Mexico 2004

Life lately

April is a busy month for us. We’re up to our eyeballs in kid activities and busy weekends away. I have a lot going on…what about you?

First things first though:

I wrote an original piece for Red Tricycle about why we discuss our finances with our kids. You can read it HERE. It’s a topic that I feel passionate about because I’ve seen how my kids have embraced being a part of these discussions and how it’s changed their view of money. I’m hopeful that by raising them with an understanding of how money really works, they’ll grow into adults who are good money managers.

I would really love it if you passed the article along if you think it’s relevant to your life.

Next up:

Jack is playing soccer. This is the first time he’s participated in a team sport and it’s really fun to see him out there, doing his best and playing as a team.

And Anna’s art was featured at a district-wide art show.  Her piece is entitled: “Jane Goodall–The Nutcracker.” Originality is her strong suit.

And the birds have decided to call our yard home again this spring, which I love. Because, let’s face it–I need more creatures who are depending on me to feed them in my life.

Speaking of creatures who depend on me…this one has been loving the spring weather here and lounging outside with me. This photo is noteworthy because I took it the day that I eschewed all of my responsibilities for the day to sit outside, read books, listen to podcasts and enjoy my birds. You can see the laundry baskets and laundry piled on the bed in the room behind Angie. It was a rare day of no responsibility for me and I loved every second of it. I highly recommend trying to find a day like that for yourself every now and then if you can.

So, that’s my life lately…tell me about yours.

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Mexico 2004

Life lately

The past few weeks have been a bit of a fuzzy blur around here. I thought I’d use today’s post to catch you up on all of our happenings.

The Lion King:

A couple of weeks ago, Anna participated in a production of The Lion King. They began rehearsals in September, so it was a big commitment for the whole family, shuttling her to and from rehearsals for 4 months.

She had a small role, but she was happy not to have to a speaking role and she was really happy to get to be a BLUE bird (blue is her favorite color). I also got to hone my stage-makeup skills, which was pretty fun, once I got the hang of working with stage makeup.

After it was all said and done, she had a ball. She really enjoyed the performances, even though she was exhausted after doing 3 performances in 2 days time (we all were).

Then, after a weekend of Lion King madness, we were really looking forward to a quiet weekend with no obligations this past weekend. We got exactly that.

Return to the Library:

On Saturday, we made a family trip to the public library to renew my library card, get everyone else their own card and get our Kindles connected to the library’s online lending software.

About every 2 years or so, I re-discovered the library. I get super excited at the prospect of reading all of the books I could possibly ever want to read–not to mention movies, magazines and even a calendar of events to attend! Then, after a few months of active library use, I get disenchanted with something (likely a random late fee or stressing about a lost book) and then I go off of the library again. But, with our newfound “Budget Bootcamp” mode and with one child who’s a voracious reader–who’s single-handedly busting our Amazon Prime budget up with her constant need for a new book to read because she’s read everything over the course of a weekend–we found ourselves back at the library.

Luckily, we all walked out with books that we were excited about. I checked out several, but immediately got sucked into A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand.

I thought I’d read all of Hilderbrand’s books, so I was excited to find one that I hadn’t read. As with all of her books, I picked it up and have been looking forward to my bedtime reading every night since. (The links above are affiliate links)

Another exciting library happening: (if you follow me on Instagram you saw this already)

This roadrunner was outside of the library, pecking at himself in the windows. Being the certified “bird nerd” that I am, I got way more excited than I probably should’ve and giggled and squealed and snapped pics. Ugh. Bless my heart.

Then Sunday.

We went to church (more on this in an upcoming post) then came home to begin preparing Superbowl snacks. We made a rule for Superbowl this year that we’d eat what we already had in the freezer, fridge and pantry. We had cream cheese, sausage and crescent rolls, lunch meat and cheese so I made the following goodies:

Cubano sandwiches: image courtesy of Pillsbury

Recipe HERE

These were yummy and used up 2 cans of crescent rolls and a lot of the turkey and ham that I’d purchased for Anna’s post-Lion King party that we hosted. Everyone in the house enjoyed these (which is a rarity).

