Dance Parties, Walls and Finding Home

When my kids were little, living room dance parties was just something we did and a huge part of who we were. I can vividly remember the girls being so little and getting down and getting funky as only toddlers and preschoolers can. The Now and Then soundtrack was on constant rotation back in those days. Sugar, Sugar was our jam. (There is also sugar IN jam. So that sentence seems oddly appropriate.)

Life happens in strange ways sometimes, though. We found ourselves selling our house and, not long after, we moved in with my in-laws. My husband started a business and went back to school. Nothing was the same and everything was up in the air. Our routines were 100% disrupted. Traditions that we used to have went by the wayside. Being a parent in my own home became difficult.

Just being myself became difficult.

During that time, very rarely was I a “relaxed” mom that could have fun with my kids. I have a lot of regrets about the kind of mother I was back then, but my biggest regret was not being able to let my guard down. If ever I want to drive myself to the brink of insanity, I can try to imagine the mom I *could’ve been* if I could’ve been the mom that I started out to be. In fact, just typing that sentence caused an elephant come sit on my chest. Regret is an ugly, ugly reality.

A tragic casualty of not being able to be myself was the lack of dance parties in our family. It just wasn’t the same. *I* wasn’t the same. Letting go and letting loose wasn’t something I could do under the circumstances. I realize that you can still be a decent and wonderful human being without dance parties, but it was more than that. It was almost like we lost the ability to truly feel joy. In my opinion, dancing exemplifies joy. And when you are lost in life, you don’t always know what joy looks like. Even if you know that it used to look like dance parties, etc.

I was devastated the first time I realized that I had allowed this part of my girls’ childhood to be locked up. I remember times that I tried to get them to dance at a wedding or a party and it was like I was asking them to pull off their own toes. I already have plenty of guilt of being such a young mom and how hard it was to raise tiny humans. Now I found myself feeling guilty for so much more.

Years passed before the four of us found ourselves with a little more freedom to be ourselves. It was a breath of fresh air, but it would take quite some time before we could feel comfortable with letting our guard down. In fact, it would take years. There’s even a part of me that believes that a shift began to happen when Paisley joined our family. I know, I know…that sounds a little nuts. But that fuzzy little muppet thawed something inside all of us. Being completely goofy over a pet can help tear down some pretty strong barriers.

But it’s when we bought and moved into our new home last summer when I saw the biggest shift of all. Even with all the weirdness and orange walls, we somehow knew we were home from the beginning. To this day, several months later, I can’t explain how much I love coming home every day. When I turn on our street, I breathe a sigh of relief. The gratitude is immeasurable. Because everything I ever wanted for my family (and was never sure I would get) is in this home. For 16+ years, I dreamed of having this feeling. For 16+ years, I wished and prayed for this soft place to land.

I try really hard to not have regret. I do. I really do. I try to be present and be grateful for all that we have now. But there is a piece of my heart that is broken for all the years that we didn’t have this feeling of contentment and peace. I feel sadness for the years that our family was so uprooted and a little bit lost.

The past few months, the shifts and the changes that I’ve seen in my family have been something to behold. I hesitate to use a word like magical, but it just the word I want to use right now. Life isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not supposed to be. But when you can visibly see walls that were built up start to crumble, you take notice. When you can see your children allow themselves to be a tiny bit more vulnerable and open, there’s this sense of relief that can’t be explained. And while the dance parties haven’t returned quite yet, singing at the top of our lungs has. It’s different than our loud music days in the car. It’s wearing your heart on your sleeve, pure joy in a song, belting out as loud as you can singing that only comes from being silly and the freedom if being ourselves. And being ourselves feels so damn good. I’ve really, really missed it.

Parenting on the Same Channel

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I know, I know…this picture is so old, but I love it.

There are times when I worry about how much I share about my children here. I know I don’t use their real names, but they know this website exists. I’m sure they’ll read it at some point. I don’t feel so much reservation about sharing the sweet stories. Those are special moments that I want them to know. But, as we all know, mothering isn’t always the sweet and sappy stuff. Sometimes being a mom is damn hard. Those stories are a little harder to tell. Well, they are a little harder to tell when you imagine one of your children reading it.

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I have wonderful children. I do. They are beautiful and loving and smart and amazing and they kick all kinds of ass. But my children are human. (No, really.) Being human means having bad days, testing the waters, break rules, making poor choices. You know, like ALL OF US.

