Friday night coupons and fancy things….

Joe, Vinnie and I are standing in and around our open kitchen. It has not been an easy few days. Currently, we are in the middle of our most recent crisis, leaving the three of us trying to coordinate our schedules to make sure we are all on the same page at the same time.

In about half an hour, I am dropping Vinnie off at work, while Joe stays home with the girls, making sure Sofia does not eat one too many bags of “Hot Cheetos.”

On the kitchen counter is a coupon book I received as a gift for the most recent school fundraiser I put together. It’s a nice size book that contains many local and national coupons. Everything from fast food chains, restaurants, and even car rentals. I am thinking McDonald’s sounds good. As I am flipping through the pages, Joe and Vinnie are now talking about work. The Chef at Vinnie’s restaurant dropped him off the other night. It sounds like the Chef has taken Vinnie under his wing. I am impressed.

As I am flipping through the coupon book, I notice two coupons for the very restaurant Vinnie works at. Excitedly, I interrupt Joe and Vinnie’s conversation.

“Look! I have two coupons for your restaurant!”

Vinnie is standing there, with a deadpan look on his face.

Joe picks up on my excitement.

“You do? What kind of coupons?”

Vinnie, nor his face, has moved.

I may have jumped up and down a bit in my excitement of coupons.

“You and your guest are cordially invited to enjoy one complimentary entree of your choice with the purchase of a Lunch or Dinner Entree of equal or lesser value.”

Joe comes a little closer to me, looking over my shoulder as if I would make up the coupons for Vinnie’s restaurant.

“Let me see that. We should go. What is an entree?”

Vinnie takes his hands and runs them through his hair. A move he does when he is both frustrated and/or stressed, yet he still says nothing.

“You know, an entree is a fancy name for food, they just call it an entree in fancy places.”


Joe goes off on a small rant about how the English language has too many words that mean the same thing.

“And look you guys, the other coupon is for $5.00 off of your lunch check or $10.00 off of your dinner check. We could do it Friday, take the girls?”

Vinnie continues to stand in one place. Looking at me, back to Joe, back to me.

Sofia and Gracie emerge from their bedroom.

“You guys want to go eat at Vinnie’s restaurant on Friday?”

Sofia~ “What kind of food do they have?”
Gracie~ “Vinnie’s restaurant? I thought he just washes dishes?”

My lovely daughters.

Vinnie is now pacing back and forth while still running his hands through his hair.

“Mom, this place is fancy. It’s not like Denny’s or Shari’s. They have a fireplace and make everything homemade. And there’s a lot of white people there, people who look like that show you watch where they are always fighting.”

(He is referring to the Real Housewives of New York.)

“I mean it’s cool you guys want to come, but can you please leave the coupons at home, or at least not tell anyone I am your son.”

I know feel as if I am in the middle of an old episode of “Roseanne.”

“Vinnie! Give us more credit than that, we are not going to come into your restaurant expecting the “Blue Light Special” on the pasta primavera. We got this!”

Joe is now confused.
Sofia is rummaging through the fridge for food.
Gracie is rolling her eyes at us all.

“Mom, seriously, I mean this place is not going to be my career or anything, but I would like to move up at some point.”

Silently, I am laughing inside. I am proud of this kid. It’s also fun to mess with him. Sometimes he makes it so easy. Although, next time, I should probably clue Joe in.

“Vinnie, I am very familiar with your restaurant. One Friday night about seventeen years ago, Me, Christin, Alphonso and Pat, we kinda took over the bar at your restaurant. I mean we did not mean to, but yeah, many years ago, your mother, well, she kinda ran that place for one Friday night.”

Both Vinnie and Joe are looking at me.

In unison, they take a step back. Most likely for different reasons, but they took a step back.

“What happened Friday night?”
“You never told me about this?”

To be continued…….







Runny Eggs With a Side of a Broken Heart.

Today was a long day. A long hard day that ended up with me having a mental breakdown in the middle of Shari’s restaurant. Fun times!

Most of you know that Gracie had her EEG today. A sleep deprived EEG. A sleep-deprived EEG means we were pretty much up all night making sure Gracie does not fall asleep.

We get to the hospital with thirty minutes to kill. While in the waiting room, I sent Joe to find me some sort of caffeine product. He returns with a diet coke for me, a cheese stick for Gracie and some sort of bacon on ciabatta sandwich for Sofia.

Immediately I guzzle my diet coke, Gracie picks at her cheese stick, and Sofia rips into that bacon sandwich as if it is her first meal in weeks. I notice there is lettuce on this sandwich. As you know, “we” have been told to throw away all lettuce because much of it has been contaminated with e-coli. I ask Sofia if it is okay for me to look at her sandwich. I hold it up. I inspect it as if I know what in the hell it is I am looking for. I have no clue what e-coli looks like. Joe, Gracie, and Sofia are looking at me as if I need to be committed to Western State. Seriously, am I the only one who pays attention to the news?

Gently, I explain to them about the lettuce and e-coli thing. Sofia gives me a side glance while pretending she is not rolling her eyes at me, taking the lettuce off of her sandwich. At this point, I am thinking it is too late. If the damn lettuce is contaminated, well, then she is going to get sick. Remember, she tore into the sucker.

The registration nurse comes in and does the usual paperwork. She looks over her notes and realizes that Gracie is now thirteen. While looking at Gracie she says “Well, now it is up to you. Do you want Mom or Dad to come back with you? You are thirteen and can decline anyone to come back with you.” I think it is cute how this registration nurse thinks I am going to send my child back to complete strangers for two hours. Not happening.

Gracie looks at the nurse and as confident as can be says: “I pick both Mom and Dad.”