We also made this:

Image courtesy of: www.plainchicken.com

Recipe HERE

I went to lunch with friends last week and had deviled eggs with bacon jam on top. Oh. My. Word. So, I had a hankerin’ for more of those and figured that we could replicate them at home. So, we attempted this recipe for Bacon Jam.

Image courtesy of www.allrecipes.com

It’s with a broken heart that I have to report to you that this was a colossal fail. I’m not going to blame the cook (who was Kevin) but something went terribly, terribly wrong and we ended up with a charred blob of black goop. There were some tears shed, but my deviled eggs went on, albeit without bacon jam.

After spending lunchtime in the kitchen cooking our snacks, we settled in to watch the Kitten Bowl and then the big game.

Captain Thunderpants settling in to watch The Kitten Bowl

 

So, that’s what my life has looked like lately. What’s going on in your world?

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Mexico 2004

So very thankful tag

Megan and Wendy participated in the “So very thankful” tag and I enjoyed watching their video on YouTube, so I’m going to participate too. 

so-very-thankful
Image courtesy of http://www.meganandwendy.com/

 

1. Name a color you are thankful for. Turquoise. Always turquoise–especially this time of the year because I love seeing turquoise accents, amid the red for Christmas.
2. Something your spouse does that you are thankful for. Kevin plans and cooks dinner every Thursday. It’s so nice to have one night of the week where I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner. 
3. Something your kids do that you are thankful for. Anna’s superpower is exceptional manners, so, while I still remind her to use her best manners everyday, I really don’t HAVE to. Jack is such a hard worker. When he sets his sights on a goal, he’s driven like none other. 
4. A food you are thankful for. I love my recipe for cornbread dressing that is a hybrid of both of my grandmother’s famous recipes. It tastes like my childhood and home. 
5. What recent good news are you thankful for? This one is tricky right now, but I’m going cop-out and say that I’m thankful for the news that it’s finally going to get cold here this week? Sorrynotsorry. 
6. Name a drink you are thankful for. Coffee. Err day. 
7. Name a restaurant you are thankful for. Panera Bread. My kids have finally discovered Panera Bread so now, they’ll willingly choose it over other fast food and I can finally eat something healthy when we go out to eat.
8. Talk about an animal you are thankful for. How much time do you have? I’m very thankful for the opportunity to foster a mama cat (Jacobien–“Bean” for short) and her 4 babies (Booger, Tux, Bandit and Pinto) for our local no-kill animal shelter. It’s so rewarding to know that we’re able to give these sweet kitties a new beginning and a safe, warm home to live in for a few weeks.
9. Name a beauty product you are thankful for. I’m enjoying all of my Rodan+Fields products right now. I drank the R+F koolaid hard, y’all. 
10. Name a cleaning product you are thankful for. My homemade granite cleaner (recipe HERE)
11. What social media platform are you thankful for? Instagram. I love Instagram and I’ve purposely kept my personal account locked down, so only my nearest and dearest get to see what I post–unlike Facebook that is too big and wide right now. 
12. Tell us why you are thankful for the last person who texted you. My dearest friend, Erika. She gets me like no one else (and somehow loves me in spite of it).
13. Name a candy you are thankful for. Sour Patch Kids. I’ll rub the roof of my mouth raw from eating too many then keep going back for more. I can’t quit you, SPK. 
14. Name an app on your phone that you are thankful for. What’s App. That’s how I stay in touch with my close friends from all over the globe. We have almost-daily text chains that range from the philosophical to the ridiculous (and sometimes ridiculously philosophical). Thanks to What’s App, we can stay in touch in almost the same way we did when we all lived in the same city. 
15. What are you looking forward to that you are thankful for? Hosting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s rehearsal dinner in mid-December. When we bought this house, we knew that it would be great for assuming some of the entertaining burden from my mother-in-law and I really enjoy throwing a good party and planning every little perfect detail–especially for those that I love. Party hosting is my love language. 

 

This was fun! If you’d like to participate, please link below to your post so that we can see your answers too! 

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

Quirks

Quirks!
Quirks!

