Jen writes

May 21, 2014

You’re going to read that book AGAIN?

Sometimes, even though the pile of books by my bed is tall enough for me to reach over and set my glasses on before I fall asleep at night … Sometimes, nothing there in that pile speaks to me. There are endless books in this world, and choosing one to read at any given time can be overwhelming. That’s why sometimes it’s nice to visit an old, reliable favorite. Today, over at Project: Underblog I’ve put together a list of books I’ve read more than once. It’s a commitment to re-read a book, and I can’t tell you how many […]

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Jen writes

May 14, 2014

Happysad

This morning I wrote my last preschool tuition check—late, like just about all of them, but last. I started writing at Momalom when this soon-to-be kindergartener of mine was just about six months old. How did that happen? The milestones keep coming, and we enjoy them and smile and remark about how it all goes really fast. It’s sad and it’s happy and if I dwell too long, it’s more sad than happy. I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling that tells me I haven’t done enough. I should have had another baby. I would […]

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Jen writes

February 14, 2014

#smallandmighty

This Valentine’s Day I love Project: Underblog. I know, you’ve heard me say it before. But I’m telling you again, because this community is small and mighty. And you’re invited to join. We’re in a great transition right now, with room for submissions while we make some really cool updates and start to roll out some even cooler campaigns. If you have something to say and no where to say it, Project: Underblog may be the perfect fit. If you have something you’ve said and want a new community to read your words, send us that post. We’ll share it! […]

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Jen writes

February 11, 2014

On Being Worthy

I don’t have time to be writing this. I have deadlines to meet, PTO work to get done. But the words I should be working on are being pushed aside, because there are words I need to get down, out of the way. There are things I need to work through, and this is the only way I know how. Last night I watched half of a TEDx talk by Brené Brown. Half. Because that is my life right now. Too busy to find 17 consecutive minutes to sit and watch a video. Even if it is exactly perfect. Exactly […]

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Jen writes

January 28, 2014

Window fortune

The window today yields a slightly different view from the last time words came from the scenery outside. There is snow on the ground, but not enough to cover the rough grass. The roads are clear, and cars drive by swiftly, so few slowing at all as they approach the crosswalk. It’s a Tuesday, a Just Write day, but today I’m pointing you to a piece that I wrote a few weeks ago. It seems longer somehow. January almost gone, the New Year effect worn off almost completely. But as I reread the words I wrote for Project: Underblog in […]

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Jen writes

January 23, 2014

It’s powerful because it’s possible

These five words came from my fingertips, typed quickly over my keyboard and onto the screen. I hit “return” before really thinking. So many of my online social media connections are done in just this way. A quick response to something that really hit home. No overthinking. Just a genuine word or two meant to convey a kind of understanding and solidarity. Like a smile at school dropoff or a nod to your neighbor. Online we all must do a little more to be seen, to make the connections that are the equivalent of eye contact, talk of the weather. […]

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New job. Old commute. As I drive the familiar roads to get to my still-new job I cannot even estimate how many times in the past 24 years I have driven this same route. It’s like my tire tracks are somehow reflecting back at me. Three previous vehicles. Timeless travels to and from school, work, crew practice. This place where I have been student, alumna, friend, volunteer, coach. There is a field that I pass each time. It has been there, it remains there, no houses built on it. Too close to the riverbank, I suppose. I see a pumpkin […]

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I’ve changed jobs. And so I’m reading less. My last job, where I worked for 13 years, was 50 miles from my house. For 75 minutes, twice each day, I would listen to audio books. Drive the roads I knew by heart and take in the words of writers. To feed my heart. My brain. My inner writer. Now I work 12 miles from home. The urgency to fill that time isn’t there. It’s easy to tune into NPR for a quick news update. To listen to the local independent radio station. Or to a few Josh Ritter tunes. But […]

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Jen writes

November 21, 2013

Blogging is not a fairy tale

Once upon at time there were two sisters. Each had recently given birth to her third child. There was much talking on the phone. And emailing. There was not texting yet. (Really. There was simply not texting yet.) The sisters spent their days with their children. The days were full of snacks and play and diaper changes. Fevers and dirty floors and laundry. Nap struggles and firsts. Solid food, laugh, crawl, word. Once upon a time there were two sisters who wanted their conversations about motherhood–about mothering three–to be more. To be bigger. To MEAN more. So they started a […]

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Jen writes

October 18, 2013

Just Write. On Friday.

This morning on my way to work I heard the Traveling Wilburys. “Hi, Dad,” I almost said. “Thanks for joining me on my new commute.” My dad died more than 14 years ago. He loved the Traveling Wilburys. He loved Roy Orbison the most. My son loves Tom Petty, also a member of TW. These coincidences of life are so much more than that, aren’t they? I’m at a place of nostalgia right now. Returning to a familiar spot in a new capacity, I’m full of good feelings. There’s much to do and much to learn and yet it feels […]

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Jen writes

September 22, 2013

Testing, testing

As a kid, tests meant studying, quiet, eraser gum brushed by the back of my hand across a desk. Hunched backs, held breath, heavy sighs. And waiting for the results. As an adult, tests mean DOB, johnnies, blood draws. Making appointments, hospital-style ID bracelets, full bladders, no bras. And waiting for the results. This past year I had my first mammogram. Within two days I was called in for a closer look. And back I went, for a closer look. Powerless and braless, hoping beyond hope that this was just a precaution. That the first questionable result had been some […]

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Jen writes

September 1, 2013

“It depends.”

It’s been so long since I wrote here that I had to actually think about what my password is. It took me two tries and slight panic, but good ol’ WordPress let me in. The calendar says September first, and I can hardly believe it. The last few weeks of summer have gone faster than all the rest, and we sit perched on the cusp of another school year, my children—and me—another year older. The fourth grader has been a challenge lately. Is he nervous for the school year? Is his pre-teen identity getting the better of him? Are the […]

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Jen writes

August 7, 2013

Midsummer

I seem to have taken an accidental vacation from the blog. Summer has been busy. Good busy. Busy busy. Life busy. And I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like. But I’ve been spending time with my family, and eating good food, and keeping involved in writing with my Underblog community, where you’ll find me today (writing about the good food). I hope you’ll stop by. I promise to be back in this space soon. Tweet

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Jen writes

July 11, 2013

Book hunger

It’s summer. I’m devouring books more rapidly than usual. I just finished reading This One is Mine by Maria Semple. I loved it almost as much as I loved her more recent novel, the one that prompted me to seek out her earlier work and about which I wrote for this month’s Project: Underblog post. Come on over. Let’s talk books!   Tweet

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Jen writes

July 9, 2013

Why I write

I wonder, sometimes, if I will ever feel like I have enough time to write. When my kids are grown. When there aren’t playdates and piano lessons and grocery shopping twice-weekly. When I can have a dedicated writing schedule that I can actually keep to instead of so often finding myself tending to someone else’s needs during that time I’ve tried to set aside. That all sounds negative. And it is, I suppose. I don’t mean it to. I love my family. I love being a mother. I love it all, and it’s hard. And what I need most to […]

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Jen writes

June 26, 2013

Be here still

  Veryln Klinkenborg says to let go of your sentences. Those words in a perfectly shaped line that come to you as you are unloading the groceries from the cart. Or pushing your daughter on the swing. Or showering. Always while in the shower. Years ago I might have reached for my son’s bath crayon to try to scribble my shower thoughts on the wall. But since parenthood, since there have been those bath crayons, I have let the words go. It’s as if I think them then release them into the mess of my house. Clothes strewn everywhere. Blankets […]

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Jen writes

June 25, 2013

Six days. In reverse.

Today: The last day of school for my two older kids. A trip to the lake: one part celebration of newly minted second- and fourth-graders; one part survival. It’s HOT! Last night: Organize teacher cards and gifts. Oversee kids calling friends to invite them to the lake. The Bruins game. Ignore the laundry needing folding. Also last night: Stay up too late. Decide to get up early to write. Yesterday afternoon: Drum lesson for the boy. Library visit for the girls. Trip to the supermarket for all four of us. Earlier yesterday afternoon: Fall asleep beside the 4-year-old and awake […]

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Jen writes

June 20, 2013

Fourteen

Today is June 20. Fourteen years ago today my father died suddenly. And I’m pretty sure this is the first June 20 in those 14 years that I have not taken off work, or had a special lunch with my mom, or gone to the cemetery with Sarah. Today life goes on, with work on a deadline, a school picnic dinner at which I must pay close attention because I’ve just been elected PTO co-president for next year, and my daughter’s piano open house. Work. Food. School. Music. My life, all packed into one 12-hour period. My sweet orange-haired S […]

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Jen writes

June 10, 2013

In the mirror

They are all three-and-a-half years older. So am I, for that matter. The littlest still crawls on top of me. The oldest still waits for me, these days on the edge of the chair in the kitchen while I’m making dinner. “Mom,” he says. “Mom.” Sometimes that’s all. There’s nothing more that he has to say, really. He just needs to be near me. To say my name. The middle, my oldest girl, she still likes to snuggle. But she loves her bed all to herself, too. Perhaps she has changed the most. Grown into herself a bit. My Sweetie […]

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Jen writes

June 7, 2013

When in doubt, read

Hey, look! I’m up at Project: Underblog with more books I’ve read lately. You might like some of them. Or you might want to share with me the books you’ve read recently. Come on by! Tweet

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June 3, 2013

Here still

A few weeks ago I was rededicating myself to blogging, and today the question screaming at me from within is “Why am I here?!” Life is messy. Emotions are all consuming. Work needs to be done. Children must be fed. There’s beauty to be appreciated. And darkness that needs acknowledging. Right now it’s all I can do to eat a sandwich without crying. Of course, it’s June. And I think that after 14 years my body and mind have come to this month and let go a little bit, allowing the grief to take its place for a while instead […]

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This week has been a busy one. For days I’ve wanted to sit down and pound out a few words here. Get the sentences out of my brain and into the blog. But ’twas not to be. Instead—both so I’ve given some attention to the blog and because I don’t want to forget these particular details—I offer you these three tidbits of online connections I made this week. #Blognow Tuesday night’s Twitter chat that was inspiring, despite all of the problems Twitter was serving up. As a direct result of this chat and the focus on community, I reached out […]

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Jen writes

May 17, 2013

30,000 words and counting

You know how sometimes you don’t know how you’re feeling until someone you love asks you and you start talking (or typing) and it all comes out. And you listen to yourself (or reread your words on the screen) and you realize that suddenly you understand yourself so much better even though you didn’t realize you didn’t understand yourself and why you’d been so crabby the past several days (weeks, months)? When I turned 40 in August I decided to feel optimistic. Yes. Decided. It seemed a good time. That nice, round number. The perfect opportunity and excuse for looking […]

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Jen writes

May 15, 2013

The details

There are things I won’t write about here. Stories that aren’t only mine to tell. Certain intimacies and emotions. I won’t disclose my kids’ names. Or Sweetie’s. It feels limiting sometimes, these decisions I’ve made, even though they still feel like the right decisions for me and my family. Lately, I’ve kind of thrown myself back into the blogging world. I was floundering for a while. Not just here, but in general. I didn’t know my place. I couldn’t embrace it because I couldn’t identify it. But things seem to be coming together. Or at least it feels that way. […]

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Jen writes

May 14, 2013

Just a few places you should go

So, it’s May 14. That means you all have another few days to vote for Blogher Voices of the Year nominees, of which I am one. Should you care to vote for me, I’ll make it easy for you. Go here. Though, you might want to read my entry first. That’s here. May 14 is also the second Tuesday of the month. That means two things right now: 1. It’s link-up day over at Project: Underblog. Today’s topic is community. Please come by and link up a post. You can interpret community in any way you want. Really. I urge […]

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Jen writes

May 13, 2013

Tiger Eyes

Did you know that Judy Blume’s book Tiger Eyes has been made into a movie? A film? A feature presentation fit for the big screen? Seriously, people. Judy. Blume. Early Saturday evening, after posting a fairly innocuous request on Facebook, soliciting advice on what I should next read, I found myself quickly and happily mired in this news. I’m lucky to have this awesome friend in the blogosphere (and, I sincerely hope, some day in real life), and she is obsessed a devout supporter of all things Judy. I, too, happen to love Judy, even wrote about her recently, and […]

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Jen writes

May 6, 2013

Just a blog post

I took this week off from work. And today, on just the first non-weekend day, my son said, “I like it when you’re home. ” No prompting from me. Just one of those moments while driving in the car. Pumped from an “awesome” drum lesson and looking forward to cyclocross, he was happy, I think, for just the two of us to be in the car together in this particular moment. No sisters tagging along. No hurrying or waiting or anything, really, except just being in the moment on a beautifully warm and sunny Monday afternoon. I like being home, […]

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Jen writes

May 1, 2013

Blogging makes a difference

Momalom began as a place for Sarah and I to have a conversation about our lives, laser-focused at the time on our new identities and mothers of three children each. Within just a few months, our little blog became the hub of a community of other mama writers, many of whom also had three children. We had found our niche. It felt like a gift. It was a gift. We had created a space that felt like home not just to the two of us but to readers across the vast internet, internationally even! Several weeks ago I was contacted […]

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Jen writes

April 30, 2013

Coping with self promotion

So, I just nominated myself for a Blogher Voices of the Year Award. I am not a self promoter. In fact, I loathe drawing attention to myself. Which is why this post here is such a short one. I can’t think of anything else to say, except I’d love your vote. Because while I don’t like being the center of attention, I’m thinking that it would feel pretty good if words that I wrote were in that place. Here’s where you can read my post and vote for me. Thank you! Tweet

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April 29, 2013

Wonder

It was a beautiful weekend in western Massachusetts. I spent so much time outdoors breathing in the sunshine and fresh air that I still feel the warmth on my cheeks. It left me with the feeling of possibility. That it’s going to be a good week. And what better way to launch it than by sending you over to Project: Underblog, where today I write about feeling wonder. I hope you’ll join me there and let me know your own thoughts. Happy Monday, everyone! Tweet

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Jen writes

April 24, 2013

Moment in the sun

It’s another chilly spring day. But right here, right now, at 5:28 p.m. on an afternoon in late April, the sun is shining in on this very spot. A small, enclosed porch furnished with a hand-me-down couch and various small tables that don’t fit anywhere else in our cozy house. It’s a mishmash, this space, and I love it. I love its possibility. And the fact that there are no expectations that go along with this odd-shaped room, only seasonably available to us. I love that the afternoon sun is shining in just before it slips behind the trees across […]

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Jen writes

April 2, 2013

Beating together

When Sarah and I started Momalom almost four years ago, we knew right away that we didn’t want to write the details of our daily activities. Momalom was not to be a mother’s web log. Not a diary. Instead, we wanted to write about our experiences. Our emotions. How it felt to be the mother of our three, unique children. I thought of this blogging intention as I stood at the kitchen sink the other night, washing the dishes. My son was upstairs practicing his drums. And I found myself wanting to write not about the rhythms of his drumsticks […]

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Jen writes

March 22, 2013

Life in books

Dear books, There you sit, patiently awaiting attention. For me to dwell on you, stare at your beauty, take in your unique voices, the way you almost whisper in my ear with your heavy breaths. And here I am, walking by you dozens of times each day, carrying a laundry basket, a broken toy, a sippy cup. But when night falls, and the children are snug in their beds, I pause at the bottom of the stairs to listen to their quiet sleeping sounds. And as I turn my head, satisfied that they are settled, I see you, all lined […]

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Jen writes

March 6, 2013

Project I’m Not Funny

When it rains, it pours. And this week it’s pouring posts here at Momalom. Three in three days, you say? Unthinkable. But this is really just a road-detour post to say … Do not pass go, just hop on over to Project: Underblog. I was there on Monday, sharing how not funny I am. Come on by, won’t you? And maybe share your own funny (or unfunny) qualities!   Also, did you know that Project: Underblog has OPEN SUBMISSIONS? We’d love if you’d send us your best writing. Really! Please? Tweet

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Jen writes

March 5, 2013

Love It Up: The Winner!

Finally! What has taken me so long to post the winner to last month’s Love It Up, you ask? I have no worthy excuses, except life claimed me. It’s as it should be, I know. I am consumed with the busy lives of my children and spending time as a family and with Sweetie. (We’ve recently–and for the first time ever in this parenting gig–secured a babysitter every other week and are having date nights!) There are work deadlines for me and ballet rehearsals for the oldest girl. Basketball games, school concerts, music lessons. The days are long and yet […]

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Jen writes

March 4, 2013

Warm, melty love

Dear Josh Ritter, As I sit, streaming The Beast in its Tracks on NPR a few days before I’ll add it to my own iTunes playlist, I find myself feeling all light and melty. I type at my keyboard, editing the words of others while your words spin out at me through the speakers on my laptop and I sway along and hum to the songs I don’t yet know. The first time I saw you, my own romance was still in its early years. You opened for a quirky folk singer, and you stole the show. In a small, […]

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Jen writes

February 19, 2013

Irony

Today is a Project: Underblog day. You’ll find me over there writing about how I never seem to have enough time. Ironic, really, since I barely have time enough now to direct you over that way. I do hope you’ll take a minute to visit, though. And maybe even tell me how you manage all of the living and loving and running around. Tweet

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Jen writes

February 11, 2013

Slowed by snow

Thursday afternoon I left work, packing up my computer and all other resources I could possibly think of that I may need the next day. Because I knew it was unlikely I’d be making the trek over the mountain and through the farms to work on Friday: Nemo Day. Thursday night we watched the weather reports, switching back and forth between TV channels and loading and reloading the websites, checking and rechecking the updated radar. The snowfall totals for the state ranged from six inches to more than three feet. We made sure the shovels were upright, leaning against the […]

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Jen writes

February 1, 2013

Love Fest

Three years ago we hosted a love letter link-up. It’s time for a reprise, don’t you think?  Here’s how it works: Write a love letter on or before Valentine’s Day (Thursday, Feb. 14). You can write to anyone—or anything, for that matter. (I once found it helpful to write a love letter to a small appliance.) (Full disclosure: The appliance has since moved on to the great wasteland and has been replaced by a bigger, better model.) (This is not a metaphor for anything. Just the facts.) Link to it here (or e-mail it to us if you don’t have a […]

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Jen writes

January 30, 2013

2 a.m.

She woke up at 2 a.m. with a tummy that felt funny. Her dad responded to her call, carried her into the bathroom. I heard the footsteps overhead. More urgent than the usual “I have to pee!” middle-of-the-night trips to the potty. I tried not to wake up. I was having such a good dream. For the first time in such a long time I was fully asleep. Actually present in the world of my subconscious. But then there were the coughing sounds. And the crying sounds. And I pulled myself out of my sleeping psyche, out of my warm […]

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Jen writes

January 24, 2013

Attitude adjustment

Over the weekend I was having a moment of negative self reflection. I started to write. Luckily, I was interrupted. When I returned to the computer after getting snacks for the girls and receiving a tight-squeeze, leg hug from my 4-year-old, I changed my writing direction. Who can continue in self pity when there’s an unending supply of leg hugs? Not me. Find my attitude adjustment over at Project: Underblog today. Tweet

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Jen writes

January 20, 2013

Self talk

Ignore the laundry. Let the “restaurant” remain set up in the living room. Don’t even think about cleaning the bathrooms. The dishes can wait. Let the chaos be. Don’t fall to its depths. Be the polar opposite. Repel from the sounds of the children’s disagreements. Withrdraw to your room. Find your laptop. Open the document. The one that’s unfinished. That you began so many months ago. That you’re ready to look at again. Revise it. Re-read it. Save it. Submit it. (Now. Via email. Before you can entertain a second thought.) The laundry pile will have grown. The toy food […]

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Jen writes

January 15, 2013

Foggy connections

The deer in the road emerged as if floating from the thick fog. I pressed on the brakes, glanced in the rear view mirror, saw the lights of the car behind me. Before I could swerve I saw another dark figure. Four slim legs, head bowed to the ground. They were both young, moving so close by, so slowly across the road, speed limit 55 miles per hour. The fog was so thick I’d had to turn on my windshield wipers to keep the glass clear before me. I had been thinking of those foggy October mornings on the river, […]

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January 14, 2013

Happiness is playing on Wordle.net

Tweet

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January 8, 2013

Dwell

This morning I took a very long shower. Very. Long. Longer than I probably had time for. Certainly longer than necessary. I could have accomplished something in the time I spent standing under the stream of near-scalding water thinking of nothing at all but how good it felt to be there and how long I could stay before the water went cold or guilt got the best of me. It’s so easy for me to focus and dwell on the things that I don’t do well. The places I fall short. The tasks and projects left unfinished or, worse, not […]

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Jen writes

January 3, 2013

What have you read lately?

Today I’m back over at Project: Underblog, kicking off the New Year by talking about some of the books I read in 2012. I’d love for you to swing by and share your own faves with me. I’m compiling my To Read list for 2013 and hope you’ll share what’s on yours! * And I’d still love to hear your thoughts on creativity aka reactions to orange “slipperry”** pants. ** Thanks to Arnebya, I realize I never translated “slipperry.” Though I LOVE the idea of satin, my little one is more of an athlete. And so, to her, “slipperry” is […]

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January 2, 2013

If I Were You

Listen. Listen to the sounds of your family: the battery-powered Hess helicopter and accompanying utterances of “cool” by your son; the gentle foot taps of your featherweight eldest daughter, upstairs, forever practicing her emboites; the breathing of your slightly congested younger daughter, sitting beside you on the bed watching Caillou as you type; the door opening and your Sweetie tapping his boots against the sill to dislodge the snow. Listen to your children. Listen to them playing and dancing and living beside you. Also, listen for their hopes and fears. Listen for their pride and their uncertainty. Listen to know […]

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Jen writes

December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Tis the day for Santa preparations! At my house we’re cleaning up so he can get through the back door of our chimney-less house. And we’re getting together cookies for him and peeling carrots for Rudolph and his team of eight. There’s one last advent calendar window to open, stockings to leave propped up on the couch, visions of sugarplums to read about. It’s the season of togetherness, and this year I’m more grateful than ever to have my family gathered around our tree. 2012 has left me feeling certain that I am one of the lucky ones. I have […]

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Jen writes

December 18, 2012

Me

It’s late. I’m tired. I haven’t been here in so long. There are so many reasons why I haven’t been here in so long. And now I’m at the end of the day, wanting mostly to close my eyes and burrow into my pillow. But somehow I am still buzzing from the day. All of the parts of the day. All that a day encompasses. Today was much like most. Going from place to place, task to task. Juggling home and work, family and profession. Keeping an eye toward the holidays, peeking back at me from only days distant. There […]

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Jen writes

December 1, 2012

Quote of the Week: 12/1/2012

“If I had 10 thumbs, this* would be 10 thumbs up.” –my 8-year-old son, eating dinner *homemade cheese pizza What was the Quote of the Week in your house? Tweet

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November 25, 2012

Back to real life (not a haiku)

Four days at home: family, food, fun. Comfort. Happiness. Satisfaction. Oh how I needed this. Tweet

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November 23, 2012

Too tired

Once again it is naptime, and the house is quiet. One kid playing outside, the other sipping tea in the other room. Me in my unmade bed, amidst my messy room, with the laptop propped up. I want to want to write. But I’m so very tired. I need a nap, too. Thanksgiving was yesterday. Two of the kids woke up last night. I was awake for hours between 2 and normal wake-up time. Go go go. I could read. Clean. Organize. Make my house a cozier place. I could cook, sort, make a list. I could plan. I could […]

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Jen writes

November 19, 2012

Project: Underblog Debut!

