Sometimes I think that we all need a vacation from a vacation.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE getting out of dodge and seeing the sights, but no one is ever truly happy on vacation. At least most of the time.

You don't believe me? Then take a trip to "the happiest place on earth" and glimpse at parents' facial expressions. Vacations are tense ya'll. 

So this weekend we went on a long weekend trip to Gatlinburg Tennessee. Now I love it there. My hubs does too. If it's cheesy and chintzy, we are in. That is totally our bag. We love visiting touristy places while doing things familiar from our childhoods. Hell, they still sell the exact same faux leather kids wallets and let me tell you, you can't just find a good fake leather kids wallet with the 1980's smokey mountain logo. Other places in the world just don't do that, but in Gatlinburg they do.

Oh and also I've never heard so many compliments as we got on our Bass Pro shop hats. Literally everyone thought my boys were some kind of avid fishermen, but in reality they were a guilt purchase since we go in the store and look at the fish for free all the time. 

Theo officially wins the "photogenic award" for this trip. Although little sister and brother weren't too far behind.

Oh and my new baby obsession? Bonnets. Little Bo Peep style. That girl was made to wear a bonnet. I'm just sayin".

At one point during our trip Minnie Sue and I ventured off alone, somehow ending up in a whirlwind of some Asian tour group. These little old ladies kept wanting their picture taken with "the little dolly". To them I think they really thought they were witnessing a Little House episode or something. Asian tour groups seem to be my crowd lately. 

Basically the whole weekend went by in a blur, and I feel like I need a week to recoup. I'm also super thankful for my own personal space as well as rooms not covered in knotty pine paneling, because well sanity. 

No thanks needed, but here's a little gem I found on the camera while preparing this all star photo dump for ya'll. 

I can't wait to use those words" remember that one time that Elliot fell asleep at the dinner table"? 

Parenting is the silliest. 


Feeling a little hippy dippy.

Sometimes all you want to do is dance around barefoot and wear flower crowns, while embracing the world with love and rainbows.

There's a little flower child in all of us.


Under Pressure, Bowie style.

Sometimes you have those friends who kick you out of your writing slump and use a writing challenge to get you back into the groove of things. My friend Brittany did just that when she instituted the first month of writing prompts. Seeing as how my posts have been dwindling lately, I chose the prompt "Do you ever feel pressure to be perfect and have it all together, when really you don't"?

I don't know Brittany, do you have the ability to read minds? 

Because you just read mine so hard. 

A big part of this blogging "business" is creating an online persona... a life that people want to read about. People don't want to see average or even normal. They want to see exceptionally dressed Pinterest mood boards coming to life. They don't want authentic, they want to see how you decorated your space with the same black and white Ikea Ikat pillow that everyone has (I have it too). They want to see a glimpse of perfection, not mom cuts in yoga pants. The internets is a harsh place folks, and a big part of me is afraid of that.

I know what you're thinking, "when you put yourself out there in cyberspace, you are allowing everyone to have an opinion in your life" and I totally agree, but when did it all become so serious? When did we all become so judgy? Why can we all just be real, instead of Modcloth posed mannequins dressed from head to toe in Free People?

I started this space before I really knew the business of blogging. I came here to vent my thoughts and laugh at myself. I invited you all to laugh with me, and you did. I share this blog because hopefully we can all commiserate as parents and people who have no idea what we are doing. I had no idea that there was such an "in crowd" and "cool mom blog club" that I had to kiss ass to join. I had no idea that these things existed and I think you can tell that in my earlier posts. I was naive and free.

I was just Free to be me.

 And then to make matters worse I see really successful bloggers (success that I can only dream of)  curating everything in their lives just so,  and I barely have time to brush my teeth or even dress my kids in actual clothes for the day. Getting caught up in that Instagram scroll can really make you feel like you're not ever good enough.

But then I take a break and a step back from all of the noise and Etsy trends and I go to the park with my kids, and meet people. People like you and me, people who just want to laugh at the fact that my underwear is pulled up higher than my shorts, over my tank top. People who pretend that they aren't staring at the Christmas print on them while they pretend to be interested in whatever I'm ditzily chatting about, instead of calling me out on it. Only when I look down in the car and realize why the quick lower glances were happening, and I burst into ridiculous laughter, and long to share those moments here.

Curate that,  Instagram. 

I've neglected this space, because I failed to acknowledge what I was really feeling. I was feeling hurt and inadequate. I was feeling the gross pressure of trying to be someone else...someone too cool to even wear granny panties with Christmas prints in the middle of July.

And that ain't me folks.

So follow my imperfect shenanigans and black and white Ikea pillow on Instagram.

Or don't.

No pressure.

One Pyramid short from being Egyptian.

Everyday I log into Facebook and am asked to join a new Facebook group of someone selling the most amazing thing.

And like clockwork, I fall for it. 

Every. Single. Time.

