Tuesday 10: Life Beyond These Early Childhood Years


I can feel the end of an era coming as my littlest gets bigger and bigger. Even the puppy is slowly turning into a regular old, gigantic, spazzy dog. In the fall my “baby” begins 4k and I’ll be finding myself with a handful of hours to myself each day. Next year, when she’s in kindergarten, that window of time will get even larger. Like “should I maybe get a job?” larger. I’ve gone back and forth in my mind about what I plan to do when the kids are both in school and the truth is, I just don’t know.

What I do know is that I really want to be there when they get off the bus each day which means “Mother’s Hours” wherever I decide to spend my time. I could volunteer in the class, find a part time job, work from home, spend my days in yoga pants at the gym or walking the dog or becoming the Domestic Goddess that I can’t seem to achieve with two kids in tow. Or something else entirely.

Because it’s Tuesday and I like making random lists, here are 10 things that I would like to when my kiddos are both School Kiddos:

  1. Write a novel or maybe a novella or maybe something else entirely. Creative writing of some kind.
  2. Read lots of other peoples’ novels and novellas and other creative writing endeavors and possibly edit them.
  3. Exercise, like every freaking day. Yoga classes, long walks, strength training, running perhaps?
  4. Go on long walks in beautiful places with my camera and not have a small child tugging on my arm while I click the shutter.
  5. Sit in a coffee shop and drink a cup of coffee and read a book instead of drinking my coffee as quickly as possible and telling my daughter to share the toys with the other kids and stop piling all the toy food on my table.
  6. Take the dog for a long walk every day or at least, much more often – explore dog parks together and enjoy some fresh air.
  7. Go grocery shopping all by myself. Nuff said.
  8. Take a shower and not be paranoid about how many minutes it’s been.
  9. Start reading a magazine and finish it in the same sitting.
  10. Do numbers 1-9 and still have ten minutes left over to meditate or watch crappy television before the kids come home.

You’ll notice that cleaning wasn’t anywhere on this list? I said things I would *like* to do, not things I’ll guilt trip myself into doing instead!

What’s on your mind today? Share your favorite things to do without kids in the comments section or just say hi and tell me something totally random! 

Tuesday 10: Happy List

my happy list

For this week’s Tuesday 10 I was inspired by a recent post at From My Grey Desk in which she shared 10 things on her “Happy List” – I’ve been all about focusing on the positive lately and I thought it would be fun to think about 10 things that always make me happy – the little things that happen often or could happen often with some effort.

Lauren commented that she could look at her list whenever she needs a boost and take inspiration from it. What a great idea! I might have to set this as my desktop background or something so that when I’m feeling grumpy, I can pick something from the list and make an effort to find my Happy when it’s hiding.

What things are on your Happy List?

Tuesday 10: Favorite Vacations

This week’s Tuesday 10 theme is all about vacations. I thought I’d split it up and share with you 5 of my favorite family vacations and then 5 vacations I want to take someday.

One of our first family vacations was to Santa’s Village in the White Mountains in 2008. This was such a beautiful and fun-filled vacation. There are a lot of fun family friendly destinations – we also went to Storyland and a few other awesome places. This was also around the time that I started getting major photo bug tendencies.

When we moved to Wisconsin we decided to turn the drive into a mini-vacation to make the most of the situation. We stopped at Niagara Falls on the way which was so beautiful but I think my favorite thing about this trip was the whole lemons into lemonade aspect and also getting to experience Niagara with my husband, son and my dad. I was so grateful that he made that trek with us.

The Wisconsin Dells are kind of a big deal around here. An entire city filled with theme parks and fun hotels with indoor water parks and awesome restaurants. One of our favorite places to stay there is the Great Wolf Lodge. We had big plans to go again this year but they have been delayed due to our impromptu puppy adoption! A fair trade, I think!

We have been doing a lot of camping since moving here. It makes my travel bug much more affordable and allows us to see a lot of different places. We’ll be going camping at least twice this summer, once with the dog and once without.

One of the cool places we discovered last year was Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which is along the coast of Lake Michigan. The gardens are huge and decorated with inspiration from dozens of children’s books – some classic favorites and some lesser known books. The best part is that the gardens are free! We definitely plan to go back again. I had a blast reading books with the kids and then exploring each garden and taking LOTS of pictures.

