Monthly Archives: March 2010

American Mutt Takes A Taste From The Melting Pot And Craves More

Peg, at Square Peg in a Round Hole, tagged me for this exercise. It sounded like fun so I decided to play along. It prompts you to tag 5 other people but I’m going to do a broad sweep and encourage all and any of you to play! (I’m all communist that way!) It was perfect for me since I was suffering a bit of blogger’s block. Even if you’re not suffering blogger’s block you can play and then store the post to use later. Perfect for an easy-peasy post sitting in your stockpiles.

Here are the rules:

  1. Go to your first photo file and pick the 10th photo in it.
  2. Tell the story behind the photo.
  3. Tag 5 other people to do likewise (or everyone because you’re an equal-opportunity blogger like me!)

Now, on with the show!

I am a true American mutt. I am Irish, Scottish, German and Polish. Our families immigrated to America between the mid 1800’s and World War II. All were escaping poverty. All were seeking opportunity.

I know very little about my history. All of my grandparents have passed. My parents and aunts and uncles have little interest in our family tree. But my second cousin, who sent me this picture, is very interested. She has been collecting information and searching for new leads. I’ll be interested in what she finds.

The above picture is from a part of my German side. I say part because I have some family that came in early 1900 and some who escaped during WWII. These are my great-great grandparents. Entrepeneurs. Strong work ethic. Amazing role models for my grandfather who became quite successful in business. Once they arrived here to America, they never worried about money again.

My mother brings the Polish side of my family. Fun-loving. Silly. Family oriented. Funny. I remember family gatherings where aunts and uncles would sit around and tell, of all things, Polish jokes – and crack themselves up at the absurdity. My grandfather would enter a contest in the local paper. A cartoon would be shown and contestants were asked to enter a caption. He won so often they limited his winnings to once a month.

One of my favorite stories on my Scottish side was of my great-great-grandfather. When asked the spelling of his name at Ellis Island he switched it to the Irish spelling because he was angry at the Scottish government. I loved that story and likened my rebellious spirit and political activism to his. Alas, that story was merely a myth. My great-aunt set the record straight at a family reunion. When my newly married great-great grandfather and grandmother arrived they were asked their name. The officer wrote it down with the Irish spelling. To honor my great-great-grandmother (she was Irish), my great-great-grandfather let the switched and omitted letters slide. “Awwww, how romantic, ” we all sighed. So, I’ll liken my feminist spirit to that of his, instead.

I wish I had appreciated the many family gatherings and story telling sessions when I was younger when many of these relatives were still alive. I long to ask questions of how we came here to the United States and how we thrived. There seems to be a generation of disconnect between my grandparents and me and my cousins. I’m thankful my cousin is stirring the pot. The smells from the kitchen have piqued my interest. I’ll let you know what I find.


Filed under family

I Love To Drive, Little Brother!

I think we’re paraphrasing here – from the Coen brothers’ Raising Arizona. (One of the best movies. Ever.) My husband and I rattle off quotes from that movie all the time. And when we hop in the car for a drive and my husband gets behind the wheel he says, “I LOVE to drive, little brother!”

And pre-kids? We did. Love to drive, that is. (Post kids? Not so much.) On the weekends we’d hop in the car, with no particular destination in mind, and drive. We’d check out little Mom and Pop restaurants and stores, stop at a roadside vendor and buy homegrown tomatoes, or pull over to the side of the road and hop on the Appalachian Trail to hike for a spell.

Yesterday, as I maneuvered down the two lane country roads to my sons’ school, Airstream Driver by Gomez popped on my iPod. The rat-a-tat of the drum solo arrived just as I pulled up to a 4-way stop. There were no cars around so I stayed long enough to play my “drums” on the steering wheel. Then when the music picked up again I put my foot to the accelerator.

I’m itching for a drive. A long drive. Into the mountains. Down to the beach. Anywhere, really. As long as we can take a few back roads and see what most people don’t take time to see.

We dream, every once in a while, of renting an RV. Hitting the road. See America. No Interstate allowed. Only country roads. A former student of mine traveled the famous Route 66 from start to finish. He chronicled his journey in emails. I was so jealous. In a playful way, but jealous all the same.

