Monday, September 24, 2018


I don't even know how we got to it.  Oh, yes I do. We were eating a bowl of watermelon. Sean had cut up this massive half-watermelon into these perfectly even cubes, and I remarked on it.

JEN: Look at that, such perfect cubes.

SEAN: Yeah, well, cutting things into evenly-sized pieces is important for cooking them evenly.

JEN: Yeah. Me, it's *HACK* *CUT* *LAZY SLICE* and they're all skiwampus.   It's a credit to your...hmm.. meticulousness.

SEAN: Meticulousness.
JEN: We can do better than that.
And we spent the next several minutes trying to come up with a better word for a noun version of "meticulous."  I went first:

JEN: Meticulation. Meticulicity

SEAN: Meticulineity

Trying a different route, I said,

"Ok, let's think of other adjectives that end in 'ous.'  Industrious.  Illustrious.   Illustration. Meticulation.  But see, illustration does not pertain to illustrious."

SEAN: Right. That would be illustrative. 

JEN: Oh, meticulative! I like that!  

SEAN: But wait, that's just another adjective.

JEN: Oh right, I forgot what we were doing. 
*time passes*
Here's one: Adventurous... adventure.  Meticulature.  I like that one. Or, chivalrous.  Chivalry. 

SEAN: Meticul...y. 

JEN: I feel like it needs more.  Meticularity. This makes sense with 'hilarious' as well. Hilarity.

SEAN: What about words that just end in 'us,'  instead of 'ous, or ious.'  Discus.  Mucus.

JEN, thinking: nope...they're all nouns. Abacus.  Proboscis. Does that end in an 'i'?

SEAN:  laughs and repeats "proboscis."

JEN: what?

SEAN: Proboscis is not a word I think about much.

JEN: I do, I think about it all the time, ever since I learned I was saying it completely wrong.  

*Looks it up on phone*

JEN: Here it is. Wait, how did I say it? Pro-BOS-cuss? That's how I said it, right? I used to say it, 'ProBIScuss'  I had no idea there wasn't even an 'i' there. It shattered my world.

*Hits the pronunciation thing on the google search and the girl's all, "Pro-BOSS-iss"*

JEN: WHAT? Oh, OK, I've been saying it wrong STILL!  Forget it! Apparently it's 'pro-boss-is!' I don't know anything!

*clicks on it two more times.*

PRONUNCIATION GIRL: Pro-boss-iss.  Pro-boss-iss. 

*Shaking my head*

JEN: Well anyway, what did we decide? I liked meticulation. 

SEAN: Meticulineity.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Competitive Puzzling

I did a puzzle in two days this weekend.  No big deal. Actually it isn't because it was a 300 piece-r which is my favorite kind.   1,000-piece puzzles are for the birds. These days I won't go higher than 500.  And, as with everything else in life, I came to a point where I realized that puzzling would be a lot more fun if it were a race.

I love speed games. I always have. Everything is better if we make it a race.  Julian, however, hates them. Sean, does too I think, but he tolerates them enough to play.  But they straight up stress the kid out and he can't handle. It's something we're working on but it's also something I'm just having to accept.  Often when I play speed games, if I'm feeling sluggish, halfway through I'll kick it up a notch and am actually able to go faster.  I might get lazy or am just starting off slow but then when I notice, I propel myself, and I improve. It makes me feel good, like if I set my mind to something... etc.

I enjoyed this puzzle. Lots of little details. Nothing annoying like a stretching expanse of too much sky. And solo puzzling can be fun.  There's nobody around for me to tell my puzzling tales to so I just talk to the puzzle.  "Oh-ho, someone has a mailbox, who could it BE?  Blue house, it's YOU!"    By the end I was antsy to finish and I kicked it into high gear where I held the box in one hand and shuffled and fit the pieces with the other.  And then that funny thing happened where you start finding the pieces and fit them subconsciously.  Where your brain knows it's going to fit before you do and you startle yourself.   At this point I was sailing through it and I really wondered if there's speed puzzling out there. You know, like speed chess. Which, for the record, I do not understand.

Sooo...any contenders? A 300-piece puzzle would take some time but with the motivation of competition, I bet we could make it just as exciting as any competitive sport out there.  Perhaps I should petition the olympics committee to make a new event? {thinking emoji}  On your mark, get set... PUZZ!