My job as a parent means that I establish rules and boundaries that apply to our family. When those boundaries are challenged and when rules are broke, there are consequences. It is important to understand rules and boundaries and what happens when they’re not followed because this is practice for REAL LIFE in the world as an adult. Even though we all know plenty of adults that never learned this lesson, I’d rather my children not be counted among them. I hope they become good citizens of earth and all that.

I understand my job as a parent. But sometimes it just really sucks.

Each of us have times when we are not are best. I feel like I am a terrible person for the entire month of September most years. (I hate back to school. I don’t even want to talk about it.) But just because I’m having a bad month, I still have to follow the normal life rules.

Which is what I need to remember as I’m parenting my children.

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Ramona and I are not speaking the same language lately. We are just…well, we’re a little off kilter. I vaguely remember a similar situation when Beezus started middle school. It’s not an easy time for them. There were a lot of changes for both of them at this age. (New schools and areas where they didn’t really know anyone.) Middle school is hard. It’s a lot more work. Socially, there is a lot to navigate and learn. I get it. I do. But getting used to all of the change isn’t a free pass to whatever they want. I still have to be the parent that enforces our household rules and boundaries that have been set. Even if it means that I feel like I’m going insane. And right now I really feel like I’m going insane.

The hard part is admitting that I am part of the problem. I let her push so many of my buttons, I lose my patience early on in the game. There many evenings after work where I became so frustrated that the things I asked her to do weren’t getting done. Or there was so much attitude directed RIGHT at The Dude and I, we almost didn’t fit in the same room together. But since I lost my patience so quick, we never fully resolved the situation.

So she lost most ‘screen time’ of any kind. Even though it started as a punishment, it ended up freeing up her mind for other things. Things like focusing more on homework and reading and getting her chores done. We also created a different structure for her for after school. Believe it or not, so far it’s helping. It’s not perfect, but it’s helping.

You know those old CB or walkie talkie radios? You had to be on the same channel so you could hear your buddy on the other end? And sometimes one of you was one channel off. You could still hear them talking, but there was so much garbled noise and static, you couldn’t really understand what they were saying. So you work together and switch the channels up or down and then all of a sudden, they come in loud and clear and you’re all BREAKER BREAKER DUDE I HEAR WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, 1040. Or whatever was your favorite thing to say on walkie talkies.

That’s what it’s like parenting Ramona. I’ve been a parent to that amazing kid for 11 years, and she never ceases to amaze me. But she also challenges me in surprising and unexpected ways. Just when I think we’re on to something, we have to alter the course. She keeps me on my toes. My parenting style has to change. Our communication needs to be adjusted. There are times I feel like a complete parenting failure until I realize that we need to step back, regroup…and make some changes on our walkie talkie channel so that we can understand each other again. It’s not a bad thing. It just is. I need to remember it when I find myself at my wits end and feeling like I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t need a complicated equation…I just need to switch that channel and listen for her. Inevitably, she’s coming in loud and clear.

thumbs up, baby

thumbs up, baby

Cooking: a time and a place

I made a batch of apple butter this weekend. No one is more surprised than I am that I pulled it off but I have honestly been stepping outside my kitchen comfort zone. Okay, I stepped outside of it TWICE in the past month, but still. APPLE BUTTER WAS MADE.

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I know that, for some of you, this doesn’t sound like a huge deal. But for me? Well, at some point in the past 10 years, I’ve convinced myself that I’m a terrible cook. I’m not saying I’m chef material, but it was a pretty harsh statement when in reality, I’m just really effing busy. I think that when I added “mother of two” to the list of jobs that I possessed, cooking became a really big chore. I just simply didn’t have time for it. By the time I got home from work…well, cooking loses all it’s fun when you don’t even have time to go to the bathroom by yourself.

Life just got busier and busier. And my time and patience for cooking fell further away. I still had a few things that I could cook well, but that wasn’t very exciting. And then, by fault of me caring too much about what other people thought, I felt very self-conscious about my cooking. I had gone from She Who Doesn’t Have Time to She Who Cannot Boil Water.

(Note: my husband and children have always been very sweet about my cooking. As such, their opinions still matter. Some.)