The registration nurse laughs. “Alright then, I will see what I can do about both Mom and Dad coming back.” She then looks at me, then at Sofia. “Will your younger daughter be okay waiting here for two hours while the EEG is in progress?”

Again, I think it is cute how this registration nurse thinks I would even consider leaving Sofia in the waiting room by herself for two hours. And by “cute” I mean idiotic.

Joe intervenes because he senses I am getting to that point. “No Mam’. I will keep the younger one with me and my wife will go back with Gracie.”

Damn straight.

Gracie had the same tech from a year ago. That was pretty cool. What was not so cool was the new student tech. I mean I get it, she is learning, but it took the student tech half an hour to put all twenty-six electrode things on Gracie’s hair. Gracie fell asleep while the tech was working on her hair, and this was not the time to fall asleep!

The EEG is completed, and both Gracie and I fell asleep. I mean it is a dark room and no phones are allowed. What else was I supposed to do?

We leave, with the promise of results in ten days.

Next stop is lunch. This has been out routine every time we have to go to Children’s Hospital. Aside from the fact that usually everyone is hungry, it is a nice little distraction from the “what if’s” that are quietly going through our mind while we await the results.

Everyone decided on Shari’s. They have a great variety of both breakfast and lunch options, all accessible twenty-four hours a day.

The restaurant is pretty empty. We were seated right away. Sofia always gets the same thing. She no longer eats from the kid’s menu. Her “go to” is the chicken fried steak platter, which comes with a chicken fried steak, eggs, hashbrowns, and three pancakes. She loves it, but always bring leftovers home.

Gracie, the one with dietary restrictions, is always the easy one. Hot wings and a salad. Not because her options are limited, only because she truly loves it. Joe decided to follow Sofia’s lead, and I decided to actually follow a low carb diet. I ordered a side of eggs, a side of bacon and a side of sausage. When our waitress asked us what we wanted to drink, Sofia asks “Can I have a smoothie?”

While trying to talk to both the waitress and Sofia, I simply told Sofia, “No, you cannot have a smoothie, you ordered a lot of food, the smoothie will fill you up.” My attention is now back on the waitress, and I tell her the drink orders.

The waitress leaves and Sofia burst into tears. Now, in this moment, after no sleep, the whole EEG thing, I kinda feel I am at my limit and I will not give in to tears. Just because I said “no” does not mean it is the end of the world, nor is there any reason to be sitting in a restaurant, head on the table crying. (Says the girl who would literally fall asleep on the restaurant  table when I was Sofia’s age.)

So I sit there. Sofia is across from me. Gracie is next to Sofia, and Joe is next to me. I almost feel this is some sort of weird battle. About three minutes pass and no one says a word. Sofia is still crying, head down on the table.

“Sofia, what is wrong? Why are you crying?”

I need her to tell me it is because she wanted the smoothie. I need to look for some sort of teachable moment before I lose my shit.

Joe pipes up. “She is crying because you…” I quickly turn my head to him reminiscent of the cult classic “Exorcist” my eyes must have been full of daggers. I know where he was going with it. He was going to say something along the lines of “She is crying because you came down on her.”

I did not want to hear it. He can disagree with me all he wants, and we will work it out, but in front of the kids, we both need to have a united front. I am not sure if he realized this on his own, or if my look scared him, but he did not finish the sentence.

No one is talking. Sofia still has her head down on the table crying, Gracie probably wishes she was still laying on the hospital table with twenty-something electrodes glued to her scalp.

The food finally comes. Everything looks good. Sofia sits up and starts eating, but she is still crying. Eating and crying. I dig into my food and notice that the eggs whites are not cooked all the way. You know how when you crack an egg, and the egg whites are this slimy consistency? Well, that is how my eggs looked. I took my finger and placed it on the yolk. The yolk was room temperature. I told Joe I did not think my eggs were cooked all the way? He looks at the eggs. “Naw, I think that is how they are supposed…….”

Again, I give him my look of daggers. “Oh never mind you are right, they are not cooked.”

Sofia is still crying. Her hair is all over her face, in her food. The waitress comes over. “How is everything?”

And, here we go.

“Well, actually, everything is not okay. I do not feel my eggs are cooked all the way. There is a fine line between a runny yolk and raw eggs and I think mine is more on the raw side.”

The waitress looks at me, she looks at my eggs as I point out the slimy white part.

“Well actually, when eggs are cooked sunny side up they tend to be more on the raw side, do you want us to get you some more?”

Joe and Gracie look at me wide-eyed. Sofia is still crying and eating.

“No thank you, I am good. Can you please just take these back and not charge me for the eggs?”

The waitress takes the slimy eggs back. Everyone continues to eat. Sofia is still crying.

Something just snapped in me. I felt if I did not excuse my self from the table I was going to lose it. I turned to Joe. “I cannot do this. I want you guys to take your time, finish eating, but I cannot do this right now. Just give me the keys, I will be in the car, and you guys finish eating.”

And with that, I got up from the table and left.

I went to the car, unlocked the doors, closed the doors and sat on the curb and called Christin.

“Hi! What are you doing?”
“Just eating a salad, what are you doing?”
“Oh, just having a breakdown in the Shari’s parking lot.”
“You win. Go!”

And with that, I gave Christin a very quick rundown of the events, and then before I knew it Joe and the kids were making their way out to the car, leftovers boxed up. Christin and I quickly hang up. I tell Joe that they could have taken their time to eat.

“No, it’s fine, I told them I would take them to the gas station though for a treat. You just have to remember Sofia is sensitive.”

