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The Questionable Things, Holiday Edition Ver. 1

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It’s been a while since I’ve outlined my thoughts on those oh-so-popular activities that were all the rage, but the holidays are almost here, people! And they are reminding me of so many trends and traditions that I just don’t get.

Of course, this blog was never to change your opinion on stuff. You can go right on ahead loving your suburban chicken coops, sewing your hand crafted doo hickeys and riding bicycles in public. Really, let the record show that I will never severe a friendship if you do these things that just seem so strange to me.

But, you guys…the holidays are so weird! Especially now that my kiddos are going between my house and their dad’s house. I’m super happy I’ll get to see my favorite little faces this year (Woo!) and I want to be sure it’s a better Christmas than we had last year. (Seriously. They fought ALL DAY. It was awful!)

“Merry meltdown, mom! We’ve decided to get you migraine and an excuse to put us to bed early so you can cry on the couch with wine. Love, your kiddos!”

But not this year!

There are a few things I will be avoiding this season.

::insert Grinch-like eyebrow waggle here::

Suck It, Elf On The Shelf

There. I’ve said it. And you know what, I’ve always hated that creepy little token of mischief.

I know some moms who’ve tried to add it as a new family tradition because they are awesome and love the idea of their children waking up to joyful moments. Their kids would scamper around the house, hunting for the mini dirtbag to see what trouble he’d caused in the night.

But then they got burned out. Or maybe one night, they were too busy dealing with laundry, dishes, packing lunches, etc to remember to move the elf, and all hell broke loose.

Those moms have now affected over to my side. The side that says, “Elf…I don’t care if you come with an adorable storybook, creative packaging or if Target put you on sale! You can just stay the crap away from my house cause this mama’s got no time for your tomfoolery!”

And by “no time for your tomfoolery” I do NOT mean I am unwilling to commit copious amounts of time to the goal of surprising my kids. Oh, heeeeeeck no. Trust me. I am quite good at wasting time as I doodle on their mirror with dry erase markers or surprise them with mystery Post-It notes. I’m all for a good “spend time to surprise them and make their day” activity. (I write this after I just dug through my couch cushions looking for tooth fairy money. Plus, I had an accomplice write the handwritten note so my seven year old Sherlock wouldn’t be able to make out my handwriting. Oh, no. I LOVE planning and giving my kids a thrill, people!)

But the Elf on the Shelf? I think the whole thing got really sketchy for me when I read that he was in your home to watch you. Then he’d go to Santa and tattle on you. That’s how Santa knew if you were naughty or nice.

I’m gonna just tell you straight up that I find that totally creepy. What? A weird looking doll is WATCHING ME and plans on tattling on me in the night? Sweet Jesus…Isn’t that Satan’s job? Hashtag “The Accuser”, hashtag “Bible story reference”, hashtag “Revelation 12:10”. It would be so awesome if that Bible verse was something like “And the Lord said unto them, ‘Stop killing yourself for weird holiday traditions. Unless you’ve got lots of free time and your kids love it. Then go right on ahead. I honestly don’t care. Just love each other already, OK?”

Yep, I know. I’ll stick with writing my blog.

But simmer down friends who love Jesus and also their little red elf. Let me guess; you made the tradition less creepy and personalized it for your home and your faith? Well, of course you did! Here’s my slow clap of appreciation for all your wondrous ways, you super mom, you!

Or maybe you just said “Meh. We just make the elf do silly things and we don’t do the whole “tattle to Santa” thing. Whatevs. You work your butt off to make your kids smile and this is something I can stand behind.

I just personally can’t sustain that level of magic in my own home. And I think the doll is kinda weird looking.

A Real Live Tree!

I have never had a real, live Christmas tree, just an artificial tree. And when I’d go to my Arizona grandparents’ house when I was little, they’d have an artificial tree too. Real trees were just not done in my circle of life. Blame it on the desert conditions or whatnot, but nope – I’ve never had a Christmas with a real tree.

And they kind of freak me out. There’s just something so unbalanced about real nature that makes me unsure about the whole idea.

You see, when I was young, my mom had a certain “spot” for her ornaments on our tree, and it was like our tree (“Count Christmas”, as he was lovingly referred to) knew that too. There’d be the perfect little indent at the top for Grammy Belle’s antique ornament. It was nice and high and out of reach, which was a good thing, since I was a lazy six year old who’d insist on squeezing between the tree and the edge of the dining table to get to my seat, making the whole thing shake dangerously.

I have lots of ornaments that my parents saved for me from when I was a kid. There’s Kermie, Strawberry Shortcake, my Winnie the Pooh “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament and my kindergarten gift exchange present of Sesame Street ornaments, still with the original curly ribbon my mom tied on so we could hang them on the tree. My tree is not the glamorous “matchy-matchy” tree that so many of my friends pull off with a gusto! Oh no…my tree looks like a kindergartener got loose and decided to hang all sorts of random stuff on there. And I absolutely love it.

