Monday, January 11, 2010

my one TINY character flaw

While I believe that there are greater and lesser persons than myself, I have a really tough time with people who solidly fall in to the "greater" camp. Instead of looking at them as someone who has their act together and is a source of healthy inspiration, I see them as someone who illuminates my own shortcomings. Whenever I'm exposed to someone who I think is eons ahead of me, I find myself constantly asking, "Where's the flaw? Surely, they aren't as perfect as they portray themselves. There's got to be a flaw in there, somewhere!"

Do they hide in the closet and eat cookies to combat stress?

Do they have a moody streak that makes them intolerable for a few days each month?

Do they have a funny laugh that isn't so much funny as it is odd?

Are they weird because they hide from people and avoid answering the door?

There is a family that I know who have triplets about a year younger than ours and their children are perfect. Absolutely perfect. The kids don't cry or scream or fight or tease or disobey or drive their parents crazy, in the least.

EVERY ONE in the family from the wise and spry grandparents right down to the triplet preschoolers are calm and collected. At least when we've been around them, they never raise their voices as they float through their days in complete harmony with the world. They're in good shape. They're good looking. They cook everything from scratch and eat organically. They're financially well off and live in a big house that is not only tidy but actually clean. But worse than any of that ... they have children that are so relaxed and easy going, you'd never know they were there if not for the cute little people wandering around. Children that are that always calm.

Is that a function of genetics or environment or...


Is the whole family medicated?

Are they piping Zoloft in to the house... or what?

It's tough to spend any amount of time with them and not walk away feeling like a freak. So I don't because until I find out that the wife tortures bunnies and the husband has a split personality and the grandparents peddle crack, they do nothing but bring me down.

As I mentioned on Twitter the other day, Charlie came home the other night with The Pioneer Woman's new cookbook. He had stopped by to pick up a pizza on the way home from church and since he had about 20 minutes to kill, he dropped in to a bookstore. He went in to casually peruse the aisles, but as it often happens, he was immediately drawn to the cooking section, because my husband loves to cook. To the point that he takes classes in his spare time.

While he was flipping through various cookbooks, he unknowingly picked up the hottest new cookbook in the blogosphere. The book fell open to a page that declared, "Thank God for Charlie" and not even realizing that there was a picture of a Basset Hound on the page (who is coincidentally named Charlie), my husband was convinced he'd just received a sign from God. When he returned home half an hour later, he was excitedly waving the newest addition to his cookbook collection.

Later that night, after we tucked the children in to bed, Charlie sat on the couch and with a cup of tea in one hand, Ree's cookbook in the other, spent the next two hours reading it from cover to cover. There were lots of "Oohhs and Aahhs" followed by several, "Now that's what I'm talking about."

All told, he loved the cookbook. He loved that it was basic and simple and nothing too extravagant, but packed full of good food. And when he felt satisfied that he'd read everything there was to read, he put the cookbook aside and I picked it up. Hesitantly at first, because as you know, I'm not much of a cook.

But as I began flipping through the pages, I had a whole different feeling come over me than my husband. Ree has four children, two girls and two boys. I have four children, two girls and two boys. She is married to the love of her life. I am married to the love of my life. We both thank God for Charlie. We both began blogging in 2006. We both stand upright and breathe air.

And... that's pretty much where the similarities stop.

How in the world she has the time to raise four children, home school them, grocery shop when she lives 100 miles away from civilization in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, maintain a brilliant award-winning website with multiple blogs that must require no less than 12 hours of maintenance a day and undoubtedly generates a fortune in revenue, take gorgeous photographs, bond with womenfolk, cook up meals that will knock a cowboy's boots off, go on a whirlwind book tour AND still look so fabulous is absolutely beyond me.

(And there are very few things that are absolutely beyond me.)

