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Lesson Learned: My Dad and President Bill Clinton

Growing up my father led by example. He was a Colonel in the Air Force, a devout christian, and a registered Democrat. Although I didn’t even know he was a Democrat until my early 20s, as my dad never discussed which party he belonged to or which Presidential candidates he was voting for. My dad merely discussed the importance of character and social responsibility and then lived it.

This is one of my favorite pictures that hangs in my dad’s office. President Clinton had come to visit Patrick Air Force Base and my dad had the pleasure of meeting his Commander in Chief. President Clinton visited in June 1996 to attend the memorial service for the 19 Airman that were killed when a gasoline truck exploded outside the Khobar Towers housing area on King Abdul Aziz Air Base in Saudi Arabia. I remember my dad calling me in Tucson to tell me how the President was personable, compassionate, and very engaging, just as he came across on my 19″ color TV during his speeches.

What is interesting to me about this picture 16 years later is that my dad did not vote for President Clinton, yet he has an enormous amount of respect for him. This picture is treasured and hangs just above his desk. My father never said a foul word about him or any other elected official (or candidate) to my recollection.

I called my dad and asked him to send me this picture. I then asked him about the elections and if he had any wise words for me. He stated, “My advice has not changed. I still believe in respecting our President and Presidential candidates and their families. I genuinely desire our elected officials to succeed, even if I didn’t vote for them, because that is what is best for our family and country. I will also continue to encourage you and others to never miss an opportunity to vote.” Yes.

I have nothing to add. My dad said it all.

Today I will vote. And despite the outcome, President Obama or Governor Romney, you have my full support. Our country needs you to succeed.

So get out and vote and then have a terrific day!

Blessings sweet friends,

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.

Lesson Learned Parenting Edition: Encourage your child’s unique design

Jeff and I are blessed to have 4 healthy, energetic children. We realize more than ever though how different and unique our children are from one another.

We are imperfect parents but we have been complimented for having fun, well adjusted kids. We are more than willing to offer some tips of things that we have learned along the way. I hope you can take something productive from this lesson.

Encourage your child’s unique design.

Rebecca (13) is a loyal, strong leader. And she is hilarious.

Rebecca consistently bugs us at 9:30 at night when the other kids are asleep. She tries to get us to laugh. At first, Jeff and I would dismiss her and tell her to go to bed. We were exhausted at that time. Later we were convicted that this was her really reaching out to us when she didn’t have anyone else to compete with.

Jeff and I have made a concerted effort to laugh and joke with her and now often we find her climbing in our bed, laughing, and then telling us what is going on in her 13 year old life. What a blessing this time is now for us as parents. We realize how much we would be missing out if we had stuck to our original plan to ensure all the kids were in bed at the same time.

Sometimes parenting books are merely guidelines, and you need to do what fits your family and child best.

Midweek Reboot

I discovered the term to describe the last 2 weeks of my life. Midlife malaise. I’m not in a crisis, but I’ve have found myself evaluating and questioning everything. In this past week, a young child in our community has died from cancer, 2 teenagers/young adults have died in horrific car accidents less than a mile from my home, and I don’t have enough fingers to count how many of our friends are going through a divorce.

At the end of the day, instead of just going to bed, I asked Jeff, “Is this really it? Am I just naively optimistic to think there is more to this life than divorce, cancer, and losing a house?” Jeff is not used to this type of thinking with me, and opened up a needed can of optimistic whoop ass on me. “Jenny, you know better. You are alive and we have 4 healthy children.” “I know, I’m just tired. And I’m tired of seeing so many people hurt,” I responded. Before I went to bed I spent sometime looking through my pictures and it was hard not to see the blessings.

I have looked deeply at my reasons for blogging and my life list project. And my conclusion: I have learned more about myself than any one item. I have learned more about what excites me, what inspires me, and what I truly want out of life. And I’ve learned that my intentions for blogging are perhaps one of the few things I’m feeling settled and secure with right now.

