No one said it would be easy, but sometimes it can be.


I’m pretty sure this was the best Mother’s Day EVER.

Breakfast at my favorite spot, church, sun, a nap, and time in the garden. It’s how we spend most Mother’s Days, but this year I felt like the party drunk hugging everyone and crying, “I LOVE YOU, MAN!”

Everything about this day felt perfect before it even started, and I didn’t even care what happened. I just knew it was going to be GREAT.

I attribute a huge part of this to the fact I really like Bryan these days. And when I say I really like him, I mean I REALLY like him. A lot. In fact, I like him so much right now I barely leave the house because I can’t imagine doing anything else besides snuggling up next to him.

This generally makes life bearable for a married couple, so I highly recommend doing whatever you can to really like your husband.

(Hint: attempts to change him will NOT make life bearable).

Really liking my husband has a trickle down effect because even though my kids are making me grate my teeth, I actually wanted to be with them today – a far cry from the Mother’s Day Escape Plans I tried to get away with the last couple years.

I also attribute the general success of today to the fact I totally forgot it was Mother’s Day weekend until late last week. This left no time for me to build up expectations, which gave me no reason to bitterly seethe when my expectations weren’t met.

Maybe I should only speak for myself, but I’m convinced marriages break down from a fatal cocktail of equal parts selfishness and unmet expectations. I know I’ve spent a lot of the last eight and a half years wanting what I want, expecting Bryan to give it to me, and growing bitter when I don’t get it.

Personally, I’ve never been happier than when I simply decided to like my husband again, for better or for worse.

Thanks for a great day, Babe. And kids? GET IN BED!

The difference between me and Bryan (and how it all works out in the end):

Me: “The bookkeeper said she’ll fill out those tax forms for us to sign.”

Bryan: “Uh, okay. How much will she charge for that?”

Me (thinking to myself): “How much? Huh. Didn’t even think of that. I was just glad I didn’t have to do it.”

Bryan (thinking to himself):
“Oiy.” *pulls hair out*

Me (out loud): “I’ll call and ask her.”

Bryan: (out loud): “Sounds great.”

Everyday Changes

jen-at-lilipipI’ve been working about 25 hours a week at Lilipip since the New Year, helping out with various project management and operations tasks.

It’s been seven years since I last did this – wore something different every day, put on make-up, left the house before nine… you know, the USUAL.

It’s been a hard couple of weeks. I’m tired, and I miss my friends. My body is getting used to sitting at a computer again. But I know without a doubt this is what I’m supposed to be doing right now.

Several friends recently asked me how it was going, tolerating Bryan all day at work in addition to tolerating him all evening at home.

(Well, they didn’t word it that way EXACTLY.)

Working together is probably the best thing that ever happened to us. I can’t imagine doing anything else, now, and it’s only been two weeks.

I always figured at some point I’d go back to work, at least part time, and I worried. I didn’t worry about the transition from home life to work life; I didn’t worry about an identity crisis; I didn’t worry about missing my kids.

I worried about living in a divided household. I worried about going in one direction while my husband went in another. I worried about having Things To Do and Goals To Meet that were completely separate from Bryan’s goals and lists.

Maybe that sounds like I don’t have dreams, goals, or a life of my own, but that’s not how I look at it. When Bryan and I joined our lives together, we jumped into the same boat – and as the song says, sometimes it’s a Strange Boat.

We are much happier and healthier as a family when we’re sailing in the same Strange Boat, working toward the same Strange Goal. I hope we get to do this forever.

A very merry 40th Birthday (mostly because it wasn’t mine).

Bryan's 40th birthday party

Bryan turned The Big 40 on December 10th, so I threw him a big party in Seattle this weekend for all his friends to celebrate with us. I want to give a big shout out to our friends, Nate & Beth Grigg for hosting the party in their lovely home! Apparently it was a practice run for them since they both turn 40 next month.

(oops, did I say that OUT LOUD Nate?)

The highlight of the evening was the Good Things Rapid Discovery Slam in which a few of us presented cool things inspired by or that remind us of Bryan (detailed explanation here). I read the following essay, written especially for this occassion:

On making an entrance into my life

You came to a BBQ at a house filled with single women, setting out your green salad with mandarin oranges, almonds, and a poppy seed dressing. Sitting there next to the bags of chips and buckets of KFC brought by lesser men, that salad made its first move on your behalf.

You get there first, and you make an entrance.

You came to the office for a meeting one day, and stopped by my desk to say hello. I mentioned we were all going to a show next month, and did you want us to get you a ticket.

“I’d love to take a beautiful woman to a show,” you said, and before I knew it, the group outing became a date.

You get there first, and you make an entrance.

And then I remember sitting at a table across from you in a loud, smokey room, drinking something pink and eating something wrapped, feeling that familiar panic of what-if’s and how-do-you-know’s. I’d pushed back on lesser men before, and they all went away into history, leaving behind affirmations of fear.

