Monday, May 31, 2010

Speechless & Other News

My Big Sister has three grown kids of her own-- She's the sister that just became the Grandma to this little beauty....

Yes, our family is still in baby heaven five days after the early arrival of my sweet great-niece.

Enough pictures have already been taken to fill several scrapbooks, text messages are still flying like crazy and our Little Miss already has a huge following on Facebook. Ahhh, life is good.

But my Big Sister... She's-- she's-- well... She is still so blown away by watching the birth of her first grandchild-- by her oldest daughter-- That it's left her speechless. And let me tell you, speechless is not something usually associated my anyone in our family!

So my Big Sister has a question for you-- One that she has asked everyone who would listen. I'm hoping you might have an answer for her...

How do you-- in ONE word-- sum up something as incredible as childbirth?

And while you're thinking about it, here's another picture of Grandma's pride and joy--Both of them!

In other news...

A big congratulations to blog friend, Carmen Henesy aka RNSANE of Carmen's Chronicles, who has just published a book of poetry that's available on HERE. The book is called Life's Journey. Her poems are about her journey through life-- Some humorous, some sad, some that may have meaning to you as well.

And the winner is...

Slommler aka SueAnn of SueAnn's Journey is the winner of my $60 online store and $25 Giveaway. Happy shopping SueAnn!!!

Now, back to my Big Sister's question...

How do you-- in ONE word-- sum up something as incredible as childbirth?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credits: The Fifty Factor

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sundays In My City #36 - Colorful

I'm a happy member of the Sundays In My City Community (SMIC)

SUNDAY IS THE LAST DAY TO ENTER to win a $60 CSN Stores Gift Certificate and a $25 Gift Card by leaving a comment on THIS POST and on all NEW POSTS between now and Midnight Pacific Time, May 30th. COMPETE GIVEAWAY DETAILS HERE. Update: This Giveaway is CLOSED. Winner will be announced shortly.

But this Giveaway is still open, so go enter until noon 5/31.....
And in other giveaway news, Nanny Goats in Panties' bloggy friend Melody from Cooking Schmooking is giving away a $179 All-Clad pan - wow! (her giveaway ends at noon on May 31) Dude! A $179 pan?? Go leave a clever comment as an entry-- And tell her Joanna Jenkins via Nanny Goats in Panties sent ya!

It was a colorful day at the beach!

Godson had yet another extra day off school, thanks to budget cuts and slashed teacher's salaries, so we hit the Santa Monica Pier on Friday for a little sand and sun action. But we got so much more.

The Lifeguard Towers usually look like this....

Now, to our happy surprise, the Lifeguard Towers have been transformed....

With various corporate sponsors too so it didn't cost our poor, struggling city any money...

This one was sponsored by Skinny Cow Ice Cream....

Just looking at them and the program behind the paintings made us happy!

It's all part of-- Summer of Color is the largest public art project in the U.S. For five months beginning in May, the LA County lifeguard towers – on 31 miles of Southern California beach -- will be transformed into a collective work of art thanks to the efforts of nearly 6,000 children in schools, hospitals, and social service programs – and more than 2,500 adult volunteers – who have participated in the initiative’s program activities, which included the painting of the panels now installed on the walls and roof tops of the towers.

For six months preceding the installation, Portraits of Hope engaged children and adults from 118 school, hospital, youth, and social service programs in civic leadership and creative therapy sessions. The Braille Institute, Special Olympics, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitative Center, and Program for Torture Victims are among the many organizations that have participated.

To meet the individual needs of children and adults with disabilities, Portraits of Hope developed specialized painting brushes and techniques including telescope paint brushes for those in wheel chairs or attached to IVs, the shoe brush ™ for individuals unable to manipulate a brush with their hands, and fruit-flavored mouth brushes for kids and adults with limited movement in their limbs. For persons visually impaired, Portraits of Hope utilized special textured paints. For more info and photos CLICK HERE.

Unknown Mami hosts a great Sunday theme inviting YOU to get out and take pictures of your city and/or Sunday to share with the rest of blogland. Click HERE to see Unknown Mami's Sunday in her City today.

Wishing you and yours a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. I'll be back Tuesday.
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor - Joanna Jenkins

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Making Her Debut...

Introducing the newest member of our family, making her debut at 9:43am eastern time, Thursday, May 27, 2010. This sweet girl arrived three weeks early and weighed in at 4 pounds, 11 ounces but she's doing just great-- So are her precious mommy, my niece Queen M, and her handsome Daddy.

This is the first baby in a new generation for our family and I'll tell you-- times have sure change since Queen M was born!