But those old ornaments, and plenty of my new ones (shout out to my stuffed sock monkey ornament–hey!) are heavy little guys. And there’s just no way a real tree’s branches could hold them safely. Do I understand that a tree in the forest can hold and sustain life in its branches? Yes. Yes, I get that. But for some reason, I’m more worried about my ceramic Kermit than a bird’s nest. And for that you can shun me all you’d like.

Storing an artificial tree is a pain in the butt. Especially when you’re in single parent mode in a two-bedroom apartment. “Welcome to my home! There’s old faithful, wrapped in his red-zippered storage bag on the left to greet you when you come to my front door…” The trashiness rankles me to no end. My only hope is that my visitors can’t see over the storage wall because they are too short or that it’s too dark outside. Tall people in the daylight are out of luck.

But back to those crazy real trees. There’s the sap, the watering, the chopping it down (I’d totally have to go buy a damn saw, you guys!) or buying it in some random lot and then tying it to your car to get it home. EVERY YEAR. How are there not more trees all swaddled up lying on the side of the road? I promise you that I’d mess up some knot and my tree would be launched off the top of my vehicle more than once. Oh, yes…I’m sure I could come up with all sorts of ways to screw up that activity.

I say, mad props to those of you who’ve figured out the mysterious ways of capturing a live tree and bringing it into your home. I promise I won’t look at your tree and judge its unevenness or weird branch gaps too harshly. Do I get the allure? Nah. But I love that you love it. And your weird looking tree can’t ruin my Christmas. Carry on and be wonky, I say!

Lasso the Moon

Even if my Christmas trends differ from the mainstream, there are plenty of things I go mainstream on. Christmas movies, for starters. I still would choose “White Christmas” over “Elf” for tradition’s sake, yet I’m learning to allow new Christmas movies into my life.

“It’s a Wonderful Life”? Oh man…you have no idea how big that movie is in my Christmas upbringing. Besides watching it every year (and being allowed to stay up past my bedtime to see the whole, depressing thing on TV) my parents started collecting the ceramic light up houses in the “Wonderful Life” collection.

I’m not lying to you when I tell you that there have been MULTIPLE discussions on how the collection (now complete and freaking enormous) will be distributed to the family after my parents’ death. I need to check my parent’s will to refresh myself on the “Wonderful Life Collection” clause because I honestly can’t remember if my father agreed to split the collection in half (town buildings to this daughter, the neighborhood homes to the other) or if he insisted on keeping the masterpiece intact for all to enjoy.

Ah, the holidays…

One of my favorite scenes from “It’s a Wonderful Life”. And it always made my mom laugh, which then made me laugh as a kid so I could be cool like her and pretend to get the joke.

One of my favorite scenes from “It’s a Wonderful Life”. And it always made my mom laugh, which then made me laugh as a kid so I could be cool like her and pretend to get the joke.

Well, Hello There, Sunshine

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There have been a lot of new people coming into my life since I’ve last visited you here on the Blogorama back in July. Do you ever have streaks like that, where it feels like you’re meeting a ton of new people or growing surprising new friendships all the time?

I absolutely love it. And you know what? I’m super ready for it.

Over a year ago, when my divorce was first making the headlines in my social circle, I really wasn’t surprised when 99% of those people headed for the hills. No matter what you say, or what you try and promise, divorce naturally makes people choose sides, and my side was more icky and hard to digest than my ex-husband’s. #TrueStory

But that was OK. I really don’t ever think I was super shocked at the great exodus. I’m sure I would have done the exact same thing, so I hope this doesn’t comes across as me blasting them for their choice.

But it certainly left my life much lonelier than before.

Even as an extrovert, though, this particular and sudden loneliness was so peaceful and quiet, it really was awesome and not as suffocating as I once would have thought it would be.

As the months passed though, I became acutely aware that my list of friends who I could text or reach out to when my heart was broken, my kids were driving me to madness or my mind was blown by that one crazy scene on “Scandal” was very small. No worries, I told myself, This is just one of the costs of my choice. Time to suck it up and continue to move forward.

Then all of a sudden, new people started popping up and laughing with me, listening to me and crying with me. I’ll admit that I was scared that they’d am-scray as soon as they heard more of my story, but I was amazed when they stuck around after learning detail after embarrassing detail.

These new friends have watched me break down crying in hallways or meetings; they’ve held my hair back as I puked unceremoniously for hours. I’ve received texts and messages where they just wanted to check on me or tell me something funny that happened to them at all hours of the day. We’ve quoted “30 Rock” at each other and have taken long walks and hikes through the park. It’s all been amazing and I’m incredibly grateful.