Yeah, no shit. I know she is sensitive. I also know her eyes are bigger than her stomach. I knew that if I allowed her to order a smoothie with her food then she would soon be complaining of a stomach ache.

We pull into the gas station. I politely tell Joe and the girls I will wait in the car. At this point, I am thinking I should have allowed Sofia to have the blasted smoothie because what she is going to sucker Joe into at the gas station will be ten times worse.

I am in the car, trying. I am just trying to be. I do not know if it is because of the stress of Gracie’s EEG and not knowing the results, or because during all this crap I had a PTA mom call me with a PTA “emergency” or maybe it was the other mother who texted me and called me a liar, but, right now, I am just trying to be still.

The car windows are rolled down. Joe and the girls are inside, picking out chips, chocolate and trail mix.

“Hey! Excuse me!”

I look out the driver’s side window. There is a man. An older man. Possibly homeless, possibly an addict. I cannot decide.

“Do you have a dime? I need a dime.”

Great. He needs a dime. Does he mean a dime bag of weed or a legit dime? I can’t. I have nothing left in me. I need to be by myself and regroup.

“A dime? I do not have a dime, sorry. My husband is in the store, ask him if he has a dime.”

Great. So I just sent a potential drug addict in the direction of my husband and daughters. What the hell is wrong with me? I need help. I need my family. I need to have someone I can call and be like “Yeah, your granddaughter is driving me crazy. Can I drop her off at your house?”

It sucks to not have family around.

Joe and girls come out of the gas station, with bags full of goodies. Again, I should have just allowed her to have the blasted smoothie.

We come home. Sofia grabs her leftovers and takes them to her room. Gracie is working on her makeup, Joe washes the few dishes that were in the sink. I go out to my balcony and call Christin.

We have a nice talk. Christin is going through her own personal issues now, which allowed me to have a nice distraction. However, she was not going to let me off that easily. She asked me what I was going to do about Sofia and gently suggested that I needed to go in and fix it. She was right.

I hang up with Christin, go inside, and make my way to Sofia’s room. Joe and Sofia are playing the x-box, Gracie is already asleep.

“Hi Sofia. So, should we talk now or later?”

“Okay, let’s get this over with, we can talk now.”

And we did. We had a good talk. I tried to explain to her where I was coming from, she explained to me how her feelings were hurt.

Everything was as back to normal as they could be. As the night progressed, I went in to Sofia’s room to check on her..

“How ya doing? Everything okay?”

“Mom, I do not feel good, my stomach hurts.”

So, I mothered. I took away her bag of “hot cheetos” I picked up her leftover styrofoam container of chicken fried steak and pancakes. I told her “just try to rest, you probably overdid it with the food, Be still.”

I went to the kitchen, poured myself a drink, and realized that this moment that happened today, I kinda broke my daughters heart, and because of that, my heart is now broken.









Vinnie’s First Day

Today was Vinnie’s first official  at college. A day that I had doubts we would make it to, yet here I am blogging about it.

The girls and I dropped Vinnie of with plenty of time to spare. As soon as he leaves the car, I am taken back to his first day of kindergarten. When I took his little hand and walked him to his new class. Immediatley he let go of my hand, and went to work at finding new friends. I went to my car and cried.

Where do the years go? I silently ask myself as I notice my reflection in the rear view mirror. Oh wait, there they are, in the form of wrinkles and grey hair. Thank you, Vinnie.

I suppose now would be a good time to bring up the fact that Vinnie enjoys, he takes such  great pleasure in pushing my buttons. He is also pretty good at it. (That’s to stay between us.)

The school day passes, and honestly, I am not worried. Vinnie is a people person. Much in the same way as my dad and sister. All three of them no how to work the room. This is why we try hard to make sure they are never in the same place at the same time. Vinnie will do good. I can feel it in my bones.

The school day passes, with Gracie and Sofia enjoying their Spring Break, and me wishing for a break.

The girls and I are in the car, waiting for Vinnie to come out. As soon as he opens the car door, plops down on the passenger side, he had these words of wisdom for me.

“Mom, just so you know, when I am at college, I am 19 yr old Vinnie, not 17-year-old Vinnie.”

I pull out of my “customized” parking space, deciding to take a new “shortcut” home.

“Why 19? Why can’t you be 17?”

The girls are giggling in the backseat, while Vinnie notices I am in fact taking a “shortcut.”

“Because no 19-year-old female is going to want to hook up with a 17-year-old male. And, why are you going this way, you know you are going to get lost?”

I assure him I will not get lost. It’s just the back way. The same road runs parallel to the busy highway I am trying to avoid.

“And Mom, guess what,  some of these people already have a kid. I mean people my age, they already have a baby at home.”

I silently start to wonder if I already missed my turn. However, I will just keep that to myself.

“Wait, what? They are your age and already have a baby? Yeah, you better not get any ideas.”

Vinnie looks at me, looks back at the girls while shaking his head.

“Do you even know where you are going?!”

No, I do not know where I am going.

“Of course I know where I am going, I am not an idiot!”

Vinnie turns back around in his seat, noticing we are a bit too close to The Puget Sound.

“I do not remember being this close to the water. You’re going to get us lost. Also, I think I want one of those.”

I cannot make out the street numbers. It has to be around here somewhere!

“You want one of what?”

As nonchalantly as he can, as if I asked him “What do you want for dinner tonight?” he says: “A baby. I think I want one of those.”


It was at this very moment that I almost drove the car off into The Sound.

“See Mom, this is what you have to understand. I am coming from the angle of child support.”

The girls have now put their headphones on and are lost in Mine Craft on their tablet. Now they will not hear the expletives that are rolling off of my tounge.

