Tuesday, April 19, 2011

*O* O'ahu

I haven't had much opportunity to travel. Not nearly as much as I would like. But, my wonderful husband has taken me to O'ahu twice. Once in 2008, and then again in 2010, as our late honeymoon. Both times we have stayed in Honolulu, but we have also driven around the island to explore some of the other towns and areas. There is so much to see and experience in the Waikiki area, and I love the laid back feel of the North Shore. I certainly hope someday to see the other islands of Hawaii, but I have loved every second of our stays on O'ahu.

It really is paradise. I can't pick any one thing as my favorite part of either trip. The whole experience was just so amazing. Seeing the memorial for the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor was extremely moving and I absolutely loved the Byodo-In temple, which is a replica of an ancient Japanese temple. Hawaiian shave ice can't get much better than that which you get at Matsumoto's. The view after hiking to the top of Diamond Head is breathtaking.
I loved getting up early, spending the morning walking around exploring or going for a run, taking an afternoon nap, and then watching the sunset while having dinner. Of course being with my husband anywhere is my idea of heaven, but our trips to Hawaii have been just about as relaxing and peaceful as possible!

*N* Nothing

So busy on Sat, and I thought I could make it up on Sunday. But, Sunday was busy, too, and I was too tired to think. And, that apparently shut my brain down for 2 days so now it's make up time!

Friday, April 15, 2011

*M* My darling Miss Marissa

My baby girl. Such a sweet baby. Mommy's girl from the very first instant. When I look back at the first few months of her life, I get a sense of calm and quiet. I was more relaxed as a mother the second time around, and I guess she just picked up on it. Even if her big sister was always hovering nearby plotting some way to knock her over or pinch her, Marissa was
calm and sweet.
The first thing I heard out of the doctor's mouth when she was delivered, even before "it's a girl", was "Look at all that hair!". It surprised me, since Baily had been such a baldy. Everyone always commented on her hair, and to this day it's still beautiful, and her big sister is very jealous of it.

Marissa stayed quiet, even as a toddler. She was a little on the slow side with talking, even though it was obvious that she understood everything going on around her. I guess she felt like she didn't need to talk because she had a big sister to do it for her. But, she did need to learn to walk, because she had to keep up, and I was amazed when she took her first steps just a few days before she was 9 months old. After that, there was no stopping her running and climbing, and she was always very proud of herself for it. She'd give me a mischievous little glance as she'd climb right up from the ground to the top of the kitchen table.

Marissa is so much like me in so many ways. Everyone tells us how much we look alike. Ron always laughs at the way we walk and run in exactly the same goofy way.

She is sensitive like me, and a lot of things I witness as she goes to school and interacts with her friends reminds me of myself as a child. Every teacher she has ever had has praised her helpfulness, and she is kind to everyone she knows. She loves to sing, and will spend hours with a radio and a microphone.

I'm so proud of my baby girl, and I expect great things from her in this life. I love you, Marissa, with all my heart!!!!

*L* Long Run

There was a time when it was really no big deal for me to hit the pavement or the treadmill for a couple of hours at a time. 10 miles, 12 miles, even 14 or more. Even when I wasn't necessarily training for a long race, if I felt like a long run, I could make it happen without much effort.

I just can't figure out why I can't seem to get my head in the correct space to make that happen anymore. I think I want to do it. I know I'm capable of doing it. I don't think it's a physical thing, I really don't. I might have to slow down a little bit, but I am certain that my body can still carry me that far.

I have the time to do it right now. I have more time now than I did when I was ticking off those miles so easily. So, what's the deal?

Was I running from something back then? I think that might have been the case. I was running to make myself numb. Running until my thoughts blurred out, or jumped and shuffled around in the comforting way they do when you are 10 miles in. I don't feel the same need to get to that empty space anymore, but I kind of miss it.

I guess these days I am not running for the same reasons I had when I started. Early on (years before the longs runs came so easily) I was running to transform myself. I was trying to break free of the literal and figurative weight that was holding me down. And, it worked. I shed a little of my old self with every mile, and with every step, I came closer to the person I am now.

