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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

Home Is Where My Family Is

Jan 19, 2014 Author: Jessy | Filed under: Short Stories

From the day I was brought home from the hospital, I have lived in the same house.  I lived at home and commuted when I was in college.  My husband and I purchased my childhood home from my mom when she moved on.   That was the only house I had ever known.

I may have changed bedrooms, I started in the small bedroom, bunked with my siblings in the bigger bedroom, moved to the downstairs bedroom when I was a teenager and needed my space, moved into the master bedroom and felt like I was breaking the rules.   We celebrated our birthdays and holidays with relatives now long passed away.

My parents planted trees for each of their three kids.  The now big Ash tree was planted for my sister that provides the perfect shade for the deck.  A Sunburst Locust was planted for me and a Charlie brown looking, white pine, grown from a seed, was planted for my brother.

The house was perfect for the two of us.  We had two extra rooms for an office and a spare bedroom. We had plenty of closet space and lots of room to spare. Then we brought home our first family member, we added a fence for our beautiful Golden Retriever Kodi who lived his whole life in that house from the time he was brought home as an 8 week old puppy to when he unexpectedly passed away in my husbands arms in the living room from cancer.

We brought home our own children from the hospital to that home.  I turned the small bedroom from an office into a beautiful unisex nursery, where I laid my first baby in the crib.  When our second baby was born, our green striped spare bedroom was changed it into an under the sea, Nemo bed room for our little swimmer.  The master bedroom changed from a sterile white, to a bright yellow room, into a serene gray.

We gutted and refinished the kitchen and lived without a stove for months, gutted and rebuilt the basement with our own blood, sweat and tears, remodeled every room of the house and replaced each light fixture until it was comfortable and modern.  We landscaped the yard with beautiful perennials that transformed the yard with color throughout the summer.

Our house was where my neighbors were.  The two old couples who were still the original owners and have known me my entire life.  Our new neighbors and their children who could walk out their front door and instantly have a few other kids to play a game of tag, or ride bikes with.

This was the house where my children received their first skinned knees and foreheads, learned how to ride bikes and learned how to pump on the swings in the backyard.

We had outgrown our house.  It no longer fit our kids toys, our two crazy rescue dogs, and it no longer had room to fit the stuff we have accumulated over the years. One night while searching the internet we found a house that was interesting enough to look at.  We drove out to the house, and both agreed we wanted to see inside.  We scheduled a showing with a realtor the next morning.  We walked in and felt comfortable.  It was a home that had already been remodeled perfectly for our family and felt like our family.  We got financing the next day and the house was ours to pay for four days after we first time we laid eyes on it.

Two crazy whirlwind, exhausting months later, I have officially broke down the last moving box and found a home for most of the stuff we had strategically squished in our old home.

This morning I look around and think, this is my new home.  This is where my children will explore in the woods, ice skate on the pond, bring friends over for play dates and sleep overs.  Where we will watch our two crazy rescue dogs get old and we will make new memories as a family.

My goal for this summer is to buy two new trees, for my own children.  I will plant them in the yard so that someday when they are grown and have their own home, they can bring their own children by and say, do you see that tree in the backyard?  That is my tree!


The Handmade Gift

Jan 11, 2013 Author: Jessy | Filed under: Short Stories

My son brought home a present he made at four year preschool on the day before winter break,  and he was very excited to give it to me.   It was wrapped in a white paper lunch bag, stapled shut at the top, decorated with drawings on the bag, his name, and “Mom” carefully written on the top.

He carefully placed it under the tree and every day he checked to make sure it was not moved and that nobody peeked inside.  He asked me every day leading up to Christmas if I wanted to open it yet?  I told him that it was really special to me, so that I wanted to save it and open it on Christmas day.

One more time on Christmas Eve he checked his present was okay before he went to bed.