“What the hell angle are you talking about? The damn angle of how it would be your ass that gets stuck paying child support while you cannot see the kid, are you talking about that freakin angle? Because trust me, real quick I can show you another angle!”

He is lucky I am driving right now, and if (when) I get lost, it will be all his fault!

“Nah, you are not getting it. I will have the kid so then the female will pay me child support.”

I do not even know how to respond to that.

“This better be one of those times where you think you are being funny while all you are doing is just stressing me out!”

Vinnie starts to laugh. The very same laugh he had when he was a michievous toddler getting into trouble. The very same laugh he would use in class after he pulled some sort of practical joke, the very same laugh that would always get me sent to the principals office.

“And Mom, I already have the name picked out. The name of my kid. Vino. That’s tight huh?”

I am able to relax a little. This is classic Vinnie. However, I do believe I am officially lost.

“And what if this fictious kid is a girl?”

He looks at me as if I just said I have no idea who Kendrick Lamar is.

“Uh, Mom, Vino is a good enough name to work for a boy or a girl. See, I think these things out.”

I just can’t with him.

“Okay, now that we established you are 19 when at college, you are in search for a Baby Mama just for the sake of child support, and said baby will be named Vino, no matter the gender, can you please tell me how your first day of school went?”

A big goofy smile breaks out on his face.

“I am taking acting classes! I mean I tried to tell them that I am this good all the time, I don’t need no acting class, but they don’t listen.”

I finally find the street I am supposed to turn on. See, not that lost after all.

“You may not think you need acting classes, but what you need is English classes. It is not grammatically correct to say “I do not need no acting class” the proper way to say it, “I do not need any acting class.”

The girls are now bellowing from the backseat “ARE WE THERE YET?”

“Mom. I mean you may need acting classes but I do not. I was born for this.”

I turn back to look at the girls, promissing only five more minutes before we are home. They already know “five minutes” means “ten minutes.”


All of a sudden he gets serious.

“I went to the library today. It was six stories. We were in an elevator. It was cool, but I did not want to get out. It’s been so long since I was in a libray, I was worried I would get lost, or you know, have to read a book or something.”

We are now on the stretch of road that basically leads us to our front door.

“Vinnie, I am going to need you to keep an eye on the girls realy quick when we get home. I need to make a phone call.”

He starts grabbing his backpack, turns around, looking at the girls.

“You hear that? Mom says I am in charge!”

I can see the girls collectively roll their eyes in the rear view mirror.

“Are you calling Christin or something?”

I make our last turn before we are home.

“No. I am calling your advisor to make sure he did not mix up your test scores with anyone elses!”





Easter 2018

I woke up feeling like a new woman. Pretty soon, I  would be a new and improved Jen! Due to some recent events, along with the fact that a shift is taking place in my life, I figured what better way to start anew than on Easter Sunday. The very day that Jesus rose from the grave. If I played this right, Jesus and I could have something in common. Not being dead, I will just skip that part, but when Jesus rose from the dead, one could say a big ol shift was about to take place, and me, rising from the ashes, rising from feeling broken and sometimes lost, I will rise again as well. Like today, on Easter Sunday.

It would be a productive day. We would celebrate, ( celebrate Jesus, not me) we would enjoy our Easter dinner while reflecting on the past and looking forward to what the future may bring. Yes, it would be a good day.

Joe left for work at about 4am. I figured even the new and improved Jen could use a few more hours of sleep. With “Sister Wives” playing on Hulu, I closed my eyes for just a moment.

Seven hours later I woke up. I am not even sure how that happened. It’s like I went to bed twice. Last night around 11pm, then again this morning at around 4:30. Well, the new and improved Jen was not going to let that stop her! I mean yeah, I was now a good three hours behind on everything that needed to be ready by the time Joe got home in an hour, but, I am good!! I can do this.

With “Sister Wives” still on Hulu (because what says Happy Easter better than polygamy?!) I threw a load of laundry in the wash, the potatoes in the oven and prepped the ham. I was rushing, but everything was on track. Also, it’s not like Joe would come home from work and be upset if dinner was not on the table. He is not like that. Joe is probably just happy to come home and see that the fire department has not yet been called.

The only thing I needed to get started on right now was the glaze for the ham. Now, a glaze packet came with the spiral ham, but I hate those packets. The glaze is always too sweet for my taste. I decided to try my hand at my own ham glaze. From the little bit I had read online, it was just basic ingredients. Pineapple juice (I just reserved the juice from the pineapples I put on the ham) and brown sugar. Two ingredients. It really cannot get much easier.

I decided I would “wing” the measurements. Pineapple juice and brown sugar. I think I am good, right? Liquid to solid ration, with me wanting more solid? Whatever, I will figure it out. I poured the pineapple juice into the saucepan, I then added some brown sugar and cloves. I just figured cloves would add an extra “somethin somethin” to the glaze. I turned the heat on medium high, started whisking. As soon as there were the beginnings of a boil, I took the whisk out, laid it on the counter and let the glaze simmer for a few. At this point,  I am feeling good.

While the glaze is simmering, I switch the laundry, turn off “Sister Wives” and play some music, specifically Christian music, because it is Easter and Jesus rose from the dead and I am rising from my ashes.

Now, here is where things get a bit tricky. I go back to check on the glaze. Everything looks good. It is turning into a nice thick, well, glaze. I pick up the whisk that I had previously left on the counter and give the glaze a quick whisk. It is then that I notice something odd. There is a bit more liquid on the counter than I remember. I mean hell, there was no liquid on the counter, so I was more than confused.