These days, I sort of take running for granted. I run because I don't know how to stop running, but it's not that I want to stop. It seems like I have lost not only the numbness and comfort I used to get from a long run, but also the joy I used to feel from accomplishing something and knowing that my body was strong and capable.

I suppose I can never get back the same kind of drive and hunger I had in the beginning, because I am in such a different place in my life now. The missing puzzle pieces that I tried to fill up with running are now in their proper place. But, oh long run, how I miss you. I've got to find someway back to you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

*K* Kiss

Midnight sun
Burning through
Every inch of my being
Molten desire
Building, and threatening to spill
Unable to be contained
Your kisses rain down on me
Sweet, refreshing teardrops
Extinguishing the want
And leaving only
Pure bliss.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

*J* is for Jennifer

Jennifer. Yes, that's me. It's a fairly common name for women around my age (that's a bit of an understatement, no?). It was the number one most popular girl's name of the decade. According to Social Security Online, there were 581,649 of us born in the 70s. Amy comes in at number 2, with 268,971.

Maybe that is part of the reason why I always felt a little on the boring side growing up: very average, very much part of the pack. I always wanted to be unique, but it seems a little difficult when you're just another Jennifer.

I'm over that now. There was a time in my life when I just wanted attention and wanted to stand out. But now, I am more than content to fly below the radar.

So, in honor of J, here's a random sampling of the things that make this Jennifer happy.

  • My Kids
  • My Husband
  • My Mom and Dad, my brother and family, my inlaws
  • My friend Sara
  • My Canon 5D
  • Vacationing with my husband in Hawaii
  • Reading, and reading, and reading some more
  • Music, especially that music made by my dad and brother
  • Music, especially Reckless Kelly, Counting Crows, and Fastball
  • Wallowa Lake in Oregon
  • Snow, as long as I don't have to drive in it
  • Running for miles and miles and still feeling like I can run more
  • Red wine, white wine, bubbly wine
  • Kitty cats
  • People that make me laugh, make me laugh and you're probably my friend for life
  • Disneyland
  • Tomatoes fresh from the garden
  • Caramel Apples
  • Sleeping in
  • Coffee
  • The smell of pine trees
  • Campfires, and roasting marshmallows

Maybe my name is common. Maybe I am common. I really don't know, but frankly, I don't care anymore. I just feel happy, and I plan to continue to discover happiness and love all around me.

That is Jennifer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

*I* Interview

As much as I wish I could be getting enough photography jobs to supplement our income as much as we need, the sad truth is that it just isn't happening. I want more than anything to be the work from home mama/goddess, but right now we need a little more than that.

I have been applying for jobs and I have had several interviews, but I haven't had an offer yet. I know things are very competitive right now, and that there are lots of people out there looking for work, so I am trying not to get discouraged.

I have another interview tomorrow morning, and I am am thinking positive thoughts and hoping for good things. I guess only time will tell.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

*H* Hecktor Pecktor!!!!

It probably sounds like a pretty silly name for a band, but the story behind it always makes me laugh a little. My brother was expecting a baby, and one night he and his wife were laying in bed and reading through the Hs in a book of baby names. They came to the name Hector and my brother said that would never work. Our last name is Peck, and he said it would be impossible to say Hector Peck. It would inevitably roll off the tongue as Hecktor Pecktor. Thankfully for the baby, she was a girl, and I don't suppose there was ever really a chance of her being named Hector. The band, however, started using the name and it stuck.

My dad has been playing music since before I was born, and my brother since he was big enough to hold a guitar. I have always adored my brother, and this is one of my all time favorite pictures of the two of us.
I grew up listening to them play and sing and it has always been one of my greatest joys in life. I feel like our collective love of music has, in many ways, shaped and defined me as the person I am today. Certain music touches my very core and makes me feel safe and at home. When I need comfort or an attitude adjustment, sometimes all it takes is to put a pair of headphones on my head and I can be transported to another place.