Today is my debut post over at Project: Underblog! I’m so thrilled to have joined this place of collaborative writing. You’ll be reading me there monthly (or more!). Please come on by and say hello. Take a look around. And, if you’re so inspired, submit a piece of your own work! Tweet

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November 17, 2012

Found in a makeshift fort

  You better believe my ears are tuned in for the ol’ “bih bih.” This mama is not a-gonna be spied upon.   Tweet

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November 15, 2012

Tradejya

You may have noticed that Sarah and I have been taking turns this NaBloPoMonth. She took odd days. I took evens. This evening’s post is not so much about the writing. Instead, I use this space (and my obligation to fill it) to offer you a public service announcement: effective now, we’re switching. I’m the oddball from here on out. Sarah’s taking the even keel. The reason for this will become clearer on Monday. Thanks, all! (Phew. Another post fulfilled. This month is really kicking our butts!) Tweet

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November 14, 2012

Work is life is work

On Wednesdays I work from home. After the kids go off to school I sit, today at my dining room table because my desk is an utter disaster. I hear the clicks of my fingers on the keyboard. The dishwasher humming in the next room. The sound of a leaf blower perhaps a few streets away. I am editing other people’s stories. Trying to get through as many as I can before a new ping in my inbox, calling my attention elsewhere. The red edits on the manuscripts brighten the dimness of the view of the dark table in front […]

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November 12, 2012

Hey

I stepped out of the house for just a few minutes, my phone plugged in to charge. I missed your call. “Hey.” You say, through the speaker held up to my ear. One syllable, vowel sound drawn out just a touch. The familiar, quiet lilt in tone. The rich slowness of your vocal chords. A pause. I know a half-grin is lifting the corners of your lips. I hear you. I hear this message. It’s just for me. I hear: Hey. Just calling to connect with you. Hey. You’ll be home from work in a half hour. We’ll be shuffling […]

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I just finished reading the book that has made me want to write fiction again. And so instead of writing more here right now, I’m pulling out my long-neglected manuscript. If you’re looking for something to read, I urge you to try this: Tweet

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Jen writes

November 8, 2012

Thinking place

I sit down to write and I never have more than a few minutes. I can barely concentrate on the words coming out of me, my focus instead pulled toward all of the things that are hanging over me, undone. Tonight I’m going to see Verlyn Klinkenborg read. I’m going alone. Sweetie will put the kids to bed, and I’ll get in my car and drive over the river in the dark and the cold, with his most recent book tucked in my bag, hoping the line for autographs isn’t too long. I don’t remember when I first discovered Verlyn, […]

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Jen writes

November 6, 2012

To the man in front of me at the polls

Have you never voted before? Or maybe just not in this community? Don’t be embarrassed that you don’t know to give your street address. Don’t be discouraged that you came to the wrong polling place. You came this far. Just go talk to that nice man over there. He’ll help. He’ll give you directions to your designated polling place. It’s not far. Really. Our town is small! You can do it. You can vote. Here’s how it works: Arrive at your polling place (yes, specific to the precinct where you live) Be patient, there might be lines today. (I hope […]

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Jen writes

November 4, 2012

Brilliance

If I look up, out of the corner of my right eye I see the sun, streaming in near-horizontal pillars through the plastic-covered window. To my left an orange plastic pumpkin full of Halloween candy, Milk Duds on top. I see a box full to overflowing with items we were going to sell at a tag sale over the summer——outgrown clothes, duplicate books, other miscellany that might be more meaningful to others. I see bins of art materials, so very many pairs of shoes. I see an unfinished Lego project, donut crumbs on an alphabet placemat, the surface of our […]

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Jen writes

November 2, 2012

At the laundromat

Our dryer is broken. For a long time it’s been dying a long, slow death, requiring periodic and dedicated lint clean-out of the vent as well as much patience (two or three dryer cycles per washer load). We’ve managed so far. We use the clothesline five or six months of the year. And when it’s icy outside, I drape kid-sized pants and shirts over a drying rack in the bathroom, hang bigger items on hangers over the shower rod. And, until now, I reserved the limping dryer for the towels and sheets. And the underwear and socks. The many, many […]

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Jen writes

October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow’s November 1, which means the Momalom brother has a birthday. (Happy Birthday, Brother! I’ll try to call…) It also means that NaBloPoMo is beginning. Sarah and I have decided to keep the tradition alive (or revive the blog, however you want to look at it) and do NaBloPoMo again. No, we don’t have the fun little icon yet. No, we have no idea how we’re going to actually be successful at such a grandiose commitment. We haven’t even officially registered or anything. But that’s OK. We’re doing it because we committed to it. To each other. And now that […]

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Jen writes

October 24, 2012

How to Write a Blog Post in 5 Minutes

You say you only have 5 minutes? Not enough time to log on to WordPress let alone format a blog post, right? Wrong. Here are a few things I know I can accomplish in 5 minutes: • Sweep the dinner dishes into the dishwasher. • In response to a middle-of-the-night “Mom, I peed!” call: strip the bed, re-make the bed and tuck in the child (now in dry PJs). • Shower (and often dry off and get dressed, too!) • Shuffle kids into car and drive 1.9 miles to school for dropoff (often on little or no coffee) • Make […]

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Jen writes

October 17, 2012

Tuesday in October

There’s so much and yet there’s no time. It’s the usual problem, really. Life in the way of life. Contradictions everywhere. We’re supposed to be focused on the living but here we are going through from one obligation to the next, trying to get everywhere all at the same time, sitting down at the end of the day wondering how we did it and knowing that we’ll have to do it all again tomorrow. It is the fall. The season of the most significant changes. The light outside moving away from the bright yellows and blues, growing sparser and more […]

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Jen writes

October 9, 2012

Awake

I’m awake. It’s 10:06 p.m. My children are sleeping. My sweetie is sleeping. I can’t sleep. Or I don’t want to. Being awake in a quiet house is what I long for most afternoons, after the noise of the mornings has taken up all the space in my brain that I allot for noise. But it never happens. I never get the quiet house. Not for more than a glimpse of a moment. I’m tired. But I’m not ready to sleep. I worked on a writing project for a bit, but it’s a tough one, this project. And I had […]

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Jen writes

October 7, 2012

Sunday afternoon

It’s Sunday afternoon. I spent the morning doing domestic work. Baking, cleaning, decluttering. Puttering. The children entertained themselves for the most part, a Sunday gift come from a busy six days prior. My children like these days of no agendas. They paint and color and play house. They ride bikes, shoot hoops, run around the neighborhood with friends. I get a glimpse out the kitchen window––as I’m doing the dishes again––of my son whizzing by on his new bike. Whoop-whooping as he speeds out of my view and around the corner. It’s Sunday afternoon, and my bedroom is neat enough […]

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Jen writes

September 25, 2012

FOUR!

Happy Birthday to my baby. You leave me without any words to say and a heart overflowing with pride and joy and wonder. Today you’re 4! And you’re one of a kind. Tweet

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Jen writes

September 23, 2012

Hearts beat

I’ve been moving slowly. I’ve been thinking of the one thing I’m doing. Unloading the dishwasher. Hanging up the clothes. Walking up the stairs. I’ve been thinking thoughts and not writing them down. But I’ve been thinking them again and again over and over. Listening in my head to the sounds of the words. Picturing the letters. The way they would look here, if I typed them. I’ve been thinking about writing. I’ve been working on writing projects. I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been moving slowly. The fall days are exquisite. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated the blue blue […]

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Jen writes

September 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Resting cloud

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September 5, 2012

Unbound

I am dismantling notebooks. And it feels so good. Throwing away old lists. Forgotten sentences. Half-finished writing projects and plans for writing projects. I am streamlining the places where I record my own creativity. Trying to spill out in only a few notebooks this fall, a season of changes, both atmospheric and academic. I’ve de-spiraled two notebooks already, salvaging only the pages that still interest me, pulling the long silver coils from cardboard bindings. As I sit on a bench outside the ballet studio (because don’t the biggest moments of writing progress always happen during times of forced waiting, when […]

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Jen writes

August 30, 2012

Learning the third-child way

Yesterday I learned that my 3-year-old can effortlessly recognize the numbers 0 through 9 (at least). I was reading Junie B. Jones (is not a Beauty Shop Guy) and stopped, reaching for a bookmark. My sparkly-eyed little E pulled away from our snuggle and said, “Mama, don’t stop at chapter 7!” I was not surprised that she didn’t want me to stop reading. My children never want me to stop reading. But how is it that she knew the 7? After a quick, random, quiz-like exchange it was clear that E obviously knew all of the chapter numbers. At this […]

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Jen writes

August 28, 2012

Overthinking

I’ve been overthinking. Everything. Like, what should I write about? Or, more accurately, what shouldn’t I? What is my story? What is the story of my Sweetie, my children? Can I tell my own story without telling a part of theirs? Or, more accurately, can I tell my story without worrying about how someone else might tell the same story from their own point of view? See? Overthinking. I do this. A lot. But since I took a break from writing here I’ve been doing it a lot more. And now that I’m trying to come back, I’m rusty. And […]

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Jen writes

August 23, 2012

Back

It’s been a few weeks. I intended to be gone for longer. But I’ve been thinking about a few things, and I wanted to share them here. Or, at least, record them so I remember them. • Even when I’m not writing daily, I think about writing. Daily. • I have spent a lot of my life trying not to bother others. • It doesn’t matter what other people think is right for me, especially if what I think is right is the opposite of what those other people may think. • There should be a sign over our house […]

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Jen writes

July 30, 2012

Vacation Time

It’s almost August already, and I don’t want to let the rest of the summer go by without my full participation. So I’ve decided to take some time off from blogging, thinking about blogging, reading blogs … you get the picture. I expect I’ll be back at some point after my 40th birthday has passed, after school starts, after I’ve eked out a little more summer fun. Maybe you’ll see Sarah’s words here from time to time. Maybe not. But from me, there will be blogging silence. Thanks to all of you who read and comment and keep coming back. […]

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Jen writes

July 23, 2012

What are you going through?

I remember the feeling of being newly pregnant and wondering if anyone could tell. And then wondering what secrets everyone else might be holding inside. I feel a similar internal waking now, two weeks after Sweetie was released from the hospital. It’s acute, this knowledge that we all are going through something. Life is complicated. It’s full, if we are lucky. But sometimes it’s not full the way we want it to be. Sometimes we must spend our time waiting for a car to be repaired. Or returning a toy at Target. Or filling new prescriptions. Sometimes we have to […]

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Jen writes

July 20, 2012

Under the couch

Where lost Lego pieces band together Broken crayons stick to the floor And cracker crumbs marry dust bunnies   Tweet

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Jen writes

July 19, 2012

Three in a bed

We sleep together A toddler between us And I am happy Her toes at my knees Your toes touching mine And I realize I am good at this now This parenting at night Better than I was when we were in so deep for so long The years of nights stretching out from the long days No guaranteed hours of quiet The resisting being needed The resentment of being needed And now together this rare night of a child between us I lay half asleep rubbing her back listening to you breathe and sigh And I think again I know […]

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Jen writes

July 17, 2012

Just (Risk) Write

There have been times in my life when I’ve had experiences that, in hindsight, have seemed to have been almost out-of-body. The way I screamed at the top of my lungs in shock when I heard the news that my father had died. How I stopped the excruciating abdominal pain in week 29 of my third pregnancy upon being told by nurses that the NICU would take care of my premature daughter. (My job here is not done, I thought.) And, most recently, how I walked outside in my nightgown last Saturday morning to get the aspirin out of Sweetie’s […]

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Jen writes

July 13, 2012

Thankful

Today I am thankful for the 911 operator who stayed calm during two hysterical calls. I am thankful for paramedics, nitroglycerin, portable oxygen tanks, IVs, heart monitors and gurneys that fold into wheelchairs for maneuvering in a small house. I am thankful for loud air conditioners and for children who didn’t wake up. I am thankful for my brother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, Sarah, GG and the rest of our families far and near. I am thankful for the cardiologist who answered his pager, for the hospital operator who told me where the waiting room was and for the septuagenarian volunteer information-desk […]

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Jen writes

July 6, 2012

Abundance

Sometimes I write all day in my head and then I climb into bed at night and realize the words are gone. They’ve been swimming around all day, back and forth back and forth, and then I sit down to breathe for the first time all day and the thoughts sink to the bottom of my mind, as if buried in the muck of all the days’ endless chores. I can’t seem to get used to the amount of work that goes into keeping up a household. Seriously, our house looks always as if a parade of muddy elephants stormed […]

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Jen writes

June 29, 2012

Happiness is …

A weekend-long Momalom family camping trip. (Sarah, Jen, two spouses, six kids.) See you on the flip side!   Tweet

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Jen writes

June 28, 2012

Sometime Around Midnight

Two nights ago Sarah and I received the text from my brother we’d been hoping not to get for three days. “Evac’ed. We are OK.” The first message of what has become five straight days of ongoing text alerts came Saturday morning. A photograph of dark, billowing smoke, high above the mountains near Justin’s home. He took the photo standing on his front steps. Subsequent photos sent throughout the day showed red and orange flames. Awe. Disbelief. Fear. Through the weekend the family texting continued. Questions and concern from me, Sarah, our mom. Updates, photos, reassurance, from Justin. We sent […]

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Jen writes

June 26, 2012

Mountaintop breakfast

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June 19, 2012

On notice

Notice the two small, pure white butterflies, flitting around each other playfully. Notice the two, smaller, black dense ants, crawling away from each other as if in a stand off. Notice the ache of the muscles in my hip, sore from last night. Notice the sound of the mobile crane, moving construction materials above me. Notice the slight slip of my feet in my sandals as I walk up the incline from the lower parking lot. Notice the fragrance of coffee, wafting from the cup in my hand. Notice the sky, not as blue as I noticed yesterday. Notice the […]

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June 13, 2012

Making room

The words come all the time. But the writing only happens when I sit down and allow myself the time. In the middle of my bed, a pile of laundry. Pushed aside to make room for the laptop. At the kitchen/dining room table, a pile of paperwork, leftover birthday party goodie bags, pine cones, art projects. Pushed aside to make room again. It’s been nearly a week since I’ve allowed myself to be here. But I am conscious of the fact that my last post could stand alone a bit longer. A reminder to me of that weekend, slipping farther […]

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Jen writes

June 7, 2012

Weekend at Kripalu

I can’t stop thinking about the lavender-scented soap. I can’t stop thinking about the meditation: May I be happy. May I be strong. May I be safe. May I live in peace. I can’t stop thinking about how good I felt—relaxed body, clear mind—for days after taking an early morning yoga class. I can’t stop thinking about what a privilege it was to think so much about writing, the bigger picture of writing, the commitment to writing, the possibility of writing. I can’t stop thinking about the delicious, healthy food. I can’t stop thinking about how for a day-and-a-half I […]

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Jen writes

June 5, 2012

Not-so-unexpected winner

Last night, too late into the night, I finally read all of the entries to the 3 Sprouts contest. Sarah and 3 Sprouts folks had already read the posts, and they were casting their votes and asking me for mine. Life is so busy, so hectic, so demanding. It took me until the very last minute to devote myself to reading all of your great writing. And great it was. I enjoyed myself from the first word. It’s always such an unexpected treat to allow myself to give in to the writing and experiences of others. I read, and I […]

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Jen writes

May 31, 2012

Beginnings

I often must remember That beginnings can come from endings And that as I lie down to sleep At the end of a day That was stressful Or hurried Too emotional Or even just unexpected I may not wake up feeling calmer or more in control. But I also must remember As I curl into bed in my rarely-quiet house And think—as I often do—of how a day could have been happier More enjoyable That when I open my eyes in the morning I will probably be greeted with gold: My children’s grins, giggles A hot mug of coffee A […]

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Jen writes

May 25, 2012

Truths

Sometimes my kids drive me crazy. ******** Of course, when they’re not driving me crazy my kids are leaving me breathless, either with their energy or their remarkable take on the world. What about you? Any unexpected moments of parenting in your days? Share one below as part of our Unexpected contest with 3 Sprouts. You could win something totally cute, like this: Tweet

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Read More in Jen Writes, three kids

Yesterday I wrote a very quick list of some unexpected joys I’ve felt since becoming a mother. There’s another one every day, of course. There has been since the day I found out I was pregnant—the very definition of unexpected joy. In the 8-and-a-half years since the two lines appeared on that very first pregnancy test, I’ve (re)experienced so many things through my children’s senses—the sound of a choo-choo train whistle; the smell of a Band-Aid and it’s cure-all powers; a hot-air balloon hovering above an open field. Children experience wonderment every single day. If we—their parents—are lucky, we experience […]

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Jen writes

May 23, 2012

7 unexpected joys of motherhood

1. Watching my kids catch bugs and butterflies and spiders (oh my!) 2. Photographing the everyday moments. 3. Laughing about the sweet (mis)pronunciations of my youngest child’s speech. 4. Feeling my 6-year-old’s hand reach up for mine as we walk together up the steps to kindergarten drop off. 5. Listening to my 8-year-old play his drums. 6. Settling in for the night with Sweetie as all three children sleep alone in their beds. 7. Finding writing inspiration every day. ******** Today’s post is a little sneak preview of the week to come. Come back tomorrow to find out how you […]

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Jen writes

May 21, 2012

Exceptional

It was a weekend full of emotion, and I feel raw. In just two days we packed in parties and traveling, swim lessons and breakfast for dinner. Summer camp open house and playing “store” at home. In other words, it was exceptional and ordinary, all at once. We planned and arranged and rearranged so that Sweetie and I could go to a wedding Saturday. It was a gorgeous day. I found a dress that (mostly) fit and shoes that my daughter was concerned might cause me to “fall over.” I ironed Sweetie’s shirt and helped him choose a tie. The […]

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Jen writes

May 18, 2012

Do you know my last name?

You cannot imagine how frequently (weekly?) I am asked this (amusing) question: “How is your last name spelled?” How do you think, I think. But, I spell. Letter by letter. And then, each is repeated back, often with visible puzzlement. As if I am pulling a fast one. Don’t try so hard, I think. But I smile, let it go. It’s true: Life can be complicated. But sometimes: A name is (just) four letters, strung (familiarly) together. G-R-O-W.   It’s Six-Word Friday. Go visit Melissa! Tweet

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Jen writes

May 15, 2012

Morning

It’s morning. I know by the light coming around the window shade in soft waves, somehow getting beyond my eyelids, squeezed shut. It’s morning. I know by the weight shifting beside me, Sweetie sitting up, reaching for his T-shirt discarded in the night. It’s morning. I know by the sounds of the birds. I wish I knew exactly what kind of birds. It’s morning. I know because my mind is more awake than I wish it would be. Full of all there is to do. It’s morning. And soon I must get up from my bed and start the day. […]

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Jen writes

April 30, 2012

It’s OVER!

Wow. Thanks to all of you for joining in last week’s festivities. Sarah and I are almost ready to come up for air, and when we do we’ll share some of our favorite posts from the hundreds we were privileged to find linked here. Five for Five was such a wonderful week of reading and commenting and chatting online. I feel that my own community has grown, as I’ve met new bloggers and re-established broken connections with others. Life is busy, and sometimes it’s necessary to disengage from things like the Internet. But sometimes, as we saw last week, a […]

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Jen writes

April 26, 2012

Age

Shortly after her older sister and brother began music lessons, my 3-year-old daughter asked when she can start guitar lessons. There’s simply no written translation that does justice to her 3-year-old dialect. If only I had a sound byte to share. Her dad and I told her she has to be 7 or 8 before she can take lessons. She knows we have a number of guitars in the house already and I know she’s smart enough to challenge us and, I wouldn’t be surprised, succeed at a quick melodic riff. But she didn’t challenge us directly. She stood before […]

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Jen writes

April 25, 2012

Pictures (within a day)

It is morning. My son just came downstairs and is sitting one room away, on the couch with his dad. I’m in bed. Computer on lap. The birds that woke me an hour ago aren’t singing anymore. I can hear the sports news from the TV in the other room. The recap of last night’s Celtics game, which I managed to stay up too late to watch. (They won.) (I’m tired.) Can you picture this life? My life? This small scene, where I haven’t even introduced all of the characters yet? (Two daughters, upstairs asleep. A sister an hour away […]

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Jen writes

April 21, 2012

Eight

On this day eight years ago at exactly 4:00 a.m. you were born. And as much as I could write and write and write all sappy-like about the ways that you have changed my life and made it better and more challenging and more worthwhile… I won’t. I will say only this: Never in my wildest imagination did I dream that a child of mine would be a drummer. And that your birthday gift on this remarkable milestone of turning 8 (but entering your ninth year) would be these. And that is the thing about motherhood. It is full of […]

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Jen writes

April 20, 2012

Five for Five: More great news!

Hold on to your hats, people! Five for Five just got better. Because we’re joining forces with forces On Tuesday (topic: WORDS) Just Write (You can link to both blogs!) And Friday? (LISTENING) in Six Words! (Again, double the link-up opportunity! Fun!) ****** Here’s where today’s six words end. But seriously, we are so excited to announce that we’re linking up the linking up with Heather of the EO on her JUST WRITE series on Tuesday, April 24. Check it out! And next Friday (the 27th)? Yup. It’s Six Word Friday, thanks to Melissa. More fun. More buttons. More COMMUNITY! […]

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Sarah writes

April 19, 2012

Five for Five! Topics revealed. (Finally!)

I’m saving all of my creative spark for next week: FIVE FOR FIVE. Today, it’s just the facts, ma’am. The topics for Five for Five are: Monday: CHANGE Tuesday: WORDS Wednesday: PICTURES Thursday: AGE Friday: LISTENING Are you entirely confused, because you have no idea what Five for Five is? Oops. Sorry. The facts: Five for Five is a community event for bloggers (you!). It’s simple to participate. Read. Comment. Write. Link up. We will do the same. 1. Read. Come to Momalom every day and read our post. 2. Comment. On the Momalom post you’ve just read. 3. Write […]

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Jen writes

April 13, 2012

Bowled over. Over the moon. Overwrought.