Thursday, September 13, 2018


The other night I was enjoying some good Calvin and Hobbes when Julian burst into the house and was instructed to go up and take a bath.  The following took place:

JULIAN: I don't wanna take a bath!

JEN: Go take a bath. I can smell you. Git!

Jen reads funny Calvin and Hobbes strip. Whilst laughing, says to Sean:  Oh man, i want to read this strip to you, just like Calvin reads them to us and forces us to listen.

SEAN: You mean...Julian?

JEN: hahaha! Yes, Julian! Hahaha...

SEAN: I was like, you do mean your son, don't you..?

JEN: See? They are the same. Indistinguishable

In the middle of reading, Julian comes halfway down the stairs, naked, and exclaims:

Guess what I just did in the toilet!

JEN: Get upstairs!

SEAN: Nobody wants to hear!

JEN: I think I'm having a transcendental experience.

Jen finishes reading the strip and she and Sean both laugh heartily.

Friday, September 07, 2018

High School Reunion

This summer I attended my 20th high school reunion, a statement that boggles the mind. Whaaat? Twenty years? How? When? Who? How?   It's crazy, just crazy.

But it's true, I graduated in 1998, got married in 2003, had a kid in 2009, and here we are today.  One of the weird things about moving back to my hometown after a decade+ of being away is sudddenly seeing people I recognize from another life I lived, long ago.  Moving out of state right after getting married is probably one of the best things I've done. I learned how to be an adult ('ish) and had to develop skills I needed since I was in a brand new and extremely foreign land and knew no one.  That decade shaped so much of who I am and I'll be forever grateful. 

But I'm unaccustomed to seeing people from my past and when I do it's a little bit jarring.  Mostly it's people I had little interaction with and I wonder what I could possibly say to them.  "Hey! I think we had a math class together. How ya been?"    So it's been weird, and interesting.

It's such a crazy thing to see people from the past, though. People you haven't thought about in years.  In a way, I have kind of this intense fondness for anyone from my childhood, even if we didn't know each other well.  There's a sort of shared trauma quality about it, particularly the jr. high- high school years. And that creates a bond that can never be broken, because it's kind of like, you were there.  You know.  These people hold a part of your childhood, I feel.  But then you add those weird old feelings that seem to surface for some odd reason of how you used to feel about a person, the memories you have of them, how that person seemed to make you feel, etc.   And you have to decide how much weight you want that to have. I mean, it's been twenty years. We've all done a lot of life livin'.  But still.

I decided to go with my best pal Brooke and see all the people.  We went, we talked, we reminisced.  I also brought Sean who actually wanted to go because he's never been to anything like this and later remarked it was the most unusual experience.  I told him I could use him as a way to talk to people and be like, "Hey, Sean, this is ____.  The memory I have of this person is ______" and then just share it, whatever it is.  For example, one girl was there who I hadn't seen since 2nd grade but we were pals then and I think she came to my 8th birthday party. When I saw her we greeted one another and I said, "isn't this weird? The kind of random memories we have of each other? Like right now the thing that's popping in my head is.. didn't you have like this cool sweater or backpack that you could stick things to?"  And she said, "Yes! My mom gave me this sweater and it came with a pouch of felt little objects that you could velcro onto it!"  "Yes! That thing was AMAZING. Everyone was so jealous."  Ha ha ha! It's so weird!  Like all of a sudden I'm 8 again and that never really went away (something I've long suspected). We didn't catch up on each other's lives because we hadn't kept in touch since then but it feels good to share these weird connections with people who knew you way back when.  We had a moment, and it's a part of me and maybe a part of you too. It's a kind of reminder or reminiscence of who you were, who you are.

I also ran into a friend who i was buddies with at that same age and then she moved away. She moved back at around high school time when we picked right back up being friends.  Then we lost touch after graduation and i hadn't talked to her until this reunion and we picked right back up AGAIN.  So crazy! She is just as funny as I remember and, just like now, that was a quality i always looked for in my friends even at the tender ages.

We all concluded that, in spite of the years and life lived, kids had, divorces, etc, no one's really changed that much.  We're all the same person and I suspect, forever will be.  This is comforting, and it made for such a fun nostalgic night being back in a high school I went to for only a year (it was brand new).  Here are a few pics:

Amy, Jen, and Brooke. 

Brooke, Amy, Jen.  (from the yearbook)

the greatest

Mary on the left. 

