Mexico 2004

What I did this weekend

…and why you should do it soon too.

What I did this weekend

(Also knowns as, “The latest installment of: ‘Jenny is bossy and thinks she knows what’s best for you.‘”)

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my favorite time of year. Once we get beyond Halloween, I get way too excited about Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a toss-up as to which holiday I love more: Turkey Day or Christmas. 

I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons…namely, the food, the fellowship but also the unofficial start of the Christmas season. There’s nothing that gets me more excited than seeing the Rockettes kick to a Christmas Carol in their velvety Santa dresses during the Thanksgiving Macy’s Parade. 

The Rockettes
The Rockettes

Another thing that I love about the holiday season is “nesting”. We stick close to home, baking and hosting friends and family. It’s the one time of the year that my oven is preheating several times a day and I keep a ridiculous stock of cream cheese and refrigerated crescent rolls on hand at all times, to throw together an appetizer or dessert in a pinch, if the opportunity for a get together presents itself. (Some favorite recipes HERE and HERE)

Continue reading “What I did this weekend”

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Mexico 2004

Friday Favorites–Old Navy Flannel

Unfortunately, we’ve had exactly one day of flannel-wearing weather here in Texas so far this fall (boo, hiss). But, I’ll tell you right now, on that one day of fall weather? You can bet your britches that I was wearing a flannel shirt.

Jenny Flannel
Clearly, Jack’s smile isn’t the only super fake thing at The Rainforest Cafe.

 

And, not just any flannel shirt. Only my new favorite flannel shirt.

This one, from Old Navy:

 

 

 

Old Navy Flannel shirt
Old Navy Flannel Shirt currently on sale for $15-18

 

It’s soft, comfy, really cute and you can’t beat the price. I sized up one size to make sure that it would be roomy and comfortable, even if it shrunk in the wash (it didn’t). I also wish that the model had “tszuj’d” her sleeves a little, because it looks way cuter with the sleeves sloppily rolled (see my photo above) and a couple of bangle bracelets to fem it up a little. If I hadn’t have been on the school field trip, I would’ve paired the top with some ankle boots and more jewelry. 

I love soft flannel. It’s like wearing your jammies outside of the house. 

If you wanted to flannel up your whole “Fam Damily,” Old Navy has you covered:

Old Navy Girls' Flannel $20.00
Old Navy Girls’ Flannel $20.00
Old Navy Boy's Flannel $15.00
Old Navy Boy’s Flannel $15.00

 

 

Old Navy Men's Flannel
Old Navy Men’s Flannel $34.94

Is it flannel weather where you live? 

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

Talking to your kids about alcohol

talkingtokidsaboutalcohol

I stopped drinking when my oldest (Anna) was about 3 years old and my youngest (Jack) was 1. Obviously, I wish I’d quit sooner, but hopefully they won’t have any memories of their mom before she stopped. 

One of the things that I’m most thankful for in my journey is that (God willing) my kids won’t ever see me drunk.

Something that I’ve tried to be conscious of though, is talking to my kids about alcohol. 

I’ve made a point to try and never scare them, but alcohol use has come up in conversation. They’ve seen people who’ve had too much to drink (thank you, Wurstfest) and I’ve expressed my fear of drunk drivers to my kids. But I’ve tried really hard to also talk about moderate consumption of alcohol and that it’s not all bad. They see my husband and many family members drinking alcohol, so they do see adults enjoying alcohol in moderation(ish) on a regular basis.

As a result of my tee-totaling and some of the discussions about alcohol that I’ve had with my kids, my 9 year old has developed an intense dislike for all things alcohol. When beer commercials come on tv, she always makes a comment like, “Alcohol is horrible! I’m never going to drink it!”

Recently, we were at a gathering at a family member’s house. Most everyone was drinking and an adult accidentally bumped into Anna and his beer spilled down the front of her shirt. I don’t even think that he realized what happened, but Anna immediately freaked out. 

She came up to me, in tears, telling me what happened. She was disgusted and wanted to go home and change immediately to, “get the gross smell off of me.” It broke my heart for a number of reasons. 

