The One Before New Years Eve 2018

We never go out on New Years Eve. I hate it, I hate crowds and I feel like there are too many crazy people out on the roads. We stay in, listen to music, and usually order out.

Due to plans tomorrow, I did have to leave the house today to pick up some essentials. The store was freakin packed. Like worse than Christmas Eve packed. I had to grab a shopping cart from one of the stalls because there were no carts inside.

I do not do well with people. Specifically stupid people. I do not have anxiety or anything like that, it’s just that my Italian Temper sometimes gets the best of me when I am surrounded by idiots.

Is it really that hard to navigate the grocery store? I thought it was much like driving. You have two lanes. You never stop in the middle of the road/aisle (without pulling over) you make sure to stop and check for traffic. Why does no one get this??!!!

I had to go down the beer aisle for Joe. While I am trying to find his very specific kind of beer, I see two idiots. You know the type. Young twenty-something hipsters. They may have been counting their spare change to be able to afford the 12 pack of God knows what.

Idiot Number 1~ “Dude, for a few bucks more we can get the 24 pack. Score!”

Idiot number 2~ “Yeah Man, but how much is it? Like you seriously do not have beer at your house?”

God help the poor women that will be flattered by this 24 pack of God knows what.

Then comes the frozen food section. I needed a few bags of hash browns for a brunch tomorrow. Well, for some reason I could only find the diced hash browns, but the recipe calls for shredded. I am scanning the cases. Not quite sure if I am just not seeing it. All of a sudden, this woman comes up. Her phone in hand as if she is looking at her list. Perfect makeup, perfect hair, wearing a bit too much Burberry. Oh, and she has no regard for personal space. She would stand in front of me, I would move away. She would follow I would offer a loud “SIGH!” This chick was not getting it. Up and down the freezer section I went in search of shredded hash browns, and sure enough, Burberry Lady followed me.

Finally, I had enough. “Here, you go ahead and get what you need, I think I am going to be a little longer.” I take a step back while motioning for her to take the lead. Burberry Lady walks off like I somehow offended her. Whatever.

I finish my shopping and find my place about twenty deep in line. Knowing that it would be a while, I grab a diet Mountain Dew from the cooler case. Great, this cashier seems to be a little too talkative. I am going to have to fake it. (See, I can be nice when I have to!)

Time to unload my groceries from the cart on to the belt. Naturally, the cashiers are switching out. That’s cool. New guy looks like he rather be any place else other than behind the register. I feel you New Guy!!

I am up, he starts scanning. We make small talk on how crazy busy it is. He scans my diet Mountain Dew. “Would you like this now?” It’s like New Guy can read my mind. “Yes please!” He hands me the cold drink, I open it, and it explodes all over me and the floor. I am seriously standing there in a puddle of diet Mountain Dew. Not even kidding.

Me~ Oh my gosh I am so sorry!

New Guy looks up.

New Guy~ Oh. Oh no, look at you! I am so sorry!

New Guy picks up a roll of paper towels while grabbing the phone to make a page.


I take my scarf for reasons that I am still unsure of and start wiping myself down. I had the diet Mountain Dew everywhere. Hands, jacket, jeans, and remember, I am standing dead center in the middle of it. Some may say it looked like I had an “accident.”

Slowly, I turn around to look at the line behind me. I can see people rolling their eyes while checking to see if any of the other lines may be shorter than the “CLEAN UP ON REGISTER FIVE” line. However, directly behind me stood an adorable elderly couple. Who for some reason, had no idea that I just spilled diet Mountain Dew all over me and the floor. Their back was turned towards me as they were unloading their cart. Had it not been for this sweet elderly couple behind me, I would have told all the others who were rolling their eyes to “Put your eyes back in your head and maybe come help clean up!” But, I digress.

Meanwhile, still, no CLEAN UP ON REGISTER FIVE associate came to, you know, clean up. I continue with my scarf and start wiping everything down.

New Guy~ Are you sure you are okay, I am so sorry. I feel this was my fault.

Me~ Trust when I say this is typical of me. Not your fault at all, I am just worried about the couple behind me, I do not want to them to step in the sticky soda.

New Guy looks at the couple, who are still oblivious to the happenings that are going on in front of them.

New Guy~ I get you!

He grabbed a roll of paper towels, pushed my cart out of the way. Together, we cleaned up the mess on Register 5. A small act of kindness on his part, but one I appreciate. Because trust when I say this poor couple behind me had no idea. They were still unloading their groceries! I had visions of them inching their cart forward while their feet slipped out from under them.

I make it home just in time to order pizza before the kids start asking (demanding) “What’s for dinner?”

And then, I somehow sat in cat urine.

But that is nowhere as interesting as the CLEAN UP ON REGISTER FIVE story.

So, we will just leave that alone.

Happy New Year Vodka Callers!

Make it a good one.


Wet floor sign and mop on white background



The One That Could Be Perceived As A “Bad Omen.”

While taking complete advantage of the 70% Christmas sales today, I get a group text from Dad.

“So, are we all on board for the Jar idea?”

I am sure many of you have seen this floating around Social Media. The premise being, on January 1st – December 31st you have a jar. Over the course the year, you add your blessings to the jar. It could be a job promotion, it could be losing weight, good grades, anything that you feel thankful for. Then, on New Year’s Eve of 2019, you open up the jar and read all of your blessings from the year.

