It’s that time again. Time to get together with friends (and family) to celebrate and give thanks for all of our blessings. My favorite holiday of the year.
This year we beat the turkey and got our Christmas tree up the weekend before Thanksgiving, despite our tradition of doing it the weekend after. Maybe it was the hours of rain and thunderstorms on Saturday that put us in the mood, but it went up (whining and crying aside), and it was awesome. It looks beautiful.
For me, Thatnksgiving isn’t just food and friends, it is a reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come…
Three years ago (wow) was the beginning of my PPA/depression/anxiety journey. It all started with the need for the perfect family picture. Then being so worn that I couldn’t do anything but buy pies for Friendsgiving with our friends. If you know the overachiever that I am, that was a major defeat and a huge concession. Sounds trite, but when you’re trying to get by, you do what you can.
Then there was the next year. I was feeling good and baked. It was a little victory and I was thankful I wasn’t in the place I’d been. Funny way to measure progress. It worked.
Last year I was hanging on.
But, here we are today. And I’m kicking ass and taking names. For that I’m thankful.
As I look at all of the fixings for the 3 pies and loads of cupcakes I’ll make for Friendsgiving with 4 other families, I am thankful for where I’ve been (because I made it through the other side and I’m here speaking up about my struggle). I’m grateful for how far I’ve come.
I’m thankful for my husband and girls.
I’m thankful for my dad and brother.
I’m thankful for my friends–especially my best girls that are my lifeline living in my computer (and phone).
I’m thankful for our blessings, including a job I enjoy.
I’m thankful for my incredible support network that’s been there all along the way.
On this Thanksgiving, I wish blessings to those that are alone. Those that need peace. Those that need love. Those that are sick and need healing. Those that celebrate holidays after losing loved ones.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, friends. Hope you are truly blessed and have many things to be thankful for this week–and always.
Monday Ava had her first choir concert. She was nervous and excited. Needless to say we all rushed and got our last minute standing room only places after hurrying through the long line of security at the front office.
It was all about the concert when I put it on my calendar. Yes, it was the Veterans Day presentation, but it was Ava’s first choir concert.
Until we got there.
They sang their songs and all the music she’d be singing around the house came together beautifully with all her choirmates.
Then her principal spoke. I love her principal. They have daily assembly before school each day. She always speaks about respect and aiming high at school. She always teaches the kids a great message and I’m so thankful because that was one of the things I was worried about losing when we left Catholic school.
But then she started her message about Veterans Day.
And then she started it “on a kids level” even though, as she told the veterans, “she probably couldn’t do it any justice.” But oh she did, even for this 34 year old who had to fight back tears.
What if your whole family went to Disney World for a month and you had to stand at the gates watching?
What if you couldn’t eat your favorite foods for an entire year and had to eat the same things over and over?
What if you had to sleep on the floor for the rest of the school year?
What if you had to sleep in a room the size of a closet?
What if you couldn’t see anyone you love for an entire year?
I know about the sacrifice that veterans make. The last Christmas my brother and I spent together was the last Christmas we had with my mom-ever- in 2006. I remember being so worried after 9/11 when he had been in the Marines for months. I worried that he was such a newbie that he’d be the first to be carted off to war.
I know what they do. I know how much he was overseas. I know how we waited for his calls. I remember getting them months apart at 3:00 in the morning.
But when she put it like that, I couldn’t help but cry. I couldn’t help but think of him suffering like that. It sounds trite, and things that are first world problems, but who wouldn’t want
those things? But people in the military are tough. They choose to make those sacrifices for us.
I remember him telling me how it was when he was there when people were getting the right to vote. I remember him telling me how it was when they passed out candy and toys.
Ava’s principal had all the veterans present introduce themselves. Dads, grandpas, a mom, the school nurse, a teacher.
She told us that there was nothing we could really could do to show our appreciation that would truly make up for the sacrifices they make. We can pay for a meal without them knowing from a table away if we get a chance. But most importantly, we can say “thank you.” We can walk up to someone in uniform, a retired member proudly wearing a cap commemorating the war he fought in and say “THANK YOU.”
They’d know, she said. They’d know.
They all nodded in agreement.
THANK YOU. Thank you.