First, I felt guilty that, by my abstaining from alcohol, I’ve somehow (inadvertantly) given her the impression that any amount of alcohol is horrible and damaging. 

Secondly, I’m sad that she has such an extreme, visceral reaction to the idea of drinking alcohol. Don’t get me wrong: I’d much rather her feel like this, rather than already showing interest in it, but I find her judging people more harshly than she should, when she sees them drinking. 

I have a genetic predisposition to have issues with alcohol, so this particular attribute is in my kids’ gene pool too. The thing is though, I’d love nothing more than for both of them to grow up and be able to responsibly enjoy alcohol, but I also know that it’s something that they might have to be careful about. 

I’m treading very carefully on the topic with them. I try and stress that alcohol is something that you’re not really responsible enough to try until you’re an adult (also: THE LAW) but that it can be enjoyable and festive in certain situations. 

I’ve also let them know that, hidden deep in their body chemistry is something that might one day cause them to abuse alcohol and to be mindful of this. We’ve talked about the harm that alcohol can cause–to the human body–as well as to families.

Let me tell you though…that it’s a struggle to maintain a degree of levity, while discussing this with them and I worry constantly that I’m putting too much responsibility on them and giving them too much information, too young. 

Scariest Hood

But, at the end of the day, I’ve decided that a little bit of truth-telling is healing. The effects of alcohol was never discussed with me when I was a child and I grew up with bad examples of how to use of alcohol. I would rather let my kids know now how I feel about it and what’s expected of them as they get older. I also feel like it’s not too early to share with them a bit of my story and plant some seeds of responsibility in them. 

What about you? Have you discussed responsible alcohol use with your young children? 

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

This or That Halloween tag

Switching things up a bit today on the blog…

Prompted by Megan and Wendy, I’m participating in their “This or That” Halloween tag. Feel free to play along and post to your blog, social media or make a YouTube video and link to it in my comments. 

megwendythisorthat
Image courtesy of www.meganandwendy.com

 

Chocolate Candy or Fruit: Fruity candy. Believe it or not, I’m not a huge chocolate lover but there’s something about a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or fun-sized Milky Way (or 7) on Halloween night that blows my skirt up indeed. Usually though, I reach for the Skittles, Gummy Bears and Sour Patch Kids every time. 

Witches or Vampires: Witches. I never read the Twilight series (yeah, I know) so I don’t get the romantic notion of vampires but I’ve always thought that witches were kinda cool. Except for the Wicked Witch of the West. That bitch was gnarly. 

Trick or Treat: Neither. I really dislike trick or treating. Even as a child, I never liked going door to door. As an adult (and a parent) I still don’t like it, but in our neighborhood, we have a community-wide “Trunk or Treat” which is way more fun. 

Halloween Party or Scary Movie: Ack. I almost wanna say “neither” again here. I can’t watch scary movies. My real life is scary enough (I kid) so I don’t need to recreationally scare myself. And I don’t like dressing up for Halloween parties, so I hate looking like the unenthusiastic, non-conformist in my t-shirt and jeans at a costume party. 

Skeletons or Zombies: Skeletons for sure. I’m one of 19 people in the world who doesn’t watch The Walking Dead, so I don’t understand the appeal of zombies–plus, I think they’re really super-gross looking. Skeletons are pretty benign and can even be cute. 

Trick or Treat or Hand Out Candy: Hand Out Candy, I guess? But both are equally horrible for an introvert. (See “Trick or Treat” above for a comprehensive explanation of my indifference to Trick or Treating)

Hay Ride or Corn Maze: Probably Hay Ride–except for the HOLY ITCHINESS of hay! Dang, y’all. You don’t understand, unless you’ve ever sat on hay but…gross! So scratchy and itchy! But, my sense of direction is so bad that I feel certain that I’d get fully lost in a corn maze and have to call 911 for help. 

Scary Costume or Funny Costume: Funny costume for sure. I don’t think that I can take myself seriously enough to try and pull off a scary costume. 

Pumpkin Seeds or Pumpkin Pie: Pumpkin Pie! I love pumpkin pie (hold the whipped cream)! 

