Friday, December 2, 2011

Mama Said There'd be Days Like This

This week has been no fun. I have spent the whole week sick. My house is a nuclear disaster. We're fresh out of food. And clean laundry. And I don't care. I've had a killer cold which decided to morph into a killer sinus infection. Oh. Joy. That being said, I decided to load up my little devil child… uh… er… Jossilyn and her very sweet incomprehensibly obnoxious temper and drag her with me to the doctor.

As a tried and true Texan girl (since I was eleven months old), I never NEVER leave the house without lips and lashes. If the mascara and lipstick aren't happenin’, I don't even get the mail. I learned today that exceptions can and will be made on short notice, but one is wise not to point out my transgression. Bad things will happen. Very bad things.

While I was throwing on an old comfy Tri Delta sweatshirt (Jossilyn was fascinated with the "trigles" on my shirt), old comfy jeans (sensing a theme yet?) and old comfy shoes, I let Scooby out to pee. He seemed to sense my mood and got the heck out of dodge. Over an hour later, I realized he still hadn't come home, so I reluctantly headed outside to find him. It’s raining. It’s 40 degrees. I have a fever and a very bad dog.

Twenty minutes(!) of laryngitis-laden screaming-for-Scooby later, I'm soaked, freezing, coughing, fevering and still no sign of my very bad dog. I decided it was time to load Joss in the car and drive around with my shotgun looking for him. Kidding. Sort of.

I headed back to the house to find a hysterical little 21-month-old frantically turning the door knob on the inside. I try the door. Yep. It's locked. She managed to figure out the dead bolt for the first. time. ever. Lucky, lucky me.

So there I stood, wet, cold, sick, exhausted, no dog, no coat, no cell phone, no keys, and locked out. My only chance of rapid entry back into the house lies with a hysterical, hazel-eyed, curly-headed one-year-old blond. I don't like my odds.

Another 20 minutes go by with me on one side of the door, Jossilyn on the other, and the conversation sounded like this:

Me: (screaming through the door) Turn the lock, Jossi! No, not the door knob, the lock. Up here. See the pretty lock? Turn it. TURN IT!!

Joss: (crying, red-faced and snot-nosed) I can't do it, Mommy. I stuck. I can't do it.

(Repeat. Again. And again. And again.…)

I give up and consider my options. It's 10:30 am. I can either call the fire dept. and let them break a window. I can pay a locksmith $100. I can break my own window. I can find a neighbor who’s home. Yep. I like that one the best. Sort of. Did I mention that it's raining, 40 degrees outside and I'm sick???

Just then a very VERY bad dog comes bounding home from down the street. I trudge through the soggy, muddy ground to shut his butt in the dog run where he immediately commences to barking. Loudly. Continuously. I now hate this dog. Kidding. Sort of.

I ran, yes ran, the 1/4 mile to the nearest neighbor who’s home and bang on her door, all the while Jossilyn is running loose, free, and uncontrolled in my house. My neighbor, Kate, comes to the door to find me soaking wet, shivering, covered in mud, and sick as a dog. I've only met the poor woman once before. I ask to use her phone, explain what happened and try to stomp the 10 layers of mud from my weather-inappropriate shoes before tromping through her brand. new. house… as in finished being built two weeks ago.

I called James (who’s 30 minutes away) and begged him to come home because my baby locked me out, thanked the neighbor and ran home. Have I mentioned that it’s raining, 40 degrees outside, I'm sick and don't have a coat??

When I got home, Jossilyn was near frantic. I tried to sing Twinkle Twinkle to her, but I have laryngitis and Scooby is barking at warp speed, so that didn't really go so well. Suddenly, Jossilyn spied my cell phone on the table. I literally watched her eyes change as it suddenly occurred to her that "Mommy can't get to me. I’m unstoppable!” I’ve never seen the human brain connect synapses quite so fast before. It was a scientific marvel.

She made a beeline for my cell phone. I could see that James was calling it, so I'm trying in my sweetest Jossilyn voice to say, “Swipe your finger, Jossilyn. Say hi to Daddy! Swipe your finger.” Uh huh. Sure. She just smiles at me and deletes my CNN app. Lovely. I needed a plan to get her away from the phone and off the very high kitchen chairs.

I brilliantly decided to head for the door that leads into the game room. It worked. She followed me. Assessing her new surroundings, she quickly decided the most fun thing in the room is my iMac. She commences to pounding on the keyboard, hitting who knows what, while I'm screaming from outside the door, “NO TOUCH, Jossilyn! Do you want a spanking?? NO TOUCH!!” She was clearly concerned by my threats because she turned and waved at me saying, “I pay (play), Mommy! See me pay? Fun, Mommy! FUN!”


