January 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
It’s been one exciting year in the lives of our little O’Brien family. We’ve had so much go on that we’ve just attempted to take it one day at a time. Our perspectives have had tons of beautiful revamping and we’re ready for 2012–filled with new, satisfying beginnings.
As a family, we’ve grown together and learned to rely on one another’s consistency, even when everything else has seemed uncertain. We’ve had quite a few financial struggles with carpentry and acting work being sparse, yet rather than give up and give in, we’ve had the support of good friends and pushed through these tough times. We’ve cut our budget insurmountably and made it through. It feels like after over four years of being together, we’ve got a good foundation and can move on to other goals as a family that are important to us including spiritual, physical, and dream-job-related.
Trever has continued to be the responsible, focused, and loving husband and papa that he is. In March he tried his hand at DJ and Emcee school, but decided it wasn’t going to be all that he hoped for, even though he was phenomenal at it. On April 20, he stopped drinking and has been sober ever since. It’s really been a great change for us as a family. Trev has worked for numerous companies and clients, doing carpentry work. He’s gained more knowledge–and tools–this year and he never ceases to amaze me with his gift to work with his hands. Woo woo! Nothing seems too impossible for him and he tackles any project–from his least favorite dry wall to installing stairs to fine finish work. He has worked for a building company, a general contractor and good family friend in Laguna Beach, and a myriad of friend clients all over. With an ability to do practically anything, he’s helped more people than I can count and I admire him for that.
Audrey has grown just as much as a person. She’s gone from a little shoo shoo to a big girl, turning two on January 2nd. She loves to build things and knock them down, read books, talk on the phone, and go on walks whilst pushing her baby in a stroller. In May, she even began using the potty and has been ever since. Audrey is unsurprisingly quite the ham, enjoying every minute of having her photo or video taken. She has made numerous good friends throughout this year that have provided her with consistency even with the changes that have occurred within our family. As she learns more sentences and puts things together, we’re looking forward to communicating with her more and more. We know she’ll make a great big sister!
I have had a great year being a wife and mom. I can’t remember what I was doing prior to 2011. My days are filled with playing with Audrey, going on walks, grocery shopping, doing chores around the house, visiting the Farmer’s Market, and–beginning in late April–making a baby. As menial as it may sound to some, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve also poured hundreds of hours into posts on my blog, jennylvoe.com…one of my favorite pastimes. Through it, I’ve had the opportunity to help other friends, new and old, with creative entrepreneurship, personal development, and community building both through writings and one-on-one via consulting. And with the impending arrival of our second babe, I can’t wait for all that 2012 has to offer.
As mentioned previously, Trever and I are thrilled to get our ducks in a row and are looking forward to exploring our spirituality more this year, getting my tummy and his heart checked out so we can feel better physically, and start our own business–hopefully a reclaimed furniture company–by mid-year.
Hope your 2011 was as eventful as ours. Here’s to a fabulous 2012, filled with growth, love, and peace.
If you would like any carpentry work completed, creative/business consulting, or just some good company…let us know! We’re looking forward to doing more with those we love and that means you!
June 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
As I laid my head to rest last night, I was more than ready for a long sleep. I dreamt movie after movie, complete with full technicolor and soundtrack. The one that stuck out the most was when I was with Audrey. My blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty and I were looking for her Papa. I was waddling behind her, hugely pregnant and grossly unaware of who I was looking for.
I had images of what her father would like; blond, handsome, energetic. Yet for whatever reason I couldn’t remember his exact face. My dream persona stopped and began remembering past boyfriends. I was flipping through their images like an old school business card wheel. As Audrey and I continued our search, we found the young man that I had dated prior to Trever.
He had the right color eyes. But something was amiss. Even though he was sitting right in front of me, I knew I hadn’t found him yet. It wasn’t his face or his voice, it was the feeling that I got when I was around him.
“It could be him,” I told myself. “It’s close, but something isn’t quite right.”
And then it hit me: the feeling was wrong.