At some point in the past year, I have found that I enjoy cooking. Not all the time. (I’m still effing busy.) But I have found that I love finding that creative side of me when cooking something up in the kitchen. I have tried to make things that I’ve had in restaurants even if I don’t have a recipe. (I maybe try this more often with adult beverages, but whatever IT’S PRACTICE.) I find a recipe I want to try, but I always tweak it to my taste. And when I started to panic (again) that my grandmother won’t live forever and I still hadn’t figured out how to make her apple butter, well…I finally did it. No, it’s not as good as hers (how could it be) and I didn’t make it like she does, but dammit. I made it. For whatever reason, that’s a taste of my childhood and it was super important to me to know how to make it when it comes time for my gram to…retire her apple butter making skills.

I know. It’s just apple butter. But it represents what can happen when I stop thinking the worst of myself and I get out of my own way. In doing so, I have this special (delicious) memory that I can continue and pass on. It’s a step in the right direction.

Or outside the kitchen comfort zone.

Turn the Beat (Year) Around

I’ve had writer’s block for almost two weeks. I can’t decide if it’s because I don’t know what to say, or I don’t know how to say what I want. I have things that I want to talk about…to write about…to hash out and try and make sense of things that don’t always make sense. I want to start conversations and get the ball rolling. I want to be creative and wake up that side of my brain that seems to be sleeping away the rest of 2013.

We had a wonderful Christmas. We enjoyed spending time with family. We surprised the hell out of my mother in-law on Christmas Eve with visiting family from Mexico. I still get verklepmt when I think about how excited she was (and still is.) My sister came to town a few days ago, so we’ve been spending time with her and her family, too. We’ve gone to a hockey game, we’ve gone to Apple Hill…we’ve tried new things around town that we’ve never tried before. I’ve spent time with friends. I’ve enjoyed my family.

So maybe it’s not that I have true writer’s block. Maybe my energy has just been spent on being present and enjoying my loved ones.

Maybe sometimes you just need to realize that you’re where you need to be.

I’ve taken some time to think back on 2013. To say it’s been a big and busy year is a tremendous understatement.

I started Life of Jill.
I chopped off all my hair. Because of course.
Sarah and I ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon.
Ramona turned 11.
I was a cast member of Listen to Your Mother – Sacramento.
Beezus went to prom.
I went to a couple of amazing conferences.
Campfire Wednesday was the best thing to happen to summer.
We bought a house.
A Giants game where they lost, but we had a blast.
We met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences along the way.
Beezus turned 16.
Ramona started middle school.
My brother got married.
Paisley turned 1.
Cap City Moms became a (softly launched) reality.
Celebrated 16 years of marriage.
College Visits? Ooph.
I enjoyed the hell out of my family and friends.

 

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That’s not even all of it. Not even a little bit!

Yeah, there were stressful and hard times and sad times mixed in. But when I think about 2013, there were some pretty badass things that I’ll be celebrating tonight.

And maybe that’s where I get stuck.

I focus so much on the past. I am celebrating a fantastic year coming to an end. I think about all the good that happened. I am thinking about all the fun that was had and all the love that was shared. But for some reason, I get stuck on how great things were, and I have difficulty looking ahead. I prepare myself for disappointment in 2014 because 2013 was so rad? That’s a pretty piss-poor way to do things if you ask me.

AND YET.

I basically have about 15 hours to celebrate and enjoy the end of a very awesome 2013 and snap myself into realizing that 2014 could be even more. More fun. More family time. More awesome. IT COULD HAPPEN.

Instead of sitting here worrying about what could go wrong. I should focus on all that is so totally right.

Life is what happens when you’re too busy making plans, right? Well, sometimes you can’t even make plans because you’re stuck looking back at the past and trying to walk into the new year backwards.

So yes…I have 15 hours to celebrate an awesome year. But I also have 15 hours to turn myself around and start walking face forward and get ready for what an amazing year 2014 will be.

Happy New Year, everyone.

not exactly how I planned it…

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So, the our anniversary weekend didn’t go as planned. My in-laws were going to take the girls Saturday night but ended coming down with a bug. They still were expecting and willing to take the girls, but we just felt … Continue reading 

my truth about consequences

It’s hard to raise children in the Miley Cyrus “do what we want to” society. I could take the time to find the real name to that song, but I just don’t want to. I usually change the station whenever it comes on the radio. Mostly because I’d get a mental image of twerking and oversized stuffed animals and there’s not enough bleach for my brain. But also because I’m trying to teach my kids about consequences. Because that’s a real part of life. The kind of real life that not everyone likes to talk about.