I ran back to the kitchen window. She followed me once again, but this time decided that it would be cool to scoot her high chair across the kitchen floor for a little look-see at what's on the counter tops. She found M&Ms. A whole bowl of ’em. Now she’s smiling and waving saying, “Mmmmm!! Choc choc!! Yummy, Mommy! It’s good choc choc!”

I must have looked a fool out there screaming, “No touch!! Bad girl! No choc choc!” I don't think I mentioned before that it’s raining and 40 degrees outside and I've been out there an HOUR!!!

James did finally arrive home and I did finally get back inside. Jossilyn was quite proud of herself. I debated for a few minutes on whether I should still head for the doctor or drown my sorrows in a margarita. I opted for the doctor who gave an oh-so-pleasant shot in my backside and a script for pills the size of a small cat.

I'm going to bed now to forget this day ever happened and if you call me tomorrow before, oh… say… noon… I will hunt you down like a dog. Just sayin’.

I LOVE hearing from you!! To leave a comment, simply click on the word "comments" below this post, just under my name!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Just a Test

Okay, so I downloaded the Blogger app and I'm thinking that having mobile blogging access will increase the amount of blogging. (This is purely theoretical, of course, but one can hope…) Anyway, this is a test to see if it works. I'll leave you with a picture, though, so you're time reading this isn't completely wasted. =)

We recently caught this fugly critter in our critter trap. I don't much care for possums, but he's still a juvenile, albeit an angry one, so we let him go a few miles up the road.

I LOVE hearing from you!! To leave a comment, simply click on the word "comments" below this post, just under my name!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Our Darkest Hour

With the 10 year anniversary of the September 11 attacks just a couple days away, I have been glued to television coverage of that fateful day, listening to account after account of survivor stories, tales of heroism and immense loss. I do not often allow myself to revisit that morning in my mind. The television images are still raw in my mind and the cavalcade of emotions I felt as I watched people die come flooding back with such force, I can still physically feel the pain.

I often think about how quickly the day is approaching that I will have to sit down with my children and explain to them that there are people out there so evil and full of blind hatred that they are willing to kill 3,000 innocent people whom they don't know and did nothing wrong. How will I find the words to gently convey the horror of that day so as not to frighten them, but to ensure a true understanding in this young generation so that history does not repeat itself.

And then, there is my personal story, which they have never heard. We all have one. We know where we were, what we were wearing, whom we were with; we remember every minute of that morning down the finest detail. I will share my story with you now.

Like so many others that beautiful Tuesday morning, I drove into work with the Kidd Kraddick 106.1 morning show blaring from my radio. Still a newlywed, I had kissed my husband goodbye early that morning as he caught an American Airlines flight bound for a Boston business trip. I can't remember what our parting words to each other were, but I'd like to think it was I love you. They might have been our last spoken words to each other.

When I arrived at my desk, I pulled up, as was my custom, to quickly get caught up on the day's news prior to starting my projects. The top headline was something along the lines of "Possible Plane Strikes World Trade Center" with a photo of that first, gaping hole in the side of 1 World Trade Center. I distinctly remember my first thought being, "Wow! Somebody's in trouble!"

A few minutes went by and then the phone started ringing as my family members called to make sure I had seen the news. I was without a television at my disposal, so my sister called and held the receiver up to her TV while I put the phone on speaker as my coworkers gathered around to listen. It was then that the second plane hit 2 World Trade Center. I remember with stark clarity the exact second it sunk in that we were under attack. And the realization that my husband was on a plane.

From that moment forward, it was a whirlwind of information, corrections to information, statistics, probabilities and fear. Such a great, paralyzing fear like none I had ever experienced before. I listened in panic to the announcers mistakenly report that our military had shot down an American Airlines flight over Shanksville, PA. I was gripped with terror that my husband may have been on one of those four doomed flights. None of us knew what was next, who was next, where was next… we were completely helpless.

For four hours I was unsure if my husband was dead or alive. Every imaginable scenario played out in my mind. Would I be a widow at 26? Would my husband be alive but horribly injured? How will I break this news to his mother? Who will break this news to me? It was torturous.

After a bit, I left work and drove to a friend's house to await word from James. Finally, that phonecall came and I heard his voice on the other line. He had no idea what had happened. His flight had been rerouted to Cincinnati when the Eastern Seaboard was shutdown and to prevent panic, the passengers were not told why. I listened to him cry as I told him about New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. This evil that had been forced on us that day was so overpowering, tears flowed freely from even the strongest of men. My husband was no exception.

