Sunday, November 9, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Big Blue

Big Blue. It's going to be tough to say goodbye, and the end is near. We only have four to six weeks left with something that has really become a part of our family.

Big Blue is not a human. It's not an animal, a pet. It's not something that's even living.

Big Blue is our gigantic blue leather sectional.

We've had nearly fourteen great years with this piece, and now it's time to say goodbye.

If you've known us for any of the last fourteen years, you will remember this staple in every place we've lived. Big Blue was a completely random event of how it came to be. Josh and I weren't even married yet, and we still had a college futon that we were claiming as our entertainment sofa piece. When a co-worker of mine said they were moving and needed to get rid of a few things that would not work in their new place, I piped up and immediately asked if there was a couch available. Why yes, there was. This was a custom piece and supposedly quite expensive, and because of it's enormous size, it was not going to fit with the move. I remember the conversation quite clearly.

"Oh," I said. "I will gladly take it off your hands."

I hadn't seen a picture, had no idea of the size, but I knew we needed to step up into something that was a notch above a futon.

He said, "if you can pick it up from my place, it's yours."

"How much do you want for it?"

"Nothing. If you can haul it away, I don't want anything for it."

We picked up Big Blue that weekend and immediately felt like adults. We weren't yet married, but engaged. No kids to speak of yet. We were growing up. And, the couch grew up with us.

It is sad to say goodbye - yes, it's a couch, I know that. It's seen much better days and lived a full life. But, it's been around for so many life events. With that, an ode to Big Blue and all of its memories:

Napping on Sunday (pre-kids) after having mid-day drinks.

Just plain napping.

Sometimes a toy, the cat used it as a scratching post.

Acquiring the perfect corner comfy spot was always a fight with others.

Deep in the cracks, hidden treasures were found months after they were lost.

Lived in four of our rentals/purchased homes.

Post kids, the couch was used as a gymnastics pad for tumbling. And a few times, I did see jumping off the side into the deep cushions.

Anything that could be spilled on it has been. Upside down milk bottles and sippy cups most often. Big Blue would often smell of sour milk in the early kid days.

Big Blue was always there when you wanted a comfy spot.

Loads of company, Big Blue always had room for about seven people.

Oh, and let's not forget about the moment when my water broke on Big Blue when I was pregnant with Olivia.

Sad to see it go, but looking forward to new memories on this bad boy:

With four to six weeks left, I am pretty certain we will make the most of our time left. And, guess what, everyone actually gave the new one a thumb's up. We are so excited for our new addition.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Feeling Free

I'm afraid to say that we have become *that* family. The one that has too many moving vehicles for two adults. One SUV, one economical daily driver (does a WRX count as that? I don't know), and four motorcycles (okay, well only one of those is street legal, but still). And does a pop up tent trailer count? It's quite enough. But, yet, there was something missing...

A true sports car. A car that I could have only ever imagined having one day. And yet, I thought I would never achieve that because I am rational about big purchases.

I am a practical person for the most part. I don't like to show off things I have. I can be almost embarrassed by things I own that might be considered for people of a certain stature. As some of my close friends know, I am a bargain shopper. I never like to pay full price, and I rarely do.  So, why this car, you may wonder?

I have wondered that myself, but I always knew this was a car that I would love to have some day. We definitely didn't *need* another car. My dad's passing last summer made me think a lot about everything, and there is a story that I had not planned to share, but it helped me feel that I was making the right decision in doing something for me.

When I was growing up, my dad and brother started a project together (can't say I wasn't a little bit jealous). They purchased an old Karmann Ghia. It was a piece of junk when they got it, but their project was to restore it into a beautiful piece of metal made for the road. And, boy, did they ever. Cherry red, white leather, all the bells and whistles. The car was golden and you would think it was brand new.

When the car was completed, it became my brothers. When he went to college, my dad came to me one day and said, "I can see how much you like the car. How about I teach you to drive it and then it's yours?" I could hardly believe it, and yet, I was completely intimidated to learn how to drive a stick shift. To this day, I still think learning how to drive a stick shift is toughest to do on those classic cars.

