continuing the happy

I know it’s cheesy. I do. But I’m just going to have to own up to the fact that I love Disneyland. Ridiculously so.

I was 19 years old (and pregnant, I kid you not) the very first time I went to Disneyland. The only ride I could ride was Pirates of the Caribbean. (Which may or may not be one of my very favorite rides to this day.) One day I’ll tell you the story of taking a picture with Winnie the Pooh and the biggest belly competition, but I’ll have to save that for another day because I’m too busy making an ass of myself and my love for all things Disneyland.

Here’s the thing: my cute little family of four has THE BEST time in Disneyland. We do. We never fight about where to go. We walk through those gates and we don’t have to worry about jobs or school or all the other things we always have to focus on. When we get there? It’s all things family. All day. And we’re awesome at it, if I do say so myself. We just have so. Much. Fun.

Over the years, we’ve been so lucky to travel to the Happiest Place on Earth with some of our nearest and dearest. Our kids have gotten so good at FastPass and single-rider that we are pretty efficient, even when coordinating two families. Plus, we’re all pretty cute.

photo (3)

But I have to tell you something: Running through Disneyland is an absolute HOOT. I mean, as Sarah and I trained for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, I knew it would super awesome, but I really couldn’t have imagined how fun it was to run through the park. I’M SORRY BUT IT’S TRUE. Plus, we’re pretty damn cute. Still. Or again.

tinkerhalf peter&wendy tinkerhalf

I really don’t mean to sound so lame. I’m thirty-something years old and one my of my Happy Places is The Happiest Place on Earth. I should be more dignified. I should. But I just don’t think I have it in me. At all.

I’m just a big ‘ol kid. I just can’t seem to help myself.

things that make me happy…cont’d

I can’t explain it. I’m not even sure that I want to. I just woke up with a heart that was a lot lighter than it has been.

My words are a little stuck right now. So I thought I would share some things that I saw today that made me happy. Or inspired me.  

I love this mama.

I mean…it’s not called “Oh Happy Day” for nothing…

Magnolia trees. And cute humans.

I also can’t wait for summer.

You are my wild. It still makes me happy.

 *    *    *

Yesterday, I started celebrating my birthday week. I couldn’t help myself. Apparently delicious pizza with delicious company was an order. Happy!

fire   

And then I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of the roses in my back yard. Happy!

 roses

 But you know what else?

This guy. This guy makes me happy.

laughingcouple
taken by the lovely and talented Sarah Maren

I sorta, kinda feel the need to celebrate my birthday every day this week. And not with any big fanfare or party…just with little things that make me happy. Whatever that may be. And starting all the things that I included today. I don’t mean to be annoying or self-centered…I just wanted to share my happy places in case you needed a change of pace after last week.

The world needs a lot more happy. And I hope that you’ll share yours, too.

Listening To My Mother…And Others

ltymnametag

Everything I write today, I erase.

Every time I try to explain how amazing Sunday was, I stumble over all the words.

When I try to explain how I feel about this all? Delete, delete, delete.

I know why. It’s because I can’t write about the amazingness of Sunday, and our first Listen to Your Mother table-read, without admitting that I feel completely out of my league. I can’t write about these STUNNING and wonderful women without telling you that I sat at that table wondering why in the hell I was even part of this group.

And I don’t want to type those words at all.

Because typing those words takes away from the fact that this group of women is inspired. Each story…each piece of their soul that they are so beautifully sharing? Perfect pieces of a puzzle that is meant to be shared. The fact that I feel like I’ve known them my entire life after just meeting them? MIND BLOWING.

You guys, this show is amazing. I can’t say it enough…it’s AMAZING. And there isn’t room for my insecurity. Because it just doesn’t belong there. Vulnerability, yes. Insecurity? NOPE. It needs to stay the hell away.

And I’ll get there. I will. But right now, I’m going to feel my fears and acknowledge them. And then find a place for them to go.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I still don’t feel completely out of my league. But I know that I’m supposed to be a part of this.