Has anyone read her cookbook? Do you have ANY idea the amount of butter she uses? Have you SEEN her figure? Or is she using Photoshop to enhance her image? Please SOMEONE tell me that she has uncontrollable flatulence and chews her toenails. I need to hear it because while I never have met this woman and she wouldn't know me if she tripped over my unkempt vacuum cord, it's hard to exist another day just knowing that there is someone out there that is such a phenomenal wife and mother and daughter and sister and friend and photographer and writer and blogger and comedian and maker of awesome food.

How is any one woman so perfect?

I've never felt so inferior.

If you must know the truth, since it's been in my possession, I flipped her awesome cookbook upside down and am storing it under my cutting boards. (Shhh. Don't tell Charlie.) Although, I did catch a glimpse of her cinnamon rolls and chocolate sheet cake and if I make them and if they taste anywhere as good as they look, the cookbook will be tarred and feathered and burned.

Because clearly she's a witch and she's cast a spell on me and I can't have any of that black magic in MY house.


  1. My friend Misti is calm and organized and has ridiculously calm and quiet triplets. It is totally genetic.

    As far as getting a lot done in one day, I think I accomplish a lot in a little time because I am extremely fast at everything I do. Which doesn't mean I do it well, but it means I do it FAST. I watch how long it takes other people to do things and it makes me want to hit them with a BAT.


    When you add to the fact Greg is a fast person and does things quickly, you can bet we are never up until 2am doing anything. Greg's mom and Uncle on the other hand, are some of the slowest people I have ever seen. Watching her take dishes off the table actually hurts me as a human being. She told me she never slept or sat down when her kids were children. NO WONDER. It must have taken her three hours to clean the kitchen every night.

    So, again, it's genetic. You are born fast moving or born slow moving.

    Looks like God gave you the short stick on the calm and quiet kids. Calm and quiet is overrated anyway.

    LOVE the Pioneer Woman but I am not a big fan of her cooking. I lvoe her blog and her attitude though.

  2. I am SO excited that he got you that cookbook! I copied Pioneer Women's meatball recipe out of a December issue of People magazine while I was sitting at the dentist office (while the kids were getting worked on) EXCELLENT meatball recipe. In fact, I followed her tips on the order of days you prep things for Thanksgiving and it was great! I definitely need to buy that cookbook! You should not hide it. Try it, You'll like it!

    People who try hard every day are cool. When I meet someone that is way cool and they have a skill that I really admire, I am very excited if they allow me to hang out with them because secretly without their knowledge, I try to leech out all the information they know.
    I don't being in a household in a meditative state that fun? Sounds kind of boring to me.
    Some of the things that I admire, I know that I will never be. I'm simply just not that disciplined.

  3. p.s. missed you on Saturday. There was a Resolution Run 15k,10k, 5k going on at the same time. The run went by so many young, athletic, muscular guys to people watch. Parking sucked, but it was fun.

  4. I've been reading Ree's blog for about a year and think I've read all of her archives. I've made several recipes posted on her blog and can testify that they're as delicious as they look. I got her cookbook for Christmas and actually finally got to reading through the entire thing tonight and have decided I need to make her Linguine with Clam Sauce recipe and her meatloaf recipe this week.

    She always jokes that her bottom jiggles, and I secretly hope it's true. Her life is just too perfect (did you read her Black Heels to Tractor Wheels love story of meeting her husband? It's unreal!), so I'm also hoping she has some huge flaw to even things out. LOL.

  5. Jen, I've been following Ree's blog for the past couple of years. I made Ree's Cinnamon Rolls for the family when I was down in South Carolina in the Fall and I blogged about it. These rolls made the adults tremble and children weep. Yes...they are that good. Her recipe makes 7 pans of rolls. Also, Kathy made Ree's chocolate cake receipe and I think she said you have to eat it while sitting down because with the first bite you become weak in the knees. Ree has some seriously delicious food and I've used many of her recipes. Charlie's going to have a ball with it! I HIGHLY recommend the Cinnamon Rolls. But don't forget to wear your stretch pants while eating them.