Pretty cool, right? I mean you guys know me, totally my kind of thing. So, since I was already in the store shopping the 70% off sales, I decided to snag a jar. I found an adorable vintage style glass jar that says “Home For The Holidays” across it, with a picturesque snowy scene and a family in a station wagon. It was perfect! I grabbed the jar that only cost me five bucks and threw it in my cart.

I finish up my shopping, then come home.

Being that I live on the second floor, I will do whatever it takes for me to only make one trip up the flight of stairs with groceries. Each arm had about six bags each on it. I made the haul up the flight of stairs, although it was not easy.

I open the door and lay all the bags down. The routine is in this household, we have the girls put away the groceries. The girls are putting away the groceries while anxiously looking for the snacks I also picked up for them.

Gracie finds the jar. She picks it up by the lid. “What is this?”

I am in the kitchen, and already know what is going to happen.

“Be careful, that is……”


She dropped the jar and shattered glass went everywhere. Seriously, Gracie herself was surrounded by different fragments of broken glass. We had to order her to STAY STILL while making sure the cats were out of any harms way. Glass was everywhere. She dropped it on the hardwood floors, and yet many pieces found their way to the carpet.

I start cleaning it up, Joe comes over in now “work mode” and starts giving directions, because apparently, I do not know how to sweep up glass.

It was a mess.

Joe has hold of the broom, he does about five rounds of sweeping, just about breaking a sweat. I mean I get it. Can you imagine one of us, or the kids or even the cats stepping on tiny pieces of shattered glass?

Finally, when everything is cleaned up. He looks at me. The kind of look where he is not sure where my mind was at when I made the purchase.

“So, what was that even for anyway?”

Feeling defeated, I look at him, I look at my trashcan that has remnants of what was supposed to be our “Blessing Jar” for the new year.

“Oh, well, we were going to write down and put all our blessings in it for 2019.”

He looks at me more confused than ever.

“It was Dads idea!”

Joe does not know whether to laugh or, pretend he does not hear me.

As do I.

Okay, 2019, we are ready for you but please for all that is Holy, do not let this be a bad omen.

(I will update this post in 365 days and let you know how it all turned out)





The One Where My Son “One Upped” Me

Grab a snack, or some Vodka, because this is a good one. Also, you guys are on my side. I mean the story speaks for itself, but trust when I say you will be on my side.

Shopping for Joe for Christmas is always a challenge. First of all, he is always so stubborn. “Do not get me anything!” “Save money!” “I do not need anything!”

Except he does need things. For instance, he needs a new wallet. He has had the same wallet since before we have been together. We have been together for 15 years. You guys, the wallet is in such bad shape that I know sooner or later I will be doing a blog post on how Joe lost his debit card because it is not safely secured in said wallet.

But, I did not get him a wallet. In hindsight, perhaps I should have.

Anyway. Joe has an older brother who passed away many years ago. For the longest time, Joe has wanted to get his brother’s name tattoed on his arm. Every now and then Joe will break out his sketch pad and start working on different designs for the tattoo that he hopes to one day get. It is important to Joe (and I happen to agree) that his brother’s name is in Joe’s own handwriting.

Over the last two months, Joe has picked up calligraphy. Joe has spent countless hours filling up pages of different calligraphy styles in the hopes to find the PERFECT design for his brother’s name.

While I was doing my Christmas shopping, I came across an old school style calligraphy set. I knew that would be the perfect gift for Joe. He is both artistic and creative that way.

Christmas morning, I give him his gift. He opens it. You can tell he is taken back. “Who got me this?”

Resisting the urge to roll my eyes, I say to him “I did! Who do you think got it for you, Santa Clause?”

He sits there, admiring his new calligraphy set. He tells me “After the kids open their presents, you know what I will be doing all day!”

Great! Perfect! I am glad he likes it.

Enter Vinnie.

“Here Dad, this is for you.”

I look over at the bag from Target, because Vinnie does not know how to wrap.

Joe takes out some stupid new PS4 game.

Joe is now in awe.

Joe professes his gratitude.

I silently watch as my calligraphy set is now set aside.

Oh trust me, it gets better folks.

We continue with our day. Everyone is taking it easy, with each kid doing their own thing. Basking in the glory of gifts from Santa and grandparents.

Naturally, Joe is playing his game, while my brand new calligraphy set is sitting next to him untouched.


You guessed it. The brand new, fancy calligraphy set is still in the same place on the sofa.

Idiots. The whole lot of them.

It’s late at night. Joe has been asleep for hours. I am in the living room watching my new favorite show “Speechless” (seriously, this is a must watch.) Vinnie comes home from work.

“Mom does Dad like the game?”

I finish off my vodka and diet, roll my eyes and then prepare for a speech….kind of.

“Does he like it? Of course he likes it! That is all he has been doing. You are a One Upper! You totally One Upped my Christmas gift to him!”

Vinnie laughs and makes some stupid comment about how he knows Joe better than I do.

I am not finished yet.

“And another thing. You see the calligraphy set? You see it there on the sofa with wrapping paper still in place? I bet you ten thousand dollars in five days from now, it will not have moved. Oh no, the calligraphy set will still be there on the sofa, just waiting for me to move it, but NOPE I will not move it. I will wait it out and maybe when Dad dies one too many times in the dumb game he will then gain interest in the calligraphy set. We will see, but mark my words, that calligraphy set will not move.”