In 26 short years, we've gone from a limited number of family being allowed to pace in the hospital waiting room during labor-- with our Instamatic camera in hand (you know, the kind that used actual film), to grandparents in the delivery room with digital and video cameras emailing the rest of the family minute by minute coverage of the grand arrival.

And that doesn't include the gadget I used to curse to high heaven-- The Blackberry. I got text messages all night long-- From the mother-to-be who was in labor!!!

It was really something-- I'm 2500 miles away and it was just like being right there! Well almost. I haven't gotten to hold our little bundle of joy or inhale that intoxicating "new baby smell" yet, but next month I'll be on a plane back home to get my fill of sweetness.

Queen M is the oldest daughter of my Big Sister which makes me a Great Aunt. How about that!

What a joyful day.
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Enter to win a $60 CSN Stores Gift Certificate and a $25 Gift Card by leaving a comment on THIS POST and on all NEW POSTS between now and May 30th. Blog about the Giveaway and receive ONE extra entry. COMPETE GIVEAWAY DETAILS HERE.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Random Tuesday

I recently had a celebrity sighting in my neighborhood--

Katie Holmes and her 4 year old daughter Suri Cruise at the fabric store near my house. (You can see the photos here if you want.) The store was practically empty and I had no idea who the woman was carrying around her very well-behaved daughter. We were the only customers in "cottons" section of the store and sort of dancing around each other to look at the fabric in the small space. It was their very loud publicist/person carrying Katie's huge monogrammed Louis Vuitton bag that tipped me off when she kept telling the salesperson that KATIE and SURI will let her know how much fabric...KATIE and SURI will this.... and KATIE and SURI that... You get the idea. She was talking very loud. Their big security guy was rolling his eyes. Oh and no, Suri was not wearing high heels and neither were decked out in designer clothes. They were just happy looking for some fabric together. Outside were about 15 paparazzi stalking/waiting for them. Ugh.

Thanks to Chris at Diet Coke Rocks who passed the A Sweet Blog Award on to me! How nice is that! Tammy is very creative, a busy mom, and has a fab sense of humor. Please stop by and say hello. I pass this Award on to all of you! Feel free to grab the button cuz I think you're all sweet.


Did you know you have until July 1st to hit indoor tanning beds and NOT be charged an additional 10% tax as part of healthcare reform and the new Patient Protection Act? So time's a wasting to save some loot and get your summer tan ready-- If that's your thing. Me, not so much. I prefer the spray tan because the humiliation of standing naked in front of a usually much younger and much thinner woman spraying my middle-aged bod from head to toe is a great diet incentive.


And you have until Midnight Pacific Time, May 30th to enter my GIVEAWAY! It's why I'm posting more than usual-- So you have more chances to WIN!
Enter to win a $60 CSN Stores Gift Certificate and a $25 Gift Cardby leaving a comment on THIS POST and on all NEW POSTS between now and May 30th. Blog about the Giveaway and receive ONE extra entry. COMPETE GIVEAWAY DETAILS HERE.

Who would you like to have a celebrity sighting with?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
If you want to play along with Random Tuesday Thoughts, Click HERE to get the button and add your name to Mr. Linky.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Life Lesson

“Tsk”. It’s a simple sound that rolled off the tip of her tongue and spoke volumes to my teenage brain. That one syllable, a universal language spoken by so many, was Mrs. Smith's proclamation that something was not quite right or below her very reasonable standards. It was followed with an arched eyebrow and an ever so slight shake of her head that meant "straighten up".

As a teenager and young adult, her "Tsk" was usually directed towards my using the wrong fork, inappropriate slang or having a self-serving pity party. I’d immediately correct my wrong not wanting to disappoint or make the same mistake again.

It's not that Mrs. Smith was a tough old bird, as she liked to call herself. Rather it was my wanting to live up to her expectations. She was an important role model and a cherished friend who, well into her 70s, first took my 13 year old self under her wing and taught me so much about life and the world beyond our back yards.

When I was 21 years old, the toughest part about moving away from our small town in Ohio, where we lived just a few blocks away, to "the big city" (which was really a small suburb but a train ride away from Manhattan), was telling Mrs. Smith.

We sat at her kitchen table for 30 minutes while I sobbed uncontrollably and unable to speak because I would miss her so much. I must have been a sight because, when I finally spit the words out, a major look of relief crossed her face followed by a big smile and an encouraging hug.

I found out much later that she had confided to my mother that she thought all those tears were an indication that I was about to be an unwed mother. Hardly! No wonder moving 800 miles away was a relief to her and no "Tsk" was heard.