  6. LOL! I followed Pioneer Woman for a few years. She's hysterical, yes, but she is hysterical because of her unabashed honesty. She's not that perfect, I promise! You should hear her burping the alphabet, or talk about the girl down the road who comes over once or twice a week to help with the laundry and is her life saver, or her ugly toenails that she ruined while in ballet years ago, and how she hates getting out of bed in the morning. She also has a lot of "guest" bloggers, who contribute a lot to the different sections on her site. And any woman who uses that much butter in her recipes is a wicked temptress. Don't be so hard on yourself. I actually read your blog and try not to get down on myself for getting frustrated with just one toddler's antics. How you handle four is beyond me! To me you are Superwoman!

  7. Do you even realize how many people out there are all "I can't read that Amazing Trips blog because she has 4 kids 5 and under AND she works full-time AND she does all this cool homeschooling preschool stuff AND she's always taking them out for fun adventures AND she raises money for cancer AND the finished a marathon for crying out loud, she just makes me feel too inferior." I am a huge PW fan (and the cinnamon rolls and chocolate sheet cake ARE as good as they look) but please note that she probably spends less time on her blog than you do at your job; she had her children one at a time and her youngest is the age of your oldest; her older children help her with cooking and homeschooling and keeping an eye on the younger kids... And much as I love her website it has more the feel of a polished product than a journal of her life, KWIM? I read your blog to feel less alone as a mother of multiples struggling to balance work, family, and self. I read her blog for entertainment. If you both went away I'd miss your blog more.


  8. Jen, I have to tell you, I'm with you on this one. Especially where the Pioneer Woman is concerned. So thank you for this post. Heck if I don't want to learn from her photography tutorial? blog? -I don't know because I haven't visited her website in so long. I think I'm just plain jealous. Feel inferior and overwhelmed at the thought of all this woman is able to accomplish. And the lifestyle...that beautiful location. It's easier for me to look away and focus on my own life perhaps, rather than be so distracted. Is that a bad thing? If I can't enjoy it, then I guess I shouldn't read it. Funny b/c I don't feel jealously is my first instinct. -Karen

  9. Michelle M in TX1/12/10, 9:16 AM

    I love her blog. Yours and hers are on my Do Every Day list. Anyways, if you read her blog, she is very down to earth...and has a thing about her toenails, incidentally. AND she is bad about keeping up with her laundry...and hates cleaning up after all that gorgeous cooking she does. So she's not perfect. :) Just darn entertaining.

  10. Oh my goodness! I LOVE Ree and her blogs and her recipes and her photos... but I have always thought the very same thing. How in the world are there enough hours in the day to do all she does and do it all so well?

    I blog, I "have" homeschooled, I take marginal photos with my point and shoot, I have a house to keep, 5 kids and a hubby to cook for and do laundry - all she does - but don't seem to do ANY of it as well and as flawlessly as she does.

    I think she MUST have help. Obviously even before her blog revenue, it appears their family ranch business is well established. But she seems like a wonderful person - someone who would make a great real life friend, kwim? (kind of like you Jen)

    I think you do a great job with all you have going on too.


  11. The funny thing is I have always felt that way when I read YOUR blog. Never mind Pioneer Woman's blog. BUT in that same vein, you both inspire me as well. I love your blog! Keep up the great work.

  12. Oh Jenn. We don't know each other, and trust me, I am not writing this to make you feel better, rather to ask you to take a real look at your life. I could have written a similar post about YOU! (Except I don't have a blog because I am a perfectionist and I don't feel I have the time to devote to it to make people actually come there and read on a regular basis - see, I'm jealous of YOUR blog). I look at you and your family and am constantly amazed. I only have twins Henry's age (so half the amount of kids you have) and I am glad for just getting them through the day relatively clean and fed. You, on the other hand, do wonderful crafts and teaching projects and go on hikes in nature. And your house looks spotless. And you look fit and beautiful (all while you claim to eat loads of sweets, which do not show at all). And you raise money for charity. And you work full time and have a super career. See how this game is played? There will always be someone you envy, and there will always be hundreds of someones who envy you. So there (she says as she sticks out her tounge) :)

  13. I've had the same thoughts, how in the hell does she do all that she does living out in the middle of nowhere, homeschool four kids, a ranch, gorgeous photos, an incredible blog, have you checked out what they did to their lodge? Blows my mind all of it. She is something else. She's been on Bonnie Hunt, QVC. I adore her I worship her actually.