My dad used to make a big deal about reminding us kids about consequences. And even if we rolled our eyes every time you brought it up, Dad…we listened. I didn’t have a conference call just now with all my siblings, I’m totally basing this on the lives that we all lead. We actually paid attention to what you said and all five of us are upstanding citizens raising kids that are looking like they will carry on the Upstanding Citizens title.

Because of consequences. And the knowledge that every choice and every decision has a consequence.

Oftentimes, when we hear the word “consequence” we immediately think of a bad result of something we did.

I drove to fast. Thanks for the ticket, Mr. Policeman!
I lied to my mom. Now I’m in trouble.
I ate that giant cupcake. Now my giant ass is gianter.

But all consequences aren’t bad. Making good choices and good decisions lead to, sometimes, the most amazing consequences.

I worked hard on that project. I feel accomplished and people respect my work.
I washed my windshield. Holy crap, I can actually see out this window.
I hugged my child instead of yelling. We both feel better and are actually talking out the problem.

Don’t get me wrong…none of us are perfect and we’re all going to make mistakes.

That’s not what this is about. It’s the mentality that so many people have that what they do doesn’t matter. That they can “do what they want to” and no one else is affected.

“It’s our life and we can do what we want to.”

That’s true. It is yours and you can. And you can sing with your tongue hanging out and twerk your way through life doing all the things you want.

But there are consequences. Even if it’s only complete and total shame when looking back 20 years from now. (But, then again, maybe no one will care.)

Telling your kids they can be anything they want is absolutely true. But I don’t believe that gives them a free pass to do whatever they want. And I have reached this level of frustration that I can’t even explain. I just feel it. I feel it every time I see something in the news where “doing what you want” lands a group of college kids in jail and lives ruined. Or when I hear about a middle school aged child bringing a weapon to school. When someone drives under the influence. When a celebrity (and countless others) die of a drug overdose. Or when someone doesn’t pay attention to where they start their campfire.

There are consequences. Sometimes terrible and tragic and sad ones.

I know there are extenuating circumstances that can’t all be addressed here. There are exceptions to my rant and I do try to find compassion for those that can’t understand. Or who haven’t been given the tools to understand.

My frustration comes from the blatant disregard for life’s consequences. Those that seek to hurt others. To break rules without caring. Or those that just don’t care in general. We are not invincible. And our actions affect other people.

In our family, we talk a lot about choices. Making good choices. How happiness is a choice. And how our choices and decisions have consequences.

With all the songs and TV shows and news reports that give examples otherwise, I hope it’s enough. I hope my conversations matter to my kids. Even if they just humor me right now (yeah, sorry about that Dad) I hope that it leaves an impression on them like it did me. I hope they can remember just how important consequences are.

I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address

I’m trying to reorganize my life. That sounds a tad overdramatic, but it’s actually kind true. My life is busy and crazy, but it also changes quite a bit. Whatever system we try to use to keep us on track may not work after a few months because someone’s schedule changes or we have a new things added to the to-do list. And sometimes, we just need to press the reset button and figure our shit out.

Beezus, The Dude and I all use a shared (iCloud) calendar to try and organize some of the crazy. But there’s always something that can’t be tracked on that sort of device. I mean, I know it doesn’t make sense, but some tasks and reoccurring appointments that are easier to track on a visible calendar or white board where the entire family can see it.

After weeks like last week and this weekend, I faced today knowing that we needed to reassess our plan of attack. Our current system just isn’t working for our life right now. And while life may settle down in a few months (yeah right) we need a way to keep things more on track.

I also am still waiting for someone to figure out how to get more hours in a day. I still need sleep. But I need more time to accomplish all this.

After a trip to Target, I feel like I’ve made a good start. (Office supplies, FTW!) I’ve picked up a couple of supplies to (hopefully) help. I need to revisit daily tasks that need to be done as well as those tasks that need to be done weekly. (And a way to track/remind myself what needs to be done.) I need to figure out meal planning because we are only home in the evening one night a week right now. (I KNOW.) Life is super overwhelming right now because just keeping everything straight is next to impossible.

Last week I posted something on Facebook that I kinda felt bad about afterwards.

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Not everyone makes the same choices as me. I get that. And sometimes I have a hard time when people say that I should do things this way or that. (Ok, I often have a hard time with that.) When your priorities and choices are different, your life will not make sense to anyone else. It just better make sense to you. All this craziness needs to be worth it in some way, shape or form. And life balance? Sometimes just doesn’t exist.