The other night I got to meet a fun group of new people and while it wasn’t exactly the occasion for revealing all my heart’s secrets and oddities, it was a great opportunity to practice being a good listener and an observer. It reminded me that we all long to be surrounded by safe and loving people who really know us.

The safe people in our lives are the ones who know all our dirty deeds and quirks, yet they still choose to stick around and love you. These people don’t see you as a project person who they need to fix, change or tolerate. They just choose to accept you as you are.

I’m not sure I can say I’ve always been a friend like that to other people. I can totally remember times where I was investing myself in people’s lives with a secret mission to help them heal or change. I thought trying to get them to “better themselves” was me being a good friend.

Blech. I really don’t want anything to do with that type of friendship anymore.

I’ll admit that I sometimes miss getting to present the pretend “clean and tidy” Jenny that I was in the past. To me, my old friendships were places for perfection and purity. There was no room for being real, unless it ultimately added to the shining perfect picture that I was working so hard to portray. Hangouts were a time to be “on” and funny and pretty and clever.

Sure, my old friends could be real with me, and many often were, but it just made me feel more responsible to be the one who had it all together – the strong one who could be a good example and lead them through the shit in their lives. Cause if I was truly a woman of God, then my life would reflect super-awesome stability, right? My relationships would be shining examples they’d make Hallmark movies about!

But this was never true. There was always something missing from those friendships. And now I know it was me being authentic, even when it meant showing people my icky, scabby side. You can’t expect super-awesome connections when you’re only offering 40% of yourself, you know?

Now my new relationships get hit with the firehouse of Jenny-ness and holy crap…they haven’t left yet. What an amazing and pleasant surprise.

I was worried that if I was on full blast, I wouldn’t have room for others to be on full blast too. In my past, it could never be BOTH people who were having meltdowns or stressful times. But I was totally wrong about that. When you’re operating in full-reality mode, everyone can be having crazy times! In fact, it’s kind of rare that people AREN’T having a ton of super-crazy stuff going on. And it’s not smothering or overwhelming when you go into it knowing that things may get messy and snotty and totally gross.

I don’t quite understand all of it yet, but I just know that it’s been really good.

Thanks, everyone. It’s been a pleasure to meet you.

Seems Like a Great Day For A Biblical-Sized Freak Out, Doesn’t It?

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I was out of Red Bull this morning — sugar-free Red Bull, to be exact — and apparently it was enough to cause me to lose my mind.

Well, that’s not completely true.

Honestly, I was losing my mind last night as well and when I realized I had woven the F-word at least three times into my conversation with my nine year old. You know you’re crossing over into “Mom’s-Gone-Loco” mode when your kid doesn’t even blink anymore when you drop the ‘ol F-bomb.

::sigh::

Before you start flooding my comments section with lectures or placing anonymous phone calls to CPS, let me just take a moment to remind you that dropping the F-bomb on my kids is not a normal adjective that I like to employ. Yes, even when they sigh and flop and fuss in response to me telling them to get in the shower.

Yes, kids…ANOTHER SHOWER! You just spent eight hours at summer camp and your face smells like old cheese. You played hard and need to bathe. You do not live in the 1700s where bathing was a luxury and rarely occurred more than once a week. Welcome to the future. Welcome to a time of Dippin’ Dots, WiFi and erasable ink pens. Welcome to my rules and my expectations. NOW GET YOUR ASS IN THE BATHROOM BEFORE I LOSE MY F…. MIND!

See how things escalate there? I know. It’s not pretty.

In the midst of shower-mageddon last night, I realized that a large majority of kid-stuff missed the car ride from dad’s place to mom’s place, or whatever politically correct terms you’re supposed to call those places. (“The townhouse” and “The apartment” I think is what I’m supposed to be referring to them as so I don’t cause undo stress on my children’s fragile sense of belonging.)

Honestly, I find that more confusing. What if one day we live in the same type of lodging structure? How do we delineate between the two then? “Kids, did you leave your shoes at 123 Maple Drive or are they in your room at 567 Elm Street?” or “GUYS! Hurry up! I need to hustle and get you over that tan house where you also reside!” Ugh.

You know, there are just some people who know where your buttons are. And no, I’m not referring to the kind of buttons that make you smile and laugh (Puppet shows starring common socks with googly eyes, gummy candy and new shoes). Nope. I’m not talking about those little gems.

I’m talking about those OTHER buttons. (Hence my reference to the F-word above.) The buttons where the letters have been rubbed off because they’ve been triggered one too many times. The buttons that are all grimy and sticky and when they get pressed, they get stuck down into the keyboard and just cover your screen with middle finger emoticons. (Crap, now I’m sad my keyboard doesn’t have a middle finger emoji button. And here I thought we lived in the future.)