There’s a scene in Disney’s Cars that talks about how now, with the Interstate, people don’t slow down to take in the sites, smell the roses. My great-aunt used to tell us stories of traveling from Florida to Michigan before I-75 was built. The little restaurants that had the best fried chicken. Moon Pies at the “fill-up station.” Favorite little shops to browse in and stretch your legs.

But now, we’re in such a hurry to get to our destination. We forget to live in the moment of getting there and what that entails.

 The interesting places we see.

 The interesting people we meet along the way.

All things that make the journey memorable.  


Filed under Music, Uncategorized

One Hand On My Keyboard And The Other Is Giving A High Five


Maureen at Island Roar

Jane from Theycallmejane's Blog

I was over at Maureen’s at IslandRoar on Wednesday and was struck by the photo introducing her post. Peeking out from behind a wall. It reminded me of a pic that my daughter took of me during our mother/daughter day in The Big City. Maureen’s post was part of a meme called “The Spin Cycle” by Sprite’s Keeper that many of you are familiar with and participate in. I’m a little late with this, but it got me thinking about “me” and who I am. How different we are and how we’re very much the same. 

I have always been a bit unconventional. When I was a teen, I was this weird, hybrid, hippie, preppy chick. One day I’d wear a tye-dye t-shirt and jeans fraying at the ends with flip-flops or bare feet. The next day I was in a crewneck sweater, button down shirt with add-a-bead necklace and Pappagallo purse. No one thought it odd. That was just Jane.
I was a letterman athlete in AP classes who sang in musicals. I was a shy overachiever who felt very comfortable with public speaking. Quite honestly, I’ve never quite understood the paralyzing fear people have getting up in front of a group to speak. But put me in a social situation when I have to make small talk with people I don’t know? Major freak out. Complete with cold sweats and eyes darting around the room, searching for the escape route to a quick get-away.
  • I told all my friends, “Don’t get married until you’re 30!” – I got married at age 21.  
  • I told all my friends, “Don’t have kids until you’re 30!” – We started trying when I was 25 and by the time I was 29 we had a sweet, adorable angel from Korea.
  • I will never get divorced. I AM Catholic, afterall. – Divorced at age 32.
  • Nurse until my baby is 2 years old? You’ve GOT to be kidding me! – Nursed my sweet boy until….well, read last Thursday’s post.
  • I never want to marry someone in law enforcement or healthcare. The fear of them dying (as with law enforcement) or the crazy long hours (as with both professions) is not for me. – I married someone in healthcare. Not QUITE the crazy hours but definitely long. We rarely eat dinner as a family. It’s usually just me and the kids.
  • I’m going to be a career woman (said in my teens and twenties). Staying home with the kids is archaic and old-fashioned. – I am currently a SAHM and I LOVE IT! Love it, love it, love it! It’s hands down the best job I’ve ever, ever had.

My life hasn’t been conventional. I have spent much of my life both celebrating and feeling tortured by my differences. But when I saw that picture on Maureen’s blog I was touched by how “the same” some of us are. And how that “sameness”  is comforting and nice and OK. 

The “Jane” in the title of my blog is supposed to represent every Jane (or John) out there. As in, Jane Doe. I wanted to be a voice for many of you. Someone who can put thoughts and feelings out there and behind the little computer screens or Blackberrys there would be a chorus of heads nodding up and down. I’ve since found that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s only a quartet or small ensemble. And sometimes it’s a massive choral event and we’re spilling off the stage and into the auditorium. 