When his sister woke him (and me) up at 6:55 a.m on Christmas morning to go see what Santa brought, she took off at a run downstairs, he took off after her but suddenly he stopped,  picked up his present for me, and started to run downstairs with it.

As he was running he slipped in his pajama feet and it he fell.  The present crashed with a loud thunk and a rattle sound as it hit the ground.  He looked up at me with tears in his eyes, “It is glass mom, I think I broke it!”  I said “It is okay buddy, even if it is broken, I will still love it.”  I carried it the rest of the way downstairs and set it down on the table next to where I was sitting to watch them open up their hoard of presents.

He made it through unpacking his stocking and opening one more present before he looked at me and said “Mom, why didn’t you open your present yet?”  I said, “Okay buddy, I will open it now.”

He was perfectly content to stop opening his own presents to stop and watch me.  I opened it up, I pulled it out, and he saw that it was not broken he sighed in relief.  His gift was a baby food jar decorated in tissue paper squares, that were painted on with glue,  and a small tealight candle sat inside to create a candle holder.

I told him I loved it, and thought it was beautiful and asked him how he made it, he told me he did it all by himself but the teachers cut the pieces of paper for him to put on.  Then he said, “Can you light it?” I went and found a lighter and lit it.  He stood and looked at it a full minute before he was content to go back to opening his own presents.

The most important present for my son this Christmas was not the plasma car,  not the General E. Lee, it was this handmade gift that he created with pride and love for me.   It sits in a special place on the center of our kitchen table.


Nobody said parenting was easy and my daughter is certainly no exception!  I was a full time working mom up until my daughter was 3 years 2 months old and my son was 8 months old, I think I balanced working full time, with being a good mom and never envisioned that I would ever be a stay at home mom. Here is the story about why I had to quit my full time job.

My sister was my daughters daycare, she got to go on outings, be in a loving home where her aunt took care of her and she played with her cousin every day.  My sister was going to have another baby and no longer wanted to watch my daughter so I had to find another daycare for my daughter.  I did months of research, did pop in and scheduled visits to my top 12 daycares and finally found one that would be the best fit for my daughter.  It was not the least expensive daycare in fact it was about 250 dollars more than I was spending on my infant son’s daycare. I liked the center, I liked that they had outside playtime, and an indoor muscle room for the kids to get exercise each day.  I liked the staff, the location, the access to seeing natural sunlight instead of being stuck in a basement.  I thought it was the perfect place!

I planned the transition based upon other peoples positive transition experiences into starting new daycares.  We visited together twice, she did an art project while I sat in the corner, she played well and interacted well with the group. I was paying for these transition days of course.  The week before I started back to school, I put her in the daycare for only four hours and came back fast to pick her up.  When I got there to pick her up she was sitting by the door and ran into my arms and said, I never thought you would come back for me mom!  I told her I would always come back. Then the next Monday it was time to go back to work so she was going to start her first full day of daycare.

My husband brought my daughter out to breakfast at McDonalds before he was going to drop her off at her new daycare.   She ate her pancakes, drank her chocolate milk and was happy as usual.  As soon as my husband told her that they were going to daycare now, she projectile vomited all over McDonalds.   My husband is a sympathetic puker so he appoligized to the person behind the counter and quickly left the restuarant with her.  He quickly called me and I had to leave my first day back at work and  come home to spend with my daughter.  I wondered if it was a reaction to her dad dropping her off or if she really had a bug so I decided that the next day, I would be late for work and drop her off at daycare.  On the way there I tried to distract her with where we were going, as soon as her feet hit the parking lot, she vomited again.  I had to call in sick again.  This is when I started really noticing the change in her personality.   She constantly cried and would not let me go, it was actually ruining her happy, bubbly personality and turning her into a worried and sad child.  Besides the fact that I was afraid what kind of damage this transition was causing her, you cant bring a kid to daycare when they puke.