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I spent pretty much the entire weekend watching my kid play softball. The same kid who also had homecoming Saturday night. And whose team made it to the championship game Sunday evening. She’s busy. And our weekend was busy supporting her. But I have no regrets that I was there and didn’t miss it.

Even if that means that today I’m faced with EVERYTHING that needs to be done.

So here’s to a little reorganization. It seems like a perfect time to re-think how we do things. Fall just feels like a natural time to make some changes, even if this is probably something I should’ve done a long time ago.

Now is as good of time as any.

sometimes this is what our evenings look like

Yesterday I left work around 5:45. I was already running late to pick up Beezus from school and water polo practice when she called me.

“Um…do you have my softball bag?”

“Uh…no. Did you put it in my car?”

“Um…no. Ok. I’ll just tell coach that I’ll be late to batting practice so we can go home and get it.”

“Can’t you just use someone else’s bat?”

“MOM.”

“Beezus.”

(Exasperated sigh from both of us.)

We don’t live close to her school. We live slightly closer to where batting practice was, but driving ALL the way home and then basically ALL the way back wasn’t going to work for me. I was already solo-parenting it last night. Dropping Beezus off late would’ve made me late getting home for Ramona when my parents dropped her off.

I have nothing planned for dinner. I also don’t have much to make into dinner.

Being sick all last week has put me behind on all household things. Although, my house is pretty clean, thank you husband and my short breaks from feeling poopy.

(I still don’t feel all that great. But at least I’m better than I was.)

Ramona still had homework to do when she got home. I worry about her getting it done and still getting to bed on time.

Feed the dog. Clean up…after the dog.

Husband, thankfully, was able to pick up Beezus from batting practice, but I was already in the car and a quarter of the way there when he called. (I had no problem making THAT U-turn to head back home.)

Help Ramona with her homework. Remind Ramona that she needs to finish homework and hurry to bed because it’s getting late.

Laundry. Damn. That should’ve been started hours ago. I rushed to get that going. OH BUT WAIT. I forgot that I washed towels two days ago. So, yeah…THOSE need to be washed again.

Do we have anything for lunches? NO. No we do not. So to the grocery story I go. At 10 o’clock at night. Knowing that I have to be up at 4:30 to help get Beezus and The Dude out the door by 5am. (Tuesday mornings at our house suck eggs, y’all.) (The Dude offered to go to the store. But helping with high school math is way harder than a grocery store trip. I made him stay home.)

groceries

I try to not feel guilty that I toss crap like Uncrustables in my cart. Sure, PB&J are the easiest sandwiches in the world to make…but let’s go ahead and make it easier on Jill because I’M STILL NOT DONE WITH OTHER SHIT ONCE I GET HOME FROM THE GROCERY STORE. There’s lots of other good and healthy food in my cart, so I try to make myself feel better. Except…what is my family going to eat for dinner tomorrow while I’m gone at an event? Probably should grab something for them…

Get home and start the load of laundry that I needed to start HOURS ago. Put those pesky towels in the dryer.

Put away groceries. Stopped feeling bad about Uncrustables when I think about how all lunches are practically made.

Send some emails that I meant to send hours ago. Love that emails can be sent so late.

Put clothes in the dryer.

Head to bed. Pretend that I’m going to bed at 9 and not midnight. Laugh at earlier in the day when I thought I might be able to go to bed early.

Remind myself to be grateful that not all nights are like this.

all it takes is faith and trust…oh, and something I forgot: dust

see? adorable

I haven’t been running much lately. Or at all, really. But it makes me feel better if I can say it the other way. I mean, I do realize life has been insane. We’re always on the go. I don’t … Continue reading 

being a little more me…

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There are many (MANY) people in my “real life” that don’t know I have a blog. For the record, I hate the term “real life” because this blog is part of my REAL LIFE, but you get what I’m trying to say. There are friends that I’ve had for years that don’t know that I have a piece of internet real estate right here. There are family members that don’t know a thing about this. And I don’t know how to handle the possibility that they will.

I blog semi-anonymously. Mostly because of someone’s job, but also because I think I’m fairly protective of my on-line presence. I mean, I use MY real name. And my dog’s really name. But no one else’s. (Unless you have a blog of your own. Then all bets are off.) I usually don’t remember I’m a control freak. Until something like putting my website link on my Instagram account made me break out in a cold sweat. Because there are people in my life that follow me on IG that don’t know I have a blog. I like all of those people. What the hell is my problem?

