Friday, January 19, 2018

A letter to my 11 year old self from 40

Wow.  I made it.  The big 4-0!  I remember when my mom got picked up in a limo for her 40th and thought damn she was so old!  Before you know it...POOF it appeared at my door.  I don't know about anyone else, but this milestone birthday has led to a lot of reflection on my part.  it didn't help that recently my mom sent home pictures and this gem was included.

After texting some family, I figured out this picture was circa 1989.  That makes me 11 in it.  Pretty sure I had the body of a 18 year old, albeit chunky 18 year old.  See for the longest time, pictures like this were a hidden secret.  I had a literal ZERO in positive body image of myself.  Pictures like that 1980s atrocity stayed hidden in the tub o'pictures.  Women around me are all "Look at 10 years ago when I was so skinny".  I'm all, let me get you a pic from when I was 5 years old because that would be the last age I would classify myself as "skinny".  Being this "mature" as we will call it, caused quite a bit of emotional distress.  Something that not even my parents' unconditional love could help.  Bad decisions with crappy self-esteem were made, disappointments were had, and all I wanted to do was wear a damn pair of shorts!  Fast forward 29 years later, and I am amazed at where I stand now.  I'm in a place I never thought possible.  I still don't wear shorts and hate on the veins, but will allow myself to put out pictures with myself in them and not cringe each time I see them.  Of course I wish I had reached this spot years earlier, but I know every part of a journey is necessary to reach the end.  So here is a letter of encouragement to my 11 year old self!

Dearest Jenny AKA JennBob (Jenn is my later in life name),

Hey girl!  Just sending you some encouragement in the form of your 40 year old self!  See, you'll get there.  It won't be the easiest road.  You will break hearts and for sure get your heart broken, but you'll be just fine.  I know times are rough.  You'll have many years ahead of self doubt and self destruction, but you'll come out on top!  Just a few tips because I know how it will shake out in the end.

Enjoy every day.  It is a gift.  Don't take it for granted and BE SAFE!  Don't let your Aunt Roz's friends convince you to take the Long Island Ice Tea challenge at some bar in Chicago.  It will not end well!  Some little girl will ask you what the worst day of your life has been and you will answer without skipping a beat...June 3, 1998.  That will be the day that changes your whole family.  
You will always miss your birthday twin.  The cousin who you miss more than anything.  He will be the driving force behind how you live life and what becomes your motto-GROWING OLD IS A PRIVILEGE AND NOT A RIGHT.  NOT EVERYONE WILL GET THAT OPPORTUNITY.  When he comes to visit while you are away at college, don't change a thing.  Enjoy every minute you have with him.  Today you turn 40 and wish more than anything he was here turning 38 with you.  
Those parents.  Go a little lighter on them.  Do things more to help them out.  Give them the respect they deserve.  Hell, give them more!  Soon you will see your cousins watch their own parents fight to stay healthy and then have to say good bye to them.  They provide the best for you and Megs.  Someday you will thank them by raising your own child with the morals and values they instilled into you.  
And then they will get to enjoy your daughter with no strings attached.  That means a lot of candy and chocolate milk!

Speaking of being nicer, let's talk about Megs. 
 Like quit telling her she is adopted and refrain from nailing remotes at her when mad.  In the end, she is your Ride or Die. 
 She will end up as a sister and BFF-pretty sure if you look back, you will wish that relationship started sooner than it did...just saying.  

Plus, she will be a second mom to your girl and they will have such a fulfilling relationship.  You know that when you aren't there for her, Meg always is.  It will be icing on the cake the adorable nephew and niece she will give you!

Someday, say like around the time you are 19 or 20, and you meet some redhead who you think is a complete jerk, don't write him off.  Someday he will be the best thing to happen to you. 
 It won't be like the movies where he sweeps you off your feet all romantic and stuff, but he'll keep you grounded.  He will provide you a life full of support, trust, and laughter.  He will always make sure you always know what is important and keep things in perspective.  
And he will give you an amazing gift and something you can never repay him for...he will get you to finally realize your self worth and make you feel beautiful!

And that time around 8th grade when you are upset trying on clothes and your mom tells you that someday you will appreciate having good birthing hips, SHE WAS RIGHT!!!  One day, May 14, 2009 it will all make sense.  

This journey you've been on will end and a new journey, the best one will begin.  You will become a mother to the greatest human being there is.  You will make peace with your past because you want to be the best parent you can be and not let your past experiences influence her future.  

You will go to bed and wake up everyday grateful for the life you live.

So hang in there girlfriend.  The cliche "The Best is Yet to Come" is so true.  So is "All Good Things Come to Those Who Wait".  Try and stay true to who you are and remember you are always loved!

Best wishes and good luck!


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Worth the Wait Chili

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in Central Illinois, we have been living in a frozen tundra.  Miss O's school earned an extra 2 days of Christmas break due to the cold.  I was all good with having my snuggle buddy here another few days although I did find myself saying "When I was in school, we canceled 1 time in 12 years".  Oh god, we do all become our parents don't we?!?!  (Love ya Pam).  I have literally only left the house when I was mandated for work.  And thanking God it is only part-time.  I have spent my the majority of my time playing Clue and tag with the thermostat.  Something that I don't understand since I have a royal title in this house.

So I am struggling to see why people do not respect my authority!