Hmmm. This is weird. Now, I still had a can of about 5 large pineapple slices in it, but no liquid. Remember, I used that for the damn glaze. Was there a chance that there was juice still left in the can, and the can somehow knocked over, and someone picked the can up but did not wipe up the juice?

I am still whisking the glaze. I think anytime now I will be able to pour it on the ham, but the liquid on the counter has me stumped. I grab a towel and wipe it up. I notice an odor. A very odd odor. Dear God, what is happening? I take the towel, slowly bringing it closer to my face and smell it. Quickly, I throw the towel down on the floor while stomping on it. I have no idea why I felt the need to stomp on it, other than I have a tendency to be dramatic at times.

How would this even be possible? Cat pee. A very faint scent of what I think may be cat pee. I look around, making sure none of the kids see this. Especially Vinnie. I then look at my beloved glaze, simmering in the saucepan with the very whisk that was laying in cat pee.

Now, believe it or not, my cats are pretty well behaved. No jumping on the counters, no one is allowed to feed them table scraps. However, I have one cat that likes to push my buttons. He pretends he is dumb. During the days he is just a big ole twenty-pound blob laying on the sofa, only waking to eat and use the litter box. When everyone goes to sleep, the little bastard sneaks into the kitchen and looks for leftover human food. He thinks I am not on to him, but I am. One time, he even opened the damn microwave and took out the chicken. I have no concrete proof it was him, but let’s just say if I was on Judge Judy, she would rule in my favor. Process of elimination and all that. I figured the little bastard was interested in my glaze, he went to check it out while I was switching the laundry. As soon as he heard me come back, he panicked in the form of peeing on my counter and the whisk.

I was ready to panic. The truth is, the cat pee odor was such a faint smell, I was not completely certain. I mean I could pin it on him if need be, but you know. Cat pee has such a distinct odor, maybe it was not the little Bastard, but what else could it be?

Just then, my phone rang. Great, who the hell is calling me now? I go to my find phone and see Christin’s name. Perfect! I answer the phone.


“Hey, what are you up to?”

“Well, ummm, there may be a problem.”

I can hear Christin wanting to laugh, but she is holding back.

“Did you burn your ham?”

“No, I did not even get to that part yet! I think my cat peed on the whisk thing, the whisk that is now in my ham glaze.”

Hysterical laughter….

Still laughing….

Oh my God is she ever going to stop laughing?

“Jen, what??? The cat peed on the whisk?!?!”

I then told Christin the same events you just read.

“I mean I do not know, it is a very faint smell, it could be the bottle of spic and span I have on the counter too. I do not know what to do. I mean the glaze smells okay but the whisk does not.”

Christin and I ponder this series of unfortunate events.

“WHAT DO I DO??? I used all the pineapple juice for the glaze!”

“Okay, calm down. I have an idea. What if you have Vinnie taste the glaze and see if he notices anything,  umm, anything unusual about it?”

“And by “unusual” you mean if he can taste cat pee?!”

Christin is still laughing, I am bleaching down my entire kitchen, making sure no bleach comes close to the oven where I have the godforsaken ham cooking.

“Okay, wait, Jen, Jason just got home. I will ask him how to make a new batch of glaze. Just toss the cat pee infested glaze and we will start from scratch.”

“Hurry!! I am running out of time and I only have brown sugar and maybe honey but I use the honey on my face so I have no idea if it will work for the glaze.”

Christin tells me to hold on. I can still hear her.

“Hey Babe, Jen messed up her glaze, the cat peed in it….”

“NO…the cat did not pee IN the glaze, he may have peed next to it, on the whisk!”

Who am I kidding at this point? In the glaze, on the whisk, all the same, freaking thing!

I hear Jason ask Christin if I have rootbeer. I do not.

“No Babe, no rootbeer, just brown sugar, and some honey she uses as moisturizer.”

I can almost see Jason rolling his eyes.

“Come again? Honey as moisturizer?”

I am frantically bleaching while pouring a shot of whiskey. I cannot serve this to my family. But, I need a glaze for the ham that is most likely drying out as we speak.

“Babe! Just tell us how to make a ham glaze without rootbeer!”

Now, I like to think Christin and I are pretty smart. We are cute, somewhat intelligent girls who just happen to suck at cooking. Between the two of us, we would be lucky to pull off a grilled cheese sandwich.

Jason gives Christin a quick lesson in “Cooking 101 for Idiots.” She then relays the message to me.

I set the cat pee batch of glaze on the side of the sink. I figure it is too hot to pour down the drain. Quickly, I get started on my new and improved batch. Except, instead of the water that Jason recommended, I used some stale ginger ale I had leftover from last night’s whiskey.

Still, on the phone with Christin, who for what is worth is getting ready to go eat sushi for Easter, I feel good about my new batch of glaze. Also, who eats sushi for Easter? Well, apparently Christin and my sister do.

Christin and I hang up, with plans to talk later. My new glaze looks pretty good. I throw it on the ham and now just wait.

Joe makes it home and informs me his parents are coming over.

Back to bleaching the kitchen.

Joe and I are waiting. His parents should be here anytime now. I mean it would have been nice if I had some sort of notice (Joe!) but whatever. The new and improved Jen will adapt.

I take the ham out of the oven, while I run and try to make myself look presentable.

As soon as I come back out, his parents are here. We say our “hellos” get caught up, and I notice, the cat pee infested glaze is still sitting by the sink. Everone is making a plate while eyeing the cat pee infested glaze. This is not happening.

Somehow I need to make my way to the cat pee infested glaze while not letting anyone know it is in fact, cat pee infested glaze.

