girls night out

It’s Time For A Girls Night Out

We made it through September – it’s time for a girls night out. Seriously.

I cannot even remember the last time I saw a movie in the theater. I want to say it’s when my husband and I saw the first “Lord of the Rings” film – and it ended badly when he realized, after 2.5 hours in the theater, that it was the first in a series. He was not happy with a cliffhanger ending.

It always seemed such a hassle to get to the theater, to do dinner and pay a sitter and honestly, it was just easier to watch something on the DVR in our jammies while the kids played in their room or in the best case scenario, were tucked into bed themselves.

And then they became teens, and the thought of going out and drinking and whooping it up just didn’t seem like the right role modeling, if you know what I mean. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been too tired from teaching and mothering and writing and running a house to even consider a girls night out.

My 17-year-old son has been trying to ‘prepare’ me for his impending departure for college in TWO years. He reminds me constantly that I need to get used to the idea of ‘doing stuff with my friends’ instead of worrying about him, because when he’s gone, it’ll just be me and his dad and his dog and if I don’t start easing myself into it, I’ll have a rough time.

I suspect he’s got ulterior motives, but he’s got a point…

So, girls night out it was.

girls night out

What better way to hang with the girls than to celebrate Bridget Jones’s Baby?! Don’t worry…you’re not expected to bring a gift. But there will be booze! Have you ever heard of Studio Movie Grill? Do they have one in your neighborhood? Check – and if you can find it, grab a girlfriend and RUN there for a girls night out to see Bridget Jones’s Baby. It’s the coolest concept – you buy your movie ticket, sit in the comfiest of movie theater chairs, and just push a button and a waiter delivers drinks, snacks, dinner…as many times as you want!

Problems solved! It’s a one-stop-shop for a girls night out – or even a date night, or a bring-your-kids-and-blankies-and-have-a cocktail-while-they-eat-chicken-tenders kind of night!

At Studio Movie Grill you can sit back, sip on handcrafted drinks and laugh hysterically at all that is the incomparable Bridget Jones. Remember her from 2001? Before you got caught up in all-that-is-motherhood?

To celebrate the movie that everyone is expecting to be a sure-fire hit comedy Bridget Jones’s Baby, starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey, SMG invites you to indulge in a night of fun with the Bridget Jones’s Baby Package. This $27 package includes:

•     Admission to Bridget Jones’s Baby

•     One box of popcorn

•     Your choice of entrée from our 2 for $25 menu, and

•     A Not Your Father’s Root Beer Adult Float or a special Non-Alcoholic Baby on Board Float

Mark vs. Jack…who’s it going to be?! Find out with your closest friends.

I absolutely loved the movie; it far exceeded my expectations, I must say. I loved the first two in 2001 and 2004, but I was worried that after 12 years the magic would be gone. I’m happy to say, I was wrong. Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth were as charming as ever, and my girlfriends and I found ourselves laughing the entire way through! In true Bridget form, she finds herself pregnant at 43 and unsure of the father’s identity – which hilariously propels the movie forward, leaving us smiling and tearing up at the end.

If you’re needing a girls night out, please head for the Studio Movie Grill to check out Bridget Jones’s Baby – you deserve a night of food, drinks and laughs served right to your table!

Disclosure: I received free movie passes in exchange for reminding you that you need a girls night out!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion

That time of year is sneaking up on us again…when we are drowning in celebrations and occasions and oozing with smiles and happiness. A time when introverts like me hardly know what to do with ourselves, let alone what to say when we’re put on the spot. The right words usually come to me at the wrong time – about sixty seconds AFTER the fact!

Help is here! No longer will you be sweating the public speaking, or kicking yourself for thinking of that witty one-liner just a little too late.  The recently published book, Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling answers every anxiety ridden thought you might have about what to say, when to say it, and how to walk away feeling like you nailed it.

Toasts Toasts was a long time coming; author June Cotner worked on the compilation of quotes and sayings for nearly a decade before connecting with writer Nancy Tupper Ling. Together they compiled words for every occasion – a peek inside offers everything from a guide to toasting (remember to introduce yourself), etiquette basics (thank the host, make eye contact, go out strong), and a plethora of delicious words for any occasion. 