I was so excited, I hid my reservations about learning to him. We drove over to where I went to high school and sat in the parking lot while he explained to me how it all worked. Sounded easy. So, there we were for a good hour of me just trying to take my foot off the clutch just enough so that I wouldn't stall the thing. Can't tell you how many times I stalled, but once I did get it, it was like magic. Exhilarating, even. After practicing going from first to second gear, he thought we should hit the open road.

So, we did. Out of the high school parking lot and straight up to a signal, there were no problems. As I made a left turn, we were heading up a hill and I was cruising in third. What I had hoped wouldn't happen at that point, did. There was a light mid-hill, and it turned yellow. I had to stop. Sitting at the light, I began to get real nervous, being on a hill and all, and someone had pulled up right behind me. When the light turned green, I stalled. Turned the key, and stalled again. Then, again. Now being honked at, I started to panic, and the car started rolling backward because I had the clutch in and was so frazzled as to what to do. My dad pulled up the emergency brake calmly. I started crying, and I got out of the car in the middle of the road. He got out, too. I screamed, "I don't want this fucking car!"

I was such an idiot. A stupid teenager who didn't understand what kind of luck she had, and that her dad wanted her to have something she had been eyeing for so long. So stupid.

When my dad passed away, I knew that I wanted something that would remind me of him and hopefully turn this memory into more of one with a happy ending. We began to search for a Karmann Ghia, but our search was difficult. It was hard to find a gem in all of the ads. When we did find one, I went to test drive it. It actually brought back horrible memories of that day, but it also reminded me how horrible it was to actually drive. Difficult clutch, no power anything. If anything came out of it, I am sure I would get some muscle in my arms from that steering wheel. I decided in my heart that if I did buy it, it would only sit in the driveway. If I am going to have a car, I am going to drive it. It *needs* to be driven!

We stopped talking about it for a while. Then, Josh started hinting around at the idea again. Not a Karmann Ghia, but maybe something else. I'd always dreamed of having a Porsche, but my fear again was feeling labeled by something. I kept thinking about it and putting it off. I knew I wanted it, but being super practical in everything I do, I just felt like I shouldn't. It's not something we need. He told me that I should just go look at one and test drive it and then I could call it a day if it wasn't for me.

So, that's what we did. I absolutely loved it. It wasn't the first one we looked at, but the second one. I kept thinking of my dad. I felt that he was looking down at me and smiling. I never do anything like this for me, ever. Once I decided and we were driving to the bank, Josh said, "You know, after everything, you really deserve to do this for yourself." I'm so glad I did.

That day, with the girls away at camp, we hit some back roads in the area and it was the most beautiful thing I've felt in a long time. Wind in my hair. Sun on my body. I felt so free of everything. And a feeling of relief. Like, this was meant to be. I felt like my dad was right there with me.

Every time I have gotten in the car since, I think of him. That's what this means to me. And also that I did get *my* dream car. I know that's what he would have wanted for me.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


There is a situation that has weighed heavy on my heart this weekend. And, while I am not one to share any sort of family matters publicly, I need to ask for some help or advice with a situation that has become out of hand.

My mother and I have never been the best of friends. I was always in fear being around her, and a lot of people that I grew up with could tell you that. I was rarely the one that was allowed to go do things with my friends while in high school because of the upbringing I had. Scared to ask, because the answer was always no. I rarely asked. To this day, whenever I am asked to go do something with a friend or friends, I always feel the need to ask my husband if it is okay - who then says, “You know, you don’t have to ask me to go do something.” It is just fear. I have been trying to get over it.

This mom is the same person who kicked me out of the house while in high school. How did I go back home? Why did I go back home? My dad. The one person, the only person who knew how to reason with her and could provide the patience for us all to be a family. He’s gone now. He’s the one person that needs to be here to help us fix the current situation.

There’s much more I could say about what I’ve gone through most of my life, but that’s probably enough to get the general idea.

My mother has some mental problems. I am pretty certain that she has had these for a long time and that it had been under control under my dad’s care. When he passed away last summer, we were all grieving. We still are. Somewhere in the last year, something has gone really wrong.

I don’t have patience. She is the only one that I don’t have patience for. She came to our home during the holidays last year and nearly ruined a holiday party that I was hosting five minutes prior to it starting. A couple of days later we battled it out with our voices, something I have never had to do and am uncomfortable doing. People having an argument in front of me makes me really uncomfortable, so being the person in an argument like that shook me to my core.