And that helps.

Living the Unplanned

I wasn’t sure that I was going to have more the one child. It’s not that I didn’t want more kids after Beezus was born, it’s just that I didn’t know if we were meant to. I had always dreamed of having a big family. But being so young and unprepared…and after struggling so much to just survive, I shoved all those dreams in a drawer. Whenever I got asked if we were having more kids, I just got in the habit of saying no. It was easier that way. I said it with such conviction, I think that I even started to believe it. Somewhat.

Deep down in my heart, and in the very back of my mind, I grieved the big family that I’d never have. I watched friends get married and starting their families. I often wondered what that felt like. They made married life look like such fun. And then when it was time for them to start having kids? Excitement. Everyone was so excited for them. Including me. I was. I really, really was. But I couldn’t help but wish it had been that way for me. And I knew…I KNEW that it was part of the deal. Unplanned, teenage pregnancies don’t get celebrations. They don’t. And they shouldn’t. I knew this. But that doesn’t make it any easier when you believe that you will never have that. That you will never be on the receiving end of that kind of joy and celebration.

And so I pretended that kind of sadness and disappointment didn’t exist. I continued surviving and fighting for my little family of three. It was hard. God knows it was hard. There was so much baggage to deal with. So much uncertainty. So much hurt. And I kept on being happy for my friends and for my family and all of their joy and triumphs. I threw myself into being supermom. Or trying to be. Whatever that is. But I never stopped wondering. No matter how deep back in my mind those thoughts were, I never stopped thinking about it.

All of a sudden it was time to celebrate Beezus’ fourth birthday. We were planning a (cup)cake decorating party. The family would be there of course, but a lot of preschool friends would be joining us this year as well. I used my lunch hours to run all the errands. And the Friday before the party, I was finishing up. I was busy making sure I had everything on my list. I had one more stop to make when I started to feel awful. I remember thinking “If I don’t eat something RIGHT NOW, I’m going to puke.” And then I couldn’t think of anything else. And then I started counting days and months and…realizing that maybe there was a reason that I was feeling like I might be sick. And then I worried. And wondered about all those little pills I took every day. Well, then that would be impossible, right? But that small percentage people would talk about? Would I really be a part of that small percentage that could get pregnant on birth control pills? Of course I could. Because, of course. And all of a sudden, there was one more errand I would need to run on that lunch hour. Not that I needed it. I knew what I would find out. And I knew that I was already at least a couple months pregnant.

I kept it from everyone at first. And I’m not even sure I slept at all that night. But I had a party to get ready for and a four year old to celebrate, there was no time for me to feel any feelings or tell anyone about what was going on. I think my sisters suspected something. My husband suspected nothing, bless him. But thankfully, the party went off without a hitch and the kids had a blast. I ate plenty of nachos to ward off any morning sickness.

I can’t remember if I told my husband I was pregnant later that night or early the next morning. To be honest, I don’t even remember how I told him. Just like I don’t remember how I had told him four years prior. Once again, we were looking at a pregnancy that we hadn’t planned. At least this time we were married. And in our twenties. And owned our own home. But we were still unprepared for this turn of events. There were about two to three hours of “HOLY. SHIT.” before something changed in both of us. And then it was “this is ok!” and we thought of the office and how it would need to be turned into the baby’s room. And then it was “we’re having a baby!” and it started to get exciting. And then we were excited. My heart pounded.

My dad happened to call a little later, just after we had told Beezus the news. My older sister had stopped by their house and I think he invited us over as well. My brothers were already there – they still lived at home, so we called my younger sister and told her to meet up at Mom and Dad’s. We said nothing and gave them no specific reason, but practiced with Beezus what she would say while we drove over. I think we were the last ones to get there. And as we gathered in the kitchen, Beezus suddenly became shy and forgot everything she was supposed to say. And so I brought my face close to hers and whispered the prompts in her ear. In the tiniest of voices, Beezus announced.

“My mom. Is having. A baby.”