“Gracie, you eating? Need anything, let me get you a drink? Sofia, you need anything, how about some ranch for the salad, stay right there I will get it!”

The room is looking at me like I lost my ever loving mind. Most likely because I typically make the girls (and by girls, I mean everyone) get what they need. You know to teach independence and all that.

I made it to the cat-infested pee glaze without any interference, and let me tell you, I did not move from my spot. I guarded the cat pee infested glaze as if I was guarding my life.

As soon as the in-laws left, I poured the cat pee infested glaze down the drain.

Joe and Vinnie look at me.

“What are you doing? I was going to dip my ham in that!”

This batch was missing something….

(and by “something” I mean acceptable for human consumption.)






Just another day in paradise….

I had a very long day. A “To Do” list three pages long. Grocery shopping for Easter dinner was top on the list. The original plan was to cook a turkey I still have in the freezer from Thanksgiving, but who am I kidding? Poultry and I just do not do well together, meaning, I will either burn the bird or give my family food poisoning. Spiral ham it is! I can’t really mess that up, can I?

My local grocery store, Winco, was pretty busy. Quickly, I made my way up and down every familiar aisle I knew I needed. Cloves, pineapple, baking potatoes, corn on the cob, salad fixings, dessert and of course, vodka. I mean between you and me, I had no idea what the cloves were for, I just saw some recipe pop up on my Facebook timeline for a ham that called for cloves. We will see how that works out.

I wait in line for what seems like an eternity. When the cashier started to ring my purchase she then put the “closed” sign up on her register. I love when that happens, that means I can take my time and bag my groceries just how I like them to be bagged.

Tiredly, I load my reusable bags into my shopping cart. I was walking pretty slow, eyeing the pizza stand in front of me. Should I buy a 5.00 pizza or just cook the frozen chicken nuggets that were on tonight’s menu? As I am talking myself out of buying the pizza, I noticed something strange.

A man who looked to be in his late fifties was walking in the opposite direction I was heading. I could see him plain as day. He was dressed in business casual attire. A young woman was by his side. This woman looked to be maybe twenty years old if that. This man had his arm around this young woman’s upper arm. It was odd to me. The way he was holding her. The look in his eyes contradicted the vacant look in her eyes. I tried to make eye contact with the woman to see if I could gauge the situation. Her eyes gave nothing away other than empty. She was also chewing gum.

Slowly, I make my way to the exit doors. I do not feel right. Was there a red flag I was missing? I slowly turn around one last time. It looks like they are heading to the restrooms. It all just seemed so weird to me. Something was not right.

I am now in my car, loading my bags into the backseat because I still have Christmas decorations stored in my trunk. In the driver’s seat, I turn the ignition on. The new “Imagine Dragons” song is playing. I like it, although it is not my usual norm. My mind is going. Should I have followed the couple? I mean isn’t that what we are taught, if you see something strange, say something.

My mind is just going. I need to get home but something is keeping me from driving off. Sadly, in my area, sex trafficking is a big thing. I could not stop thinking what if this is what I was seeing? What if this man was taking this woman to the restroom and drugging her up? What if I drive away and not say anything? Wold this woman being on the evening news as a “missing person?” I would beat myself up if that was the case. What if I could potentially be saving a life? Or, saving something.

I turned the radio off, took the keys out of the ignition and made my way back to the grocery store. Not quite sure what I was going to do when I went back inside, but I felt I had to do something. The situation seemed just off.

With my phone in my hand, I debated on if I should call the non-emergency police number. “Look, I know I may sound crazy, but I am at Winco and there is a couple who does not look right, I am not sure if the woman is in any danger, but it may be worth checking out.”

Great, so in my little scenario, I am now telling the police how to do their job. Could I be any more controlling?! Perhaps I should wait until I talk to a manager before calling the police.

But…..what if there was something up. Maybe not sex trafficking, maybe an abusive relationship? I have to do something. Us woman, we have to stick together. Especially in the days of the “Me Too” movement. We have to watch out for each other.

I am now inside the store. I make my way to the pizza counter. The pizza counter is the closest station to the exit doors and where I saw this couple. I get the attention of the cashier on duty. I know he saw the same couple I did. How could he not? If memory serves me correctly, this cashier even did a double take as this couple walked by. Discretely, I call him over. “Hello, Sir. Listen, I know this is going to sound strange, but, I was in here about ten minutes ago. I noticed a couple, and I am pretty sure you saw them too. Older guy, dressed nice, walking with a very young woman. He had his arm around her elbow, so to speak. I just need to make sure the woman is okay. Something looked “off” and I cannot leave here until I know everything is on the up and up. Could you call a manager or someone over? Is this something I should report? I feel I need to report it.”

Pizza Guy looks at me. He looks in the direction of the restrooms, the same direction the couple was headed to. Something as a simple look gives me a sort of validation that I was not the only one who sensed something was off. Okay, we will get to the bottom of this.

“Also, I may want to order a pizza. you know, depending on the situation.”

Pizza Guy looks at me. “I’ll be right back.” he leaves the counter. I assume to make a phone, call a manager over, but he leaves to make a pizza that I was not even certain I wanted. Whatever.

I stand off to the side. Waiting and watching. Although at this point I am not sure where the couple is, I know they did not leave the store. From my vantage point in my car, I was able to see if they left.

My pizza is ready. I throw a five dollar bill and two ones at the guy. He gives me my receipt. “Have a nice day.”

Okay, so what the hell? The pizza was the least of my concerns, what about the couple?

“Excuse me, Sir! yeah, me again! Could you please give me an update on the couple?”