After I moved away, many, many times I called Mrs. Smith under the pretext of checking up on her but often it was about just needing to hear her voice-- Her "been-there-done-that-you-can-do-it-too" voice that always encouraged and cheered me on.

We spent hours on the phone catching up with each other, sometimes several times a week. During this time, our conversations shifted to more adult, age appropriate topics-- and so did her "Tsking".

She tried to teach me "streets smarts" as an independent woman working in a big city and in a man's world. And she wanted to make sure I experienced everything that was available to me in Manhattan-- Theater, arts, culture...

Our phone conversations always started the same way.

Hi Mrs. Smith!

Oh there you are! How's my girl?

Only once in our friendship do I remember our conversation starting differently and that was when her beloved Mr. Smith passed away. I was about 32 at the time. She was so sad and so confused in the immediate hours after that it took three tries for her to realize it was me on the phone.

This time her weepy "How's my girl?" was followed by a defeated "Tsk" as if to scold herself for the confusion. My heart broke for her because I knew her sorrow was deep as she struggled through this difficult time.

She hated the idea of having attended the funerals of so many people she cared about. But she tried to be stoic and said to remember the good times-- remember the positive-- remember to keep your chin up-- Then she'd roll her eyes, shake her head and say.... "Tsk". It was her reminder not to collapse into a puddle of tears and grief.

Mrs. Smith was 96 years old when she passed away nearly 18 years ago. All of her friends and most of her family predeceased her. She had no children and she lived a few thousand miles away from a distant, never in touch, 70-something nephew. We were her family, my mom and me, everyone else was gone.

This year, I've come to understand her "Tsking" in the face of grief a little too well. With so many loved ones passing away, my heart is sad and I spend way too much time overwhelmed with loss and loneliness.... And I can hear Mrs. Smith "Tsking" in my ear.

There is a profound loneliness that comes with losing so many people you love and adore. The times you want a girlfriend to chat with, a mentor to turn to, a party pal to cheer up with, a wise relative to guide you, a loved one.... and... and... and... so many are gone.


Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins

Photo Credit: © jacinda richman -

WIN SOME $$$ -- Enter to win a $60 CSN Stores Gift Certificate and a $25 Gift Cardby leaving a comment on THIS POST and onALL MY NEW POSTS between now and next Sunday, May 30th. Blog about the Giveaway and receive an extra entry! COMPETE GIVEAWAY DETAILS HERE.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sundays In My City #35 - Shhhhh!

WIN SOME $$$ -- Enter to win a $60 CSN Stores Gift Certificate and a $25 Gift Card by leaving a comment on THIS POST and on ALL MY NEW POSTS between now and next Sunday, May 30th. Blog about the Giveaway and receive an extra entry! COMPETE GIVEAWAY DETAILS HERE.

For years, I've been collecting fabrics. No matter where I am, fabric store call my name for a fast or leisurely look around depending on how much time is available. Often fabrics, with no idea of what I'll do with them, came home with me.

If I had to guess, I'd say over the past 30 years, fabrics have come from about 15 states in the U.S. and at least three other countries. To say I have a lot of fabric is an understatement.

This is a drop in the bucket....

For the past few months, every weekend, I've been working on a top-secret project for a loved one using some of this....

And this.....

And this....

And this....

Godson and his Mom are very important players in this labor of love too. We can't reveal what we're up to yet, but we'll show you when we can. In the meantime, remember it's a surprise so lips zipped, okay.

How's your Sunday?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Unknown Mami hosts a great Sunday theme inviting YOU to get out and take pictures of your city and/or Sunday to share with the rest of blogland. Click HERE to see Unknown Mami's Sunday in her City today. And wish her a Happy Birthday too!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pie Anyone?

This special guy's mother believes she's raising a man, not a boy-- and she's doing a great job of it.

He was four years old when he "baked" his Mama a pie for her birthday. She prefers cherry pie over cake and the little man knew this fact. He also knew he didn't have any cherries for his masterpiece, so he put "pretend" ones in to make it perfect.

You can only imagine the mess in the kitchen, flour everywhere, but he did it all by himself and the pride shows on his face.

Last night, the now teenage man/child, with his iPod plugged into his ears, made his Mama and me an entire dinner, almost all by himself-- Meatloaf, roasted carrots, baked potatoes and salad with homemade dressing. The kitchen was cleaned after he prepared the food, including sweeping the floor, and his apron was barely dirty. He set the table, head bouncing to the music, and waited patiently for the meal to be ready.