Mary's sandals cannot be ignored

Several of the same peeps:

I found a picture of an elementary school Christmas program and sent this to Mary:


Mary & Jen (or Jennifer as I was probably more commonly called)

We walked around the school trying to dig up memories from so long ago, having been there for so short a time. "Was that always like that?? i swear i don't remember that."   But Brooke was right, it was the PERFECT place for a photo shoot. I'm considering using it for our next Christmas card.  Or maybe I'll just have this photo be my Christmas card bc it's sooo good


I wanted to run through the halls of my high school, so I did. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Typical Evening

The other night Sean and I were in the midst of another epic Rummikub stand-off.  What usually happens is we both vocally cheer for each other while I silently cheer for myself. Then after whoever wins, we encourage/rub it in the face of the loser by helping him/her with their remaining tiles to see if they're at all playable. Moving around the tiles, reconfiguring.  It's a game I enjoy and one I make Sean play with me when I need a game, stat.    Enter Julian, who is not a fan of most games, and in the evening hours, can usually be found eating a bowl of ice cream and reading from Calvin & Hobbes or a Star Wars Lego book.   Thus it was the other night when the following took place, as recorded immediately on my phone:

Julian, overhearing mine and Sean's game of Rummikub:

"Dad's telling you what's coming. He's foreshadowing."

Jen gives Sean a proud, "get a load of this guy" look and thumb gesture to Julian.

SEAN: That's a pretty great word. I think I learned that word in the 8th grade.

JULIAN: Mom taught it to me.   

(Jen nods with pride, and then--)

Pretty soon I'll know the F word.

JEN: Wha--?!

SEAN: I think foreshadowing is the F word.

Which is funny because Julian has been trying to get it out of us for months even though one time he both heard AND read it because I was watching what I thought was a safe BBC production on the Bronte sisters and had the subtitles on (because, British, sometimes, amiright) and he repeated it right away:  "F--- off?"  I thought that was it, but somehow it didn't stick (?) But sometimes Sean will give him fake ones and it kills me. "Fiddlesticks, it's fiddlesticks."

Anyway, immediately after this, Julian pulled down his pants and, using his bum cheeks to talk, said in a funny voice, "hello, my name is Jack, what's yours?"

And that's just an example of a typical night at our house.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

This summer, Julian consumed approximately 5,437 Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches.  "Can I have an ice cream sandwich" will forever echo in my ears and brain.  But who can blame him. I remember summers where we'd consume twin popsicles by the giant bagful and even eat frozen pie after frozen pie from the Schwann's man. It honestly never occurred to me that they should probably be heated up first.  But with the Fat Boys (which Julian has deemed offensive), the only condition is that if he gets one, he has to pay a bite-tax to me.  I get to take a corner because they are delish. 

When considering what to do for his birthday cake, the usual took place: I had a brilliant idea, suggested it to Sean, suggested we make it one night, immediately became exhausted, and watched Sean do most of it. Come on, we make a great team.

I learned something though: chocolate shortbread?! Are you kidding me? It's amazing. There is so much good cocoa in there.  And butter, so much glorious butter.  Geez louise I could only eat a little bit before I had to flee.

It was relatively easy to make (from what I could tell) and didn't take long.  But the best part of it all, maybe even better than eating it, was watching Sean work at break-neck speed to assemble everything before the ice cream melted. He was dashing around like a skilled mad man and it delighted me so to witness. It is just my favorite. So while he worked, I snapped pics. I should probably try to put these together in some kind of gif or something but, meh. Old school suffices for me. Just scroll really fast:

A delicious work of art.

Saturday, August 18, 2018


And just like that, Julian turns nine freakin' years old.  

I believe there comes a time in our year where we suddenly become the age that's next. You know what I mean?  Become, instead of simply turned it, turned nine, for instance.  And it doesn't necessarily happen on the day of our birth.   For example, I was watching Julian take a bath a couple of weeks ago. He was taking showers for a while and reverted back to the bath. He's fully capable of doing the job himself but he's always trying to rope me into staying and talking which I can understand because I do the exact same thing to Sean. (we get bored.)  So I decided to stay, and chatting animatedly, he was telling me some grand story about ______________ (I was listening).  And I saw his long reed-like body and listened to his subtly maturing voice and laughed at the words he chose to use, and all of a sudden it hit me:  Oh. You're nine now. This is nine.  Just like that. And it happened in the bathtub. 