I read this book last weekend. I want to read it again. But I have to return it to the library around the corner. I love our little, neighborhood library. I visit and then bring home a piece of the bigger world that starts me thinking new thoughts and experiencing reverberations in my gut that propel me full speed ahead toward paper, pen: ideas written down. When is the last time reading changed your life, your thinking, you? (Read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green) Tweet

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Jen writes

April 10, 2012

Today. Tuesday.

I’m starting to have tiny panic attacks about Five for Five. We don’t have a button. We haven’t announced topics. When will I write? Read? Comment? Life is so incredibly busy. Last night I slept for 10 straight hours, and while I didn’t exactly wake up tired, I’d nap today if I had the time. I’m happy and yet I want more. My children are strong and bright and talented and funny. They have friends and activities that challenge them and keep them busy. They are curious and stubborn all at once. I want them to grow up healthy and […]

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Jen writes

April 6, 2012

Friday morning equation

I sit in a quiet house while Sweetie and our 3-year-old daughter return bottles to the redemption center. A few dollars earned in deposits (+) time alone for mama to be still (=) immeasurable gains in our family’s happiness. Tweet

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Jen writes

April 3, 2012

Just Write. (And go easy on yourself.)

If there’s never enough time to write how can I be writing? If there’s time enough to think about how there’s never enough time to write then am I wasting the little time that I have (to write) by thinking too much? If I’m writing but I’m not writing what I think I should be writing or what I think I want to be writing then is it worthwhile writing? (I’m not really looking for answers. You know that, right? I’m Just Writing!) ***** If I am a mother. And a lover. And a sister. A daughter. A friend. A […]

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Jen writes

April 2, 2012

Memento

I capped off last week with a much-anticipated evening of fun with GG and Sarah. And I brought a reminder of said evening with me to work today. It is a reminder to myself of a night spent giggling with my mother and sister in a mall parking lot after gorging ourselves on popcorn and Sour Patch Kids (and Twizzlers and Rolos) in a darkened movie theater while watching a non-animated, almost-adult movie. An experience worth remembering. And one I hope we can do again. Soon. ***** Five for Five update: • Folks, there’s a Twitter list of Five for […]

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Jen writes

March 30, 2012

Offering

Me, to my three hungry children: What do you want for breakfast? (When will I ever, EVER learn?*) My three loud, hungry, optimistic children: Pancakes? Waffles! Crepes. Yeah, crepes! CREPES! Um, guys, it’s a school day. Crepes take a while to make. Pancakes? Those fat waffles? Baked pancakes? I was kind of thinking muffins. [slumped shoulders] Awwww. OKayyyyy. Chocolate chip! Banana chocolate chip! Raspberry! * There is nothing I can offer that will make all three happy. ***** Another kind of offering RIGHT HERE. Tweet

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Jen writes

March 29, 2012

Five for Five: Comin’ up!

Does your blog need a jump start? Or maybe you’re ready to expand your blog circle but you don’t know where to begin. Well, folks, it’s time once again for the Momalom blog carnival called Five for Five (yes, it’s true, we shortened it from Five for Ten). Here’s the low-down: Who: Anyone with a blog What: Post every day on your blog and link your post up to our blog. We’ll visit your blog, read your post and comment. We encourage you to do the same to as many other linked blogs as possible. When: Week of April 23, […]

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Jen writes

March 28, 2012

Five tips on how best to enjoy your family

1. Take a week off from work just to spend time with them. 2. Take your children to the after-school activities that you usually can’t because you’re at work. 3. Enjoy being (almost) singularly focused on family because you’re not spending time thinking about work. 4. Have lunch in bed beside your Sweetie. Several days in a row. Instead of at your desk. At work. 5. Resist making lists of things to do while you are taking a week off from work just to spend time with your family. Bonus: Go on a field trip with your kid’s kindergarten class […]

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March 25, 2012

This is My Life: Drums

This set-up spent a few days in our living room before we had time to rearrange the nearly-8-year-old’s bedroom. But now the new drum kit is in its intended spot. In the boy’s room. Front and center. And every time he plays them, I start dancing. Tweet

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March 18, 2012

(Be)longing [still]

For the past several days I’ve been trying to write a blog post. I kept getting stuck, so I took a few minutes to peruse the Momalom archives. Along the way I found that I’d already written what I’ve been trying to write. This post was originally published in December 2009. Was I lying when I wrote about not apologizing for my dreams? Because I haven’t been doing much to further those dreams lately. I have been composing only in my head. At night. Long after everyone else in the house is asleep. Or I have been jotting down notes […]

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March 9, 2012

I wish

For more mornings like this one— Time with sweetie; time with writing; time to breathe and, most important, time to look forward to family: time spent together at day’s end. Tweet

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March 2, 2012

(I won’t even list them here)

It’s Friday night, and I surrender to all of the many things I didn’t get to this week.   Tweet

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February 28, 2012

Today

It’s been so long since I’ve written here that now that I’m here I don’t know what to write. With such a lapse comes a weighted feeling of needed perfection. If I write frequently it’s easier to give up the expectation of success. Just getting words out is enough. Tomorrow they can be better. But when there’s been days, weeks of no writing, then I start to feel like I need to say something relevant, profound, provocative. Or at the very least, interesting. But today I’m not feeling interesting. Today I’m just grateful that it’s Tuesday, and Heather is still […]

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February 13, 2012

Broken wrist and a broken blog?

Where have we been? Sarah broke her wrist a few weeks back, so it’s been tough for her to write. I have no such physical excuse. But I think maybe the blogging part of me broke a little bit recently. I’ve been pushing this place out of my mind, away from my consciousness. It doesn’t feel right. And yet, it feels a relief, too. It’s so impossible to do it all. It’s so impossible to do even what needs to be done. (I took the weekend off from laundry. Felt good at the time, but I know many of you […]

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January 31, 2012

From a cafe

She sat at the cafe, looking out at the falling snow. The mug in her palms was warm, hot almost. She imagined seeing the steam rise in streams, obscuring her vision. She imagined the snow coming down faster than it was. She imagined sitting in the same chair, in the same room, in the same position for the rest of the day. The scent of the coffee was bitter, the taste sharp. She drank it down as quickly as she could without scalding her lips and throat. The day would begin before she could stop it. The skies would clear, […]

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January 24, 2012

Memories to strive for

Sarah and I were talking yesterday about how lucky we are. There are so many reasons, of course, but our conversation centered around family. Our own childhoods, with engaged, educated, interesting, fun parents who each respected their children and encouraged us all to excel, to take risks, to grow. OK, we didn’t use those words during our chat, but that’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? Having good parents means so very much. Now that we’re both in the thick of it, trying oh so hard to be good parents ourselves, we call upon our own childhood experiences more […]

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January 13, 2012

Needing to need

“You might want to say awesome.” Words straight out of my 3-year-old’s mouth. Apparently I didn’t praise her quickly enough–in this case for getting herself dressed. Or maybe it wasn’t the getting dressed itself, rather the choice of clothing: A fleece pullover of dinosaur print that, not so incidentally, has a matching fleece dinosaur-print hat, complete with stegasaurus-like spikes. She was getting dressed for school–an event that happens only twice per week–and I gathered that she’d been planning the ensemble for some time. Sweetie and I have laughed about this particular sentence spoken by our spirited and strong-willed daughter, who […]

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January 10, 2012

Fulfilled yet still wanting

I knew what I wanted. A book on my shelf with my name on its spine. I set a goal. A weekly goal. A yearly goal. A goal related to a certain age. That age. The one that used to signify over the hill but that now might be a mark of the last years of youth. Except for a soft middle, crowed eyes, gray hair on me, this woman who is so, so tired. I don’t feel young. I feel like I am at a place where the opportunities slip away faster than they come to light. I feel […]

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January 6, 2012

A possible experiment

Less personal narrative. More fictional creations. What you just might find here (on Jen’s writing days) in 2012. Tweet

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December 29, 2011

Repost: Letter redux

I first published the letter below last January, at the outset of 2011. As I re-read it tonight I felt sad and empty with the realization that a few short months after I wrote those words, I lost that self for a time. I should elaborate. But what’s most important is that I’m back now. My better self found. Or I’m here again: In this place, thinking about the living that happens beyond the writing. So much has changed this past year. And yet what is important is so fully the same. The people with whom I share this life, […]

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December 20, 2011

On lists and writing and the Christmas season

I have ideas and words swimming through my brain. Add time and quiet and I might be able to coerce them into a satisfying piece of writing. I have a list of things to do. And a list of things to buy. And a list of things to make. And a list of when to address each list. There is no time. There is no quiet. Not at this time of year, especially. At the beginning of December I actively acknowledged to myself that I was not going to meet my writing goals for the year. And so? I let […]

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December 9, 2011

On making a photo book

Hundreds of photos to choose fromThree years of life already lived.How do I pick and chooseThe images that tell your storyWhen what I want the mostIs to preserve every single moment? Tweet

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December 2, 2011

True, though so far from perfect

True: I thought of the perfect six-word post while driving familiar roads on the way home from school with (only!) one child behind me and my thoughts (almost) to myself. Also true: I cannot recreate perfect or even, now, something vaguely similar to the six words that flowed line after line in exact representation of how I’ve been feeling today (low, sorry for myself, weepy even). Truest: I have so very much. Truest of all: Perfect doesn’t exist. (And that’s worth remembering every day.) Tweet

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November 30, 2011

Silver vision

My heart is still swollen from a Monday night surprise that leaves me unable to write my own words. And so I share instead a few stanzas from a song that I’m listening to right now. If you recognize these words and maybe the melody plays in your mind and you find yourself thinking of strings and harmony, maybe you know what the surprise was—concert tickets tucked into an early Christmas card and landing in my hand when I got home from work. Sweetie and I don’t go out just the two of us very often. And Monday was a […]

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November 29, 2011

Rain

The rain drums against the bulkhead, playing a tinny tune outside the window at my bedside. I lie curled beneath blankets soft and warm, listening to the watery chorus. I’m awake enough to enjoy my sleeping family. I’m sleepy enough to let the sounds of this springlike November night wash away all the thoughts left from the day. This is a moment to savor. Tweet

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November 28, 2011

A promise

I sit and I look through seven-and-a-half years of photos of my beautiful kids. There’s a smile on my face and a tear threatening the corner of my eye. I fight the sadness that they are growing up so fast. Too fast. Parenting is full of mixed emotion. Everyday contradictions. Pride and uncertainty colliding in bursts inside of me. And I promise myself now that I will appreciate it all: These children. My children. Their moments of miraculousness. Their wonder. Their joy. Their accomplishments. The gift of being their mother. There’s just so much to this life. So much to […]

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November 25, 2011

Thanks

My Sweetie and our three children— four beautiful people who shine bright— leave me thankful every single day. And shining brighter, too. Twinkling, even. Tweet

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November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tweet

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Another one of my blog friends has written a book. And it makes me so happy to see her success. Selfishly, I think, “There’s hope for me!” and “If she can do it, I can do it!” and “Wahoo for a community of writers!” Generally I share such blog-specific, writing-specific, selfish-seeming thoughts with only my sister. Recently I’ve begun to branch out and share these thoughts with other people who matter to me. People in my face-to-face life and people in my screen-to-screen life. And it pleases me to share with all of you now Linda Pressman’s new-ish book Looking […]

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November 20, 2011

One + one = Quality time

“Hey, B,” I ask. “So do you want to go to the pool?” It’s so beautiful out (Almost 60 degrees! In November!) that I half feel like I shouldn’t suggest an indoor activity. But yesterday after swim lessons my son asked if we could go to free swim soon. And with a 3-year-old with a broken ankle I didn’t think the answer would be yes. But now the 3-year-old and her older sister are playing together at a friend’s house, and my boy and I have an hour or so to spend alone. I say no so very often to […]

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How is it that in a year’s worth of photos I have so very few of all three of my children together? And that in not one of those photos are all children smiling or looking at the camera or even fully in the frame? The good news is that if I wanted to send out a more non-traditional photo, I have plenty to choose from:         (Hey, at least there’s an actual child of mine in that last photo.) So, what are you doing for a holiday card this year? Tweet

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November 14, 2011

Jammies

Tonight I was in my jammies by 6:39 p.m. Worthy of a note on the blog, no? Tweet

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November 13, 2011

Broken ankle day 8

A lot of time spent on the floor. But every day it slows her down less. And it certainly hasn’t stopped her from playing with her brother’s construction vehicles. Tweet

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November 12, 2011

On formative experiences, past and present.

A weekend of friends. A sunburn. Conversation. Camaraderie. Picture taking. A dinner. A brunch. A row. Reminiscing. Reunions can be fraught with the unknown. With vanity that rears its ugly head, pointing out my too-long, uncut hair. My unfit middle. My dry, blotchy skin and tired eyes. Vanity can hold me back, grip me in the chest. Make me want to be invisible. But you can’t have the full experience and be invisible. You have to risk being the most wrinkly, most tired-looking, most frazzled, nervous person in the room (or at the boathouse, as it were). You have to […]

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November 11, 2011

Three happy kids = One happy mama

So many childhood moments worth saving Few more heartwarming than this one:   ********   Tweet

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November 8, 2011

Crossing. To safety.

There’s a part at the end of my favorite book, Crossing to Safety, where one of the main characters is dying. She’s a matriarch. She’s a force. She’s the one to whom everyone looks—for direction, for ideas, for guidance. During her whole life, she has run the show. And now the show is her death. She’s trying to die with grace. She’s trying to make it easy on everyone else. She chooses her best female friend and her daughter and her sister to ferry her to the place she has chosen to die. Her husband is furious. He feels left […]

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October 28, 2011

11:00 a.m. to 11:09 a.m.

Twenty minutes. Twenty things to do. Nineteen of them for other people. One for me. One thing: Write. Not time enough for grand ideas Not time enough for starting anew Not time to revise what’s there Not time to add to it. And so I sit. Nimble fingers, ideas whispering from a tired mind. I tap out a few words. Reminding myself that 20 (nine?) minutes isn’t enough to do 20 things Reminding myself that sitting, thinking, writing even for the briefest, still moment is a sound decision. For me. Tweet

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October 25, 2011

Rainbow

I saw a rainbow on my drive in to work today. I’m a sappy, sentimental, metaphor-loving writer. You can imagine how happy I was—practically grinning—to find myself driving under a perfect arc of ROY-G-BIV. I do not condone taking photos while driving, but I couldn’t resist. This photo captures not even half of the architecturally breathtaking half-circle that created a tunnel over Route 9. Only once before have I seen such a rainbow. It was a few years ago, driving the reverse trip. Leaving the town in which I work, and in which Sweetie’s sister also lives. Our sweet family, […]

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October 24, 2011

Clean house. Clear mind.

All weekend I cleaned. All. Weekend. With exception of a few hours on the soccer sidelines Saturday morning, I spent two full days de-cluttering, sorting, sweeping, dusting, washing, organizing, digging out, scrubbing and generally donning rubber gloves, ripped jeans and an old college T-shirt. Our house looks anew. And smells a bit like peppermint castile soap, which I used liberally not just because everything needed washing but because rodents don’t like peppermint. And in the darkest hours of night, the sounds of skittering in our humble abode can be deafening. Especially as the nights are growing colder. I know it […]

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October 21, 2011

Silence:

My craving for quiet quenched. Tweet

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October 18, 2011

Incomplete

I’ve taken a little time off from writing. It’s been about 10 days. But it seems much longer. I’ve wanted to hit the keyboard for a few days. Now that I’m here, though, I feel klunky. I don’t know where to start. It’s not that I haven’t had time to sit and write. That’s not a new barrier to my output. And it’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about. Finding ideas is not a stumbling block for me. It’s that I needed to do more than Just Write. I needed to process. I needed to focus on […]

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October 7, 2011

From patient to mother: A birth story

It’s likely my life was saved by my obstetrician. There I was, heading blithely to his office for my regular check up–weekly now. I was wearing my favorite blue linen maternity pants, even though it wasn’t quite warm enough for them. It was my first official day of leave from work. A Tuesday. I was looking forward to a few weeks at home. Folding onesies, reading baby books, finally settling on a name for our son. Seven words—and my doctor’s eyes fixed on mine—changed my life forever: “You’re going to have this baby today.” These were the days before Sweetie […]

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October 5, 2011

Daily demands

I have a list of things that I wanted to accomplish today. One is crossed off. I have finished half of another (small) task. The rest of the list is untouched. It is 2:20 p.m., which means that I have to leave the house in no more than 30 minutes to go pick up the two older kids. Nothing will get crossed off of my list once all three kids are home. There will be snacks and after school time spent together. I’m only home at this time of day twice each week, and I like to see my kids […]

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September 30, 2011

How to write a blog post

Sit amidst clutter: papers, clothes, crumbs (take no notice of the mess) Keep one ear open for conflict (raised voices, crying; thud, slap, smack) Try to recall the amazing idea that hit you at 2 a.m. (help your toddler in the bathroom) Fight the frustration of not remembering Start pounding at the keys anyway Breathe as you hit your stride (hop up, shake Goldfish in cup) Start feeling confident at the tapping of your fingers telling your story Smile. Engage in positive self talk. You can do this! It’s possible! (Glance up at the clock, insistent) Calculate the minutes left […]

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September 27, 2011

No.

You know those people who “won’t take no for an answer?” I’m not one of them. I expect no. I don’t ask or pursue because I assume no. Of course this makes a yes very exciting. It also raises the yes stakes. High. I’m not a person who takes no for an answer. And now I ask myself why. Why? Am I afraid to fail? [Maybe. Although I think I'm afraid to not be ready to try. Is that the same thing?] Am I afraid to put myself first? [Yes.] Am I afraid or am I just me? I remember […]

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September 23, 2011

Friday morning all to myself

Right now: Three kids in school Me alone in a quiet library To write: Blog post warm up Then words, sentences, paragraphs. Novel progress Question: Should I be pacing myself? Truth: Writing makes my heart beat Faster and faster with every word Answer: Let the words fall quickly Let the words set the pace Tweet

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Just write. Sure. Easier said than done. The inner critic is almost as loud as the children, forever in the background. Forever leaving the background to enter my space. Here. Now. Right now. Just write. Fill the white space with your words. My words. The writer writes. The words must come. You cannot wait for the right words or the right time or the right place. You have to demand them now. Frequently. Always. Every day. Every minute. The more you demand them, the easier it is to see them flow from your fingers. Yes. Flow! Right onto the screen. […]

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September 14, 2011

“This Beautiful Life”: A Momalom book review

A few weeks ago I read Helen Schulman’s novel This Beautiful Life, a novel hinged upon an email transaction gone wrong. My expectations for this book were high. The early buzz reached me through my email inbox, my Twitter account, Facebook, People magazine and on the front page of the Sunday Times “Book Review.” I felt bombarded, honestly, and probably wouldn’t have read the book right away had I not been offered a copy from the publisher. I tend to resist “must reads,” but with all this hype and a review copy on its way to me, I pushed aside […]

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September 11, 2011

I’m always in love

I sit amongst the chaos. Chaos. Two girls coloring to my right. Crouched over a shared coloring book. Using those “smelly” markers that always leave polka dots on the ends of their noses when they bring them close to sniff the evergreen and grape scents. “Mama, you think I can take art class?” asks my girl. Almost 6 years old. Her talent flowing through her fingers in a way I envy. And then I realize, as she fills in the spaces between the thin black lines, choosing each color so precisely, I sit only a fraction of a room away, […]

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September 9, 2011

Young at Heart

Last night my family and I walked together to the town center to see this amazing singing group. (Take a look. I’ll wait here.) There are few more moving examples of life lived to its fullest. We should all be so lucky. Tweet

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September 7, 2011

Eye level

I didn’t get teary eyed at kindergarten drop-off yesterday. My middle child wearing her too-heavy backpack let go of my hand and headed straight into her new classroom for her first day. She paused for a moment in front of one of her new classmates (in tears) until one of the teachers swooped in, bending down to my nearly 6-year-old’s eye level. Then I paused for a moment, wishing I could be a fly on a the wall of this classroom–the same one my now second-grader started his own school career in. But before I completed the thought I turned […]

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August 19, 2011

Curiosity

A sleepover for my energetic son: Late night with friends. Goofiness. Noise. (An unexpected night in a tent.) A walk downtown. Three of us A sweet girl on my left A sweet girl on my right Their soft, warm hands in mine. We form a chain. Smile broadly. Wonder what their brother is doing. (An unexpected night on the town.) Tweet

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August 15, 2011

Countdown: 53 weeks

A week from today I’ll be 39. Which means in 53 weeks I’ll be 40. I’m not one to put a certain weight on a certain age, but 40 seems like a good target age. For reaching a goal. For finishing a novel, say. As it turns out, I have a novel in progress. I used to be embarrassed to say this out loud. To tell anyone but my closest friends, my sister, my mom. Much to my decreasing surprise I found out that everyone else had one, too. Writing a novel, it seemed, was just one of those things […]

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August 12, 2011

Manuscript

The words come. The words go. There are better ones. Always better. Then, no, the first phrasing worked. Back to that. Yes. That. Good. And then, upon rereading the draft I realize. First person is better. Let’s not be omniscient. And so the revisions begin again. 1,000 words 2,000. Until the certainty. Omniscience. Yes. Back to the original draft. Confident That the voice is right now It was right all along. Sigh. The words they come. And go. And somehow add up. To 21,357. I commit to the goal: 75,000. I am almost (gasp!) one-third there. Tweet

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August 3, 2011

Everyday. Dreaming.

This morning I have done laundry. And dishes. I have considered the merits of sweeping the floor before lunch. I have gone upstairs to find “my big piggy, mama!” I have given my 2-year-old a big bowl of cherries and helped her wash her face and hands. I have listened to the Wiggles, whose grating voices blare from the red toy guitar that always seems to reappear from the latest place I’ve hidden it. I have had my coffee, and a handful of Ritz crackers. Returned emails. Read the paper. Finished a book. Found a missing sneaker. This was not […]

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July 29, 2011

Disappointment. Then, Hope?

