Wordless Wednesday: What Happens When You Get Away Without The Kids

Okay…not totally wordless. This past weekend Jason and I escaped, ahem I mean got away, for a weekend with friends – without the kids! It’s the first time in a couple of years we’ve been able to do it, and we had a blast. There were four couples, lots and lots of laughs, gorgeous weather on the river, probably too many cocktails, and staying up way too late.

And this is what it looks like when you get away with your favorite people for the weekend. We are at Topock 66 where we stopped for a cocktail and to cool off.

no-kids

That’s my sister in front taking our picture. I’m in the black cover up drinking a Jager and Monster. Our friend Winter (we’ve known her since we were kids and we refer to her as a sister. I’ve also written about her before; one of my all-time favorite memories is with her!) is behind me drinking a vodka and soda. I guess we’re all hootin’ and hollerin’ because we are so excited to be kid-free. Jason’s back there too drinking a Shock Top beer. Go big or go home, people…though it is now three days later and I still haven’t recovered from the craziness. That kind of fun with good friends is good for the soul.

PS – This is one of my Top 10 Favorite Pictures Of All Time.

PSS – Does anybody still do Wordless Wednesday (or in my case, Semi-Wordless Wednesday?)

Listen To Your Gut: It Always Seems To Be Right

friends-are-family-you-choose

Have you ever gotten that nagging feeling that continues to tell you to reach out to a friend? Do you listen to it? I did last week, and I’m glad I did.

I almost didn’t reach out to my friend because I hadn’t talked to her in months, and thought she was probably thinking I was a bad friend. But hell, I thought, I haven’t talked to some of my family in that long and it doesn’t make them love me any less.

I kept thinking I need to reach out to her, text her, call her, send her a Facebook message. I’m on the computer and phone all the time so I really have no excuse for not doing it. But that nagging feeling – my gut – kept popping into my head throughout the day saying to reach out to her.

Finally on Thursday of last week, I sent her a text. I just told her I was thinking about her and hoped that she was doing good. She responded that she was, and after a few more texts back and forth, she told me she was going through chemo.

And that people, is why you should listen to your gut. It was like I knew something was up and that I needed her to know I was thinking about her. I know that I can’t fix or change her situation, or do anything about it. And to be honest, the last thing she would want is sympathy or for me to act as her fixer.

But when things are really shitty, sometimes just knowing that your friends are thinking of you is more than enough. That’s what connects us to people. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t talked to a friend in a few day, few months, or even a few years. I know I have never been angry to hear from a friend out of the blue just to say hello and that they were thinking of me. That’s what friendship is all about, right?

Sometimes your gut is trying to put things into perspective for you. The most important things in the world are the people you choose to surround yourself with…your family and friends. I love that picture at the beginning of this post because it is so true. Friends do become your family, and I feel like my gut was trying to remind how important my friends are to me…even if I’ve been neglecting the friendships.

So if you have had that feeling, that nagging voice in your head telling you to just reach out to someone and say hello, do it. If you do? Then you will make a friend’s day and catch up with them. The line of communication reopens. But if you don’t, you might end up regretting it.

For All You Love: My Big Fat Crazy Family

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Johnson and Johnson’s “For All You Love” campaign. J&J is also planning to donate $25K this Mother’s Day to Save the Children, and I’m happy to take part in it. 

We just celebrated Mother’s Day, and luckily I was able to celebrate with my sisters and mom – and all of the kids – this past weekend. To say it was not relaxing is a bit of an understatement, but we Allen (my maiden name) women really don’t do “relaxing” well…we are used to chaos and craziness. And while I complain about it a lot, to be honest, I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Don’t get me wrong…I would LOVE nothing more than to give “relaxing” the good old college try; it’s just that I am not sure I’d be any good at it sans craziness.

So where do I get the need to be surrounded by family and craziness from? My mom, I’m sure. It’s her fault that I want to be surrounded by the crazy all the time. To be surrounded by siblings and their kids and extended family and friends and the chaos. And I’m not exaggerating; put me and my four siblings and all of our kids in one room and you’ve got close to 30 people. And that’s not even including all of the extended friends and family that we consider immediate family!

J&JMy mom grew up with 8 brothers and sisters, countless cousins, and when she says “family” she isn’t just referring to her parents and siblings. When she says family, she means extended family, as well as close friends of the family. It’s the same thing I mean when I say family. Family isn’t just the people that live in your house, it’s the people you choose to keep close to you in your life. Some family we are stuck with (in other words, we don’t get to choose ’em), but there are others that we can choose. And while we may not be related by blood, they are certainly not less family in my great-big-extended family’s eyes.

I have 4 siblings. I have friends I’ve known since we were kids (or since my siblings were kids) that are considered family. And now that many of them are married with families of their own, when we say family, we ain’t kidding. A simple family get together can easily consist of 50+ people.

family

This tree full of kids is everything to me. My kids, their cousins, and their friends are all included. And this is their family. And this? Is what life is all about.

I love that my kids are growing up with their cousins that they call their best friends. That they are growing up with the kids of my friends that I’ve known since I was a kid that they call their cousins. To me? There is nothing more important.

And because both of Jason’s parents have passed, I’ve always felt like my kids were going to be getting the short end of the stick by only having one set of grandparents. But that’s not exactly the case. My sister’s in-laws are called “Grandpa Don and Grandma Sharon”…the same thing that my sister’s kids call them.