My mom said over and over how you could’ve knocked her over with a feather she was so surprised. She had believed me when I had said no more kids. My sisters knew something was up from the birthday party. My brothers probably reacted just as you would imagine teenage boys would. And even if my family was still worried about us, or were in disbelief, they were happy for me. For us. There wasn’t the sadness and disappointment and fear that had been there years before. It was my moment. Right there, in the kitchen in the home I grew up in, my family handed me my moment of joy and celebration that I never thought I would have.

I know it might sound a little silly. And the more I read over this, the more I wonder if I’m going to hit publish because it makes us sound like the most irresponsible little turds on the planet. But somehow I have to find a way to let that go. Because what I’m learning as I go back and write about all of this, is that I’m the person I am now because of all the unplanned. We are this awesome family of four made out of the unplanned. For whatever reason, this is how our family was blessed to be ours. It wasn’t meant to be easy. But this is part of our story. An important part of our story. And as unconventional as our family is, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Easter Something

Easter is in four days and I’ve done nothing to get ready. No decorations. No candy and gift shopping. Nothing.

Yes, we’ve been busy. Yes, I had so much laundry to do. But I am sitting her surprised at how little time I have left to get festive.

I did Easter so well last year. (I owe most of that to Courtney and our whirlwind Michael’s trips. Also the family visiting from out of town, maybe.)

eggs
I got CRAZY with a pencil and egg dye last year

I read a blog post the other day about Easter being a time for new beginnings. I’ve always felt that way, but I feel it especially this year. Ironic that there has been a lot of new for me lately. This website. Being more open about it. Big decisions. New goals. Daring greatly. Loving much. Opening my heart and my mind just a little bit more. It’s all very timely.

I took the day off today because my kids are on spring break. I’ve been awake since 5:30 thanks to a weird noise the dog made. Sure, we have errands to run (someone is getting the rest of her braces off) but having a calm morning jump-started my brain. I’ve had a few hours to just think. Think about a lot.

Yesterday I felt unsettled. One of those days where you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. Or at least you’re not doing anything right. And sometimes all it takes is a good night’s sleep, a 5:30 wake up call, and a prayer that never left your heart to remind you that you’re not doing everything wrong.

And since I couldn’t just NOT decorate something. I went to the garage to grab the tub of Easter stuff. If nothing else, there is a duck to wish you a Happy Easter if you come to my house now. And nothing says “we love you” and “Happy Easter!” like a duck, plastic eggs and embroidered Easter basket.

easterbasket
quack and eggs

 Or something.

 

 

Weekend Update: Bullet Point Edition. (Because connecting sentences and paragraphs are hard.)

  • I am ridiculously tired and I have no good reason for such exhaustion. I blame the hormones. Which, now that I think about it, is a pretty damn good reason to be so tired. Well, it’s a reason anyway.
  • I spent a million hours folding laundry this weekend. A million hours is an estimate. As luck would have it, when a softball game and practice get cancelled, you do laundry. Lots of it. Because you actually have time to do it. You also watch a million hours of Oprah-related television. If you know me at all, you know this is strange, unusual and HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I’ve never been the biggest Oprah fan (ever) but when I wanted to watch more Brene Brown? Well, that means you put up with Oprah. And then that means that you keep watching Oprah because she was interviewing the Wayans family. And LL Cool J. And Dave Letterman. And Jenifer Hudson. I think that’s it. Please note that I did NOT watch entire episodes of these interviews. I did, however, watch ALL of last week’s Once Upon a Time. (There was a lot of laundry.)
  • Paisley had her first trip to a dog-park this weekend. It was also the first time that she got to meet her doodlest friend ever! It’s crazy how alike they look! (Allie is the very reason that we have a Paisley. And I’m so, so glad that we do.) We had a blast hanging out with Allie’s family. We just adore you guys.