It could be someone in your family, a coworker, your kids, an elderly driver, a weird friend or perhaps your ex who knows just where those buttons are hiding. And no matter how long it’s been, they seem able to traipse through all your walls of barbed wire and whizzing defense mechanisms and just *BAM* initiate the melt-down sequence that you’ve been trying so desperately to avoid.

Here’s where you say, “Well, Jenny, you know that we are responsible for our own choices and actions. No one can be blamed for triggering your crazy. You are ultimately responsible for your own reactions.” And here I say, “Well, yes, maybe that’s true, but shut up right now cause this is my blog and I’m in the middle of ranting.”

In the grand scheme of things, a kid forgetting his shoes at the other parent’s house is not a crises.

Your other kid forgetting her camp shirt and swim goggles there is not a giant deal.

Both kids leaving behind their swim towels when they have a swimming field trip the next morning? Again, not the end of the world.

But combine that with anti-shower kid flops, running out of cheese in the middle of making quesadillas for dinner and a united kid-refusal to turn off Minecraft?

::INSERT SCREAMING NOISES!::

Do you ever overhear yourself talking and think, “Who the crap is that? She sounds like a total shrew!” Then you realize that it happens to be YOUR MOUTH making those nasty barking sounds and you feel like a complete ass-hat?

Check out that doofus. She can never seem to tuck her ears in right.

Check out that doofus. She can never seem to tuck her ears in right.

Cue my early morning snap-fest which only served to feed the impression that I’ve lost my mind and now everyone from my “old days” must simply bear with me for the sake of “Doing what God wants them to”.

There’s a certain facial expression that comes with that decision and I’m not sure if you people realize you’re making it, but you are. You totally are…This is of course if you choose to make eye contact with me at all.

But my ex is not as lucky as old friends I see only once or twice a year. He’s got to deal with my face once a week, or more than that if our children are feeling especially amnesiac and leave their crap behind.

The sigh and the expression that says “Mommy’s now just someone we tolerate because we all have to. God help us all.” is a sure-fire way to deploy my bitch-missiles. Fine, fine, fine, they were already armed, loaded and steaming on the launchpad by the time “the look” appeared but you get my point.

I hate feeling all prickly and cranky. Especially when I’m at a time in my life that’s actually really, really good! I have made some new friendships that have blown me away with their authenticity and care. I am super happy with my job and I love the team I get to work with. I got to listen to Glee in the car and NO ONE ROLLED THEIR EYES or made gagging noises! What a beautiful time to be alive!

In the midst of an emotional cluster fuck, most people have a few go-to options that they like to use to help recalibrate.

For some, it’s exercise like boxing, running or even yoga. 

Sometimes I’ve chosen running too and it really does help distract me from being upset with the issue at hand and instead I get upset about how awful running is. Works like a charm, but I’ve never had the feelings of prickliness just completely dissolve as I sweat like a steamed up hot dog.

Lots of times, we run to other people and hash out the whole story.

These sessions are made way better with wine, soft Kleenex (screw you, cheap knock off brand) and a good set of listening ears on the other person’s nicely shaped noggin. But again, I’ve had lots of vent sessions with people who have then just made me feel worse about myself, so using your friends as a “Get Out Of Misery FREE” card, can be tricky.

Driving is also kinda my jam.

But at 8:45 with a work meeting in less than 30 minutes, that wasn’t an option for me this morning.

Oh, but my favorite “reset button” is sleep.

You know the type of sleep where you fuss and cry so much that you finally just collapse and go mildly comatose? Totally similar to an over-tired toddler throwing tantrum – I totally specialize in that type of sleep!

It reminds me of my favorite Bible stories. Ha! And here you thought I was now a Child of the Damned! Fooled you! Hang with me here…Or you can follow along in I Kings starting in chapter 18 if you’d like.

So this guy named Elijah had just kicked some serious butt with the whole “Your-god-Baal-versus-my-God-Jehovah” thing. He even got a little sassy in that story and taunted the Baal priests by telling them to shout louder because maybe their god Baal was asleep or travelling. (If being a smart-ass is allowed in God’s kingdom, then I’m totally on the right track!)

The story goes on with lots of fire and a good, soaking rain storm that the place had been needing for quite some time. All good things.

But then, in dramatic Old Testament fashion, shit got real again and Jezebel was bent on making Elijah’s life a living hell. Well, she was bent on slaughtering him with a really sharp sword  just like he had just done to all her humiliated Baal-priests after the aforementioned showdown, but you catch my drift.