Pizza guy looks at the customer behind me. He may have rolled his eyes. He may have a problem on his hands if he was rolling his eyes at me. Pizza Guy kinda motions me to come closer. Slowly, I lean in. Hoping to hear something.

“Miss, the couple you saw, that was our security. He caught a teenager shoplifting. He took her to the backroom and they are waiting for her parents.”


I needed a moment to register what I was hearing.

I look at Pizza Guy.
I look towards the direction of the restrooms.
I look at my pizza.

“Oh…..Really? Shoplifting?”

“Yes. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

My God, I am an idiot.

“Ummm. Nope! I am good!”

I grab my pizza and head to the “exit doors” just as fast as I can.

One last time, I look back. I mean I am kinda relieved that this is not a sex trafficking situation, but, yeah, I kinda feel dumb right now.

I notice Pizza Guy is on the phone. My bet is he is having security take a picture of me on the cameras…while putting me on the “Do Not Trespass” list.

So, maybe I have been watching one too many episodes of “Cold Case.”





Blue eyeshaddow and red lipstick

“What do you think about this color?”

Excitedly, I held up a Maybelline eyeshadow pallet of three different shades of blue showing my friend, Donna.

“It’s perfect! I think that’s the same color Debbie Gibson wears.”

Donna was a huge Debbie Gibson fan. Me, not so much. I was more of “The Bangles” kind of girl.

“I’m going to buy it!”

Donna was searching through the twenty shades of lipsticks that was scattered in a plastic bin on the bottom shelf.

“What do you think about this pink?”

A lovely shade of frosted pink lipstick. Donna could pull of the pinks, me, not so much.

Between the pink lips and blue eyeshadow, this is what the 80’s were made of.

“Do it! We will look at least sixteen!”

And there we were. Donna and I sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle in the drug store that occupied Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach, Va.

At 14 years old, Donna and I were only recently granted permission from our parents to start wearing makeup.

We each paid for our purchase, after doing extra chores around our respective houses to earn the money. Quickly, we made our way to the food court where the less crowded restroom was. At the counter, we empty the contents of both our purse and shopping bags. Donna had the face powder but I had the eyeliner. Donna was even able to get a bottle of foundation from her older sister. Between us both, we would be set.

Set for what, I am not sure. We were good girls. Neither one of us were allowed to date, yet we at least wanted to have the opportunity to tell a cute guy “No, sorry, we are not allowed to date.” What can I say, that is the logic of fourteen-year-olds back in the late 80’s.

With a heavy hand, blue eyeshadow and pink frosted lipstick were in place. Confidence as our third wheel, we made our way to “Mother’s Records.” A popular store back in the 80’s that sold albums and cassettes. Also, all the cute guys would hang out there.

I took out my Charlie perfume from my purse, gave us both a quick squirt.

Into Mother’s we go. Slowly, making sure we made an entrance, just in case any cute guy was watching.

Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” was playing as Donna and I slowly made our way up the aisles. Our hands gracing the covers of all the new releases.

NWA “Straight Outta Compton”
Metallica “And Justice for All”
U2 “Rattle and Hum”

And my personal favorite Guns N Roses “Lies” that brought us their number one hit “Patience.”

When we would spot a cute guy, Donna and I would linger, looking over an album, reading the track list, even if we had no idea who the hell the singer was. Anything to get the attention of a cute guy.

Donna and I never got the attention of any cute guys that occupied Mother’s Records. Unless you count the time we had our slutty friend with us, then she got the attention, but we will not count that.

However, what we did leave with, aside from the latest  Guns N Roses and New Kids on the Block tape, we left with confidence. We know we looked good. Blue eyeshadow and frosted pink lipstick, with a scent of Charlie to leave our mark.



I am in the makeup aisle in Fred Meyer. Imagine Dragon’s “Thunder” is playing over the speakers. I am waiting. Patiently waiting. My daughter, Gracie, she is on a mission. I have no idea what exactly this mission is but she is on one. She is snapping her fingers to the beat of the song, which is more of an autistic thing than a music thing. I can tell, she feels nervous and rushed even though I am making sure to give her her space to find her perfect color.

She does not even like this song. I know this because it is one of the very few songs I will turn up on the car radio as I am taking her to school.

“I love this song!”
“I don’t!”
“Well okay then, it will be over in two minutes!”

I am watching her from a safe distance. Making sure to give her space, yet not too much space.

“Not a yes-sir, not a follower
Fit the box, fit the mold
Have a seat in the foyer, take a number
I was lightning before the thunder”

She is looking at all the colors. Taking them all in with her almond shaped brown eyes. In my day we had twenty shades to pick from. Now there is only ten.

Gracie is snapping along to the beat of the song. Looking at the colors. She is snapping her fingers with her right hand, while her left hand is following suit, only this time on her leg. Following the exact beat.

“Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder
Thunder, thunder

We are running short on time. I only have twenty minutes before I have to pick up my youngest daughter, Sofia. And, trust when I say this child will not forgive me if I am late.

“Gracie, what about this color, this is a nice pretty brown.”

Gracie is still snapping along to the song. In her own world. She has tuned me out, she has tuned everyone out. This is how Gracie works.

“Kids were laughing in my classes
While I was scheming for the masses
Who do you think you are?
Dreaming ’bout being a big star”

Just as the song finished, Gracie came out of her zone.

“Screw it, let’s go big.”

I quickly contemplate if I should tell her that we should not use the words “screw it” but thought this was an ideal time to pick my battles.

“This one. I want this one please.”

Gracie picks the brightest, boldest red there was.

I hesitated.

“Okay, are you sure? This is the one you want?”

A new song comes one. Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” Gracie is not interested in this song.