Sweet: How I want to feel. Sour: How I feel these days. Maybe savory is in my future. A bridge from here to there. Tweet

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July 19, 2011

501 on the coast of South Carolina

The last post, Sarah’s most recent and one of her best, was our 500th here at Momalom. 500. Now that seems worthy of ceremony, even if it’s after the fact. But ceremony is far from our reality right now, here during post 501, because we are on vacation, Sarah and I. With our spouses. And our brother and sister-in-law. And all of our nine combined children (eldest: 8.9; youngest: 2.9). And our mother (Geege!) We are on vacation. And we are having fun. Swim, snack, rinse, nap, repeat.   Sarah’s husband has certain bartending abilities, and he sent me to […]

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July 10, 2011

10 minutes on a Sunday morning

Sunday morning, and the day stretches out before me in that proverbial way a day does when there’s nothing planned and only one parent home and three kids walking aimlessly through the house. Run-on sentences fill my head. There are the things that I could do: Laundry. Dishes. Get down on the floor and play with the kids. There are the things that I want to do: Sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and gaze up at the trees. Watch the cardinal couple flirting. Prepare for the day by preparing words for the page. There are the […]

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July 8, 2011

Line

Every day I walk the line Mother, partner, Mommy, sister, Mama, daughter Writer, 10 minutes for my words. Every day the line bends unexpectedly bringing one me to the front responding, nurturing, listening. Welcoming all ideas. Every day—surprised by the line, I watch as my varied selves exist together, filling me with inspiration. Every day the line of my pen becomes bolder as my lives unite, begging words to find the page. Tweet

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June 26, 2011

Perhaps the best P.S. in history

There’s nothing like cleaning out file cabinets to bring inspiration out of hiding. As I sit at my newly dusted, decluttered desk, surrounded by discovered/recovered emails from almost 15 years ago, I’m reliving a part of my past. There is overwhelming sadness that this folder stuffed full of dozens of printed emails is a record of a part of my life that also represents the last few years of my dad’s life. It is strange to go back and read the words of my three most intimate friends—my mom, my friend Cara and Sarah—with the knowledge now of how many […]

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June 24, 2011

Anniversary

If we could devote this day to just the two of us as the calendar says we might how would we pass the time? Walking to town hand in hand browsing in bookstores and music stores Sitting outside, watching people go by Even enjoying a quiet meal together? That’s how we spent our days before one address, before three children. I think back and am grateful. We leaped together. We’re still aloft. Tweet

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June 21, 2011

Conflicted

I’m conflicted about what to write here lately. I compose posts in my head nearly every day. Sometimes I even get a chance to jot them down. But then when I find myself with time to really write, I second-guess myself. I’m becoming too self-conscious, a problem I have in real life but one that I’ve been able to keep at bay here. What to do? Write that post about Father’s Day? The one that talks about how much I miss my dad? How having children changed the way I perceive the day now? It’s not so much about loss […]

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June 17, 2011

Toddler speak

“Tind of,” she says—head tilted, eyes squinting, hands out, palms up. And though I forgot the question that came from me—insistent, impatient I am tickled by her answer, her expression. Always beyond her years. For more Six Word Fridays, visit the lovely Melissa. Tweet

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At what age is a mid-life crisis likely? (Do people still have mid-life crises?) Also, am I always depressed in June, or is there something about this particular June that has sent me cascading downward into self pity? (Obviously this is not a question that can be answered by anyone other than myself and a medical professional. Or Sarah. She probably could help.) Will I ever have enough patience? (OK, so I know the answer to this one.) If I’ve had a cold for weeks and weeks (and weeks) at one point do I start really considering the fact that […]

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May 31, 2011

Choreography

Last weekend, my oldest daughter and forever middle child had her first full-length ballet recital. I cried. (Of course.) She didn’t. She flitted onstage and off, fully embracing her butterfly role. Oh the pride. To see her up there in her blue flowing dress, flowers in her tightly wound orange hair. To see the older dancers and remember my own years on stage. I had to hold back. I had to stop from thinking about myself. About my own childhood. Adolescence. About all that I wanted to accomplish and haven’t yet. About all that I have accomplished—love, a life together, […]

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May 27, 2011

One (six) word(s) at a time.

All week I kept wanting, wanting to write. Ideas crowding my thoughts leaving me impatient with myself. Failed. Again, no time. Never enough time. ••••• Except, here, in quick, six-word spurts I can get a few words out through my fingers to keyboard to see on screen. To share. •••• Maybe it is in this way that I am clearing the path for the paragraphs to come. And the pages. And the book. Tweet

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May 20, 2011

“Charming”

My mother used to always say when we kids did something unpleasant. That displeased tone in her voice at odds with the lucky-sounding word. Tweet

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May 13, 2011

Wisdom (n.)

                      The ability to see the beauty in the messy moments of parenting.   Add your own six-word wisdom at www.makingthingsup.com.         Tweet

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I intended to get all up on my Poetry-Kicks-Ass high horse last month. You know, during NATIONAL POETRY MONTH. Somehow, the month completely got away from me. Then, this morning, I was listening to a CD of Billy Collins reading his own poetry. (Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy the public library and the treasures that I find there?) Many of the poems Collins read I have read. Over and over. I own all but his most recent volume of poetry. But to hear a poem read in the voice of its author is such a gift. I […]

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Jen writes

May 8, 2011

For GG on Mother’s Day

Two Sundays ago it was GG’s birthday. And I wanted to write a tribute to her, much in the way that Sarah did last year. But this year (and, to my surprise, for the first time in her life) my mom shared her birthday with Easter, and so the time I would have liked to spend on the tribute was spent in the company of the Easter Bunny. And now it’s Mother’s Day. And I started writing this post a week ago, trying to grasp the next chance to pay tribute to the remarkable woman who is my mother. And […]

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Jen writes

May 6, 2011

Yesterday

I was at my wits’ end. Oh, wait. That’s Every Single Day. Mothering is so full of repetition. Moods. Chores. Needs. Meals. Noise. Mess. Sometimes it helps to stop. STOP. And remember: I am here, now. And I chose this. (I did!) Yesterday I was at the end of a rope never long enough. But today I’m not there yet. Tweet

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Jen writes

May 5, 2011

Wheels turning

I get in the car and start driving And my brain awakens to the ideas it’s been holding back Amidst the morning needs of getting out the door Helping to get others out the door. I drive and I think and my awakened synapses fire (is that the terminology? is that the science of it?) Ideas come from every direction demanding my attention And I try to keep my focus on the road Without losing sight of the creativity that sustains me That demands my time and my dedication and my patience The same needs that so often are taken […]

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Jen writes

April 30, 2011

Words in solitude

It is quiet. I am curled up on GG’s red couch.Wrapped in her lush, blue, faux-velvet throw. It is quiet (still!) I am alone.The lamplight glows just beyond my shoulder. It is quiet.And the nighttime sounds of this house are almost as familiar as those I hear from my own bed, 90 miles away. If I could hear them now from my nest on the couch, the purrs of my sleeping children–upstairs in their GG beds–surely they would sound the same here as everywhere. But it is quiet. It is. It is quiet. And it is glorious. Tweet

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Jen writes

April 25, 2011

Posted

My son has posted hours outside his bedroom door.     Although I’m fairly sure these correlate to the game of library that all three kids were playing earlier today, I can’t help but let my imagination get the best of me. Perhaps these hours could be the time he spends alone in his room, entertaining himself? Perhaps they could refer to time spent getting along (continuously) with his siblings. Perhaps these spans of time could be ones that the two of us could spend together, with no attitude (him) or impatience (me). Upon closer consideration, of course, none of […]

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April 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, GG!

This year, GG’s birthday falls on Easter, which for me means that I’ve been spending my time cleaning the house in preparation for the Easter Bunny’s arrival instead of writing a birthday post for her, which I would have liked to do. But last year, Sarah wrote the following, and it’s one of her best. Happy Birthday, Mom! A couple of generations ago a baby girl was born. Her parents named her Gail. She grew and grew and welcomed five brothers and sisters to her tribe. Eventually, her siblings dubbed her “sister-mother” and joked that her daughterly perfection was the […]

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Jen writes

April 22, 2011

A quick (six) words about blessings.

Here I am, day after seven. A healthy son. Two healthy daughters. Three gifts. Blessings all. Milestones aplenty. Mothering has made me stronger. Bolder. And much less apologetic about myself. I count my blessings every day.           Find more Six Words, or join in on the fun, at makingthingsup.com. Tweet

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Jen writes

April 20, 2011

A day older. A year older.

Seven years ago this very minute I was six hours from giving birth. I didn’t know that, of course. The unknowns of labor are just the beginning of all of the unknowns of motherhood. I remember the moment my son slid from my body. In an instant I can transport myself right back to that room and relive that miracle, just as I can do for the births of my daughters. But, oh, that first time. It is a brand-new kind of magic. And as I lie on my own bed tonight, thinking back to that early morning of my […]

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Jen writes

April 19, 2011

Seven years and nine months ago

I remember the positive test. And the resulting sweaty palms and inability to stand. I remember calling my sister, herself already mother to a 12-month-old. I remember the disbelief. The excitement. The absolute wonder. I remember formulating the words in my mind, “I’m pregnant.” I remember sitting in a cafe, looking around the room and thinking, “I wonder who else is pregnant.” I remember walking down the street, wondering if any other women had the same secret. I remember dwelling on this strange feeling that, although I’ve never been someone to reveal it all, there was this huge part of […]

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April 18, 2011

Discovery

Last night we played a game at the dinner table. One by one each of us added a word to string together a sentence, then two, then a paragraph. (Except for the 2-year-old, who nonetheless demonstrated her near-perfect understanding of the game after one time around the table.) With few fits and restarts the four of us created a sort of a story. It was silly. About a bubble-blowing monster with blue fur who sleeps on tongues, tends to fart and takes baths in mud puddles. No big surprises, given that silly is our dinnertime default and the fact that […]

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Jen writes

April 12, 2011

On this day

Sarah was born, and sisters were made. Happy Birthday, Shaggy!!! Without you life would be incomplete. And lonely. And boring. (Hoof!!!) Tweet

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April 8, 2011

Right.

I crave quiet. For the thoughts in my head to receive attention from my heart. I crave quiet. From my family so that I can be a better mother. Patient calm wise thoughtful slower happier quieter. I crave quiet in my house. So I can live without voices raised to the messes, clutter everywhere. I crave quiet in the hopes that I will feel more sane more able and more quiet myself. And then, I stop. I say (sometimes out loud, sometimes to myself) It’s a craving impossible to fulfill. Right? Tweet

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Sarah: Dude. What’s the secret to banana bread? We shall discuss via phone. :) [Phone rings. Sarah to Jen.] Jen: Dude. The secret to banana bread is to use real butter. Sarah: I used real butter. It never cooks through all the way. I have to keep putting it in the oven for five more minutes. And then I worry that it’s going to get DRY. Jen: Did you use the Bittman recipe? Sarah: I did. Jen: I noticed when I was there last week that your oven cooks unevenly. But you do need to cook it until the top […]

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Jen writes

April 1, 2011

The words of my every day

Mom?! Mama?! Mommy?! Again and again. Tweet

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As I sat in the waiting room of my daughter’s ballet school a few months ago I perused a magazine uninterrupted. And I came across a quote that I read over and over again. I am so grateful for moments such as these. In this case, an article about the actress Diane Lane offered me unexpected clarity. Here’s the gem that sparkled before me and that I wrote down, nodding all the way: “Being in a relationship makes it impossible to avoid yourself. … It may not always make me comfortable but it sure has made me a better person. […]

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Jen writes

March 25, 2011

A disturbing realization.

I go to the supermarket. Again. I walk quickly down the aisles, not seeing what is really there. Only what I buy every trip. Fruit, cheese, eggs, milk, tortillas, salsa. I know there is more here but I can’t spare a moment to see the variety. Different options. There is just never enough time. How is it that the supermarket is now a metaphor for motherhood? Tweet

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Sometimes I sit down to write and the words come faster than I can type them. I begin with an idea and it grows and grows and turns into something else altogether. And at the end of the keyboard dance I am left feeling as if I’ve just taken a deep, cleansing breath. Sometimes I sit down to write and my fingers become stumps, not nimble enough to reach the keys. I can’t find an idea or even a thought, so I sit quietly. Waiting waiting. And frustrated that my limited time is slipping away, taken over by a foggy […]

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Jen writes

March 17, 2011

In which I consider doing a jig

My dad wasn’t a morning person. The phrases with which he greeted each day are not ones I can transcribe here. He didn’t sleep well. He woke up in nicotine debt. He didn’t particularly look forward to going to work in the mornings. I know, I’m not painting a pretty picture. There were a few days each year, though, when dad came down the stairs with a spring in his step, the sound of the abundance of change in his pants’ pockets jingling. And St. Patrick’s Day was one of the days that put him in a lighter mood. He […]

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As a mother of two daughters—each of whom is unmistakably her own person and, unmistakably, a girl—I have engaged in many conversations about the hows and whys. About the inevitable nature vs. nurture question that comes when each of us finds ourselves with a baby in our arms. New. Untouched. Impossibly vulnerable and sponging up everything around him/her. How do we know why our children are the way they are? How can we isolate their characters from the outside influences, the mood fluctuations of a household, the siblings, the birth order? How do we do just enough to guide our […]

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Jen writes

March 13, 2011

Two years of Momalom—Numbers, words

In exactly two years of blogging, Sarah and I have published 464 posts. Comments on the site total 8,757–a quarter or so are responses by the two of us. According to Statcounter, we have received 98,854 hits since we started using the service. And although I know that the total already has surpassed 100,000, it seems a celebratory milestone, to be reached in the next few days. We have nearly 300 Feedburner subscribers and 199 Facebook fans. On Twitter, Sarah (Momalom) has 1,122 followers and is listed 59 times. I (Momalomjen) have 959 followers and am listed 61 times. This […]

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Jen writes

March 2, 2011

Sick duty

There’s nothing like a vomiting kid to make you face your mothering duties head on. All at once and in full force there is someone to comfort. And laundry to do. And a floor to mop. And a wall to wash down. There’s the quick trip to the supermarket for ginger ale and saltines. And snuggling in bed watching Diary of a Wimpy Kid, checked out of the library on a whim a few days ago. E-mail goes unanswered. Ditto the telephone. My hands to the forehead and upper back of my oldest boy instead of on the keyboard. I […]

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Jen writes

February 28, 2011

Phew. I already wrote this blog post.

I sat down to write a post while dinner cooks and had a flashback. Then, a sense of relief. I’ve already written this post, the one I sat down to write, clock ticking away. Tonight dinner is black bean chili and cornbread, and instead of a dance party there are four kids (mine plus a friend) playing in pairs upstairs—I can hear the Battleship cries from one room and singing from another—but the Struggle for Time? Yup. That’s still going on. It’s a constant internal struggle for me, and when it gets overwhelming I lash out against it by lashing […]

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1. Laundry (Duh.) 2. Dishes 3. Surly children. 4. Messy bedrooms (and bathrooms, and living room, and dining room…) 5. My son’s CONSTANT  motion (and subsequent spills, explosions, etc.) 6. My older daughter’s eye rolls. (See #3) 7. Bed wetting. (See #1) 8. “What are we having for dinner?” 9. Not knowing what we’re having for dinner. 9. Diaper changes–going on seven years straight. 10. The feeling, all the time, that I am needed everywhere. (See #1-9) Tweet

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Jen writes

February 20, 2011

Weathering the present

I have just about had enough of winter. On the eve of what is predicted to be a “quick storm,” resulting in four to six more inches of snow on our already blanketed yard, the magic of the glistening white branches is over for me. I want to be able to open my back door and send the kids outside without having to bundle them up or respond to snow up the sleeve, down the collar, in the boot. I want to be able to clean my house–yes, I just said that–without people underfoot everywhere I go (undoing my work […]

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Jen writes

February 18, 2011

I won’t give up on this

Novel. My goal: To publish one. What are your Six Words today? Visit makingthingsup to join in and read more. Tweet

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Jen writes

February 14, 2011

Love Letter Redux

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ve linked up with Real Life with Kids today, to  a letter I wrote to my Sweetie last Valentine’s Day. It’s cheating, of course. But that’s the cool thing about Zombie Mondays. You dig up an old post and ease yourself into the week. (Besides, I still feel the same way about my Sweetie this year.) So go read about Cate’s dazzling love affair, check out other Zombie Love Monday contributors, resurrect one of your old posts (a love letter, perhaps?) and link up. Tweet

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Jen writes

February 13, 2011

Glimpses

I catch them more often these days: A 10-year-old boy in the library, curled up reading, oblivious to the children (three of them mine) playing and running around him. A mother dropping off her children–all of them–at school in the morning and getting back into her minivan. Alone. My son on a playdate that lasts through dinner. The changes and growth of children–all children–are suddenly more at the center of my vision. I see other families whose childrens’ lives are starting to take on their own directions. I spend (a little) more time with just a subset of all of […]

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Jen writes

February 8, 2011

Saved

There are people in my life who have been saved. By doctors. By friends. By airbags. By me. There are people in my life who have saved me. Doctors. Friends. My children. My sweetie. I have been thinking about these moments of saving and being saved, and I have been wondering. Did I take notice of these moments and these people at the time the change—the saving—was happening? Did I realize the impact of a medical procedure, a hug, a beating heart, a working brake pedal? Perhaps I did. Yes. I probably did. But I’m realizing that it’s only afterward, […]

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February 7, 2011

On this day …

John Deere is somewhat of a celebrity in our house. The tractor lust that started about the same time my son was able to sit upright and peer over the edge of his stroller continues to this day, six years later. So I shouldn’t have been surprised at the enthusiasm with which he announced over the weekend that John Deere’s birthday is February 7. That’s right, today. Apparently, B has been holding tight to this knowledge since a few days after Christmas, when he completed reading the John Deere biography given to him by Santa. I’m not sure what he […]

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Jen writes

February 4, 2011

Cold outside. Warmth in my heart.

This winter summed up? Snow, obviously. Also, unexpected days of family togetherness. For more summations, visit Making Things Up! Tweet

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Jen writes

February 1, 2011

More snow. It’s not all bad.

I know I’m just one of millions of people waking up to snow with the promise (threat?) of (much) more snow during the next 48 hours. Sarah has pondered the possibility of this being the apocalypse. She may be on to something. But I’m feeling kind of old fashioned. It’s so rare that so much of the country is experiencing the same forces of such magnitude. That we all need to react to the same conditions at the same time. As the plows come down the street again and the snow piles up and skis and snowshoes are discarded on […]

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Jen writes

January 28, 2011

Long night. Saved by a smile.

Most nights my daughter sleeps alone. But when we are at Geege’s the girls sleep in one room and the boys in the other. *** Sharing a bed with my toddler in no way leaves me feeling refreshed when I awake beside her. A night of kicks, loud sighs (hers and mine). Stuffed animals everywhere. I am sore and tired. Grumpy. *** Her grin and dark eyes save her* (and me) when the sun comes up.* And after last night, I’m grateful that at home we sleep independently. * Clearly I am tired, as I apparently lost my ability to […]

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Jen writes

January 24, 2011

Looking back. Then, looking ahead.

I write less specifically these days about THE three kids. Those three kids that inspired my part of the header. Life. With three kids. I’m in it deeper now. Three is my every day. And the shape of my family informs every part of my day, many of my thoughts, much of my planning ahead. But it’s less inspiring, somehow. It’s there, but it’s not the only focus. It’s just the way it is. As a woman I met recently put it, “Three is the new two.” Yes, I thought, both at the time and since. Yes. It is. Three […]

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Jen writes

January 22, 2011

A letter to my (future) self.

Dear Self, I like you these days. This you that is less concerned with the things that don’t matter too much—like the state of the floor, clothes strewn, toys scattered. Or the unmade beds and unwashed children. (Are you sensing a trend, self?) I like you. I like your kindness these days. Your more lighthearted self. There is so much that is difficult, namely finances and mothering—knowing what is right and being able to do right by your family. The other stuff—the messy house, the extra five pounds, the hair that grows increasingly longer down your back, the missed PTO […]

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Jen writes

January 21, 2011

Another winter day. Snow. Ice. Cold.

Warmth. An impossible concept, it seems— Outside temperature hovering at 15 degrees. So I add more layers, blankets Turn up the heat, make tea And am glad for home, inside. For more six words, go visit Melissa at makingthingsup! Tweet

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January 14, 2011

At this moment (in six words)

Out the window: blanket of snow. On the floor: boots, coats, hats. At this moment winter grips me. Inside and out, I feel buried. Tweet

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January 13, 2011

Within reach

Here is Sarah during a stop in the aviary at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It feels like this visit was ages ago, but really it was just more than two weeks. How does that happen, time going too fast? And how can I stop it? I’ll save the photos of orangutans and moose and a black-tongued giraffe for another day like today, when I have lots to say but absolutely no time to write. Tweet

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Jen writes

January 10, 2011

Mark all as Read

If life were like Google Reader, I’d click on a box and move forward. Maybe I’d wonder about all of the content and news I’d just effectively dismissed, but I’d be confident knowing that soon there would be more more more, and that I could–if not pick up where I’d left off–find my place again. A list looms in the back of my mind of all of the things I wanted to do during the holidays–make my mustard (how can a holiday season go by without my kitchen full of canning jars, the scent of Guinness making the house smell […]

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Jen writes

January 2, 2011

Life on a winding road

Somehow our December-long Momalom in Pictures slipped away, not unlike the last days of 2010, for me spent driving back home from the West, a trip that spanned 12 days and a total of 4,059.8 miles. A trip of adventure, family, new experiences, inopportune bathroom needs, laughter, noise and food. It occurs to me that the trip–a first of such epic distance as a family–was perhaps a microcosm of our “real” life, the life that is ours in our little house in New England. And that life is a successful one overall, just as our maiden voyage to see our […]

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Jen writes

December 17, 2010

Dishes

I could tell you there are this many dishes in the sink because I’ve been sick (and mostly in bed) for a week. Or because our hot water heater pilot light has been temperamental lately and we’re conserving water. Or that I’ve been baking all day in preparation for a party tomorrow. All of these are truths. But the thing about dishes is that sometimes they just pile up and take over. (Don’t even think about asking how laundry might be a similar photo-op. My housework zen only stretches so far.) Tweet

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December 17, 2010

For Cara. And her sweet Squeaky.

Happiness is an old friendship renewed with the birth of her daughter. Motherhood reuniting us. An unlikely scenario it once seemed. And now. Happiness. As we talk on the phone for the second time in weeks (and the third time in years) I hear in her lilting voice in the words rapidly spilling out the love, the wonder, the joy the happiness for that new life the life of her sweet daughter and for her journey into motherhood. Welcome to the world darling girl I can’t wait to meet you and to see your mama again. It’s Six Word Friday, […]

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Jen writes

December 16, 2010

Snowmen, Christmas trees and bells

They may just look like regular old cheddar biscuits, but they taste much better when formed with the holiday cookie cutters. Tweet

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Jen writes

December 10, 2010

Gifted: Riches where there aren’t any.

This year: More frugal than ever penny pinching, stretching resources, being creative. It’s difficult to have the confidence that these three children of ours aren’t seeing the stressors. They aren’t. I know they aren’t. But. But there is so much more. Much more that I wish I could give. Not only from their wish lists but in experiences, too. Next year, I tell myself. Next year, definitely. Meanwhile, this year: Frugal, yes. Also a trip to Colorado! Thirty hours in the van. Five of us! My bank account is paltry. But. But the riches of my life? Abound. A road […]

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Jen writes

December 9, 2010

Spaghetti and marshmallows.