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So then I try to remember why I even started writing and blogging in the first place. Because I had something to say. A story to tell. Words to share. I love reading other blogs because I’m fascinated by other people and their stories. I love creativity. I love learning. Why couldn’t it be possible that someone feels that way about what I’ve got going on here? (I’m not saying they do or they don’t. But the possibility is there. I think.)

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I feel like an asshole even writing this, but if I’m going to be honest…well, I’m going to have to be honest about this too.

Which also includes telling myself how stupid I’m being:

If any person I know in real life asked about any post that I wrote, I would be honest with them. Things they might learn about me that they might not know? I’m a mess when I think about my kid going off to college. I have bad days/weeks/months. I meet and work with some awesome people in this crazy internet world. I worry about my kids starting new schools. I love that damn dog more than I (sometimes) let on. I was a teen mom/college dropout. I love my family more than anything. Campfire Wednesday is my new favorite thing. I’m a hot mess when I think about my kid going off to college. (Yes, it deserves to be on the list twice.)

What is so wrong with people knowing this about me? I’m Jill. This is me and this is who I am. This website just might show a different side than they’re used to seeing. More than they bargained for at times. But…I mean, is that so wrong?

fey

Probably. Not.

I’ll try to stop being and idiot asshole tomorrow.

this is me. and the dog.

they who have real names

 

quote photo credits here.

what motherhood does to your commute

I cried for more than half my commute today.

This is one of those things that you really (probably) shouldn’t admit to the internet, but there you have it. I did a lot of crying on the way to work today after I dropped Ramona off at her first day of middle school. And, by some crazy luck, I didn’t destroy all of my makeup that I had already applied. Apparently, I’m an excellent car crier. However, if you saw me crying on the freeway, please don’t tell me what that looked like. I for reals don’t want to know.

Every now and again, as it is well documented here, I have trouble with my kids getting older. I’m a big ‘ol baby about all of it and I cry just talking about it. In my defense, I spent many years being completely immune to the milestones, so I’m making up for lost time. Or I’m really just in a panic now that it’s close to sending one of my kids off to college. Or maybe I’m just the b00biest of b00bs and I cry a lot.

(I also keep typing “cry” as “cray” and I find that this blog post is trying to tell me something.)

(Also…duh.)

I had a feeling that today would be hard for me. I’m not ready to let go of summer and I’m certainly not ready for my “baby” to be this old sixth grader person in middle school. And I also had so many worries about this kid starting a brand new school in our brand new area where she doesn’t know anyone her age. She was so nervous. I, of course, don’t blame her one bit. And my heart broke about a 2,264 times when I thought about her and all her worries and fears and weird school dreams.

I’m glad that we did all that we could last night to make this morning run smoothly. She knew what she was going to wear. We went over the map of her classes and where she would need to go. We made lunches. We got the backpack all set up. We told her over and over how awesome she was. And reminded her again and again how much we love her.

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Hurry up and take the picture, mom.

And honestly? She did great this morning. She was nervous and couldn’t eat her breakfast, but she had a great attitude and a smile on her face. We parked about a block away so that we could all walk her up, and she kept grabbing my hand over and over until we got closer to the school buildings. I worried that she would feel embarrassed holding my hand, but she didn’t. And when we got closer to the school, I just let my hand rest on her back so that she didn’t have to worry about pulling her hand away or making me feel bad. She walked into her “homeroom” class and the three of us walked away.

So…yeah. I cried while I drove to work. And then I scolded myself because driving while crying is not the safest way to travel. I thought about how blessed I am and how grateful I am for these amazing kids that I have. And I tried to focus on all the gratitude as I turned on the radio to try to distract myself. I was flipping through the different channels when I heard a Steve Miller Band song that I used to sing (the chorus) to her because it’s one of the nicknames I call her. It’s not a song that gets played very often, so I kinda chuckled to myself. The song after that is one she really liked when it came out. So I smiled.

But then in an unexplainable coincidence (or maybe and probably not) on the same radio station, Joan Jett started playing. Blame Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, but I will never (EVER) forget how much my kid loved “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and how she would sing it at the top of her lungs. And as the song played while I was driving on the freeway, I pictured six-year-old Ramona singing her guts out as she battled it out on Guitar Hero. So it will surprise no one that the crying resumed at that time. In a very ugly fashion, I’m sure.