Today has brought a heatwave at 30 degrees...and an ice and snow storm.  Lucky us!  Who was lucky was this girl.  J not only took her to gymnastics yesterday, but braved the grocery store so I could keep my lazy, cold butt at home.  I'm pretty sure this is what I missed:

While they were gone, I started my chili.  Now I know 4 hours seems like FOREVER, but it is so worth the wait.  After the prep work, you can sit back and binge watch something on netflix, read a book, or of course clean like I did (wink wink started Mad Men).  

In the end, you end up with something glorious.

print recipe

Four Hour Chili
This chili is not only worth the wait, it's even better he next day!
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large, chopped onion
  • 3 cloves, minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can (10oz) Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomato
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cans, undrained kidney beans
  • 1 can drained pinto beans
  • 1 can, washed and drained black beans
  • Your choice: shredded cheese, diced onions, sour cream, etc toppings
Brown ground beef and onion, adding garlic at end. You can drain the excess fat if you would like. Add all the spices and cook for 2 more minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for at least 4 hours. This is even better the next day!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10 servings

What is your go to chili or soup recipe?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Letting Go

Today my heart broke a little.  The mantra for this school year is "Second Grade, here I come"!  Not the usual "I will miss you too much".  While I am so thankful you're so excited to learn and be with your friends, I can't help but be a little hating on your Aunt Boo for seeing you more than I will during the day!  And the shower.  Oh how I about lost my shit on that.  No checking to see if you got all the soap out, no throwing the wash rag over the shower, and when I asked if you wanted me to brush your hair, you got me with the BIG one.  A simple "No thanks" before you shut your door and did it yourself. 

But don't worry little one.  I know my job here is not done.  You'll still need that jumper zipped up tomorrow.  Pretty sure your dad will tease you and you'll again come crying to me.  And I too hold an ace card.  You haven't mastered the art of cutting a crust less sandwich in the perfect triangles!

So I walked in to do my nightly ritual of making sure you are safe in bed, kissed those baby cheeks, and whispered "Second grade, here we come"!

To the moon and back 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Happy Birthday Addison!

Happiest of Birthdays to the baby of our family!  This little pumpkin turns the big 3 today.  She brings such joy to our family.  You can't have a conversation with her not end up in a belly laugh.  And Miss O gets to finally be a Little Momma!  Don't let her fool you, she has her Uncle J wrapped around her tiny finger as well!  Being Miss O's mom is the greatest gig ever, but being an aunt to all my nieces and nephews is a super close second!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Olivia's Favorite Meal

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce you to...

I like pepper in case you can't tell!

Summertime.  Where we have a strictly scheduled day.  One that begins at daybreak with reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Meals are all organic and homemade.   Ba!  Who am I kidding?!?!  Starting at anytime after 9, Princess awakes.  Usually over mini muffins, poptarts, or frozen waffles, we watch some Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  TV is usually off while we play with the dolls and she sneaks in the iPod as much as she can.  This should not come as a surprise to anyone-Jenn is all about going retro so her kid is of course going to have a 1980s summer (minus the Diet Rite, Kool cigarettes (mother NOT me), and Days of Our Lives!

Today is the perfect day to throw something in the ol' crock pot and get back to that good book!  Speaking of food.  Every once in a while, if you are lucky, you find something your child will eat without going to all out war with them.  This has long been my saving grace.  Although she has ventured out to more exciting things like edamame or Louisiana Style Chips when dared (thanks Carney), this is our stand by.  We usually make this when Daddy is out to dinner and cigars-otherwise known as Girls Night In at our house.  It started with a recipe from a friend at work YEARS ago, and along the way I tweaked it to our tastes.

Throw some ham in there, you got yourself some Carbonara.  Plate with a salad or green beans and some crusty garlic bread, and you've got a meal!

You can sub for low fat cream cheese and cream of chicken soup, but in the name of taste, go for the gold!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Scrub a Dub Dub

Do wash or not to wash?  

The age old question on fruits and veggies.  Some will swear they are under death by pesticides and others will bite right in.  I mean don't lie, who doesn't remember being a rebel and eating some grapes while you shopped?!?!  Well according to the ol' experts at the FDA, they say you should run any fruit or vegetable under water before eating it.  You don't need to get a fancy wash or brush, or especially pull an Adrian Maloof and wash with soap and water like she did her chicken...
(Not gonna lie, I lost a bit of faith in humanity when watching this)

Here in the LBH, I like to soak my produce in the vinegar and water mix that blew up the internet a few years ago.  

After I let them dry, I always store them in our Debbie Meyer Green Storage.  And I have to say, once you go green you will never go back!  I can't believe how much these two steps extend the lives of our produce!

Now if I could figure out how to extend the lives of potato chips around here so I could actually get some before they are gone...

Monday, December 21, 2015

CoCo's Musical Debut

CoCo will always hold a special place in my heart.  This boy made me an Aunt for the first time on my side of the family.  That made Liv a big cousin...which is a job she takes VERY seriously.  He also brought the testosterone to this side as well.  PopPop finally got the boy he needed and we learned that boys are...different!  But in an amazing way of course!

I was able to attend his first Christmas Program at school.  Once again, the staff and kids did an tremendous job.  The kids looked so cute all dressed up and were so proud of themselves!  CoCo had his grandparents, Mamo, Mom, Dad, and Aunt JJ is the stands.  He claimed before the big day that we was NOT going to sing.  But alas, the sweet boy was belting out the tunes!

What a ham!

The jolliest St. Nicks around!

Cole's Cheering Section!