It’s the end of the night. Everyone is winding down. Once again, the calligraphy set has not moved. Are we really surprised? Joe, having to get up at 3am tells me “goodnight” and he gets up from the sofa heading to bed.


He takes the calligraphy set with him.

What the hell?!?!?

Something is up. I can feel it in my bones.

I am now on season two of “Speechless” (seriously you guys, you need to watch this show!) I am slowly, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Why now? Why out of nowhere would Joe take the calligraphy set with him? I mean he is going to bed. Hmmmm. Something is up. I just need a little more time and I will figure it out.

Enter Vinnie…again.

Vinnie is home from work. With a fresh pizza in hand, I can’t even be bothered with the aroma that is calling to me.

“Vinnie! Look!!!!!”

(I point to the empty space on the sofa where the calligraphy set was for the last 48 hours)

“What am I looking at?”

Clearly, he does not get it.

“Don’t you see! Dad took the calligraphy set with him……to bed!!!! I thought FOR SURE it would be out here for at least five days! I mean why now, why did he take it with him? It is not like he is going to draw or anything…and now if I had the money I would technically owe you ten thousand dollars. Something is going on? Could he be on to me? Does he know I was waiting him out? Surely he did not just take it with him for the hell of it!”

Vinnie sets the extra large pizza down while grabbing a gooey slice of what looks to be “heaven in a box.”

With a mouth full of food, he utters to me “Oh that, yeah I told him how you were watching.”

What? Did I hear this child of mine correctly? This child who I gave birth to almost 18 years ago???


Slowly Vinnie swallows the pizza that in about 3.5 seconds will kill him.

“I mean yeah mom. Us men, we need to stick together. So I told Dad about how crazy you are and how you are monitoring the pen set and whatever craziness goes through your head.”

You guys, I was blindsided! How could my own kid not only “One Up” me, but in the process threw me under the bus?!?!

It is war.

Also, AJ is my new favorite.









Cue the anxiety.

I had last minute Christmas shopping to do today. All day long. I left about 11:30 this morning, and did not get home until 5.

One of many stops, Barns and Noble. This particular store is located in a rather large shopping center surrounded by Best Buy, Pet Smart and Pet Co (not even joking) some wine store, a Chinese bakery, shoe store, you get the idea. By some miracle, I found a parking space right in front of the store. I mean the jury is still out on if it was a real parking spot or did I just make it one, but it served its purpose for the forty-five minutes I was in Barns and Noble.

With my phone in hand, I had the image of the book on my screen that Sofia is asking Santa for. I march right up to the customer service desk.

“How can I help you today?”

“Ya, how ya doing? Do you have this book?” (Throw my phone into the face of the cashier)

“We do, follow me!”

He brings me right to the book. Easy.

“Anything else I can help you with?”

“Yeah, is this the section for 13-year-olds?”

“No, that’s over here. Follow me.”

Again, very easy.

I am standing there looking at shelves and shelves of books that are considered “young adult.” Obviously, I am looking for a book for Gracie as well. She is into mysteries.

Cue the anxiety. Every single book I pick up to flip through, I knew it was out of Gracie’s reading level. I mean there were a lot of cute ones. Some even marked by a “James Patterson recommends this book.” But, no. I knew it would be a bit much for her. Back to the section where I got Sofia’s book.

Again, I am faced with shelves and shelves of books. I mean how hard can it be to find a good ole mystery book for a 13-year-old girl who happens to have autism and may be a bit delayed in her reading comprehension. It’s freaking hard.

So I am standing there getting annoyed. Mostly annoyed because it really should not take me standing in a bookstore to realize that finding Gracie books would be a bit more challenging. I am looking around, at no one in particular. Just looking. The place is packed. Kids with parents, kids with what looked to be their grandparents. Couples, singles, it was just packed.

I am still holding the book Sofia asked for. I flip it over to read what it is about, hoping it may give me some ideas for Gracie. The book jacket tells me it is the autobiography of a lady who takes the reader through 6-12th grade. Apparently, this woman had issues with her teeth from a fall, and long story short she was made fun of in school. Cue the anxiety. Sofia herself has problems with her teeth. She has such an unusual case going on the orthodontist has rarely come across it. Is Sofia having problems in school? Are people making fun of her? Is this why she asked for this very specific book?

After going to trusty old Google. I made a selection on Gracie’s book. Large print, only about 150 pages. Few pictures, and it is a mystery. I made my up to the front and notice that there was a very long line. Like crazy long. I mean the line wrapped around sections of the store I have never been to. I ask the gentleman in front of me, “Excuse me Sir, are you in line?” Politely he tells me he is, so I settle in right behind him while going through a mental list of all the other places I need to go.

“Excuse me, are you in line?” I turn around to see a young lady who looks just as frazzled as I do. “I am, it’s a long one huh?” She laughs, the gentleman turns around and makes an even funnier comment on the long line. For about seven minutes, the three of us were just chatting in that long Barns and Noble line. Three strangers who most likely would never cross paths again were just chillin’ in line. It was nice. A nice change from the usual rudeness I see on a daily basis.

I am back in the parking lot trying to maneuver my way in between about three cars who are going to be fighting over the not so parking space I made my own. My mind is all over the place. Cue the anxiety. The traffic, the budget that is slowly dwindling. Joe’s payday, I still need to wrap presents and let’s not forget AJ and Vinnie. I still need to get their presents. These two are some of the hardest to shop for.