Oh what a couple of weeks it’s been. Meetings and school stuff and strep and colds. Gah. So here’s the random stuff I’m so good at. At least, I think I am.
Jess likes food. Consider this a lesson in Texas food. This top pic is how my office does employee appreciation. Pulled pork sandwiches smoked on site for hours in big awesome pits, served with all the fixin’s. Beans. Corn. Banana pudding. Sweet tea.
Next pic is a kolache. Friends, this is egg, cheese and ham (or sausage) wrapped in bready goodness. All the goodness of a breakfast taco subbed with bread.
Then of course there’s queso. Who doesn’t love it? I just happen to make mine in my office at work. I’m the queso girl for parties. Romeo tomatoes, Velveeta, crock pot. Done. Boom.
1. Taylor Swift has a new album. She’s not my favorite. I hadn’t even heard her new hit till this week. Out of choice and stubbornness. Then I saw my friend Heather gave her a go. Sure, ok. Then. This happened. Before I knew it, I had purchased. Not even ashamed. This is one of my faves.
2. Got these in the mail. Whoa. Delicious!!!! So chiplike!!!
3. Google has a new mail app/client. You have to get an invite (remember the days waiting for one to get Gmail?) but not for too long. I dig it and will stick with it on my iDevices, but Gmail on the computer (it doesn’t have chat).
4. Lowe’s already has all of their Christmas stuff set. It’s kind of awesome. Don’t hate. Least I’m not listening to Christmas playlists.
Then there’s my buy/don’t buy piece (not sponsored).
Colossal mascara? Awesome. Love it. Can’t go wrong and always my go to. Now to the bad guy, because that’s what we’re really here to talk about.
Do NOT NOT NOT buy that hydrofuge mascara. It’s horrendous. Think rubber cement on your eyelashes. It’s irritating, smells, and clumps. It’s impossible to take off. Forget eye makeup remover. I even use Vaseline (trick my mom used to use) and I have to rub a lot on there and it still doesn’t get it all off.
Cancer awareness hits close to home for me. October is the biggest cancer awareness campaign of the year as we go pink for breast cancer awareness.
After my mom died, I was living in Dallas, the headquarters of Susan G. Komen, an organization for breast cancer research, outreach and advocacy, and decided to run the Susan G. Komen Dallas Race for the Cure. Not only did I run the fastest 5k time to date, more importantly I raised over $1,100 in my mom’s name. I’ll never forgot riding the train down to NorthPark with masses of people. That year there were over 30,000 people. Watching all of the families and women in pink. It was touching, heart wrenching, and motivating all at once.
That was how I got my start with running and fundraising.
I like football, and when October comes, I like to see how “pink” teams go for cancer awareness. It makes me happy to see them showing their awareness for cancer awareness. Pink gloves, pink shoes, pink towels. Even the cheerleaders get in on the action. The more pink the team, the more they get my cheers–unless they’re playing against Notre Dame in which case, I’ll still never root for them.
This year, I noticed that the pink was fading and was getting pretty disappointed. How could these teams just be so flaky and not participate? The nerve!
Cincinnati was the first team I noticed, but not the last. Not a single bit of pink during the game. Harumph! The nerve of those Bengals!
But that got me thinking. Does it even matter whether they wear pink? Does the pink campaign matter at all?
The NFL launched “A Crucial Catch” campaign in partnership with the American Cancer Society to raise awareness and importance of annual screenings for women over 40. On October 25, they’ll even be offering breast cancer education and low cost screening in NFL team cities. All the pink you see on the fields is for their breast cancer awareness campaign awareness.
Sounds awesome right? Well the only reason I know any of that is because I trolled and trolled around the NFL’s website to find that information. I’ve watched plenty of NFL football and I haven’t heard any of that.
Ok. So we know why they wear pink, and why they sell pink, let’s if it actually matters.
Here’s what each of the organization’s is doing in their city this month for breast cancer awareness month. (Spoiler alert: read the full list if you want to be amused by how underwhelming
some most of the events are).
I was interested to find out exactly how much of the proceeds from all that pink football gear was actually going to breast cancer awareness/research/etc. The answer? You guessed it. CRAP. That’s how much.