    pups
    Paisley & Allie. So cute!
  • I’m really grateful for my mom. I’m grateful she called me right after she got home from her trip to Utah to see when she needed to watch my kids. I’m so, so, so lucky that she’s my mom. (THANK YOU, MOM!)
  • I’m still thinking about the amazing dinner I ate last night. Wonderful and lovely company, of course. But I’d like another expensive steak dinner, if you please. Y*U*M. The only downside of things was that my dear husband took ill and stayed home. I actually think he had some sort of migraine. (Which he’s never, ever had before.) I really like hanging out with that guy, though…and I really missed him at dinner. But I’m pretty grateful that I could still have a great time with some of my favorite people and I never felt likea third (or seventh) wheel.
  • Poopy mornings happen every once in a while. And I think poopy mornings have to happen to remember what good mornings feel like…and also to practice ridiculous amounts of patience. I had about five minutes of completely losing it with my children, but then I pulled myself together and told them to go sit in the car and wait for me. (I wasn’t even dressed at that point, but I just figured that if they continued fighting, I wouldn’t be able to hear it if they were out in the car.) Hooray DAY1 of spring break! I’m hoping for less fighting, more listening tomorrow morning. FINGERS. CROSSED.
  • Remember how I told you about saving my sister’s life when we were little? Well, after she read my post she wondered which time I was referring to. Apparently, I saved her life on the regular when we were kids. Okay, there was ONE other time. (That I didn’t remember. Of course.) But I figure that twice in our childhood counts as “on the regular.” Also, hard candy is dangerous. In my sister’s words:

“As soon as I read the first line, I thought, ‘which time?’ You were also there when I choked on a piece of candy. You pounded on my back and Pop! Candy flew out of my mouth.”

What I’m trying to tell you is that I’m handy to have around when you are swimming or eating hard candy. Of course, I may only be helpful if you are my little sister. I’m just not sure.

I’ll keep you posted.

A Bad Case of the Forgets

When I was about seven years old, I saved my little sister’s life.

I have no recollection of this.

At all.

As my sister tells it, we were swimming in the neighbor’s pool. She lost her balance? Fell off the step? She’s flailing in the water and actually starting to panic. I ever so casually (all calm and cool, you see) reach down, grab her, pull her back up to the step. Ta-da! One little sister saved!

She tells the story well. I’m sure she’s probably quite grateful. I just wished I had some sort of recollection of this.

I can remember getting in trouble in front of the entire class for failing a math test in 2nd grade. I can remember an embarrassing flub-up in 3rd grade as I led the class in saying The Pledge of Allegiance. I can even remember the “popular” ring-leader calling be a bitch in 4th grade.

But somehow, I can’t remember anything about saving my sister’s life when we were little.

A couple weekends ago, during a family dinner to celebrate my dad and The Dude’s birthday, another couple of stories were told that I had no memory of ever happening. Like babysitting trickery that I apparently pulled on one of my little brothers. By his story I learn that I had asked him to pick up some toys. He refused. I pretended to call my dad on the phone and tell on him. My brother hurried to clean up all the toys. I sent him to bed. I guess that I felt so guilty for tricking my brother, I went in his room…clearly upset. I am the George Washington of sister-babysitters and admit that I cannot tell a lie. I confess to him that I didn’t really call Dad…and that I’m so very sorry I tricked him.

I’m idiotically honest. And forgetful as all hell.

I don’t believe that I should remember every aspect of my childhood. But you would think that I would have SOME sort of memory filed away of these events. And yet. I’m beginning to wonder if I mostly save room in the memory banks for the bad things. Because I need to remember those? Because I’m only good enough to remember the bad or uncomfortable? I mean, I do have good memories plugged in. I know I do. But these fun or important stories? This isn’t the first time I don’t have any sort of memory of a story that I’m a part of.

I have no idea how to purge the memory file cabinet of the dumb, bad or uncomfortable memories. But I really want to try. I’d like to make so much more room for the great and important memories of SAVING MY SISTER’S LIFE.