Your turn. Tweet

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Jen writes

December 8, 2010

What is it about wispy ponytails and braids?

It’s December. Which means we’ve decided to post Momalom in Pictures. But sometimes a little text is nice, too. Here’s a blast from the past, if you’re so inclined. Tweet

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Jen writes

December 6, 2010

I miss swimsuit season.

We’ve established December Momalom in Pictures month. But if you’re looking for more than just a photo of a little girl with a swimsuit on her head, check out this post (a poem, in fact!) that Sarah and I wrote together last spring. I think it’s safe to say that we still feel the same way. Tweet

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Jen writes

December 3, 2010

Caption contest winner revealed!

Remember this?  Anyway, there were 16 responses to our Caption Contest, and they were all great. Thanks to all of you who played along. Fourteen entries came through the comments. And two came via e-mail—a brave short story written by a blog friend and a touching tribute to, ahem, me, written by my college-days friend Rachel. But, because we called it a contest (and because we said we would), we selected one grand winner and 15 runner ups. So. After much deliberating, we decided to go with Bina’s: Internal thought: “Ok. If I stand like thiiiis and smile pretty, maybe […]

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Jen writes

December 1, 2010

Life goes by fast. Why not take it slow?

Or. Slow down. You’re getting close to the office. Enjoy the drive to the parking lot a whopping 100 yards away. (Really. I pass this every day when I get within sight of the building I work in. And I giggle a tiny bit every time.) P.S. I’ll announce the caption contest winner(s) tomorrow folks. I promise. P.P.S. I told you I could’t keep my grubby fingers off of the keyboard. Tweet

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Read More in Jen Writes

Well, we did it. I’m feeling a little less accomplished than I thought I’d feel, having managed 30 posts in 30 days. I’ve kind of closed out the month with a whimper rather than a bang. And Sarah and I split the writing! Anyway, I’ll try to tie it all up neatly here. Unfinished business: Today’s the last day to enter our caption contest. Your chances are pretty good, given that we’ve had just 13 entries so far. You have until midnight tonight. Pretty please? I’ll send you a T-shirt. Some sticky notes. (See how pretty they are?) Maybe some […]

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Read More in Jen Writes, three kids

Tonight I started to scold my son for the pile of clothes on his bedroom floor when I realized I just didn’t have the energy. Also. I didn’t want to say the same thing I always say. It obviously doesn’t work. (The clothes are still there. Always there.) Also. I hadn’t seen my sweet-faced boy all day. So instead of remarking on the inside-out pants and wadded up socks, I started talking in an accent of sorts. This is not my strength, and I think I sounded like a cross between a vampire with a speech impediment and the grand […]

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Jen writes

November 26, 2010

Delusional thinking?

If I clean the house today, I won’t have to clean the house over the weekend. P.S. It’s not too late to enter our caption contest! (So if you’re avoiding your own housework, check it out!) Tweet

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Jen writes

November 25, 2010

Turkey

I didn’t have any. Did you? Perhaps the lack of tryptophan in my Thanksgiving day feast is the precise reason I still am awake. Tweet

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Jen writes

November 24, 2010

Leftovers

You know what you can do with leftover black beans? Make black bean dip. Which your children—if they are anything like mine—will scarf down with handfuls of corn chips until you cut them off. (This is not how my kids ate the original black beans. Thus the leftovers.) I’m not a post-a-recipe kind of a gal. But. It’s NaBloPoMo and I’m getting a little desperate. So here goes. Place in the bowl of a food processor: • The leftover black beans (4 cups. Yeah. They were NOT a hit at dinner the other night. Probably because there were onions and […]

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Jen writes

November 22, 2010

In which I transcribe a list of thoughts

Numbered, but in no particular order of importance: 1. NaBloPoMo seems to go on forever. 2. It is very difficult to change someone’s mind. I should probably repeat this truth to myself daily. 3. How is it that I have never made a pumpkin pie? Here’s hoping mine comes out. (Should I make a practice one first? Or just be gutsy and assume the one I make will be Thankgiving worthy?) 4. It’s cold. (I am not really mentally prepared for winter.) 5. I read in a magazine over the weekend that when it comes to hair, the longer the […]

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Jen writes

November 20, 2010

Introducing Momalom’s first caption contest

It snowed last week. On my long commute to work, I started out in cold rain, drove through snow, sleet and freezing rain, and arrived safely after a drive extended by about 30 minutes past my usual 75. I am not ready to battle the weather yet again. I’d rather stick with cows. But, I’m trying to keep things in perspective. Snow can bring fun, or so my children would tell me. So. To spice things up, we’re sponsoring a contest here at Momalom. A contest that has little—if anything—to do with mothering. A contest that has more to do […]

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Jen writes

November 18, 2010

This is My Life: Built-in Landscaping Services

This photo, taken five years ago, makes me !!! (and a little bit sad, too, but I’m focusing on the intentional happiness theme today). Tell us what makes you !!! Tweet

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Jen writes

November 16, 2010

Respecting the process. Enjoying the results.

Today I lowered myself into the cool, chlorinated water. I pulled back my too-long hair and stuffed it under my sturdy swim cap. I pulled my goggles tight. I pushed my feet against the side of the pool. I stretched, consciously making my body as long as I could. I glided. I breathed. I thought, “Why oh why is it so damn hard to get here when it feels so absolutely perfect to be here?” I thought, “Hey, that’s exactly how I feel about writing.” And then I swam. Lap after lap. Finding the rhythm in my body, my breathing, […]

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Jen writes

November 15, 2010

Learning in the quiet

I curled up on my son’s bed beside him in the dark at the end of this long Monday. In the quiet in the dark I listened to his breathing, tried hard not to comment on his squirming. And then out of the silence he began to talk. The things he revealed to me were not responses to questions I asked. I wouldn’t have known to ask about these things: facts worries ideas questions of his own that fill his mind. We snuggled together under his warm blankets and I tried to say as little as possible as I answered […]

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November 13, 2010

What rhymes with butterfly?

I’ve been sending photo holiday cards much longer than I’ve been blogging. And, as a blogger, I’ve been hesitant to accept any offer from companies thus far. However, just as I was finishing the layout for this year’s holiday card, complete with four photos—one of which actually shows all three children together (gasp!)—I learned of an offer from Shutterfly. An offer too good to resist. Shutterfly has great options for holiday photos. In fact, 274 options. I myself didn’t have time to view every single one (three kids, remember). But it was easy to narrow down the choices by number […]

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November 11, 2010

!!! in goodbyes

This is a photo of my Sweetie. The adult in this world who makes me !!! (and not just on Thursdays). I know. You can’t see him. He prefers it that way. (Winking at you, Sweets.) But there’s more !!! in this photo, too, even though part of it is bittersweet to me. Our son took this picture with his own camera one morning last spring (by the looks of the purple blooms) as he was undoubtedly waving goodbye to his dad, who was on his way to work. We have this waving ritual. Whoever is leaving for work that […]

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November 9, 2010

Nourishment

As I start to think about the upcoming holidays and all of the impossible chaos that is sure to ensue, I find myself retreating to books more than usual. It’s undeniably a kind of avoidance. But reading is also a source from which I draw strength. And because I anticipate needing all the strength I can get during the coming weeks and months, I’m seeking out suggestions. I’m offering a few books on my recent reading list, and I’d love to hear what’s keeping you from your own lives these days. Recently I’ve devoured: Little Bee by Chris Cleave Plan […]

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November 7, 2010

Floors. Sweeping, vacuuming, washing. FLOORS.

What household chore do YOU most despise? Tweet

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November 6, 2010

Fearlessly independent

Tweet

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November 5, 2010

Change happens when I’m not watching

Embracing motherhood has meant, for me, That in every moment, every day (if i just open my eyes and allow myself to see it) change is everywhere: growth, moods, needs. And when I feel most lost or ready to jump and cry throw up my hands and scream A lesson is learned. A hurdle scaled. A child surprises us both. It’s Six Word Fridays! For more, visit Making Things Up. Tweet

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November 3, 2010

Coming to terms again and again

I have come to the realization that I believed that when my childbearing days were over I’d step out of one world and into another. From the world of emerging parent to that of established parent. It has taken me some time to come to terms with the reality that Sweetie and I have (only? exactly? ) three children. That we are blessed to have three children. And. And that there will not be more. But then, everyone else keeps having babies. Friends new and old. Neighbors. Co-workers. So many of the people that I see and talk to daily […]

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It’s November 1, which means… It’s our brother Justin’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Bro Grow. Be well. Also, Nov. 1 means it’s the first day of NaBloPoMo. Yup. We’re doing it again. Posting every day this month. We participated in this blog writing fest last year. It was fun. It was challenging. For me, the month took its toll on me both creatively and in my off-blog life. And yet. Here I am again. So please, tune in every day. One of us will be here. Which brings me to a bit of housekeeping. Those of you who subscribe, either by […]

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October 31, 2010

Halloween comes around every year

It’s cold! My SPY, PRINCESS and TRAIN CONDUCTOR are going to be very chilly tonight during the Rag Shag Parade and subsequent trick or treating. At last I’ll be having that age-old struggle with my children, who up until now have experienced Halloween nights that have been mild. We’ll no doubt be fighting about how many layers of winter coat, hat and mittens will ruin the costumes by covering them up. THAT is my foremost Halloween memory, after all. Well, that and the year that Sarah and I won a prize in the parade in our little hometown. I was […]

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In the theater with a gorgeous, detailed ceiling painted in warm shades of brown, gold, red. In the theater with friends old and new and in between. In the theater on a Saturday night without kids. In the theater. The stage. The lights. The crowd of people around. Out after dark. I sit. I watch. I listen. I sing along. I think of the children then try not to think of them. This is my night. Our night. Without them. They are at a sleepover at their aunt’s house. They are fine. Oh, but they would love this. The oldest […]

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October 22, 2010

Six weeks into school year means:

“Rubby” noses, Congestion, Exhaustion, Crabiness. ENOUGH. What have you had enough of? Join Six Word Friday at Making Things Up. Tweet

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October 17, 2010

For my ever-handsome boy

It was bound to happen. A trip to the emergency room. This time, the first time, with a boy. A boy who was on his scooter. And then, on the ground. A bleeding gash on his chin. A quiet ride to the hospital. Nurses. A doctor. Questions. Lots of sitting still. Stitches. Bandages. This boy of mine, this 6-year-old boy, so good in an emergency, held it together better than most adults. After the initial shock. After the bleeding had been slowed. After it was determined that, yes, this was it. This would be the FIRST trip to the ER. […]

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October 15, 2010

My four favorite people on earth.

Oldest child. Your deep, brown eyes. Middle child. Your fine, orange hair. Youngest child. Your impossible, mischievous grin. Sweetie. The sound of your voice. It’s Six Word Friday at Making Things Up! Tweet

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October 12, 2010

This is my Life: Baby Fever

Still life with naked babies At last count, there were more than 30 baby dolls in my house. I honestly don’t know how we got to this point or why all of them are naked. But so it is, and I offer you a sampling of their names: Po Po Baby Noisy New Baby Sunny Moony Rocky (perhaps we should formally introduce Jamis to Baby Rocky?) Flower Big Baby (not to be confused with Celtics player #11) Corey Wilco Baby Sister Baby Brother Harper Vanessa Panessa Tweet

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October 10, 2010

Bare

A few nights ago* I awoke to the shrill sound of my baby yelling “Mama!” Screaming. For me. Her dad went up. She quieted. He came back down after a bit. She started again to scream. For me. I have been on bedtime duty more nights than not due to Sweetie’s work schedule, and he was trying to give me the night off. But E got out of her bed, and we heard the soft yet solid sound of her feet pitter patter across the floor above our heads. We heard the slight rattle of the gate at her bedroom […]

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October 8, 2010

Fantasy: The small and the grand

Painted walls (without fingerprints, smudges, dents). Absence of piles (clothes, books, papers). Quiet after dark. Through till morning. Also, novel completed, published, read. Acclaimed? Tweet

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October 4, 2010

Success simplified.

How do you measure success? It’s an old question, I know. Unoriginal. Visited by most. But. It’s worth asking, I think. If I measured success by my bank account balance, I’d be an utter failure. Or, if I measured by the cleanliness of my house. (I’m laughing now, for I am incapable of keeping our home neat, tidy, organized or, quite frankly, clean.) Other measurements that may result in my failure to succeed: I do not live in a large house. We do not have a landscaped yard with perfect lawn. We do not have the latest technological gadgets. We […]

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September 30, 2010

Another girl’s birthday.

I’m tired, oh so tired. And I write that knowing that I’ve written so many times before about sleep, and how I don’t get enough.* So today, on Intentional Happiness day, I am keeping it simple. I am happy for my daughter, 5 years old yesterday. Somehow, she looks different to me now. Older. Wiser. More of a kid than a child, if that makes any sense to anyone other than me. And I am grateful for who she is and what she brings to our family. I am happy for her patience and her slow consideration of every option […]

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Tomorrow will be two years. TWO! Since you arrived in our lives to complete our family. Our world. I cannot imagine: family of four; A day without your face, scrunched, eyes wide, teeth together; sweet kisses juicy and open-mouthed; siblings surrounding you, protecting you, playing with you. Laughing. How is it that you already Are two. How is it that, already, you say you are three. Please. Take tomorrow to stop growing. One day. Sing “happy birthday me.” While I pause, get choked up Not able to fathom one bit A life without you in it. For more Six Word […]

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September 22, 2010

Making the most of things

Today I ran out of gas. For which I have no excuse–other than my poor math skills–gas lights being what they are in modern vehicles. While I made a rescue-request call to Sweetie, who was working less than a mile away, my girls laughed at me. When I hung up the phone, I laughed, too. It was kind of funny. And we were safe. And close to home. We could easily have walked home or to a nearby gas station. But while we waited for Daddy’s Roadside Service, the girls entertained each other in our cavernous minivan (E didn’t even […]

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September 21, 2010

Getting ready to jump in.

I’ve been reading. A lot. Often. Almost constantly. Absorbing words, sentences, whole pages at a time. As if trying to make up for the lost reading time of having three children in four-and-a-half years. As if someone is going to come knocking on my door asking me to identify the latest debuts of the past several years. I’ve been reading and thinking and remembering how absolutely wonderful, how essential already-written words are to my life. Getting lost in stories. Pondering characters. Story structure. Plot. And considering how it all affects my own writing. Except. I haven’t been writing. I think […]

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September 20, 2010

Yeah, me too.

Do you ever feel like every thought you’ve ever had has already been thought before by someone else? And yet, at the same time, do you often feel utterly misunderstood by everyone else? Tweet

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I have come to dread a certain kind of question, inevitably posed by my oldest—my 6-year-old impatient inquisitive son. I offer a recent smattering: “Mom, when can we go to the park?” “Mom, when can you change the batteries in my helicopter?” “Mom, when can you help me find my socks?” “Mom, when can we ever go to the park?” “Mom, when can you change the batteries in my walkie talkie?” “Mom, when can I have a snack?” “Mom, when can I have a playdate with Sam again?” “Mom, when can you help me with my Legos?” “Mom, when can […]

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Jen writes

September 17, 2010

Bedtime. Nightime. Not over till morning.

Covers tucked. Lights out. Kisses blown. I walk downstairs. To my room. Perk up my ears. Listening now and for the next several hours for the sounds of awakening children. Hoping for no “mamas.” No cries. What are your six words today? Find more at MakingThingsUp. Tweet

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September 16, 2010

Intentional Happiness Virgin

Until now, Intentional Happiness has been Sarah’s realm. But, well, she’s super busy being the super designer that she is. Just this week, she finished another fabulous site makeover. (Check out Never-True Tales). And, since she’s preparing for her third-annual Reach the Beach roadrelayforcrazypeoplethingy, I offered to share some of my own happiness today. Here goes: My two older kids have cameras, courtesy of GG. They use them frequently. They sneak up on me and click lovely shots (that I could have deleted upon downloading their images, mind you). They do a house-wide study in still life. They take beautiful […]

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September 14, 2010

From the archives of my life as a mom

Imagine my surprise at finding this little tidbit, written as a part of a writing exercise (I remember…) when I was a mom of (only!) two children. If I have the timing right, my son (now 6) was 2 and my daughter (my only daughter at the time) was 6 months. (She is now rapidly approaching 5.) And so, here it is. A writing exercise. I include it here because it strikes me so profoundly that I feel so much the same now. That almost since day one of becoming a mother, it seems, I have felt exactly this. Exactly […]

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On the second day of school, I spent the morning cleaning my first-grader’s room. Thoroughly. While I was in there, the girls played in their room. Or maybe played isn’t exactly the right word. Tweet

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September 10, 2010

Beginnings. Too much to say today.

I have tried and tried and tried and tried to say what I want to say about beginnings In this wonderful six-word Fridays format (But wait? is that seven words?) And I just can’t do it But there still is something addictive About trying to get to the Bottom of things in six words. (Maybe next week I’ll do better.) Tweet

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September 9, 2010

Mama, When is my next ballet class?

Her question floats quietly from the back seat of the minivan As my daughter’s questions always do I piece together the words Recognize the slightly higher than usual pitch of her voice Glance in the mirror and notice her neck stretched forward And I explain that she has to wait until next Saturday Her shoulders slump, her eyes fall Next Saturday is 10 long days away In her first-ever dance lesson My daughter shone Pink tights Soft, leather ballet slippers Orange hair all tied up in a bun not any bigger than a large grape Her purple leotard stretched across […]

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September 7, 2010

Visiting Day

When Melissa from Making Things Up asked me to write a guest post for her, I felt honored. And when she gave me the topic—beginnings, in honor of her new arrival, son Eli—I was thrilled! To write for one of my favorite blogs and not to have to come up with a topic? Perfect. So here’s to beginnings. If you’ve never read Melissa, today will surely be a good beginning for you. Take a peek here, and stick around a while. There’s plenty to see! Tweet

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September 6, 2010

Reflections

This morning, I looked up from scrubbing the bathroom sink to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Glasses slipping down my nose. Hair pulled back in a messy bun that highlighted my grey streak. I did a lot of housework today. It feels important to me that B go off to school tomorrow from a clean house. And so there I was, spray bottle in one hand and paper towel in the other, bent over the white pedestal sink wondering if the hardened peanut butter would ever come unglued from the faucet when, wait, there I was. In […]

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September 3, 2010

Summer’s End

Blueberries. Fresh picked. Pie. Baked fresh. Tweet

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August 27, 2010

Family dinner out at Joe’s Pizza.

Please bring us two ginger ales And one small glass of water That looks like a ginger ale Because this little one sitting here Wants everything her older siblings have. She can’t possibly wait three years. But I’m not ready for soda In the hands of my baby And so I thank you, waitress, For the glass with ice, straw That satisfies my toddler’s need. (And makes dinner out easier, too.) Tweet

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Jen writes

August 24, 2010

Three in a bed

We sleep together A toddler between us And I am happy Her toes at my knees Your toes touching mine And I realize I am good at this now This parenting at night Better than I was when we were in so deep for so long The years of nights stretching out from the long days No guaranteed hours of quiet The resisting being needed The resentment of being needed And now together this rare night of a child between us I lay half asleep rubbing her back listening to you breathe and sigh And I think again I know […]

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“In case we disappear for a few days. Ya know?” Sarah wrote this in an e-mail to me, in response to my continued amazement at the liquid intake of my son. She and I each have a child who consumes copious amounts of liquid. Juice cups are filled and refilled throughout the day. Thermoses are constantly on hand. And while I sincerely hope there is no correlation between their intake of apple juice and water now to the amount of alcohol they ingest in their teen years, it really is remarkable to witness. It’s also extremely irritating. No matter what, […]

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August 13, 2010

This Much I Know

We are close to the edge It feels dangerous, risky, too real The pit in my stomach, permanent For far too many weeks now Shows no signs of leaving me But I must not turn away I hang on, wanting closed eyes Except I must keep them open Because it is my job: mother To keep my family surviving, thriving So I peek over the edge. Step back. Breathe deeply. And believe. Tweet

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August 11, 2010

The Curse

The story told in this song speaks to me in ways so personal I’m not comfortable writing about it here. And while I’ve shared the gospel of Josh Ritter before, a part of me is compelled to again offer his lyrics and music and, this time, a gorgeous video. I hope there’s something here for you, too. Tweet

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August 2, 2010

A Successful Vacation

Today is Monday. Last Monday I was at the “big” library, scouring the shelves for new audiobooks for my big boy. Choosing my “baby’s” first book to be taken out. Advising my 4-year-old on which Madeleine video to select. It was a warm and sunny summer day. Perfect for a trip downtown. A smoothie. A day of whim. For 10 days I enjoyed such whim. I got out of bed—one day early, one day late, the rest at the usual time—and faced each day with no grand plans. It was a vacation in the true sense of the word. Except […]

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August 1, 2010

Budget Shopping

I am a pro at stretching a dollar, scrimping on the grocery bill, making dinner out of what’s in the cabinets. We wear hand-me overs, hand-me downs and last year’s pants, calling them capris. But sometimes it’s nice to go on a shopping spree. So yesterday, the kids and I hit the dollar store for a few needs and wants. We found something for everyone: 1 hairbrush 1 fabric headband 1 rubber ball 2 hair clips 4 barrettes 4 plastic fighter jets 5 bungee cords 6 sponges 90 miniature Army men Total cost: $10.63 My hair is brushed and out […]

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Jen writes

July 30, 2010

An idea to live by today:

Perfection is celebrating not being perfect. Tweet

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July 28, 2010

Babydoll on the clothesline

The girls are still asleep The boys, awake I sit at my desk and glance out the window at our green backyard Bubbles of sunlight slipping through the leaves of the lush maple trees floating and settling on the too-long green grass There’s a babydoll on the clothesline because yesterday she got dirty in the sandbox and then my not-yet-2-year-old took her into the bathroom and washed her in the sink How can one child be such a do-er And one of her older siblings be so distraught over doing? I sit and I look outside and I ponder questions […]

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July 24, 2010

This is My Life: Laundry quandry

Almost every day is laundry day. Especially in the summer time, because we hang all of our laundry to dry. So today, I put out a load of towels before we went on a few errands. (Farmer’s Market; Trader Joes.) When we returned, a few hours later, the sun was shining and the towels were dry. I went upstairs to put the littlest one down for her nap, and when I came downstairs the skies were gray and rain was pouring down. Question: Do I rewash the towels or just let them (re)dry and pretend the brief rainstorm never happened […]

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July 23, 2010

Together (inevitably)

Where I Am So Are They. Tweet

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July 19, 2010

On my mind last week.