Everyone is quick to tell you how hard it is to be a mom and how fast time flies by. But it’s amazing how none of us really listen. We always roll our eyes and say “yeah, yeah…I know” as we clean up after the kid that just dumped cereal on her head. We ignore the warning as we drive all over God’s green earth taking each kid to their various sports practices. And then all of a sudden, you drop your kid off at her first day of sixth grade and a Joan Jett song has completely ruined you AND your makeup.

It is both wonderful and awful all at the same time. And, my goodness, is it hard.

You are not going to believe me, but I swear to you that the universe, God, and the radio station wanted to make this story a good one. Or they just wanted to see me cry a lot this morning. It’s probably the crying, but as I finally start to laugh at myself, and turn onto the street where my office is, Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” started to play. I shit you not.

I laughed just as much as I cried.

And then vowed to start listening to a new radio station starting tomorrow.

More in 2014

About 9 or 10 years ago, I started blogging as an attempt to keep myself sane. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one blog named after one of my favorite quote in Drop Dead Fred, but there you have it. Telling some of my life stories helped me to gain perspective and, more importantly, realize that I wasn’t alone. I also wasn’t as crazy as I thought I was. Or…maybe I was, but I certainly felt better after spilling my guts onto the interwebs. With everything I was going through, I used that blog as my punching bag and where all my snark or sarcasm lived and breathed. No one had to know. But the problem with blogging anonymously and then finding yourself not quite so anonymous, I started to feel pretty anxious about people I knew in real life reading my words.  So I scrapped that blog and started a new one. And then another one after that. I believe it was the blog after that where I started to blog a little more “out loud” and where I allowed myself to be a little more vulnerable, even though there were people I knew in real life reading my words. Getting more comfortable in my own skin, I finally felt ready and was able to buy by own little internet real estate and name it Life of Jill. It had been a long time coming.

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With a bit more experience at putting myself out there, especially being a part of Listen to Your Mother, I found myself entering into a world of blogging I hadn’t previously been. Through all the different platforms and spaces of blogging, I had never really attached myself to the blogging community or putting myself out there for different  opportunities. I had watched from afar (well, read about) the different blogging conferences and experiences over the years but that was something *other* people did. But last year, things changed a bit. I went to a couple conferences. I had some of the most amazing fun because of blogging opportunities. I’ve met some pretty fantastic people.

And I’m about to meet some more.

In a little over a month, Sarah and I will be flying to Atlanta for the Mom 2.0 Summit. Amazing at it sounds, I am the More in 2014 winner and still completely blown away that this is even happening. First of all, I get to hug on people I’ve never actually met in person. (And some that I have.) I’m sure there are more going that I haven’t even realized yet. There is so much to look forward to, and tons to be nervous about! Although, more than anything, I’m really excited and so very honored to have this opportunity.

So, thank you Mom 2.0 for all this awesome. I absolutely cannot wait.

Taking Note

I need to remember that I have a terrible memory. Of course, if I could do THAT then I probably wouldn’t have a terrible memory and then this entire post would be moot. I believe that those two sentences may be two of the stupidest sentences I have ever written on this blog. And that’s really saying something.

I have to write everything down. That’s one of the biggest reasons my to-do lists look like Volume 2 in War and Peace. If it’s not written down on the to-do list, there is a good chance I will NEVER remember to get it done. I’d like to think that all my important thoughts take up too much room in my brain, but really I’m probably using all that space for song lyrics or lines from my favorite movies and keeping track of all my various passwords. I also use that space to remember where the closest Starbucks is at all times. With all that occupied space, there just isn’t enough space to remember to work task lists and, you know, when my last tetanus shot was.

For this reason, I’m pretty disappointed in myself that I didn’t keep better journals growing up. Luckily, I have a Sarah who did. I rely on her to remember all the things from 2nd grade on. In return, I remember other things. Like, song lyrics, movie lines and where the nearest Starbucks is.

I read an article once that helped explain why “mom brain” is an actual thing. (No, of course I don’t remember where I read this article. Don’t be silly.) As women, and as mothers, we take it upon ourselves to remember birthdays and school events and what size shoe our kids wear. (Unless you’re me. I can remember my favorite hockey player’s birthday but I have no idea what size shoe my kids wear. ANYWAY.) There is so much for mom’s to remember, it is quite impossible to fit it all in our brains. It made me feel a little bit better about my “bad” memory, but I still have regrets about what I didn’t bother to write down.

I have no excuse. I’ve been blogging for many years. I should have more written down. I’ve even thought about (editing) and re-blogging posts from my former blog-life when I was a bit more anonymous. Not all stories could be retold, but it would be fun to revisit those that could.