I read this article and was not surprised to find out that it was a disappointing amount. According to the NFL’s website, since 2009 only $7 (SEVEN) million has been donated to American Cancer Society from the sale of all the stuff. The NFL website says that they don’t get any percentage of the profits, but I have to challenge that statement. I find it hard to believe that all of that stuff leaves them with such a low profit margin to be donated. Of allllllllll those sweatshirts, and t-shirts, and caps, and stuffstuffstuff, only $1 million a year TOTAL goes to American Cancer Society. That’s embarrassing.
I’m still all about wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness month. I’m glad that the teams do it, it’s about raising awareness. I totally get that and I’m good with that. Just don’t buy the NFL’s stuff–or anyone’s stuff just because it’s pink. Give your money directly to the American Cancer Society, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, MD Anderson Cancer Hospital, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
- Be Proactive. Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor.
- Schedule yearly women’s exams.
- Take charge of your health.
- Put your money where it counts. Not at Target buying a pink spatula.
Anyway, I’ll pass on NFL’s “A Crucial Catch.”
I love my job. I get to go to the State Fair of Texas every year for work. I get to interact with new people and see new things (and of course eat amazingly delicious food, like the Fried Sweet which is an exceptionally wonderful pie that is 3 pies in one–buttermilk, peach and pecan). I don’t just love my job because it takes me to the motherland of corndogs and fried everything, there’s more to it than that, but that’s another story for another day.
Anyway, I was so excited to see this sign for the second year at Fair.
It made me laugh last year when I saw it, which was perfect given the fact that it felt like I had such a storm inside the last time I was there. What a difference a year makes…
Daisy Crazy. It’s so her.
Bright. Vibrant. Silly.
Today she’s celebrating 59 years.
It’s hard not to be sad. But instinctively, I know I have to fight those feelings for Ava. I don’t want her growing up scared of losing me (yes, she’s already mentioned it and it’s one of her “bad dreams”). It’s an ugly feeling to have, so I get it. I don’t want her dwelling on the sadness of the Gma she never knew.
So instead of being sad, which is a very easy thing to do (usually it comes on the eve of, and not as much on the day), I decided to do what my mom would do. I don’t remember a time when she was without lipstick. She’d wake up, get her makeup on, including her lipstick, and that’s how she’d start her day. As soon as she finished her meal she had her lipstick on–who needed a mirror? She was always made up.
So here’s me, real smile, rocking my lipstick like her. Looking like her, like I always knew I did. Even when I was a punk teenager and I protested the fact that I did.
Happy birthday mom.
I participated in the Mary Lambert Heart On My Sleeve album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review BUT all opinions are my own. AND THIS GIRL IS SO AWESOME SO WAIT DON’T GO!
So I’d never heard of Mary Lambert before One2One sent out an email asking if I wanted to try out her album. Of course I googled her and played a couple clips before I opted in, because there’s no point downloading music that’s just gonna take up space on my computer when I don’t even want it. I fell in love after the first few words of “Secrets,” and knew I wanted to check out the whole album. I could quote all the entire song here because that’s how much I love it, but I won’t. Here’s a highlight though:
They tell us from the time we’re young / To hide the things we don’t like about ourselves / Inside ourselves /
I’m not the only one / Who spent so long attempting to be someone else /
Well I’m over it / I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are.
Dude, she’s good, she’s real, she’s beautiful. She’s deep and she brings a message, more than just some artists that sing songs that stick in your head. I had no clue she was nominated for 2 Grammys–but she damn well deserves them.
I wanted to learn more about her so I read her bio. She’s all about empowerment. I love that she talks about being vulnerable, and not feeling shame about it because that’s what keeps you from truly living a free life. Vulnerability about your “weaknesses” hits home for me given what I wrote recently about Mental Illness Awareness Week. One of Mary Lambert’s goals is to start a charity that offers free mental health services. She’s bipolar, gay, and not afraid to put herself out there. Gah. She’s awesome. (Not music related, but there’s so much more to an artist than the sounds that they make).
Ok, now back to the music.
Favorites: Secrets, So Far Away, Rib Cage, Chasing the Moon, Monochromatic
She’s got this feel to her that’s a mix of Florence + the Machine, Sara Bareilles, Christina Perri. She’s the perfect melding of awesome.