But when I pushed back on you with my what-if’s and how-do-you-know’s, you anchored me with you eyes, and said you’d keep asking until I said no.

You get there first, and you make an entrance.

So I followed you off into the sunset, knowing our destination lies somewhere between limitless possibilities and certain painful death. But as they say in our song:

We’re sailing on a strange sea
blown by a strange wind
Carrying the strangest crew
that ever sinned

We’re living in a strange time
working for a strange goal
We’re turning flesh and body
into soul

You set our course on this Strange Boat way back during those salad days. I didn’t know it then, but I know you knew it, because that’s how you roll in this set-up upset reset life.

So I raise a glass to you, Bryan Zug, on this, your 40th birthday. Thank you for setting our course as we follow after that Strange Star.

Maybe others came this way before you, but you got here first, and you made an entrance.

Captain of the Sock Police (repost)

I was looking back through my archives for something and came across this post. It made me laugh that two years later he’s still fighting the Sock Battle. The original post can be found here, in December 2007.

captured by the sock policeEvery year when the weather turns, Bryan goes into Paranoid Sock Police Mode. It’s not uncommon to hear things around our house like, “The reason you got sick, Ruthie, is cuz you’re not wearing your socks!” and “Thomas! You just coughed because you’re not wearing your socks! Where are your socks?”

Maintaining this level of Sock Security was easy with Ruthie because he just made her wear tights every day. But because Boys Don’t Wear Tights, he’s had a tougher go of it with Thomas. Apparently, as you see in the picture, he thinks pulling Thomas’ socks way up high will help keep them on. Tucking his p.j.’s into the socks also helps, and will increase Thomas’ chance of finding a wife.

I just roll my eyes at the insanity. The kids go all day with bare feet because I have bigger fish to fry than trying to find discarded socks throughout the house. But as soon as Bryan gets home from work he’s on Sock Patrol. I figure, if he wants to spend his energy policing bare feet, then so be it. I usually just end up sweeping random socks into a laundry pile at the end of the day.

In a related story, Bryan has also been known to wear socks with his sandals during cooler summer evenings, and even into fall. I have requested he not do this while in my presence, but I am not obeyed. “My feet are cold,” he always says. To which my normally irrational mind rationally thinks, “Then wear shoes…”

This piece of logic escapes a man with a Sock Blind Spot.

I recently laughed at him when he sent Thomas downstairs in these ridiculous black knee socks, and told him I was so blogging about it. He was all, Fine, but you should watch this commercial first, because socks are a NORTHWEST thing.

Yeah, baby. Sure they are.

No spouses were harmed in the making of this post. Well, maybe just one.

At some point during every major project I take on, I have a nervous breakdown. It comes shortly after I’ve committed, laid my reputation on the line, and pulled on my hip-waders.

Take pregnancy, for example. Around the seven month mark is probably a little too late to panic about what kind of Mommy Dearest you may turn out to be, amiright?

Last Spring as I prepped for my Ignite Seattle talk, I spent a few dark hours yelling at my husband about what an idiot I was for getting myself into this mess. NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT MY STUPID BORING LIFE, I yelled in desperation.

I was a ratty looking squirrel trapped in the bottom of a well, clawing away at the dirt walls of insecurity.

Bryan managed to talk me down off the ledge within a couple hours, bumps and bruises notwithstanding, and I went on to give a killer presentation.

Well wouldn’t you know it, but my first client as a freelance whatever-I-am purchased the fully loaded Cadillac option from my list of services, launching me headlong into the deep end of the pool ocean galaxy.

Around 10:15 tonight, after forty-five minutes of research fueled by the absolute certainty I have no fucking idea what I’m doing, I started yelling.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M EVEN LOOKING FOR! Is one example of what I started yelling. There were many other things yelled, but as is the case with most panic moments, not much is remembered. I do know that Bryan yelled back at me, and we spent a few moments trying to out-panic each other (he has his own deadlines), but in the end he sent me a magic link that made everything better.

And now I am fine. I will likely go on to produce the best work I’ve ever done in my whole life for this client, but for some reason I must pass through this creative rite of passage.

Poor Bryan. Poor, poor, Bryan. You can pray for him – he married a crazy lady.

Beverly Hills, prepared for disaster!

Beverly Hills, prepared for disaster!We are in Los Angeles this week, helping with video at the 140 Twitter Conference. And by we, this time I really do mean WE – I’m the second camera operator. But since that sounds boring, and I can’t have a cool title like gaffer or key grip or best boy, I plan to call myself Director of Photography this week.

It may be a slightly elevated title, but that’s what L.A. is all about, isn’t it?

Speaking of what L.A. is all about, we had a chuckle over these decorative flags along Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, because what could be more welcoming to a community visitor than pictures of fire and bomb explosions?


LEE080114- 0086.jpgBryan is working from home today – one of the many benefits of our new flexible lifestyle. We all walked together to Ruthie’s bus stop this morning, and he played tag with the kids while I chatted with another mom. I can’t think of a better way to start the day, except maybe with room service in a five star hotel somewhere tropical.