After day 3 of her throwing up and me crying myself to sleep at night because my daughter was so sad, I decided I had to quit my job.  My daughter’s happiness was worth more than the measly few dollars I made after I paid for daycare.  I loved my job and thought I could hang in there in order to keep that awesome job when my daughter went to Kindergarten and the daycare cost verses job earning cost flipped in our favor. My husband and I talked about it and we decided the best thing to do was for me to quit working. I walked in with my letter of resignation and handed it to my boss, he tried to change my mind, have me take sick days until the transition worked but I did not feel that the situation would resolve itself quickly enough to work.  I walked into her daycare and told them that I was quitting my job and they thankfully did not charge me the next two weeks of child care fees since I was not earning any money.

I realized that I am now a stay at home mom and my daughters personality was finally turning back into her typically bubbly self but any mention of me leaving her and she would break down.  I decided that I needed to figure out a way to retrain my daughter who used to have no problems leaving me how to stop clinging to me again.  I decided to sign up for an ECFE seperating class and enroll her brother into the sibling care option so I could focus on my daughter. The first day of class I told the teachers that I was not going to leave, the second class day I  was able to leave the room for 30 minutes but she cried uncontrolably the whole time, I was a wreck, the whole time I was away in the parent classroom, the only good thing was I was able to share with the above story with the parent group so they knew why my daughter was screaming in the next room.

The 3rd week she did not want to go back to class, she sobbed and cried and clung to me as we entered the building.  I was going to try to regain her trust and not leave her to help with the sepration.  By the time we entered the classroom she was so worked up, she projectile vomited all over the floor right next to all of the parents and children and the parent educators.  As soon as she is done throwing up, she looks up at me and says, “Now we get to go home  right mom?”  I replied Yes now we have to.  I made her stand right outside of the vomit and told her to be quiet. I was frustrated and I was embarrassed.  All of the parents were looking at me like what is wrong with this lady that brings this crying, sick three year old to ECFE?  I was quickly cleaning up the puke that was all over the floor, the garbage can, my shoes and her shoes.    I cleaned up her vomit and appoligized profusely to the parents who hopefully remembered my story from the week before. I frustratingly packed up her stuff picked up her brother from the child care room and walked out with my head down.  It continued this way for the next 4 weeks, crying nervous, begging me not to leave, until one day she looked at me and said you can go now mom.  What?  Really?  I can go? I can hang out with the other parents?

Oh the joy, my daughter trusted these ECFE teachers enough to let me go!  She gradually warmed up and her bubbly, outgoing, happy personality started coming back.  By the second session she was almost the same little girl that I had before I tried to put her into a new daycare.  It was a long, very trying road. I had never heard of anyone who could get so nervous that they could vomit.  It was amazing to me that a 3 year old could have that strong of a nervous reaction to anything!   I am so grateful that she is outgoing and not scarred for life from that experience.  By the time she was 4 years old she had absolutely no problem with transitions, she walked into her first day of preschool with no tears, excited as can be to go make new friends.  Now that she is 5 she is even more outgoing, loves to be away from me. She is so confident that her teacher told me the other day that she stood in front of the whole school of 800 kids and recited a poem on the microphone.

Life is all about choices and appropriate responses to situations that pop up.  I am grateful for my choice to quit my job and stay home with my children. I believe that my choice has helped shape my daughter into the outgoing, friendly, happy, confident child that she is today.    The best part she no longer vomits when nervous!  Whew!

What Happened to Parties?

Oct 12, 2010 Author: Jessy | Filed under: Short Stories, Think About It

You walk out to get the mail and a cute postcard shows up! It is an invitation from a friend of yours inviting you to come to her house for a party! No, not a birthday party or a party for the sake of having a party, it is a party for a product, jewelery, candles, spices, wine, Tupperware, makeup, cleaning supplies, stickers, books, shaky things, you name it there is a “party” for it. But is it really a party? No, it is a closed door sales opportunity for the person, (insert the key word here) Beauty, Candle, Culinary, Health, Paper “Consultant” who makes a commission on that product. Don’t even get me started on the loose usage of the term consultant.