  14. I had to hide my copy from myself. I received this book as a Christmas Gift and screamed when I opened it. I adore her recipes and I can actually cook them and follow her directions (the pictures help). HOWEVER, my wedding is in 3 months and the volume of butter/flour/sugar in that masterpiece of a book will not be very flattering tacked to my ass in a form fitting wedding gown in April. I'm with you on this one.... though I would consider eloping if there was a vow mixed in that included a lifetime of "egg in the holes".

  15. Oh you guys are so sweet. And totally delusional. I'm glad that I've got you so confused.

    OK - I'm off to go running. And then, I'm going to finish teaching the children differential equations. They've ALMOST got it.

  16. crack me your humor!! I'd love to make you feel better about Ree but I met her while she was on her book tour in KC and she is even more perfect in person than she is much that you want to hate her...but you can't she's just too sweet!! :)
    I also agree with other about your family...I have four kids triplets plus 1 and I only wish I was half as put together as were meant to write you have a beautiful way with words!! You tell it how it is the good, bad and the ugly which makes us know you are genuine. Keep it up! !:)

  17. Oh lord. Totally cracking up that you feel inferior about anything. Jen, YOU'RE MY hero! I can't keep my life together with an infant and ONE toddler. I work full-time at an easy peasy job, my house is a mess, my desk is a mess, and I have PILES of laundry that sometimes I have to dig through to find not-too-dirty socks to wear again, because I'm out.


    I stopped reading Ree's blog because it was too over-the-top with butter recipes. I'm having enough of a hard time losing my baby weight. Don't need her food throwing a monkey wrench into my diet. LOL! But yours? I read daily. I'm disappointed when you don't write because you're actually busy with life. You give me hope about my own messy life. :-)

  18. I haven't read all the comments, so I assume I'm the 505th person to write this, but seriously, YOU'RE that person. YOU are the one who comes across as the person who has it together and is teaching your kids about compassion and generosity and manages to hold down a successful career with triplets plus one. The one who manages to walk for cancer with four little ones to care for. The one who put her money where her mouth is.

    I look at my little life with just one set of twins, a 40-hour-a-week job, and a cat and wonder how you do it all when I'm such a wreck!

  19. Not sermonizing, but just say, "Thank you" - you received a bunch of affirmations just now!

    I've read TPW and she is funny and resourceful and blatantly honest - as are YOU - we get in so much trouble when we start to compare our selves to others!

    You AMAZE me! I love your way with words and thoughts - I wish I could do well at THAT!

    Take that!
    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

    You are TPW are on my "read everyday" list, too! If I had to pare down to five (God forbid!), you would both be on the short list.

  20. Since God only made perfection once and I'm not it and you're not it, and P. W. isn't it, give yourself a pat on the back instead of a kick in the butt for the wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and blogger that you are! Perfect children, perfect husbands and perfect anything or anybody are vastly over-rated and boring, so try to enjoy ALL of your imperfect interesting life... it is a gift.

  21. are AMAZING in your own right. I read Pioneer Woman once or twice and realized I don't want to feel crappy about myself so I'm not going to read her blog. Lots of people do and that's super for her; but I have to keep my own reality.

    I think I have a LONG way to go with overall improvement. We could all use improvement, right? But as you have mentioned.....take it day by day and do the best you can. If that means cooking organically, keeping up with the laundry, or mopping your floor; be the best YOU can be. Not what someone else it.