Once dinner was on the table, the iPod disappeared and he asked us about our day. We talked about possible plans for his upcoming summer vacation and who his favorite Food Network chef is. Then he cleared the table and hung out with us for the rest of the evening!

What did we do to deserve this special treatment? Nothing! There were no strings attached.

The meal was the result of his mother letting her son use his imagination starting at a young age, along with hefty doses of encouragement and patience on his Mom's part, as he experimented in the kitchen. He's become quite the chef and enjoys regularly receiving requests for his famous meatloaf, mac and cheese, garlic bread, pastas and brownies.

Someday, this kid is going to be someone's husband and I think he'll be a really good one. He's learning how to take care of himself, he knows how to engage in a conversation with others, he's been known to stop by a flower shop to bring his Mama a bunch of daffodils or peonies, he knows the importance of showing appreciation and gratitude and he's a natural in the kitchen. I'd say that's a great start!

How about you-- Pie or cake?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Enter to win a $60 CSN Stores Gift Certificate and a $25 Gift Card by leaving a comment on THIS POST and on all NEW POSTS between now and May 30th. Blog about the Giveaway and receive ONE extra entry. COMPETE GIVEAWAY DETAILS HERE.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Procrastinate & GIVEAWAY

This is the view from one of the two computer desks in our home. Each have bulletin boards loaded with random pictures and notes for all to see. One is in my office, one is in the kitchen. Both have one thing in common, and it's hard to miss.....

This note--

Godson wrote it years ago when he was old enough to play games on our computers.

He was not happy about writing himself a reminder like this because it was proof-- with no wiggle room, that he was not allowed to so much as touch my computers until his homework was 100% done.

Godson is the master of homework procrastination.

Three times a week, homework is done at my house before his Mom arrives to pick him up after work. It's a push/pull hour or three, but together we've managed to always get the job done with a minimal amount of bribing on my part.

When homework started being assigned in the second grade, I made it clear that it was HIS homework and responsibility, not mine. Godson's Mom agreed and shared with him that she had no problem having a 30 year old second grader, if need be, so he got the "just do it" homework message loud and clear from the start. We also reminded him that we would not be missing recess for unfinished homework, he would.

But he still procrastinates like there's no tomorrow.

First it's the "I'm starving to death" snack necessity, followed by a call to both his parents--multiple times. Next there's usually something fascinating happening outside that he simply must show me. Then it's the backpack clean-out that leads to a lengthy debate about something totally riveting like the color of zippers. Occasionally he gets unusually creative and requests a hot bath-- Like that's going to happen!

But eventually the excuses come to an end and the homework is finished relatively quickly but with a big sigh asking why I made it take so long. Then, the now 7th grader, parks himself at the computer desk oblivious to life around him until his Mom arrives.

Today as part of Godson's procrastination attempt, he proudly announced that he's a whopping 4' 8" tall and that I need a new computer set-up-- a bigger desk and chair-- to suit his ever growing 80 pound body. I reminded him that I'm several inches taller and more pounds heavier than I'd like to admit and the desk and chair suit me just fine. He gave me a head to toe once over, realized he was busted on that approach, and went back to his homework.

Life is pretty simple when you're 13... Unless you procrastinate the day away.


Remember last week when I mentioned a GIVEAWAY??? Well here it is....

Thanks to the nice folks at CSN Stores, I'm giving away a $60 gift certificate good at any of their more than 200+ online stores. They have over 1 million products like shoes, furniture, baby and kid stuff, cookware, sporting goods, outdoor decor and did I mention shoes!!! So I'm sure you'll find something you can't live without!

I'm throwing in an additional $25 Gift Card because I love you all so much! (One drawing-- winner takes all!)

Entering the Giveaway is easy:
--Leave a message on this post and/or ANY of my NEW posts between now and Midnight Pacific Time, May 30, 2010. One entry per post but the more you read and comment on new posts the more entries you'll receive.

--Blog about the Giveaway (linking to THIS POST) and leave one additional massage on this post with your linking URL. (Good for one extra entry. Please, if you have more than one blog, only post about the Giveaway once.)

--You must have a blog to enter. No exceptions.

--Make sure your comment links to your email or leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

--As for Following-- That doesn't get your extra entries, sorry. My hope is that if you come back and enter multiple times you'll get to know me and decide if you really want to be a Follower or not. I hope you do!

Note: This is a one-time use $60 gift certificate from CSN Stores. CSN will email the Gift Certificate directly to the winner. CSN Certificate applies to merchandise only. Shipping is additional. Usual terms and conditions apply to Gift Card which will be emailed by me to the winner. Drawing will be random and results are final.