A few days later, as I reflected on the aftermath of the attacks and watched the continuous coverage of the recovery effort, I penned new lyrics to three of the verses to the Christian song "There's Somebody Out There." I'm not sure who originally recorded the song or wrote the original lyrics. I'm no Celine Dion, but below is a video tribute I put together with photos taken from the internet set to my version of There's Somebody Out There. May God give all of you peace this weekend as you reflect on your own story and memories of 9.11.01.

I LOVE hearing from you!! To leave a comment, simply click on the word "comments" below this post, just under my name!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What If…

I find myself in a strange state of reflection tonight. I learned today that my Grandmother, my Mom's mom, is close to needing Hospice care and will probably not be with us much longer. When I heard that, my immediate reaction was a human one. I got sad, upset, and perhaps a little cheated that Grandma's last years have been spent in the cloudy haze of Alzheimers. 

All my life, God has spoken to me through music. My entire life has revolved around music… singing, writing, performing, etc. I consider it to be the greatest personal gift that God blessed me to carry through life. Tonight was no different. As I drove John home from karate tonight, I finally heard Laura Story's song “Blessings” for the first time. It was as if God was sitting in the passenger seat whispering these words directly into my heart. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Perspective. Every circumstance we encounter throughout life is about perspective. Our human nature naturally tends to gravitate toward the negative in any and all situations. BUT… what if we forced ourselves to search for the lessons and blessings. What if we really allow God to speak to us in the trials and darkest moments. What peace we might have then…

As I listened to the words of the song… “What if Your blessings come through rain drops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near? And what if the trials in this life are Your mercies in disguise?”… I suddenly realized the flip side of losing Grandma. She will finally be Home. She will be with my precious Grandpa once again and in the presence of our Father. We won't have to watch her suffer anymore. And above all, rather than feeling cheated these last few years, I was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude that God has allowed me nearly 36 years with my Grandma. Thirty-six years to love her.

Suddenly, I was flooded with memories of other “mercies in disguise” that God has sent my family's way. So many times, we question “why,” “why me,” or “why now” and we forget to look beyond the difficult circumstances to see the hidden Grace. Sometimes, it's years later before we understand God's timing or His reasoning. Sometimes we are not meant to understand in this Earthly life and must trust His wisdom. But God promises us in the Bible that all things work together for good and for His glory.

It brings me so much comfort to know that I don't have to have all the answers. I don't have to have any answers. I just have to trust. And listen. I challenge you to click this LINK and listen to the words of this song. As you do, think of a circumstance in your life that God has used for His hidden grace. If you are in the midst of a storm right now, perhaps the lyrics will comfort you as well… knowing that God will bless you through the fire, if only you will be receptive to it.

I LOVE hearing from you!! To leave a comment, simply click on the word "comments" below this post, just under my name!

Reflections of Innocence

Last weekend, my dear friends Kim and Kirsten from Sugar Land drove up to spend a couple days with us and attend our big summer party. Kirsten is an extremely gifted photographer and has been photographing my children for the past couple years. I jumped at the chance for a photo shoot!!! I'm a little behind with John, so we did his 8.5 yr pics, Matt's 6 yr pics and Jossilyn's 18 month pics. Below is a sampling of my beautiful children's portraits. Click the images to enlarge them.

If you are in the Houston area and need an amazing photographer, please contact my friend Kirsten here or here. Kirsten is also a talented writer. Someday, I know we will see her on the NY Best Seller list, but for now, please follow her blog!

John, 8.5 years old… introverted, kind-hearted, perfectionist, loyal, sensitive

Matthew, 6 years old… quick witted, vivacious, playful, forceful, full of life

Jossilyn, 18 months… outgoing, strong-willed, social butterfly, girly, delightful

I LOVE hearing from you!! To leave a comment, simply click on the word "comments" below this post, just under my name!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Inner Musings After a Looooong Mommy Day

As a stay-at-home-home for the past 8.5 years, I occasionally struggle to find measurable meaning in my overwhelmingly routine existence. I understand that my reward for endless sacrifice and suffocatingly difficult days with young kids will come when they emerge as strong, loving, contributing adults, but some days it's hard to lay my head down at night with no tangible validation for all the work I put in that day.

Eons ago, back when I was in the working world, corporate speak was the norm, pantyhose were a curse and at the end of the day, I could look at a pile of projects checked off my list and feel satisfied with the day's accomplishments. I took pride in my work, had confidence in my abilities, and overall, felt that whichever company I was working for was benefiting from having me on staff.