Bottle feed a baby zombie or walk alone in a dark forest: Bottle feed a baby zombie, of course. How bad could a baby zombie be…but, this does beg the question: What’s in the bottle? Liquified brains? 

Bats or Black Cats: Oh, y’all…this is like making me choose which of my children I like better. I love cats. I’m a crazy, crazy, unhinged cat lady. But! Have you seen that video on Facebook of the baby bat nursery in Australia I mean….come on! How cute are they?

Pumpkin Spice or Hot Chocolate: Pumpkin Spice err’day, all day. 

Celebrate in your neighborhood or at the mall? In our neighborhood for sure. It’s fun to visit with neighbors and for my kids to take off to play with their friends from school, at our community Halloween activities. I can’t imagine Trick or Treating among strangers. 

Halloween 2015
Halloween “Trunk or Treat” 2015

Post your own “This or That” and link below!

And be sure to visit Megan and Wendy’s blog as well as their YouTube channel

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

Actively Introverting

3-ways-actively-introver

As an introvert, I find social situations exhausting. 

Don’t get me wrong though: I can mix and mingle at–even host–a big party…make my way through awkward small talk like a boss and sometimes even manage to ENJOY it! But after it’s all over, I need to “actively introvert,” or find a way to recharge my batteries.

What does “actively introvert” mean?

Actively introverting is my term for “cocooning” after an intense period of having to be “on.” For an extrovert, social situations give them energy and life. For introverts, social situations can be draining. After I’ve been pushed to my social limits, I need to have some down time to recover. Here are my favorite ways to “actively introvert.”

At home: The next day, either on the couch or in bed, if it was an intense social event (such as, after hosting 50 of my husband’s family for Jurica Family Christmas at our house, the day after Christmas last year). I need to not talk to anyone (except for immediate family and pets) for a day or so after such an event. A day of watching all of the movies that I’ve had in my Netflix queue, mixed with reading a book, mixed with putzing around on my phone. Extra points if it’s cold and/or rainy outside, so that I don’t have to feel guilty about not getting out to do post-social-event chores and errands. I’m also wearing my favorite comfy clothes, with my pets tucked in around me. This is better than a day at the spa for me.

Shopping: As long as I’m shopping alone and at stores where customer-sales clerk interactions are minor (i.e. Target). Going to a store where sales associates are down your back constantly throwing clothes over the dressing room door for you to try on, or otherwise, trying to engage you in a sale, exhausts me. I much prefer to shop on my own without any help, thanksbutnothanks. Not to be a total cliche, but Target is a favorite, as are other “serve-yo-self” kind of places like DSW (drool) and Homegoods/Marshalls/TJ Maxx. Oftentimes I won’t buy much at all on these outings, but it’s just the act of walking around, unencumbered by interactions, that recharge me.

Walking the dog: I know that I’ve talked about my walks with Angie a really whole lot, considering that this blog is only 3 months old, but they’re important to me (and to her). After being stretched a little in social situations, getting outside, to the quiet of nature with my trusty dog is the best medicine. It affords me the opportunity to clear my head, think about only what I want to think about or just zone out completely. We often run into neighbors on our walk–which is pleasant–but having an antsy dog on a leash and oftentimes, Jenny holding a 2.5 lb steaming bag of dog poop, is a good excuse to keep the conversing short and sweet. 

I know that this post probably portrays me as a total asshole and makes you feel like you’d never want to know me in real life.

hermit
Image courtesy of marshotelonline.com

 You’re probably picturing me as a Howard Hughes-type of hermit with aggressively long fingernails and birds living in my hair.

Allow me to completely confuse you now: Believe it or not, I do enjoy people.

I love talking to people who are interesting, funny and kind. I love hosting gatherings at my house and I love making meaningful connections with people. It’s just that none of this necessarily comes easily to me and I have to give myself time afterward to recover, in order to do it all again the next day.

I think that, once I realized that this was what helped me to recharge, I came to terms with who I am and what it takes to make me happy. 

Do you “actively introvert”?

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

Friday Favorites–Vionic Relax Slippers

This will, undoubtedly, prove to be my most “Grandmaw” post to date, but I don’t care. When I feel passionate about something, I have to share. It’s just who I am.

