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May 12th 2014 / 9 comments

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You woke up at 6:30 a.m.

For many parents this is normal— bless their hearts.  Some children wake up at the ungodly hours of 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. Every. Morning.

But you have never woken up that early. I’ve spent most of your five years on earth waking you up at 9:00 a.m. because I cannot bear for you to not be awake and alive and being you for another second.

But last week it happened. 6:30 a.m. and you called my name from your bed. I went into your room groggy–eyed and coffee-less and found a wiry, hyper, smiling from ear-to-ear little girl who was ready to conquer the world.

“Hi baby- you’re up early,” I said to you, still blinking away the sleep from my eyes.

“I know- I can’t help it. I’m just ready to talk, talk, talk!!!” you said with reckless abandon, ” So what do you want to talk about mom?”

“Well- I want to talk about how I need to go downstairs and get some coffee and sit outside on the porch for about five minutes so I can wake up. Then we can talk talk talk.”

Your face fell. Hurt and shocked, bewildered that I didn’t have a list of five things to talk about, but instead, preferred coffee.

“Mom, I really want us to stay in my bedroom all morning and just talk alllllll morning.”

“I want to do that too AnnieBoo- but first I kind of have a morning routine that helps me be a better person (coffee and creating melodramas between the birds from my view on the front porch makes me a way better person).”

I suggested we go downstairs. Have breakfast. And then go back upstairs and talk talk talk.

You countered. You always counter. You would be an amazing lawyer with your counter-offers, ridiculous concessions, and uncanny ability to find loopholes in the system. Your counter offer was this:

“OK Mom. You go downstairs and get coffee and then come back upstairs with your coffee and I will make it feel like outside and then we can talk talk talk!!!”

Usually, your counter offers are so brilliant, so kind, so creative that I actually concede just to see how you are going to pull it off.

“Deal.” I said.

What happened next, Annie, I will remember until the day I die.

Coffee in hand, still groggy-eyed but won over by your precious persistence, I came back to find your bedroom door closed.

I knocked. And you said “Come in” in a strange, high-pitched voice.

I opened your door to a sea of green. In the five minutes since I had gone downstairs for coffee you had taken every green colored book and covered your bedroom floor with green grass. Then you individually selected animals- you have about one hundred of them- that like to be in the grass. Bunnies. A chicken. A turtle. All of your stuffed cats and dogs. Two big rabbits. And your frog, Friggly.

And you?

You had rummaged through your costume box, pulled out a pair of butterfly wings, put them on and were standing in your bed- with all the blankets pulled around you like a nest- and you were chirping and tweeting like a bird.

And with coffee in my hand and tears in my eyes and the biggest smile I have experienced in a long time, starting from my toes and landing right on my lips- I realized all over again just how small my own agenda is sometimes.

And I realized what I might get instead if I lay my own desires down.
I remembered why people are more important than coffee and birds.
Though coffee and birds are a close second.
Doing things out of order, not in the plans or the agenda, or the rhythm of my normal routine-
laying down the selfishness that keeps me from being selfless
is far better for my soul than what I perceive I need to be a better person.

The five-year-old girl who only wanted to snuggle in bed with her momma and talk talk talk! The girl who decided to create the outside world and become a bird so that I would stay put and just do things a little differently. You taught me all over again that sometimes my agenda is worth laying down.

A lot of times my agenda is worth laying down.

 

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May 7th 2014 / 13 comments

Disney World: Part One

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It all started when I was determined not to be that mom.

I think that kind of arrogance is the whole pride goeth before the fall business. All the same, I would not be her. I could not be her. I didn’t have the time, organizational skills or holy devotion to my child that they all seemed to possess.

I read their blogs with fear and trembling.

Fast Pass. RSVP 180 days ahead of time. Bippity Boppity Boo Boutique. Fast Pass again. Write your phone number on your child’s SKIN for the inevitable park separation. Afternoon naps = nighttime park magic! Wait. You have to go day and night?! Fast Pass again. What the heck is this Fast Pass business and how is it fast if I “get” to fight for my spot three weeks before I go? That’s not fast. That’s the kid version of having to be first to check in on Southwest Airlines and staying awake until some ungodly hour to check yourself in exactly twenty-four hours before the flight departs so you can make it onto the boarding A team.

