Tarzan and the Trashcan, why risks are worth taking

I can think of many times in my life where taking a risk did not pay off, in fact, on more than one occasion it led to my absolute mortification.

tarzan and the trashcan

There was the Tarzan /trashcan incident when I was 9. I decided it would be cool to climb a tree (I was a great tree climber as a kid) and tie a rope to one of the higher branches so my friend and I could swing from it. I believe we were calling this game George of the Jungle only in my case it was not the tree I needed to watch out for , no, it was my poorly tied rope. My knotting abilities put my boy scout father and ex-sailor grandfather to shame that day. The rope was a little short and so were we so we had trouble reaching it from the ground. We decided to flip one of those large out-door garbage cans upside down and stand on it to swing from. Since I hung the rope I got to go first. I mounted the trash can and stood there having second thoughts about the whole thing when my friend, impatient for her turn, griped “What are you waiting for?!”. Without further contemplation I leapt from the trashcan with the grace of a flightless bird and grabbed onto the dangling rope. I got one good swing out of it before I came crashing down onto my back completely knocking the wind out of my lungs.

That’s the thing about taking risks, sometimes you end up flat on your ass with nothing to show for it. You can’t let this stop you though. I think of other times in my life when I did not leap and although I may have avoided another Tarzan and the trashcan debacle there is no telling what I missed out on. When you don’t leap that’s when you are left with the “what ifs?”. School for me is an obvious example. I never fully committed to that leap the first time and fell short in the middle. I went back though and I think that counts for something. I think in the end it’s hard to say sometimes what risks are worth taking but here is what I have learned over the years;

Love is always worth taking a chance on.

It’s better to spend that $5 on a beer with friends than holding out for the lottery to finally pay off

And education is always something worth investing in

Ultimately if you do take a risk that doesn’t pay off give yourself some time to heal and you will find you are at least left with a story to tell and that is worth something in itself.

I can almost hear the bells ringing, A post entirely about our wedding

bird wedding

It is no secret that I have been a bit timid about the whole wedding planning process. It is a lot and for a girl without a clear vision it is overwhelming at times. I can finally say I am starting to get excited and am now able to see with a bit more clarity what our wedding day will be.

All of our big vendors are now locked in with the exception of the florist and the bakery which will come a little later. I have my dress and accessories, the dresses for my bridesmaids have been ordered and will arrive in a few months. So this means now our colors have been chosen. I have acquired a lot of the small detail items over the last 3-4 months like the reciprocal for cards and some wedding favors as well as a few gifts I intend to give my parents and Todd’s mother. We sent our Save the Date cards out earlier this month and have received feedback from friends and family about that.

Things seem to falling into place. I put our contract in the mail today for our wedding videographer. This is one of the details I am most excited about. I am so glad we will have footage from our wedding. I like the idea of being able to share that with our children and years from now when some of our family members are no longer with us we will have a way of remembering them as they were in this moment.

I watch Todd’s home videos from when he was a child all the time and I have such nostalgia because our childhoods were so similar. This will be one more nostalgic video for us to cherish.

In a few months my mother will be hosting my bridal shower, I was not going to have one but I was told this is tradition and not optional. I fought this at first but later decided it was fine but I was going to do things my way. I am going to take this opportunity to make it less about me and more about the important female relationships in my life that have influenced the person I have become. I am going to make it very special.

The closer we get to the big day the more excited I become. I feel like a 5-year-old counting down to Christmas. I still cannot believe I have met someone who I fit so perfectly with. I am grateful for the life we are making together and what our future holds together.

Tell me why you would be a good fit

I completed my application for the social work program today. I am glad to have it finished. It was pretty generic, name, DOB, past school and work information etc and then a section for short answer questions.

It took me a few days before I was ready to sit down and work through the short answer questions for a few reasons;

1. I don’t write well on command. When given a prompt or when being timed I seize up a bit. I write from the gut, whatever hits me and feels right at the time. I feel stifled when told what to write about as if inspiration can be handed to you in such a manner. Well it can’t.

2. I wanted to give myself time to really marinate on what was being asked. I needed to collect my thoughts and determine the direction in which my writing would take me.