There is so much I don’t want to forget.

Like how much parental pride I felt when my teen bought this shirt for herself. I mean, come ON.

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Or how I went to a crab feed, and for the first time in my history of crab feeds, I actually ate crab. (I usually don’t.) (Best crab feed I’ve ever been to.)

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I want to remember our Oscar Party. I mean, for crying out loud Amy made a peanut butter and jelly cake. CAKE.

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And how much my girls and I love Captain Hook from Once Upon a Time. (Um…maybe I won’t forget THAT one.)

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How I made Mickey Mouse pancakes for Beezus the morning she took the SAT’s.

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Running with these fine womens.

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Speaking of running…I never, ever want to forget the look on Ramona’s face when she finished one of her track events and realized I had been able to get there on time. (And it wasn’t easy getting there.)

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Will we always remember the ridiculous amount of love we have for this silly dog?

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I’m going to miss these moments when they’re gone. Yes, of course, there will be new moments to celebrate and enjoy, but I don’t want to forget. If I write it down, keep track of these moments a little better, I don’t have to.  There’s plenty of blank space here. I just need to make it happen.

life with all these girls

My husband doesn’t have any sisters – only a brother. So him growing up in a male majority household didn’t exactly prepare him for what life would be like with a wife and two daughters. Hell, even the dog is a girl. Or…was a girl. Whatever.

Sidenote: Here’s Paisley. It’s been awhile since she’s graced the pages of the blog.

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Adorable Muppet

ANYWAY.

When the girls were little, there were very few instances when being the only dude in the house was uncomfortable. Sure, there was a lot of pink and sparkles and Polly Pockets, but very rarely did he feel like the odd man out. Up until recently, it was pretty simple. Dare I say, he had it pretty damn easy. And really, he still does . NONE of us are prissy, drama attracted females. We’re pretty easy going.

Except when we’re not, of course. PMS is a tricky bitch.

Dealing with PMS-ing daughters and wife is hard enough. But I don’t think he was fully prepared to be quite so involved in ‘female’ conversations on a regular basis. Once Ramona joined the ranks of…well, the ranks of women who fight the monthly battle, he was doomed. Talk of feminine products and cramps and other such female maladies, my husband is now realizing what living with three women is about. If you’ve ever seen a sitcom that featured a dad and teenage daughters, you have a very good glimpse of what life is like for my husband. It’s difficult to see his little girls are grown up. And he really doesn’t know how to handle our frank conversations. He is severely outnumbered and is trying to find a way to rent out an apartment during certain times of the month.

The other day, Ramona had already made her way to bed but Beezus and I were watching a Buzzfeed spoof on Frozen. There was mention of the songwriters, who also happened to write songs for The Book of Mormon musical. One song in particular was referenced and I busted out laughing. My husband was trying to ignore us both as he searched for something on the computer but my child was understandably curious what I found so funny. (The song-name is Swahili. Her confusion was understandable.)

As I began to try to (delicately) explain this particular song, she mentioned that she wanted to see it. And, being the mother that I am, told her that she should wait until she’s older.

“Mom. I’ve seen Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I’m pretty sure I can handle it.”

“I know, I know…but just…”

“Mom. Please. I’m sure it’s not even as bad.”

At this point, my husband is trying desperately to ignore us both. I should also point out that while I am very protective of my kids, I am also pretty open with them. We have rules about bad words, but…we also talk about how they’re just words. However, even as a surprise to myself I found myself saying:

“Kid. That song? The lyrics are straight up saying ‘f*** you in the eye’” (Plus…other things.)

And I kid you not, without missing a beat or even caring that her dad was listening, my kid responds with:

 “Yeah. And Priscilla shoots ping pong balls out of her vag.”

The two of us look at each other and immediately start laughing so hard, I nearly fell off my chair. Beezus had to hold onto the counter for support.

My husband? Well, my husband died twice from the shock of what his wife and teenage daughter just said. He came back to life only to pretend to keep his cool and just shake his head.

We knew better.

Which only made Beezus and I laugh harder.

I’m pretty sure my husband would’ve recovered a lot more successfully if he could’ve caught a break. But the next night, Ramona gave the entire explanation about periods and cramps and also dealing with all the things that are periods and cramps. All right as we were getting ready to sit down to dinner.

I looked at my husband lovingly.

“You. Are so. Screwed.”

He knows.