Princess Breakfast: the holy grail. Be at the computer ready to reserve your $150 spot as soon as the 180 day window arrives.  Princess autograph lines. Five hours to meet Elsa and Anna. Re-read. Five hours?!?

Looky-look here people: I will hire two teenage girls who resemble Elsa and Anna, purchase them elaborate costumes, make my husband be Olaf, rearrange my living room furniture and cover it all in white sheets to make it look like an ice castle and then let Annie throw toilet-paper-snow into every unvacuumable crevice in this house before I wait five freaking hours with sugar-laden, sticky, hot, tired, emotional girls to meet the cast of Frozen.

I am a terrible Disney mom.

The more mom blogs I read about how to plan my Magical Disney Vacation so my daughter would have the most enchanting, memorable week of her ENTIRE LIFE, the more I felt completely overwhelmed, incapable and unprepared. The pressure was debilitating. With each new set of Disney-mom-blog-strategies I felt a greater urge to hop a plane to Mexico and sip something out of a giant coconut shell on the beach.

“What happened to the good ole days?” I lamented to my tech savvy husband on the nights before we left. “You know, when there were no cell-phones and no Disney Apps with park maps or ride-hopper passes and you just showed up happy to have a frigging caramel apple and see a big castle and ride Dumbo a time or two? I mean when I was a little girl all the Disney princesses- all four of them- would just stroll about the park and take pictures with kids. There were no two hour lines with professional photographers waiting to snap a picture of me and Cindy. Now there’s like, God only knows how many princesses?!? What was wrong with that world?”

My husband assured me, with a smile, that these feelings derived from my own guilt in not having responsibly planned our family trip to Disney. And he was right. We showed up to Disney World last week without a single reservation or plan. Just a hotel, park passes, five rain ponchos (which we used)

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An autograph book (that was Grandpa’s idea)

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(cue: very excited grandparents picture)

And one elated little girl, whose mom who had not properly, responsibly, prepared for a Disney Vacation of the 21st century variety.

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(Yes, they can now insert an imaginary Tinker Bell into the palm of your kid’s hand.)

(So. 21st. Century.)

 

Disney World: Part Two
Turns out, a Fast Pass is painless. True, you can sign up for your Fast Pass slots three weeks before your actual trip and get all the good stuff. Like a Fast Pass to skip the Elsa and Anna line and wait only one hour instead of five. Or a Fast Pass to get a front row seat at Cinderella’s castle for the nightly fireworks. But if you don’t sign-up three weeks early and miss these hot-ticket items, guess what? Your five-year-old probably has NO idea they exist in the first place. And what they don’t know their missing, can’t hurt them.

Right? Right.

Truth is, your five-year-old is secretly amazed that you can find toilets, Teacups and Tinker Bell lines. The fact that you know how to get on and off the monorail wows them a little more. And when you tell them you know exactly where to meet Merida and even know a short-cut to get there (all on the Disney park app) you are now entering Disney Goddess status in your young child’s mind. So even though you may feel as though (and may actually be) SUCKING at being a good Disney-World-Mom, your child probably has no clue. Mine didn’t.  

If you purchase a park-hopper pass, you get three initial Fast Passes a day for free. Then you can add single passes on, one at a time, after the initial three. You don’t even have to be prepared or responsible for this aspect of your trip! Just show up each day and find a Fast Pass Kiosk, skip the kiosk, and go straight to one of the park employees who is holding a tablet and wearing Khaki shorts and a weird little vest. They are the living, breathing Fast Pass for Dummies guides. Don’t even mess with the machines or the apps. You’ll probably screw them up anyways and eventually end up with one of the Fast Past for Dummies guide. So just go ahead and cut that corner to begin with and go straight to em! Think of this as a tip from a mom who is considering writing this book:

Disney Vacation Planning for the Other Mom’s:
One Over-worked, Unorganized, Completely Irresponsible Mom’s guide to having the Disney Vacation of Your Dreams!

We Fast Passed our way into It’s a Small World, Ariel’s Grotto and the Monsters Inc Comedy Show- where my dad was that guy.