So he freaked out and ran away by himself into the wilderness. He started with a friend by his side but then flounced off all alone. Then he sat down under a broom bush (or tree, depending on what fancy version of the Bible you dig) and threw a giant-ass hissy fit. He yelled and cried until he tuckered himself out and fell asleep.

But when he woke up, he felt a little better. God had the courtesy to let him sleep it off and sent an angel down to start a fire and make Elijah a snack. What a guy!

Today, I got a moment to flop down on my big, puffy bed, and fall asleep too. I had to set the timer on my phone because I still needed to go to get up and go back to work. I kinda doubted an angel of God would be there assembling my Lunchable for me after all my dramatics.

I also made myself a chai in the vain attempt to replace the caffeine I had lost from the lack of Red Bull in my fridge that morning.

Yep. I felt a little better.

But you know what really helped me most of all? Getting a chance to come here and write it all down. For me, it seems to be the best way to get some perspective and really distance myself from all the emotion and frustration of a situation.

I won’t be skipping my other methods of coping (a surprise phone call, snuggles from my kids, wine) but I really appreciate this place where I can go and dump it all out, sift through it for the realities, and then take it all back in again and move on to the next thing that’s headed my way.

Thanks for being here. I hope you find what works for you when you are needing peace and comfort too.

 

Contrary Ways

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Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

“With silver bells and cockle shells

And pretty maids all in a row.”

When I was two, my mom picked out nursery rhyme wallpaper for my new bedroom.

My room was awesome! Besides the super-cool nursery rhyme wallpaper that my mom would read to me as she tucked me in at night, I also had a fancy walk-in closet that later served me as a clubhouse, my Morse code practice room, and a secret hiding space for the treasure box where I stored that one neon friendship bracelet Aaron S. gave me on a whim in 9th grade.

When I was little, I had absolutely no idea what it meant to be contrary. I just liked the way the words sounded when they came out of my mom’s mouth. I was also in the dark about what the heck a cockle shell was, but I still liked the “Mary, Mary” rhyme the best. There was also one on my wall about Little Boy Blue, but he seemed like such a slacker at his job, it was hard for me to root for him.

As I grew up, there were always popular bands, TV characters, even flavors that everyone around me seemed to gravitate to. I don’t know why, but I often tried to pick the opposite of what everyone else liked, just so I could feel original or special.

When everyone liked Dylan on 90210, I chose the Jason Priestly poster for my wall.

When blue Squeeze-Its came out, I tried to stay faithful to orange, even though I knew blue was way cooler looking.

Odie was my favorite character on Garfield and Eeyore was the best of the Winnie the Pooh gang.

The first anti-pop culture stand I took was when I was about 10, when the band The New Kids on the Block emerged on the scene.

I decided that they were totally lame-balls, and I made it my full-time job to make fun of them whenever I could. Shaming people because of their music choice became my ticket to cool-town and I proudly made jokes at everyone’s’ expense and sassily plugged my ears in defiance as I skated to their song at the local skating rink.

I was such a big meanie-face! But then again, they were boys, and at that time, famous boys were still incredibly icky (and unreachable) to me, so they were easy targets. Plus, I was still into the Debbie Gibson tapes I’d been rocking in my walkman for the past two years so really, one could easily question my musical tastes.

Recently I’ve seen my nine-year old follow in my young protestation footsteps as he decided to take a stand against hot lunch. I have no idea where he got the idea to protest so actively against his school’s nutritious and honestly, pretty damn healthy, lunch choices but he is 100% committed to his cause.

I even got a call from his teacher during this past school year where she told me that my son had been so successful in making fun of hot lunch, that some girls refused to eat their food anymore because they were so worried he’d end up making fun of them.

::face palm::

Shaming kids so bad they refuse to eat? UGH. This is not the type of “leadership” his dad and I have been trying to encourage in the boy.

We had a talk about his campaigning but my mini-activist refused to change his position on hot lunch. I finally got him to understand that he needed to stop making kids feel like doofus’ if they had to eat hot lunch and he agreed to reign in his demonstrations and jokes.

Now we’re in the midst of summer camp and guess what? They serve the EXACT. SAME. FOOD. as the school’s hot lunch! Ha! He still chooses not to eat the lunch but decides to fill up on snacks he brings from home or the camp snacks that are somehow “acceptable” to his activist palette.

My son also has been known to choose things in purple or pink, just because he knows people expect that to be a “girl color”. He loves to be contrary and today, I’m going to love to be contrary too.

It really does amaze me sometimes to see people get so INTO causes. My Facebook feed is a Petri dish of people who are speaking out about organic food, local farming politics, parenting preferences, natural childbirth and of course, the damn San Francisco Giants. (Blech)

But one trend I’ve seen so much of lately is a curious hatred of something I hold quite near and dear. So it’s time that someone stood up to the bullying and took a stand.

