Category Archives: life

A letter to the 22 year old me

A new post over at www.reallyjennifer.com

I’ve seen some blog posts lately that were the letters from the authors to themselves at a much younger age… The, “if I knew then, what I know now” wisdom posts.  So, to be a “follower”, and to impart some learned lessons, I thought I would have a go at it too…

At this ripe old age of 44, I can look back at myself at 22, and see a completely different person.  I’m actually amazed at the work God has done in my life thus far! If I could write a letter to myself at 22, I would say;

Dear Jennifer;

I know you feel like you have the world on your shoulders, and you can handle it.  I know that you think perfection is expected in this life of ours, and I see how you strive for it in almost everything you do. READ MORE


Top Ten Really? of the Week

A new Post was published today on www.reallyjennifer.com called Top Ten Really? of the Week

Head on over to check it out, and be sure to “subscribe” while you’re there!

Since my blog is titled, Really Jennifer, and it’s usually about things I say, “really” to, I’ve decided to have my top ten of the famous expression as a regular post… So here’s the first one that should have been posted last week… Enjoy.

My top ten Really’s of the week…

  1.  Traffic. Everyday. Of. My. Life.
  2.  The Superbowl halftime show… that I didn’t watch but read all about later.
  3.  Superbowl commercials with half naked ladies in them… and watching them with my pubescent son… (how fast can YOU change the channel?)

I would love to see what caused you to say “really?” this week too!

Have an awesome week!


Where am I From?

I went to a blogging conference last weekend. http://www.thesitsgirls.com/ It was a little overwhelming, and exciting hanging out with a hundred other bloggers, and learning about things I didn’t even know existed. I had to really define my goal and reasons behind blabbering to all of you on a regular basis, and I think I did.  I definitely have my work cut out for me if I truly desire to share my life, help others, and point toward God with my stories and experiences.

One of the break out sessions focused on writing.  They gave us a template of the poem by George Ella Lyon, Where am I From.  Wow.  Several of the ladies filled theirs out in no time, and then shared them with us!  I was only on line three by the time we were supposed to be done.  I don’t know what that says about my creativity, but I was truly intimidated.  Being the good mom that I am, I printed a copy of the template and gave it to my son to fill in as a writing assignment.  He did it faster than me too.  Really.

The session leaders suggested that we put our poems in our next blog, so, now that I finally finished mine, I am sharing.  I asked my son if I could share his too, and he said, “I don’t care.” So here you go. A two for one from the Motmob.

From me:

I am from homemade clothes, from gardening, canning and religion.
I am from the single family home with the mattress, blankets & cuddles in front of the fireplace and corelle dishes that really do break.
I am from the strawberries that hide in the weeds, till my fingers ache.
I am from creativeness, sarcasm and the wringing of hands from Mom and Dad and Mommom Ruth.
I am from do it yourselves, the strong willed and the always right.
From Heaven is real and there’s never enough money.
I’m from Philadelphia and Ireland, beanie weenies, PB&J and mashed potatoes.
From the 500 Ford Galaxy that got pushed up the street at midnight for a moon lit drive on the beach and from being grounded for sneaking out and stealing the car.
From the ship yard, the seamstress, the lawyer and sunday school teacher.
I am from memories stored in boxes and albums, of every scrap of paper and photo from the past, that will be moved from attic to attic until there is nowhere left for them to go.  I am Jennifer.

From our 13 year old son:

I am from blenders and cereal bowls from Imacs and Bibles.
I am from every kind of ball there is.
The cinnamon stick in every room.
I am from the 18 rose bushes.  The cherry blossom tree whom long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.
I’m from 3 gifts on Christmas and going out to lunch after church. I’m from Mom & Dad.
I’m from cleaning up a mess and leaving the dogs outside and from sneaking a cookie.
I’m from not wanting a gift from Santa, but from my parents and never swallowing my greens with water.
I’m from Jesus loves me this I know and from getting a back scratch.
I’m from Atlanta, Italy and Ireland, chicken puffs, green beans and Friday night pizza.
From my Dad getting hit with a high heel by his mom because he broke a china glass.
The bunny ears behind the head, the box of toys under my bed.
I’m from a great family who loves me and I love them, from baseball to ballet, my family is awesome.

After all my thinking about my life, I think this was a fun exercise after all.  If you would like to do one yourself, here’s a link to a blank template: http://www.swva.net/fred1st/wif.htm and here’s a good one for your kids: http://www.scholastic.com/content/collateral_resources/pdf/t/Target_I_am_from%20poem.pdf  OR you can share some of yourself on the comment section below…. I would love to see where you are from.


Gratitude

Most folks have heard the term “gratitude list”.  Usually when things are a total mess in ones life, someone will suggest making that list.  That’s how I learned about it anyway.