The Same 

  • Like Sara and Jen at Momalom and Peg at Square Peg in a Round Hole and Suzicate at The Water Witch’s Daughter I have a wonderfully close relationship with my sister. Every one should be so lucky!
  • Conversations with her child, with incompetent wait staff or vet assistants – Nap, at Naptime Writing, is my soul sister!
  • We both use our blogs as therapy and we both crack up at the same things – Gotta love her! Absense of Alternatives.
  • And Big Little Wolf , Kristen and Aidan share my interest in looking outside the box, looking at the bigger picture and what it means for my/our future, and appreciating the simpler things in life.
  • The antics of Faemom’s sweet little boys reminds me of my own!
  • Erica at Pines Lake Redhead, another mother of boys, who has been there done that. The stories she shares of when they were little – I’m experiencing now. The stories she shares of her boys that are older than mine? I’m bookmarking for future reference!
  • Ck at Bad Mommy Moments makes me feel like I’m not alone with her brave posts on our blind journey in motherhood.
  • Bibliomama for our love of books and Peripheral Perceptions for our role as casual observers.
  • And then there is the inspiration for this post, Maureen at IslandRoar. She has a teen daughter at home, like me. We share a love of the arts, the same name. She appreciates her children for who they are and has no trouble honoring their need to express themselves (Ok, this is where I want to be more like her but I’m on the right path.)  She’s like the big sister I always wanted.
  • If I mentioned everyone who visits here and who I visit – I’d be writing/linking into the weekend. My favorites folder overfloweth. Thanks to all of you who call me your Blog Friend. I love what we have in common.

One hand on the keyboard, the other stirring a pot, reading a story, or applying lipstick and trying to get the sexy back. We’re all different. We’re all the same. And I love it here!


Filed under Observations

Jane’s Secrets or The Things You’re Already Thinking But Are Afraid To Say Outloud

  • I breathe a sigh of relief when I click on one of your blogs and you haven’t added a new post yet.
  • My kids watch way too much television now that I’ve started to blog.
  • No matter how many times my brain tells me differently, I still believe that if I’m eating something standing up the calories will cancel out.
  • If you’re over-the-top religious on your blog – I won’t read you. No matter how open-minded I say I am.
  • When I “agree to disagree” with my husband (no one else, it seems) I’m really still seething inside wondering why in the world he is so stupid and can’t see it my way.
  • While I don’t want a Blogspot blog, sometimes I hang out at The Kitchen Witch or Inktopia just to cruise their blogrolls. They read many of the same blogs I do AND Blogspot has this handy feature with updated post titles and time stamps for your blogroll. Yes. I have blogroll envy. Big time!
  • Asymmetrical haircuts. I don’t get them. I see them less and less so  maybe they’re on their way out. (God, I hope so.) Cut short and neat in the back and trailing long past your ears to your chin. Short or long? Make up your mind! So when I smile and say, “Oh, It’s very YOU!” I mean to say, “Whaaaaaaat were you thinking?!?”
  • I play favorites. With my children. But that can change minute to minute. And they all get a turn.
  • And I don’t Tweet or Twitter – ’cause I’m not a Twit. Oops. I just offended the majority of my readers, didn’t I? Really. It’s not a criticism. I’m writing about that which I do not know. Please. Enlighten me. I have no clue what the big deal is.


Filed under Completely Random

My BFF Story – But Not The BFF You’re Thinking Of. The Other BFF.

(To all three of my male readers, the following post is probably TMI. You have been warned.)

Breast Feeding Forever. My BFF Story. I nursed my sons. And with my youngest son, it was for a very long time by Western standards. And, yes. It felt like forever. But now? So short. So long ago.

I’ve read a few of your blogs out there and have seen a few posts or comments remarking about your nursing experience. I just wanted to give you a shout-out, a kudos, an atta-girl! Go YOU!

My sister was very encouraging about me nursing my children. She suggested that I go to a few La Leche League (LLL) meetings but warned me about the “Nursing Nazis” (her words, not mine, but you know who we’re talking about). Yes, I met a few. And yes, I’m afraid to admit – they pulled me over to their side. And because I’m a bit uncomfortable with that label, let’s just say I am VERY pro nursing.

Our #1son arrived home from Korea when he 6 months old and I was about 6 months pregnant. Some of my crunchy-granola friends asked me, “Are you going to nurse #1son?” Nurse my adopted son? I never considered that. Ummmm, yeah, I guess. Will he know how?

A few months after he arrived, he tried. Sporadically. Maybe my body wasn’t ready. Maybe he was just too unfamiliar. But it didn’t work.

Then, #2son arrived. His interest was rejuvenated.