It's almost like I have this underlying attraction to the pyramid schemes. I literally will take whatever bait you are giving me. Got a pyramid you're trying to climb? Sure I'll join your team. I'm your number one demographic of sorts. 

Are you selling an opportunity of a lifetime hidden behind a mediocre product? 


Well sign me up. 

Seriously, I have signed up for almost every pyramid "opportunity" presented to me. Usually because I want the free product and discount, but secretly I too want to be a part of a "revolution". I mean, who doesn't want to get rich quick? The problem is to actually sell anything, you have to basically live it and be willing to interject it into your daily conversation. Which really isn't easy for me because  I'm usually  too busy focusing on my correct social cues to segway flawlessly into a sales pitch anyway. Plus, the whole haggle everyone you know bit gets pretty old. Especially when you have to offer them multiple miracle products in one lifetime. And I feel like a old tymey swindler who should be twisting his handle bar mustache while peddling my products from town to town. The whole idea just feels so dirty to me. 

But maybe I just fell for the wrong ones, you say. 

That very well could be. I started my pyramid journey with Mary Kay. Those stinkers got me twice actually. I mean, who wouldn't logically make the career choice to join a family? Especially when the entire investment cost the same amount as the face wash system you were going to buy anyway?  I'm no investment banker, but that alone is worth the constant call forwarding of your regional director. Hindsight, although I used to be a makeup artist, I really never used Mary Kay, nor do I hardly wash my face ever so I didn't even get my money's worth on that one. To boot, the cute carryall that it came in broke the second time I used it. I guess it was never meant to be. 

Next I attempted the climb to the top of the health and fitness pyramid. I pimped out Advocare and Herbalife, and almost body By Visalus,  that is until my son drank it and had a severe allergic reaction. I think that was God's way of telling me that I had no business pretending to be in good physical shape.  I'm really no fitness guru, and I hate working out, but those products tasted like milkshakes and made me skinny...that and the 500 calorie a day diet, but you know...results! Am I right? 

About Thirty one monogrammed bags later (see the pun) I decided that I was officially done with the scheme. But not until I checked out Stella and Dot, Oragami Owl and even LulaRoe Maxis (okay that one was super cute, I just didn't have the moolah to commit).

See a pattern here? 

Basically, I'm a product junkie with a love for the Pyramids. You can just call me Cleopatra. No really, call me that because I smell like a middle eastern Goddess covered in Frankincense. 

Unrelated: If you have any questions or would like to learn more about essential oils, shoot me an email at thejesselaine@gmail.com. Just kidding, I have no idea about anything except for DIY cleaning products...so if you email me I'll probably just throw around some buzzwords while secretly just being happy that all of my labels match. But I promise to let you use my 25% discount.

*hangs head in oily shame*


10 lessons I learned from my 10 year reunion.

Name tags for days. 

Last weekend I had my high school reunion. I know, the whole thing snuck up on me pretty fast...too fast for me to get fake boobs or rent a really expensive car, so I begrudgingly did as all rational thinking women do, and cut my hair into a pixie.

  Because that's what you do when you go back to your old stomping grounds, you try to fit in and hide your insecurities behind a life change, and since having a baby wasn't enough of a life change, you chop your hair. 

So this reunion had been brewing in my mind as an awkward experience just dying to break free. I mean, these things are awkward as it is, but I had some baggage from high school (and part of college) that I had yet to address, so needless to say my anxiety level was clocking in at about 11 (on a scale of 1 to 10). Also the whole not being a millionaire-or even remotely successful financially thing was also weighing pretty heavy as well. The cherry on top however,  was that we didn't want to burden family with watching our two crazy boys and newborn (who happened to hit her witching hour at the same time as this event) so the hubs decided to stay back and do the dad thing, while I braved the memory lane all on my lonesome.

Because I'm a "strong" woman and all that.

All jokes aside though, I had a wonderful time, and it got me thinking about things I wish I knew 10 years ago that I know now. Almost like a reverse Tim Mcgraw "my next thirty years" type thing, but in reference to my late teens. So here we go.

10 lessons I learned from my 10 year reunion. 

1. Enjoy the ride.
Ten years ago I was so worried about my future. So worried about getting great grades, going to  college and trying to be involved in everything, Now as a stay at home mom, I would love to get to do anything without worrying about my kids. Even in the rare event that they aren't attached (figuritivly or literally) to me, I still worry. It's very hard to enjoy anything the way that you do when you are carefree and living on your parents dollar.

2. Live a Little. 
Back in high school I was very cautious, afraid to get into trouble, afraid to let down my parents, and I was afraid to do anything to accidentally ruin my future (see number 1). I never drank and I hung out with a crowd that really didn't either. I never broke my curfew and I always tried to do things that were pleasing to others. A big part of me wishes that I would have just done something for me. I was always afraid of hurting someone else's feelings. I didn't take that extra dance class because I didn't want to hurt my current dance teachers' feelings. I didn't take a drink of that room temperature vodka in a water bottle because I was afraid to get caught and let everyone down. Okay, that was a bad example. Who really was ever dying to drink room temperature vodka? But you get the idea. 