I recently picked up some freelance work, so we are sharing the office this morning while Thomas is at preschool. Fun, right? Sort of.

When Bryan is on a call he talks really loud. Like, so loud even my ear buds can’t drown him out. And he gets out of his seat to go to the bathroom and stuff, which makes me think – Huh, I wonder what HE’S up to? – and then I forget what I was working on. And sometimes while I’m trying to write an essay about how INSANE it is to write with distractions all around me, he likes to brag about how awesome he is at Bringing In the Money – particularly when he gets off of one of his really loud phone calls.

So after the UMPTEENTH interruption this morning I let out a deep sigh, turned to him with my finger sticking straight at him and a good tongue-lashing on its way out of my mouth, and —

I paused.

“I do this to you all the time, don’t I? Is this why it bugs you so much when I call you at work to ask why my Twitter updates aren’t posting to Facebook?”

This, of course, made him laugh and feel very vindicated.

I vowed to never call him at the office ever again unless I’m bleeding or winning the lottery – provided he shut the fuck up.

…three pointing back at myself…

Me: “Have you seen the baby monitors? Someone from Craig’s List is coming over to buy them, but they’ve disappeared.”

Bryan: “I don’t know. I recall seeing them somewhere, but I can’t remember.”

“Oh, here they are in a random box of crap. Can you not do that when you clean?”

“Uh, remember that day we had to put Lucy’s kennel upstairs in a hurry? That was all the crap you had sitting on top of it.”

“Oh. Well then. Carry on.”

I’d like to thank The Academy…

Ignite Seattle - April 29, 2009
Photo by Randy Stewart –

I had a great time doing The Sanity Hacks of a Stay at Home Mom at Ignite, and was so thrilled by the experience I could do it over and over again.

Thanks to Bryan for believing in me, and for convincing me that what I had to say mattered. Also? For laughing victoriously from the gut when I finally said, “You’re right, I’ll do it your way. Bullet points, it is!”

Thanks to Amanda, Katherine, and Julie for reading the first draft and giving me awesome feedback, because striking the proper tone was hugely important to me; to my IRL peeps for encouraging me, to my friend Alecia for taking my sick kid, and to the super duper fabulous Beth and Beth (yes, two friends named Beth – I actually have 3 total) for cheering me on at the event.

For the record, I do not recommend chaperoning a kindergarten class to the zoo at 8:30 the next morning, followed closely by obedience training for your dog in the late afternoon, followed by the arrival of your mother from out of town the next day.

It makes for some serious insanity that’s not so easy to hack.

A video is forthcoming. Despite the fact I sleep with the editor, I could not get him to do mine first.

weekend in pictures

Thanks to some Christmas money we still had and friends who loaned us their house in a beach town, we still had a wonderful getaway weekend alone. As in, without kids. It was kind of nice getting jostled out of our regular Portland routine (and out of our regular ocean routine, as well). We explored and did things we’d never seen or done before, which made for a spontaneous and adventurous time.

So, we may not have stayed at the hip Kennedy School, and we may not have received our spa massages, but we still relaxed, we still connected, and we still had fun.

Thanks to all who helped make it happen by loving and caring for our kids.


LEE080114- 0080.jpgBryan: “Can you drive?”

Jen: “I hate driving.”

Bryan: “I thought you loved driving?”

“I do in general, but when I drive you read a book. When you drive, we TALK to each other.”

“I don’t think you fully understand the man God gave you to marry.”

“No, I think you stole me from someone else who would talk to me while I drive.”

Friday Link Love

Link Love Badge

Trusting God With Your Dreams – Conversion Diary
Oh, let me count the ways in which I love this post:
1. It’s about dreaming big, yet relinquishing control.
2. It’s about seizing the opportunities in front of you, yet relinquishing control.
3. It’s about finding joy in the unexpected and (say it with me) relinquishing control.

“…either I don’t really believe that God called me to do it, or I’m just not willing to truly trust and relinquish control and admit that it might not play out the exact way I wanted it to. I’ve realized recently that it’s the latter.”

Hope is precious during difficult seasons – Difficult Seasons
Jim found me first, though I can’t remember how. I think he commented on my blog. I really appreciate the theme of his blog, and the insights and encouragement it provides. For those just catching up, Bryan is currently between jobs. We’ve been here before, and I know we’ll be okay. Hope is alive, particularly in that spark that ignites our fire for each other. To me, maintaining that connection is second only to seeing the hope of Christ when traversing across the valley of an unknown future.

I hear in third world countries, women are sent to their own hut during their… (ahem)

Me: “I think I’m about to start my period.”

Bryan: “What makes you say that?”

“Because right now I’m pretty convinced you’re a rat bastard, and I really have no reason to think that.”

“I see.”

“Maybe I should just lay low tonight and not talk.”

“Sounds like a plan.”