Behold: My favorite slippers on the planet:

 

Vionic Slippers
Vionic Relax Slipper

 

Beauties, aren’t they? Well, maybe not…

I have problem feet. For a few years, I’ve suffered with bouts of plantar fasciitis, bunions and heel spurs, so I have to be very careful what shoes I wear. Vionic has been my go-to shoe brand for awhile–I live in their flip flops year round (one advantage to living in Texas).

But, I got to where I wanted to have some shoes only for in the house, or “house shoes” as my grandmother calls them. I also wanted house shoes that I could wear with socks during the colder weather (my sex appeal is palpable, no?).  

Enter:  Vionic Relax Slipper

vionicslippers

These slippers offer lots of arch support, which is rare in slippers. They have a fully-constructed footbed and a rigid and supportive rubber sole. These are the first shoes that I step into as soon as I walk in the house and the last thing I take off before leaving the house. Yes, they’re a little pricey for house shoes, but the comfort is well worth it and my feet feel better in these, than in any other shoe or barefooted.

I received my first pair about this time last year and I consistently wear them daily. I even take them on trips, if there’s room in my luggage.

I wear a size 8 in Vionic shoes–which is a whole to half-size larger than in a normal shoe. The Relax Slippers make a wonderful gift for someone–even someone without foot issues–or for yourself. 

cheers-jenny

disclaimeraa

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Mexico 2004

4 clues that it was time to stop drinking

4cluestext

Have you ever wondered if you should stop drinking? Ever worried that you are drinking too much…too often?

Here are the 4 ways that I knew that it was time for me to stop drinking. For good.

1: I invented reasons to drink. Every day had a potential holiday or reason to celebrate.

It’s opening day of baseball! I’ll mix up some margaritas!” (I don’t give a flip about baseball) 

It’s Tuesday! We went to the library!” (Wow. Way to do a thing that everyone else manages to do without drinking)

We’re going out to dinner tonight! I’ll have a drink (or two) while I’m getting ready!” (Makeup application, whilst drinking isn’t advisable, by the way) 

There’s a song by The Postal Service called, “This Place Is A Prison” about addiction. One line that always resonates with me is this:

And i know that it’s not a party if it happens every night
Pretending there’s glamour and candelabra
When you’re drinking by candlelight

2: I wasn’t able to be my best self the day after drinking. I remember my first board meeting, serving on the board of my children’s preschool. I was so honored to be asked to serve as a member, but the night before that first Monday morning meeting, I drank too much and was very hungover the next morning at the meeting. I was so disappointed in myself for letting that happen and for feeling so ill and disgusting. I wanted to be the best mom I could be–and felt that I could make a difference in my kids’ (and other children’s) life, by serving on this board. Too bad I was positively “green around the gills” at that first meeting. This was one of my last bad hangovers. I quit drinking in the weeks following that meeting.

3: My body was screaming at me to stop. The morning after I’d been drinking, I always had intense bladder-infection-like issues. (Possibly TMI) I’d spend half of the morning, sitting on the toilet with a giant jug of ice water in hand, praying to just be able to pee without the horrible burn of a bladder infection. I saw specialist after specialist, who prescribed all manner of drugs and procedures to try and correct my bladder issues. I never told anyone that the problems coincided with my drinking. Clearly, my body did not handle the strain of alcohol on my kidneys or bladder. I haven’t had those issues at all since I stopped drinking. 

4: I made up rules and caveats surrounding my drinking. For example: When I awoke in the morning, after an evening of drinking, before I opened my eyes, I’d quiz myself on what jammies I put on before bed. If I could remember which jammies I had put on, then I felt like I must’ve kept my drinking under control the night before. If I couldn’t remember, then I knew a hangover from hell was imminent. I also tried not drinking on certain days of the week. Some weeks I was successful (although, I’d binge to make up for the “lost days” on the other days) but most weeks, I’d come up with an excuse to bend the rules. “Well…we ARE going to eat Italian tonight. How can I NOT have wine with dinner?” 