#2son was born 9 lbs. 12 oz. When the pediatrician came in to check on us he said, “Congratulations! You’ve just given birth to a happy, healthy two month old!” And he was right. This boy was big. Eyes bright and wide open. Rarely slept. And wanted to nurse like a hungry lion cub. I had inverted nipples (I warned you guys out there. This might be TMI. Now go back to your basketball game.) and we had a difficult start. Ok, a very difficult start. But I was determined. And stubborn. So was he. I had done the research. This was important and there’s nothing I can’t do once I set my mind to it.

We struggled and struggled. A friend warned me that it might be hard to get into a rhythm but she said, “If you need me, call me. Day or night. Even if it’s 2 in the morning and you’re about to pull your hair out. You call me. It will all be ok.” My sister said, “Once you get past the first couple weeks it’ll be a breeze. Trust me.” I am so glad I had two amazing woman say those simple words to me. Because they were right. There were times when I wondered how in the world the human species survived. And then, as if magically, it was the most natural, easiest thing I’d ever done as a parent.

At his 10 month check-up, my pediatrician asked if had I thought about weaning. I told her, yes. When he was a year old.

She said, “Well, you know, they now recommend until age 2 or longer, whichever is best for mother and child.”

Until he was two? Isn’t that a little un-natural? So I did my research. She was right. The World Health Organization and The American Association of Pediatrics both recommend: After 6 months of age, “ infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.” I had to readjust my expectations.

My son was a nursing fiend. Convincing him to continue wasn’t difficult at all. And by this time, my son through adoption was enjoying a little cuddle/nurse time with mommy, too. But never for very long. Wait. Scratch that. Never for very long – when no one else was asking or watching.

I remember at a play date, with other LLL mothers, someone asked, “Are you nursing #1son, too?”

“Oh, very infrequently, ” I replied, “He doesn’t seem to be that interested.”

And then, as if on cue, #1son started pawing at my shirt. So, I cradled him and let him latch on, just to show the other moms what I meant. He nursed for 10 minutes straight. A record for him. He showed me!

Both sons nursed as long as they wanted to. #1son quit long before #2son. His choice. #2son nursed long into toddlerhood. When your child is nursing as a toddler, it is not all day long. Typically he’d nurse when he was tired or upset. Always at bedtime. Rarely during the day. At risk of being adversely judged here, I’m not going to share the age he quit. Suffice it to say, it was for a long time by Western standards. Long enough, that when a friend realized we were still nursing she remarked, “Well, that’s just gross!”

But that’s ok. I’m fine with being gross. For us, allowing my son to determine when he no longer needed to nurse was the most natural process. Once I tossed aside my preconceived notions of what was right or necessary we could just be in the moment. There was never any struggle to stop. I never felt physically uncomfortable. His need to nurse just naturally faded away. As will the need for every other emotional and physical stepping stone. My 17 yr. old daughter no longer sleeps with her “Bun-bun.” As adults, we no longer crave as many dairy products or carbohydrates. 

Effortless. Calm. Natural. 

Natural weaning was best for us, for our family. I honestly can’t remember the last time we nursed. And that makes me a little sad. And it makes me happy. It means we did the right thing for our son. We allowed him to be who he was. We allowed him to grow and mature on HIS timetable. As a result, we have a very happy, healthy (never had an ear infection in his life!) easy-going, good-natured child.

I’m not saying natural weaning is responsible for all of his wonderful traits. But it sure didn’t harm him, either.

(Before the criticisms start to fly please know this: I did my research about – tandem nursing, nursing while pregnant, and natural weaning. Lots and lots of research. We made our decisions fully armed with loads of information from both sides. And yes, I call it “natural weaning.” I know this implies that anything other than that is unnatural. Not wrong. Un-natural. As in, not allowing for the natural progression of things. If you or someone you love weaned in any other way — good for you (or them!) You did what was right for YOUR family. I completely, utterly, totally respect that course of action. All I ask is that you please respect the way we chose to wean.)


Filed under Uncategorized

Please Give Your Best Answer

as seen on


Filed under All In A Day's Work, funny

I’ll Stand By You

“Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don’t be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
’cause I’ve seen the dark side too” – Six months ago my daughter’s boyfriend died. She called me to her bedroom and when I opened the door she said, “Mommy, please don’t be mad at me. Phil is dead.” My mind started racing. Why would I be angry? Who is playing this terrible joke on my daughter? She burst into tears and started sobbing uncontrollably. I was in denial. How could this be? He just had dinner with us last weekend.