Remember, Leave a comment on this post and all my new posts between now and May 30th. The more new posts you comment on the more chances you'll have to win!

Good luck!
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: Joanna Jenkins
Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for the CSN Giveaway. I was given the opportunity to provide a giveaway for my readers and I jumped on it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Over the years, I've heard every "used car salesman" joke in the book. None were terribly flattering. Most gave me pause.

My dad was a car salesman.

As a kid, I couldn't understand the jokes about con artists, crooks, rip-offs and the likes. And I didn't understand the visual that was usually associated with the stereotype because my dad did not wear wild plaid jackets and he never smoked a stinky cigar.

When I was older, I realized there are all types of car salesmen and my dad was one of the good guys. Sure I'm his daughter, but Dad literally sold cars to three generations of families and never, to my knowledge, had an unsatisfied customer. Living in a small town where everyone knows everybody's business, I'm pretty sure I would have heard about it if he had.

There were perks of being a car salesman's daughter. Dad always drove a nice car with that new car smell and he was more than happy to drive my friends and me to school every morning. And my mom always drove nice, very reliable used cars that never so much as had a flat tire.

But there was one disadvantage to having a dad in the car business and that came when it was time to buy my first car in 1978.

Finally brave enough to get my driver's license at age 19, I was sure I'd be able to get a great deal-- ala the "Daddy Discount", on a hip, hot looking, red sports car with the whopping $800 I'd saved.

Dad had other ideas.

In selecting a "good used car" for me, Dad surrounded me with a lot of metal so it was ultra safe and would hold up well in the inevitable new driver fender-bender. That translated to a very used 1972 Dodge Dart.

There was nothing hip or cool about it despite it being red. It was an old person's car. A boring car. With a little rust. And, and, and, it was so very ugly and big and not my idea of a cool car.

I wanted to cry but that wasn't an option. I knew that even though I was 19 and even though I was buying it with all my own money, this was the car I was going to get. Period. Dad had spoken and red Dodge Dart was parked in our driveway.

My family name their cars-- All are bestowed with an affectionate name that the car is regularly referred to. We've had Teddy, Harry, Cosmo, Betty, Madonna, and Big John to name a few. I named my ugly red Dodge Dart-- Unfortunate.

Just to put this in perspective-- Remember Al Bundy's ugly car on "Married With Children"??? A Dodge Dart. (I rest my case.)

I hated that car. Seriously-- I really, really hated it, but my friends loved it! After years of them driving me around it was my turn. Since it was big with four doors it was easy for my galpals to pile in the backseat without messing up their disco dresses.

But.... Unfortunate got me through snow storms, hail, rain and bloody hot and humid Ohio days despite not having air conditioning. It drove me to colleges to visit my friends and to work every day without fail. Other than the (very) occasional oil change, I do not remember it ever being in need of significant repair. And, like Dad said, it even "protected" me in the fender bender I was in-- but was NOT my fault.

By the time the odometer rolled over to 100,000 miles I'd driven Unfortunate for a good five years. It gave new meaning to "it takes a licking and keeps on ticking" but it was one beat up car.

Dad came to my rescue again-- without my even asking. One cold winter night after work, Dad drove home a brand new white Buick Regal and handed me the car keys-- along with the payment book. But it was an affordable payment and the trade-in on Unfortunate was part of the deal.

Dad, being the car salesman he is, knew it was time for an upgrade and a better set of wheels for his second daughter. Honestly, it had not occurred to me that I could afford a new car. But, unknowingly, Dad had been asking me questions and figuring out my finances enough to know that I could swing the cost each month. And he knew I thought the Regal was a "sweet ride".

No, it wasn't a red sports car-- something I've never actually had and eventually didn't want, but it was a dream car compared to Unfortunate and I loved it. As silly as it sounds, I remember this car and the timing as a turning point to "real" adulthood. Not because it was a nice "grown-up" car but because I'd been granted the responsibility of a car loan by a major bank.

As relieved as I was when the Buick was paid off four years later, I was really proud of the accomplishment-- Which I have my car salesman Dad to thank for. Without his insight I'd have eventually driven Unfortunate into the ground and then gotten another very used car purchased with too little cash instead of stepping up and committing to a loan myself. That loan helped me learn how to budget, save and take responsibility of my finances with an eye towards saving money.

So now, when I hear a used car salesman joke, I never take it personally. I smile and think about Unfortunate and the positive experience that car turned out to be for me.

What was your very first car?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit - Cartoon: © caraman -