiny things that makes my heart go all a-flutter. Of course, if one wondered about it for too long - one would probably come up with unflattering ideas about my sanity. So please don't ponder - ok?]

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shoe Therapy

Ever since I was a teenager, I've wanted a pair of Converse high tops. Over the last year and a half I've even played around on their website, designing various shoes but never ordering them. Their spam-mail finally worked on me the other day when they told me I should check out their online outlet. I saw this pair and thought: "Oh, yeah. I need those." I mean, honestly, what IS the point of being a self-sufficient adult if you can't buy yourself the pair of tennis shoes you always wanted?

The really cool thing about these shoes is that they are RED product - where part of the money goes to fight AIDS in Africa. You can't really tell from the picture, but the soles are red (as are the shoelaces). Anyway, the point of this post is not so much my shoes as it is the quirky little things that have a tendency to lift me out of my patented Jenn-angst. When I put them in writing, I realize how bizarre my psyche is.

Things that make me feel better when I am blue:

1. Shopping bags with handles. The paper ones are only peripherally satisfying now. The really great ones are the ones with extra bling. (Such as Juicy Couture bags.)

2. New shoes (I know this is normal for most women but I was about 33 or 34 before I cared about shoes IN THE LEAST. It took decades for me to give in to the footwear proselytizing of my mother and my brother's wife...)

3. Really, really loud music while I'm driving in my convertible with the top open. (Today it was the Twilight soundtrack.)

4. Dilbert cartoons.

5. Exercising while listening to loud music. (Hey, I'm noticing a "loud music" theme here...)

6. Hotel swag. (See previous postings...)

7. Did I mention new shoes? The best therapy is a combination of these elements, such as: going to The Domain and sauntering over to Cole Haan while listening to loud music on my iPod, then buying some AWESOME shoes because their shopping bags are really great. When you think about it, even if you spend a couple of hundred dollars on a good pair of shoes - that's only one or two therapy sessions (and psychologists never really understand me the way Cole Haan does).

When did I get this shallow? Is it a middle-age thing?

Well...maybe I should try to focus more on yoga and meditation. I hate to admit it but those forms of therapy would probably be much longer-lasting than new shoes. The problem is that you just don't get cool shopping bags when you meditate.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Go Vote, Guys!!!!

Actually, I'm hoping everyone made it to early voting because of the long lines...but if you haven't voted yet then WHAT ARE YOU DOING READING THIS BLOG?????? GO VOTE ALREADY!!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Are You There God? It's Me....

Want to have some fun? Here's an your 9-year-old daughter "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" (by Judy Blume of course, for those of you who are not 30-something women) and start to read it out loud to her. You will REALLY love it when you get to the first mention of Playboy and then you surrepticiously look up to see what her reaction is and you can tell that she knew exactly what it was and took it all in stride.

I actually think I can already tell what topic will receive the most attention from her - it will be the religion thing. For those of you who did NOT read this book 30 times in a row between the time you were 9 and 11, I shall elaborate. Margaret Simon is the child of a mixed marriage - Jewish father, Christian mother. So she was brought up with pretty much no religion. Her paternal grandmother is always pressuring her to date a nice Jewish boy. Well, that set my girl off. "Why does she care if she dates a Jewish boy? Wouldn't it be more interesting to date someone who's a different religion? That way if you get married, you'll have more holidays to celebrate. As a matter of fact, I'm going to marry a 'Hannakah Man' [her words, not mine] so that I can celebrate Hannakah!" (Oy, Southern Baptist grandparents are going to LOVE that one...)

It was interesting. You could tell that she was COMPLETELY baffled by the fact that "different religions" could possibly be an issue for anyone. When I read this book, I remember thinking that the grandparents should have been more supportive, but I think I was also surprised that people from different religions married each other and could empathize with their shock. I could be wrong, but it seems like that concept rocked my world - kind of like a cat marrying a dog or something. I probably thought Margaret's parents were cool for being rebels and getting married.

But I can tell my daughter doesn't see anything rebellious about Margaret's parents at all. You love someone, you get married - end of story. Religion be damned. (So to speak...)

So - it really makes me wonder about her future soulmate. I get rather excited when I think about it - and I eagerly anticipate what we have ahead of us for the next few years. (Although I know I'll be eating those words when some of you throw them back in my face once she hits 7th grade....I expect the "eager anticipation" shall be replaced by "who is this crazy half-woman in my house?????"....)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pink and Me

My morning centered around the Susan Komen Race for the Cure, followed by a VERY fattening TexMex lunch, complete with a (rather potent) frozen margarita. Now...that's my idea of supporting a cause. I am now inspired to write about pink. When I was a little girl, it was a point of pride for me to dislike pink. In my mind (and, to be fair, in reality) it was only the "girly girls" who liked pink during the 70's. Lots of my friends insisted that their favorite color was pink, but all of those girls were the same ones who acted all silly about - what EV er. That was SO not for me.....

Today, however, pink seems to mean something else. As a matter of fact, if you go shopping for boxing paraphernalia (as I did a few years ago when I was in karate) you will find plenty of pink boxing gloves, helmets, etc. Now - I could be wrong - but I'm pretty darn sure that you didn't find pink boxing stuff around when I was a kid.

This morning, there was (of course) tons of pink simply everywhere. As a matter of fact, I saw a very large dog that had been spray-painted hot pink. By a GUY, apparently. Speaking of guys, I saw a plethora of guys in pink shirts, walking and running for the cure. Gotta love those Austin men.

For me, pink now represents the idea that it's a lot of fun being a girl or a woman, that we don't have to match men exactly (in terms of work or life generally), but that you still better not screw around with us because we are a lot tougher than you might at first expect.

So, think pink. And while you're doing that, I'll be napping because I am feeling that margarita.