Looking back on it, I was way more entangled in this drinking culture than I sometimes think. I often marvel at how much more headspace I’m afforded now that I don’t carry around all of these rules and constant thoughts about drinking. 

carry-it-with-me

If you feel like you might need to quit drinking, know that it’s possible and you’ll never regret it. It was a decision that I made, not only for myself, but for my family as well. 

 

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

How counseling helped me

Here’s another backstory for you: I graduated college with a Bachelor’s in Psychology then went on to pursue my Master’s degree in Counseling. I almost made it through the program until at the tail-end, my husband’s job moved us to another city. I was feeling very “quarter-life-crisis-y” at the time and wasn’t sure if counseling was for me. Basically, a perfect storm of incidences, which resulted in me quitting grad school. So, yeah. I’m a quitter–I never went back and finished my Master’s degree.

So, the year that I decided to quit drinking, I had a lot going on in my life and I wondered if seeing a counselor would help. But, there was a large part of me who was afraid that, instead of being able to get real help from a counselor, I’d sit on the other side of the room and speculate as to which ideology she was implementing; predicting what she’d say next, “so, what I’m hearing you say is that you’re angry…tell me about anger“–basically critiquing her abilities as a counselor, instead of focusing on me, rendering counseling wholly pointless.

counseling

I tried it anyway, checked my almost-Master’s degree in Counseling at the door and found it to be so helpful. Let’s discuss: 

First of all, having a counselor hold me accountable was invaluable. Someone to report back to every week about what progress I’d made, the tasks I’d taken on, etc. She gave me homework to do and assigned tough tasks for me to take on. It wasn’t easy or comfortable, but it worked. 

Having an unbiased stranger offer insight into my relationships. It’s easy to vent to friends and spouses about what’s going on in your life but they’re biased. Your friends will likely side with you–whether it’s warranted or not–and tell you what you want to hear (most of the time). It’s helpful to have someone with no prior understanding of your relationships or history step in and see things with fresh eyes.

I started thinking about things to talk about during my sessions, in other parts of my day. While driving, I’d often get flashes of childhood memories or start thinking about hard conversations that I’d had in the past. Instead of marinating too much on those things, I’d jot them down, bookmark them and make plans to bring them up in our next session. I firmly believe that I did most of the hard work in counseling when I wasn’t actually sitting in my counselor’s office, but rather, in the car, on my way home from a session. 

I come from a family that doesn’t talk about the big, hard stuff. So, it was out of my comfort zone to talk about things. At first, I felt like I was betraying some code of confidence within my family. Once I got the ball rolling though, I found that it opened me up to talk about things outside the counseling session too. Just the habit of saying the hard words in the sessions, helped me to carry them home and say them more to my husband and friends. 

Scared of the cost of counseling?

Did you know that a lot of insurance policies cover counseling? And, if yours doesn’t, inquire about a “sliding scale” fee schedule. A “sliding scale” fee essentially means that you pay your counselor what you can afford to pay. Additionally, if you live in a college town, you can maybe check with their Psychology department to see if they offer reduced-cost counseling, provided by students in training. Sometimes all you need is a stranger to listen to what you have to say and to support you without conditions. 

Have you tried counseling? Did it work for you?

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

Friday Favorites–Homemade Daily Shower Spray

You know what they say: “Those who live in glass showers shouldn’t purchase expensive daily shower sprays, when they can make it themselves.”

Today, I’m sharing another homemade favorite household cleaner with you. If you enjoyed my Homemade Granite Cleaner post, then this one will surely rock your world too (maybe that’s a little overzealous. I <at least> hope that it helps you around the house.) 

daily-shower-spray

In our current house–for the first time ever–we have a glass shower. Until I was faced with the task of keeping all of that glass streak and spot-free, I didn’t fully appreciate the boring, dated, tiled showers of our past houses. The copious amounts of glass in this shower, coupled with our hard water, left me feeling defeated on a daily basis. No matter how hard I tried (and, let’s be honest…perhaps I really wasn’t trying THAT hard) I couldn’t stay on top of the limescale build-up and the soap scum on the glass shower. 

I bought all manner of shower cleaners at the store but, as the cost added up and the limescale and soap scum continued to win that battle, I finally turned to my trusty Pinterest for some help.