“What do you want for Christmas?”
“Nothing, do not worry about me.”


I am sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, in the parking lot. This is insane. People are leaving Best Buy just walking out in traffic not even stopping to see if there are any cars coming. Well, of course, no cars are moving, we are all at a standstill….but still. All it would have taken was that ONE person to see the car line backed up and wait a few extra seconds while waving the cars to go. While sitting there, my mind wanders. I start to “People Watch” all the idiots that are not stopping to see if there are moving cars.

Each person I see, the attractive 30 something man, the older couple, the young hipster, with each person I see I come up with a story for them. All of us are doing last minute Christmas Shopping. It’s like we had no idea Christmas falls on December 25th. The young attractive 30 something man is buying something for his “man cave.” His wife will most likely get on him for not bringing home what was on the list. An argument will quickly ensure. The older couple in the later years of life is busy buying last minute items. This will be the first time in many years that all their children and grandchildren will be together under the same roof. Sure, they may go over budget, but it will be worth it. The young hipster is most likely there to spend lunch with his girlfriend, or boyfriend, or both. Who knows.

Finally, traffic is moving. I only have three more places to go. And, although I have a game plan, I still feel some sort of anxiety. I am not entirely sure why. I mean this is my favorite time of year. Maybe it is money? Maybe it is because a part of me is always waiting for the “bad news.” I do not know, any of you guys like that? Sometimes I feel when things are going good, it is only a matter of time before something bad happens. I feel I am being productive, but yet I still somewhat anxious.

On my way to Fred Meyer, I stop at McDonald’s. It is late afternoon and I have not had anything to eat. I know my body well enough to know that if I order a Big Mac combo, it is early enough where the carbs will not matter and my jeans will thank me. Plus, there is just something about fountain sodas that taste so much better than regular soda.

Immediately, I guzzle my large diet coke soda. It is cold, crisp and refreshing! I am at a stop light, which is the perfect time for me to start eating the fries, except, I notice a guy, a homeless guy on the corner, pretty close to my car, with a sign that says “Hungry.”

And there my anxiety goes again. I mean all I need is five seconds and I can come up with a story, with a past for complete strangers. This guy is someone’s son, and the thought of him and many others spending Christmas on the side of the road, or in the homeless camps throughout our town, well, that is just enough to throw my anxiety into overdrive. Quickly, I looked at the light, then checked my rear view mirror. I folded up the bag, rolled my window down. He came walking over to my car. “Sorry, this is all I have, I do not even have a drink. I mean I do but I am drinking it.” The car behind me beeps. The light is green and this homeless guy with the “Hungry” sign is either looking at me like I am crazy or looking at me with gratitude. He takes the bag as the car behind beeps again. I was thisclose to getting out of my car and having some words with the car behind me, but you know, my luck I would have gotten run over or something.

“God bless you.”

I offer an awkward smile while giving the car behind me the infamous “Jen Look” but who are we kidding, he did not see me. Off I go to Fred Meyer, and my first stop is hitting the deli counter, because, well, I am hungry.

It is always a fine line with me. A juggling act of sorts. Trying to bring the magic of Christmas to my own family, while making sure everyone is taken care of, and the hurt and sadness I feel for others who are less fortunate (and do not even get me started on the animals!) Sometimes I feel guilty, sometimes I feel blessed beyond words. Like I said, it is a juggling act. A very melancholy time of year for me.

But….and cue the anxiety again, for me, it is always New Years that almost brings a sadness. New years to me represents the end of the show. You know how when you go to see a really good movie, and you are SO into this movie. You do not want the movie to end, except it does. It always does. There is always an ending, and when you leave the movie theatre and take those first steps outside, your reality sinks in. “Okay, back to the everyday grind. It was a good show, can’t wait for the next!”

Yet, there is never an encore.

I guess this is what being an adult is all about.

Sometimes, I long for the days of Santa eating the cookies and Rudolph eating half of a carrot. I long for the days of innocence, where the only thing I had to worry about is “I wonder if Santa will bring me a Cabbage Patch doll for Christmas.” I miss the days where I did not know how hard life can be. I miss the days where I did not know that people literally lived on the street and animals were abused. Do you see? It is enough to make you cry.

The other night Joe and I actually spent some time together. Without any prompting from me (and do not act like you never prompt!) he says to me

“You are my wife, I am a better person because of you.”

and then, in those moments, I know that Santa is listening.






Behind the Scenes

I have so many stories just running throughout my head. I carry a journal with me everywhere. Just for the sole purpose to write down story ideas, and even more recently lyrics to songs I will never write because I do not know how to write music. I even take my journal to work. I take it out with me on the playground where I hang out with my friend Henry. It only took one time of Henry running into the local neighboorhood and me having to leave my journal behind while chasing him to make me rethink bringing my journal to work. These days I leave it in my car for when I get my much-needed breaks and the inspiration hits…or misses.

Some are my everyday work, kids, wife stories, some are fiction story ideas, and then some stories are what I believe to be real, we just need someone to bring it to life.