It is a tough situation when you get one of these invites, you want to be around your friends, you don’t want to be the one who doesn’t show up in case something fun happens after the pitch is over and the checks are written, you don’t want to be the only person not in the pics posted on Facebook, you certainly don’t need any $30 cleaner, $200 costume jewelry, or to spend $20 dollars on a three dollar 3M cleaning microfiber cloth, but your friend invited you into their home, they shampooed their carpets, they gave you some great wine and some cocktail wienies so you feel like you need to buy something to make up for the cost of your attendance to their party. Why buy something? Because then they will get a percentage of the sales at their party to get free product from whatever wares the sales consultant is hawking that day.

Now after the drink in you has loosened your inhibitions and helped you to loosen your purse strings, you go up to write the check that you feel guilty to write, as a thank you to your friend who shared her hospitality with you and fed you, and gave you that drink. You scribble the total on line one, plus shipping and handling, and you get the face to face pressure from the sales consultant, “Do you want any information to be a consultant?” Um, no. “Do you want to help your friend, the hostess, out by booking your own party?” (so I can leech on your friends?) Um, no.

I was at a home party where the sales lady was visibly angry at me for not buying anything, her true nature came out when I handed her back the blank order form. I have been at home parties where the sales lady yelled at our group of friends at the “party” for not being quiet enough to listen to her pitch. Is that how a party is supposed to feel?

There are positive things about being a home based business sales person.. It gives opportunities to many women to be their own boss, set their own hours, be able to afford to stay home with their children in the daytime. It also allows women to be part of something they feel passionate about, I think people with extra funds should certainly help support these businesses.

Sometimes the product the sales person is pushing on you is something you do not need. Something that if you really want, you can get way cheaper at Target or online without paying the percentage to your hostess, the percentage to your sales consultant, the percentage to the person who hired your sales consultant, and the percentage to their area manager, and then the profit margin to the corporate headquarters. That is a lot of percentages to a lot of people in that company pyramid. Is that pyramid any different than a big corporation who sells me products from the store? Not much, but the bottom line is usually less painful to my bottom line.

Show me a more high pressure sales situation that you encounter buying everyday things. When I walk around the grocery store on free sample day, I don’t have to buy one of the special products unless I want to! There is no consultant at Cub, Target, Macy’s that is sitting in front of the deli counter, the checkout lane or by the front door expecting you to help them make their monthly quota, no friend who you feel obligated to help to make this party worth their while by helping them to complete their collection of furry handcuffs.

I have wonderful friends who will come out and say don’t feel like you have to buy anything I just want you to come to hang out, so I am grateful. If you don’t have a friend who tells you they don’t expect you to buy something and means it, then don’t feel that you are expected to go to their parties. I know I am not the only person in the world who feels this way. I am not saying I wont go to a home party anymore but I have decided I have no desire to be a hostess to put this unspoken pressure on my friends, I also needed to come to grips with my own feelings about home parties.

Why can’t we just have real parties with no reason, no sales consultant there to pressure you into buying goods that she is so jazzed up about her cheeks are going to hurt from smiling tomorrow? Why can’t we get together and just sit around, play a game, try out the appetizers that we all brought? I like those kind of parties best.

Buying Half a Cow

Sep 20, 2010 Author: Jessy | Filed under: Food, Health & Safety, Product Reviews, Short Stories

I have always been a regular grocery store shopper buying my ground beef in bulk and using my vacuum sealer to save money. After watching the news about tainted beef, having to check lot numbers and worrying about the beef I already fed my family, then watching Food Inc. my priorities have changed. If you do not know the dangers of E. Coli Bacteria or have not watched Food Inc. you can find it on Youtube.com. Food Inc. opens your eyes and makes you think about the food you feed your family.