So those are five of my favorite trips we’ve taken, here are 5 that I hope to take someday:

  1. Disney World or Land – with the family. I’ve gone before as a kid and young adult but I really want to take the kids within the next 5 years ideally.
  2. Paris – actually I don’t care if this one is a family vacation or not, I just really want to go and if England and Scotland and Italy can be thrown in, I’ll be one happy camper (though I hope we won’t be camping)!
  3. The Grand Canyon – I’ve never been and it sounds like such a fun Classic Vacation Destination
  4. Hawaii or some similar tropical destination.
  5. Washington DC – This is the nerd in me coming out, I’ve always wanted to visit DC.

I could probably name like eighteen more, but this is Tuesday 10 and not Tuesday 28 so I’ll stop there. What are some of your favorite vacation memories?

Tuesday 10 @ Life As Mindy

Tuesday10: Things I Can’t Live Without

It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for a Tuesday10 link up. This week’s theme is things you can’t live without. I thought I’d write from the perspective of a Stay at Home Mom (I know, a novel concept, right?) who spends a lot of these cold winter days trapped at home with a cranky three year old Princess Ballerina Tutu Dictator who thinks that nap times are, like, so yesterday.

Here are 10 things that I NEED to stay sane each day:

  1. Coffee: Most mornings I am forced to wake up WAY before my body would ever do so naturally. To be fair, it’s probably later than many moms get up because my husband spoils me a tad, knowing it will help him live longer if I am relatively pleasant sometimes. But regardless, waking up by 7am at the latest each morning feels kind of like torture until I’ve had a cup of coffee. Perhaps I have become spoiled and mildly addicted but at the moment, I don’t care. As long as there’s coffee.
  2. Disney Junior: Yeah, I’m gonna come right out and admit that my kid watches television. Any parents who never let their kids watch television are probably aliens or hippies (or both?) and you know, power to them, but a little Sofia the First  keeps mother and daughter happy in our household and also lends itself nicely to me goading BB into good manners. “Princesses always chew with their mouths closed, BB, Sofia the First would NEVER chew with her mouth open!”
  3. Peanut butter and jelly: My daughter is in that repetition stage where she wants to watch the same episode of the same television show every day for a month and likewise has been eating the same lunch almost religiously for the past year. Peanut butter and jelly with a side of string cheese and a glass of milk. Fruit or cold veggies on the side may be acceptable. God help you if you suggest anything else. Just.don’t.do.it.
  4. Google Calendar: Some days we need to leave the house. Google calendar reminds me where we are going and when. I don’t know how I existed before the internet sometimes.
  5. Huggies pull ups: With Princesses on them of course. I won’t use any other training pants brand until they all have a resealable tab on the side so that (one) you can reattach them if necessary and two – you can roll them up into a neat little ball if your child doesn’t make it to the bathroom. I am slightly OCD and the sight of a diaper not rolled into a ball and firmly sealed may send me into hysterics (and WILL clog my diaper pail, jerk). You’ve been warned.
  6. Nap time: I don’t always get it, but it does keep me sane. Sometimes nap time is called Quiet Time or Please Go Read in Your Bedroom Time. It’s a mutually beneficial part of my day with BB because whether she admits it or not, she still needs a little snooze time in the afternoon and will fall asleep in strange places later if she doesn’t get one. And mom likes a chance to clean the house, check her email, and okay fine I want to watch Bunheads and Downton Abbey. Mother and daughter will both likely be grumpy on days that don’t include a little #6.
  7. Cherry Coke Zero: My new crack. This is my afternoon reward for making it through the morning. I’m still coming to terms with this whole artificial sweetener phenomenon and I don’t consume a lot of the fake sugars, but this one is my weakness.
  8. My Smart Phone: It might literally be my brain. It’s my grocery list, calendar, email, facebook feed, deck of cards, GPS, camera and more. I try to make it do everything it possibly can for me but so far I still haven’t been able to teach it to take out the trash, check the mailbox or pick up MM from the bus stop for me. Anyone got an app for that?
  9. Hugs and Kisses: Sometimes life is just a lot of go go go and don’t touch that and put your shoes on. Hugs and kisses and story time are the parts in the middle that make it all worth it. They can diffuse a bad  temper, melt a grumpy heart and just plain feel awesome. No day is complete without hugs and kisses.
  10. My husband: Knowing he is coming home each night gets me through each day.

What are some things that you can’t live without?

Things are pretty simple around here and there is only one requirement… Make a list of 10 things and link up at My Life As Mindy!

Next week is all about love! Link up your favorite Valentines Moments {think stereo over your head, meet-cute moments} either in the movies or moments that happened to you or maybe a little of both!

