Happy birthday sweets!

20140527-094233-34953170.jpgThis picture so captures who you are.  You live life large.  You are fashionable and sassy, but you are not afraid to run around with the big boys.  When you do something, you dive right in (like that cupcake with the blue icing)!

Every day you teach me how to truly experience joy, how to laugh like everything is “sooo funny”, how to love and nurture and how to live without fear.

I am so proud of the smart, funny and beautiful girl my baby is becoming.

(Allow me a moment to weep as my baby girl turns 5!!!!!!)

 

 

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Jen’s jewels of judgment – parenting edition

Also known as, “Stop raising another generation of assholes!”

Nothing gets my blood boiling more than being in a public place filled with children and their parents, although I am often left wondering if there are parents in the vicinity.

I am not going to say I have never acted like an asshole – I think that was the main purpose of my teens and twenties – but I look back on those incidents with regret and I am trying to raise my children to be better people than I was and am.  Apparently, much of the rest of the world are happy being assholes and raise their children to be even worse.

In case these parents aren’t doing it on purpose, here are some new concepts that they can learn and utilize:

  1. Turn taking – Most kids learn about this in pre-school, but when it is not reinforced by the animals tasked with raising these little buggers, it doesn’t seem to stick.  When you are in a public place and there are activities that lots of kids want to do, allowing your child to monopolize said activity makes you and your child, by extension an asshole.  So if you see kids piling up waiting for their turn, perhaps it’s time to ask your child to move on.
  2. Personal space – I know this is a concept most kids have difficulty with.  Therefore, if your child is entrusted with a long object, like a 3 foot long bubble wand, watch them.  If you see them following an adult around and repeatedly sticking that wand in that person’s face, this is your sign to step in.  Other adults should not be policing your children or being annoyed by them.  I don’t love the little bastards like you do, so I feel no need to be nice to them.  Don’t let them push me.
  3. General child monitoring – No matter how good you think your child is, I assure you they aren’t that good.  They are children.  They will get distracted, caught up in the moment and otherwise, tempted.  So remember, they are children and therefore require supervision.  This supervision should be provided by you, the parent, not by me.  I have my own children to properly supervise.  if you cannot supervise your own children, may I suggest you stay home or better yet, get sterilized.
  4. Discipline – Bravo, you were supervising your child well enough to notice her literally shove another child out of the way to get to a toy.  And yes, you told her that was wrong, repeatedly, while allowing her to play with said toy.  Anyone else see an issue with this picture?  It gave me a small bit of joy when that kid later tripped over my foot. 

When I start hating the children as much as the parents, I know it is time for me to leave.  So in short, stop being an asshole so I can bring my children out in public without showing them my violent side! 

Yesterday, there was one mom who made a point to not be an asshole and I was so shocked by what should be an act of normalcy, I actually stopped to thank her.  So for all you out there, intent on not raising a generation of assholes, I thank and salute you too!

 

Happy Birthday Bright Eyes!

Danny4Look at those eyes!  How could you not fall in love with this kid?  And his eyes are as kind as they are beautiful.

I know I am a little late with my annual birthday post, but I have been busy hosting Game Truck parties for a classload of kids and a family party and then just catching up with life.

This kid makes me proud in more ways than I can count or possibly list, so here are just a few things that he has done in the past week or so:

  • He specifically requested a partially vanilla birthday cake (even though he doesn’t like it) because he knows some of his friends don’t like chocolate
  • He told his friends he didn’t want any birthday presents and that he only wanted to spend time with his friends for his birthday
  • He has been working really hard to learn how to read and just moved up a level.  Yay, little man!
  • He waited to open his birthday present until his sister woke up, because she likes to help open things
  • He used the sewing machine that he got for his birthday to make things for whole family
  • He got a gift card for his birthday that he wants to use to get his first grade teacher a gift, even though we told him we already got his teacher a present

I don’t know what planet this kid is from, but I am sure glad he landed here, especially because I think he will take excellent care of us when we are old and crippled.  Love you, little man!

