Holding Pattern

sunsetFebruary is such a great month for countdowns. Especially coming out of the longest damn month of the year no matter what anyone says, January (31 days of post-holiday dreariness, no thank you). Getting to February was one of the last big goals of this deployment, and I can’t believe we’ve made it! I can’t give details of his return due to OPSEC and what we’ll call military flexibility, but I can say that it’s coming fairly soon. Soon enough for us to get excited, but far enough away that we’re still counting down. We’re to the point where when people say ‘it will be over before you know it!’ I no longer want to punch them in the face.

This deployment has been full of artificial targets I’ve imposed to try and get us through and make the time go more quickly. Just make it to fall. Just make it through our Missouri trip. Just make it through the holidays. Just make it through long, cold, gray January. With each one, I trick my brain into thinking that if we just make it through xyz, the rest will fly by (this is a damn lie, but it seems to work). Except now that we’re in February, it finally feels true.

I’m so proud of how we’ve been managing, but honestly the previous months have felt like we’re just keeping our heads down and putting one foot in front of the other every day. Making sure we’re both fed and watered every night is a remarkable feat. We bathe once in a while. Sometimes when I get a wild hair, I take out the trash or go grocery shopping. Really we’re just keeping it together until my buddy comes back.

Now that it’s February, we’re still in a holding pattern, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can start quietly making plans for family dinners and weekend getaways and catching up on Downton Abbey. It will be a long, slow process of readjustment, but we’re so ready to get started.


Three Words for 2015

I’ve been hesitant to hit ‘publish’ on this one. It’s very personal, and it makes me feel accountable – I actually have to start doing this stuff now. Here we go…

Inspired by Megs, who was inspired by Chris Brogan, I’m choosing three words to guide me toward awesomeness in 2015. Three words is such a nice goal – one big word is so much pressure, and more than three would be overwhelming. After some brainstorming and wordclouding and journaling, I’ve decided on my words and what they mean for this year. Turns out I have quite a bit more to say than I thought I would.


This was one of the first words I wrote down, and it first came to me when I thought about how I want to be more physically active (plus, it has been rattling around my head since I read Carry On, Warrior – have you read it? you should). But it embodies much more, and seems like a perfect word to describe my intentions for my body this year. ‘Warrior’ might seem excessive for someone who just wants to be in slightly better shape, but it really is so hard for me to prioritize physical health – I am going to have to fight hard against all my natural instincts to crawl onto the nearest soft surface and watch tv in a ball shape.

I’m going to drink more water (‘water’ was actually the very first word I wrote down while brainstorming). I’m going to move more. Eat good fuel for my body – fresh, crunchy, green fuel. Stretch. Sweat. Choose to make my body active in order to quiet my mind. Stand and walk more instead of sitting all day. Brush my teeth after every meal. Use my blender, clean-up be damned. I want to feel strong again, and be a good example for my daughter.

Here’s where the warrior part comes in. Every time my couch-seeking voice pipes up that I’m too tired, or 15 minutes of yoga just sounds like too much, or washing veggies is too much hassle so I’ll just have chips, or my tennis shoes are upstairs so just forget the whole thing (all thoughts I have had, you guys), I will channel my inner warrior and she will not have any. of. that. bullshit. She will be my drill sergeant and my trainer and my life coach. She’s the one who pushed a 9.5 pound human out of a tiny hole, after all. So some downward dog and a few almonds while watching Parks & Rec shouldn’t be too much to ask, should it?


This one has two meanings, which maybe is cheating but they complement each other so well that I’m going with it.

The first has to do with my physical space. My home, my office, my car – I have a tendency to create something of a nest in every space I inhabit. Clutter spreads in my spaces like Hexxus in Fern Gully – feeding on itself until every surface is covered in stuff. Back in my single days, my bed was pretty much a storage area with a Jenn-sized sleeping space in the middle. Clutter feels like my natural state, and it’s tied very closely to my anxiety. There’s a fascinating psychology to clutter that I won’t get into here – suffice it to say it’s both comforting and maddening to have all the stuff just out all the time. That’s why it’s such a hard habit to break.

But I know I want to break it, because when I took an hour last week to clean just one bathroom, taking everything off the countertop except what I use often and relegating everything else to drawers, it felt SO GOOD. And it has stayed that way so far (pausing here to high five myself). My mornings already feel less crazy because I don’t have to look at a cluttered mess of a countertop to find the few things I actually need, and I don’t have to worry that Evie will pull something horrible off the counter.