And even if I completely botched it at the end, I’d really like to have the memory of me swindling my brother. That’s just too much fun to not remember.

finding beauty…and quoting Madonna

greenery
the view from walking the puppy yesterday. I love where I live.

In a previous blog-life, I was searching for beauty amidst this life of chaos. As I started moving toward this next big adventure, and with the help from the dearest of friends, I came to realize that telling the stories of us didn’t have to focus on the chaos of us.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of chaos…but it’s not my focus any longer.

What hasn’t changed is looking for beauty wherever I can find it. I love pretty things. Pictures, clothes, people…nature. What is it that Madonna says in Vogue? Beauty’s where you find it?

I couldn’t agree more.

 

here goes nothin…

stopthinkingI’ve spent a lot of years hiding behind a computer as I blogged/wrote on the internet. I’ve kept my real name off the internet to protect the guilty innocent. I refer to my husband as The Dude. I use nicknames for my children. (Although, who knew that Beverly Cleary would write books about my children back when *I* was a child?) But as I prepare to do something a bit more transparent (or…you know OUT IN THE VERY PUBLIC PUBLIC) I’ve had to think about how to come up with a happy medium.

Which hasn’t been so easy.

First and foremost, my husband and I have jobs outside the home that we both need to keep. I never want to put our jobs and the line. Which is why I will  be taking down all evidence of my old blogging life pretty soon. There’s a reason I didn’t bring over all of my archives. (Complain much, Jill?)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for this new adventure. I am. But these first few days have made me feel like those dreams where you’re at school in your underwear.

Vulnerable. I feel vulnerable.

I’ve put myself in a situation where people I know in real life are going to learn that I have a blog. There are people that may judge me and the fact that I have a blog or what I might say on said blog.

I have to write more responsibly. I have to pay attention to how I write. I have to remember why I love to write even when I have ZERO confidence and think everything I do is crap.

Comfort zone? I can’t even see it right now I’ve stepped so far outside of it.

It’s time for me to learn and grow…and take chances. I need to forget what my comfort zone looks like. I need to remember that I’m going to break my blog sometimes and it’s ok to panic for a minute. (That happened yesterday.) I need to remind myself that this is EXACTLY what I need to do right now because you know what? I like telling my story. I like having my own little place on the interwebs. And I would have never known that without scaring the crap out of myself and taking some chances.

But I also need to be patient with myself. I need to remember that this IS new and uncomfortable. There are definitely going to be some growing pains. And I’m going to break my blog every once in a while. (Please no more times, please.)

It’s all going to be ok. It’s not rocket science. I’m not saving lives here. I’m just telling some stories about my life.

 I can do that.

Listen to Your Mother

Last weekend I had the opportunity to audition for Listen to Your Mother Sacramento. And I am part of this year’s cast. My heart started beating faster as I typed that.

I’ve never done anything like that before.

I’ve had some sort of blog for almost eight years. But I’ve never pushed it beyond a “place where I ramble and tell stories about my family”. Anonymously. I’ve never been ready to become more open and honest…more transparent.

More Jill.

Having the opportunity to write something so personal and healing has sparked something inside of me. It opened this creative side of my brain that has been dormant for a very long time. And because I’m my own worst critic, I’m both insanely proud of what I wrote and also I worry that it’s complete and total crap. Because of course I do.

I feel so humbled to be a part of this show. I am excited, of course…but humbled to share my story. And hoping that I honor the words that I wrote and that I honor the spirit of this amazing cast and show. These stories were first lived before they were ever written. And each story deserves an incredible amount of respect and love. My story is so important to me, but I can’t wait to extend my support to all of the wonderful people who submitted their own words. Because at the end of the day, this is what we’re here to do. Support those around us. Help them tell their story. Love them for having the courage to share a piece of themselves with all of us.

I’m so proud to be a part of Listen to Your Mother. I’m in awe of Nichole and Margaret and all that they have done to bring this to our community. I can’t wait to celebrate motherhood. I can’t wait to listen to the words that this cast has written. And I can’t wait to love each and every one.