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And even without weeks of planning the who, what, when, where and how of meeting the princesses at the park, we still stood in reasonable lines and met Merida and Mulan and were able to get Fast Passes to meet Rapunzel, Cinderella, Minnie and Mickey!

The crazy thing is, us adults drive ourselves mad making detailed plans or heaping guilt on ourselves for not making the perfect plans, or any plans at all in my case, and yet all the planning or non-planning in the world can’t create the little moments that our kids remember.

Like meeting Tinsley while we waited to eat lunch at Belle’s castle and Annie making an instant best friend.

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Or meeting the World War 2 Vet who walks Epcot four times a week and showed us exactly where to spot a four foot fish in the lake.

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Or catching a squirrel red-handed and wasting twenty minutes just watching him as he rummaged through people’s strollers and ate their food!

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Or Annie getting a fever on the final night and seemingly missing the fireworks- only to get on the exact right ferry, at the exact right moment and stumbling into the rare gift of watching the Magic kingdom fireworks from the boat as we glided across the water (and beat traffic out of the park!).

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Some things never change. Moments of magic that can’t be bought, timed, or programmed into an app on the iPhone but spring up out of thin air and land in your lap like a fairytale ending, are one of those things. Squirrels and new friends and inconsequential time spent on fish and an old man with stories and a boat ride that just happens to line up with fireworks over a princess castle- and happily ever afters that feel a little more like the end of a perfect movie…
these happen despite our best laid plans or lack thereof.

And that is the magic of Disney. It’s the magic of living.

It’s a little girl holding her breath when she is in line to see her very first princess.

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And quietly practicing her curtsy next to that Princess.

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And falling asleep in her daddy’s lap at the end of a day she won’t soon forget while fireworks unfurl in the distance. It’s a hundred small, unplanned, unrehearsed, un-purchased moments in between the madness of our detailed-Disney-schedules that create the memories which last a lifetime.

And I am learning-
Magic happens. Whether we plan well or not.

 

Enjoy reading my blogs? Help me fund my first book by pre-ordering your copy today! Offer expires 5/16. www.kickstartjenny.com

 


May 2nd 2014 / One comment

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Hi Friends,

Seventeen days ago I launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund my debut book,The Road to Becoming. Days later, a group of people more deep, wide, diverse and passionate than I EVER had the courage to dream up banded together to raise over $43,000 to fund not only my book, but NEW MUSIC too! Just writing that brings tears to my eyes. In two short weeks I will join my producer in the studio to start work on my EP, To Be Well: Songs for Healing.

As I reflected on these incredible gifts, I felt a God-given urgency to give away this message of becoming and being made well. I want to give away 500 copies of the new EP to the women I meet and perform for throughout the year who are just coming out of prison or the sex industry, living in recovery houses or shelters. $50,000 would allow me to turn the digital EP into physical copies to GIVE AWAY! So with a little more than a week left in my campaign, my initial $20,000 goal has turned into a $50,000 goal that includes a book, new music and giving it away to women who need it the most. And the wine, fish and loaves multiply.

Will you join us?

Because here is the REALLY amazing part: 

A private donor has stepped up and offered to MATCH ANY NEW PLEDGE, up to $10,000 for the remainder of the campaign!!! So here’s the invitation- help me raise $10,000 in the next few days, it will be DOUBLED upon completion of the campaign, and then we will be able to double what we give away.

Help me give away 1,000 EP’s to the women who most need God’s redemptive message of HOPE NOW. 

Remember, once we hit $50,000, every Kickstarter partner ($25 and above) will receive a physical and digital copy of BOTH the book and EP! Plus, all backers will be invited to join me for an exclusive online acoustic concert from my living room to yours.

We’ve surpassed all my stretch goals, so let’s dream bigger. Let’s give it all away!

Much Love and Gratitude-
Jenny

Questions I have been asked about the matching campaign:

Q:  If I increase my original pledge, will my increase be matched?

A:  Yes!  As of 3:00 p.m. (CST) on May 2, A private donor stepped up and offered to MATCH ANY NEW PLEDGE, up to $10,000 for the remainder of the campaign! Amazing. In addition, If anyone increases their pledge- that will be seen as a “new pledge” over the old one – so the increase will be matched. For example, if you originally pledged $25 and increase it to $50, the increase ($25) will be matched.