Essentially what they are asking is what every organization asks, “Why should we pick you?”

This question makes me uncomfortable. The whole idea of having to sell myself to someone else makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I usually allow my actions to speak for themselves but I recognize in this situation where I am still just a candidate vying for a spot I have to plead my case.

I got through it. I focused initially on my family background and the environment in which I was raised as a way to ease into my own introduction.

Tomorrow I will get everything turned in and then the waiting game begins. This is, for me, the most important answer of any I have waited on in regards to my education. Being accepted into the Social Work program is what I have been working towards over the last 2 years. I received my AA diploma in the mail this week and as good as it felt to finally have something to show for the work I have done it still felt like just a small part of a bigger picture. It has been a lot of build up and I am nervous. Quite nervous indeed.

I am so close to reaching this goal and the anticipation once I turn in the final forms will be almost too much to bear. This goal has been on the horizon for so long I am excited to finally meet it and then set the next goal of graduating with my BSW. Then the next, graduating with my MSW. Then the next, becoming licensed and so on.

More than anything else I am ready to be hands on again. It has been two weeks since I have finished work and although it has been a welcome break I miss the patient interaction and want to be involved in something meaningful again. I have been considering volunteering with Hospice until class begin. I have always wanted to volunteer with hospice and now seems right time.


Becoming Domesticated

I would like to start by saying the wild and free side of me would like to think this will never happen. I would like to think I will always be a bird without a cage, I know better though.

In a week’s time I have baked a cake and cooked an entire chicken. AN ENTIRE CHICKEN. Can’t say that is one I will do often but it’s nice that I now know how. This is not a big deal to people who know how to do this or do this often but for me it is a step, a rather big one towards further domestication.

I do not like to bake. At all. I do not particularly care for sweets so baking them seems like a chore, there is no real pay off after for me. Cooking is different, I love to eat vegetables so all that chopping and pealing has a reward at the end, yummy vegetables. Another thing I hate about baking is that so often it is an exact science. Too much of one ingredient or not enough of another and suddenly it tastes like shoe instead of a sweet or it’s ugly. Presentation seems to be a big deal too when you bake, I am not one to be impressed by a pretty package. It’s just a lot of work. Really, I make an absolute mess when I bake. It isn’t for me.

I put all of that aside this weekend though when I decided to boldly go where I had never gone before, the baking aisle of the grocery. That’s actually a lie, I have been down that isle once I think, maybe twice. I bought flour¬† a long time ago for a chicken dish. I also once bought semi-sweet morsels just because I like the way they taste. I don’t think I have ever just gone and bought the makings for a cake though.

Well last week my sister-in-law called and asked that I bring the dessert to the game night she was hosting Saturday. I was perplexed. I always bring the humus and veggies, where did this come from? Plus- she knows how I feel about sweets. (I found out later this was my mother’s idea as a scheme to get me to bake). I told her I would be happy to and put it out of my mind. Later while at the grocery though I got to thinking about it and decided I should bake rather than just buy something to bring. I mean I am home right now, what is my excuse? I have the time to do it and all the other women in my family would bake a dessert if they were asked to bring one. “OK I’ll do it” I thought to myself.

Let’s speed things up as I know how wordy I am and cut to the end result. After baking unsupervised for the first time I did manage to make a tasty cake. I did forgot to grease the dish though so it was a mess when served, crumbling and sad-looking. Also, no one mentioned this business about poking the cake with a tooth pick to make sure the middle is done so it deflated not long after being taken out of the oven. I put back in though and it baked through just fine. It wasn’t pretty but it tasted good, that is about all I could ask for.

Cooking is not as tedious. I have a bit more freedom when cooking. It does not have to be so strict and by the book. I can eye-ball things and make it up as I go, by far my preference. I am not a fancy cook. I can make the traditional casseroles (which I rarely do because it is just the two of us plus most of them are loaded with cheese of some sort), I can make the basics like mexican, pasta dishes, Todd’s favorite – meatloaf. Usually though we have a protein and vegetables. Easy, simple and hard to screw up, just how I like it.