Years ago when one of my beloved cats passed, I wrote a story about Rainbow Bridge. The premise being,  Rainbow Bridge is getting ready for a new arrival. Lots of hustling and bustling goes on in Rainbow Bridge, making sure everything is just right for their new resident. What happens is, God, who is like crazy busy doing his thing with everyone else, assigns some very special pets, pets who have been in Rainbow Bridge for a while, as The Welcoming Committee. When my cat (well, one of many) passed, God put Rocky in charge of showing Sam the ropes and assigning him his own little cloud to watch over his earth family.

Rocky is Joe’s beloved pet that passed away about ten years ago. A former pet is always chosen to be the Welcoming Committee, and if there is no former pet, then Rainbow Bridge just chooses the next in line. Like the time my sister lost her beloved dog, Belle. Belle was her first pet so my Sam was now in charge of showing Belle the ropes, giving Belle her new cloud and just showing her the logistics of Rainbow Bridge with Rocky safely watching on.

Then I started thinking. What happens on the other side? Surely there is more going on behind the scenes, right? Things we have not even stopped to consider until it’s looking at us straight in the face. What happens to the abused, abandoned animals?

Well, I think I figured it out. Hear me out. So, God knows everything, however, we all have free will. Now, the bad people out there who are pretty mean to animals, well God will deal with them. Sometimes it may not seem like God watches over all animals, but he does. Let’s take TC for example.

TC is an adorable, playful ten-week-old kitten who found himself abandoned in Montgomery, Texas. Specifically in The Parents yard. Now, God knew that The Parents were praying for guidance on if it would be a good idea to add another pet to their household. God knows this because in The Book Of Prayers, under “The Parents” he sees that every night a prayer has come in. God being God, he kinda has his hands full. However, he knew this would be an easy one for him. Not without its glitches, but you know, that’s where faith comes in to play.

As God was looking through The Book Of Prayers, something clicked with him. “Hmmm. John, can you bring me The Book Of Animals? I may be on to something here.” So John, the devoted guy he is, brought God The Book Of Animals. Immediately, God flipped to the section of Montgomery, Texas and looked up The Parents address. “Just as I suspected! John, I need you to head on over to Rainbow Bridge and let them know that tomorrow’s newcomer, well, I have other plans for him.”

John, as devoted as ever, heads over to Rainbow Bridge and lets Blink (my beloved cat who passed not even a year ago) know. “Change of plans, he is up to something again. Looks like you have some time off!” Back in Heaven, God works his magic, puts a few things in place.

Talking to no one in particular, God mutters to himself “Alright. Everyone knows I answer prayer in three ways. With a hard “yes” a hard “no” or a “wait and see.” I really cannot be any more clear.”

God then closes both The Book Of Prayers and The Book Of Animals, but not before he made some notes in the margin.

Meanwhile, in Montgomery, Texas. The Parents are getting attached to this new little kitten that somehow just showed up in their yard. Imagine that! Making sure to spend equal time with the new kitten who is safely in the garage and resident cat Owen who, how shall I say this nicely, is not your normal cat, The Parents seem more conflicted than ever. The Parents do not want Owen to feel neglected or replaced, yet they want to do everything they can to make sure this new kitten, who they now call TC is as safe and happy as can be.

God having some free time, even though “time” is not really a thing in Heaven, decided to check in on The Parents. God is sitting there at his desk (the whole throne thing is a big misconception) while looking down. The Parents are in the garage playing with TC and Owen is sleeping in the closet. Something that is not out of the norm for him. John happens to come in and sees the look on God’s face. “Does this look have anything to do with what’s going on at the Borders?” God, taking a small sip of wine “No, Montgomery, Texas, the kitten.” John pulls up a chair and watches along. “This reminds me, how are Tony and Helen doing? I have not seen them in some time. Well, earth time that is.” God does a little half laugh. “I have Helen watching over Jennifer…again. She is probably up for a promotion right about now.” John, nodding in agreement. “I am thinking Saint?” Without saying a word, God agrees.

Back in Montgomery, Texas. The Parents take TC to the vet. It is worse than expected. It looks that even at ten weeks old, little TC was hurt pretty badly by whoever had him last. His back leg needs to be amputated. The Parents are crushed. As if they were not conflicted before, even more so now. Of course, they will take care of TC, and fix him up. The Parents want TC to be happy and loved. As he already has their heart. Yet, so does Owen. Right now, they are just playing the waiting game. They are waiting for TC’s surgery in early January, they are waiting to see if Owen will adapt to TC they are just waiting and praying.

“Well, Hello Helen. Nice to see you. I would ask how are things, but I already know you have everything under control.”

“How is my Donny doing? I spoke to John. He tells me…”

God, trying to hold back a laugh. “Relax. I have it covered. I am just waiting for, you know how it goes the Faith to kick in.”





Laverne Defazio

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
shlemiel, schlimazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated
We’re gonna do it

Before Daniel LaRusso, before Alex P Keaton, before Mike Seaver and before any of the Huxtable clan, there was Laverne DeFazio.

I first met Laverne on “Happy Days.” Laverne and her BFF, Shirley, had a double date with The Fonz and Richie. Laverne and Shirley were likable, relatable, and left the audience wanting more. After five more appearances on “Happy Days” a spinoff was made, and well, the rest is history.

Give us any chance, we’ll take it
Read us any rule, we’ll break it
We’re gonna make our dreams come true
Doin’ it our way

As young girls, my sister and I would watch religiously. By its third season, Laverne & Shirley became the most watched American program, which would lead them to be nominated for two Golden Globes and an Emmy.