The feeling that I get when I’m around Trever is one that lingers long after he’s no longer in my presence. It drifts poignantly throughout my subconscious so that I easily can describe him, create him, and love him in my dreams. The feeling is of unconditional adoration and love. Both for him and exuding from his real and dream presence.
After I stopped looking for his face, my daughter and I began to search for his feeling. “He created this baby inside of me with pure and utter joy. He’s the father of my daughter because he desires to love her as an extension of that love.”
The pitter patter of little feet awoken me out of my reverie. I turned to see my beauty starring down at me, waiting to be loved and snuggled. It could not be a more welcoming sound to hear than any other. She clambered into bed next to me, scooting in as close to my warmth as possible. That’s my five a.m. wake up. And it’s beautiful. I smiled as I pulled her in closely and looked over at my other sweet,
“That’s her father. And he loves us very much.”
June 1, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In the past couple years I’ve continued to write music. Albeit most of the recording has been on the voice memo’s on my phone. The other day, Audrey and I were recording our singing–Audrey loves to sing too–and we started listening to old stuff from the past year or so.
Me singing a song to Audrey at one month. Audrey singing back.
Again at three months.
She’s always been my little singer. And I love to hear her voice.
What was crazy about the music and lyrics was that my soul remembered. Songs that I had only sung that one time when I improv’ed for Audrey, they are stuck deeply in my heart. Imbedded.
I began to sing along as if it were nothing, as if I hear it all the time, only to be reminded by the cooing on the other end that this was from over year a ago.
I can’t even begin to fathom how the mind does that. How it wraps itself around an idea so profoundly that it holds onto it and stores it properly for later down the road.
Those are the songs that I feel the most pulled to write down, put real notes to on paper so I can stare at them for years to come. Those are the moments that I long to hold onto. For later down the road. The music of the soul.
March 2, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Before Audrey Taylor (now 14 months and counting) was even a twinkle in our eye, we knew we wanted to have two or three children. The thought of having one sounded too lonely (coming from a family of two and three, respectively, will do that to you) and that having too large of a spacing wasn’t an option. This was just the beginning of our having-kids perspective and the day Audrey was born after a 15 hour at-home labor–even though I was battling with the shock that I thought she was Jack Barron–I cried, “Let’s do that again! I want another one!”
Audrey has now been eating solids for eight months, walking for six months, and talking for four months. She’s been an independent toddler since the moment she started walking, feeding herself, saying “yes” or “no”, and communicating her wants and needs. Some days, she’ll only eat two or three times at the breast. Yet I can tell she still enjoys it.
In January, my husband Trever and I began discussing our family planning. I used one of those websites that projected my ovulation cycles after I had my first monthly friend since March 2009. The dates were the same as when we tried to conceive Audrey! We were so excited about the prospect that we tried that first month.
February was pretty tough for us as a family. Trever and I got stomach flu at the beginning of the month. Audrey began teething for the first time with actual teeth breaking through. Trever worked in the cold doing stucco for a friend one weekend and got sick for a couple weeks. And I got a stuffy nose and sire throat at the very end of the month.
All of these factors resulted in one thing: More breastfeeding! Audrey has always had that sixth sense when we’re sick and ups her breast-milk intake. Luckily, she’s never been sick in her life because of it. Moreover her teething has been so painful that she’s decreased her desire to chew solid foods and turned to me for those extra calories.
My monthly date came and went and through it, I took three pregnancy tests. All to my disappointment ringing negative. Then I took a mental note of our “tough” month and realized the increase in breastfeeding also increased my level of prolactin and told my body not to ovulate accordingly. Darn smart body. Phooey!
Here I am, laying in bed with a cold, disappointed. I did my Le Leche League research online and found my presumptions to be all too true. I had been on the right track with my decreased daytime feedings (only every four hours or so) and halting of the nighttime feeding altogether. As I overhear Snow White playing in the living room through our thin wall and receive a little text message support from my friend and fellow mom, Amy, I’m reminded: it won’t be long until number two is on the way. I’m satisfied to know that I’ve done what I can to make Audrey’s life better. Because, for her, breastfeeding is bestfeeding this month. Even if it means she has to wait a little longer for a sister or a brother.