Travel Tips for Twits – Commuter Edition

Let’s be honest, commuting isn’t really hard unless the people around you suck.  The following tips should help you not suck at commuting (assuming you are smart enough to read said tips, which may be a big assumption, but here goes anyway).  I am summarizing each rule with a brief small worded motto, so the stupid commuters can more easily understand it:

  1. Don’t walk in the dead center of a walkway….and for God’s sake, don’t block off a walkway with your body or your bags or your position and walk slowly.  We are all commuting, which by definition means we all have places to go.  So in short, MOVE YOUR ASS!
  2. When a train is nearly empty, there is no need to sit immediately next to someone.  It’s just weird.  DON’T BE WEIRD!
  3. Be mindful of how you smell.  No one wants to get on a train at the buttcrack of dawn and be assaulted by your scent, be it a $50 bottle of perfume or eau de body odor.  DON’T BE STINKY.
  4. No one wants to hear about your day or your kid’s sports team or your work life.  As boring and mundane as it seems to you, it’s ten times worse for the rest of us who don’t know you, care about you or like you.  So SHHHHHH!
  5. Similar to number 4, assume that those around you hate your taste in music.  Your music sucks and the only thing that sucks worse than your music is hearing little bits of it wafting out of your headphones.  QUIET YOUR MUSIC!
  6. Note the little lines on the train seats.  Those lines are meant to divide the admittedly small seats into equal portions.  Your ass should only take up your portion.  If your ass takes up more than one portion, at least sit in a two seater, so your ass only inconveniences one person and you can spill the remainder of your ass into the aisle.  Do not sit in the middle of a 3 seater.  It guarantees that the two people on either side of you will hate you.  WATCH YOUR ASS!20131211-100345.jpg
  7. If you sit in the center seat of a 3 seater, when the aisle person gets up, it is your job to move the fuck over.  Remaining in the middle seat with an empty seat next to you is annoying, because your ass is likely pouring onto the window seat person (flouting rule 6) and it’s just weird (flouting rule 2).  MOVE YOUR ASS!
  8. Listen to the announcements.  If you don’t and you end up on the wrong fucking train, it’s your fault.   It’s not the conductor’s fault.  It’s your fault.  No amount of bitching and asking the same question repeatedly will make the entire train of people move off course to stop wherever the fuck you want it to.  So stop asking “So the train doesn’t stop in this place you said 12 times it won’t stop at?  Sigh.  So I can’t get to that place on this train?  Sigh.  You should have announced it….more.”  No!  You suck.  SHUT UP AND DEAL!
  9. And when you are on a peak train you should have a peak ticket that you bought prior to getting on the train.  If you don’t, again it’s your own fucking fault.  And you will have to pay for your stupidity, admittedly through the nose, but it’s your problem.  The train conductor didn’t make up the prices to fuck with you.  No amount of bitching and moaning is going to change the LIRR pricing strategy.  The conductor would like you to shut the fuck up and is hating you more and more by the second, so he/she is no way considering being nice to you.  If I were them, I would be considering tacking on an extra “asshole fee”.  It’s your fault.  You should pay for it.  None of the people sitting around you should have to listen to you bitching about your fuck-up.  Believe it or not, we are all perfectly willing to stop the train to kick you the fuck off, so we don’t have to listen to you anymore.   That delay would be so worth it!  SUCK IT UP!

Do I even belong here? aka the mess that is in my head right now

Note: I broke this up into three posts to save you from reading pages and pages of text, but this post will be all about my confusion, so be forewarned it will be a long, rambling mess.

Clearly, my religion is not something I think about on a day-to-day basis.  But on a daily basis, I do think about what it means to be a good person and how to raise my children to be good people as well.  For me, that means teaching them the following:

  • Be thankful for your family
  • Be thankful for what you have
  • Realize that others don’t have it as well as you do and find ways to help
  • Be considerate of other people’s feelings
  • Be empathetic, think about how you would feel in their place
  • Be kind (my kids think that “stupid” is a bad word)
  • Don’t stand in judgment of others (see the empathy up above)
  • Forgiveness is key (again see empathy)
  • Love is the most important thing

For me, religion at its core is about all of those things.  I’ve always felt that church was a safe, familiar place.  As I said, I don’t have issues with religion’s core teachings but how these things are applied.  To me, all of the above means that I sometimes disagree with what the Catholic church teaches:

  • I support good people falling in love and getting married (even if their body parts don’t match up)
  • I believe in the value of other people’s beliefs (Catholicism is no better than any one else’s religion)
  • I understand how people feel in tough situations and I support their decisions on how to extricate themselves (e.g., unwanted pregnancy and abortion), no matter how difficult that decision is

But they never really talk about these things in church, or at least they didn’t.  Therefore, I would go to church and feel bored, disinterested, but never in disagreement.  Religion to me means all good things at its core.  I generally view gospel readings as a collection of stories that teach the above lessons.