None of that matters to me. For both me and my sister Laverne & Shirley meant more to us than any fancy awards. Two young little girls trying to find our place.

Nothin’s gonna turn us back now
Straight ahead and on the track now
We’re gonna make our dreams come true
Doin’ it our way

My sister would always be Laverne, as they were both the more outgoing flirty one, and I would be Shirley, the shyer prudish one.

We would mimic their dance moves every time there was a show to put on at Shotz Brewery, and both my sister and I would root for a lifelong Shirley and Carmine romance.

There is nothing we won’t try
Never heard the word impossible
This time there’s no stopping us
We’re gonna do it

Of course, Laverne, also known as the incredible Penny Marshall went on to do bigger and some would say better things. But, not to my sister and I.

No. Larven & Shirley, to us, was so much more than a show. It touched our lives. I remember one time I was watching the show, this was when they moved to Burbank and had the new opening to the show. I saw both Laverne and Shirley wearing cute summer dresses and skirts. I remember thinking “Maybe if I wore a skirt like they do they people won’t be able to tell how fat I am.”

When our parents took us school shopping, I made to sure to incorporate a few skirts.

On your mark, get set, and go now
Got a dream and we just know now
We’re gonna make that dream come true
And we’ll do it our way, yes our way
Make all our dreams come true
And we’ll do it our way, yes our way
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you

So many memories behind that show.

Laverne DeFazio passed away today, and my heart broke a little.

Joe always tells me he does not care about celebrities, they are nothing to him.

“Well, that’s only because you have not found the one that has impacted.”

So tonight, as Laverne DeFazio is at her brewery in the sky, I will raise my glass of milk and Pepsi and Salute one of the best.




I have had a pretty hard time in adjusting to my new preschool gig at work. I did not ask for it, in my humble opion, it was forced upon me in a less than ideal way. But, I need a job so I had to accept it. My days are now split between working with the Functional Core Class (something that I believe everyone should do at least once) and working with little autistic preschoolers. When I first told Dad what was happening he was like “I think it’s great, the kids will love you! This is good!” Blah Blah Blah. I am not ashamed to say that I thought Dad just did not get it. I do not do well with little kids. My forte is with the 3-5th graders. I fought it, I was unhappy, I adjusted, and I made it work….for now.

I work with an adorable three-year-old little preschool boy. “Bean.” I am telling you guys, Bean needs his own show. He is adorably amazing and has quickly become my favorite. Apparently, he has some behavior issues, but I do not really see them as issues, I see them as normal. For instance, he gets overwhelmed if there is too much noise or too much going on. I mean, don’t we all? Little three-year-old Bean can carry on a conversation with you like there is no tomorrow. I adore him, and it is because of him that I am now coming around to perhaps liking this preschool gig I was forced to do.

So today, out on the playground, I am working with my little friend Bean. Now, Bean knows me all too well. He knows that all he has to do is reach into my coat pocket and an assortment of gummy worms will be there. I use gummy worms as a “motivator” for my kids, and it works pretty well. As Bean reached into my pocket and found said gummy worms, I told him “Okay, but you have to work for it!” And so it began.

Me~ Bean, Walk with me.
(he walks)
Me~ Okay, stop!
(he stops)
Me~ High five!
(he gives me a high five)
Me~ “What’s your name?
Bean~ “What’s your name?”
Me~ “Your name is Bean!”
Bean~ “Your name is Bean!”
Me~ “My name is Jennifer!”
Bean~ “My name is Jennifer!”
Me~ “Hi Bean!”
Bean~ “Hi Bean!”

He earned a gummy worm, which he happens to call “snake.”

He earned it because he listened to my prompts, although he mimicked many of them.

I gave him his “snake” and off he went to play. Running around without a care in the world.

I am now standing there talking to the other Para’s while watching the kids play.

About ten minutes later, after the main Para told me “Okay no more gummy worms.” Bean runs up to me.

“Snake Jennifer, snake!”

What? Did he just say my name? Without me prompting him?

I melted. I bent down, gave him a hug. “Oh my gosh Bean, you said my name! You can have all the snakes you want!”

The other Para’s looked at me, rolled their eyes and called me “a sucker.”

I mean is this new information? Of course, I am a sucker! I should not even be working with kids because they know what to do to get me to fold. Just ask Henry! However, and more importantly, the main Para told me “He does not even say his teacher’s name!”

Whelp, that is all I needed to hear. Bean can have whatever he wants. He has now taken a piece of my heart that I did not even know was available.

And, once again, I have to say, and I really do not know even know how he does this, but Dad was right.

"I don't think I can express what I have to say in just colored paper and glue."





“The Christmas Tree Crisis.”

Joe and I have each found a new show on Hulu to watch. And by “new” I mean new to us.

Joe’s new show is “Designated Survivor” with good ol Kiefer Sutherland. It’s not bad, I just feel like I have seen it done before.

My new show is “A Million Little Things.” I am only on the third episode (because someone is hogging the t.v) but I am already addicted. It follows a group of guys around who became friends under extreme circumstances. In the first episode, one of the guys commits suicide, and as morbid as this may sound, that sealed it for me. I had to keep watching.

Of course, I was unable to keep watching because I had to go out and help Santa make some Christmas magic. And Joe, well he is still watching his show.