Bad things have been said about me over and over again. My name is surrounded by curse words these last few months when it comes from her. My image has been shattered. While growing up, there was many a time that I can remember her telling me I was “ugly” or pointing out my flaws. Even if it seemed to be coming off as a joke, I know that it wasn’t. She hurt me, and I still hurt to this day.

We stopped talking in March after she told me she wished I was never born.

My daughters had been talking to her almost weekly since then through my husband. But, things changed this weekend. While the girls know that I hadn’t been talking to her, they don’t know the real reasons. My oldest, at 9, has told me that “you’re not setting a good example for a mother daughter relationship”. Yes, I know, but only if you knew why, sweet girl. I need to figure out that conversation without sounding negative. I always have told myself that I would have a different relationship with my kids than what I went through, and I am definitely trying and think I am at least succeeding.

There have been multiple suicide calls in the last few months. There’s a lot of crying wolf. There are just things, things I can’t even talk about. She has alienated all family and wants the pity and thinks she has done nothing wrong. It’s all about her, all the time. Yes, you lost your husband, but he was also my father. My husband was just cut off from her for telling her to seek additional medical help. She probably thinks he’s the one that is crazy.

You can’t speak to her. You can’t say two words. The second you says something she doesn’t want to hear, that’s it. You are written off. She will only believe what she wants to and then stories (lies, really) are made up about you. And, oh, there’s another one that has wronged her. Always right. Never wrong. Never listens.

She needs help.

I don’t have the patience, like I mentioned before. I can’t even say, “please get help.” The phone will go dead.

So, what happens next? I don’t know.

I am seeking any sort of help or advice from someone that has experienced anything similar to this. It’s like she doesn’t want help - well, she does not think that she needs it. I don’t know what to do or where to go from here. I would hate for something to happen to her, yet I don’t want to communicate with her either. If you can offer any words to help, I would appreciate it. You don’t need to respond here but can email me at

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Who Am I Again?

The last week has been full of new discoveries and finding more about myself than I ever thought I could. I did go to the San Francisco Writer's Conference, and I received so much information about the industry as well as building a platform and all in all, just being around writers, agents and editors was truly amazing.

So, what now? I'm overwhelmed. I don't know where to start, and I have so much information to help me. That's encouraging, so I'm on a high about that. After everything I learned, I am also changing my genre. No longer a memoir it will be. I really wanted to write from the heart, but along the way, I could be exposing people or situations where I could hurt some people and also get myself into some serious trouble. I'm just not that type of person, and truth be told, I want to tell my story. Instead, I am going to tell it in an interesting way where it now becomes "a novel, based on a true story". At least I figured one thing out that's definite!

Being amongst so many writers and people in the industry was quite an experience. I met lots of people, but there were so many more I could have met. But, I closed up. I probably appeared unapproachable, but I was terrified. I seriously thought that as I got older that I wouldn't worry as much about what people thought of me. It will probably take ten more years for that. Like I have heard from so many in the past, people view me as this way. It goes something like this:
  1. The first time we meet, I might say two words. "Hi, I'm Jenna." Okay, three.
  2. The second time we meet, I might say a sentence or two. "Oh, that's cool."
  3. People might think I'm just not a nice person based on these first two meetings.
  4. But the third time we meet, I will feel much more comfortable and might even say something interesting. "Oh, yeah, I have two girls, too. They are 13 months apart and it is so much easier now than when they were born."
  5. By the fourth time, well, you might have to shut me up...
Seriously, I am a classic introvert-extrovert and especially when it comes to meeting new people or being in a foreign situation. And, I was in a situation where I felt so out of my element. By the end, I felt better, but I was so incredibly exhausted. I also wasn't exactly where I wanted to be with my writing going into the conference. It would have been so cool to pitch agents, but oh my gosh, so scary, too.

When all is said and done, I am so glad that I went. I learned so much, and I am more motivated now than ever to DO THIS THANG!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12, 2014

Today, as a mom, I...