February 5, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Life has a way of reminding you just how primal and simple you are. And it’s not very often that you can see this contrite slap in the face as a good thing. On Friday night it was just my lucky night. All the stars were aligned for such a time as this and the planets were in order.
It all started with a beautiful day down in Costa Mesa, my previous home city. I set up a sweet deal with my tattoo artist: ink for kid sitting. I’ll take it. Best deal I ever made. So I drove down the hill around ten am, taking my leisurely time in I-5 traffic. I’d brought our snacks and drinks and good tunes (the Unreleased Noise Ratchet album and cello rock by Oak & Gorski) and fun things to do when we got there.
I arrived after a quick and unsuccessful stop at Seed People’s Market. I love that store. They just didn’t have what I needed. Oh well. The day began with me making some tea for the girls (they’re 1/2 British like me) and putting together a tasty lunch. From there, we spent the afternoon enjoying the outdoors, the ladies road their bikes while I trotted behind pushing Audrey. We climbed trees at the park, played tag, searched for pine cones, pretending the very fat and short wall near the playground was a tight rope…all good fun.
As the sun began setting, we travelled home in the cool dusk air. After parking the bikes and saying hello to the dogs, I started dinner: spaghetti bolagnese, vegan style. Mom came home and we shared a fun meal, complete with Frank Sinatra on Pandora and an amazing puppet show. When nine o’clock rolled around, I dressed Audrey in her feety pajamas, loaded all our gear back in the car, and began the trek home in the Friday night traffic.
As I drove up the 405, Audrey started to fuss, throwing out her paci and performing her best nighttime serenade to me. I finally decided to pull off the freeway and into a Chevron gas station to search for the missing pacifier. As I parked, I realized how much I had to urinate! More than I can ever remember even when I was pregnant. I ran inside noting the three poorly hand-written signs before entering the automatic door declaring, “No Water!” “No Coffee!” “No Coke!”
“Uh oh!” I thought and preceded towards the bathrooms. Out Of Order. Figures. Being on the verge of pissing my pants, I ran to the attendant baby on hip and said,
“Where’s the nearest bathroom? I’m going to pee my pants!”
She looked at me, oggled and cooed at Audrey and replied with a point of her index finger across the street, “At McDonalds, of course!”
“I’ll never make it!” I thought, but said, “thank you,” and turned on my heal and ran. I tossed Audrey in the car, hopped into the backseat beside her and did a quick brainstorm session then and there: DIAPERS! I reached into the diaper bag and grabbed an emergency disposable diaper that I’d brought with me for the day. Only two left. Only TWO left. I hope one is enough.
So I squatted on the bag seat and relieved myself. Sigh. A sigh of relief. Oh crap! I had filled the diaper. I stopped the flow. Yay for Kegel muscles. And reached in the front seat to grab the last diaper I had in the whole car. Relief. But it’s almost full! Oops. Too late. I filled the diaper and then some. I got a bit on my pink undies and blue jeggings. Oh well.
Audrey climbed out of her seat, got onto my lap, and lifted my shirt up. She ate until her heart was content and she had fallen asleep whilst I sat on my wet bum. I placed her back in her carseat gingerly and buckled her in. Too embarrassed to get out of my car, lest someone spot the spot on my bum, I crawled through to the drivers seat and drove away. Spending the remaining thirty miles wet and sitting atop my windshield shade as to not stink up my seats any more than they already are.
Lesson learned. Heck, I peed right before I left like mama always said. It musta been that water running straight through me. No regrets though, no regrets. I did actually call my mom after it happened. She laughed and laughed and said, “That was a quick-thinking logical reaction, I’m so glad you had Audrey and therefore diapers in your car or you really would’ve peed your pants good.”
She’s right. The gods were on my side that night. But let’s hope I won’t need the extra 7 diapers I’ll now be keeping in the car. At least for a while.
January 11, 2011 § 1 Comment
Sigh. Being a mom. Probably the best feeling I’ve ever had in my whole life. Wait. It IS the best feeling I’ve ever had in my whole life. It’s legendary. It fills me up inside and overflows me. I see Audrey’s joy and love of life and *sigh* melt.