So this year, bit by bit, I want to create and cultivate clean, clutter-free, simple, healthy space. Simplify and minimize. Make tidying up a habit, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. Purge and donate the stuff that I’m holding onto for no good reason other than it’s my stuff. Be ruthless with clutter. FOLD THE DAMN LAUNDRY WHEN IT COMES OUT OF THE DRYER. I may need to borrow my warrior voice for this one.

SFOtoMCIThe second meaning to this word has to do with creating and holding emotional space. I’m still getting my head around this concept but it has been a huge help to me over the past year.

Holding space means letting myself feel the way I feel without judgment; identifying my feelings, acknowledging them, and either letting them go or using them for good. Somehow this feels closely tied to maintaining a clear physical space, so in my head this all fits together in one big zen package. I think this is the connection between the two – when my house is clean, I feel more relaxed, calm, and able to make good decisions. Holding space is sort of a way to clear my emotional clutter, too. If this is all sounding a little crunchy, don’t worry, I’m as freaked out as you are by what’s coming out of my fingers.


This one is short and sweet, but I will need to nail Warrior and Space first in order to tackle it. I want to get off my ass and make things every once in a while. I want to shoot, write, sew, journal, crochet, paint, decorate, cook. I want to make my family a nice dinner, make Evie that sensory activity I saw on Pinterest.

My inner warrior will have to kick-start my motivation. And I will need space in which to create. I can’t even fathom making Evie a tub of cloud dough when I know that first I need to clean the entire living room; same with cooking when my kitchen is a mess. Keeping my space clean and clutter-free will give me the freedom to jump in and do and make without having to think too much about it.

That said, I don’t want Make to be a chore, or just another thing on my list. It’s just something I can turn to when I find myself with a rare bit of free time. I’m not going to feel guilty if I don’t do something creative every day, or even every week (although I would like to go back to journaling at least weekly).

So there you have it – my three words for 2015. I will try and check in here periodically about my progress.





dec14Evie’s language is growing by leaps and bounds, and she is quite the wordsmith. Some of my favorite turns of phrase lately include:


  • Translation: gymnastics, our new Saturday morning activity.

“A B C D E F Cheese”

  • One day she’ll figure out the letter G, but right now I like to think it’s a song about letters AND her favorite food.

“No sanks!”

  • She’s so cute when she says this that I can almost keep from losing my mind as she refuses everything I offer her to eat. She also uses this one when I ask her if she would like to sleep just a *little bit* longer because Mama is so tired? “Uh, no sanks!”


  • She’s obsessed with the moon. When we see it on the way to the car after school, we ask it to follow us home, then we say goodnight to it before we go in the house. The day she learns how to say it correctly will be a sad day, indeed.

“I hold da sohsages!”

  • Morningstar Farms veggie sausages are a staple of our diet right now, and for some reason every time I make them she insists on holding them straight out of the freezer. I don’t mind one bit, because hearing her say this is so damn cute.

 “I don like bee cheese” (said with a scrunchy face)

  • Once she insisted on trying the brie I was snacking on, so of course I let her. HER FACE. So funny. And now, every time we talk about any kind of cheese, she has to remind me “I don like bee cheese. Mama eat bee cheese. I don like it.” With the scrunchiest face ever. More “bee cheese” for mama, I say.

2014. {part ii}

I seem to be averaging about two posts per year. As I was reading through the past couple of years’ worth of writing and pictures, I expected to cringe as you do when reading an old journal. But instead, I loved it. I love seeing the things I felt strongly enough about to share, and what I had to say about them.

2014 Wrap Up

This year has been a blur of hard things and wonderful things and some more hard things. When we moved out to Oregon over three years ago now, the fear in the back of my mind which would probably never happen but wouldn’t it suck? was that we would move across the country away from everyone who loved us, we would have a kid, and then Tim would get deployed. Leaving me with said kid and no support. You can see where this is going.

Tim has been away more than he’s been home this year. It has been, as my ever-so-tactful grandmother would have put it, an experience.

IMG_6022One of the hardest things has been finding a balance between trying to stay positive and holding space for myself to feel what I feel. Enjoying the moment while acknowledging that the moment is HARD. Not wanting to wish time away, but being ok with wishing time away once in a while. Basically, trying not to lose it.

Hat’s off to single parents everywhere (not that I call myself a single parent). Evie is all the things I want her to be – wicked smart, confident, feisty, outspoken, daring, assertive. It’s just that sometimes I don’t want her to be all those things at bath time when I’m spent and exhausted and she decides she wants to jump on all the bubbles but I can’t help and how dare I try to rinse her hair I’m a monster and did I mention her favorite beverage is warm bubbly bath water?