In between cooking dinner and blogging, I noticed once again my damn cat was sleeping in my Christmas tree. I do my usual “BRYAN! GET OUT OF THE TREE!.” He does not budge. Seriously, Bryan believes I put the Christmas tree up just for him and him alone. He does not mind sharing with the other cats, as long as they just sleep under the tree, but when I dare to call him out, the little bastard rolls his eyes at me.

I have to wait him out. It’s like that saying “A watched pot does not boil.” Or something to that effect. So, I go wash some dishes, make a phone call, all while keeping one eye on Bryan. I need to wait for him to get bored and come down so I can evaluate if his fat ass ruined yet another branch.

As Joe and I are doing our own “Battle of the T.V” Bryan decides to get out of the tree and takes a front row seat to see who will win. “Okay, fine, you get the t.v I need to fix the tree!”

Just as I suspected, the branch that held my ten-pound cat is now bent, and I have a “hole” in the tree. “BRYAN!!!! COME LOOK AT THIS! THIS IS WHY YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE TREE!”

Bryan takes this opportunity to go use the litter box.

I stand back and assess the tree. I have a few options.

Option 1~ Bring out one of the five other trees that I have in storage.

Option 2~ Rearrange my village that is under the tree so the now bent branch will lay on the steeple of the church.

Option 3~ Turn the tree so the hole is now in the corner and not visible to the naked eye.

After thinking way too long about the now “Christmas Tree Crisis” I decided to leave it.

As I was standing there, my mind kinda flashed forward ahead some years.

I am in Gracie’s home. I am sitting in a chair by an end table with a lamp, sipping on my signature drink of vodka and diet. I am watching Gracie hand an ornament to her own daughter. AJ and Vinnie are there doing the dishes from Christmas Eve dinner. (Well, that certainly is different.) Sofia is there as well, kinda dictating where her niece should place the ornament. Typical Sofia. Gracie tells her daughter, my granddaughter “Do not listen to her, put it where you want.” Sofia rolls her eyes and now takes over the distribution of ornaments. AJ comes in. “Yo, Sis, there is a hole in the Christmas tree. Want me to turn it?” Vinnie, not too far behind AJ, “Nah Bro, remember, this is what mom would have wanted. We are leaving it for her.”

And Vinnie is right. Leave the tree and its perfect imperfections. Because in the imperfections are where the memories live.





Elizabeth is a childhood friend of mine. I met her at church when I was 14. There was a group of us, Elizabeth, Jess, Darlene, and myself who all just connected. Many weekends would be at each other’s house, the mall, or on youth group activities. The best thing was our families knew each other from church. There was a trust between both the friends and our respective parents, as there should be. Quite honestly this was a solid set of girlfriends. I think the only thing we ever did wrong just involved me and Jess going to a concert and then meeting some random guys-but that’s a whole other blog.

Life took all of us in separate directions. We all became young mothers. Most of us married and then divorced. Elizabeth and I remarried. Jess is still single and Darlene has been happily married to her high school sweetheart. To this day we remain in contact with the wonders of social media.

I was kinda-sorta dating a church guy. We were young, so there was really no “going out.” We would hang out at Church or the Prayer Room and see each other on youth group activities. He was a very nice guy and had I not met the dipshit sperm donor of my oldest son, I am sure our story would have continued for a bit longer. We went to Christian prom together, however, before Prom, our dates were going to cook us dinner at Elizabeth’s house. (We were young and had no money!)

Elizabeth’s father, Bobby, or as us girls called him “Mr. Bremmer” gave all of our dates the third degree. He was polite yet firm. He made them feel welcomed yet let them know we are expected back at Elizabeth’s house at 10:00. He was hard, but always fair.

Shortly after Christian Prom, Elizabeth’s parents had a 4th of July party at their house. The guest would be residents from the local nursing home. Elizabeth’s dad had asked Darlene and I if we would sing a Christian song to “entertain the crowd.” I had never sung before and we would quickly find out that I kinda sucked at it.

Many nights Darlene and I would stay up late, practicing “Born in Zion” by Wayne Watson. Definitely not my first song of choice, however, I had to keep in mind my “audience.” The day of the party came, and Elizabeth’s parents had a sound system set up. Both Darlene and I were nervous. We had decided that she would take the first verse I would take the second and we would do the chorus together.

There we are, two young girls up there in their backyard. People are cooking, lots of wheelchairs, lots of laughs. Everyone was just, good. Mingling, enjoying the 4th. As soon as Darlene and I started singing, the crowd, the nursing home crowd, started yelling “WE CAN’T HEAR YOU! SING LOUDER!” Yeah, this was a hardcore crowd.

Darlene and I rushed through the song. As soon as it was over we ran inside, trying to hide from what I now know to be our own insecurities.

Elizabeth and her dad came in to find Darlene and me.

“You girls did great!”
“Eh, don’t listen to them, half of them can’t hear anyway!”
“I am proud of you!”

He gave Darlene and I a hug and ordered us to eat some grub!

And, that we did.

Tonight, I found out Elizabeth lost her dad. As I am writing this post, Elizabeth is making memorial arrangements for her father. There are no words.

Tonight, I am taken back to that hot and humid 4th of July in Norfolk, Va.

If I listen closely, I can hear Darlene and I singing “Born in Zion” and the lyrics, well, the lyrics have never been more fitting.