I'm going to put up a bunch of pictures of the boy, and I do mean a bunch. But before I do,
I was hiking one day, listening to a podcast of an interview with the writer John Banville. I haven't read anything he's written but I looove listening to writers talk about writing. Here's his wiki page if you're interested in learning more. Also here's the link to the interview. But he's this sort of codgy old Irish guy who perhaps said it best:

"Children just pretend to be children to save the embarrassment of adults.  We know everything by the time we're nine...The rest is just refinement, the rest is detail.  But we know it all by then, but we pretend we don't, so that our parents won't be embarrassed." 

This summer has been the summer of the legos.  And as you can imagine, it's been glorious.  First was lego camp, then we went to Legoland in CA which was pret-ty great, and just so many hours spent building.  Julian has a lot of intellectual energy, I'd say, and legos channel that nicely.  Honestly, is there a better toy? He's downstairs right now, in fact, building as I type.  For my birthday I got a lego set of my own of a modern house that came with a mom and a boy. We named her Betty and the son is Junior. Julian will spend hours coming up with "lego adventures" for us to have where Junior gets kidnapped or trapped or placed in mortal peril of some kind every time and we have to go save him with the help of well-intentioned neighbor, Mr. Bones and his shoddy vehicular constructs that keep falling apart.  I don't know why I, I mean Betty keeps letting Junior come with us them on these excursions. Anyway, they are hilarious and the details he concocts are a marvel. We always end up giggling about something or other.


Jabba's barge?
No wait, maybe this is Jabba's barge.

So much time spent examining.
One morning I heard a bellow and then, "Whew, I almost fell into my own Lego bin."   Now that's a fun visual.

Also, from the other room while he was lego'ing, "Mommy?"  (Writing that out looks SO weird. Like, nobody calls me "Mommy," are you insane? But he does, he does call me that. And I love it. But still i'm like, who?)


"Did you know that love can survive a coma?"

"Oh? Tell me about it."

"Well, I don't know anyone but I read it in Readers Digest and I know that it can happen."

"I believe it." 

Soo funny.  Often we will all of us sit at dinner and be reading something. And that is how our family time is spent.

"Julian, help Dad push the TV cart."
T'was also the summer of the boy-tank.

To escape the disgusto-smoke air, we drove 100 miles straight up and broke out through the haze at Mirror Lake in the Uintas. Here is Sean teaching Julian a handy trick to keep away the mountain lions, a scene I happily came upon after peeing in the woods, in case you wanted to know.

Campfire of the season. Julian and I both brought books and this is how we spent the mealtime while Sean cooked the dogs, of course. But not pictured are the made-up games Julian had for us to play afterward which included trying to throw tiny rocks onto a slightly bigger rock in the river and hit the target. The game was if we fail, we pay him $1. Ha ha, good try.   Also there was a sort of "find the secret stick whilst playing tag" game.   He hid a stick that Sean and I had to race to find while tagging each other.  And a version of kick-the-can with an old rusty can he found. I tell you, ignored only child = the best games ever.  He is the greatest.

I love these pictures so much.
Do you have moments when you discover what's "cool" according to what your kid is learning at school? But it takes a minute because it's this totally arbitrary nonsense, something you'd never think was cool but somehow is? That's what this pose was.

Another cool pose, but more easily identifiable, for obvious reasons.

Food truuuuuuucks!

Sean quote:  "They've taken a perfectly good bench wall and ruined it by putting a bench in front of it."

This is Julian looking carefully for another Ray Bradbury book for me in a book shop in  Carlsbad, CA. Are ya kiddin' me? {heart}

My oldest brother is dad to the oldest grandchild in our family who's 26. I remember my brother saying once that he realized, perhaps a little too late, that kids are who they are by the time they're about ten or so and if he could he might go back and do things a little differently, make special use of that time. It's something I think about. I do feel that the days of malleability are slipping through my fingers. The clay is hardening, if you will. (p.s. I worked on this blog post for quite some time before seeing I had originally typed "claw is hardening."  What kind of metaphor would that be, Jen?? Made me laugh.)   

On our drive to California we passed Las Vegas and the most amazing thing happened.  Behold:

JEN: Look, there it is, Julian: Sin City.

JULIAN: Huh.  I wonder if that's offensive to citizens there? Or maybe they're called "sinizens?" 

JEN: *MUCH LAUGHTER.* {cry face cry face} 

Baby's first pun!  Seriously, he is so clever. I am dying over it.

JULIAN: Hey, is it possible to give advice to Walmart?
SEAN: No, they're legendary on that. They do what they like.

