Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Something Next to Normal

Almost a year ago the UVU Theatre Department put on a musical called Next to Normal. It ran the same time as In The Heights, so I didn't get to see it.

Never have I had so many people say this to me about a show: "It reminded me a lot of you. You should see it."

The department did another run of the show in February as they prepared to take it to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. It was during this brief run of the unedited show that I got to see it. 

I was wrecked.

Here is where I give major spoilers about Next to Normal, but SorryNotSorry, I've got to talk about it. I also need to mention that if you haven't seen the show, or listened to the songs, and you internalize that stuff like I tend to do: potential trigger warning. I mean it. 

When I went to the show the only things I knew were:

- It was going to a national competition.
- People said it reminded them of me.
- I should be prepared to become emotional.
- Ben and Zoe were in it.

That's it. 

And when it begun and at the very beginning I saw a mom talking to her son, before it was even revealed, I knew. I just knew, and the tears began. 

He had died. 

She was imagining the conversation. 

The show deals intimately with mental illness, and while some parts of that show aren't applicable to me and my situation, many parts are very, very close. 

On assignment I've been listening to the soundtrack for the past two weeks or so, and it's been cathartic. 

Maybe we can't be okay
But maybe we're tough and we'll try anyway.

This is the first year I won't be able to visit my son's grave on his birthday. I'll be out of town. Last year I was able to make strides I never thought possible in the realm of what I was capable of doing during Taylor Week, but I was still able to go to the cemetery on his day. This time it will be new, another step. Like having your child run to the neighbor's house for the first time, a small test of what looks like independence but is really growth.

I don't need a life that's normal,
That's way too far away. 
But something next to normal 
would be okay.

I went on Monday. Brought flowers, took pictures, and then quietly and almost frantically, began weeding around the headstone, trying to brush the dirt and bugs off, realizing I wouldn't be able to get it as clean as I'd like. My tears temporarily stained the stone. 

14. He'd be 14.

I'll wake alone tomorrow.
The dream of our dance is through.
But now until forever, Love, 
I'll live to dance with you.

Taylor Week:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Smells Good

People who know me know how important smell is to me. 'Duh, Jenny,' you say, 'smell is important to everyone.' Okay, but hear me out.

Smell is SO important to me.

A few days ago I filled out this What's Your Ideal Work Environment thing, and smell was the first thing I wrote down.

Things have to smell GREAT. One of the best smells in the world to me is when something smells CLEAN. This is one reason I don't buy sausage (it stinks up the place), and when I buy bacon I pay more for the precooked bacon because it doesn't stink up the place as much.

One of the highest compliments you can pay me is to tell me I smell good. I remember when my brother and sister-in-law walked into my house after months of not being here and said, "Yep, smells like clean laundry." Another time I was told, after living in my house for over 8 years, that it still smelled new. Recently I saw a friend I hadn't seen in a while and when he hugged me he said, "Oh, your smell! I remember your smell! Your clean clothes smell." AND, I kid you not, it's not uncommon for people to say to me after zumba class that they can't believe I smell like clean clothes after all that sweating. I promise, it's true.

Have you heard of olfactory memory? How certain smells are closely tied to memories? I believe it.

Some of my favorite smells:

Downy Unstopables
Clorox Cleanup (reminds me of when I worked the closing shift at Remedez)
Gain anything (I use Febreeze with Gain scent)
Yankee Candle Clean Cotton or Fluffy Towels air freshener
Method Pink Grapefruit all-purpose cleaner
Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Rosemary hand soap
Coffee (but not coffee-scented stuff because it doesn't smell like coffee)

Different times of year I'll add different things to the mix. Like, from now until the end of the year, anything with the right blend of spices is perfect. I really like this Spice Market candle from 719 Walnut Avenue.

My kids are more into sweet smells, fruity smells. It's funny, it carries over for them, too-- my daughter is using these Pumpkin Pie Diner wax melts from Glade in her room. A holiday smell, but sweeter (too sweet for me, anyway).

Another daughter likes to plug in Febreeze Noticeables in Toasted Almond (a blend of almond and caramel). I like the almond, but the caramel is too sweet for me (just right for her).

What are your favorite smells? I'm not asking because that's what some bloggers do at the end of a posts, I really want to know. Do you know why you like those smells?

Note: I was provided some product and compensation for this post. All content is original and honest.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dear Parents: It Gets Better

Tomorrow is a day I've anticipated for years. Actual years. It's here.