“When the night falls on you
You don’t know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less” – Phil had been addicted to Oxycontin. It was the reason for their break-up many times. I had no idea. A week before she had put her foot down and said she couldn’t deal with it anymore. It was the drugs or her. He chose her. He went off cold turkey. And died four days later from complications of withdrawal. The only people who knew he was quitting were her and two of his closest friends. Because withdrawal symptoms mimic the flu that’s all his parents thought he had. A common flu.

“So if you’re mad, get mad
Don’t hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?” – She felt guilt. She felt anger. She felt tremendous loss. The pain she felt doesn’t even begin to describe. Her first love. Gone. At age 17. She withdrew from me, from us, from life.

“When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose
Let me come along
’cause even if you’re wrong
I’ll stand by you” – I wanted to be there for her. She was so lost. And so was I. But she pushed me away. Angry and ashamed. She felt that I would never trust her again. She felt she could never trust herself to make good decisions again.

“And when…
When the night falls on you, baby
You’re feeling all alone
You won’t be on your own” – I wanted to be there for her. I wish I had been there for Phil. He was such a bright, amazing young man. He treated my daughter like she was a princess. He was funny and smart and kind. So gentle with her little brothers, setting up train tracks, admiring their pictures that they drew. How could I have not seen it? Or even suspected? I used to teach teenagers. I know what to look for. I was completely in the dark. And my daughter was shouldering this burden all on her own.

“I’ll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you” – She has worked through much of the pain. It still hurts. But it’s getting better. She talks to me more. She’s even made a major shift with friends and who she spends her time with most. She was tested recently with a friend going in the same direction as Phil. When I asked what was going on she said, “I have to worry about me. They have to want to quit. I can’t do that for them. So we don’t hang out anymore.” Such a hard lesson for her to have to learn. Such a horrible way to have to learn it.

“I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you” – I hope she knows that no matter what she’s dealing with I’m here for her. There’s nothing she can do or say that will ever push me away. Nothing. Ever. She’s my sweet, adorable angel. Forever my daughter. Forever the light of my life. I want to protect her. I never want her to hurt that way ever again. But if she does, I’m here to hold her, share in the tears and boost her up when she needs strength.

(Educate yourself. I had no idea this new favorite drug among teens was so highly addictive. And so easy to obtain. Nor did I know that withdrawal should only be done under medical supervision. If you have teens or pre-teens in your home and your school offers drug education seminars for parents, GO! Even if you think your children are immune to such temptations. You may learn valuable information that could save one of their friends.)


Filed under Lessons Learned, Problems

Jane’s Recipe For Household Disaster

Preheat home to 70 degrees.

Add two small boys who have been inside for days because of rain/cold. Open one empty pantry. Stir in a frazzled mom.

Combine above ingredients with yet another cold, wet, rainy day. Add smattering of legos, Matchbox cars and stuffed animals to family room floor. Pile laundry to ceiling and bake cookies and muffins because “There’s nothing to eat!” Leave mixing bowls on kitchen counter.

Add one dad who isn’t used to being closed in with two small boys. Heat to boiling. Cover and simmer until dad is about to explode.

Add one cranky big sister, a cat who likes to eat string and puke it up and one large dog who needs a daily walk but hasn’t had one because of rain/cold. Mix together with stacks of unsorted mail, Target bags that haven’t been emptied and put away, dirty dishes crusting in the sink and a sundry of projects left undone.

Cook, uncovered, in 70 degree house until mayhem has spread to all corners of the home.


(This, my friends, was the state of my home after a cold/rainy Sunday. Feel free to pass this recipe along to your friends!)


Filed under All In A Day's Work

A Lucky Leprechaun Learns A Lesson From The Wee Little Ones

Those crafty leprechauns visited Jane’s house on Wednesday and left quite the scene!

I’m Irish. Complete with smilin’ Irish green eyes. Fiery temper? No. (but please don’t ask my husband) And St. Patrick’s Day is a fun day, to be sure. So before I left to do a few errands and pick up the boys from school I remembered to plot a little leprechaun mischief. But between the dry cleaners and the grocery store and the carpool line, I completely forgot about how I had left the house.