Besides having my own garden each summer, I think it is important to buy locally where possible in order to support local businesses. We live in The south side of the Twin Cities and there are many farms and ranches and farmers markets that make it possible to buy locally. I decided to try to buy a half a cow for my families beef. The search started to find a local, organic, free range cow to buy. The research started around April every local, online ranch being on average $5-8 dollars per pound of beef for certified organic beef. Most were already sold out for the season and they were already taking reservations and deposits for the 2011 season. I remembered that a woman I graduated with from high school and reconnected with on Facebook, mentioned the previous year that she sold cows from her farm, so I contacted her and asked for details.

My High School friends Ranch is located in Afton Minnesota, about 30 minutes south of my house. She had photos of her happy, healthy, young cows on her Facebook page. The cows had plenty of room to roam in grass, they were grass fed on no pesticide grasses, and were hormone free. These are the main important points of why I wanted to buy organic, but her cows also did not have the added cost of the organic certification process. She also had cows available to buy this year!

I put in my order for a 1/2 a cow, we have a big freezer in the basement and I agreed to split 1/4 of the cow with 3 other friends. The average for 1/4 of a cow is $400 and 1/2 a cow is $800 depending on weight.

She messaged me and said that they were bringing the cows in and to expect a call directly from the butcher shop in about 10-14 days. The butcher shop called me 12 days later and I gave them cutting instructions, how I wanted it packaged, (1 lb ground beef packs, 3/4 inch steaks, 2 steaks per package mostly boneless roasts averaging 2-3 lbs per roast.) I explained that I had never done this before to the woman on the phone and she was patient with me describing all of the options and what was common.

They butcher shop called me the next morning and told me I could to come pick my beef up. It was packaged in four large boxes two boxes with ground beef and two boxes with steaks and roasts and already frozen.

It was aged/hung for 10 days for flavor after slaughter.
1/2 of cow this cows dressed weight was 302 lbs
The price of the 1/2 cow including processing was $740.00
The price per pound dressed weight was $2.45
The weight of the beef processed and packaged was 219 lbs
The price per pound of processed and packaged was $3.37

I got about 120 lbs of steaks and roasts and 100 lbs of ground beef. Each package of butcher freezer papered meat is clearly labeled with my name to make sure I am getting my cow and the type and quantity of cut. You may be able to get your choice of cuts less expensive if you get every sale at the grocery store but you have no idea where your meat is coming from. I did not think that $3.37 per pound was too bad considering what you get when you average the cost per cut.

I ended up keeping a full 1/4 of cow split every other cut plus an additional 1/8 (after splitting 1/4 of the cow with 3 friends) of this cow for my family. I believe I kept 3/8 of a cow.

Here is the breakdown of my cuts.

-3 packages of soup bones
-3 packages of stew meat
-3 rump roasts
-1 sirloin tip roast
-1 beef arm roast
-4 beef chuck roasts
-2 beef porterhouse steaks
-9 T-bone steaks
-7 ribeye steaks
-11 sirloin steaks
-6 beef top round steaks
-55 packages of 95% lean ground beef

I had no idea what to expect since this was my first half of cow purchased, so I wanted to share my experience with others. I am truly pleased with my purchase, the hardest part was cutting a check for $740 bucks.

The aged beef is very meaty tasting, it tastes like eating a steakhouse steak each time we eat it. The beef adds much more flavor to your food than quickly processed grocery store beef. When you brown the ground beef there is no need to drain the fat, it is about 95% lean ground beef and there is no lack of flavor with the reduced fat. If you could buy 95% lean ground beef what would that cost per pound? The steaks are marbled and fabulous. I have made two roasts and they are flavorful without the 2 inch coating of fat at the top of my slow cooker.

Consider buying a local side of beef, know where your meat comes from, and taste the difference!

Here is the contact information where I purchased my beef: www.majesticpinesfarm.com
Here is the butcher shop who processed the meat:

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