As a verified ‘word nerd’, I’ve long kept journals of my own ideas, as well as of poetry, quotes, and other assorted lists of things I know I’ll never remember. One aspect of Toasts that I particularly like is the ability to use lines from a variety of well-known and yet-to-be known writers even when I’m not standing in front of a crowd. For example, in the “Birthdays” chapter, I might use an adaptation from William Butler Yeats, “In every succeeding year, may you sing more than you weep” when writing about my children growing up. Found in the “Charity” chapter, Thomas L. Reid’s quote, “May we realize that the best exercise for our hear is bending down and lifting up others” is perfect for my stories of working in Nicaragua. And in “Pets”, George Eliot’s words connect completely with writing about my dog, Cola: “Animals are such agreeable friends-they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”

Toasts has something for all the common toasting occasions: for school or camp reunions (is your high school 30th creeping up on you?), to guests and hosts, and high school and college graduations (“You’ve earned your degree, You’ve made the grade, Success will be yours, once your loans are paid” – ugh, does that hit home!). Family reunions (we have a big one in August-and this year, I’ll be ready!), weddings, and memorials each fill a chapter, too. But Toasts also offers some surprises: four chapters devoted to children, children’s blessings (“May you be blessed by your dreams, and the courage to chase them” – ooh, I’m writing that one down!), children’s graces and children’s toasts (those would have come in handy about 20 years ago when I was surrounded by pregnant friends!), homecoming (yes-my college student should make an appearance in June!), patriotic toasts (Grand ‘ole flag party?), and 16 different holidays (May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and heaven accept you – gotta love the Irish!).

Whether you’re an anxious first time toaster, a seasoned speaker who needs new material, or an introverted writer searching for inspiration, Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion, is the perfect compilation for you. Perfect words to celebrate life, love, and the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion for review purposes. These are affiliate links. 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Mother, Mothering, Motherhood

My babies
My babies

I rode my bike home at dusk today, far too late for mothers and children to be playing at the park. From a distance I could hear the pee wee football players running their plays as the coach barked inspirational suggestions of improvement. Nearby, the pee wee cheerleaders pivoted and jumped in unison to some hip hop song I couldn’t quite make out. As I rode the familiar path towards home, my mind ticked through the mental checklist that pops up far too frequently: dinner? homework? lessons? laundry? I wondered what my teens had been doing all afternoon while I was at work, and hoped for the best. My heart felt that tinge of loneliness that happens only when I’ve been away from them too long. His birthday is tomorrow. Fourteen years of blissfully mothering him. Crossing the bike overpass, I dipped down towards Sycamore Park as images flashed in my mind; we’ve been mothering together for 15 years. How could that be possible? Two thirty-something moms, both bulging from the last trimester of pregnancy in the scorching summer heat, we dreamed of a few moments of shade while our three-year olds dared each other down slides and monkey bars. We chased them down, secretly hoping the jostling would push us into labor. Juice boxes and goldfish marked our territory, shared stories and sympathy sealed our hearts. We searched the pages of the parenting handbook, sure that the advice we sought must be somewhere out there. Mothering toddlers together helped us feel less alone, less unsure, and more hopeful that just maybe we’d get it right.

My teenagers.
My teenagers.

I see now what they meant -those women who said, “Someday you’ll understand when you have your own.” Funny how that pops into my mind these days. I remember standing in our blue and white kitchen, my two teenage brothers pulling food out of the refrigerator like bears just out of hibernation. I couldn’t understand why my mother always complained that she had just gone to the store, and lamented about the empty cupboards left at the end of the day.Suddenly, with my own two teenagers I get it. I hear her voice when I pick up the towels from the bedroom floors, when I straighten their unmade beds, and when I wash the peanut butter crusted knife left drying in the sink. ‘Season the chicken more than you think you should’, and ‘Don’t work too hard’ ring through my mind when I find myself alone, silent in the moment. Mothering teens often feels treacherous, as if I’m teetering on the next big catastrophe. I breathe deeply, and Motherhood pulses through my veins, bringing forth all those lessons passed down from one to the next.