Cooking a chicken was new for me. I called my mother last week because the two times I have attempted to make roasted carrots they have not turned out quite like hers and I wanted to figure out what she does different. This some how turned into “Jill needs to learn how to cook a chicken properly”. Fine, as long as you tell me how you roast your carrots. So today my parents came over for dinner as they usually do on Monday’s and I made my very first whole chicken. It was nothing if not pretty, thankfully it tasted good as well and no one has complained of food poisoning so I guess we can call it a success.


Clearly I was not meant to be a food blogger because I got the before picture but completely forgot the after shot. She had a perfect golden brown, French Riviera-esk, tan upon exiting the oven and I guess you will just have to take my word for it.

So that was a small accomplishment of sorts I suppose, wasn’t exactly on my bucket list but it’s one more thing I know how to do now so that is good I guess.

Over the weekend Todd and I finally made the decision that we are ready to add to our small family unit, we have decided to rescue a Boxer. We have known for a while we would do this at some point it has always been a matter of timing. We started talking about it again last week and after many conversations we agreed that now the timing is right. With me be home this semester and not working it is the perfect time to help transition a rescue into our family. We are in touch with a few different agencies and now it is just a matter of finding the right one. Our primary concern is just that our new addition be good with children so we have no concerns for our niece and nephew. Boxer’s are such a good breed I am sure we will have no trouble with this at all. We are both excited about this decision and cannot wait to bring the newest member of the family home.

How soon is too soon to have “The Talk”?

birds bees

My parents and I never had the birds and bees talk. Maybe they were waiting, I don’t know. I ended up figuring things out on my own and not because I was curious about boys, but because boys became curious about me.

I remember the first time I heard the word “sex”. I was 9 or 10, in the third grade and in my best friend’s bedroom. I was sitting on a stool in front of her open closet doors listening to her and our other friend talking when I heard the word “sex” and immediately said, “Don’t you mean six?” She replied that No, she meant Sex to which I replied, “What’s sex?”

Both girls started laughing. I was immediately embarrassed. Apparently I was a dummy for not knowing, I wanted to disappear. My best friend then proceeded to explain to me that sex is when two people are naked in the same room together. I remember thinking to myself, “I didn’t know there was a name for that”. What I said to them though is that I had sex lots of times, like I had sex with my brother when we younger and we used to take baths together. At first the girls gave me a strange look but I asked them, “Didn’t you used to take baths with your siblings when you were little.” They agreed they had. And since you are naked when you bathe we all agreed that we had all had sex with our siblings. Thank goodness we did not go around saying this to people! Can you imagine?? For the record, I have never had sex with my brother. haha.

Needless to say a few years later when we reached the age in school for sex-ed we ALL realized we had never had sex with our brothers like we previously thought. It didn’t matter by that point though because we never talked about it again after that day. Not for any particular reason, there was just no interest. It’s like we had the conversation and then went right back to dancing and singing to Madonna tapes like we always did. Who cares about being naked with your brother when you were little anyway? Not us, that’s for sure.

Sex-ed really didn’t help further my understanding of the act of sex much. I did find out about periods though. That was an awkward couple of days following. Periods were all anyone wanted to talk about. Every time a girl would get up to use the bathroom everyone would start to whisper, “Oh so and so must be on her period”. I didn’t go pee at school for a week. It made for a very long week.

By middle school my Catholic upbringing had helped a little with my understanding of sex. I had a very rudimentary understanding of what happens, thought it was disgusting and knew that I didn’t have to worry about it until I wanted to get married anyway. Thank God, one less thing to worry about in middle school. Sex didn’t come up again until 8th grade when I was in the girls restroom before home-room one morning with my girlfriend that I rode to school with. Two other girls we knew walked in gossiping about how one of the boys we knew from class brought a “condom” to school in his backpack and was showing everyone. I made the mistake again of immediately admitting my nativity to this new word I had never heard before. And again I was met with laughter. Humiliated by sex once again, good grief. My friend explained what they were for and we all agreed that was gross and he was gross for carrying one around.