Greetings from...my face!

Greetings from…my face!

Here’s my truth, people: I have zero problems with posting pictures of myself on my own or with my kids or friends on random channels of social media. Commonly referred to (with disgust, might I add) as a “Selfie” the self-collected photo method isn’t really new to the photo taking world, but for some reason, it’s gained a whole new anti-following of people.

One of my favorite pictures I had of my best friend and I in high school was a selfie we took with my mom’s Canon Joy automatic camera. Our faces were kinda washed out from the giant flash that was mere centimeters from our face, but it was still a great shot! It lived on the sun visor in my car, firmly attached with Garfield stickers.

Most of my selfies these days stem from the sheer lack of humans around me. #SingleMom

 

My kids are used to the “Hey, guys - smile!” thing by now. Oh, and hey! Look who's being contrary?

My kids are used to the “Hey, guys – smile!” thing by now. Oh, and hey! Look who’s being contrary? Turkey…

But I love capturing photos of random daily events or when my I feel like I need to grab a picture of my kids because they seem to grow bigger every day. Sometimes I want a picture of myself because I managed to have a great hair day. You know. The important stuff.

I hate that people automatically think you’re incredibly vain whenever you post selfies of yourself. Is it true for my case, absolutely. 100%. If there is a camera around, I want my face all up in that business!

But you know, I love seeing your face too! So if you want to post pictures of yourself with the whole awkward arm thing and your friends cheek to cheek, go right on ahead! The duck face is kinda weird, so if you’re going to join my selfie-love train, I’d rather see you smile, but you know what, I’m not in charge here so you do whatever floats your boat.

Love and cheese-balls,

Jenny

Badminton

PS: This is the level of photograph I get when I ask others around me to take a picture. This one was by my seven year old daughter. Note the finger in the upper corner? The awkward and unflattering posture I have? At least I managed to hit the shuttlecock. Boom. Not everyday you get to include that word into a blog post, eh?

Mama Pajama

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Mother’s Day is quickly approaching.

Let me rephrase that.

Mother’s Day is THIS FREAKING SUNDAY and not next Sunday like I had thought all along.

Frick.

The sheer speediness of this holiday is kind of catching me off-guard but this could be a good thing. You know, like when the nurse turns around and – BAM! – there she goes with the shot in the arm. No gentle countdown or rubbery-knot-around-the-arm thing, just a shot out of nowhere! Ouch!

Yep. Let’s get this over with. That’s kind of where I’m at this year.

I’m all for celebrating my mom, she’s awesome! But once again, I’m the kid who gets mixed up on her dates and sends her card late. BOO!

They need to make belated Mother’s Day (and let’s face it, Father’s Day) cards for kids like me.

Here in Chico, my kids are hanging in there like champs with the whole one-week-at-mom’s and one-week-at-dad’s place thing. They will be hanging out with me most of the day on Sunday, which was simply the luck of previous scheduling and, to my knowledge, had nothing to do with the momly-occassion on the calendar.

But at 7 and days-away-from 9, my kids are still pretty little when it comes to spearheading holiday celebrations. Sure, my seven year-old has given me an early Mother’s Day present that involved a hot glue gun, sea shells and orange craft foam this week, but that will most likely be the extent of the “Thanks for being our mom” stuff this year.

That’s OK, though.

I think my wariness of the holiday this year is tightly wrapped in the whole “You suck as a mom because you chose to divorce your spouse” message that exists in my life at the moment.

If you’re new to my blog, here are some quick facts to get you up to date:

  • I think Jesus is pretty cool and I’m glad He thinks I’m pretty neat too.
  • I was married for 13 years until I decided not to do that anymore.
  • Many of my friends and members of my church family are really disappointed in me and have done their best to distance themselves from my messy, mean choices.

Ok, you all caught up now? Cool. Back to where I was going with that previous thought.

So many people out there from the church-club insist if you choose to get a divorce that you are anti-family. The general feeling is that if you choose divorce, you are a selfish person who is choosing themselves over the greater good of everyone around you. You are grieving the Holy Spirit and sucking as a Christian. You need to get your crap together and just stick with it. If you only had tried harder, had more date nights, held hands while arguing, etc., then God could have been glorified in your life. Now look what you’ve done! No friendship for you! If I’m supporting you, I’m supporting your choices and I just can’t do that since I’m into Jesus and I can’t be seen as someone who loves people who screw up big-time like yourself.

On the other side of things, there have also been lots of support and encouragement from some old friends and many new ones that have kind of stumbled into my life. The message from them is: No one knows the whole story. Our friendship is not conditionally based on the choices you make. Your other friends are complete assholes. It’s OK – you’re still a good mom.