I couldn’t seem to pull it together last week. I kept trying to write, but I was having trouble staying focused. I think I have too much on my mind lately. Here’s a few of the things that I dwelled on long enough to jot down as ideas but that never quite made it any farther than a sentence or two in post form: It is a foregone conclusion that the needs of a certain child in my household always seem to come before everyone elses, regardless of the circumstances. Why did I dream of an explosion leaping out of […]

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You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But, listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the […]

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July 7, 2010

Blog Design 101

Today Sarah’s talking about blog design at Nickelodeon’s Parents Connect as part of their monthlong Blogging 101 feature. Hop on over and take in her wisdom. Stick around long enough and you can enter to win a prize! Tweet

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July 3, 2010

Housekeeping

We’re not ungrateful. We’re really really not. But we are frazzled and busy and crazed half the time. And because of these endearing qualities we have neglected to acknowledge three lovely bloggers who recently have bestowed on us awards. AWARDS, people. So, without further ado (ahem, frazzlement), thanks to Maria at Mom of Three Seeks Sanity for The rules ARE these: 1. Get really excited that you got the coolest award EVER! 2. Choose ONE of the following options of accepting the OMB award: (a) Get really drunk and blog for 15 minutes straight, or for as long as you […]

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July 2, 2010

Found.

“Recollection, I have found, is usually about half invention.” —Wallace Earle Stegner. OK, so I cheated this week Stealing a few words from Wally. (Not even six words. Nine, actually.) But this quote hangs before me When I sit at my desk. It provides me with great inspiration Perhaps you will be inspired, too. For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com! Tweet

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Aplomb. It is one of my favorite words. I remember the exact moment I first encountered it. And was desperate to know its meaning. I was standing on the banks of the Connecticut River. Crew practice had yet to begin, and I had just come from the college post office. I was reading a letter. A letter from a friend at a college hours away. A boy friend. (But not a boyfriend.) A friend of the unrequited angsty, teenage crush variety. We had spent a few years in high school trying to figure out the nature of our relationship, I […]

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June 25, 2010

Goals.

They used to be much bigger. Write novel. Have baby (or three). Now, to do dishes after dinner I feel achievement unlike any other. I want to strive for more. Tweet

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June 21, 2010

Delinquent, but very thankful, me.

Dear Everyone Who Has Given Me or One of My Children a Gift During the Past, Oh, Say, Two-and-a-half Years, Thank you. I meant to write a thank-you note. I really did. In fact, I even drafted one. (In my head.) I used to be really very good at thank-you notes. I am a firm believer in thank-you notes. And yet. Somehow, the thank-you note is one of the things that has fallen by the wayside in this life of mine. This life. Of three kids. But, I am grateful for your generosity. Your thoughtfulness. On holidays. And birthdays. Sometimes, […]

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June 20, 2010

Loyalty.

I spent this past basketball season becoming a True Celtics Fan. With Sweetie, I watched nearly every televised game, up to and including Game 7 of the finals, the scrappy match against the Lakers that ended the Celts’ season just short of them having achieved the crowning glory of the title. Sweetie is a longstanding Celtics fan, and on game nights we would put the kids to bed and tune in. From pregame to postgame and the halftime analysis in between, I watched and listened beside him, as I have for years. I don’t know why this year was different. […]

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June 18, 2010

Appetite.

I wish we could go back to that first meal we shared together in a small, darkish restaurant. I wish I could watch us From just a few tables away. Would I predict our bright future? Tweet

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“I am sorry for that” I received this note on Sunday afternoon, amidst the fallout of a meltdown by my 6-year-old son. He’s written notes of apology before, and in the past he has been a bit more specific in describing why he is “sare.” Whether he anticipates using this note again or he just ran out of room on the piece of paper to go into detail, I’m not sure. But the fact that he writes me notes makes my heart swell a bit, even while I am trying to get under control my own emotional reaction to his […]

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1. Pee on the floor. 2. Coffee delivered to me from my Sweetie, whether I’m in the shower, changing a diaper or still in bed. 3. All three children yelling for me at the same time. (MomMamaMommy! anyone?) 4. Not getting to the phone in time to hear who’s calling. 5. Snacks prepared by me and consumed by my children. 6. Food on the floor (and the walls). 7. More than one child saying, “I love you, Mom(MamaMommy).” 8. Laughing. 9. Laundry. In some form or another. 10. Possibility: Five people living together. Happily. Humbled.* * This last one here […]

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June 9, 2010

Glimpse. Pause. Reflect.

I like this photo because it brings me right back to that trip to Maine, 11 years ago. The trip that Sweetie planned from start to finish. Every detail taken care of. An inn with a huge jacuzzi. Bike trails and a place to rent bikes. Bookstores to explore. I like this photo because just by looking at myself looking out at the water here, adjusting my cap, I also remember the sunset we shared and so many other details of that trip, like the fact that I was still eating fish then, and did, sitting across from my Sweetie, […]

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June 6, 2010

Vanilla? or Chocolate?

Remember Five for Ten? Well, I haven’t done a whole lot in the bloggy world since then. I’m trying to bounce back. I really am. In the meantime, chocolate or vanilla? Tweet

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May 29, 2010

What She Said

The Elmo Wallpaper. Do you know this blog? Do you know this wonderful mom of three boys? Do you? Because she wrote last week what I wish I had been able to find four years ago. She wrote the best post about having a third baby that I have ever read. It is personal. It is comprehensive. It is practical. And it is touching. Most of all, it rings so so true in its honesty and wisdom and fact. Read it. Even if you want nothing to do with three children or already have five or are somewhere in between. […]

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May 28, 2010

Six Word Friday

What I need to remember (everyday): When I go to sleep early I feel better in the morning. For more Six Word Fridays, visit our witty friend Melissa at Making Things Up. Thanks, Melissa! Tweet

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It’s not that we forgot that we’ve been blogging for a year (since March 13, 2009). It’s just that, well, it didn’t come up. Sarah and I so rarely see each other in person that we didn’t ever talk about what to do in celebration of US. But now, a few months past, we’ve decided to celebrate us by offering others a quick resource for blogs by moms of three (or more). That’s right. Introducing: MomMamaMommy! (Inspired by this.) We’ve said it before. Something changes when you have that third kid. It’s so difficult for us to put our fingers […]

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Jen writes

May 18, 2010

A day of Yes

Yes I’ll make cinnamon-chip muffins Yes we have Daddy juice Yes you can wear shorts today Yes there are clean socks in the laundry basket in my room Yes you have PE today (so wear your sneakers, too) Yes I’ll pack yogurt in your lunch Yes I’ll pack a granola bar in your snack Yes it’s my turn to drive you to school today Yes you have to brush your teeth Yes I’m picking you up from school, too Yes your friend M can come over to play Yes I’ll make popcorn Yes you can jump on the (neighbor’s) trampoline […]

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My favorite novel My cherished collection (one-and-two-thirds shelves of Stegner magic) Evidence of stalking (I told you it was lust) **************** Tweet

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Jen writes

May 14, 2010

I had this body

I had this body I had abs A navel pierced with a tiny silver ring I had an ass that didn’t move up and down when I ran (I had this body that ran) I had a waist that fit into skinny jeans and thighs that fit, too I had this body before I had children this body that has slipped away become something else after the third child or because I’m getting older I can’t say, really But I had this body and I wish I had appreciated it more when it was mine (mine alone) Because now it […]

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Jen writes

May 12, 2010

Happiness is

Happiness is three slippery bodies just out of the tub holding out their towels and asking for a “Daddy warm-up” Happiness is my Sweetie’s eyes deep brown and kind always smiling with soft lines around them like the Lucinda Williams song Happiness is this family that is ours only ours always ours because we took the leap that led us here ***************** Wednesday and Thursday are all about Happiness. Sarah and I are so happy to have you along on this amazing adventure. Link away…and we’ll get busy reading. Tweet

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Jen writes

May 11, 2010

Courage is

Courage is taking a leap into love commitment Motherhood Courage is forgiving freely and forgetting moving forward Courage is starting each day fresh without the weight of yesterday’s failures or hurdles or burdens Courage is being the best woman I can be the best partner I can be the best Mother I can be and not apologizing for not being better ******* Are you new here? Do you need some more information about all these goings-on? Check out the sidebar. Everything you need to know is over there! Also, please bear with us as we catch up from yesterday on […]

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As we’re gearing up for Five for Ten, I’ve decided to repost some oldies this week. Need a refresher on Five for Ten? Just go hang out in the sidebar over there. You can find the rules and our topics and even link up! I’ll see you back here on the 10th! ********** The Three Popsicle Day (originally published May 23, 2009) We don’t go on too many weekend family outings, because on the days that I am home, J works (and vice versa). So this morning, when I was standing in the center of our little town at 9:56 […]

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Jen writes

May 6, 2010

Discovering the Park: Revisited

As we’re gearing up for Five for Ten, I’ve decided to repost some oldies this week. Need a refresher on Five for Ten? Just go hang out in the sidebar over there. You can find the rules and our topics and even link up! I’ll see you back here on the 10th! ********** Mysteries Unearthed (Originally published August 9, 2009) Friday I took my kids to the park. It was 3 in the afternoon. The baby had woken from her nap. Quiet time was over. We were at loose ends. So I strapped the girls into the bike trailer, B […]

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Read More in Jen Writes, motherhood, three kids

As we’re gearing up for Five for Ten, I’ve decided to repost some oldies this week. Need a refresher on Five for Ten? Just go hang out in the sidebar over there. You can find the rules and our topics and even link up! I’ll see you back here on the 10th! ********** The First Child (originally posted August 28, 2009) The first child is always first. Always. And it makes me kind of crazy. Because the second child is now the middle child. And the third child has to just cope with everything that the first child needs. And […]

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Jen writes

May 2, 2010

Sleepless: Revisited

As we’re gearing up for Five for Ten, I’ve decided to repost some oldies this week. Need a refresher on Five for Ten? Just go hang out in the sidebar over there. You can find the rules and our topics and even link up! I’ll see you back here on the 10th! *********** How many nights can I go without real sleep? (originally posted on April 12, 2009) J is upstairs putting the big kids to bed. Em is lying on the couch beside me, playing. I am as tired as I ever have been. Too tired to be writing […]

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Jen writes

April 30, 2010

(On Not) Living in the Past

I have noticed lately that it’s not unusual for people to be living in their pasts. Thinking back to their glory days of high school. Or the independence of college. Their single days. The days when they had money (read: before children). There is a lot of this going on. And I’ve just (finally?) put it all together. I think it took me a while to realize this because, well, I don’t really have high school glory days. College was wonderful but not something I feel I need to revisit. I never really wanted to be single, so when I […]

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Jen writes

April 26, 2010

What I Should Have Said

Yesterday at a gathering I was asked by an old friend and mom of one, “How do you do three?” “You just do it,” I said without hesitating. And this is very true. You just do it. I just do it. I mother my three children. I respond first to who needs me most. I multitask all the time. I answer to mom, mama, mommy. Sometimes all at once. I hold hands and answer questions and zip jackets. I keep track and count heads and get juice. I take trips to the potty and mop up spilled water. I just […]

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Jen writes

April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Not at all related to Earth Day, I’m posting over at Making the Moments Count today. Amber found us during our first foray into Five for Ten, way back in November, and she has the distinction of being the first person to send us a photo of herself wearing her hard-won Momalom T-shirt. Amber writes about her life as a mom of two young children. She writes with honesty and with–in her words–”no shenanigans,” which is why we like her so very much and feel such a connection with her. If you don’t know her–and even if you do–hop on […]

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Jen writes

April 17, 2010

17 Years Ago

Tweet

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Jen writes

April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Oh Matriarch of our Family

So very many of us wouldn’t be here without you. Your six children (and their spouses) Your more than a dozen grandchildren (and some of their spouses!) And nine great-grandchildren For now. We all have been touched by your wisdom, your grace and your strength. And we each have countless memories of moments shared with you, lessons learned, advice sought. And tomorrow, many of us will gather for a celebration in your honor. What a privilege for us all. To be in a room together, our eyes looking toward you in gratitude and admiration. All of us owing you more […]

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P.S. Geez, was I a TOTALLY lousy big sister? Not letting you in the tent? Geez. P.P.S. Or, wait, no. I remember. You were a pesky little sister, right? P.P.P.S. Good thing none of it matters now. Tweet

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Jen writes

April 11, 2010

Easily and Gracefully

I actually looked up the word supple in the dictionary. And I’m glad I did. Because here’s the definition, according to Merriam-Webster: bending and moving easily and gracefully Easily. And Gracefully. That’s the part that speaks to me when it comes to being emotionally supple. I want to bend easily and gracefully in the ways that I react to things. I want to be able to breathe and take in what is in front of me, whether an entire container of art beads strewn across the kitchen floor or a child dancing through the house singing a song in a […]

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Jen writes

April 10, 2010

I’m Not Good at Twitter

I gave it a try. But, well, let’s face it, Twitter and I are not meant to be friends. I was never one of the popular crowd. In high school I had a friend–a best friend–who was a cheerleader. But, well, I never hung out with the other cheerleaders. There was something unspoken and mutually understood about my place–or UNplace–in the social gatherings of the day. Also, for Twitter? I don’t have the time. Even if it does only require (less than) 140 characters. I mean, I know I write about this all the time, my lack of time. And […]

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Jen writes

April 9, 2010

This Is My Life? Peace and Quiet

E is napping. (Almost four hours so far!) B is at a friend’s house apres school. S is helping me clean, REALLY clean. It is quiet. And peaceful. And productive around here. Is this really my life? I am savoring it. I know there may be only minutes–or just seconds, even–left. Tweet

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Jen writes

April 7, 2010

Top Tips: A Sampling

There are things we all wished we’d known before we had kids. Things we wish other mothers had told us about. Things beyond “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Things like, sometimes squeezing in a shower is an accomplishment more satisfying than your greatest professional achievement. So, we’ve decided to offer up some tips of our own. A brief glimpse at the many things we’ve learned since becoming moms–in most cases since becoming moms of three. Here’s what we have for you this time, in no particular order at all: 1. Say Yes to your kids as often as you can. […]

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Jen writes

April 6, 2010

Familiarity

I wish I could have written what Amanda wrote over the weekend. Her post on looking in the mirror reflects so much of what I’ve been feeling lately. I am so grateful to have found Amanda’s blog, with her gorgeously written posts about a life that is so familiar to me I feel as if I am looking in a mirror just taking in her words. And, after getting lost in her writing, I find myself asking If so many of us are feeling the same way Then why is it so often that we feel alone? Tweet

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Jen writes

March 30, 2010

Emotional suppleness

This morning on my drive into work, I happened upon an interview with scientist Stephen S. Hall. In talking about his new book Wisdom: From Philosophy to Science he used the term “emotional suppleness.” I didn’t hear much of what he said after that, because I just kept repeating those two words over and over to myself. Emotional suppleness. Emotional suppleness. I’ve written about my struggles for time, about wanting to be mindful of my children’s childhoods while also preparing them for adulthood, about the challenges of getting kids into bed, of keeping calm, of not wanting to be judged […]

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Jen writes

March 26, 2010

Swap

Yesterday we hosted Kristen from Motherese, and today she’s hosting me! Due to a week of fevers, coughs, teething and other unexpected complications, I was left feeling less than able to compose something new. So, at Kristen’s brilliant suggestion, I went back to the archives, and I settled on a piece originally published last June. I could probably have written a post about how strange and somewhat uncomfortable it was to go back and reread my writing of a year. (Cringe.) Perhaps another day. Anyway, to read a little something about books and reading and why Sarah and I are […]

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Jen and Sarah writes

March 23, 2010

The Mommy Contest

We could also have titled this “Why We Think Moms Should Give Up a Little Control” but, that just doesn’t sound as catchy, does it? So, The Mommy Contest We don’t want to win the mommy contest You know the one The one where you have to be the smartest the calmest the one with the superhero costume in her purse the healthy snacks and the right answers to everything We spend so much time thinking and talking about what it is to be a mother Because the judgments come from every direction There are no clear answers anywhere And […]

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Jen writes

March 18, 2010

This is My Life: Sunbathing

Don’t be alarmed. It is not ME who is sunbathing. But on this nice, sunny day, a dear member of the family enjoyed the day in the sun (after a thorough spin in the washing machine). Ah, spring. Tweet

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Jen writes

March 15, 2010

Struggling for time

Loud music. And 23 minutes on the dinner timer. Means I have time to sit down at my computer for a moment. Should I be with the rest of the family? Together in the other room. Enjoying the loud music, even louder in there. I am torn. I can actually feel the internal pulling. The I Shoulds: Family. I should be enjoying this time with them. Dancing. Goofing around. Singing to loud music. Taking in their smiles and their little bodies moving freely. Against. The I Wants: Time. Time is what I want. Time to form a complete thought and […]

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Jen writes

March 9, 2010

Last Saturday

A family breakfast of crepes and scrambled eggs. Grapefruit and coffee. A walk to the library to return books and take out videos. Lunch together. A houseful of blankets washed and hung to dry on the clothesline, drooping from a winter of ice and snow. A bike ride for B, S and Sweetie; a long nap for E; and reading on the porch for me. Catching up with neighbors after months of a housebound season. PJs before dinner, which has been cooking all day in the Crock-Pot, filling the house with the aromas of Indian spices. *** I came to […]

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Jen writes

March 2, 2010

Thanks for noticing me

So there I am, loading the kids into the truck. Tying balloons onto car seats so they make it home from the birthday party. Fastening buckles. Unwrapping Smarties and Dum Dums for the short ride to Geege’s house. Rearranging the bags in the front seat so there is room for me to sit and drive. Chattering to the kids. Answering their questions. Finding their sippy cups. As far as loading in goes, this is a successful venture. A car pulls up. A window rolls down. I catch it all in the corner of my eye. “Everything OK, Jen? You need […]

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Jen writes

February 27, 2010

This is My Life: Short-Order Cook

“Mom, for breakfast can I have French toast, a sunny side up egg and a sunny side down egg?” I’d have included a photo here, but the meal was devoured before I could locate my camera. Tweet

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Jen writes

February 23, 2010

Thank Yous

THANK YOU To the Cheerio fairy, who showed up on my deck a few weeks ago with a box for B’s upcoming school party. To the parents of B’s friend, who drive him to and from school more than I do. To the parents of S’s friend. (See above re: school.) To dear friends who came to dinner and brought with them not only a gorgeous and tasty salad but truth and honesty and humor and comfort that Sweetie and I are not alone in this parenting gig. To all of the people who are helping to show my children […]

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Jen writes

February 22, 2010

Take 7 Minutes Out of Your Day

And watch this: Tweet

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Jen writes

February 20, 2010

Finally! We selected a winner!

Love it Up has come and gone. We had 37 entries to our love-letter challenge, and Sarah and I finally had a chance to sit down with our computers (albeit farther away from each other than usual–one of us is at Geege’s) and select a winner (thank the computer goddesses for iChat). We read about love of equipment, stuffed animals, family members … even states of consciousness. And we loved reading every single entry. It was difficult to choose a winner. I know, that’s so cliched! But it’s true, of course. We want to send all of you chocolate goodie […]

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Jen writes

February 13, 2010

There’s Still Time!

We want you to Love It Up! So, after you’re perfected that mushy love letter to your Sweetie (or to the chocolates, roses and conversation hearts), link up here. It’s easy, and you’ll be joining an already rich pool of entrants. (Take a read through! Leave a comment!) After Sarah returns from her Valentine weekend away, she and I will review all the entries over a box of chocolates. We’ll select a winner and send any remaining chocolates as first prize. (Just kidding; we’ll put together a Valentine’s Day-inspired bundle of goodies for the winner.) Entries must be linked up […]

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Jen writes

February 9, 2010

This is my life: Kitchen Help = Anemic Carrot

“Mama, Can I help you?” “Sure, honey, do you want to peel the carrot?” “OK!” And on that note, there’s still time to participate in Love it Up. Write a love letter. Make it racy. Passionate. Gooey. While your kids are making their Valentine’s for classmates this week, sit beside them and draft something LOVEly. Then, link it here! Tweet

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Jen writes

February 7, 2010

A Short Love Letter to My Sweetie

Dear Sweetie, Twelve years ago I chose you. Every day since I have chosen you. It is the easiest choice I have ever made. And I will make it again and again. All my love, Me Tweet

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Jen writes

February 1, 2010

Now’s Your Chance to Love it Up

My discovery of a treasure trove of correspondence, much between me and Sarah (tidbits here and here), led one of our most supportive readers to suggest that we all could write more love letters. And, Amber, you are right. I’ve been thinking about your comment for just about three months now. Add to that the fact that things seem a little lonely—boring, even—around these parts lately. So Sarah and I thought it was time for another challenge, of sorts. And with Valentine’s Day just two weeks away, we decided this is the perfect time. Our latest endeavor is Love it […]

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My 1-year-old stands beside the couch patting the cushion, motioning me to sit down instead of pick up old pretzel chunks from the floor. And if I sit she will heft her solid little body up next to me, crawl on top of me, and stay. (For about 10 seconds.) My 5-year-old waits. Waits. Playing with a truck. Or sitting on his bed rubbing Theo’s ear. I don’t know. But he waits. For me to turn off the shower. And before I can reach for a towel I hear, “Mama? Mom?” My 4-year-old asks if I will “suggle” with her […]

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Jen writes

January 26, 2010

Lip Service

As a mother with three young children who look to me and their father for guidance on everything from getting dressed to knowing when it is safe to cross the street, I think about the lessons I’m imparting. I think about the details of our days. I think about the times I yell at them and shouldn’t have. Or how I could have answered a difficult question differently. I think about how much little stuff goes into creating memorable lives for them. I want to create memories for my children. As parents, Sweetie and I have started traditions—of going to […]

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Jen writes

January 20, 2010

This is my life: Two hours at a time

Sarah and I thought we’d start a new series. Simple pieces and/or photos that just tell it like it is. The basic day-to-day of having three kids. Straightforward and less about the emotional part of mothering every now and then. We’ve decided to call it This is My Life. So, here goes my first attempt: My days are divided into two-hour blocks, which go something like this. 6:30 a.m. Wake up 8:30 a.m. Out the door to drop off B and S at school 9:30 a.m. Home from drop off 11:30 a.m. Out the door to pick up S 12:30 […]

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Jen writes

January 16, 2010

Humbled

How can I sit in my HOUSE, look around at my THINGS and want MORE? When there are people who have nothing, have lost everything and don’t even know if their loved ones are alive? Why, so often, does it take the worst to make me appreciate all that I have. This amazing family. A safe, warm, happy home. Friends. My sister. The other night I watched a documentary about the Young at Heart Chorus, a group of men and women whose average age is 80 (or older!) who perform across the world. They sing songs by the Ramones, James […]

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Jen writes

January 13, 2010

Remember Gremlins?