Calmed my child down because their backpack was left somewhere yesterday.
Calmed the same child down because they wouldn't have their homework to turn in.
Made alternate arrangements for my children's activities so they can be every where they need to be while I am out of town for a few days.
Dropped the kids off at school.
Was very late to work because I had to wait for the church to open so that I could retrieve the missing backpack.
Was trying to figure out how the valentine's day cards will get done since I won't be here to make sure it really gets done before Friday.
Wondered if one of my children would go on the bars at school like I asked her not to after she ended up in the nurse's office yesterday.
Wondered what my children really think of me. Am I just the family coordinator or much more to them than that?
I wonder that most days, actually.

Today, I also...

Snuck into the office very late. Fortunately, there's not too many people around.
Am having a hard time focusing on work (obviously).
Thought of all the other things I would rather be doing instead of working in an office.
Laughed about office politics, because in the grand scheme of things, who cares?
Seriously thought about putting a trash can on my desk and labeling it as my "inbox".
Thought of a million dollar idea only to Google it and realize I missed the opportunity.
Will need to leave early to help with an after school activity for one of my children, and I'm counting the minutes.
Realized that the walls are closing in and things are getting more difficult to navigate at the office.
Debated quitting.
Wished hard for my happy middle place in all of this. I'm not giving up hope.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


There are some things you don't ever really want to talk about.

There are also some things that you don't ever really want to talk about publicly.

But, then, there are also some things where you feel like you don't have anyone to talk to them about or maybe no one has the time to listen or you fear that they don't really care or understand your situation.

I guess this is one of those times.

For those that don't know me, I lost my dad last summer when he lost his battle with mesothelioma. I will never forget our final conversation or our Skype conversation on that last day. Or, how I became so incredibly numb the next morning after finding out that he had passed on. I may have acted unsympathetic, but inside, I was barely hanging on.

It's a fact that I have not deleted one voicemail of his off of my phone, but I have not yet listened to any of them because I fear that it will bring back all of the pain. Sometimes I have a hard time believing that this really happened to him.

The last time I saw him physically, he was doing so well and he told me he would see me again. We never had that opportunity. I can't help but be hard on myself for not making another visit before things took a bad turn. I was in denial, surely. I always thought he would get better and so I pushed it aside. I shouldn't have done that. So many regrets.

Every day I wish I had had more time with him. There is turmoil all around right now, and what I wish for most is that he was here to help mediate things that need help mediating. That was just one of the many things that he did so well. I wish he could see how hard it's been for some of us to lose him. And even though we are trying, things are just not the same. And I'm not sure they ever will be.

There's a lot more I could say here, but this little bit is about all I have emotionally right now...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gag Me with a Spoon

A couple of days ago, the girls and I were in the car. It was starting to get dark, and as we were crossing an intersection, I saw what looked like a headlight on a bike. As we got closer, I noticed that it wasn't a headlight at all. It was a person on a bike on their phone. He was riding with no hands on the handle bars. Instead, he had his phone in his hands and it looked as if he was texting. Yes, he was absolutely texting while riding his bike. Seriously? Yep.

So, of course, I told the girls what I was seeing with my own eyes, but what happened next surely took me by surprise. The older one, who's nine, said:

"O.M.G.! That's totes cray cray!"

Huh? The little one, who's almost 8, starts giggling. If they could see my face, they would have seen bulged eyes and my mouth trying not to crack the smallest of smiles. That got me thinking...what is this tween language, and why is it spreading like wildfire? My girls are not even yet tweens, yet they are talking like them. Why is it annoying me so much?

Is it so hard to say "totally" instead of "totes"? I guess it's too hard to say two syllables instead of one? Same goes for "cray", or used more often, "cray cray". If you're going to say "cray cray", you might as well say "crazy". It's the same amount of syllables. That's not all. I've also heard "supes" and "I know, right?" too many times to count, and they are also getting on my nerves.

But, then my brother reminded me...twenty plus years ago, I was saying "like", like all the time. And, "Like, gag me with a spoon!" I was not a valley girl and didn't live near the valley, but I did live in Southern California which made it appropriate at the time. If the same scenario that I saw happen with the bike had happened back then (granted, there were no cell phones), that is exactly what I would have said. Don't forget "awesome" and "rad". Okay, I still say awesome, but that's not annoying, right?