For years I've talked about having a campaign for parents: #ItGetsBetter (though I don't mean to be disrespectful to It Gets Better in any way). Parents sometimes find themselves in well-documented (or not) throes and need something, anything to hold onto-- which is to say something, anything OTHER THAN, "Oooh, these years pass so quickly, don't you just love it?" and that ilk.

I'll be honest: I've found myself actually loving most of those crazy moments. I laughed heartily when I walked in on this scene:

I've also cried myself straight out of stores, out of church, away from social events, and straight to my bathroom only to find that there isn't any place to be safe from the inevitable heartache occasionally brought on by parenthood.


When my youngest was born, my second-to-youngest was 18 months old. I remember saying to myself at that time, "Three years. I'm giving myself three years. I won't go anywhere, I won't have any expectations." It was a survival tactic, and it was effective. It's not (necessarily) the best kind of thing for every parent to do, but it was the best thing for me to do then.

My oldest was born 8 days after I turned 22. My youngest was born 14 days after I turned 31. I like being a young mom, but I don't remember my twenties.


In September of 2008 my kids were 5 months, almost 2, 4 and a half, turning 7, and 9 and a half. Things were going on, despite my 3-year moratorium. Kids still had school and lessons, speech therapists still had to visit my house, and I was doing fundraising things online.

I don't know which day in September I did it, but one day I walked over to the pantry, opened the door and looked at my calendar. I grabbed a green marker and made a chart.

I needed to know. For whatever reason that day, I needed a timeline. I didn't feel desperate, just wondering: How long until they were all in school? Maybe more than that, I needed to know: When would they all be in school all day?

Even I was surprised by this move. I'm not a mom who rejoices at her kids going back to school. I like having them home, I like being with them. I'm also a mom who recognizes the benefit of the structure that comes from their days of school and other activities, days which just aren't the same during summer break.


And here we are. Tomorrow's the day.

All the kids will start the school year, that school year I wrote down back in 2008. 14-15. That's tomorrow. It's not some abstract date I wonder about while I have babies on my hip and Kraft dinner on the stove (again).

So, Dear Parents:

It Gets Better.

Not that you shouldn't enjoy whatever stage you're in, but you're the boss of that. I'm not, your mom isn't, strangers at the store aren't, even well-meaning friends aren't.

Maybe you are enjoying this stage. Super, and GoodOnYa. But maybe this stage is really hard for you, in which case, it's okay, hang in there, and keep going.


It's a new season. Yeah, I'm going to call it better.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I posted in April. What happened next will BLOW YOUR MIND!

Taking a two-month break from blogging wasn't intentional, yet here we are.

I have some things to say, and some other things to not say.

Today I'll stick with this: Can we stop sharing/encouraging these posts with crazy-bait headlines?

"This Mom Thought She Was On Her Way To Church. What Her Family Did For Her Will Have You In Tears!"

"You Won't Believe What This Dog Did For A Little Girl!"

"Watch The Video From This Guy's Nature Hike! The Last 45 Seconds Will Change Your Life!"


Pointing out a specific time(frame) in a video (with or without lauding any degree of life-changing virtue) is a way to guarantee that I'm not interested. Why? Because I'm smart enough to figure out what I like on my own, thankyouverymuch.

Hi, Summer.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Turning Dirty Water Into Clean Water #ad

Happy Earth Day!

Yesterday I posted a short video to Instagram, and it got some good response, and also some questions, so I thought I'd talk about it more here.

In 2004, Procter & Gamble (P&G) created the Children's Safe Drinking Water Program to raise awareness about the global water crisis. Since then, much effort (and millions of dollars) have gone into providing clean drinking water to those who need it most. The P&G Purifier of Water product was developed, which is a simple-to-use packet of powder which can be used to turn liters of dirty and potentially deadly water into clean, drinkable water in just minutes.

With the help of 140 partners, P&G has provided billions of liters of clean water, saving an estimated 39,000 lives. In fact, the 7 billionth liter was recently delivered to a family in Brazil.

Check out this quick video:

It's a really cool product, and I'm glad to have been able to work with P&G in spreading the word about it. Since it's Earth Day, I want to let you know that until 11:59 p.m. EST tonight, for every share of the hashtag #7BillionLiters on facebook, twitter, or instagram, P&G will donate an additional liter of clean drinking water (up to 1 million additional liters) to people who need it around the world.

I love to see when social media and social good go hand-in-hand. So, please, for Earth Day, tweet, share on fb, or share on IG something with the hashtag #7BillionLiters.

Thanks to P&G for sponsoring this post, and for all the work they do to to invest in a cleaner planet. #ad

You can find out more about P&G's Children's Safe Drinking Water on facebook, twitter, or follow them on instagram.