My Aunt Marie once (or twice) told me that she and my Uncle Dave agree, the best days they ever had were the days that they had their two beautiful children. I didn’t get that before I was married. And after I experienced my wedding day I thought, “How could anything be more beautiful than this? It must be pretty awesome for them to say that. Because I was at their wedding. It was amazing. And they seemed really happy (from my eight-year-old perspective)!” So here I am happily married, enjoying life with the man of my dreams and bam! We think we’re pregnant. I wasn’t. We watched Benjamin Button the night we found out and cried together (note to self, Benjamin Button is a sad sad movie when you want to be pregnant). For the next month, we “tried” as they say. And a bean was created.
I had no idea what that meant. What that entailed. All I new was that Trever needed to find out by the purchase of a small pair of shoes and socks. When I told him that evening, he got teary eyed. All pink in the face. And adorable. I love that face. Together we embarked on a journey of uncertainty without any regards to where we were going; where it would lead us would make us better, fuller human beings.
Mind you the day I caught on to this treasure inside of me, I was only nine days and counting. It started as an inkling and that’s all I needed. That inkling was right. It was a very long ten months to say the least. I had so much time to prepare. So much time to read books. Watch DVDs on childbirth. Talk to other moms, dads, midwives, doctors (ND’s), friends and family. Everyone and their mother. Really really.
I created this idea in my mind of what it was going to be like. What it was going to feel like to be a mom. How I would act. How I would speak to my little one. How I would respond to difficult situations. How I would discipline. The ways in which I would love. I knew that all the prepping, creating, and planning wouldn’t be what it would really be and feel like in real life, but I knew I had to start somewhere. I had to begin to see myself as a mother, loving another being as I love myself and infinitely more.
It was a few years ago (6! Eek!) that I chose a journey that would lead me the furthest place from myself. I surrounded myself with what I was not like and found out what I did not like about myself. About others. About the world. This enabled me to slim down my likes and dislikes, albeit the latter was a much longer list.
When I began dating Trever in the summer of 2007, he sweetly and simply pointed it out: You sure do know what you do like, but you really know what you don’t like. Well put. And too true. He had me, in that moment in time, figured out down to a t. It took me a year or two to start collecting and recording the likes until it over-through the dislikes. Yet I notice I still use my process-of-elimination technique in many deductive cases. Parenting has been no different.
I knew what I didn’t like from what I had learned before Audrey arrived.
• I didn’t like hospitals. They were too cold. The doctors and nurses were too annoying. I didn’t want to wear a blue gown like I was sick. I didn’t want to be told what to do. I didn’t want to be attached to anything sticking in my arm or stuck to my stomach. It was important that I was completely, 100% present. Present for my baby. Present to push. Present when she arrived. I knew I didn’t want to get in a car during labor. I knew I wanted to be at home, in my warm, toasty room with people that I knew and has chosen, hand-picked to be there. And I knew no matter how great the pain was that I would not one intsy bit want to get into a car. I knew I would not want Audrey to be taken away from me when she came out. I knew therefore that I wanted to have her at home.
• I knew that when she arrived I would have instinctual, automatic feelings if I really listened. I had this idea that being maternal/paternal is engrained in each of one of us. That somehow we know what is best for our child and can find our way even in the wilderness. I knew that I didn’t want other people telling me what to do once she got her (namely doctors). So I did not (and still haven’t) taken her to the doctors for monthly check ups and vaccinations. I knew that I hated the whole average percentage comparing your child to someone else’s thing, so a pediatrician wasn’t for me. I knew the idea of putting any substance in my baby (especially before the six week mark of brain fusion to the skull and separation to the spinal chord at six weeks) by a needle prick was unnecessary and not required.
• I knew that I have never believed in point-blank listening to someone because they read some study about allergies, feeding, sleeping habits, etc. I knew I had a real live human on my hands that could think for themselves and even communicate to me what they wanted from the get go.
I knew what I didn’t want. Didn’t believe from before Audrey arrived.
When Audrey arrived, I understood my aunt and uncle immediately. Best day ever. Period.