When we pulled into the garage I started barking orders: Don’t forget your lunch box, Take off your shoes, Wait – dump the sand out first, Hang up your jackets. My typical weekday refrain. This particular day, I was interrupted.

“Mom! Quick! You GOTTA see this! Hurry! The leprechauns were here!!!”

I raced in and faked surprise.

Their sweet little faces were lit up in wonder.

Stuffed animals watching TV.

Stuffed animals taking a nap.

Stuffed animals warming themselves by the fireplace.


Stuffed animals jammin’ to the radio.

“Do you think they did anything else?” #1son said excitedly, “Let’s go check!”

He and his little brother raced through the house looking for more clues. But there were none. And I was still standing there, stunned that they really thought leprechauns had brought all of the stuffed animals downstairs and arranged them ever so cleverly about the family room. I kept waiting for them to figure out that good ol’ mom had been messing with them. But the longer they chattered about how great and how funny the leprechauns were, the more I felt lame for not doing more.

“Mom, Look!” #2son shouted from the kitchen, “They even brought chocolate cupcakes for us!”

Six cupcakes, under the glass cake plate dome, purchased from the grocery store. Complete with green sprinkles and a little pot of gold on each one. He knows (and shares) my weakness for chocolate.

When are they going to figure it out? I wondered.

“Can we leave them out for Daddy to see? This is so funny!” #1son was hopping up and down.

“Of course, now go wash your hands for snack, ” I shooed them into the bathroom.

Childlike wonder. Innocent joy. It is so precious and fills my heart every time I witness it.

I’ve always known that I will encourage a suspension of disbelief when it comes to Santa Claus. (And you all know how I feel about Santa Claus) I believe in his spirit of kindness and giving. I know it exists. I believe Santa lives in all of us; we just need to know how to best share his gifts. But I never thought I’d continue a ruse about leprechauns. In fact, I purposely keep my kids out of the mall during Easter. I think that person dressed in a rabbit costume is ridiculous and I don’t want to take the chance that my kids would put 2 and 2 together and somehow attach their, however misguided, conclusions to Santa.

But maybe they’re onto something here. What’s wrong with a little wonder? A little magic in our day?

I’m part Irish – I could pass for a leprechaun.

And what fun it was! It brightened their afternoon. It brightened MY afternoon more than I had anticipated.

And they shared that joy with me.


Filed under children, Growing Up

Jane Is Boycotting Self-Aggrandizing Blogs And You Should Too

We all want to be heard. We all hope someone is reading the words we put out there for the world to see. We all strive for our own definition of success.

But when a blog smacks of “Hey! Over here! Look at me! I want a book deal! I want a movie deal! I want any and all attention that can be afforded me!” I get a disgusted smirk on my face and I turn away.

Twice, in one day, I saw a headline on Yahoo News or about a blog with a gimmick. (I’m not going to give links because I’m not positive of their true intentions – these are only my impressions.)

The first was a blog about a woman who was going to eat on $1 per day for an entire year. This blog reminded me of the couple that posed a similar challenge a few years ago. The woman is of modest means, struggling financially and then (blah, blah, blah) I lost interest. It started to reek of self-aggrandizement so I stopped reading.

The second was a blog that a woman started chronicling her quest to improve our school lunches. She’s going to eat her lunch at the school cafeteria, every school day for a year. It’s anonymous. It will include pictures of the pitiful lunches served. And she’s going to “jeopardize” her health to make her point.

Isn’t there a better way? Surely, for something so important as the food we put in our bodies, in our children’s bodies, you could think of a better gimmick to get your point to the masses. But, no. You’re going to eat food you find disgusting (ala Supersize Me) and it’s all for the children.

Don’t get me wrong. The cause is noble. But the method is stale and old. I’m just tired of running into blogs that attract attention to themselves based on a gimmick. Feed my soul. Inspire me. But don’t pull out all the stops, waving your arms high in the air shouting, “Look at what an original, amazing human being I am!”

It’s all been done before.

So I have a secret…..Shhhhhh….lean in close……..

You’re not that original anymore.


Filed under Soapbox