I wasn’t going to write anything at all with this. However, I feel it is vital to point out that Tammy was Sarah’s beloved Cabbage Patch doll. As far as I know, all other references are to actual people. (But don’t ask me about the Nerds in hearts.) Tweet

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Jen writes

January 7, 2010

A Writer’s Life?

How much of my life should I reveal here? Where do I draw the line regarding what personal details or thoughts or doubts to include? Does leaving myself vulnerable make me naive? Negligent? Irresponsible? To myself? To others whose lives are inseparable from my own? But. How can I be authentic without sometimes being vulnerable? These are some of the questions that arise again and again. And the answers are no closer to the surface. I know that I will not post photos. Or use names. I will not reveal any identifying details about where I live. Perhaps you could […]

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Jen writes

January 6, 2010

The Receipt

With a play cash register, some plastic food, a marker, a small pad of paper and a reusable grocery bag, my children started the day playing. Together. A grocery store. A list. Shopping. They played in one room as I sat in another, drinking coffee, listening to their imaginations float through to me. I smiled. I laughed. I made a grocery list for them. They were the cashier and the customer. They called for a price check and a cleanup in aisle 9, or their own equivalent of each. I tuned out and tuned in as I sat, doing something, […]

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The kids, I mean. Your kids. The ones who are constantly underfoot. Asking for something. A snack. Help. A story. A solution to their everpresent boredom. But sometimes you just have to let them fend for themselves. You have to let them fight, keeping an ear out for bloodshed but otherwise staying out of it. Sometimes you just have to make the decision to get something done. So you find the hammer and level. And the picture hangers. And you dust off the photos you’ve been meaning to hang for months. And some, for years. And you just go for […]

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Jen writes

January 2, 2010

Ten from Jen: Blog Posts of 2009

We only started Momalom in March. But I liked Scary Mommy’s idea of choosing a favorite post from each month. This was more difficult than I anticipated. Not because I’m so vain to think that I have many “bests,” but because I read so many old posts and relived so many moments of introspection of the past year. A side-effect of blogging, I am finding. But it’s a good way to pause and reflect, too, which is something I’ve been trying to do. So, here are my top 10 of 2009. March: Wine with dinner makes me philosophical (Be careful […]

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Jen writes

December 31, 2009

Blue Moon

Happy New Year. Happy New Decade. Happy 2010. There are a few more hours of 2009 in my place in the world, and I am anxious to ring in the New Year. The kids are in bed, and I just peeked outside at the full moon. The second this month. How perfect. How rare. A blue moon on New Year’s Eve. To me this means second chances. Renewal. It means there are good things in store in the coming year. Things that rarely have happened before in my life. Better things. Even mystical things. Tonight, I am crossing the threshold […]

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Jen writes

December 30, 2009

(Be)longing

Was I lying when I wrote about not apologizing for my dreams? Because I haven’t been doing much to further those dreams lately. I have been composing only in my head. At night. Long after everyone else in the house is asleep. Or I have been jotting down notes on a legal pad between trips to the kitchen to do a dish, get a snack, refill a juice cup. But I have not been here. Here. At the computer, the porthole to the blog, at night, after the kids are asleep. I have not. Instead I have been with my […]

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Jen writes

December 22, 2009

Ten things you may not know: The physical me

I have only one ovary (and one fallopian tube) All of my other internal organs are in tact (as far as I know) My lips are not my own (but once they were) My heart has been broken (and is stronger for it) I have never broken a bone (but I have seen Sarah’s arm in a cast) My skin is finicky and dry and cracked (so I apply lotion many times every day) My hair turned grey after my dad died (in a stripe down the center of my head) I have lines around my eyes (that I just […]

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Jen writes

December 16, 2009

Priorities, Insecurities and Experiences

Maybe you’ve noticed it’s been a while since I wrote anything substantive. (Maybe that’s my ego talking and you haven’t noticed anything at all about me. That’s just the way it should be, actually.) Here’s the thing: The week of daring writing paralyzed me. All week I thought daring thoughts, walked out to the ends of every emotional gangplank in my psyche and ended up crying on Friday morning when my Sweetie called to ask if he should pick up coffee on his way home. So, no daring post from me. Perhaps it’s not the right time. Perhaps I was […]

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Jen writes

December 4, 2009

Voila: C’est une gerbil triste

Here it is. The sad gerbil. Heartbreaking, isn’t it. The frown. Did the gerbil miss me while I was away at camp? Is the gerbil just a fill-in for Sarah? Did she miss me? I love this piece of notebook paper, so lovingly crafted into mixed-media artwork. The letters in bold marker and the attention-to-detail strokes of the crayon-colored gerbil fur. I love thinking about the time Sarah took to create this masterpiece. She was likely just 6 years old, as the rest of my gerbil-mentioning camp letters were from 1984. And here we are, 25 years later. And my […]

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Out of necessity, I have given up a lot of control. A LOT. That’s what happens when you are outnumbered by your children. And your children’s needs. You have to let things go. And here’s what has happened since I stopped wiping faces after every meal or even caring if they’ve had three meals rather than eight snacks: I’ve come to believe that me giving up a certain amount of control of my kids is good for everyone. It takes the pressure off of me. And for the kids? They learn risk, responsibility, consequences. Also pride. And humility. But the […]

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Jen writes

November 29, 2009

High Hopes

Dear Cuisinart Food Processor, I love you. I really do. Without you there would be no hummus. Without you, making macaroni and cheese (uh, I mean Cheesy Noodle Casserole) would be so much more difficult. Without you roasted potatoes would not be as evenly sliced. But, most importantly, without you my holiday mustard would be impossible to make. Impossible. So, please. Don’t die on me. Not now. I know you’re feeling old. And cracked. And worn out. Maybe even unappreciated. Let me assure you that I love you. I count on you. And I need you. Do not die on […]

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Jen writes

November 27, 2009

Out of the closet and into the heart

I spent much of the day cleaning out and organizing closets. Going through bins. Throwing out dried up Play-Doh and tempera paint. Sweeping up mouse poop. Putting all of the unused batteries into one box. And uncovering TREASURES. TREASURES, people. Treasures. I found 12-year-old e-mails between me and Sarah. I found letters Sarah wrote to me while I was at camp—in 1984. Also, handwritten letters she sent to me at college, when Sarah was not yet a teenager, with the return address of “Barftown, USA.” Oh, how I wish I had a scanner. There is a drawing of a sad […]

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Jen writes

November 25, 2009

Loose ends and a few thoughts

Oh MY! Where is that lovely graphic to begin the post? What? Five for Ten is over? (Boo boo lip.) I think it’s going to take some time to recover. Right now we are in the process of basking in your lovely comments and figuring out T-shirt details. Bear with us, ladies. We’ll be in touch. (We also are baking pies and figuring out if the kids have any decent clean clothes to wear for Thanksgiving tomorrow, ya know?) In the meantime, here’s something for you (ladies and gentlemen, both) to think about: A thread that seemed to recur during […]

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Jen writes

November 23, 2009

What I Learned on My Weekend Away

I still love J lots and lots. He still loves me. We still like to take long walks and people watch. I can still do a pretty decent job on the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. Great friends and great food make for a great time and great memories. I miss my kids when we aren’t together. It’s nice to have a new shirt to wear every once in a while. I can recognize and name all Celtics starters, even without the benefit of close-up television and Tommy Heinsohn’s commentary. I may have completely lost the ability to sleep […]

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Jen writes

November 21, 2009

Vacation Day

As you read this, my sweetie and I are on our weekend getaway. I’ve been planning for this for months. Since about the time Sarah surprised Dan with his weekend getaway, and I spent the weekend at Sarah’s with all six kids. Which is where the six kids are now. With Sarah. At Sarah’s. And I have no doubt that everyone is fine. As for me and my sweetie, we do not get away together often. This trip is a birthday present to him. And all I told him was that he needed to be packed by 3:00 Friday afternoon. […]

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Read More in Jen Writes, three kids

Last night a local news station ran a story about mommy bloggers, featuring us. Me. and Sarah. Momalom. She was shown unloading the (my!) dishwasher. I was shown painting with my daughter. We were shown together leaning over a computer. It was strange to see us on TV. And to see the clips chosen for the piece, the few seconds selected from among the hour the reporter spent in my home two Wednesdays ago. It was strange that what we saw on screen was not anything like the conversations that Sarah and I have daily. I mean, we each were […]

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On Sunday one of my neighbors entered my house. She had borrowed a portable crib and a high chair to accommodate a houseguest in the form of a toddler. And she was returning the equipment. I heard her come in. I was upstairs with the baby, searching the girls’ room for two matching shoes. B, downstairs, yelled, “Mom. Like, Lisa’s here.” (He watches a lot of, like, Scooby Doo.) I went down the stairs more carefully than usual, because just that morning J had ripped them open to expose the original stairs–circa 1870ish–and they’re a little uneven and splintery and […]

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Jen writes

November 15, 2009

On your mark, get set, go!

Or, as they say in the rowing world, Ready All, Row! Yesterday I received a medal in the mail. A bronze medal. Remember this? Well, our boat won a medal. (OK, OK, so there were only three boats in the race. I’m still proud of the medal.) It was kind of nice opening the mailbox and finding a bulky envelope with my name on it. And it was kind of nice to have to wait for the medal. The race was several weeks ago, true, but receiving the medal through the mail just helped me relive the great experience. It […]

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November 12, 2009

Motherhood has made me braver

Play Me I’ve been listening to this song over and over and over in the car during my drive to work. I started because it’s the only CD I had in the car for some reason. And I have a long commute. And I tire of NPR after 30 minutes or so. And I love this song. I’ve been singing out loud, marveling at the lyrics, at the romanticism in a song that doesn’t have the raw sound of romance until you do focus on the lyrics. To the line, “And she’ll know me by the sound of my hoping.” […]

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Jen writes

November 10, 2009

In the moments after bedtime

I am sitting here, waiting for the words to come. I have started a half dozen posts, but none is coming out the way I want it to. They don’t meet my expectations. I don’t meet my expectations. But it’s NaBloPoMo time. I HAVE to post. It’s my night. The pressure’s on. The kids are asleep. The house is quiet. I’m feeling a little better–not SO exhausted that I can’t sit still and type. But the IDEAS. Where are the ideas? I can’t just post another poem. A tribute to someone else. A wish for a makeover. I need some […]

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November 8, 2009

A poem on Sunday

Pardon me while I take the easy way out of my NaBloPoMo responsibilities today. It’s just that I’m tired. And everyone in my family is sick. And I tried to write a post, I really did, but I kept looking over to the wall beside my desk, where I have this poem tacked up. It’s one of my favorites. And I think you should read it. Tweet

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Jen writes

November 6, 2009

A few words for Mary Ann and Sydna

I bake. I bake yummy things. Often. And one of the things I bake two or three times each week is muffins. I love muffins. And for a while—before kids and then when I had only one and we’d walk into town on a whim—I was in the habit of buying a muffin whenever the opportunity presented itself. But I was never satisfied. They always were too cakey or too oily or too crumbly or had too many blueberries or or or. I tried recipes. Many many recipes. But none was THE ONE. At some point along the way I […]

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Jen writes

November 4, 2009

me (n) an undefinable entity

What defines you? How do you describe yourself to other moms? To other women who aren’t moms? Are you a mother? Blogger? Partner? Are you a daughter? Artist? Financial planner? Are you a toilet scrubber, grocery shopper, diaper changer, chauffeur? What are you? What am I? What AM I? I am a mother first. Well, I am a woman first. I was a partner first. And then the kids came and took over. I am a meal planner, a cook, a nurturer. I am a toy-picker-upper. I am an editor. And a bedtime-story reader. I am a hugger and a […]

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Jen writes

November 2, 2009

Confession: I want a mommy makeover

Did you ever see one of those mom makeover segments on a show like Live with Regis and Kelly and wonder What is wrong with that woman? I mean, do the moms that they find for these shows REALLY look SO tragic in real life? Dull, stringy hair and a general overall look that just DEFINES frumpy? A few years ago this didn’t seem possible to me. It seemed to me like they must have given the woman of the day an unmakeover prior to her “before” picture. But, now I’m a mother. A tragic mother. My teeth aren’t yellow […]

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October 30, 2009

On your mark … Get set …

Well folks, here it is. The stark truth. Staring at me. A while ago Sarah and I decided to participate in NaBloPoMo. And here it is Oct. 30. So we are going to have to gear up. Am I back in with both feet, as Sarah so understandably asked? Yes, I am. So give us tomorrow to gorge ourselves on candy, and we’ll be back every day in November. Yep. Every. Day. Looking forward to seeing you here. Tweet

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Jen writes

October 27, 2009

The days of no me before motherhood

So I kind of abandoned Sarah this week. Talk about SCARY. I’d been walking around for days frustrated with just about every big aspect of life. (More than usual.) Money. Career. Relationship. Mommyhood. And I’d started to take it all out on my kids. And my partner. I was having imaginary conversations. Out loud. It was getting pretty ugly. And scary. Because I wasn’t making anything better. I was avoiding real conversations that needed to be had. And I was perpetuating a vicious circle of “why am I the only one” thinking. Why am I the only one to see […]

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Jen writes

October 20, 2009

The Holidays. Already?

It is mid-October. The Halloween hype is in full force. TV specials. Pumpkins on doorsteps and fake cobwebs in trees. Costumes in the Sunday newspaper flyers. I can deal with Halloween. This year I will be marching in the local parade alongside a firefighter, a MEAN witch and a baby chick. We will see friends. We will trick or treat. We will eat too much candy. And then, it will be over. But after Halloween? Thanksgiving. Christmas. The New Year. Yes. The holiday season already is upon us. I like the holidays. I do. Somehow even though we are vegetarians, […]

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Jen writes

October 19, 2009

My cultured (?) children

What is it like to LIVE with three kids? It’s messy. And it’s loud. But I have to remind myself that those two things are not always bad. In my house, often the messes are art projects. The remnants of art projects. The precursors to art projects. Just about anything goes when it comes to creating art in our house. Cardboard boxes. Popsicle sticks. Sticks of any kind, actually. Acorns and other assorted organic matter. Feathers. Pom poms. Plastic doohickeys of every shape, size and unknown origin. These things and PAPER are all over my house. As are crayons of […]

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Jen writes

October 16, 2009

The not-so-big reveal

So, the secret project? It was a book. My sweetie recently endured a significant birthday milestone. Nope. Not that one. Add 10 years. And for his birthday I decided to make him a book. I worked on it during my regular blog-designated hours, and he thought I was blogging. Until he realized how much time I was “blogging.” At which point I had to lie to him. I told him I was working on stuff for momalom’s mom’s wedding. (Thanks, Mom.) I don’t know if he believed me, but he’s not the curious type. So, the book. I agonized over […]

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Jen writes

October 13, 2009

Broken

The kitchen doorknob The storm door The window (well, two) in the bedroom(s) The drawer in the upstairs bathroom vanity The drawer pulls on most of B’s dresser drawers The drawer pull on the downstairs mittens-and-hat dresser The kitchen silverware drawer The toilet paper dispenser thingy The decorative molding around the back door The deck steps The bulkhead hinges The baby gate Fifty percent of the toys in the house *** Is that all? I was sure the list would be longer. Tweet

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Jen writes

October 9, 2009

I’ve never even touched a cigarette

So. My story is not as dramatic as Sarah’s. Haven’t read hers? You should. I’d link to it here, but you’d probably go and read it. And you’d likely never return. It’s quite gripping. (Maybe I’ll give you another shot later.) My story is so undramatic that it’s difficult to know how to tell it. What to mention. What to leave out. I was the good girl. I didn’t drink. I didn’t smoke. No drugs. No parties. No dates. I’ve never even touched a cigarette. My mom says that when I reached age 5 the hard parts of raising me […]

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Jen writes

October 5, 2009

“You have more to give”

I used to be an athlete. And I was a decent one. Not the strongest, not the most dedicated, not the best. But I was pretty good. I was a collegiate rower. I made the first boat. I was elected captain by my teammates. I medaled in the Head of the Charles once. Being an athlete was a major part of my identity. And yesterday I got to go back in time and get a little glimpse of the me that used to be. It has been a long time since I’ve rowed competitively. I worked as a crew coach […]

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Read More in Jen Writes, motherhood, three kids

If I had known the utter financial ruin that having three kids would do to my life, would I have those three all over again? Well, yes, of course. But if I knew then, as they say … I would not have purchased a 2004 VW Passat Wagon GLS. Oh, no, I wouldn’t have. Mine recently suffered its demise. It is only five years old with 80K miles. I have taken care of it. And yet, it needs a new engine. I am told by a mechanic I trust that this happens a lot with these models. Oil sludge buildup […]

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Jen writes

October 1, 2009

October First

Happy Birthday, Dad. We miss you every day, but today we miss you a little bit more. Tweet

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Jen writes

September 28, 2009

The Unexpected

Oh, is it my turn to post? Sorry, I guess I’ve been distracted by a few other things. You know, the usual daily routines of raising children. Feeding, clothing, transporting. Also, children’s birthdays (two this week); school fundraisers; work deadlines; book group (at least I finished the book this time. But, um, isn’t it my pick? Damn.); preparing for a crew race this weekend; paying bills creatively; planning a birthday party; and the list goes on. But it is the transporting that got a little more difficult this week. Sunday evening, on the way back from a family visit, my […]

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Jen writes

September 22, 2009

Fighting the inFLUence

OK. So it’s flu season. Yeah yeah yeah. The kids have had their shots. We’ll wash our hands. We’ll sneeze in our sleeves. We’ll get the H1N1 shot when it comes out, too. Honestly, I’m not that freaked out. We’ll take precautions. We’ll get the flu or we won’t. We’ll deal. But, here’s what I could really use: A vaccine that fights bad behavior. More specifically, a shot that vaccinates a younger sibling from the bad habits of the older sibling. My oldest always has been the most difficult child. He is sensitive. He is creative. He is impatient. He […]

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Jen writes

September 19, 2009

Yes. It really takes that long to …

Having three kids, I could finish that sentence any number of ways. But, today, tonight, … put the kids to bed. Twice in the last week I have found myself explaining why it is I start the bedtime ritual so early. Two friends with one child each (Please notice I did not say “only” one child or “just” one child. This is not a judgment post. Just one of what it’s like to be outnumbered by one’s children.) have caught me in the early stages of bedtime recently. And, yes, it really is 6:30, and I really am ferrying the […]

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Jen writes

September 19, 2009

A long post about changes in motherhood

I have spent most of the last six years in the company of babies, toddlers, preschoolers and, just recently, a kindergartner and his friends. Also, many moms of these children. These moms are around my age–within five years in most cases. Some work full time, most work part time, like me. Some have one child, some have two, a few have three. All are women who put their children first, as I do. Some are single, some are married. Some spend time exercising or writing or going to knitting clubs or book groups. Some are even able to do the […]

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Jen writes

September 16, 2009

Looking beyond the look(s)

Tolerance. I hate that word. I hate it because is it really so so difficult to just skip ahead to acceptance? I hate it because I identified with the gay community for a while, and still do sometimes, strangely enough, and the word tolerance meant difference to me. Not good difference. Difference that somebody might be willing to put up with in the right circumstances. But difference. And. Not as good. But, tolerance. It’s back. And I am learning the mom side of it now. And in this frenzied life of mine I’m realizing that I have become more … […]

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Jen writes

September 10, 2009

I used to be smarter and less frizzy

Motherhood has fried my brain. And, let’s face it, most of the rest of me. I am frazzled, both in appearance and in mindset. I can no longer complete one task, simple or otherwise, without thinking of a half dozen other things I have to do while in the process. Everyone’s needs come before my own. My kids have bathed, are wearing clean clothes and sleeping in clean sheets. My hair is dirty, my blouse is splotched with mysterious red dots, my bed is unmade (and not exactly line-dry fresh). I wonder sometimes, lately frequently, what I did with my […]

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Jen writes

September 5, 2009

Pests

Every time I walk into my kitchen I think of this. Tweet

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Jen writes

September 3, 2009

Lists

Note: Sarah is not the only one of us who makes lists. 1. I have spent the last week making lists 2. This doesn’t make last week any different from any other week, except for 3. The sheer number of lists 4. There are the lists pertaining to cupcakes a. raw ingredients b. ingredients tally for making 125 vanilla cupcakes c. ingredients tally for making 125 chocolate cupcakes d. total ingredients tally e. specific stores I must go to in order to acquire which ingredients f. other necessary items to purchase g. timing of cupcake preparation h. materials needed to […]

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Jen writes

September 1, 2009

The noises coming from upstairs

I am trying to write something useful. Again. I have started three different posts. All take too much brain power to bring to a satisfactory (to me) completion. I don’t have a migraine. I ate today. I exercised today. I didn’t yell at my kids at bedtime. I slept relatively well last night. All of this together brings me as close to being in top form as I get these days. But I can’t make myself see the intended posts through. My problem is perfection. I have an idea in my mind. An idea that encompasses all that I want […]

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Jen writes

August 30, 2009

All this crying in my house.

Is there a point in this parenting gig where a whole day goes by without anyone in the family crying? Makes me want to listen to kd lang’s version of the Roy Orbison song and wail along with her. But somebody would probably just start crying because s/he doesn’t like the song, or didn’t get to choose the song, or doesn’t know the words to the song, or can’t hear the song “youd enough.” For instance. Tweet

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Jen writes

August 28, 2009

The first child

The first child is always first. Always. And it makes me kind of crazy. Because the second child is now the middle child. And the third child has to just cope with everything that the first child needs. And there is always something he needs. Help tying his shoes. Another snack. More water in his Thermos. To be read to. A hug. Attention. He always needs my attention. And his first younger sister the now middle child has always been second. Because she is patient and understanding and kind. Because she can entertain herself comfortably happily. She is not nervous […]

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Jen writes

August 24, 2009

Three Kids. One Mommy.