“Yes Mom, can we go now?”

I take the lipstick from the very hands that was just following along in perfect beat to “Thunder” a song that she does not like.

“We can, I think this is an amazing color!”

Gracie and I make our way up to the register.

“Mom? Did you ever wear red lipstick?”

Quickly I take out my wallet while being mindful of the time. I look at my oldest daughter with a newfound confidence in her eyes.

“Well, I was never brave enough to wear red lipstick, but I totally rocked the blue eyeshadow.”

Gracie looks at me, almost in disbelief.

“Really Mom, blue eyeshadow, how old are you?”

I took my purchase from the cashier, much the same way I did when I was fourteen years old, back at Lynnhaven Mall.

“I am old enough to know, just how important it is to leave your mark, whether it is blue eyeshadow or red lipstick, we are meant to leave our mark.”






I heard about Korey only three days ago. Immediately, I knew I would never forget him. Time will show me in what capacity I will remember him, but he will be remembered.

God willing I will make it to my Twilight years, Joe and I will be sitting by an outdoor fire pit, in our backyard. All of the animals are close by. Our kids, with maybe a few grandkids, will be on their way over for dinner. Naturally, I will have ordered take-out, as I do not see myself even in my Twilight years as much of a cook.

Aj will be the first to arrive. He will have his beloved husky close by his side. Aj never had children, he knew from early on that he only wanted pets, specifically a husky. Over the years he has lost his share of pets. Now, now was the time. He is in a good place and could afford the exact dog he has been talking about since he was seventeen.

Sofia would be next to arrive. Pregnant with her second child. Sofia and her husband have great banter between them. I am proud. For once my youngest daughter listened to me. She started off as great friends with her now husband. They had known each other through grade school, lost touch during middle school, reconnected in high school, and social media being what it was, never lost touch.

Vinnie and his wife would be next. A lovely woman. You have to have a sense of humor to be with Vinnie, and she has it. Vinnie has excelled as a fireman, currently, he and his wife are discussing having children. Just like his older brother, Vinnie has an assortment of pets. He has always had and always will have a special place in his heart for animals.

Gracie would be last to arrive. My one child who I thought would be on time, ever rarely is. She has had great success in her own way. Tonight is about her, tonight we are celebrating her recent engagement. It’s been quite the journey with her. Many trials and tribulations along the way.

Tonight, as our family gathers around the fire pit, surrounded by our beloved pets, family, and memories, we will all make a toast in Gracie and her fiance’s honor. We will celebrate the past, present, and future.

I will turn to my soon to be son in law, I will hug him while trying to hide my tears of joy. Jake, my rescue dog will immediately come up to me, making sure I am okay. I will reassure Jake while letting go of my soon to be son in law and say the words “We have prayed about you for a long time now. God took his time which is usually the norm for this family. We are glad you are here. We are glad you are not a Korey.” My soon to be son in law will look at me, assuming I have had one too many vodka tonics. Vinnie will jump in. “Oh I remember him, I wanted to kick his ass!” Sofia will look at her husband, rolling her eyes “Not this again!” and Aj will be dumbfounded. “Who the hell is Korey. You guys never tell me anything!”

I will sit back down in my spot next to the fire pit, tightly wrapping my shawl around me. The cool Seattle air is showing us the first signs of fall.

“Korey was the first boy who broke Gracie’s heart.”


Three days ago when I picked up Gracie from school, she informed that Korey likes her, and she likes him too. I went home and had a drink, not quite knowing how to digest this new information. This was new territory for me, and in some ways, territory that I never expected to tread on so soon.

I listened to Gracie tell me all that she could about Korey.

Come to find out Korey and Gracie have not yet spoken one word to each other, yet they were somehow dating.

I can relax a little.

The next day I pick Gracie up from school. She is not acting quite like herself. I just assumed she was tired.

As we all get settled, I go into to her room tell her dinner is ready. Gracie is crying. Full blown tears, cannot catch her breath crying.

“Gracie, what is wrong? Talk to me?!”

Behind sobs, she was able to muster “Korey called me a loser today.”

And right then and there, I wanted to kick Korey’s ass.
Right then and there, I new times, they are a changin.
Korey, probably the first of many.

Korey, the one who broke my daughter’s heart.


Of course, I have no idea how this life of mine will play out. That is how it is supposed to work. The best case scenario, well, you just read that.

In this life, there will be sickness, death, promotions, and success. We will have life teach us lessons in many different ways. Some lessons are harder than others. Sometimes we will not even know they are lessons until we move on to the next big thing. Those of you reading this, we know it is those hard tough lessons in life that builds our strength, builds our character.


There is a man. Close to middle-age. He is in the kitchen, washing dishes from dinner. His wife is upstairs, giving their young children a bath. This man finishes up the dishes, grabs a beer. He goes out to his deck, lights up a cigar, a gift from his own father. He joins his son, his thirteen-year-old son who has been sitting on the very same deck for hours.

The man motions for his son to take off the headphones. The son obliges.

“How ya doing bud? Anything I can do?”

The son tries to discreetly wipe the beginnings of fresh tears away from his eyes.

“Nah Dad, I’m good.”

The man slowly inhales his cigar, before permanently placing it down.

“Son, let me tell you about the time I was in the seventh grade. The time I made a girl cry, the time I called her a loser.”

The son seems moderately interested.

“I was not proud of that. It was more important for me to impress my friends. I did not even think of the girl it would hurt. I was selfish, I was stupid. I think about her every now and then. A quiet girl. I knew she liked me, but it was the seventh grade. All I cared about was football…… Gracie. I hope she has done well for herself.”

She did, Korey. She truly did.