…we’ve all got ’em and today, I’m letting you in on my inner-workings. I’ve got me some quirks and here are just a few: 

1: I positively cringe when I hear people use the term, “You guys” in possessive form such as “You guy’s” (or, even worse, “Your guy’s”).  God love him, but Chip Gaines of HGTV-fame and “Fixer Upper” does this every. blessed. episode. Example: “We’ve decided to add on to you guy’s patio and install a hot tub for your guy’s enjoyment!” Just say YOU and YOUR. This legitimately makes me twitchy. No, it actually really makes me crazy

Chip Gaines, master offender of "You Guys"
Chip Gaines, master offender of “You Guys

 

2: I have to shower before bed. I can not sleep at night if I’m not clean. It’s not uncommon for me to shower in the morning and at night. It has very little to do with cleanliness as much as it has to do with warming myself up. My feet are always cold–especially at bedtime and I can’t sleep with cold feet.

3: Speaking of always being cold…last year, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Yes HYPER…the less-common thyroid condition (because I love to take the <medical> road less-traveled, I suppose). Hyperthyroidism is the one that makes you LOSE weight. And no, I didn’t lose a ton of weight. Instead, I was eating cream cheese EVERYTHING during the holidays and didn’t gain any weight. That should’ve been a clue. I’ve also always been “cold natured” which is a symptom of a thyroid disorder. But, what sent me to the hospital (and, eventually, landed me a diagnosis) was heart palpitations. I don’t wish that on anyone. It’s very scary to feel like you’re having a heart attack. My thyroid condition is now under control but my heart still races at least once during the day, most every day. 

4: I’ve always wanted to foster animals. I work closely with shelters and rescue groups for a freelance writing gig that I do, so I’ve known about the importance of foster homes for pets for quite some time. I always wanted to do it, but was too busy with my young kids and was afraid that I’d never be able to take in animals, only to give them back to the shelter when it was time for them to be adopted.

Recently though, my kids have gotten old-enough and responsible enough to help with our pets and we have a guest room that’s vacant 99% of the year–a perfect, quiet place to let some kittens hang out. So I turned in my foster application at our local animal shelter. Later that same week, we had a mama cat and her 4 babies living in our guest room. They’ll be with us for about 3 weeks–until the babies are big enough to have all of their shots and be spayed/neutered, then they’ll go up for adoption at our local no-kill shelter.

Fostering animals is an important way that you can help animal shelters. By fostering, you give animals the opportunity to live in a household and be socialized–which greatly helps their chances of being adopted. Fostering also makes room in the shelter for more animals in need. It’s a rewarding opportunity, and it will also hurt really badly when it’s time to take the kitties to their new homes. Someone, hold me. 

 

Such a good mama
Such a good mama

 

Mama kitty, who we've named Jacobean (Bean for short)
Mama kitty, who we’ve named Jacobean (“Bean” for short)

Ok, I’ve told you some of my quirks…now, let us hear some of yours. It’s only fair…

Truth

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

Rebuilding your spiderwebs

 

I’m thinking I might ditch the “On The Wagon Wednesday” concept and just keep Wednesdays open to posting whatever seems fitting. How do you feel about that? Chime in in the comments and let me know how you feel…

Now that the weather is changing, I’ve started walking Angie on the hiking trails that snake through our neighborhood. The trails are remote in parts and closer to civilization in other parts, but they afford Angie an opportunity to sniff all manner of interesting critter-scents while giving me the opportunity to appreciate the scenery–all without having to dodge traffic. 

Rebuilding your spiderwebs

One obstacle that we encounter daily on the trails are spiderwebs. Every day, there are new, mostly-invisible spiderwebs that stretch across the trail–right at face-level. 

 

spiderweb-in-your-face
Truth

There’s nothing that gives me the heebie-jeebies more than walking through a spiderweb…and then I’m just sure that I can feel a spider crawling on my back for the rest of the walk.

But, the thing that strikes me about these spiderwebs is that, although I (inadvertently) destroy their carefully-crafted webs every day–the following morning, there are new, larger and usually more spectacular webs stretching across the trail in the same, exact places.

These spiders are nothing if not tenacious, y’all. 

This got me to thinking about our own “webs” that we build and how every day, there are things that chip away at and destroy our webs. Your “web” might be your self-confidence, self-respect, body image or sobriety and these things are torn down, snagged and penetrated every day–but we must do the hard work to rebuild everyday–rebuilding stronger for the next day’s assault. 