She couldn’t have been more than a few months old. Curled in her kangaroo sac, snug against her mother’s chest, Fiona coiled her chubby little legs tight against her torso, happy just to be pressed securely against the most important person in her world. I felt the weight on my chest, just looking at her, remembering my own first months of motherhood. I’m not sure I would have had the courage-or confidence-to bring my newborn into a work meeting. Life then had very separate lines, motherhood and teaching. Like flipping a light switch, I would move in and out of my roles with intentional distinction, not yet knowing that that movement was truly impossible.Not realizing that, like Fiona, my children would be forever on my chest, eternally positioned over my heart. I didn’t realize that, yes, I would make mistakes and wish words could fly back into my mouth and yes, I would occasionally miss a page from the parenting handbook. I didn’t understand that as my children aged and moved away from my reach that I would have to stretch my arms to reach out to them, never wanting them to leave and yet simultaneously thrilled to see them go out on their own.

Motherhood. Something learned, yet innate all the same. An experience to be cherished, not squandered. A gift to safeguard, not consume with personal neediness. Meant to be shared. Meant to be savored, every last second.

A controlling mother, a missing daughter, and a family who is desperate for love. This post was inspired by the the psychological thriller Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas. Join From Left to Write on September 19 as we discuss Mother, Mother.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Forever Afterwards

“Only one thing for it, I said to myself, thinking of you, and I slipped out of the wrecked ship of my body into the black ocean. I swam upwards towards the daylight with all my strength. Not a mile deep after all. Because I was suddenly in a white room, brightly gleaming, smelling pungently of antiseptic. I heard voices and my name.”

– From Afterwards, by Rosamund Lupton

“Jennifer. Stop. Look at me. Look at me. You must stop pushing right now.”

My brain and body scrambled to focus on her blue eyes. Something wasn’t right. This wasn’t happening the way the book said it would. What is she saying?

I had watched all the movies, attended the birthing class, packed my bag, bought the diapers, and laid out your little white sleeper, recently laundered in Burt’s Bees baby soap, ready to bring you home.

“Stop,” her voice repeated.  “This is important.” My midwife’s normally calm demeanor was punctuated with urgency.

I couldn’t pry my eyes open. The pain was overwhelming; no time for medication, this was happening old-school style. My breath came in gasps, my fear in waves.

I searched for my husband, his hands on my legs. Finally he came into view, his blue eyes holding it all in.

“Her cord. It’s wrapped around her neck. You need to stop so I can flip her out. You must not push-do you hear me? “ I snapped into focus. I inhaled and for a moment, granted her request.

My body and brain were operating with broken connections, like a static dead space. I gave up control out of sheer and utter terror that my baby would be born dead.

This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen.

No one says that first babies come early. Tales of endless labor, walks around the hospital and enduring hours and hours of waiting for her to come were all I’d been told. Nothing-nothing at all had prepared me for these 30 minutes of laying in the hospital bed, feeling her force her way into the world.

The seconds felt like hours. I naively tried to regain control; not realizing that from this point on, you would shape every thought, every action, and every moment of my life.

“Jennifer, when I say so, you need to push harder than ever before. Go deep inside. Growl like a mama bear, and do it with all your power. Do you understand?”

Obediently, I complied.

One.  Two.  Three.

But wait – this isn’t how it is supposed to be. I haven’t even gotten into the birthing chair. The nursery-the laundry hasn’t been put away into your little dresser. We haven’t even decided on your name yet… I don’t know where you are, or what to do. The only thing I do know is that I’m not ready for this. Am I really going to be somebody’s mom?

But there you were, somersaulting into the world, slightly violet, but breathing.  And alive.

And absolutely perfect.

The struggle was over. We made it. Nothing in life could ever be harder than that, I imagined. I held you to my chest and breathed you in, feeling your warm stickiness. I clasped your tiny fingers.

“What is it?” I heard my mother hesitantly, yet pleadingly, call from behind the closed door.

“It’s a girl,” I panted in reply.