Tuesday10: Momma’s 10 Favorite Books

Tuesday10 officially has a new home at My Life as Mindy! This week’s prompt is open ended. Mindy shared 10 things about herself, a great way to get to know her if you haven’t been following her blog already. This week I thought I’d get all book nerd on you and share my 10 favorite books: my little list of must reads for anyone who’s ever thought “Jen has such awesome taste in books, I wonder what books I should read if I wanted to be just like her!” Anyone?

  1. First off, everybody loves The Hunger Games and I definitely love me some YA dystopian novels but one of my favorites that you absolutely must read if you want to Be Like Jen is the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. This series has all the usual dystopian factors you’d expect but it’s far from predictable. I love the sort of made up language and dialect in this book. When you start adding a -la or -wa to the end of your name and tell your friends that something is nervous-making then you’ll know you’ve got the Uglies bug (which is a good thing, I swear). “Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait for the operation that turns everyone from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to party. But new friend Shay would rather hoverboard to “the Smoke” and be free. Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The “Special Circumstances” authority Dr Cable offers Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.”
  2. Everybody has that classic novel that they always throw into the ring when someone says “What’s your favorite book?” and you want to sound really smart. My favorite Smart Person Book is Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I read the book when I had just graduated from college and was feeling a little disappointed in myself for some less than polite choices I’d made. Reading Gone With the Wind kind of cured me and made me love myself again. I found myself admiring Scarlett no matter how many selfish or less than polite things she did or said and I figured, if I can find Scarlett’s actions forgivable then clearly I can forgive myself. And that’s probably more than you wanted to know about that! But seriously – this is a fantastic book with action and love and heartbreak and friendship and well, everything. Even a boy named Ashley. “Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell’s epic love story is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and its people forever changed. At the heart of all this chaos is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett ‘O’ Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.”
  3. While we’re talking about classics that I love, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen must be mentioned. Perhaps the best love story ever written and also terrifically funny once you get used to the older dialect and vocabulary. This is one of those books that I am mildly obsessed with and I know I am not alone. Much like my love of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, it’s kind of like saying you like Morgan Freeman. Obviously. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
  4. I read The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman last year and it quickly earned “favorite” status with me. I adore Hoffman’s writing style and character weaving. This book is masterfully written. I love historical fiction and this is that genre at it’s absolute best. “In 70 C.E., nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path.”
  5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern might be one of the best books I have ever read. It’s one of those books that sucks you in and captivates you from the beginning to the end. Beautifully written with an amazing love story – this is a book you absolutely must read or we’re not speaking anymore. “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. “
  6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows was one of the first books that I read with my current book club and it continues to be one of my absolutely favorites. Written as a series of letters, this book is just masterful from beginning to end. ““ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….”
  7. Lamb by Christopher Moore is one of my favorite “funny” books. The fictional story of Jesus as told by his best friend Biff is an excellent introduction to the world of Christopher Moore and probably his best book written. It’s crass and silly but also extremely well written and clever. “Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more — except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala — and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.”
  8. I love me a good memoir of any kind and Jen Lancaster has become one of my favorite memoir-style authors. Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster is one of my favorites, chronicling her attempts at weight loss which were all too easy for me to relate to. This will be the funniest weight loss book you ever read. “To whom the fat rolls…I’m tired of books where a self-loathing heroine is teased to the point where she starves herself skinny in hopes of a fabulous new life. And I hate the message that women can’t possibly be happy until we all fit into our skinny jeans. I don’t find these stories uplifting; they make me want to hug these women and take them out for fizzy champagne drinks and cheesecake and explain to them that until they figure out their insides, their outsides don’t matter. Unfortunately, being overweight isn’t simply a societal issue that can be fixed with a dose healthy of positive self-esteem. It’s a health matter, and here on the eve of my fortieth year, I’ve learned I have to make changes so I don’t, you know, die. Because what good is finally being able to afford a pedicure if I lose a foot to adult onset diabetes?”
  9. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, and all the Thursday Next books, is one of my favorite Smart Funny books. It is an English Major’s paradise with some awesome sci-fi twists thrown in. These books always take me awhile to get through as the plots are incredibly complex – but it is always worth the ride. “Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.”
  10. Lastly, having just finished devouring Trail of the Spellmans last night, I am reminded why The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz has become one of my very favorite series books. Light quirky mystery books centering around Isobel Spellman and her family of private investigators – these books are hysterical and cleverly written with the funniest footnotes you will ever read. I love a book with great attention to detail – the kind where you find yourself reading every inch, the cover, the spine, the appendix – just to check for little nuggets of carefully included funny. This is one of those books. “Meet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors — but the upshot is she’s good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people’s privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.”