So Sunday, I went to church for the first time in 19 years and the experience was unsettling for me, in a number of ways:

  1. They took my kid away!  I purposely took him to the family mass, so it would be kid-friendly.  I had fond memories of family masses as a kid, being brought up to the altar, etc.  So when they called for the young disciples, I sent him off, and he just didn’t come back.  It was literally the longest he has been out of my sight in public, ever.  He came back super happy, so I guess it was all good, but it took me way off guard.
  2. The new translation – it stripped away any level of familiarity I had with the mass.  All of the prayers/responses I had painstakingly memorized through 17 years of Catholic schooling changed.  And replacing “and also with you” with “and with your spirit” is kinda creepy.
  3. No one sings!  WTF!  The music is better, more approachable and more upbeat than I remember it, so people totally ignore it, at a family mass??
  4. There is very little kneeling, which was kinda good, even those padded kneelers are tough on the old knees, but it was another level of strangeness for me.
  5. Lastly and most confusingly – The gospel and homily made me sort of angry.  I am going to escape from this neat little list now and go into full-on ramble mode.

Apparently this past Sunday was the feast of “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe”, so I am not sure this is typical of today’s masses.  The homily was all about how Christians are still sneered at for their beliefs, which I can get behind as wrong.  But then he went on and on about fighting against secularism, and that’s where the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  We need to fight against secularism in schools and courthouses.  Actually, no, no we don’t.  Catholicism doesn’t belong in those places.  This goes back to me valuing the beliefs of others and being empathetic to their situation.  We have every right to our beliefs but so do they.

Are we really so conceited to think that Jesus is the king and EVERYONE should acknowledge this fact?  I started to wonder what they were teaching my son in the little room the young disciples were brought to.  Did I approve this message?  My son tends to be someone who really takes in all of his learnings and lives by them.  Did I want him living by this type of message?  This kind of myopia?

And a bigger question came to mind – If I am not going to get on this bangwagon of Jesus is the king and you should all heed His word, do I belong in a Catholic or even Christian church?  I never felt like I didn’t belong in the Catholic Church.  I always felt I could agree with the key messages and beg to differ with how they were applied.

However, a belief in Christ as the Messiah is Christianity.  If I don’t believe that He is the be all and end all, can I still be Catholic?  Can I believe that all religions have equal value and still be Catholic?

Is it okay for me to view the Bible as just a collection of stories that provide important guidelines on how to live and still be Catholic?

If I am not Catholic, what am I?  Being Catholic is more than a religion for me.  It is about my childhood, a lot of beautiful traditions that will otherwise get lost.  My son came home from religion class yesterday with a picture of an advent wreath.  My mind immediately went back to my elementary school days, where these wreaths would be on full display during Advent, as a reminder that the season was about more than presents.  I remembered painstakingly recreating these wreaths from paper.  My dad and my husband had never even heard of an Advent wreath and that made me sad.  If he had never gone to religion class, I wouldn’t have had these wonderful memories and a tradition that used to mean so much would be lost.

Is it okay that I find meaning in these symbols, without believing that Jesus is the one king we should all follow?

I totally believe you can be a good person without being a religious person and I think I am a good person.  But how much of who I am was created by this religious foundation?  It is becoming clearer to me that there is still a lot of religious teachings hiding beneath my non-religious exterior.  If I don’t give my children the same foundation will something be lost?

Is it okay for me to view the religion as a place for comfort, a place for community and a place for my children to learn a strong foundation of what it means to be good, without buying into all the rest?  Am I just over-thinking this whole thing?

If you know me, you know that I am always open to discussion, debate and more information.  But this time, I am asking for it.

Did Santa create the universe?

My son started saying/asking things that bothered me.

First he said, “Oh God!” and I responded with “Don’t say God’s name in vain!”  Then I promptly looked around to see who had said that.  It certainly wasn’t me…but it was.  He asked me what that meant.  I said “we only say God when we are praying”.  He asked me what prayer was.  That question hurt somewhere deep inside.