Disclaimer: I am in no way advocating for underage drinking, however I do wish I would have been more "footloose and fancy free" and not so judgmental to those who did choose to party. 

3. Don't sweat the small stuff. 
This one is a tough one for high school girls. Especially high school girls who grew up in the 2000's watching Laguna Beach reruns and actually living the ups and downs of Kristin and Stephen's relationship. Everything is #sodramatic at that age. I don't know if it was because all the girls were having their periods at the same time, or what, but I can remember something so small becoming such a huge deal quickly, and with the new technologies of the time (AIM) it only took one poorly worded away message to ruin your day.

4. Flaunt it.
As the mother of a daughter now, I'll never say this out loud to her (because eye contact is so awkward), but  most people's bodies will never look as great as they did in high school. I for one, wish that I had known this and actually worn that cute dress without a bra,or those oh so trendy crop top halters with confidence. How was I supposed to know that everything would sag and bag? I mean, I'm at the point now that I use dusting powder under my boobs for crying out loud!  I didn't even know there was a space for that, let alone a need back in high school. 

5. Spend your time with those who really deserve it. 
I don't have any regrets in my life per say, but now that I am older and my friend time is extremely limited, I wish I would have skipped out on some of the lame dates, had more girls nights and spent more time with those who actually love me, and not just those who can tolerate me. In high school, quantity seemed to trump quality in friendships, and it took me 10 years for my eyes to open, and to see who was really there for me in the thick of it all.

6. Don't judge a book by it's cover.
Those people that you think you'll never be friends with? They may have a lot more in common than you think. Or maybe they don't. Either way, you never know unless you actually be a human and talk to them. Branch out of your normal comfort level, find people who may not outwardly be like you, but may carry the same struggle, or hopes and dreams in your heart. I found out that a girl that was merely just an acquaintance in high school, is a member of one of my closest online communities. We totally get each other, and unfortunately it took us 10 years, Mark Zuckerberg and the Brittany Gibbons body love movement for us to figure that out. Who knew? Maybe we missed out on a ton of great times. ya know?

7. Go on Spring Break. 
Seriously. For crying out loud. I wish I would have gone, because after all of the "hey what have you been doing these last ten years" talk, everyone began going shot for shot, reminiscing about the good times that I had to again remind myself and them that I wasn't a part of. I've got to hand it to you, those stories have lasted the test of time. I still regret that I wasn't a part of the epic trip and I don't understand the references to the Belvedere, although I'm 99% sure that story ended in vomit. 

8. Stop trying to earn Prom/ Homecoming Queen votes.
So many times I didn't stand up for myself and loved ones because I was afraid of being labeled a "bitch" or that people wouldn't think I was nice. It's taken be about ten years and a ton of struggles with fear of confrontation, but I've finally learned to use my voice and throw my weight around when needed. I've won some, and I've lost some friends in the process, but it feels good to stand up for what you truly believe in. And you know what? I'm really not that nice, and that's totally okay.

*Also I was never even nominated for any school dance titles, so being nice never really got me anywhere anyway. 

9. Leave High School in High School. 
This one was the hardest for me to write, because I was one of "those" girls in high school with a super serious high school boyfriend that thought we would be together forever. Clearly it didn't happen that way, and we carried a relationship into the early years of college doing the whole breakup/makeup tango (totally healthy amirite), and finally calling it quits 6 years ago. I knew that almost all of our couple friends had gotten married, and in the rather messy breakup he got to keep the friends (bummer) and I was replaced (thank goodness). Now, more than ever I'm so glad that we didn't work out, as I have found my hubs and had the best three kids ever, but a big part of me wishes we would have just left it all in high school, and not dragged it out to be as messy as it really didn't need to be. In high school that drama is expected, almost coveted, like a rite of passage, and leaving that mess in '04 would have just been way easier. High school relationships should be fun and silly, and definitely not taken too seriously. That way you can totally avoid the uncomfortable feeling of your ex totally blowing you off when you say hello at the reunion. 

10. Be true to your school. 
Even if you don't want to go, GO. Even if you feel like you have nothing in common, with your former classmates. GO. I cannot stress it enough. The truth of the matter is that no one is super happy with where they are in life yet.It's a journey, and everyone is climbing the mountain, some in completely different ways, but climbing nevertheless, and taking some time to reminisce and talk about the "good old days" is a great way to reconnect and actually meet the people that you didn't get to know back in high school. And if none of that is your bag, they usually have drinks. And cake.

2004 was a great year, full of ups and downs and lots of juicy couture sweatsuits, but one thing is for sure is that 10 years goes by fast. Before you know it, it'll all be hairplugs and  Botox.

And cake.

Don't forget the cake.

Rocking the heavy eyeliner/no brow trend of 2004 so hard. 

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