But then sometimes when I ask for a hug she will run at me and throw her arms around my neck and say “luh you so much, mama.” So it evens out.

We are fine, we are making it work. Evie is an amazing little person and watching her grow and learn blows me away daily. We have both made friends this year, and we’ve had fun and tried new things. We have traveled around Eugene, to the coast, Davis, Cincinnati, mid-Missouri. We love each other fiercely.


I’ve been inspired this year by many women I know only from afar through their words. These women bare their souls through their beautiful writing. I’m not ready to bare my soul, but I think I’m ready to bare just a little more. A little patch of shoulder skin, maybe. That means telling more stories, even if they’re not perfect (whatever that even means for me). Maybe digging into my drafts folder and brushing off the dust and hitting ‘publish’ on something. Remembering that writing and taking pictures and sharing on this blog make me happy, and making time for it.


jenn evie beach


It’s been difficult so far this year to articulate any resolutions, or even guiding words or goals. But seeing as our holiday cards just went out last week, I figure if I come up with something by February I’m in good shape.

Last year around New Year’s, I had a two-week-old human who had just viciously clawed her way out of my body and into the world and was now in my charge. Quite literally, she was my resolution. Had I time to make a vision board between diaper changes and baby snuggles, it would have just been a picture of her sweet, pudgy, grumpy, newborn face. My resolution was to keep her alive, and healthy, and happy. I’m happy to say that I’ve done all three. So while I may have slipped in other areas – work, relationships, household, fitness, mental health – at the same time, 2013 was probably the most successful year of my life.

Which left me staring blankly at 2014 saying…what now?

Obviously, continue raising my kick-ass daughter and turn her into a functioning member of society. But that can’t be all. She deserves a mama who is more than that. While my word for 2013 could have been ‘Survive,’ that’s not enough this year.

I took a page out of Megan‘s book and started a virtual vision board on Pinterest. Glancing over the things I’ve liked enough to pin there, the themes seem to be enjoying the moment (something I struggle with), letting things go (ditto), and of course, being a good mama.

So cheers to 2014, to letting go of the past, to living in the present. And to this face.

30 Awesome Things

I can’t remember where I first saw the idea of a “reverse life list,” but I thought it might be fun to spend my 30th birthday mulling over some awesome things I’ve already done. Here goes:

  1. Eat sushi in Japan

  2. Hike in Olympic National Forest

  3. Make pie crust from scratch using my Nanny’s recipe

  4. Shoot a gun

  5. Play in a concert band, marching band, trios, and quartets

  6. Have my toes nibbled by doctor fish in Okinawa

    Doctor Fish

  7. Crochet a gift for someone

  8. Go parasailing

    parasailing cancun2

  9. Learn to shoot in manual

  10. Earn a black belt

  11. Hold a monkey


  12. Ride a roller coaster

  13. Complete a 365 project


  14. Visit 35 states

  15. Go wine tasting in Napa Valley

  16. Take Tim to England

    Photobomb 2

  17. Picnic at a winery

  18. Develop my own film


  19. Try skiing (never. again.)

  20. Go whale watching

    WW24 T

  21. Sing karaoke

  22. Snorkel in Cancun (including a close encounter with a barracuda)

  23. Meet a celebrity (twice – only one time did I make an ass of myself)

    Meeting Rob Riggle

  24. Learn to drive a stick

  25. Photograph a family

  26. Swim with dolphins

  27. Run a 5k5k2
  28. Lie in a hammock on a Caribbean island with a rum drink

  29. Donate my hair

  30. Make a new person who is pretty much the best ever


jenn12I clearly remember eating lunch on my 15th birthday at my favorite restaurant (a baked potato bar – I was an odd kid), sitting with my mom, brother, Nanny, and Grandad, and realizing that I was halfway to 30.

I remember turning 21 (maybe not quite as clearly) and thinking that the next “big” birthday would be 30, but that I didn’t have to think about it for aaaages.

And here we are. On the last day of my 20s.

I’ve been playing it cool – 30 is the new 20, etc. And honestly I do feel good about it, and excited for the new decade. 30 doesn’t seem like a scary milestone like it used to; more like a wake up call to make my life the way I want it. So this next year, or ten, I’ll be working on small changes. Balance. Enjoying the little things while still taking small steps toward the big, scary, exciting things.

Let’s do this, 30.