Very few are born to riches, very few
Very few of cherished wishes ever come true
But that won’t matter much at all
On the day your name is called
When this earthbound life is through
And your Father says of you

This one was born in Zion
Make no mistake, this one is Mine
This one was born in Zion
This one will never, this one will never
This one will never die

Very few are ever famous, very few
Very few will ever live the dream that they choose
But that won’t matter much at all
On the day your name is called
When this earthbound life is through
And your Father says of you

This one was born in Zion
Make no mistake, this one is Mine
This one was born in Zion
This one will never, this one will never
This one will never die

And every dream left unfulfilled
And every worthy goal
Is just a shadow of the joy that waits
Forever to unfold

This one was born in Zion
Make no mistake, this one is Mine
This one was born in Zion
This one will never, oh, this one will never
This one will never die



*This post was supposed to be posted last night, but as usual, life and all that.

Tonight’s post was supposed to be “Day 4” of my 30-day writing challenge. The prompt being “10 interesting facts about yourself.”

Well, I got number one knocked out and then I drew a blank. I mean I think I am an interesting person, but writing “ten interesting facts about myself” does not seem all that interesting. So, I am just going to move on. You’re welcome.

I was talking to dad on the phone yesterday about his blog Cobblestone Dreams. My dad and his brother (my Uncle) have had this blog over a year now. The blog follows their childhood growing up in New York City. It’s definitely a blog worth reading and to take it a step further, I could even see a show based off of their blog. Do you guys remember the show The Wonder Years?  A coming of age comedy set in the 1960s. That too was a great show, and I can see Cobblestone Dreams (the show) much like that. Naturally, I would have to play a part. Oh! I could play the part of my grandmother, their mom. How cool would that be? Okay, some seriously needs to pick this up. This would be my shining moment, my welcoming to the Big Screen. Look out Oscar’s here I come!

Okay…..where was I?

Every Monday, depending on whose turn it is, either my dad or uncle writes a post. My dad is up this week and was struggling to find a topic because in his words “We have covered so much.” I told him that their blog is going to be a legacy for the Ortolano family. Even if they never reach the numbers of readers that we all set out to reach when we start a blog, Cobblestone Dreams has found a permanent home on the Internet. Many years from now Cobblestone Dreams will still be alive in its own little corner of the Internet and one day, maybe Gracie’s own daughter will come across it. What a gift that will be. So, basically I do not care if Dad cannot think of a topic to write about, he better figure it out for the family legacy! (and my Oscar)

Which brings me back to my own corner of the Internet. I have had this blog for years now. Some of you have been here from the start, some of you are newcomers. Either way, what I learned tonight from talking to Dad is I love writing. I love writing this blog. No matter where my other writings may or may not take me, no matter if I have something to write about or not, I need to keep at it. I need to keep at it so my own kids and possibly their children have a quiet place to come find me and my stories of years gone by.

We are about two weeks out from Christmas 2018. I cannot believe how fast time is passing us all by. I am already doing preparations for Halloween 2019. Seriously. It is Monday night and I made it to the Fantasy Football playoffs. I am banking on Tyler Lockett to do what he does best and get me some points. However, it is not looking too good. If he does not make the points, then I do not move forward.

I am going to have all my kids home for Christmas, as my oldest has moved back home, and in the process, we kinda got a bonus son too. Life is good, life is hard, but watching the news is a cold reality of how much harder it could be.

My brother-in-law and I finalized our Christmas Eve plans. If we were to leave it to Joe and his sister, nothing would get done. They would both agree with this. Christmas Eve will be spent together, Christmas day we will do our own thing, and do not worry, I will not be cooking.

As always, time is getting away from me. I have to wrap things up, make sure the girls are in bed, as well as myself for our early morning wake-up call for school and work. Time is also getting away from me in the sense that we are only two weeks out from Christmas and there is still so much to do. So much to plan. I do not know how your mind works, but here is a quick snippet of mine.

  • Get through these last two weeks and then Christmas break starts.
  • School starts back January 7th.
  • Once we hit January I have Vinnie’s bday.
  • Then Sofia’s.
  • The Gracie’s.
  • We are now in March.
  • Spring break.
  • The finish line is in sight.
  • Summer vacation.
  • Summer went by in a flash.
  • Here comes the 2019-20020 school year.

Where the hell does the time go?

Everybody’s moving at the pace of lighting
Sometimes we need to bring it back down and just start watching.
Take it all in instead of worrying about social media capturing.
And remember these days, these good old days of living.

The smiles and laughter,
the fights and forgiveness after,
The dreams and hardships, that will be part of your chapter.
at the end of your nights, when you’re in bed,
alarm clock set for all of tomorrow’s forgets
you tell yourself that indeed, it all mattered

You look in the mirror and see the beginnings of the fine lines.
It’s settling in, making a home in the corner of your left eye.
With your little girl looking on
anticipation wondering if there’s anything wrong

this is a moment that never lasts long
don’t let her be blind side.

Honey let me tell you, it wasn’t always this way.
I remember not too long ago when I was just your same age.
Life comes and moves you swiftly, you quickly lose track of time
before you know you it you wake up to see you have earned those fine lines

So listen closely as I tell you, make time to stop and see,
appreciate the good times and those that may not be

It’s not always where you’re going
but how you get there, that is the guarantee
 of a life well spent,
a life well loved,
take it all in, while taking your time
finding your mountains while learning to climb
everyone is moving at the pace of lighting.