  22. Haha - teaching differential equations (to high schoolers) is what I DO! I do not have small children (my grown son writes songs & music for Yo Gabba Gabba, and is the voice of Muno), but I too enjoy your blog so much. The fact is you are a good writer who has interesting things to say. I also read PW, but I read your blog first. You give off a vibe of wanting to make the world a better place, and that is good for everyone. Now, would you like to make a comment on Sarah Palin becoming a commentator on the Bill O'Reilly show?

  23. A few others have beat me to it but I had to tell you I feel the same way about you! I can fantasize about having Ree's life but it's way out of reach for me. Your life, OTOH, is basically within my reach (I *could* do fundraising or get the kids out more, I could be in great shape and keep my house clean) but I don't do those things so then I feel bad! Anyway, I'm trying to say, in your own way, you make me feel even worse than Pioneer Woman does. Which doesn't really sound right now that I've written it down. ;)

  24. Jen, my husband used to tell me that PW was really a team of people, not one woman!

    And seriously, if I had never read your blog, I wouldn't have one of my own right now. And it's one of my absolute joys to sit down and write, and you inspired that in me.

    PS. I pouted for a day when I read Dooce's blog and her 2009 recap. Oprah and Dr. Phil? Really!

  25. I adore PW's blog.. but like everyone else come away from it wondering how she does it all. Honestly, I think she has help. She lives near her family and I'm sure that they helped her take care of the kids when she was on her blog tour. There is no doubt in my mind that she has someone who cleans, for sure.

    Her food and photography is great, but most of all I just love her attitude. She has an awesome outlook on life.

    The Pioneer Women is my favorite blog, but you are a close second. You're kids are adorable and you really stick out as a super mom. :)

  26. Reminds me of Betty K from Ayer, her kids were very quiet and relaxed and if they did something wrong, she just said that she was disapointed in them. They immediately fell into a sad, sad face.
    These kids grew up and are not so quiet now.
    If you compare yourself to anyone else, you will always find someone
    brighter, etc and blah, blah blah

  27. I read Ree's various blogs and met her in person when she came to Dallas on her book tour. She jokes about chewing her nails on the site. She has flaws - as we all do; hers are just way more palatable and... endearing... than mine ever seem to be!

  28. Haha - If your Mom only knew what Betty K's kids turned into - she would keel over!

    Meg and I received Ree's cookbook for Christmas from my Mom - I've tried the comfort meatballs - but substituted turkey and didn't fry them - you just gotta adjust a little for the fat content! I did try Marlboro Man's sandwich - yum! I don't use butter and Joe would have a bird if I cooked like that - but once in awhile for fun and to mix it up it's great! Everything in moderation!

    Enjoy! Let Charlie cook!

  29. yes, the butter. Stay away from the maple frosted cinnamon rolls. I went to her book signing and someone asked her the same thing, how can she look so good and cook with all of that butter. She actually said, "I eat in moderation". I grabbed my stuff and walked out. ;)

  30. I love her cookbook! It's amazing. I love the step by step instructions with the photos. Definitely helps me out. Yes, tons of butter but it's so darn delicious. Her mashed potatoes are to die for. I've made them no less than 5 times and every single time I die and go straight to heaven.

    Everything in there is so good. I don't know how she does it. How can she look so good and eat this? She must have better portion control than me.....and probably better metabolism. And heck, she's probably walking the fields while she takes pictures.

    Yes, I'm jealous, too.

    --Laura in Indiana

  31. lol Oh Jenn we all LOVE you! You guys are truly the all American normal suburbia family. Yes Ree hires people to help her with her web site and her house and can you blame her? Her life is 3 full time jobs. It's hard to really imagine that she has (Like she says) a lazy on the couch watching videos kinda life and sure she makes it sound romantic. But Manure every day in shoes, in pants blech and besides it's fricken COLD in Oklahoma and BTW it's OKLAHOMA for goodness sake. NO TJ's No Starbucks.
    You're a scientist for heavens sake (Okay a geologist) I am awe struck by that alone. But I have friends who say they envy my life too and what's UP with that? duh Crazy crazy! You g/f are the awesomest of the awesome. You talk about life you show your heart. Ree is like the totally cool prom Queen and she shows us pictures of her life. There's a difference yeah?
    XO ruth
    PS oh .... Michele S I read YOUR Blog 1st every day and then Link immediately to Jenn's then I go to PW's... Maybe I need to get a life?