A few months later one of my best friend’s who had a boyfriend, a very big deal for my group of friends as none of us were really allowed to date, explained in detail about how when they went to the movies over the weekend they didn’t exactly watch the movie the whole time. Nothing too terrible happened, they made out and he tried to get to first base. I had no clue there were bases. (Big surprise- clearly I was the last to know anything about this sex stuff). This time I chose not to ask questions. Knowing that he tried to grab her boob made me uncomfortable enough, I didn’t want to hear what else is involved in these bases. I never did like baseball much anyway. At that time I still called my boobs my private parts. Growing up Catholic that’s how it was, these parts are private. They didn’t even really have names. Everything under my clothes were pretty much collectively “my private parts” and you were not supposed to let people see or touch your private parts. That was fine by me because it was a non-issue. At that time I thought there was Sex and there was Kissing and no in between. When I suddenly found out there was this gray area where boys would want to touch your boobs I was terrified.

Most things were like this for me growing up. What I mean is, I was naive and things were very black and white. At least that is how I understood them. Drinking is bad, this was very black and white. Drugs are bad AND they are all the same, Marijuana is equivalent to Cocaine. This was very black and white. Sex is for when you are married and no one is ever allowed to see or touch your private parts. This was very black and white.

I am not even necessarily saying this is what my parents told me or taught me directly. These are the lessons the church taught us growing up and my parents never contradicted it nor did we have conversations about any of it. I think this may partly be because I never asked. I think had I come to them they would have discussed any of these topics with me, we have always had a very open relationship. I also think it is because my parents have always played a very active role in my life so they felt they knew what was going on with me and if anything came up where they felt these talks were needed then they would have had them.

All I can think is they knew we, my brother and I, were good kids and they didn’t think the talks were needed yet. The thing is though it doesn’t matter how good your kid is. If you don’t tell them, someone else will and someone you don’t want telling them. Better to hear it from you than the pimply faced kid that has no clue what they are talking about and is suddenly going to introduce the element of peer pressure that your kid is not prepared for. Sure, it is an uncomfortable conversation but your kid is curious and maybe¬† too embarrassed to ask, wouldn’t you rather they hear it from you?

Looking back at it I absolutely wish I had a better handle on a lot of things before I was in a situation where I was ill-equipped to deal with what was going on around me. Luckily things turned out alright for me, I made it out of my teens alive and in tact but that isn’t completely true for everyone. I am absolutely not saying it is the parent’s fault either when something goes awry. I am speaking strictly from my own experience when I say I just wish I had been better prepared. I love my parents, they did great. This is nothing on them but for me, when I have kids, I might do things slightly different.



Another plea to disconnect


I am mounting my soap box, the time to turn back is now.

Earlier this week I watched a story on the news that threw me into a ranting whirl at the time and has been nagging in the back of my mind ever since.

The story was about a car full of college students that were killed in an head-on collision with an SUV that was speeding down the interstate going the wrong direction. The driver of the car that was hit apparently did not have to react and both cars exploded on impact. It bothers me to type this out because as I do I replay the footage in my mind.

One would think given the information I just shared that my outrage would be directed towards the driver of the SUV that caused the accident, that would be an incorrect assumption however. The news had footage of the crash as it happened, this is where my disapproval starts.

A female driver going 70 mph on the correct side of the interstate saw what was taking place across the median and pulled out her phone to video tape what was happening. Are you kidding me?! Let me make sure I understand this, you are driving down a road like I4 (for those of us who live locally) or the turnpike perhaps and you notice on the other side of the highway that a car is going way over the speed limit and driving in the wrong direction into traffic and your first reaction is to videotape it?! Pull out your phone sure, but call the police! This person could have caused a whole other accident because she was focusing on what was taking place across the median and video taping rather than on the road and driving. In my opinion she deserves a citation not to be getting recognition by the media for capturing this video for them. Yea, I bet the news stations were really kissing her ass. Not only do they have a story but they have video of the crash taking place to play over and over during prime-time. Does anyone else think this is completely disrespectful and disgusting? 5 people died in a very tragic way and the news is playing the video of their death on repeat. The lives lost mean nothing here, it is a story. How upsetting for the family and friends of the people involved to be exposed to something so horrific.