It was many years ago, and I really didn’t have much hope, to say the least.  I got a notebook, and tried to list the things I was grateful for.  It was hard at first, since I really didn’t have anything at the time.  I was freshly single, with 3 kids, no job, no savings and I was in a new state, without any family or friends.  I didn’t even have my salvation.  I found that notebook recently and this is a few of the things I wrote:

My daughter’s eyes. My son’s eyes. My children’s giggles. My mom & brother. Birds. Fall. My friend Lees’ laugh. The Bible. White clouds against a blue sky.

That was it for my first list.  The short list did grow and eventually I had a whole book of lists from that season in my life. There were a few more seasons that came, where I had to go back and just read those lists to remind me what my blessings were.

Today my list is miles and miles long.  I am Job before Satan messed with him… well, maybe not as wealthy.

The top of my list is my salvation.  I know that no matter what happens in this life, I will be with my God for eternity.  I didn’t deserve it, and I am always in awe that it’s mine.  Second, is my husband.  He’s the bomb.  Really.  My kids are always on my list, even when they are driving me nuts and my mom and family are permanent happy sighs as well.  My friends are like whipped cream and chocolate syrup on my ice-cream.  Some days, when I am noticing,  I will thank God for a green light or even a red one.  There’s that perfect cup of coffee and humming birds hanging out by the window.  A song, a word, a prayer, a hug or a smile.  Laughing to tears and making someone’s day are some all time favorites. There’s lots of food on my list and books, my health and even my occasional sanity.

So, do you have a list?  What is your silver lining in this messy world we live in?  If you have never made a list, I suggest that you do.  It will open your eyes and your heart to all that you are blessed with, and it will be there for you in those times that you might forget.


Revisiting the College Preparation Blog…

Back in June, I blogged about helping my daughter prepare for college.  I re-visited that post this evening,  to see if I was still feeling the same, and if my Top 10 list held true through-out the summer.  I can testify that it did.  It is all true…every last one.

Tomorrow morning, we will unload my little girl, with a truck full of boxes, in the middle of a big city, and leave her there to start a new chapter in her life.   It will also be a new chapter in mine.

I’m sure I will cry, but that’s OK…Really.

Below is my blog from June… enjoy.

Yesterday, I took my only daughter shopping for dorm supplies.  She will be heading to college in August.  She is not my oldest, but she’s my first to go, and live on campus at a university, so this is new territory for me.

We had the 10 hour orientation last week – It was brutal.  I didn’t cry, and she didn’t pretend not to know me, so I think it was a win win.  It did however, make this all a tad bit more real for me.  She seemed totally chill with everything. She told me she wasn’t nervous at all!  It was all just too exciting for her.

I know she’s a great student.  She’s pretty responsible with things that matter… to her anyway. She has a relationship with Christ, and a heart to help others.  She knows what she wants, and she’s never been afraid to go for it.  She’s a leader, and knows how to follow when she has to – something that took her mama a while to learn… I know she will be OK, and I know she will miss me, eventually.  I must admit though, I will be anxiously awaiting that first phone call.  The one where she calls just to chat and hear my voice.  When my role as Mom will start to morph, and she will also call me friend.

Here is my top 10 for the week –

Top ten ways you know you have a kid about to go off to college

  1. You cry randomly…
  2. You have more bad dreams then normal
  3. You find yourself saying, “If you can’t blah blah blah here, how will you when you’re on your own?”
  4. You notice the “eye roll” has now been replaced with the “blank stare of don’t care”
  5. You will find anyway to bring up the fact that your child is leaving, in every conversation, even if it doesn’t fit, like when you order your lunch, (Waiter) “Are you ready to order ma’am?” (You) “well, I guess, ya know… I guess I need to get used to eating out more now that my child is going off to college”. (you will get a strange look and fake chuckle with this one)
  6. You will bring it up in every prayer group too… Try not to be to trigger happy with your request.. let other’s go first if you can.
  7. You will hear your child say “I love you mommy” and “leave me alone” several times in the same week.
  8. The intensity of your lectures about sex and drugs will escalate to un-godly proportions.
  9. Your personal prayer life will also intensify.
  10. You will decide that you have done the best you can do, and you will trust in your kid, and more in the God that created them, knowing that they will make mistakes, and you can’t fix everything for them… and that is OK… Really.

If you have any words of advice or would like to share your story or can add to this list, please do!


Yep… I’m a home-school mom… Part 1

I haven’t always been.  My oldest son went through public school, and then he even went to a boarding school… My second son went through public school until the 7th grade…then we home-schooled through 12th.  My daughter was in public through 5th, then home, then back to public for 9th through 12th…and then our youngest… he has been in public, private and home…  I have been room-mom, PTA officer, substitute teacher and tutor.  I’ve home-schooled with the help of a couple **home-school “schools” and I’ve created a curriculum all by myself… I like to think I am well rounded in the area of educational options.