So those are some of my favorites – the books you must read if you wish to join (start?) my Jen Fan Club – I could list more, but then it wouldn’t be a Tuesday10. But this should get you started!

So what are some of your favorite Must Read books?

Things are pretty simple around here and there is only one requirement for Tuesday10… Make a list of 10 things and share it!

Tuesday10: I wish I was a…

This week’s Tuesday10 theme is Professions I Wish I Had. Being a SAHM this is something I actually think about often. If I wasn’t doing this wonderful, amazing, mothering thing, what would I be doing with my life? Surely I’d have some traditional type job in which I am compensated for my time and energy with something other than sticky kisses and manic hugs.

  1. When I was a tween I saw Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter is Dead and I desperately wanted to be a fashion designer and marry Josh Charles. I loved the idea of having a job that was fun and creative and totally ignored the fact that I cannot draw or sew and I’m not really super fashionable.
  2. In high school Under 21 clubs were all the rage and I believe for a couple of weeks I decided I was going to open a night club, probably prompted by that Full House episode when Uncle Jessie opens a family friendly night club and Stephanie has a hard time dating. I’m so glad I never did this because the idea of being in the same room with a bunch of teenagers high on energy drinks and newly discovered hormones listening to awful music sounds, well, awful. Just because I did all those things myself at their age, does not mean that I want to do them again.
  3. In college I worked at an independent bookstore where I met my husband. The store was run by a husband and wife duo that I idolized. I decided that what I desperately wanted more than anything was to open my own bookstore someday. Possibly a coffee shop / bookstore (before that became trendy) or maybe a coffee shop with a lending library. These ideas still sound sort of fun to me except the owning and being entirely responsible for part  – but I often think about getting a job at a used book store someday and if coffee is involved I’ll be one happy camper.
  4. I also worked for the school paper in college and for a couple of years it seemed very likely that I would become a journalist of some kind, either working for a daily paper or perhaps a cool magazine. I seemed to burn out on the whole journalism thing before I even graduated though and the idea of starting from the ground up at a paper now sounds awful – I was the managing editor when I graduated, so going to get a job writing obituaries or reporting town meetings just does not really hold much appeal anymore – not to mention the constant deadlines in the world of journalism – doesn’t really mesh very well with my parenting style.
  5. My grandmother thinks I should be a teacher and while I do sometimes think it would be fun to teach creative writing or perhaps become an elementary school teacher or a crazy college professor and wear tweed jackets… I am not the most patient person out there and I’m not sure if I have the personality traits that make a great teacher. That said, I am a giant nerd and making a curriculum and designing bulletin boards and decorating the classroom… that all sounds weirdly fun to me.
  6. I love to read. Like a lot. And I often think that I would love to be paid to read – to perhaps become an editor at a publishing company or that person who reads the book and decides if it should be published. If this opportunity ever arose, I think I’d snatch it up in an instant. Hopefully I’d enjoy it and not come to loathe reading because I have to do it.
  7. I also often like to call myself a writer and talk about how I’m writing a novel or I write poetry or maybe someday I’ll turn my blog into a memoir or something. People would totally pay to read this in book form, right???
  8. My husband thinks that I should try writing children’s books because apparently my improv bedtime story telling skills are some kind of amazing, or he’s really sweet and supportive. I have thought about doing this but have found that writing children’s books is actually really hard and you’d think it wouldn’t be – but then I look at the amazing children’s books out there and then the plethora of okay children’s books and I worry about which side of the line I’d find myself on…
  9. Sometimes I take pictures of flowers or babies and think I should become a professional photographer. Then I try to remember what aperture is again and how to adjust white balance and where should I stand when the sun is bright again? And oh my god, I’d have to deal with taxes and figuring out what to charge people and buy fancy equipment and ohmygodIjustwanttotakeapictureofflowersleavemealone!!!!
  10. So where does that leave me today? If I weren’t a SAHM and I could have any job I wanted, what would I do? I honestly have no idea. A lot of those ideas up there ^ sound pretty sweet but it would honestly depend on the time commitment, salary, location, etc. because even if I’m not staying at home with the kids, being a mother will always be the most important job for me.

What about you? What jobs did you dream about having when you were a kid? A young adult? Today?