My dad played in a bar band that was quite popular in our area when I was a small child. Eventually, my parents decided they didn't want to spend every weekend out until the wee hours of the morning, so the band dissolved, but the music never left our home. Years down the road, after my brother graduated from high school, he joined up with a couple of friends and they began to play as many local venues as they could. They also went into the studio and recorded a couple of CDs. After several years, the friends went their separate ways to start families and finish their educations.

But, the pull of music is always there, and a few years ago, my dad invited a friend from work over to jam in the garage. Larry is a skilled guitar player, and his leads just fit so well in to whatever my dad and brother are playing. And, thus, Hecktor Pecktor was born.

I even picked up the bass for a little while and spent some time jamming with the band. I was never any good, but just getting the opportunity to play with them always made me feel so happy. Here's a little video of a little jam at our family reunion.

They've been writing and recording quite a few new tunes, and even recorded an song my dad wrote back in the 70s called "Old Country Song".

Check out the band page at Reverb Nation and take a listen. I'm so proud to be a member of this family.

Friday, April 8, 2011

G for Gargoyles

One day, my friend Amy and I were walking around at the Hyde Park Street Fair in Boise, Idaho. It's just a quaint little hippie festival with lots of booths selling tie-die and incense and things to that effect. We passed by one booth and for some reason the man there gave us a couple of tiny cement gargoyles. Isn't that cool? That's all I've got. I'm really tired today.

F is for Family

I had time yesterday to write something for the letter F, but I stayed busy with chores around the house and I went for a run, and before I knew it, it was the end of the school day. One child arrived home from school, and I made him something to eat. Then it was off to collect the youngest so he could have a snack and get dressed for baseball practice. After dropping him off, I ran back to pick the girls up from their after school program and get them deposited at home. Then, back to watch the end of practice and home again to finally get dinner started.

After dinner was done, consumed, and cleaned up, we Skyped with our girls in Idaho for awhile (thank goodness for Skype!!!! I would never be able to survive without it!!). By that time, I was just ready to lay down and relax with my amazingly wonderful husband, and I realized that I should have taken the chance to blog during the day when I had it. But, such is life....

My family is the most important thing in the world to me and they always come first. I am so blessed to have so many people to love, and so many people who love me. All 7 of my children are unique and wonderful, the 2 to whom I gave birth, and the other 5 whom I am so lucky to have the chance to have in my life. My husband is my rock, and he helps me be a better person. My parents are always there for me, they give me more love and support than I deserve. My in-laws are incredible, and I don't think you could ask for better.

So, F is for family. I would be lost without them!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

*E* Education

Education is a topic that is on my mind a lot. As a parent, it is so important to me that my children receive a good education at school, and that I am supporting that learning and providing education for them at home as well. I worry about the state of our education system because of the economy and all the budget cuts our schools are experiencing. I also worry about my children staying focused and realizing just how important their education is. That comes from very personal experience.

My school performance was average, but I know that I could have done so much better if I had just tried a little harder. I think I just had my head in the clouds a lot of the time, and I have to admit that I was always a bit of an underachiever. I went off to college with a boyfriend and no more motivation than I had in high school.

I have always been drawn to older people as friends (and spouses), and I think for some reason I just wanted to skip over my youth and become a full fledged grown up as quickly as possible. I dropped out of college after one semester.

All I could think about was getting married and becoming a mother. It was the only thing I wanted. I didn't feel career driven, and at the time I felt that the only reason I needed a college education was if I had a clear career path that would require a college degree to achieve. What I failed to realize, though, was that while I am not career driven, I am knowledge driven. And, I did not anticipate how much I would come to regret that decision to drop out of college.

I moved back to the small town where I grew up, and I did indeed follow my dreams of getting married and having children. But, I had put myself into a situation where there was little I could do to continue my education. My husband received promotions and was finding himself in a career that would provide well for us, but that meant that we couldn't move from the town we lived in, and the nearest college was 100 miles away. I watched as my brother and his wife made many sacrifices to continue their educations and as I witnessed them both receive their college diplomas I was so proud of them and yet, so sad for myself.

