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Unsolicited marriage advice

Jeff and I often are asked about our marriage. We are great friends and partners in life despite enormous stresses in our 12 years of marriage. We don’t pretend to be experts but we have received several emails and facebook messages asking for advice so we are happy to give you some simple things that work for us.

1. Public praise, private criticism. This is the best advice my dad ever gave me. I do not speak unkindly about Jeff. Period. I’m not going to belittle him even if it makes me fit in on the topic of the day at work or when dining with my girlfriends. Jeff always says that my friends think he’s perfect because I only tell everyone the good stuff. Great! That means I’m doing my job as his wife, friend, and his greatest fan.
My guess is you can name more people who criticize their spouse versus build them up. I think we have the power to change that fact.

2. 3rd time is not a charm, it’s nagging. Ask your spouse to put the Christmas lights up once. Then possibly repeat a second request, assuming he/she didn’t hear you. But the third time is merely nagging. So get out the ladder and start putting the lights up, even if you are 8 months pregnant. Chances are when he drives up and sees you on the ladder, he will take over. I will not admit if this is a true story. See tip #1.

Life List – Watching an Arizona Diamondbacks Game Poolside

Last year Jeff and I were sitting in the nosebleed section of an Arizona Diamondback game eating hot dogs and peanuts when a bunch of couples jumping into the pool flashed across the giant Jumbotron screen. Jeff lifted his chin and said, “I could handle watching the game by the pool. You can add that to my life list.” I grinned and gave the chin lift as my mouth was full of healthy ballpark snacks.

So in February, Jeff walked into the house and told me to sit down that he had exciting news. I was thinking life altering stuff friends. Possibly an international adventure? Is he pregnant?

Then he quickly blurts out, “I just got us 2 tickets to watch the Diamondbacks game by the pool in May! I bought them from a local sports radio station. They were doing a telethon and you know I’m willing to donate for a good cause!” He was doing this little happy dance and his sheer joy just made me giggle.

Monday was the day and we headed out to the game. We walked below the stadium to get to the pool which sits just beyond the right field fence at Chase Field in Phoenix. Jeff and I are simple people and we LOVE sports. So this felt a bit surreal.

The view was incredible. The field wasn’t bad either. Hubba hubba.



Letting Go of Cool

One of the best perks of running my own law firm is the ability to wear what I want when I don’t have any client or networking meetings. Last week, I had one of those “wear what I want” days and I grabbed some jeans out of my closet. I still considered myself pretty cool that morning as I put on those Lucky Brand jeans.



Around Here – May Edition

Around here Emily still feels like she is 8 and loves her red converse. She has read the entire Percy Jackson Lightning Thief Series in a week.


Around here summer is in full swing. Our kids love jumping our back wall to play baseball in the school field behind our home while Hank sunbathes.


Blue Lily Photo Shoot Video

Often I am verbose. Way too wordy. But not today.

Today I am just grateful for who I get to share my life with. And I am beyond excited for this past weekend. Jeff and I have been given a renewed energy and newfound clarity that we are still processing. Excited for the peace and possibilities.

To see the photos that Wendy and Tyler of Blue Lily Photography took with this photo shoot, go here. So thankful for their talents and inspiration to pursue their dreams.

Edit: The song is You Got Me by Colbie Caillat. Isn’t it perfect?

Blessings sweet friends – Jenny

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Reflection: When Plans Change

I knew this week was going to be very light on our family and life list activity schedule with Jeff having surgery. This stillness has lead to more reflection time.

I said earlier this week reflection is a good, healthy thing. Reflection can also be exhausting and convicting as well.

It all started with my magical day last week and then followed by my wacky dream from Monday. I always say things happen in threes and today rounded out the reflection trifecta.

I have been feeling impatient in regards to our planning for this summer. With so many balls up in the air (moving out of our house, Rebecca’s high school orientation, our jobs, rapidly rising gas prices, Jeff’s surgery, swimming schedules, etc), it’s been hard to precisely plan very much.

So late yesterday afternoon within one hour I heard these things:

Jeff: “So I might not be able to travel as long this summer due to adding estate planning to my business. I’m so excited about the possibilities.”
Rebecca: “Mom, I really want to go to Wyldlife camp. All of my friends are going. Please tell me I’m not going to miss it.”
Ben: “Can I play in the Cal Ripken All Star baseball tournament this summer if I make it?”
Emily: “Mom, I got a flyer in the mail about a swim camp. Can I go?”

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but all I heard was “blah, blah, blah….we are ruining your plans”.

I told Jeff how I was feeling today and his response was, “We will make it happen if it’s remotely possible. I want that for you and for our family. But plans sometimes have to be altered – it doesn’t mean it’s a bad plan, just that it’s a different plan.” He was right but I still had a determined, inflexible attitude in my mind about our summer plans. Kind of like a 2 year old crossing her arms in protest because she didn’t get both vanilla AND chocolate ice cream. As I said, it wasn’t pretty what was going on inside of my mind.



So I went to pick up the girls from swim practice as Jeff was busy with his date with a bag of frozen peas. Emily got in the truck first. I asked her how swim practice went and she said “It was fantastic, but.” “But what?” I replied. “Well Coach Mo said that,” and then her voice started to crack. Then little tears streamed down her face.

My gift

This is a long post but if there was ever a post I would recommend reading the entire story, this is it.