I used to think that home-schoolers were “weird”.  At the least, they were crazy!  I always thought I would end up in prison for beating my children if I ever even tried it… I was one of those moms that counted down summer vacation and never, ever thought to challenge a teacher, a specialist or a curriculum…

My second child had always struggled in school.  He had all of the extra help the public schools could provide.  He even spent every summer in summer school.  By 6th grade he had figured out how to divert the attention from his lack of understanding by becoming the class clown.  He was popular with the kids, but no so much with the teachers.  He technically failed 6th grade, but, against our wishes, was placed in 7th grade.  Things got worse.  After 1st semester progress reports, I knew we had to do something drastic.  After extensive independent testing, we found out that after all of his education, our son was on a 4th grade level…but in the 7th grade.  How did this happen?  We had to do something, and quick.

We found out that he has Dyslexia.  His reading skills were minimal, and he had mastered the art of diversion.  We got him a tutor that specialized in dyslexia, and the Wilson Program, and then we enrolled him in a home-school “school” that focused on the children’s hearts and their spirits.  With the specialized focus, and lots of one on one teaching, he was on grade level in just over a year.

We opted to continue  home schooling through his high school years.  We enrolled him in The American School, which is an established correspondence school.  We were able to continue using the dyslexia tutor and exercises, as well as one on one lessons and group activities.  He received his diploma with a 3.4 GPA in just under 4 years.  It was not always easy, but when your routine changes, everything changes, including attitudes.

So, my motivation for home-schooling, began out of desperation to help my son, who had slipped though the cracks of the public school system.  They did their best, and it just wasn’t good enough, and that’s OK.  It’s not their responsibility anyway.  It’s mine.  Parents know their kids better than anyone, or at least, they should.  It’s the parents job to be the advocate for their kids, to make sure they are getting the services they need, even if that means to be in a different environment all together.  It might not be easy, but it will be worth it.  Really.

So, that is how I started… it’s not really why I still do it though….

stay tuned for part 2…

** A home-school “school” is a program that offers classroom teaching, with pre-packaged curriculum.  Most of these schools offer classes once a week in a block schedule.  The assignments are completed at home, with the help of the parents, then turned back in to the class teacher the following week.


Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and things that go bump in the night.

* Spoiler Alert (if you believe the above are real, do not read this post)

There are many “acceptable” lies that some parents tell their children.  The 3 biggies are: Santa, The Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.

I honestly never gave these things much thought, except the Easter Bunny… As a Christian, I always had trouble making the leap from Christ’s resurrection to a giant egg- leaving rabbit, but that’s not my point today.

 It seems that many parents in America don’t have a problem telling their kids that a big fat man, a giant bunny, and a fairy, will sneak into their homes, in the dark of night, and leave surprises.  Some parents even drag their kids to the mall, stand in line, and put them on a strange person’s lap for a picture….  When I put it that way, it sounds kinda creepy, doesn’t it?  I’ve had parents tell me that it’s fun!  It’s tradition! It’s harmless and kids love it. Seriously?

I used to leave reindeer snacks, cookies, and carrots out for our annual intruders.  I never even really minded that my kids didn’t have to thank me for their gifts cause they were from Santa, and he wasn’t there on Christmas morning.  If you are a parent that has had your kids write thank you letters to Santa – kudos!  I tried… but then forgot, and my kids didn’t remind me.  Those dang kids.

It all changed one day back in 1997, when my darling daughter had just turned 5. My second child told her that all of these American icons, where not real.  She came to me, and asked if it was true.  I sat down and confirmed what her stinker brother had said.  She looked right at me, with big blue, tear filled eyes, and said, “Mommy, why did you lie to me?”  Really.  My heart broke.  I told her all of those great reasons, and she said, “but mommy, it’s not fun. it always scared me”.  After that, we had a family meeting and we found out that all of our kids found it a little scary, and they never really understood the connections… Santa/Birth of Christ, Bunny/Christ resurrection or Teeth/Fairies… At the time, I was expecting my fourth child and the kids informed me that, if we planned on “lying” to the baby, they would not participate.

That was the end of the mystical characters in our home.

It has served us well, even though some of my friends have been annoyed with us.  Especially when my kids told their kids the “truth”…(sorry)  Through all of that though, it was probably one of the best changes for our family.  Christmas is now 3 gifts, a “myrrh” is something for their bodies, a “frankincense” is for their minds and a “gold” is a treasure that they have wanted.  We still do the stocking for our country tradition, and we fill them with small fun things.  Easter is focused just on Christ, but we still will participate in a good egg hunt on occasion, and we have had a photo or 2 with the Bunny…just for fun.  When the kids lost a tooth, they just handed to me…and I handed them some cash…lame. I know.  You can judge me all you want next time you are waiting for your kid to fall asleep, and then spend 15 minutes digging under their pillow looking for a tooth…

We are always honest with our kids, even in the name of fun.  We leave the make-believe to their imaginations…. If you are a die hard traditionalist, good for you.  But if you ever want to come over to the less stressful side.. I’ll be waiting. 😀