She really truly is and I’m not even saying that because they sent me this album to try. I don’t know how to describe her. Then there’s this song Rib Cage, it’s got this awesome vibe to it that’s “smokey” and deep. She’s just beautiful. I’m pretty sure this album is going to be on repeat for a while. Wow.
Pretty damn impressive. Her album came out today, October 14. GET IT. Love it. Repeat.
Wanna check Mary out for yourself? You can buy her album: * iTunes: http://bit.ly/MaryHeart * Amazon: http://bit.ly/MaryLHeart
Try- Colbie Calliat
Have you heard this song yet? It’s amazing. It’s a song that EVERY woman needs to pay attention to. Especially for those with little girls. So inspiring.
Everything, everything that we do to make ourselves beautiful, the things that we do to for ourselves on the outside isn’t for us. It’s for everyone else. But why? It shouldn’t be.
At the end of the day, after all the makeup is gone, the expensive clothes, shoes, face is off, the question remains: do you like yourself?
The bottom line is you can’t push yourself until nothing is left–not when it’s all to please others.
The first time I heard this I was almost moved to tears. As a woman, as a mom, it’s inspiring. Why do we do what we do? Who are we acting for? It should be for ourselves, but is that the truth? Anyway, it’s a heavy message but a beautiful one and a great song. fyi, that links to Amazon but it’s not an affiliate link or anything.
This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), so I’m going green–the awareness color of mental illness.
To be honest, I didn’t know MIAW existed until I saw this picture posted to Notre Dame’s Instagram account. Notre Dame has illuminated their iconic campus mural green this week to raise awareness for MIAW (in addition to the numerous events planned on campus). click on the picture for the full article
As if I couldn’t love Notre Dame more.
Why does MIAW matter?
Because millions of people live with mental illness. 42 MILLION live with some type of anxiety disorder; nearly 15 MILLION have major depression.
Because mental illness is stigmatized.
Because many with mental illness are afraid to speak out or ask for help.
Because One in FOUR adults will experience mental illness.
Because I am one of those four–and stigma and fear still make me feel embarrassed and afraid to type that.
During my 6 week postpartum visit, I talked to my doctor and he asked a few follow up questions. “An isolated incident. Not regular pattern.” Ok, sounds right. We both wrote off PPD. I escaped.
I went back to work to be a lawyer, a wife, mom to 2 kids, manage a house, and 2 dogs. I did a damn good job at it, too. I was like every new working mom. I’d get tired, I felt worn. I began to rationalize the tired, mood as “just” part of being a working mom with two kids. In reality, I knew that whatever I was feeling had a deeper culprit–I wasn’t just tired.
Then the anxiety started and I knew something wasn’t right. I had never struggled with anxiety–at least not that I knew of. Thinking back, I realize I probably always have.
I recognized my symptoms when I read Jill’s blog, and 6 months after Allie was born, I talked to my doctor again. This time there was no doubt, but I didn’t have the classic PPD everyone knows about. I had postpartum anxiety (PPA)–something I didn’t even know existed–until I read about it on Postpartum Progress.
I wanted to be able to blog about living with PPA-the ups, the downs, the treatment, all of it. The best resources I had were the people who had been through it. The women who had lived it and come out on the other side and shared their stories. I wanted that to be me for someone else. The stigma and fear of what others would think kept me from doing it. It still does–mostly.
As a professional with a family, the consequences of admitting to having PPA can silence you into submission. It’s scary to wonder how you’ll be judged by the real people in your life. Would they think I’m any less capable of everything I’ve already accomplished? It’s just easier to put on the face and pretend that nothing is going on. Telling yourself that nothing is wrong makes it so, right? Nope.
If you read my blog at all over the last year, you know it has been a bit rough–go back and you’ll see radio silence that you can track through the ebb and flow of anxiety and depression. I’ll admit it was an uphill battle that sometimes felt like it would never end.
That’s where an incredible network of friends and professionals comes in. The right doctor. The right meds. The right everything. I’m so glad that I never felt shamed for seeking help–I know others who have. I’m thankful for a loving husband, wonderful kids, a great dad, and an awesome support system.
It’s been a long road that has required a lot of work, patience, love, open minds, care, and prayers, but things are better. Things are good.