And forever afterwards, life as I knew it ended and began at precisely the same instant.

This post was inspired by the novel Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton. After witnessing her children’s school set ablaze, Grace attempts to find the arson as her teenage daughter lies in a coma in Lupton’s suspense thriller. Join From Left to Write on April 11 as we discuss Afterwards. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Afterwards-by-Rosamund-Lupton-194x300

Have you read Afterwards, or other books by Rosamund Lupton? I absolutely loved it, even though it made me cry.

If you’d like to know more about the author, visit her websiteFacebook page, or follow her on Twitter.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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When Life Doesn’t Turn Out The Way It’s Supposed To

We met when we were only eighteen and nineteen; I, a three-semester college girl, he a high school graduate.  It was love at first sight. Our parents were thrilled we had found someone that would love us, piercings, dyed hair, dreadlocks and all.

Nine and a half years later, we married.  Probably one of the wiser decisions we ever made-no teenage elopement or early pregnancy.  College graduates, employed, and homeowners when we finally took our vows, but edging closer to that magic number: 30.wedding photo

After dating for so long, my goal was to be 30, married and pregnant.

Despite my non-conformist lifestyle, something inside me knew that I needed to make this milestone.  My twenties were chaotic at best, but eventually had smoothed out and created a life path that I had planned: marriage and motherhood.  I was of the generation growing up after the women’s movement, but before many of our mothers followed an nontraditional path. I knew how it was supposed to go.

I made my goal, and after that, nothing went as expected.

Turns out, working and mothering are an excruciatingly hard combination.  What I thought I could handle ended up rocking my world upside down and sideways.  Navigating an infant, a breast pump, a husband and a classroom full of fifth graders proved to be…challenging.  Full time motherhood and full time teaching didn’t seem to be a great fit. I wanted them both. I felt my dreams crumbling away.

jen and lily in kitchenThe next year I took a chance and changed jobs, thinking that 80% employment would be better.  I was right; working with my more familiar middle school aged kids allowed me to focus less on the curriculum and more on my baby, but…there was still no free time, no long nap times to get papers graded, and the household responsibilities were still there, waiting.  The 12:30 baby handoff allowed us to escape childcare, but our couple time disintegrated into late-night dinners and frantic eye-contact while trying to rock the baby to sleep.  This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. I grew frustrated that I couldn’t handle it all: job, marriage, motherhood.  Didn’t I have exactly what I’d always dreamed of?

Sixteen years and one more child later, I’m learning that actually, it went exactly as it was supposed to.  That’s how life is.  I learned I am living out my dreams.  I have what I wanted, and actually, much more. But more importantly, I’m learning that women like me, all throughout history, have and continue to walk this line of confusion in the search for their ideal life.

While we share the same desires and dreams for the milestones in their worlds – love, family, success, fulfillment, and comfort – today’s women face challenges like never before.  The centuries of liberation which benefited women have come with a price, and today’s we’re charting a new course. We have more options, more choices, and more demands than ever.  We try to balance it all, while maintaining that sense of what women are supposed to do with what we know we need to do.  Our mothers and grandmothers had no idea what a blessed curse they were bestowing on their daughters and granddaughters as they fought for equal rights, and with them, the absolute blossoming that would come decades and centuries later.

Today’s women push non-conformity in interesting, dynamic ways, all the while grapping with what happens to women who bend today’s rules of propriety and customary behavior? We wonder how we will have to pay for blurring the lines between what is expected of us as wives, mothers, and women and the urge to have it all, to do it all, and to blossom into what we were meant to be? Can we chart the course for our own daughters, who themselves will be past the image of stay-at-home moms as the norm?

Sixteen years ago, I had no idea this is what life had in store for me.  Sixteen years from now, will my baby girl blossom into a kind of woman I could never imagine?

I certainly hope so.

This post was inspired by Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman. After being kicked out of her widow support group for being too young, Becky creates her own support group with an unusual twist. Join From Left to Write on February 14 as we discuss Saturday Night Widows. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes. Click here to purchase your copy of Saturday Night Widows at Amazon.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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