I was able to see her come into the world with my own two eyes. Completely naturally. Beautifully. Happily. And at home in my own bed. In an instant I felt the intensity of love for someone like never before. Enough to kill for her.
Since that fateful day, I have journeyed with her to weed out all of the “I know I don’t likes” and turn them into loves. It’s been amazing to learn how to love and accept myself in this process. Being a mother has caused me to love and accept myself more than I ever thought possible. Enough to want to write this to you and encourage you to be the innate you that is aching to get out. Or maybe you have let it out, allow it to flourish and grow. Being a mother has given me a desire to enjoy what I have and where I’m at. To record even though it’s not perfect. To mother even though I sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing (or I do and yet I get a lot of flack for it and keep doing it anyway).
I live a life that some disagree with. I parent in a way that some may not like. Although they may be concerned, you may be concerned, I have deliberately and willfully chosen the path I am on. If that scares you or intimidates you, I apologize. I do not think it is anything to be afraid of. Call it what you like. Boat rocker and the like. I am only doing what I know how to do: Be me. I may have a strong opinion for what I do in my life. It is for me and me alone. I do not judge or think differently of you if you have chosen a different path (Did you choose it? Or are you just on it because the world told you to be on it and you abided? Perhaps it is your past that keeps you continuously recreating the reality in which you live?). Have you began the life in which you dee yourself living? Or are you distracted by me and others that _________ you?
And that is my hope for you here. That you listen to yourself. You use your technique to figure out what YOU want because only you can be you. I know it sounds simple, but too often we allow other people who think or even tell us they know more/know better dictate what we do. Doctors, lovers, friends, neighbors, even the small voice of our mothers in our heads. They are not you. They will never be you. The only voice, the only mother/father, that really matters is the one inside of you. It knows best.
Thank you, Aunt Marie and Uncle Dave for being an encouragement to me. Your love for your children and your desire to be good parents impresses on my heart to do the same. I’ll never forget January 2, 2010.
December 16, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I’m sitting here writing my blog. Next to my beautiful little girl who’s eleven months and counting. She is beautiful inside and out beyond words. My heart stopped when she entered the world. And I can’t help but look at her in wonder. Sleeping peacefully by my side. She likes to scoot close and put her toes on me. She’s comfortable. And comforting. I value her more than gold. More than the things I treasure most in the world. More than money. My life. My goals. My happiness. I value her because she is Audrey. She is my daughter. And she is alive.
That’s really all she has to do: exist. I want to impart upon her that she does not have to do a single thing to please me. To impress me. To wow me. Or make me like or, especially, love her. I just do. I love her unconditionally. Regardless if she throws my socks in the toilet. Or dumps the dogs water bowl on the floor. Or stays up for fifteen hours straight. I love her for being.
She might not understand this until she is older, but I want her to know that it’s not what she does that makes me love her. It’s simply that she is.
This is a concept that I struggle with on a daily basis. It’s easy to tell myself that my eleven-month-old is valuable because she exists. On the other hand, trying to get myself to see this is more difficult than anything. You see, I value doing. When I begin to feel inferior to people, I think why this is. I often realize when it’s the people that I know, it’s because I feel like they’ve done more than I have. Those around me are amazing! Writers, directors, artists, students, thinkers, actors…beautiful people with so much to offer.
“Who am I?” I think. “What can I offer them that they would need me as a friend. They’ve done so much. And yet I sit here. Mothering.”
Yes. I see the falsehoods. And the loopholes in this statement. I see that it’s not true on any level. I think back on conversations that I’ve had with friends and strangers alike. “You’ve traveled across the country for school, recorded music, sang in choirs, coached gymnastics for over five years, went to 5 colleges, graduated with a business degree, started a record label, signed a band, taught English in Cairo…sheesh! Is there anything you haven’t done by 22?” I’d laugh a flattered laugh. “Not really!” I’d think. But say, “Oh, it’s nothing.” I felt accomplished. I felt valued by what I had done.