 Julian has a lot of gal pals and this particular one I love. She is my buddy too.  We took her on an outing and this funny dialogue took place where she almost blew my attempts at keeping Julian pure in terms of how boys and girls are viewed. It's my attempt to subtly bring him up feministically and, though things can threaten to thwart my attempts, we're still going strong.  For example:

JULIAN: I like your nails. I get mine painted sometimes.

GALPAL:  You do? [giggle]  What color?

JULIAN: sparkles.  

GALPAL: [giggle, giggle]

JEN: [giggle]  That's right, sparkles are the best. *Looks down at sparkly toes.*

Dang, it was a moment of him recognizing that maybe it wasn't a boy thing too and that he wasn't all too sure he wanted to say more.  "...sparkles..." Dang. 

A couple of weeks ago we were at the library and I found the American Girl books.  I loooved these as a tween but back in my day there were only like four girls.  I thought they were so great and would always keep my eagle eye out for one I hadn't read, any time I visited a library, and it was like gold when I found one.  So, a fan of the originals, I selected Molly Saves the Day (Molly is the girl from WWII times, if you'll recall).   The stories are so great, the little illustrations throughout are so well done and fun.  We read it and I was happy to see it was just as good as I'd thought when i was 10.  Julian enjoyed it too and asked if we could get some more and I had to stay cool a little bit-- "sure, yeah."  while secretly cheering gleefully.   

So in this same car ride it somehow came up and Julian mentioned we'd been reading them.

GAL PAL:  [giggle] You like American Girl?

JEN, interjecting: I mean, why not, right? They're great stories and really well written. Stories about girls can be for boys too.  

Honestly it's an effort to combat all these societal notions instilled in these kids at such a tender age. But it's a battle I'm happy to fight and i pump my fist to the heavens every single day.  A few days later we checked out Meet Molly and Meet Samantha (from the Victorian era) and I figuratively did another fist pump while acting like it's a completely normal thing for books with female protagonists to be for boys, because it is. It is normal. 

Greatest piano practice quote everrrr:
"I never wanted to learn piano! I'll probably grow up to be a famous
musician and that's not what I want to do with my life!" {cry, sob, cry}
Dyyyiiinnggguh. At least he has no lack for confidence.

Oh man, the piano lessons. How proud of this kid am I? If there was ever any question about whether or not you should make your kid learn an instru---YES. THE ANSWER IS YES. ALWAYS YES.  It's been amaaaazing and everything I could ever learn about parenting and life in general is demonstrated through sitting next to a kid during piano practice.  It is a universe all of its own. So many things we learn. Patience, emotion management, perseverance, goal-making, progress-checking, confidence, and then the good ol' drilling, drilling, drilling. Then the brief but euphoric feeling of satisfaction when you finally get it right.  We have had so many amazing conversations and gone through so many battles together and come out on the other side.  He's on duets now and I sit with him and we work and it's the best thing I've ever done with my life. The other day someone asked him how he liked his piano teacher, who is great. He said, "She's good, I like her a lot. But my mom is really the one who teaches me."   *CHEER CHEER HOLDING UP TROPHY.*

"I hope I have a kid like me."  
"Oh yeah? What is it about you that you like, that you'd want your kid to have?"
"I'd want everything I have in me."

 As mentioned, I'm hearing aaaall sorts of things that I say repeated back to all of us and really, I couldn't be more pleased. I mean of course this has always happened but for some reason it feels different now, like oh, you've voluntarily adopted this into your vocabulary.  I am always commending Julian on his vocab and word choice and perhaps there's a good reason why.  A few words I've noticed he says on the reg:

1. Enorme.  Meaning large, in French.  Sean scoffed a little until I told him it's a real word, not just an abbreviation. Now he sees how cultured he is.

2. Forev.  "I haven't done that in forev!"

3. Delish.  It's just weird because it sounds just like me. I feel like I'm listening to me talk. Again, extremely proud.  But so weird.

There have been a bunch but those are the ones I managed to write down. 



Dear Julian, I love so much about the things you choose to be.   I love your progress at self-mastery. You've come oceans, my friend.  I love how if you spill on your shirt, your solution is to simply turn it around and wear it backward.  New shirt!  I love how we are best friends and spend hours hugging and expressing our love every day.  I love adventuring with you, whatever it is.  

At Ruby's on the pier. 

 Happy 9th, best friend.