And here I am in the middle of the two trying to sort things out for myself. It’s been an interesting 10 months, let me tell you!

Honestly, this Mother’s Day, my goal is to just try and enjoy myself and be thankful.

I’m reminding myself that worked my ass off to become a mother in the first place. I have two kids who can take me out with one smile across the room. I am so lucky to have them in my life.

If they decide to surprise me with my favorite breakfast in bed or roses on the table, that’ll be awesome, but I’m just going to settle for warm cuddles and (hopefully) a lack of smelly feet odors and sibling bickering. Fingers crossed!

Have a fun Mother’s Day, everyone! I think you’re all pretty fantastic.

 

Jeez, Thursday! Back Off…

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You know when you have a million things to do and you suddenly realize (with great panic) that you’ve been sitting still and staring into space for the last five minutes, doing nothing at all?

Or maybe you’ve found yourself responding to emails and chats one minute, then the next, you’re standing over your radiant space heater, leaning your head on the cubicle wall for just one moment of frickin’ peace?

That’s kind of been my day, so needless to say, the conditions weren’t exactly primed for an easy evening with my kids.

Because I had a moment of insanity, I decided to drag my children to Target tonight after work. This timeframe is also dangerously close to dinner time. (Super-moms may be rolling their eyes at that last line and feeling pretty superior right now because they would NEVER drag their tired and hungry kids to the store at the end of the day. Luckily, I have never had any claim on the title of ‘Super Mom’ so feel free to enjoy your moment of superiority, ladies.)

You can guess the joyful time the three of us had in the cereal aisle. Hashtag – meltdown city.

In the checkout line, I caught a dad staring at me. His kid was little, so maybe he was thinking, “Oh crap…they aren’t done with the fits by that age? Frick.” I felt bad for depressing the guy.

It’s a miracle I did not attempt to leave my kids in the parking lot. If you would have happened to pop on by, they would have been the creatures saying rude things to each other and putting on a great show of pure shit-storm chaos.

Violet would’ve been the crying, floppy, shrieky one, screaming at her brother and Jackson would have been the boy laughing, poking and mimicking her, causing her fury to boil over into further unladylike fits.

If CPS had been called, I think they would have waited in the car before approaching them so they wouldn’t have to deal with their antics. I imagine that the CPS workers would have done rock-paper-scissors to decide who had to approach the wildlings who had, by now, taken over the Target cart corral and made it their own personal jungle gym slash perch of terror.

Beware, cart boy! These kids are insane and they would like nothing more than to attack from above and steal your robotic cart-pushy-thing. You and your skinny khaki pants are no match for their sheer cunning and maniacal determination to get you riled up and push all of your ‘angry-face’ buttons. May God have mercy on your soul.

But I managed to stifle the urge to abandon my children to their own fate and drove them home instead. TV was taken away for the evening. Further drama ensued. Is it 8:00 yet?

I found my wine glass and decided to make dinner while the two crazy-pants’ were doomed to read by themselves on their beds. Taco mountain was served. Dinner time!

Did you know that I love peach-flavored Jolly Ranchers (which I haven’t seen since high school) yet the thought of peach-flavored yogurt makes me want to hurl? It’s true. And tonight at dinner, between the sloppy table manners of my offspring and rancid smell of my eight year old’s toes, this very thought sprang to the front of my mind and I thought, “I have to blog about that!”

So now you know. I have specific preferences when it comes to the artificial flavor of peach.

::sigh:: That feels better.

I really should be tackling a pile of work, yet here I am, writing innocuous things and Googling the word “innocuous” to make sure I used it correctly.

Hmm. Apparently it means that I would be writing harmless things that would not offend anyone. We’ll see about that. Who knows if the Target cart-boy is a Blogorama reader. He may not have appreciated my jab at his stupid pants.

Here’s to you, oh curious reader. I hope your evening is full of peace and a lack of shrieking children. It’s been nice to have you here again and I’ll see what I can do about coming to visit you more often.

 

Love,

Jenny

 

Cozy Thoughts and Confessions of a Thumb Sucker

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I’ve got this thing with sock monkeys.

Not quite to the level where my affinity would ever, EVER, justify the wearing of this little number.

In fact, if something is made from fleece and has attached feet, I can guarantee you that I’m OUT.

But nonetheless, I do own at least three sock monkey themed Christmas ornaments, a fleece blanket, (wait – TWO fleece blankets) and my preferred slipper choice for the last four winters have all been sock-monkey themed.

To me, a sock monkey is the perfect symbol for silly-coziness, which is something that is unbelievably comforting to me.

When I was little, I had a sock monkey named George.