The years passed, and I had children to care for and a household to maintain. Even after we were able to move to larger towns where college classes were available, it would have been costly and difficult to balance family, and work, and school, I always just pushed it out of my mind. My children are the best things that ever happened to me, and I have never for a second questioned that I shouldn't have become a mother when I did. But, I do wonder what would have happened if I had pushed a little harder to change my life earlier. As hard as it would have been, there are plenty of people who make sacrifices and find a way to balance family and schooling. Why could I have not done it, too?

And now, here we are. My life is much different and actually even more complicated now than it was before my divorce and remarriage. But, my desire for more education has never been stronger. I feel like I am selling myself short. I feel like I am smarter and more capable than I have ever given myself credit for. But, I don't even know where to begin, and I still don't know if I ever will be able to go to college. The cost is still an issue, and of course there is the fact that I don't even live in one place all the time. It's not going to leave my mind, so hopefully someday there will be a solution that will allow me to make this dream a reality. And, if nothing else, I will use myself as an example to my children to never sell themselves short and to take the opportunities that they will be given. I never want them to feel the regrets that I do.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D for Dreams

Dreams have always fascinated me. Mine seem to be especially vivid and often very complex and difficult to explain. At least, I assume they are. It seems that when I try to explain them to my family they look at me like I'm a little bit crazy.

I also have several different types of reoccurring dreams. One of these is various situations in which my teeth are loose and/or falling out or crumbling in my mouth. It's very disturbing. I once read that this represents saying things that you later regret. I've tried to think about conversations I've had around the times when I've had a dream like that, and I have yet to substantiate that interpretation. But, I try to remember that if I want to keep my teeth when I am sleeping, than I should watch my words while waking.

Another dream that visits me often is one that finds me trying desperately to make an emergency type phone call and I am completely unable to dial the correct number. I've been having this type of dream for years. It started back before everyone had cell phones and phones in their house that showed the read-out of numbers as you dialed. At first, it was always pay phones, and I swore I was hitting the right button, but the wrong number would always show up on the screen. I would hang up and try over and over, but it would never work. Over the years the phones have changed, but the dream remains pretty much the same. It's always so frustrating.

I'm not sure what any of this says about me. Sometimes I feel a little exhausted, because my dreams seem so real. And, more often than not, these subconscious visions are not exactly happy or relaxing. And, now that I am thinking about it, I am hoping that tonight with be one of those rare nights where I don't remember what my brain is doing while I'm sleeping.

C is for Casino

It's not that I've already dropped the ball on on the challenge, it's just that I've been in Las Vegas for the last 2 days and I didn't want to pay for internet service. There will be more on this topic soon....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Baily

There wasn't even a question as to what to blog about for this letter. The very first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the letter B is my sweet girl Baily.

I had just turned 22 years old when she came into my life. There was nothing more that I wanted in life than to be a mother. I also really, really wanted a daughter. I was hoping so much for a girl that I convinced myself for the entire 9 months that I would be having a boy, just in case, so I wouldn't be disappointed.

Baily's entrance into the world was a little on the dramatic side. I like to imagine that she was just very comfortable snuggled into my womb, and she just wasn't ready to leave her little home. But after nearly 2 full days of labor, she was delivered into my arms via emergency c-section. Even as beat up and disoriented as I was at the time, I remember the sense of wonder I felt when the doctor said "It's a girl."

Baily was a fairly easy baby. She loved books from an early age. She would sit for hours and pretend to read. After she learned to talk, she would memorize the words I read to her and she would sit and recite the books as she looked at them. She also loved music, her cats, and the television show Bear In The Big Blue House. At 3 years old she adored Buzz Lightyear, and she told everyone that he was her boyfriend.

She was 3 years old when her sister Marissa joined our family. It was a bit of an adjustment for Baily. She was very used to being the center of everyone's world, having been the only grandchild on both sides of the family. So, jealousy reigned supreme for about a year. It was not uncommon to see Baily with an evil gleam in her eye as she pretended to hug the baby, and then push her over on her head. She outgrew the jealousy, though, and has grown into a very doting big sister.