Now, I rarely get a shower before noon. I can clean up the same mess six times in one day but, somehow, it's still there at bedtime. Dishes and laundry simply do not have a finish line. At any given point in the day, it is a safe bet that I am wiping someone's butt. I make 1,000 micro decisions per day, and have little confidence in many of them. I often wonder if anyone in the family is benefiting from having me “on staff”. Sometimes, I long for the days when I could see tangible proof of my contributions and received validation from coworkers and clients for my hard work. I miss the feeling of having something important to contribute to a project, or giving intelligent interjections at a meeting. I can work my tail off for my kids and they still say my arms are flabby, I have yellow teeth, and, most recently, John informed me I have no talent. I can laugh at those innocent proclamations, but deep down, I often long for the days when there were a few people around who respected me.

I admire my friends who are throwing together multi-million dollar corporate extravaganzas, saving lives as RNs, making a difference in a classroom or boardroom, etc. I often envy the stories they have to tell at the end of the day. My spit-up and poop debacles are hardly fodder for table talk.

In a society where one's worth is often irrevocably connected to their occupation and education, I am quite frequently presumed to hold a lower social rung on the proverbial ladder. I often find that others equate stay-at-home-mom with uneducated or incapable of achieving higher goals. While I occasionally find the misconceptions humorous, it inevitably chips away at my inner self-confidence. Fact is, I have a bachelor's degree and held positions in numerous reputable companies before I consciously chose to stay home and raise my children – a decision I do not regret.

What is regrettable, however, is how inadequate I often feel when surrounded by my husband's colleagues or other corporate-types. (A large number of my extended family all work for the same company.) I rarely have anything useful to contribute to the natural flow of conversation, and often find myself spinning one-liners or meager attempts at humor if only to feel included. Sometimes I just space out. Quite frankly, talking about investing and finance for hours on end is not my idea of a happenin’ night out. However, it's those moments of interaction with other educated, successful grown-ups when I find myself wistfully wishing that someone would turn and say, “Let's hear what Jeni has to say about this,” and genuinely care. Now, if the conversation suddenly turns to how to multi-task in the kitchen or juggle the needs of three children while simultaneously folding laundry, doing dishes, wiping snot and feeding the dog, then, heck, I've got that market cornered!

As I sign off from this entry, I am about to head upstairs to tuck my children in bed, kiss them goodnight, and then spend the next hour cleaning up the various messes they left in their wake – and then do it all again tomorrow. When I wake up, I will trade the pantyhose and heels for denim and flip flops and the most important decision I make will be what to fix for lunch. I will judge my accomplishments to be successful if I manage to get from the kitchen to the bedroom without tripping over legos. And when my husband comes home from work, he will most likely find dishes in the sink, toys on the floor, an unmade bed and a dirty diaper on Jossilyn. What he doesn't know is that I already did breakfast and lunch dishes, but then the kids ate snacks. I made the bed first thing in the morning, but then the boys built a fort out of my covers. I changed Jossilyn's diaper 10 minutes earlier, but she “did her thing” seconds before he walked in the door.

That’s my life. And I love it. I’m not contributing to world peace, forging corporate mergers or even designing a magazine ad, but my kids will go to bed knowing that Mommy will be there in the morning. And at lunch. And at dinner. And then I will trip over legos as I walk upstairs to tuck them in at night.

I LOVE hearing from you!! To leave a comment, simply click on the word "comments" below this post, just under my name!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ahhhh, the country life!

Well, here we are! I can hardly believe that I am ACTUALLY living in the same small, country, back-woods town where I spent my early childhood! James has known since he met me nearly 14 years ago that I dreamed of raising my children in this quiet, country environment. I love it here. The town is only 2,500 people, but we are only minutes from major shopping and a quick 20-min drive to Ft. Worth. It's truly the best of both worlds!

The move has gone smoothly. The only hiccup was a prolonged argument with AT&T in which I did prevail and I am quite sure "Jeni" is now a 4-letter-word in some segments of the company. For the most part, we are settled in and assuming a normal daily routine. Since we moved "home", the transition was an easy one. No need to stress over not having friends and family around - they're all here!!! WHOO HOOO!!!!

Let me cut to the chase… many of you have been asking - and in some cases, begging - for pictures of the new house. Here they are! Well, here are most of them, anyway. You're going to have to wait for pics of the guest room and John's room. Those were too messy to photograph. 'Nuff said.