  32. J, I GOTTA know which triplet family you're talking about. My guess is a certain sweet lady whose first name starts with "S." Am I right?


  33. You have to try the cinnamon rolls they are to die for. We make them around here to giveaway for Christmas gifts and to stash in the freezer too.
    From the outside you seem to have it all together too.
    My husband and I say that those "perfect people" are the ones that end up shooting up the post office...
    Hang in there.

  34. I'd say it's all a matter of perspective. I read PW's website and think (although I don't know her so I really have no clue) that she'd be the first to say she doesn't have it all together. She is super successful and does a lot of things well. She also has kids that wrestle in public. She's gained weight since she got married and had kids (like the rest of us). If you read her site, she's pretty self-deprecating. Sadly, if you look around the internet you'll find site dedicated to bashing her and everything about her life (why someone would waste their live/time/energy bashing someone else is beyond me but that's an entirely different post). If that is something that comes with success on the internet, I can definitely live without it!

    I've had some moments of wonder when I read your blog. Like how on earth you can raise so much money for cancer. Where you find the motivation to run marathon's and do three day walks with 4 little kids. Where you find the energy to keep doing the dishes that seem to ever multiply- I just give up somedays and come down to a messy kitchen in the morning.

    I guess I just try to be motivated by what other people do well and try to figure out how I can do that in my life- even on a smaller scale. I'm not planning to run a marathon any time soon but I've been working hard at improving my time in the 5K.

    And for the record, my kids are all high energy, totally active and into EVERYTHING and my house rarely has every room tidy at the same time. I'm just trying to love my life the way it is today.

  35. I am completely laughing right now. You are amazing. Ree is amazing. I think we all can see someone who we think has it way more together than us. It's a human flaw. However? I truly believe there is always someone thinking the same thing about us.

    Truly the thought of triplets and a toddler on a flight from San Diego to the East coast gives me night terrors. In fact the thought of my one toddler on a plane gives me night terrors. I have two girls who are older and do fine on planes...but something about my well behaved son and a plane sends me over the edge. Even though, he'd surly be fine.

    I met Ree at BlogHer, although only for a second. She is as sweet and gorgeous as she seems. I'll give you something to think about....a funny story, so you see she is real. Ree asked a friend of mine is she could touch her baby belly. My friend laughed as she told her, oh my baby's nearly two years old now. Truly. No joke. She even posted about it.

    See, everyone has their things. :)

    ps. Try the marmalade muffins and the blueberry cobbler. TOO DIE FOR. Ahem.

  36. You know, I always wonder about people who seem to have it together. I've learned that there are flaws and they do eventually come out. I don't have calm and quiet kids, I have two ADD/ADHD girls and so calm and quiet is not our houshold some days.

    I like the Pioneer Woman's blog. I read it every day. Just as I come to your blog to read about your day to day happenings. I can relate to yours more, even though I don't have 4 kids. But I can relate to some of the things your kids do, that mine do too. I am inspired to read your blog when you walk for Breast Cancer, taking a trip across the border, and your balancing work and wanting to be home with your kids, etc. I might not be able to relate to the PW's blog but I like reading it.

    Anyway, just know you are a great mom and I think your kids are going to look back on their growing up years and realize how fun mom and dad were. :-)

    Keep blogging, Jen, we're reading. :-)

    Molly from CB.

  37. Debbie: Her name starts with a "D" his with an "M".

    Aw, just kidding. I'll tell you more at our next ED meeting. When'll that be??