Here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned about myself:

Why I Got Cancer

Lots of reflecting going on this week. The past couple of days I’ve been forced to take a break from the activities of checking off items off my list. I’ve had to work 2 -12 hour shifts at the hospital and have spent some time in silence and reflecting. If you know me at all, you know I’m not quiet or still. Both were really good for me.

People ask me all the time why I think I got breast cancer. I had no family history of cancer. I was a size 8 when I got sick. I’ve never smoked a day in my life. And all my genetic testing was negative for the breast/ovarian cancer genes. My only risk factor was an early onset of menses (age 10), despite being a very athletic kid.

So do I really know the reason? No. But I do believe bitterness contributed to my cancer.

I married young. Like 19 years old young. I know… I am cringing, too. Scary to think I was over half way done with college too, when I got married. But nevertheless that was my choice and my vow was sacred. I believed with all my being that I would be married for a lifetime.



Instead of the white picket fence with 2 kids and a dog, I got the bitterness and devastation that came with finding out my husband was interested in living a life with another person. It also just happened to be when I was 7.5 months pregnant with Rebecca. Ugh. I talked a little bit about this here.

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t pretty.

Interesting thing about bitterness. It does nothing positive. It eats a hole in your stomach. It makes you physically sick. It weighs you down. And it does NOTHING to the other person who has hurt or offended you.

Lesson learned – Get out your photos

I have been committed to finishing projects lately. I have had a gazillion unfinished projects. No matter your hobby, I am sure you can relate. I’m determined to finish them, even if the paper and ribbons are out of date, etc. I keep reminding myself that my kids who look through these books could care less where or what year the product came from.




So this weekend I finished the photo board above that I had started when we were just a family of 5. (Yikes! I have a 2 year old.) These were all the rage with the different scrapbook artists a couple of years ago and I still love them. If you go to Ali Edward’s blog or to pinterest, the ideas are endless.

When I finished putting the last 3D foam stickers behind my pictures (trimmed to fit the various widths of my letterpress box), I couldn’t stop from smiling. It had been half finished in a closet, yet now it was complete.

So many memories.

So many happy times.

So many difficult times.

Just like life.

I didn’t want to leave it, but it was Jeff’s 36th birthday on Saturday and I needed to walk away from my project. I was nervous that little fingers would possibly get all over it so I put it up on top of the mantle before I left on our date.

But I came home to this…



Lesson Learned – Public Praise, Private Criticism

I am not a person who prefers to discuss very personal issues. And if I could forget a couple of things from my past I would choose to, but alas that is not how life works. But I learned the lesson of “public praise, private criticism” from my father after a very difficult time in my life and to explain how it had such a profound impact on me, I have to tell some of the backstory. Please know that I am offering up a huge amount of vulnerability and at the same time want to be gracious to all parties involved with the following story. 



Lessons Learned – Champions expect to fail

This is my daughter Emily. Emily is 8 years old and is our #3 of 4 children. Emily is a great kid. She excels at school, loves her friends, and has been swimming about 18 months. Emily swims at Phoenix Swim Club which is a year round swim team. In January, Emily was promoted to the next level, the Rising Stars and in the first week won Swimmer of the Week. At the end of the winter season she was awarded the Coaches Award for her dedication and passion. Emily was so surprised and excited when she got the award and was giddy when Coach Mo told her to make sure to get an extra long shelf because she was sure to be getting more of these.


Lesson Learned: Being the Parent of a Bench Child

Sports are important to me. Sports are important to my husband. They had a profound impact on who both of us are today. Sports afforded me confidence, distraction from tough times in my teenage years, and many friends who are still dear to me 20 years later.

My husband and I have 3 children involved in club sports. One swimmer, one baseball/golf player, and one volleyball player. Our volleyball player is our oldest daughter, Rebecca. She was/is a “late bloomer” when it comes to sports. She didn’t really want to play sports until two years ago so Jeff and I were ecstatic to support her in her interest in volleyball. We signed her up for a club team shortly after she played in the local recreation league. At the club volleyball level, the talent is impressive. And the girls are tall. Very tall.


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