My prayer on the way to work this morning was to be a gift to my patients. I have been suffering a bit from pre-retirement fever. I’m really wanting to just blog full time, but my patients deserve my best and that was my prayer.

I worked in triage in the emergency room and it was a steady day. At times it was a bit crazy. Mid day, I checked in a young lady, “Meg” who was battling cancer. When I was almost done with Meg’s assessment, her husband, “Dave”, approached us. He had gone to park the car while I was doing the infamous computer work and asking the annoying, yet necessary repetitive history questions that are painful for a patient with a serious illness.

Jeff’s Guest Post: What you can learn from our cancer journey

Sometimes it is hard to believe that it has been almost 7 years since Jenny finished her cancer treatment. It actually feels like it has been significantly longer than that. I wish that the diagnosis and treatment process were clear in my mind. That year of my life is a blur. It is like someone took an eraser and crudely erased the handwritten manuscript that was my life during that time and all that is left is the permanent impressions of the pencil on the paper. I often try to think about what I learned and what I could possibly teach other people from our cancer experience. While there are countless lessons, here are three things that I want you to know.



I want people to know that:

I am a more serious person because of the cancer experience. If you are going through cancer, understand that it WILL have a profound impact on you and your personality. If you are supporting a friend, give him or her grace when you notice that they aren’t quite the same person as they were before the diagnosis. Before Jenny’s fight, I was care-free and funny. I am now a more serious person, but it eases more and more with time. I feel like I lost a few friends because they didn’t like the more serious version of me. I also feel like those relationships would have been spared had they just given me grace and time to find myself again.

Treatment created a sense of solitude. Going through treatment was a very lonely process even with all the meals and support that were provided by friends and family. The reality is that most of the really tough times occurred when friends and family weren’t around. That created a sense of solitude that was almost incomprehensible to those trying to support us. If you are going through cancer, expect to feel alone at times despite all the support. If you are trying to support a friend through treatment, understand that the treatment and side effects are likely much worse than they look from the outside. Make yourself available during the toughest times and make sure you are ready to provide support throughout treatment. Support tends to wane towards the end of treatment when it is needed the most.

The year after treatment was very difficult. They always say the best way to galvanize a people is to give them a common enemy. When Jenny’s treatment was complete and the enemy beaten, it took a tremendous amount of time and energy to pick up the pieces. A vast majority of the support we received during treatment disappeared when treatment was over. The medical bills started piling up, and laundry, meal preparation, and just everyday life seemed to take much more energy than it did before. At times we felt overwhelmed by everyday life. If you are trying to support someone through cancer, give them a gift card to a restaurant or to a grocery store or take them a meal after the end of treatment. If you are going through cancer, expect an energy letdown and be patient with yourself and your family as you readjust.

I want to thank Jenny for letting me crash her blog again. When Jenny was going through treatment there was very little to go from from a husband’s perspective. I am happy to provide more insight/experience/wisdom to those looking for it. I think I will keep it a little less serious on my next post.

Thanks – Jeff

39 List – Our Blue Lily Family Photo Shoot

Our first ever photo shoot… big sigh. I’m in love. I love the lighting, the colors, and these kids. I really love these kids. I’m so thankful that Wendy and Tyler of Blue Lily Photography captured our family just how I see us… full of life, smily, colorful, loud, and loving. I wrote about our experience with Blue Lily here, but let me tell you once more.

Our photo shoot was effortless. Jeff and I loved Wendy and Tyler. I left the photoshoot totally inspired. Wendy and Tyler sold their house and all of their possessions, and are traveling the world with their 2 gorgeous children while taking pictures and video. Yes, please.

So since this is our first photo shoot, I am refusing to apologize for overloading you with photos. Hopefully I don’t make your computer irritable.



39 List – Take the Kids to See Wicked

Jeff and I had the amazing opportunity to see Wicked at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. last summer. Aside from our dancing video and reuniting with my high school friends, a highlight of the trip was seeing this Broadway show. We weren’t planning on seeing the musical, but we went to a Washington National’s baseball game and Dee Roscioli sang the national anthem and it was the most beautiful rendition I ever heard. The announcer mentioned that she was starring as Elphaba in the Broadway musical, Wicked. I gave Jeff that look and he knew we were going to have to see the musical if there was any possibility.

Jeff and I got back to the hotel room, we ordered tickets for the following night, and had one of the best nights of our life. We even got to meet Dee after the show.

When we left the show, I was moved to tears. Music is so powerful. I told Jeff on the plane back to Phoenix, that if Wicked comes to town, we MUST take the kids.

So several months later we drove by a billboard for Wicked and Jeff looked at me and smiled. So for Valentine’s Day, Jeff went to the Gammage Theater box office to buy tickets. He told the ticket salesperson that he wanted us to have decent tickets, so that the kids would be able to see it. He told Jeff the options, but Jeff wasn’t happy with the options or the price. Then Jeff explained that this was a gift and an item on my life list. The salesperson kept searching and then asked Jeff, “Do you mind going in the middle of the week with the kids?” Jeff said we could go any night. Jeff ended up scoring great seats for the SAME price as the tickets in the back of the theatre. He said, “These tickets weren’t here just a second ago,” and scratched his head. Magic I tell you, magic.

Moods had been dampened over the past week, with losing the house, my car being hit in a parking lot, and Hank our dog has been missing for a couple of days. They say bad things come in three’s and I have to tend to agree with that this week. So this night was a welcomed relief.





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