Over and over you hear on the news “Tweet us your videos, send us your pictures via this email address or that social media site”. Who cares how the video/photos were obtained. Who cares how graphic the images are, just throw a disclaimer out there and roll with it. I have been disenchanted by the sensationalist, twisted tactics the media uses to get a story but now I am utterly fed up. There is such little value placed on human life anymore all that matters is getting the story. Shove the camera in everyone’s face until someone agrees to talk with us.

A police officer was killed this week while trying to apprehend someone suspected of a crime. The news is broadcasting live from his funeral tomorrow. Uninterrupted coverage. If I were his family I would say Go Jump. Let those who actually know him grieve. Leave his family alone. This is sad, shoving a camera in the face of a grieving widow is not necessary to drive home the point.

Back to what I was saying about the driver who shot the video while going 70 on the interstate instead of informing the authorities of what was going on.. Judgement calls like this one scare the hell out of me. I would never dream of using my phone in this way while driving. I know the big push for the last however many years has been to discourage texting and driving but to me that is just part of the problem. In general people seem so distracted. I think we as a society have become so accustomed to multitasking that it carries over into areas of our life where it becomes dangerous. Using your phone and driving is not an efficient use of time, it is dangerous. Do people not realize the possible consequence of such a decision? This decision to willing allow yourself to be distracted while driving could be deadly. Is such little value placed on the preservation of human life that this kind of decision would somehow seem worth the risk? Todd and I were almost struck by other cars on the road twice today, we had been on the road all of 15 minutes. A dump truck merged crept into our lane without realizing it forcing into the lane next to ours to avoid being hit. Thankfully the lane next to us was clear and Todd had time enough to verify that before having to get out of the way. Then again while making a left turn the woman in the car next to us merged right on top of us without even looking. She did not use her indicator to change lanes, did not look, she did this while in the middle of an intersection AND she was on her phone clearly yelling at someone. For cripes sake hang up the GD phone!

It scares me the way things are, it also makes me feel incredibly discouraged. As is true in so many other circumstances I just wish that collectively people cared a little more. The silver lining to this post is that laws are starting to crack down on such issues as cell phone usage while driving. As it stands I feel this sort of thing is hard to regulate and hard to prove but acknowledgement of the issue is at least a small step in the right direction.

Coversations I can’t Remember


From what I am told I am an unpredictable person to sleep next to. I realize “unpredictable” is an unusual way to describe the person you share a bed with but this word choice is quite deliberate. In Todd’s words, “you never know what you are in for”. Unpredictable seems to fit.

I am known for talking, waking someone up and talking directly to them with no memory of it, dancing, singing, crying and laughing in my sleep. Once I jumped out of bed in hysterics because the baby was missing! I spent five minutes trying to convince my then significant other to call 911 and help me search while he spent that same five minutes trying to convince me that we do not, nor have we ever, had a baby. Unpredictable, like I said.

Monday night I woke up precisely at 2:00 am proceeded to roll over, shake Todd awake, and tell him.. Well in truth I am not exactly sure what I told him. I know that at the time I had information about the Swiss and Russian’s in the Olympics that was so important I had to tell him immediately. I knew this information would change the course of the Olympics for the US. He says that I looked him dead in the eye and blurted out some nonsense made up words. He then says to me, “What?!” (the usual response when I do this kind of thing). And I just say “Oh” and leave bed to find the bathroom. Upon my return he asks me about it and I just apologize and go immediately back to sleep.

A month ago I sat straight up in bed at 7:30 am on a Sunday (Todd was already awake practicing Spanish on his phone) I turned to him and said “Aren’t you going to be late for Church??” Again he responded with, “What?!” He says I flopped back down on my pillow rolled over and went back to sleep. I have no memory of this one.

When I was single living at my parents house in my early 20’s there was a night I got so loud my brother was convinced I hoopin and hollerin on the phone with a friend. (His words not mine). It was around 4:30-5am, he had just arrived on military leave and was in the bathroom brushing his teeth. My bedroom was on the other side of the bathroom wall and he said he heard me laughing loudly. He assumed I was on the phone with someone since he did not hear my TV on and walked into my room, assuming me to be awake, to say Hi. He says he stood in my doorway for a few minutes and the whole time I was giggling and then I would go into full belly laughs. The next morning he asked me about it, dying to know what on earth could have been so funny in my dream. Huh, I wish I knew was my response.