In a little over a month, Baily will be 13 years old. I am awed and amazed at her everyday. She makes me laugh, and makes me very proud to be her mother. She is kind, and a loyal friend. She is smart, and does well in school without putting in much effort at all. She loves books as much or more than she did as a toddler, and she reads voraciously. She doesn't give much thought to what people think of her, and she's not afraid to be herself. I know that she will accomplish anything that she sets her mind to, and when I look at her it makes me feel like I must be doing something right.

I love you so much Baily, my Bubbly, Bouncy, Beautiful girl!!!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

A: A really Amazing letter of the Alphabet and a woman named Amy

Today I was reading one of my favorite blogs, which is written by a friend of mine named Amy. She's a cool chick who is really open to sharing her journey in life and self discovery and I am constantly inspired by her. It seems that she has taken on a new project: The A to Z Blogging Challenge.

I have followed Amy on a creative journey before. I was following her Flickr stream when she was first attempting 365 days of self portraits, another instance in which I have been totally inspired and in awe of this woman. I gave the 365 days a shot, too, but I was never nearly as interesting or creative as Amy or the other people I admired. I can't remember exactly how many days I made it, but I think it was around 118.

As soon as I read about the challenge, I thought that it was something that I wanted to do, as well. For months, maybe even a year, it has been in my mind that I want to blog more and work more on my writing. But, today I have been more focused on the time I have to spend with my daughters than on anything else, and I figured I wouldn't come up with anything today and therefore I would fail the challenge immediately.

So, with just a couple of hours left in the day to come up with my "A" topic, I was running words through my mind, trying to decide what to write about. I started writing this entry intending to write about something else, but now that I am into it, I realize that I have already written about an A. AMY.

Of course, now I feel slightly stalkerish and weird....but there you have it. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be writing anything. This specific blog entry is really unremarkable, but I am tired after a horrible night of sleep last night and I know I can't come up with anything better. Hopefully the rest of the month with be better for me, or at least give me one or two days of at least halfway decent prose, but only time will tell. At least this is something to keep me motivated.

And, Amy....THANK YOU....
You wrote today that you need inspiration and you needed to inspire. Well, you inspire me, so hopefully that's worth something.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A little love on Valentine's Day

Let’s face it: I am a LOVE junkie. Ever since I was a little girl I have been infatuated with a good love story. One of my early memories is of a Cinderella storybook I read at my preschool. I remember sitting all alone and pouring over those pages with reverence. I’m fairly certain I started looking for my own Prince Charming immediately afterward. I know I am not the only woman who feels this way. Many of us grow up wishing for the dream wedding and the happily ever after. And, even though I disappointed myself by failing in my first marriage, I still want to believe in soul mates and that one deep, true love of my life.

I recently watched a movie called “Paper Heart”. It was a faux documentary about a girl who didn’t believe that she was capable of falling in love. She went across the country interviewing people and listening to their stories of what love meant to them and what it was like to fall in love. Now, it doesn’t take much to get me thinking about love, because I am living my very own epic love story. But, the movie, along with the fact that it is Valentine’s Day made me want to put my feelings about love down in words.

Someone once told me that love is a choice, not an emotion. I go back and forth about this, and I can’t decide whether I agree that this is possible in regards to romantic love. You can choose to give yourself to another person and make a life with them and be happy. But, is that really love? I have to ask that question, because when it comes to the love I feel, there was no choice. This love chose me. It completely blindsided me, knocked all the air of me, and tied me up in knots that I will never, ever be able to undo. And, I couldn’t be happier about it.

My whole world shifted the very second that I first made eye contact with Ron. It may seem unbelievable to some, but it is the honest truth. I looked up, and looked into his eyes and my heart started pounding and I started to shake. He smiled at me, and that was it. I was completely done for. After that first look, I could not get him out of my head for even a second. I knew my life would never be complete without him in it.

And, immediately, there was a connection between us that was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It felt like we had known each forever. Everything about him put me at ease and made me feel so comfortable.