Every time our “web” gets torn through, maybe (just maybe) it’s those micro-tears and even the catastrophic, complete, tear-downs that force us to come back better and stronger…ya think?

And, in some cases, if your “web” is repeatedly getting torn down, over and over, maybe it’s time to move it to a new trail–a trail with less opportunities for destruction? A trail where you can build, coddle and nurture your web a little before it gets threatened? 

Tell us about your webs…

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

Overcoming your fear and doing the right thing

…even when it scares the shit out of you.

Overcoming fear

My daughter, Anna, is the most animal-loving creature that I know. She routinely goes out of her way to rescue roly-polies, grasshoppers and spiders. Dogs and cats aside (which are, obviously fan favorites in our house as well) this girl loves all creatures great and small.

With one exception. Flying, stinging insects…of the bee, wasp, yellow-jacket, hornet variety. Anna is terrified of being stung by something. I feel compelled to add that she’s not allergic to insect stings. 

So, you can imagine her reaction when she discovered a bee in the pool last week, exhausted and struggling to stay afloat. My Anna is nothing if not a conservationist, so she fully understands and respects the vital role that bees play in our ecosystem–she just doesn’t want them buzzing around her.

She was immediately fraught with conflict. She knew that the right thing to do would be to save the bee’s life, but she was so fearful of the bee that this left her in a sticky wicket indeed. Should she ignore the bee’s plight and save herself from a potential sting or face her fear, do the right thing (by both the bee and the Earth) and risk a sting?

She called me over to help and I gave her a pool noodle to use to let the bee crawl on. Then I deposited the bee into the grass, where he dried his wings for a bit then flew off to continue his important bee work. Everyone survived unscathed.

This incident got me thinking about how often we know what the right thing to do is but we’re too scared to do it.

For instance, I knew for many years, leading up to my sobriety, that I needed to ditch alcohol but I was scared. And I approached the idea with a very Scarlett O’Hara ideology: “Fiddly dee dee, I’ll think about that tomorrow.” I knew that I’d one day have to face this issue head-on, but, for a number of reasons, I ignored it time and time again. Once I decided that I was ready to do something about it, not only did I begin to change but the universe began to change for me. Good things began to happen. The clouds began to part. It was like I was being rewarded for doing the big, hard thing.

I’ll never tell you it was always easy–because it wasn’t. But it was always worth it.

 

what's right

I was really proud of Anna for facing what she fears in order to do the right thing. What do you fear doing that you know is really and truly the right thing? 

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

5 things I do every morning

I like to write the kind of posts that I enjoy reading. I always love to get a glimpse of a blogger’s ordinary life–call me a voyeur, but it’s what I like.

So, in the spirit of voyeurism (this should amount to some super-strange Google traffic) here are the 5 things that I do most every morning. 

5 things I do in the morning

 

  • Apple Cider Vinegar/Lemon Juice cocktail: I drink a full glass of water with about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in, as well as a few squeezes of lemon juice, first thing when I walk in the kitchen, after waking up. I had a trainer at my old gym who first turned me onto apple cider vinegar years ago. She claimed that it’s a miracle, cure-all. Judging by her perpetually glowy skin and taut body, I went along with her advice. I’ve read that ACV lowers blood sugar levels, which wards off diabetes–among many other health benefits. I’m going on about 7 years of drinking ACV every day and it’s the first thing that I crave when I’ve been away from home and am settling back into a routine. As for the lemon juice, I’ve read a lot about the benefits of lemon juice–especially for those of us with Type A blood. So, just like the ACV, I figure that it can’t hurt. And it’s important to hydrate upon waking, so I feel like I’m killing 3 birds with one stone. (But I love birds, so I’d never kill one, of course)

lemon coffee

 

  • Coffee with coconut oil: After my ACV/lemon juice concoction, next up is my cup of coffee with a teaspoon of coconut oil in it. Again, another tidbit harvested from Dr. Pinterest, but I’ve read that coconut oil speeds up your metabolism and boosts your immunity. Plus, it tastes good. Bonus: my lips get a nice glossy-look, thanks to the coconut oil. 

IMG_2642

  • I make our bed. I have to make the bed for a number of reasons. If I don’t, our room looks that much messier. Also, I can’t stand to get into an unmade bed at night–sheets all wrinkled and tangled. (First world problems, fo sho) Besides, it’s rare that there’s not an animal snoozing on our bed at any given point in the day, so I like to keep the sheets clean and fur-free by making the bed first thing in the morning.