My brother’s in-laws are also called Papa and Grandma…even though my kids are no way related to them. A friend that my sisters and I grew up with is their Auntie, but not by blood. Recently, I was trying to explain the difference between “real” family and friends we love so much that we just call them family. I told my kids that their “Grandma” Dena wasn’t really their “real” grandma and that “Auntie” Winter wasn’t really their “real” auntie. They were heartbroken. Because to them, they really are grandma and auntie. And as long as grandma and auntie are okay with that, so am I.

So why am I telling you this? Because Johnson & Johnson is doing something amazing in the name of love. J&J’s For All You Love campaign celebrates the importance of putting the needs of others first and all the ways people care for the ones they love. Love is the most powerful thing on the planet.  And to me, FAMILY IS LOVE.

J&J is recognizing their commitment to the health and well-being of moms and kids worldwide for Mother’s Day this year. They are planning to donate $25K this Mother’s Day to Save the Children®: http://www.savethechildren.org. Awesome, right? And I am so glad to help spread the word!

So tell me…what do you consider love? Because it’s different, though not wrong or less important, to every single one of us.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Johnson and Johnson’s “For All You Love” campaign. I received compensation to blog about this, but if you have been reading me for longer than a minute, you know that family is everything to me and I would have written this post for free. On the upside, J&J is also planning to donate $25K this Mother’s Day to Save the Children, and I’m happy to take part in it. Share this post if you are too!

Goodbye My Friend, Forever

A couple of years ago, I wrote a letter to a friend to say goodbye. It was a friendship I held close to my heart and valued dearly. It is a friendship that I still miss and think about almost everyday. Now it’s time to say goodbye to another friend…this one I have to say goodbye to forever because my friend is gone – permanently.

I lost this friend about six months ago after a really bad fall. My friend didn’t recover, and I had to mourn the death of our friendship. I knew I’d never see my friend again, and it hurt.

The friendship originally began back over 10 years ago when I worked at the same company where I met Tonya of Letters for Lucas. I found this new friend and our friendship was instant. At work, at home, sometimes even on vacation, we were together. My friend didn’t care if I liked coffee or tea or whether we were together morning, noon, or in the evenings. Our relationship was easy.

Over the years, we got closer – it was one of the only friendships I still had for all those years. Our friendship lasted through moves, after I got married, and had children. This friend was always there.

And then the fall happened. Now all I have left are memories and a picture.

favorite_mug

I broke my favorite mug one morning as I went to get it out of the cabinet to have some coffee. I’m sure it happened because I wasn’t paying attention and probably yelling at the kids. I still miss that mug!

This post was inspired by a tweet I saw that Fadra from all.things.fadra tweeted earlier this week after breaking her favorite mug. I know her pain.

3 (Pairs) of Bloggers I’d Most Likely Get Kicked Out of a Bar With

Last week over at one of my favorite blogger’s place, Funny or Snot, Poppy wrote a post titled Three Bloggers I’d Most Likely Get Kicked Out of A Bar With. I thought it was a fun one, and a couple of the bloggers she listed would be on my list too. But I couldn’t just pick 3 people…because the people I chose come in pairs.

Pairs? you might ask. Yes pairs. These are bloggers who when you think of one, you think of the other. So my list, like Poppy’s, also includes bloggers I’ve met in person. Bloggers who I talk to via text, email, and/or social media on a regular basis. Bloggers who I would still consider friends even if I never blogged again.

I have never gotten kicked out of a bar, but I can pretty much guarantee that if I ever do, these are the people who would be there with me.

Mad Woman and Lerner

Mad Woman over at A Diary of A Mad Woman and Lerner Farrington (formerly known as Stay At Home Babe) who writes at In The Powder Room. I had the pleasure of meeting these two at BlogHer 2011.

I love them because what you see is what you get…they are raunchy, hilarious, and loves them some alcohol. They are also both in AMAZING shape because they are cross fit mamas. They are real, and I like real.

Carri and Jessica

Carri and Jessica are the masterminds behind One Martini at a Time, and you can also find Jessica at My Time as Mom. If you haven’t checked out One Martini at a Time, go now and subscribe to their blog so you never miss one of their cocktail concoctions. I met these lovely ladies at Blissdom 2012 and actually hung out in a bar with them – that we didn’t get kicked out of – and had dirty martinis.

I wish they lived next door to me. When you first meet them, they are quiet and reserved, but get them comfortable and they definitely come out of their shells. They are the girls you would call after having a crappy day to come over and have a beer with. Or a cocktail. Maybe both. They’re the ones that would make a boring PTA or soccer game fun because they would sneak alcohol in.

Poppy (And Me)

Poppy of Funny or Snot. Okay, that’s just one, I know. But if you include me, that makes two so that’s an even set of three pairs all together. I met Poppy at BlogHer 2011, but have been stalking her since early 2010.

Poppy was one of the first bloggers I trusted and told personal information to. Secrets. In fact, she has a video of me that could be used as blackmail. I wouldn’t consider going on a non-blogger-related weekend or getaway with many people I met over the internet, but Poppy tops my list.

So what do all of these bloggers have in common? Sarcasm. Sense of humor. Not afraid to say what they mean and mean what they say. Raunchiness. They enjoy a cocktail (or six). And I adore them all.

Head over to Poppy’s and read who she’d get kicked out of a bar with, and if you’re so inclined, you can write your own post and link up over at her place!

Now you tell me, if you were going to get kicked out of a bar with 3 bloggers, who would it be?