As the years go by, it just gets better. Every time my phone rings or an email comes in, I feel giddy. Every time he walks in the door from work, my heart beats a little faster. Every time I wake up and feel him next to me, I am enveloped in a sense of comfort and safety and pure happiness. I love him for everything that he is, and everything that he is not. I love him for the person that he helps me to be. I love what we are together. It is a love that is pure and exists outside of any pressures or expectations. And, it's not a choice. I couldn't stop it if I tried. It's the most beautiful, incredible gift and I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to feel this kind of love.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Ramblings

The other day I made a statement that I’m sure offended the person I was talking to, and I can definitely understand why that would have been. The words came out of my mouth with a venomous tone, but the negativity was not directed at the person I was speaking to. My discontent stemmed from my general feelings about materialism and society’s tendency to give value to certain things as status symbols. I try not to be judgmental. People are free to make their own choices as to what they like and what they don’t like. But, I suppose there are times when I feel like there aren’t very good reasons behind why people choose the things they surround themselves with.

I know that I am not what most people would consider a “cool” or “trendy” person. People don’t envy me, or pass me on the street and think ‘That woman has it together.’ I don’t care about things like that. I don’t have any desire to impress people, or portray a certain image based on the clothes I wear or the car I drive. In fact, I would go out of my way not to purchase or use certain brand names because of the impression I feel they give.

Now, I’m not trying to be all self-righteous here. It’s not that I don’t like nice things, or things that are aesthetically pleasing. I am certainly willing to spend a little extra money on items that work better or that are made better and longer lasting. I am not above buying something just because I think it is beautiful. But, I try to make good decisions. I try to be a wise consumer and support companies and businesses that have good service and business practices. Above all, I want to set a positive example for my children.

Children are marketing targets at such an early age these days. I can see how easy it is for them to be swept up in the appeal of shiny new toys and clothes that promise happiness and popularity. But, things don’t provide true happiness. True happiness comes from love, relationships, experiences, and God. I look around me and see greed, want, and excess everywhere. I see people falling into a trap of trying to fill up empty holes in their lives with material things; maybe because they don’t know any better. I feel sad for those people, for what they might be missing in their lives. And, I don’t want my children to experience life this way. I want them to feel value and worth for who they are as people, and for what they contribute to the world around them. I want them to see the value and the worth in others for the same reasons.

One of my favorite songs is “Gone” by Jack Johnson. It’s simple, but it seems like there are lots of people out there who aren’t listening.

“Look at all those fancy clothes, But these could keep us warm just like those. And, what about your soul is it cold? Is it straight from the mold and ready to be sold?”

Again, I'm not trying to judge. The choices a person makes are solely their own. I know that I am far from perfect. But, I just want to live in a world where people place value where it should be placed. I wish nothing but true happiness on everyone in the world, as cheesy and idealistic as that may sound. And, since I've never found true happiness in material things, I assume that's not where we should be looking.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Should I blog or not?

Oh, hello blog. Remember me? I created you, I nurtured you, I grew you into a thing of beauty….

Oh, wait. I guess none of that actually happened. In my mind it might have happened. I love to write, but the things that I really want to write (oh, the stories I could tell)…well, someone might read them. And, I might piss someone off. It could make my life complicated; as if it’s not complicated enough already.

There might be another reason why I’m reluctant to write. I recently re-read my old diaries. I’ve been keeping diaries for as long as I have been able to spell (or misspell, whatever the case may be). And the truth is; I embarrass myself. Sometimes I feel like such a fool for things that I have written, even if it was meant for my eyes only. I actually wrote in my diary when I was 15 years old that I hoped someday my daughters could read what wrote, so they would know that I could relate to them. Are you kidding me, 15 year old self??? I read the things that you did when you were 15. I don’t think it’s necessary to give your daughters any ideas. What could I have possibly been thinking? NOTHING! That’s right, NOTHING!! I obviously had not grown a fully functioning brain by that point in my life, so there is no reason to go doling out advice from one non functioning brain to another. But, I digress…my point is, that if I blog about something, and post it on the internet, there is a very high probability that a few days down the road, my more evolved, highly functioning brain is going to say “Damn, I wish I hadn’t said that.”

But, then again, I do only have two followers on this blog. Stay tuned. You just never know.