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?