In early 2007, I had a let down. I made a decision and, to put it simply, changed my mind. This caused me to fly to and from Australia in a matter of weeks. The sting of this decision left a residue that lingered for years. Something I still struggle to get over. The “what if” life on the other side of the world. I had never made a decision up to that point that I was truly unsure of. Nor had I had the perspective that there is no “right” answer. I still live by that perspective and hold to it dearly. Before I flew there I was very black and white. Right and wrong. During my stay something clicked. I saw multiple perspectives. I chose to leave. Yet it still felt like a let down. To myself. And to a lot of people.
When I returned I did not know what to do. The value I had placed on myself and my life in Perth was gone. Now what would I value my life on? What would I do? I set off to find a nine to five to pay the bills. Since February 13, 2007 I:
Worked for UCSD doing admin stuff (April to July)
Dated Trever O’Brien, a long-time friend (June)
Became engaged to Trever O’Brien (July)
Moved to and searched for jobs in the OC (August to April)
Started doing freelance writing and marketing for lack of a job (August to present)
Married Trever O’Brien (February 24)
Taught piano and voice lessons (April to December)
Worked for an accountant for tax season (March/April)
Became pregnant with Audrey (April)
Moved to San Diego to have Audrey
Birthed Audrey Taylor at home (January 2)
Became a full-time mom with a bit of freelance writing on the side
Started blog (October) in hopes to love on people
Began moving towards my goals again and having another shoo shoo (No, I’m not preggo! But we wouldn’t mind)
So that’s the past four years in a nutshell. It’s crazy to think I’ve done all that when I don’t feel like I’ve done much. I know, I’m silly. Yet when I start to feel inferior, it’s so much deeper than my thoughts. It’s deep inside my mind on a sub-conscious level. It may have even started and become concrete when I was Audrey’s age.
You see, we learn things even before we can talk. We receive our value from our parents and those who care for us. We build neuro-pathways in our minds that tell us to think this way or that without having to do so on a conscious level (life-commandments, hard truths, unconscious beliefs, whatever you’d like to call um). This is a good thing when the belief is good. A horrible thing if the belief has gone awry.
Not seeing the value in oneself can cause a lot of poor decision making, depression, lack of confidence, inferiority issues (I should know), and the like. Yet if you base your value in something that’s incorrect and then fail to meet your standard, the neuro-pathway that you’ve built in your mind will only continue to exist.
So what should you do to break this pattern and start living a life free from it’s bondage? What will happen if you do? You’ll start making crazy amazing decisions for yourself! Watch out! You’ll begin to not care what others think and start doing what you thought you’d never do. You’ll take risks and chances to do what you love just to see what it’d feel like. You’ll base your value on being and leave yourself room to feel what you’ve experienced rather than having other people tell you what they think, feel, believe about what you’ve done and getting your validation from their positive or negative reactions. You’ll start new relationships. Break up with that schlep. See your beliefs from a new perspective. Take that trip you’ve always dreamed of. Ask your boss for a raise and promotion after all your years of hard work. Start that side business you keep thinking about. Look in to making that cool invention you thought of before the economy went kerplop. You’ll live because you see the value in yourself for being.
“What are you doing to see this value, Jenny?” You ask. The path that I’m taking is EFT. It’s like ultra self talk. It’s changing the neuro-pathway in the mind through tapping acupressure points (used by acupuncturists for the same reasons) to bring about the desired pattern of thinking. It’s what a talk-therapist attempts to do via revelation of the self, yet it’s much simpler and, in most cases, faster. I’ve found, after over eight years of talk therapy, that I can get to the root of my problem much more quickly with my coach, Michelle. It’s really hard not to be honest with her and I just believe whole-heartfelt in the truth and power of EFT that it works for me. I long to change. To be a better person. A better mom.
I long and desire to raise Audrey in a way that she feels and knows she is valued. I know this cannot be done unless I believe it myself. Unless I truly know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am valued because I exist. I want her to know that she is receiving gifts on her birthday because she is valuable. Not because she is good or has done something to deserve them. But because she is worth celebrating simply by being.
I first have to see the value in me. The intrinsic value that I carry with me because I was created by a Higher Being. And because I breath, I am worth it. I see the value in me.