For some reason, my brain tells me that he was handmade by my great grandma Harriet. I have no idea if that fact is true or not, but I have believed it for so long, it might as well be. (Hey, dad! Now I see how you do that! Awesome!)

George was a sock monkey that had button eyes, a little cap and a nice, skinny tail. I was in the throes of my thumb sucking phase. (Right-hand only, conducted when resting or watching TV, everyday until I was eight, people. EIGHT! Thank God for braces…)

George was my go-to thumb sucking counterpart of the moment. Before him was Kermie the Frog — not to be confused with the actual “Kermit the Frog”. To me, Kermie was just as good, even if he was not quite authentic.

Then came and Potbelly the Koala. I think I even incorporated one of my mother’s throw pillows for a short time. Most likely, the lace-trimmed, beige, couch-pillow became part of the routine after one of my animal accessories had been confiscated with the false hope that it would persuade me from inhaling my own body part in a disappointing, drooly fashion that could only be considered as awkward and parentally-embarrassing in Dr. Spock’s opinion.

My childhood vice was all about combining texture with the sweet spot that existed right above my upper lip. There was nothing that could compete with the sheer, peaceful bliss that accompanied my thumb sucking sessions. Not the American cheese slice that I had folded into as many tiny squares as I possibly could (to make the before-dinner snack last longer) or the amazing burst you could get from a Gobble Stick (R.I.P. you delicious, cheese-filled wonder-snack).

With Kermie, I managed to rub the fur tight off his right arm, leaving behind this strange mesh fabric that felt amazing to three-year-old-me.

Potbelly the Koala was only as important as his rough tag. Unfortunately, his tag was sewn into the seam that ran along the bottom of his body, so I’d have to turn him ass-up, legs out, to properly access the taggy goods. It’s one thing to see a child sucking their thumb while cuddling their stuffed animal. It’s another thing entirely to see them taking advantage of a poor stuffed marsupial in that fashion.

George was similarly taken advantage of. With George the sock monkey, it was all about the junction where the tail had been sewn onto his slender, stuffed body. In fact, I ended up rubbing his tail right off. Through the threads and through the fabric – POOF! No more tail. My mother attached a bumpy piece of dark, brown, calico fabric to George’s back. Not just where his tail had been. Nope.The patch covered up nearly his entire back.

And yet, it didn’t stop me and my quest.

I began to utilize the top corner of the fabric and was desperate to keep George in my life.

Then one day, my mother made Georgette.

Georgette was a brand new sock monkey that my mom had surprised me with after a nap. Or at least, I think I had been sleeping before she walked into my room on Dallin Street with a new, plump and clean sock monkey in her hands.

Georgette was fatter than George. She had a sweet, little apron attached to her clean, socky body and a hat that matched George’s in style, yet not drooly grime.

She was beautiful and my mother had made her just for me.

I took her in my hands and promptly threw her across the room and screamed, “I HATE HER!”

This is the part of the story where my mother’s heart either broke into a thousand pieces or hardened into a Fortress of Solitude. I really don’t know what she did or how she handled my lack of appreciation. I was much too busy burying my face into my pillow and screaming because I would no longer get to have George.

George was disgustingly crusty, and his sock-body was too weak to handle the washing machine without dissolving completely. It was time to add him to the burn pile and pray that he became a real monkey and scamper away with all his monkey friends. (Yes, I absolutely LOVE the story of “The Velveteen Rabbit”, by the way. And no – we did not have a burn pile. I grew up in the desert suburbs. Those were not normally allowed.)

I’m not sure when I warmed up to the idea of Georgette the Sock Monkey, but I have seen photographic proof that I, indeed, stopped hating her. In old, out of focus pictures that I took myself with my mom’s fancy automatic camera (a Canon Joy) you can see Georgette posing in with a rose in a vase, or you can see her just hanging out on my bed with my throw pillows. Sometimes I’d dress her up in my Cabbage Patch clothes to keep her from getting bored with her apron.

Georgette was the last animal that I remember being bonded with as a kid. Soon my baby sister was born, my thumb sucking stopped, and Georgette got added to the top of the hutch of my dresser with all the other stuffed animals I collected, yet was never interested in enough to actually play with*

Sock monkeys are now still a soothing sight and I don’t think I’ll grow out of them soon. Do I need another sock monkey magnet/t-shirt/pair of pajama bottoms? No. I think I’m good. Ok, well, maybe the pajama bottoms but only for when it’s SUPER cold or I have the flu.

*One time I decided to decorate my hutch with Christmas lights. You know, the giant C9 bulbs that were meant for outdoor use only? I laid them across the laps of my stuffed animals and came back from an evening errand with my parents to a strange burning smell. I’ll always be sorry about that, random teddy bear wearing a hand-knit sweater. Sorry about branding you with a giant red Christmas light. My bad.

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