It’s so interesting to me this whole other life we live in our dreams. My have always been incredibly vivid. It is like the line between dream and reality becomes blurred in that moment when I wake up, I cannot tell for a moment what is up and what is down. I have all these memories from a life that has never actually taken place. It is a real wonder.

Getting Organized

When talking about the mundane details of everyday life I have to say that I find huge satisfaction in being able to cross items off my to-do list.

Since finishing up at the facility and being home I have been crossing things off my list left and right. Our house is back in order and I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.

Todd’s parents are going to be visiting soon and I am very excited. I am not quite sure yet what the plan is for while they are here but I am looking forward to it immensely.

Update to wedding planning is just that I met with my girls and we picked out the dresses they will wear. I will be ordering them this weekend. I have started to collect some of the small detail things like the veil and gifts I will be giving to people day of. As the days tick by and our date gets closer I feel the excitement building. I am sure by the time we reach October I will be bursting at the seams.

Update to school is that I delivered all of my documents to UCF and am now just waiting to hear back on everything. I have no real concerns at this point I am just glad to finally be done with my AA and moving on to the next step.

On the horizon I have some art projects lined up for myself, some gardening and I have signed up for some more volunteer work. I also think Todd and I may look at taking some time away together after our visitors have departed. I think it is going to be a nice spring.

The unraveling of a family tie

rope unraveled

One of the values I was raised with is the importance of family. Throughout my entire life phrases like “Family comes first” have echoed in my ears. I definitely credit having a close-knit family as playing a major role in who I turned out to be. I have always been grateful for the relationship I have with my immediate and extended family, for the most part..

You have heard the expression, “Every family has one”, it can be applied to just about anything.

Weird Uncle? “Every family has one”.
Lazy fill in the blank? “Every family has one”.

It’s a way to help the rest of the group deal with that one person in the family that is difficult or obnoxious or makes poor decisions etc. For some families it is just one person for others it might be an entire branch on the family tree. The latter is true for my family.

Although we have an entire branch that is maybe a little different there is really just one “bad” fruit in my opinion. Not everyone would agree with me either. There are certain members (one member specifically) of my family that think this person can do no wrong and that is fine, I just happen to disagree.

There is no reason to go into great detail about my grievances with this person. This post is less about the actual person and more about the struggle I have been dealing with in my heart over feeling forced to maintain what was a flimsy relationship to begin with just because this person is family.

I don’t like the idea that someone who I am offended by (and would in other circumstances have absolutely nothing to do with) I am now bound to because somewhere in our make up we share a strand of DNA. So what?! I have to maintain some forced obligatory relationship? The whole idea of an “obligatory relationship” feels wrong to me, it’s like sand paper on my soul.

Of course this doesn’t sit right with me, I am being forced to “fake it” with this person every time I see them and I do not fake anything well. Of late I have distanced myself from situations where I know this person will be present, this is not hard to do as we do not have occasion to see each other that often anyway. But now I am getting grief about how, in doing this, I am also avoiding the rest of the family (which is not my intention). This means I have no choice but to be around this person. This does not work no matter which way to you look at it. The end result, because I am unable to fake the way I feel, is that this person may end up getting some unwanted honesty.

Here is the thing about this whole screwed up situation, the ENTIRE family is feeling the same way about this person! Everyone is griping behind this individuals back. I don’t like that. I don’t want to be caught up in it.To me it is negative and counter productive. I guess the difference between me and most everyone else ( I am not the only person in my family that has trouble with faking it) is I am unable to wear a mask and sell the disguise successfully.

Honestly I really don’t care to maintain any kind of obligatory relationship with this person. This is not someone I care to associate with, this is not someone I would want my children spending time around in the future. If it were as easy as cutting the tie I would have done it a long time ago. The only issue is if I fracture off from this relationship it is something that the rest of the family would be impacted by, for right now at least. In the future I know this will be a non issue but while my grandmother is still with us we all have to play nice for her sake.

I don’t like doing things for other people’s reasons. Especially things that make me feel like on a deeper level I am going against myself by doing them. Unfortunately I think this is something I will just have to endure for the time being which is a very frustrating thought.