Seriously, I get that kids want to feel independent and grown up, but it is all happening too fast for me, and this is just another thing that tests my patience. There's just no way I can say these words (and, uh, try to pretend that I'm cool to them) because:

1. Well, obviously I can't get away with it at my age anymore, and
2. I don't want to! It just sounds ridiculous coming out of my mouth.

If there is a dictionary on tween language, I'll definitely buy a copy in the coming years. I admit that I had to Google "totes" after I heard some young people at my workplace say it. So, for now, I guess I have to at least try to keep up with what's coming out of their cray mouths. Awesome.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


In August of last year, I attempted to make a promise to myself. There were pieces of me that I really wanted to change, and one of those at the top of the list was my attitude toward certain things. And those things were mostly things that were out of my control anyway. With social media everywhere and seemingly unavoidable, it often feels like there is so much "stuff" in your face all of the time. One of the things I truly despise about social media is how it only features one side of a story, or really, one side of a person. Sometimes if I am not in the right frame of mind and I go to one of these places, it almost feels like this place where everyone is perfect, having the perfect life, and with no negativity or downside. It's the perfect world, and it's virtual. It can be....painful. I was often asking myself if anyone I knew ever had a bad day. Well, of course they did, but no one ever seems to advertise it (only once in a blue moon).

I think I may have hit social media rock bottom right around July. One day I went on to Facebook, took a scroll through the newsfeed and broke down over the some silly post that someone wrote about how fantastic they were (or made them sound). "What the fuck?" I remember saying that out loud. "Don't you ever have a bad day?" Then, five minutes later I felt guilty for saying that. Let's just say that pretty much all of 2013 was an emotional year for me regardless of what I was seeing on social media. Maybe I should have just stayed away.

The next month is when I made a promise. I promised myself not to go look at that newsfeed so much (I have abided by this somewhat). I also promised myself that if everything that I saw was positive, and no matter who wrote it, I would think positive (true about 95% of the time). Instead of making a grumpy face or cursing it up, I now just say or think a pleasant, "Isn't that great for them? Way to go!" You know what? It's working. I feel more positive just for something so little like that, and I feel like it is even bringing positive things my way.

More change is coming, too...On Saturday, I will be starting a 5-day cleanse. I'll definitely be reporting on how that goes.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


I'm excited, but terrified.

I have always dreamt of writing a book, and I finally am. As I mentioned before, I am attending a writer's conference next month. That's why I am terrified. It's a journey that I have longed so badly to go on, but at the same time, I am so fearful of failing.

I am only about a third of the way through my book, and I know exactly what I am writing about, have my outline, etc. The fear is that no one cares or will be interested in reading it. Is it going to be something that people will want to read? I have no idea. Is it something where others have had similar experiences? Totally.

I fear about going to the conference and giving my pitch, and then being told that either it's too general or it has been told before (but differently). I don't know. I am writing this first memoir for me because there is a story that I personally want to share. And I want to tell it. Part of me doesn't even care what other people think, but deep down I know that's not true.

I want to be successful. Don't we all?

I know I am going to learn so much at this conference, and I am looking forward to gaining more knowledge. But, I am also more than ready to complete this chapter (no pun intended, I swear!) to find out what happens next.

Fear rant, complete.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Feeling Lost: Day One of the New Year


I was really, really hoping that what I am meant to be doing with my life would come to me magically in a dream, and that I would wake up this morning with a mission and be excited about it. For months, I have been telling the universe to please provide me that information before I fall asleep. I'm trying to be patient, but it's hard...and I am so ready to move on and get excited about something new.

The one thing that I am looking forward to this year?? Well, I am so excited to attend the San Francisco Writer's Conference, and I am registered. February cannot come soon much to plan for, so much to get excited about. This year I would like to publish a book that I have been working on, and that is my dream. It's just not the only thing that I want to do, though.

What won't I be doing this year? Overcommitting myself. I wish I had all the time in the world to do everything I wanted to do, whether that is helping out at the school my girls attend, to saying "yes" every time that I am asked to help with something. I always want to help, and it is going to be hard to say no. It's time to focus. 2014 is the year to publish my book, and also the year where I figure it all out and become happy again.

I'm certainly going to try...