So, let's start the tour. Here is the front and back of the house. We are nestled on just shy of 2.5 acres. I'll snap some pics of the rest of the property for you soon to give you a better idea. Click on the pics to enlarge them.

Here are some pics of the entry way and living room…

The kitchen is just off the living room…

The dining room is just off the entry way and connected to the living room. Had to have this room painted… it was pumpkin orange! Nice color for some, but not for me. =)

The game room in this house is smaller, but I like it. It's cozy and has huge windows overlooking the property.

Just off the game room is the downstairs hall which leads to Matt's room and bathroom.

The master bedroom is so nice. I truly feel like I have a retreat to go to. It's quiet back there and the views of the backyard are so peaceful. Love love love my bedroom!

Upstairs is a loooooooong hall. This was exciting to me because our last house was designed with NO hallways. Finding places to hang all my pictures was so traumatic for me. If you know me well, then you know I have an extraordinary affinity for photography. The baby gate is to keep Jossilyn from breaching John's "safe zone" and creating havoc in the guestroom.
Jossilyn's room is HUGE. It's the perfect size to accommodate the HUGE messes she makes with her toys. The decor is the same as the old house. I had to re-buy a lot of the decorations, but it was totally worth it to keep the same theme.

And that's it! For now, anyway… everything beyond the baby gate was too messy for film, which means that Jossilyn is NOT the messiest kid in our family! =)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What do YOU believe???

In anticipation of moving back to Fort Worth, I have been cleansing and purging all things “junk” in my house. I tried going from room to room, but ADD kicked in, so I end up cleaning whatever part of the house happens to catch my eye at the time. The other day, the area of the house that won was my bedroom nightstand. As I riffled through the endless old receipts, magazines, and other various pieces of trash, I happened upon three photos that I had all but forgotten about and I want to share them with you now.

As most of you know, on September 16, 2004, James and I lost our second child, whom we named “Jordan” since we never learned the baby's gender. Losing my baby was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. Some women are able to bounce back quickly, but for me, it was an emotional roller coaster, and I still think about this sweet baby that's waiting for my first hug when we finally meet in Heaven.

As a Christian, I have never been one to believe in ghosts. I believe there is absolutely supernatural activity, but that activity is caused by either angels or demons. I believe that when you die, your spirit is immediately taken to Heaven, for those of us who choose to accept Christ as our personal Savior, or hell, for those that don’t. Everything we perceive to be “ghostly” activity is really just spiritual warfare or deception on the part of demons to entice us into the occult.

However, on Christmas day, 2004, three photos were taken of me that I cannot explain. I want to share them with you now and hear
your explanations and opinions. That Christmas day was only three months after Jordan died and the wound was still very raw. I was relying heavily on strength from family, friends and the Lord to get me through each day.

Many people have experienced “orbs” in their photographs. There are many explanations for this phenomenon such as dust on the camera lens, spirits, refracting light, etc. Until this day, I had never experienced an orb in any of my photographs. In this first photo, please note the large orb next to my Dad as well as the fact that the television on the far right hand side of the picture is clearly
off. This photo was taken with my camera.

NOTE: Even though I am a graphic designer, I give you my absolute word that I simply scanned these photos in. They have not been retouched, altered or enhanced in any way. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

This next photo is of me sitting in front of the television. It was taken with my Dad's camera just minutes after the previous photo. I am including it only to prove that the television behind me is conclusively turned OFF.

In this last and final photo, taken with my camera just a few minutes after the first two, please note the reflection in the TV screen. To the left of the TV screen, you see MY reflection, which is only visible because the TV is still turned OFF and a dark screen reflects the environment around it. However, WHAT is the reflection on the right-hand side of the TV screen??? The only blonde in the room was ME. That is NOT a picture of me. The TV was off. The only people across from the TV were my family members. There are no photos on the wall opposite the television. In fact, please note that the red power light is not on at the base of the television, further proving that it was, in fact, off. No one in my family can identify this person. It is not another photograph overlaid on this one because the strange image is confined to the parameters of the TV screen.

So you tell me.... did baby Jordan make his/her presence known that Christmas day to comfort me? Is it an angel? Or is this just a photography phenomenon that I am unfamiliar with?

Please leave your comments telling me what you think! To leave a comment here, click on "COMMENTS" at the bottom of this post, underneath the last picture of Jossilyn.

Jossilyn Sneak Peak
Can you believe it? Jossilyn just turned ONE!! This year has flown by! Here are a few of her one-year portraits. I'm a little biased, but I think she is clearly the
most beautiful baby in the world!!!