Now you know that mental illness doesn’t just affect who you think it does. It’s the guy next door. The neighbor down the street. The coworker in the next cube. The girl putting on the happy face and saying hello.
So with all of that said…
My name is Jess. I suffer from anxiety and depression. I am an ass kicker and a fighter, and I will win this war.
Never be afraid to ask for help.
Always be proactive.
You are never alone.
Every storm runs out of rain.
Here’s a link to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
That probably means nothing to you unless you were a teenager 10 years ago. Or maybe you’re a part of the “Clueless” generation. Or your best buddy sends you a “Happy Mean Girls Day ” text to start your morning off right.
Or you’re me and it’s all of the above–minus the teenager part.
In 2004 “Mean Girls” made its debut before Lindsay Lohan had the crazy. Rachel McAdams and Tina Fey are in it too, so it’s even more awesome.
The October 3rd thing is a part of the movie where Lindsay Lohan’s character tells her crush what day it is. And just like on “Wednesdays we wear pink,” this became a thing.
Even Time magazine did a hilarious piece about Mean Girls Day recapping the top moments from the movie, so it’s like totally fetch.
Obviously: I love Mean Girls. It’s on my iPad. It’s in my top 3 favorite movies. When I’m crazed at work I play it in the background. I can pretty much recite it by heart. I’m not even ashamed to say that my top favorite movies aren’t deep, stirring classics (other than Gone with the Wind). I like fluff and I cannot lie.
So I either completely just wasted 3 minutes of your time (sorry) or we just had a quick stroll down memory lane with Cady and Regina. Either way you learned that I like teenage cult classics. If you know me, this doesn’t come as a surprise at all. Pitch Perfect… Devil Wears Prada…
We had a LONG commute on Wednesday. Multiple accidents and stalls meant that it took us 1.5 hours door to door to work. Yeah.
We ended up trying to bypass traffic and drove by our favorite donut shop. Allie asked if we could get donuts for her teachers (she’s super thoughtful like that), and
A) traffic was going nowhere,
B) it’s always nice to do something for teachers, and
C) I like donuts and I like keeping a 3 year old happy in gridlock.
So we stopped. Allie got donut holes and I got this:
Delicious melt in your mouth goodness. Until Allie looked at me with disgust and says, “that donut is HUGE. Mines are little.”
Thanks for that, honey. She’d be a great diet coach.
I got a hair cut! Apparently this is a yearly thing because Timehop (an awesome app that shows you pics from same day, previous years) showed me I got my hair cut exactly this same way a year ago.
The top is what I was going for, and the bottom is what I got. I’m not so good with styling, so close enough. I wanted to go shorter so I think this is a step there. Next up? Probably darker hair.
Happy October 3rd, y’all!!
We like TV. I won’t pretend that we don’t. You know my affinity for some of the trash on TLC, it’s my guilty pleasure when I want to zone out and relax in bed after the billion things in my day.
We’re also a working family on a tight schedule. By the time we get home it’s close to 5:30 (if we didn’t make a quick trip to the grocery store) and the kids want dinner and all so I’ve got to get some form of food on their plates. Feed the dogs, Ava usually has some dishes to unload, I throw some dishes in the dishwasher, stuff stuff stuff.
Luckily Ava has a fantastic after school program that includes an hour of time for them to do homework and have learning time. Most of the time that means that when she gets home, so there’s no homework time required. Mostly, but not always. We always review the assignments and papers sent home for the day.
This leaves us a small window before bedtime. Allie goes to bed at 7:30, Ava’s bedtime is 8:00. Kids need sleep!
TV is one of those topics that many people are pretty opinionated about. Many people ban it during the week, or like us they allow it but maybe on a modified schedule.
I don’t think tv is a bad thing. I always watch the shows with Ava’s watching so I know what the topics are. Recently on Austin and Ally the topic was bullying. On Dog with a Blog (I know–it really is a dog with a blog) the topic was about the main character who wanted a social media account because all her friends had one but her parents wouldn’t let her. I really appreciated those topics and was glad that we could talk about them.
I don’t mind that the girls get to unwind a little watching tv while they have dinner together. Often we don’t get to eat with them because it’s too early for us but we always sit and chat with them about their days. Each gets to watch one show. Sometimes they don’t even get that if we get home late from dance class, errands or because there’s homework to get done.