Three kids: Full of energy. One Mommy: Dragging. Three kids: Resist sleep. One Mommy: Craving sleep. Three kids: Loud. One Mommy: Wishing for earplugs most of the time. Three kids: MESSY. One Mommy: Constantly lowering the clean standards. Three kids: Whiny. One Mommy: Impatient. Three kids: Funny as all hell. One Mommy: Laughing a lot. Three kids: Creative. One Mommy: Impressed. Three kids: Allies. One Mommy: In BIG trouble. Three kids: Loving. One Mommy: Lucky. Three kids: Asleep. One Mommy: Eating leftover Chinese food. Tweet

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Jen writes

August 21, 2009

Birthdays.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I am exactly 30 years older than my oldest nephew. I remember the day Sarah called to tell me she was expecting. She said she had a very early birthday present for me. It was a difficult phone call. She and I were not close then. We were geographically distant, emotionally distant. We were living very different lives, and we rarely spoke on the phone. I know now how difficult that call was for her to make. And I know that I didn’t respond well. I’m sure I didn’t congratulate her. Frankly, I was shocked. And […]

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Jen writes

August 19, 2009

A Little Glimpse of the Pre-Kid Us

As I was running around trying to get myself and three kids ready for a day at the beach this morning, I heard, “Doesn’t Mommy look nice today.” The kids and I were due to meet some friends at 9 a.m. Things were not going smoothly. Then, “Haven’t seen that one in a while.” Suddenly, I wasn’t frantically trying to find Thermoses and swimmy diapers and sun hats or yelling at the kids to Get Your Swimsuits ON. I stopped. I was wearing a comfy, old sundress. One I used to wear to the beach. But it has been a […]

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August 9, 2009

Mysteries unearthed

Friday I took my kids to the park. It was 3 in the afternoon. The baby had woken from her nap. Quiet time was over. We were at loose ends. So I strapped the girls into the bike trailer, B hopped on his scooter, and off we went. The park nearest us is a gem. Before J and I had kids we went occasionally, but it’s really a much better destination for families. Playgrounds, lots of space to run around, animals, swings. And trees. And a river. And rocks. So after a little time on the swings and playing with […]

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Jen writes

August 6, 2009

Exercise isn’t just for athletes

Today I went swimming at lunch. Which means I am no longer pumping at work. Which means that this is likely my first post in which I actively mention GUILT. Sarah, you no longer are alone. I have wanted to start swimming again for a while. I love it. It’s something I can do at lunch at work. It doesn’t cause severe pain to my body. And I can self-motivate myself to swim better than any other sport or workout. Over the past six years, my exercise regimen has been spotty. The demands of pregnancy, childbirth and mothering young children […]

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August 2, 2009

Growing Pains

Last night B woke up, twice, with leg cramps. This happens occasionally, and yesterday he was riding his scooter and showing me tricks for much of the afternoon. He wore out his little leg muscles and woke up in pain. As I rubbed his calf and listened to him whimper and hold his breath, I remembered waking with cramps when I was a kid. Lying awake in my bed feeling they would never go away. And then, just as quickly as they had come on, the cramps would disappear, the muscles would relax. I feel the same about the house […]

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Jen writes

July 27, 2009

Parenting three: Whose needs come first?

I spend my days evaluating the needs of my three children and determining whose needs should come first. What’s the most urgent situation? Tending to the baby’s dirty diaper? Fetching a snack for my eternally hungry 5-year-old? Helping my 3-year-old in the bathroom? What do I need to do to keep the balance around here, to make sure that each child gets what s/he needs and that we all are happier for it? A few recent situations have included: 1. (S comes first.) Yesterday, I decided that it would be nice to take a walk with the kids after lunch. […]

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Jen writes

July 18, 2009

Vacation day at last

Well, today is the day we all meet up in Vermont. Yippeeeee! I only have about a zillion things to do before we get there. Wait. No. That’s not true. I did a gazillion things yesterday. So today I only have a bazillion things to do. But I don’t even care. I am trying to keep it zen. I just said to the kids, “As far as I am concerned our vacation starts now.” And then I let them have as much powdered sugar as they wanted on their waffles. (It was quite difficult to see the waffles when they […]

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Jen writes

July 13, 2009

Don’t Call Them Swimming Lessons

I signed B and S up for swimming lessons this week. Shh. Don’t tell them. Just say, “We’re going to a pool today. And there might be other kids there. And an instructor. His name is Kim. [giggle giggle] And he might play with you in the water.” Hey, it worked! There are three kids in the swimming class. Two of them are my kids. I haven’t been yet, because I was at work today. But I haven’t seen my family all happy at the same time and for such a prolonged amount of time in a LONG TIME. They […]

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Jen writes

July 11, 2009

Some thoughts of Saturday

The fevers are gone (the bickering is back). (And, No, Mom, it wasn’t swine flu.) Like many summer days, we don’t have much planned today. Last Saturday Sarah—just a week into her new full-time work schedule—called to ask if we could get together. I should have dropped everything, gathered up the kids, and met her halfway, 30 minutes down the road. A playground for the kids. A bench for us. Lots of juice boxes and Goldfish crackers. But I didn’t. I hadn’t washed my face or brushed my teeth yet. I was really hoping for a shower. The kids weren’t […]

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Jen writes

July 6, 2009

Throwing a little salt over my shoulder

So I was working on a post about how I have been full of self pity lately. Feeling sorry for myself at championship levels. But it wasn’t quite coming together. So I filled in with a list of a few things. Which turned out to read like a pity list, too. (If a bit silly.) Which I didn’t mean. But, regardless, it’s time to move on. Today I was brought out of myself because my two oldest kids woke up with fevers. Tonight S crashed early after a super-impressive whine fest. B is mellowed on the couch right now glued […]

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July 4, 2009

Becoming Cool

I live in an artsy New England town. Lots of musicians. Artists of all kinds. Creative people creating. These are major reasons why I love living here. But also, often I feel very uncool. For my day job? Well, part of it entails writing obituaries. Yep. Also, I don’t play a musical instrument. Nor can I draw a realistic interpretation of anything. Or make a convincing attempt at abstract representation, for that matter. Oh sure, I write. But it seems like everyone else does too. And the rest of them? Well, they actually have their books published. When I take […]

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Jen writes

July 1, 2009

A few things to get off of my chest

I have a post brewing. But it’s not entirely through the filter yet. So this will have to do for now: 1. A while back I wrote about how you don’t have to look far to find someone who is worse off. (Here.) Here’s the thing, though. Sometimes you just feel like shit. And your bad is bad enough. Even though someone else is going through more. Someone else is sicker. Or poorer. Or more stressed out. But sometimes, your own problems are enough to feel bad about. I’m just saying. ********** 2. Sweeping the kitchen floor makes me feel […]

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Jen writes

July 1, 2009

The Sixth One Was on My Back

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June 27, 2009

Update

In no particular order: One popcorn kernel up nose–and retrieved (my kid) One fall off of a lawn chair (Sarah’s kid) Many, many small plastic toy parts fished out of the cheeks (of the babies) Eight popsicles (four kids) Three boxes of Annies mac n cheese (all of us) Three bathing suits and two diaper butts (b/c I couldn’t find the bathing suits for Sarah’s two youngest) Several water “shooters” (for the four “big kids”) Too many pushes on the swing to count (my kid) Just about the whole day wearing the Ergo (my kid and OUCH my BACK) Phone […]

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Well, I’m off. My part of the secret weekend is about to begin. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be loading the three kids—and the pillows—into the car for the hourlong ride south. Where we’ll meet up with Kelsey, who will no doubt have everything completely under control at Sarah’s. And then, after Kels gives me the rundown of nap schedules and bottle needs, she will leave, and I will be left alone. That is, not at all alone. It will be me and six kids. Shall we review the ages? Indulge me, OK? 6, 5, 3, 2, 1, 9 months. Alright, alright, […]

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Magazines. I love them. I used to subscribe to many, but when the necessary budgeting axe hit our home, the periodicals were the first to go. I watched as they dwindled. And now they are gone. And I don’t miss them so much. Who has the time? But a few days ago I had a few moments to browse the magazines in the pediatrician’s office and then at the library. I came home with Vegetarian Times, The New Yorker, Natural Living, Mothering and Parents. I also have a People that my dear friend Liz, who appreciates my need for the […]

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Jen writes

June 20, 2009

We Miss You, Dad

These are the only digital images I have of Dad. I meant to spend some time with the scanner and the boxes of pictures I have of him—hundreds. Family shots. “Artistic” shots. But life got in the way, and this is all I have. A silly montage that Sarah put together several years ago of John, shaving off his beard in stages. And changing hats, for whatever reason. His brother—our uncle Tom—is a professional photographer, and dad loved photography. He loved to attend our sporting events and stand at the sidelines with his impressive lens hanging around his neck. Making […]

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I received an e-mail from a friend a few nights ago that brought me back to summer vacation, almost five years ago. Not to the beaches or sitting in a hammock reading, or to introducing B to his extended family for the first time. But to a time when I was in judgment of my sister’s behavior. Toward a book. The e-mail: “Do you save the dust jackets that come with your children’s books? I take them off because I know they’re going to just get ripped. But then I have no idea what to do with them…” Around the […]

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Read More in Jen Writes, motherhood, sisters

Is there any other kind of day? They happen at work, and they happen at home. And today is one of them. I was going to get up early and post. Start the day with something for me. I got up at 8 o’clock. EIGHT. Radical. I threw a load of laundry in shortly after waking, because Wednesday I am not at the office and so I do laundry. Then I realized there were sleeping bags in the tent, which J pitched about 10 days ago, just before it started to rain for eight days. What I found: two very […]

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Jen and Sarah writes

June 12, 2009

Bad Mothers, Good Mothers, Really?

Today’s post started as a comment to the article Just Sayin’ – Is “bad” parenting in? I heard it in the car on the way to work and immediately called Jen, who should have been in the car, on the way to work, and she was, but she didn’t answer the phone because she was in the dead zone (topic for an entirely different post). I hate it when she’s in the dead zone and so I left a message. And here we are now, hours later and thinking about this article and all that it means, how it can […]

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Jen writes

June 10, 2009

Haves and Have Nots

I have three sleeping children. I have not read the local newspaper, which we have delivered daily, in at least two weeks. I have a knot in my upper back/neck region that is making it painful to type. I have not cleaned the bathrooms in a week. (They could easily benefit from a sponge daily.) I have a wonderful friend who has agreed to take care of my three children (and her own daughter) so that I can go out to lunch with another adult on Saturday. I have not called back my roommate from college who called me on […]

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Really. How do I? Any suggestions out there? Here’s how it went tonight: B struggles into shower. Emphasis on struggles. Loud struggles. S into jammies. Em into jammies. Me into jammies. Estimated elapsed time: 20 minutes. Not bad! B washed and removed from shower. B in jammies. Books selected by children. Bedtime water retrieved by me. Stuffed friends found by me. Estimated elapsed time: 20 more minutes. Are we really on track here? Reading of four stories (two each) B to bathroom S to turn on lullabyes Story told by me with Em trying to nurse lying beside me on […]

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Jen writes

June 2, 2009

Why It Shouldn’t Have Worked

When J and I started dating: We worked together He was (I thought) unavailable I had never been in a serious relationship with a man Within weeks I moved two hours away (to enroll in one of my unfinished graduate programs) We were (still are!) 13 years apart in age But here we are, almost 11 years later. I’ve known him for nearly 13 years, and I can’t imagine my life without him.  Cliched? Yes. But true, I’m happy to say. Tonight, as we walked along the bike path, with our three children—two on their bikes and one in a […]

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May 30, 2009

Photo Gallery: Laundry Treasures

I thought I would share with you all a few of the items I recently have found while doing laundry. All items were recovered from the clothing of my two oldest children, ages 3 and 5. Introducing, in no particular order, pocket contents: 1. These are from a preschool “project” that B didn’t complete in the classroom but insisted he needed to finish said project at home. Early sign of kleptomania? 2. Goodies from an Easter party we attended. But what happened to the two matching barrettes? If I tell S that I found these, tears will be shed for […]

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May 23, 2009

The Three Popsicle Day

We don’t go on too many weekend family outings, because on the days that I am home, J works (and vice versa). So this morning, when I was standing in the center of our little town at 9:56 a.m. and it was clear that the Memorial Day parade was not today (and, probably, in fact would be on Memorial Day) I couldn’t just stomp my feet, scream in frustration and run to the nearest bookstore to deal. Nope. It was just me. And three kids. (One of whom I HAD WOKEN FROM HER MORNING NAP TO GET HERE.) In perfect […]

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Jen writes

May 21, 2009

Another post about how tired I am

Sleep deprivation. Is seriously. Seriously. Difficult. And I’m supposed to FUNCTION as a reasonable human being. A parent. A MOTHER. But my kids. Won’t. Let. Me. Sleep. My mom says this won’t last forever. In fact, it will only be a FEW. MORE. YEARS. But, oh, how am I ever going to make it? The past few nights, Em, who has been teething and teething and has nothing to show for it, has not slept. That is, not unless she is on top of me. On top of my chest. She is 20 pounds. And very squirmy. With very sharp […]

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This is a bit of a complimentary post to two previous posts about making friends with other moms. Back track if you’d like, or just start here. And then there are those wonderful women I have become friends with since I’ve had kids. A few I have met because our kids were in the same preschool class. And the kids became buddies. And so we moms hung out after school while they played. And we clicked. And not only that, we actually liked each other. And each other’s kids. And, could it be?, each other’s spouses! Or the friend I […]

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Sarah, I totally hear you. It is HARD to make friends with other moms. And the park scene can be tough. And the women you were friends with before you had kids? Yeah, that’s tough, too. Because, let’s face it, motherhood is, arguably, the most life-changing transformation for a woman. And if your pre-kid friends haven’t had kids yet or if one of you has, oh, say one kid and the other of you has, oh, say THREE, you probably haven’t kept up with those girlfriends. Life has just changed too much to be chatting about office gossip or current […]

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Jen writes

May 16, 2009

My Brain is Like the Surface of My Desk

OK people. I’ve been writing and writing and writing, and nothing is coming together. Maybe it’s because every surface in my house looks like this: Or maybe it’s because my sister and I are actually in the same house today, which means that there are SIX kids surrounding us. Which means: Revolving naps. Constant snacks. Crying kids. Slamming doors. And I am trying to write some post that has a LASTING message. Sorry oh you faithful readers (whom we LOVE), it ain’t gonna happen today. I can’t get it done. It’s too loud and crazy here. Plus, Sarah’s about to […]

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May 13, 2009

Why Am I Not Sleeping?

Maybe if I still had a favorite stuffed animal (like B’s good friend Theo, here) I would have the discipline to turn off the computer and go to sleep. Tweet

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May 12, 2009

And why three is enough, for this body

Just as having a third child was perfect for our family, having a fourth would be selfish. On my part. I would parent more children, welcome them into our family if circumstances led to that, but I will not have another baby. Not through this body. Pregnancy and I are not the best of friends. One year ago I was four months pregnant and just coming off of months of hyperemesis gravidarum (not unlike my previous two pregnancies). In a word: miserable. I spent every day curled up in bed and curled up on the bathroom floor. HG, for me, […]

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Jen writes

May 12, 2009

Tractor Masterpiece

Try not to focus on the melting frosting. I am especially proud of the hay bale cupcakes, thank you very much. Tweet

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Jen writes

May 12, 2009

Tractor Lust

Tweet

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May 9, 2009

Home is Where We Muddle Through

We’ve lived in this house for almost four years; moved in two months before our second was born. In fact, the past two times I’ve moved I’ve been seven months pregnant. When I was pregnant with our third, several of our friends asked us if we’d be moving. Uh, no way, not again! But the question was a valid one. This is a small house. The messes are large. The dirt is abundant. Some days I feel like the clutter is endangering our very well-being. But no, we would not be moving. When we moved in it was summer. The […]

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With every milestone I find myself looking back, usually wondering HOW did we ever get HERE. B is FIVE already? Holy moly, as he would say. What happened? Wasn’t he just born? Weren’t we just nuzzled together on the couch, settled in for one of his marathon nursing sessions? Nope. It’s been five years. And two more kids. And I’m nursing again, but there’s not a whole lot of nuzzling this time. More like refereeing from the sidelines, breaking up fights between B and S while trying to get a meal in for E. (As I watch the basketball playoffs […]

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Jen writes

May 3, 2009

"So You Had a Third."

This statement came to me at B’s b’day party, and I can’t stop thinking about it. A mom of two, whom I don’t know well, just walked right up and said it. What all those other folks seem to be thinking, although with more of a question mark/exclamation mark sound. “Yes,” I said. “We did.” Turns out she wants more children. I’ve only had one other person ask me straight out what it’s like to have three. The rest of the time I feel like I’m the anomaly in the town. Even though I can give you plenty of examples […]

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May 1, 2009

Pumping In Style

That’s me. In the storage room. With my Lansinoh and my bra unhooked and hanging down to where my abs used to be. Twenty minutes holding cones up to my breasts and staring at my soggy middle. Yup, Em stayed at home today. I have never been a good pumper. Those little bottles and bags never even come close to filling up. My babies, on the other hand, obviously have reaped the benefits of plenty of breast milk calories. We used to call our oldest “rubber band man” because of the rolls of fat around his wrists (and everywhere else). […]

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Jen writes

April 27, 2009

Fair weather parenting

The sun has been shining. Oh, glorious warm days. And with the rising temperatures have gone the windows. Storms up. Screens down. All of a sudden, the goings on inside my house are public. We live in a neighborhood that is close to ideal. Stop for a minute. Picture “neighborhood.” Yup. That’s us. Cute little town. Sidewalks. Diner and hardware store within walking distance. Fenced-in yards that kids cut through to get home from school. On a warm spring night like this one I can hear not only the familiar dogs but people grilling in the apartments across the street, […]

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Jen writes

April 25, 2009

What I Learned Today

Swiss meringue buttercream frosting and 90-degree weather do not jibe. Kids don’t give a sh*t about the drippy frosting. Or the fact that it was too windy to light the candles. They just want the hay-bale cupcakes. You can carve a cake with the non-spoon end of a plastic spoon! Pinatas are more sturdy than they look. You can get sunburned in April. When the cooler is empty of drinks, the ice cubes offer great entertainment (and cooling) value. No matter what, birthday parties are stressful. On the mom, but also on the kid. But they are also just about […]

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It seems time to mention that we have a brother. Oh, and, yeah, he has three kids, too. What is this? you’re asking yourself. Three siblings each with three children now. Weird. Is it, though? Seems like nice symmetry to me. And we really didn’t plan on it. No sirree. Our brother is the middle child. I suspect he felt and/or tried to be invisible for much of his childhood. Sarah and I, well, we tended to have the attention. Me being the perfect, overachieving oldest, and Sarah being the rule-breaking, boundary-ignoring, creative genius youngest. There was our brother, smack […]

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April 14, 2009

Thanking my lucky springtime stars

My sweetie always says, “You don’t have to look far to find someone who is worse off than yourself.” Lately, this statement has been proven correct almost daily. It’s spring. Finally. The season of birth. Renewal. My brain even feels it. I am more relaxed. The messy house no longer seems like it’s doomed to forever be covered in hats, mittens, coats, boots. The kids can go outside to dig in the dirt, play with their trucks, ride their bikes. There are sidewalk chalk “drawings” on the house siding. Phew. It’s been a long time coming, this kid-friendly season. And […]

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April 13, 2009

My last baby

My youngest is six months old. She is my calmest baby. And she will be my last. Saying this brings with it much relief and a strange sadness. I so desperately wanted a third child. Within minutes of the birth of my second I knew I didn’t want to be finished just yet. And I wondered and worried for more than two years until J and I decided we were meant to have another. Deciding to have a child is such a powerful and yet naive action.  Now I know that I cannot go through another pregnancy. The longing for […]

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J is upstairs putting the big kids to bed. Em is lying on the couch beside me, playing. I am as tired as I ever have been. Too tired to be writing this post with any hope of making a point. The past four or five nights (I have lost track) have been very long and not very full of sleep. As a result, I have slowed down. Internally. It is as if I can feel my heart beating slower. As if my blood is thicker. And my brain. My brain is just barely functioning at all. It is, in […]

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Jen writes

April 12, 2009

Easter playlist, by my Sweetie

Gods will be Gods—Echo and the Bunnymen Death Came a Knockin—The Duhks Nobody Does me Like Jesus—Ollabelle I Am Waiting No More My Lord—Ollabelle Someday the Sun Won’t Shine for You—Jethro Tull Easter—Patti Smith Group New Beginning—Tracy Chapman The Gospel—The Dandy Warhols Pilot Can at the Queer of God—The Flaming Lips Return of the Grievous Angel (and We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning)—Gram Parsons Tweet

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April 10, 2009

Letter to my sister

Dear Sarah, I feel I already have failed you. Wasn’t I the one who volunteered to write the next post? Yesterday. After we agreed to a daily presence? Allow me to explain. Well, I arrived home to a sick kid and the fallout of a SICK KID. And it was dinner time. Need I say more? The night promised to be a long one. And then, today. It is not yet 10:00 a.m. Here is what I have done—in no particular order. (That would be too much to ask of my fatigued brain.) Three loads of laundry (one hanging on […]

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March 26, 2009

Connections

I’ve been making all of our family’s bread now for several months. I try new recipes as I continue to abide by the old favorites. And recently I’ve become hooked on the “no knead” method. Which basically means that you let time do the work of kneading. Which means that for a day or so you have a mushy lump of wet dough hanging out in a bowl on your kitchen counter. It’s covered in plastic wrap, but still, every time I see it I think, “That looks like my post-pregnancy stomach.” ICK. Unfortunately, I cannot adopt the wait-it-out method […]

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March 22, 2009

In sickness and in …

With five in the family, I am learning, someone always is sick (or injured). Since December members of my family have logged two ear infections; a jaw infection; a round of the stomach bug that included every single combination of typical symptoms that you can think of and took more than two weeks to make the full rounds of the family; endless colds; back strain due to work injury; and neck strain due to sleeping beside an infant (guess who on that one). Oh, and surgery (and it’s preceding symptoms and recovery time), the heart patient living amongst us and […]

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March 19, 2009

Overcoming fear

Tonight I put on clean pajamas. And I know, that it’s a guarantee that I will be spit up on. Very soon. But these clean jammies sure feel good. Hey, my body’s even pretty clean, too.  The thing is, there are days that I feel threatened by the laundry. There always are piles of dirty laundry. And often there are baskets full of folded laundry yet to be put away and clothes hanging to dry from the shower racks. And then there are the clothes on the bodies of my children, which are kept clean for approximately 2.5 seconds after […]

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March 17, 2009

Wine with dinner makes me philosophical

At the end of two days at the office I am so glad to be home and to know that I don’t have to get up and out tomorrow. I can be with my family. At the end of a day with my kids  I am so overcome with exasperation that I can’t believe I looked forward to such a day. I try to be grateful for every moment with my children. And of course I am, ultimately. But as the moments are happening, so often filled with whining, talking back, protests, refusals, I find myself wondering how, and why, […]

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March 13, 2009

Whose idea was this anyway?

What was I thinking? Three children? I wasn’t, not rationally anyway. But the thing is, it’s easy to blame the mayhem on number of children. How many times have I heard about how things change when the parents are outnumbered? The comment about zone defense. (Really, it’s not so much the defensive skills that need to be polished as the offensive; but more about that another time.) But wasn’t it just as out of control when there were only two? After all, the third is only five months old. Yes, it’s not so much the children as everything else. Oh […]

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