Enter: A homemade daily shower spray. 

For merely pennies on the dollar (and, you might notice that some of the ingredients are the same as the ingredients in my Homemade Granite Cleaner–so I already had the items on hand) I make a spray for our shower that we use daily and has really proven to keep the muck at bay. 

Ingredients:

1/2 C hydrogen peroxide

1/2 C rubbing alcohol

1 teaspoon of dish soap (I’m partial to Dawn for all of my cleaning concoctions)

1 tablespoon of dishwasher rinse aid (like Jet Dry)

3 C of water

Mix all of the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray all of the glass surfaces of your shower when you’re done showering for the day. No need to rinse. 

I hope this homemade daily shower cleaner helps you to save money and save your sanity in the battle against glass showers. Do you have any homemade cleaners that you’d like to share? 

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

How to get rid of toxic people in your life

This should probably be titled “How I get rid of toxic people in MY life,” but hopefully some of these tactics can be applied to your life too. 

toxic-people2

Do you have people in your life that make you say or do things that you don’t like? People that suck the life out of you? People that dissolve your faith in humanity? People who don’t support your sobriety?

I certainly have. But, the older I get (and the more sober I get) the less patience I have for people who don’t contribute anything of value to my life. These people have been co-workers, acquaintances and even family members. It’s not easy to completely cleanse your life of toxic people, but it’s possible to limit your association with them and to deflect their toxicity on your life. Here’s what works for me:

Tweak your friends list on Facebook. I’ve been on Facebook for a number of years and just very recently learned how to sort my friends list a bit. Did you know that you can classify your friends as “close friends,” “friends,” or “acquaintances“? The beauty in that is you can tweak things so that you see mostly your “close friends'” status updates and your acquaintances can’t see what you post or like. For years, I’ve been so judicious about what I post on Facebook because I just don’t want my 7th grade history teacher’s son to know how I really feel about our political climate. I also begin to feel very drained when people post opinions that differ greatly from what I chose to believe and surround myself with in daily life.

After a few simple tune-ups of my friends list, I can now post what I feel like posting, knowing that only those that know and love me in real life can see it. Also, my newsfeed is virtually devoid of horrible, slanderous political diatribes…it’s all unicorns and kittens these days (like, literally–which is just the way I like it).

You don’t have to be friends with everyone. Having been raised Southern and thus taught to be nice to everyone, (but that it’s absolutely ok–if not encouraged–to talk behind people’s backs, bless their hearts) I’ve been working really hard to retrain my brain and go with what my gut tells me is right. The fact of the matter is that I’m generally a good judge of character and if someone rubs me the wrong way early-on, I’ve learned to steer-clear of them. Maybe this person isn’t a bad guy at all, but there’s a 99% chance that he’s a bad fit for ME. I’m not running for Homecoming Queen anymore, so I don’t have to go out of my way to be nice. It’s been very freeing to let go of that burden. This meme is everything to me right now:

the older i get

When toxic people are permanent fixtures in your everyday life. The tricky part comes when toxic people are co-workers or family–people who you can’t necessarily run the other direction from. In this case, what’s worked best for me is to take the higher road. I’ve learned the hard way that I’m in a much better position if I keep things surface-level with toxic people and always opt for saying less, rather than more.

Recently, I was put in position with a toxic person and several times, I’d feel her tugging at me–pulling me into her toxic web of gossip, racism and narcissism–all characteristics that I don’t want in my own life. I began to not like who I was in her presence. This is when I put on the brakes and shut it down. No more talk about anything more than what was necessary. I came across as very aloof, I’m positive, but I could walk away at the end of each day, knowing that I hadn’t compromised my own integrity. It was very freeing. So, oftentimes, just shutting someone down and not letting toxic people in is the way to go, if you can’t physically run away from them.

In the end, I always feel as though I’ve grown as a person when I’ve managed to dump a toxic person from my life. I always learn something–either about humanity or myself–from these toxic relationships, so all’s not lost, but it certainly puts things into perspective when I do manage to get out from under them.

So, tell us about a toxic relationship in your life…

cheers-jenny

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