Regardless, come 7:00 we have SCREEN OUT. There is no tv, there are no iPads, iPods, iPhones. NOTHING. No computers. No technology. There’s coloring, reading, playing. Anything but screens in faces.
At first Ava balked. She hated it. The cries of how unfair it was! But now it’s a regular thing and I announce screen out and off she heads to start shower and get ready for 7:30 mandatory read time. Yup, we have mandatory 30 minutes of reading time before bed. School requires 10, we require 30.
But screen time out is a good thing. So we don’t just do it at night. When are other times we have screen time out?
- On weekends–we have mandatory breaks throughout the day (when we aren’t doing other things or going out and about). There’s nothing wrong with tv, but I also don’t want them watching it for 6 hours straight.
- When Ava goes on restriction. Let’s be real. Sending a kid to his/her room isn’t really a punishment. Unless the bedroom is a hole with nothing in it, that’s not really the hard life. Ava sits playing with her Barbies or Legos. What really hurts is taking TV or iPad away. We have her get chores done, then she can get her creative juices flowing, whether that’s reading, drawing, coloring, she has to find an alternative.
It may sound loose, it may not. But this works for us. To each his own, right?
What do you have going on?
Allie has moved up to a new 3 year old class with new friends and new teachers. It didn’t faze her one bit, but I was the one that was sad that she was leaving her little 4 pack of buddies. I’m rational and told myself that they’d to meet up together on the playground, but still. We definitely miss the comfortable place with the old teachers and the old classroom, but you can’t be in the same place forever or you’ll grow moss, right? I should’ve known she’d be fine. She loves going to school and looks forward to seeing her teachers.
Allie’s already learning a few letters which is absolutely awesome and exciting to me!! She’s tracing letters with her fingers whenever she sees them and she’s sounding them out. Right now we’re on letter “C” so there’s a long way to go to get to “Z”, but I can definitely see that she’s going places.
I love that they’ve got computers in her class. They even have Spanish class (even if it’s just 30 minutes a week). The fun thing is she sometimes watches me drive up and is waiting for me at the door with her day’s work in hand.
~~~TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, read STANDARDIZED TESTING) is up on us. This is the first year Ava is taking these tests. At back to school night we learned that all of the cool stuff they’re working on is gearing for TEKS. At least it won’t be boring. I get it, I do. There has to be a way to test kids to ensure they’re all learning, regardless of school. But it’s rough.
Ava had some word problems (TEKS style) the other day and I will absolutely admit that we were stumped. As adults, we read things literally. At school, she got taught something different. Regardless, it was a lesson that everyone had a hard time with we weren’t the only ones.
I imagine that somewhere in the back of their little heads, they feel the pressure. Before school started, we were talking about what she was excited about and expectations, and one of her fears (besides math) was testing. How she even knew about it is beyond me. But she did.
~~~She’s currently moving on up in ballet but she took last semester off so we’re still “figuring stuff out” as far as whether she’ll be able to stay in that class. She’s a little behind but there’s nowhere for her to go since she’s aged out of the last class. It’s a little frustrating to say the least, but I guess there’s always private classes for her to catch up. We’ll see how this plays out. Guess I’ll just be the squeaky wheel everywhere I go. Helicopter anyone?
~~~Now for the fun stuff. Ava made choir at school. HOORAY!! She was so pumped. It’s been her “dream” to be in choir since she started school. She’s so excited for her first concert in November. We’re also planning a museum/historic monument trip. Living in Austin we have a ton of options. I think we might finally visit the Texas Memorial Museum and check out some dinosaurs.
As for me, I’ll be visiting the Harry Ransom Center at University of Texas where they have a “Making of Gone with the Wind” exhibit. I can’t wait to wander and take it all in. My mom adored Scarlett and would have loved going to this exhibit. The exhibit will even feature Scarlett’s famous “green” dress (apparently it’s more of an olive color) on display.
I love the movie–even if it is a far departure from the book (this exhibit talks about the reasons for that). I read my mom’s worn copy of the book cover to cover and will probably read it again, and I’ve started the so-called sequel, “Scarlett.”
Anyway, how’s school going for y’all? Tell me we aren’t alone.