Last Christmas I had an internal struggle of how to explain the holiday to him.  I wanted him to know that it was about more than Santa and getting gifts.  But what did I want to tell him?  What did I believe?  I really wasn’t sure.  I believed in a higher being, but did I believe that Christmas marked the birth of a baby that was our Messiah?  Eh, probably not.  When I start really looking into the “stories” that make up our beliefs, I start to wonder what separates Western religions from cults?  Is it just that we don’t sacrifice animals or drink blood or poison kool aid? I don’t mean to be offensive just thoughtful. What makes these stories any more believable or normal than the belief that aliens will come to earth to save the righteous?

At the time, I decided to shelve these questions and tell him that Christmas was about being thankful for the people we loved and celebrating this love by giving to and helping others.  Then he asked if Santa created the universe.  That question hurt too, in much the same way as “What is praying?” hurt.

I slowly began to bury these questions as the business of living took precedence but then it became time to sign him up for religious education if I wanted him to receive communion on time.  Did I?  Again, I really wasn’t sure.  This time, my husband didn’t really have an opinion, but shock, surprise I did.  Those hurt parts of me way deep down inside wanted him to know who God was, what prayer meant and that there was a deeper meaning to all of these holidays (even if I wasn’t sure what they were).

So I signed him up for religion and consistent with my feelings about his baptism, I decided that we would start going to church.  I didn’t want him to learn about a religion we didn’t practice.  I wasn’t going to be a hypocrite about it.

So for the first time in nearly 20 years, I went to church for mass – not to celebrate a wedding or a christening or to mourn the dead – but just to worship…

Not even an A&P Catholic

I like to call myself a lapsed catholic. I went through 17 years of catholic schooling which appears to be a polarizing experience. You come out of there embracing your religion or shunning it. I chose the latter route – Not because I had issues with the core church teachings but because I had issues with how people interpret and follow these teachings in ways that are not authentic at best or intolerant and mean at worst.

People who go to church and consider themselves religious aren’t necessarily good people. The bible is not a historically accurate tome. I could be a good person without sitting in a church mindlessly spouting prayers every week. So as soon as it wasn’t a school mandated requirement I stopped going unless someone was dead or getting married.

Then I met my future husband and we started planning a wedding. I had no need to marry in a church but he wanted to so we started the process meeting with my church’s pastor at the time – the church that was the foundation of my religious schooling. He proved to be one of those not nice people. No church for us!

Then we had kids. My husband wanted them baptized out of a sense of tradition. Having been surrounded by religious education most of my life I was against it. I wasn’t prepared to stand in front of a church and lie and say I was going to raise my kids to be active in the faith. I had too much respect for the religion to spit in its face like that. The husband was adamant. I relented. What was the harm?

In my mind though, I was well on the road to not exposing my children to any religion. However, a lifetime of religion proved easy to ignore but not easy to erase and forget.

There was more religion ingrained in me than I even knew….

Why can’t vampires clap?

Life’s been stressing me out (with all this waking up early, feeding the kids, finding socks that match, etc.).  When life stresses me out, I either bury myself in wine or bad TV, preferably nostalgic bad TV…so I present to you….Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the movie, not the TV show.  (From what I hear the TV show was actually good, but I never got into it, because for me, Buffy will always be Kristy Swason.)

Buffy_The_Vampire_Slayer_Movie

There are several reasons why I love this movie and can watch it again and again and again….

The 90s awesomeness…

Randall Batinkoff of For Keeps fame….Need I say more.  It’s friggin Randall Batinkoff!

Batinkoff

The clothes…..There was a pair of shorts I desperately wanted that looked like the print on Buffy’s red dress.Clothes

Not to mention the slouchy socks, denim cut-offs, vests, bodysuits, flannel…LukeKristy

The absolutely insane range of actors and talent or lack thereof…

Slide1

The quote that haunted me for years….until someone made me feel dumb….

Paul  Reuben’s character Amilyn:”We’re immortal. We can do anything.”…….Buffy: “Oh yeah? Clap.”

I was all like “Why can’t vampires clap?  Is it like how they can’t see their reflection?”

I will show you the image that should have provided an answer….but I will not provide you with the answer, in the hopes that you will also feel dumb.paul-reubens

And finally the BEST death scene of all time (if not the best quality video)…

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=5e4_1308477349