 

  • I empty the dishwasher. We run the dishwasher at night and my least-favorite morning chore is unloading the dishwasher in the morning but, if I don’t, our whole world falls apart. We don’t eat off of paper plates in our house, so we use–and thusly–dirty-up lots of plates, bowls and cups at each meal in this house. If we forget to set the dishwasher to come on before bed, then the next morning is a bust, so it’s important to me to stay on top of the Managing of the Dishwasher. 

IMG_2640

  • I walk the dog. Angie is a Weimaraner, which is a “sporting breed” (although, if you could hear her snoring and farting, while sleeping on the sofa with Judge Judy on the tv right now, you’d beg to differ) so she needs a good bout of exercise daily. I’ve found that, if I walk her at least 2 miles a day, she’s calmer for the rest of the day and doesn’t get into as much mischief when left alone. The walk is good for me too. During our daily dog walks is when I dream up the majority of these blog posts and get all of my good thinking done. 

On any given school day, all of these activities happen before 8am. Morning is my favorite. Mornings are way better now that I don’t drink. I don’t ever take mornings for granted anymore.

Tell us about your morning rituals.

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

On The Wagon Wednesday–OTWW

…answering the call of “The Nudge.”

Every Wednesday, we’ll do some deep thinking and challenge ourselves. The weekend looms on the other side of Wednesdays and it’s important to plan ahead for stumbling blocks and challenges that might present themselves in the weekend ahead. Let’s link arms and lean in…

OTWW

For some reason, hummingbirds love our garage.  We have 2 giant, un-openable windows in our garage that look out onto the valley behind us. If our garage door is left open for any length of time, at least 1 hummingbird will fly in and then beat himself against the windows, trying to get out, while the open garage door is just to his right, leading to freedom. 

I would think that by now, you know me well enough to know that I’m a huge animal lover. So, when yet another hummingbird is stuck in our garage, I have to drop everything that I’m doing and rescue it. I can’t just rest on my laurels and hope that it figures things out itself and escapes. 

After a little trial and error, I’ve finally figured out how to best help our trapped hummingbirds out of the garage. The ceiling in there is super high, so I use our tallest push-broom and I hold it up–as high as I can–up to the hummingbird, who’s typically throwing himself fruitlessly against the window, and gently nudge the bird on his backside with the broom, until he exhausts himself and lights on the broom. Then, moving very deftly, I have to slowly move the broom toward the garage door, guiding the bird to freedom. 

hummingbird

However, time and time again, as soon as I begin moving the broom, the exhausted bird will sense the movement and fly off the broom to resume his flinging of himself against the window again. It’s terribly frustrating for me. I want so badly to somehow communicate with the bird that I’m trying to help and for him to just trust me–even though for a few moments, it’ll feel like he’s going in the wrong direction to get where he wants to go–I know what’s best and I can help. 

This reminds me of how sometimes the Universe (or God, if you wanna take that route) nudges us–just like a push-broom to the butt–to do something; to change direction; to show us that our current path is fruitless and possibly dangerous. But, we often ignore it, because, just like the hummingbird, we’re looking out the window and can see where we want to be, but don’t understand that the way we’re trying to get there is a dead end. Sometimes, literally a dead-end, as we’ve lost a few hummingbirds who’ve exhausted themselves from banging against the window and died either in the garage or right outside the garage, after I’ve guided them out.

For a long time, I felt the Universe nudging me about my drinking habits–telling me that I needed to change my direction and poking me in the butt to turn around and change direction. It took a long time for me to finally give up and trust that, lighting on the broom and being guided to a different path was best for me. Otherwise, I likely would’ve continued to throw myself against that closed window until…God knows what happened.

It’s never comfortable to change your course. Sometimes it feels wrong and scary and it’s tempting to go back to doing what you were doing before. But, trust your gut. Take a chance. Trust that the Universe or God is holding the broom and giving you a safe place to light and rest while guiding you in the right direction.

Do you feel the nudge of the Universe or God in your life? What are they trying to tell you? Where are they trying to point you? 

cheers-jenny

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