Wednesday, October 3, 2012


In my pursuit of writing, I am often asked "What kind of writing do you want to do?" After much thought(maybe too much thought), I've landed on an answer. I'd like to write picture books. With that in mind, I took to the world wide web, to see if there were any classes being offered on penning the next great picture book. There is not. At least, not anywhere within 12 hours of my house. I did, however, come across Mem Fox's website. Fox is an award-winning, Australian picture-book author. Chances are, if you've been to a baby shower within the last decade, her book Time For Bed has come across your path.

She has a section on her website entitled "So you want to write a picture book..." Why yes Mem, yes I do! As I read through her thoughts, I was inspired and challenged and so grateful that someone has talented and experienced as Fox would have the compassion and thought to share her insights and experiences. It was most helpful and I'm sure I'll read it many times over as I travel further down this path.

The Marvelous McKeowns

Two years ago, I was in a holding pattern of sorts. I was working at the bookstore and I had just let my contract with the school board run out. I was adrift, wondering what was going to happen next, where I would go from there.

A few months later, a bittersweet job offer came my way. To work at a daycare isn't where a trained teacher dreams of ending up but I would be working with kids and it would be a full time gig-something my bank account was sorely in need of. My mom's words of encouragement were "Maybe this will lead to something else." A large part of me doubted her words, but I took the job, donned the uber-flattering daycare scrubs and hopped on the bus every morning to head to work.

A few weeks later, my supervisor informed me that our infant room would be receiving two new kids, twin girls. Not thinking much of it, I began to prepare the room, labeling cribs and baskets with the new addition's names-Emily and Clara.

I distinctly remember the first time these two peanuts came to visit our room. Light-as-a-feather Emily was plunked in my lap with Clara right beside on the floor. Clara slowly started to explore with Emily content to sit in my lap and have toys brought to her as her eyes scanned the new people and place that surrounded her.

Over the next months, I fell in love with these two precious, distinctly different girls. One cautious and observant, the other daring and wild. But both extremely clever and so loving. As the time for their graduation from our room approached, I cherished their smiles and cuddles all the more. On their last day in my room, the girl's mom asked me, "So, would you ever consider being our nanny?" I had considered it, many times actually, and although the job would be only be part time, there was another part time opportunity that had come my way, that seemed to fit perfectly. After a weekend of debate and much (positive)input from my family, I decided to accept their offer. Two months later, I left the daycare and began work as their nanny.

I've been with Emily and Clara for one year now. I love watching them grow into their personalities and discover new things.

Clara, the wild one. This little girl loves adventure. She loves to climb and jump and spin and do anything that is active. She plays hard and she also loves very, very deeply. She gives hugs to anyone who will accept them. This was true, even back in the daycare when she would tackle the other kids with hugs and kisses. When Clara loves you, you know it. :)

Emily, the contemplative one. This peanut is whip-smart. She likes to have things explained to her, to really understand why things work the way they do-which is one of the reasons we sometimes spend quite a bit of time at lunch talking about what different foods do for us. Although it might take a bit longer for her to warm up, Emily has such a loving heart and easy laugh. She loves to be tickled and to be "a team" with her sister.

Along with these two amazing girls, this family also comes with two fantastic parents. Mike and Peggy are among the most generous and kindhearted people I have ever known. In the early stages of our working relationship, I honestly thought they were too good to be true. However, over the past year, I have seen time and time again how loving and supportive these two really are. They have supported me, not just as the care-giver to their girls, but as a friend and I am forever thankful.

When my mom said that she thought the daycare job would lead 'somewhere', I don't think she thinking 'to a nannying job' but I do believe that job was used to lead me to this amazing family and, with their support, will lead me further.

So thankful for these monkeys.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

MOH Anniversary Toast

I am a sucker for a good wedding and tears are a regular(and sometimes welcome) occurrence during the proceedings. I love being in a wedding party even more. I've been lucky enough to be in 3 wedding parties, each time as Maid of Honor. 8 years ago, I stood up with my sister, as her MOH, as she married Jeff. I was an emotional basket case for much for the day. Laughing one minute, crying the next, I rode that roller coaster all day. It was fantastic. However, I do have one regret from that day.
During the reception, the two bridesmaids and myself got up to give a toast to the bride/advice to the groom. Shockingly, I had nothing prepared ahead of time and in my mental haze of dizzying emotion, there were tears and some laughter but I've never been satisfied with what I shared. It was scattered and not up to snuff in my opinion. I've often thought of what I could have said about Shannelle and Jeff, or what I would say now, knowing them as a pair for 8 more years. So, for this, Shannelle and Jeff's 8th anniversary, I thought I would give it another shot. I give you the toast that should have been.

  Shannelle, there are few words that can describe all I'm feeling today. I've chosen a few and hope they will suffice.

Lucky- I'm lucky that you didn't kill me when, as kids, I tricked you into cleaning my room time and time again. For that matter, you're lucky I didn't kill you for repeatedly manipulating me into doing, pretty much whatever you wanted(Just go down the laundry shoot, Jenn! It's not that far!). I'm lucky that I've blocked out the summer road trips fights we must have had and mostly remember the ridiculous games we played(How much of your fist can you put in your mouth without it actually touching your mouth?).
Today, I'm lucky I have waterproof mascara on. I'm also lucky that you have brought Jeff into our family. He will make a fantastic, somewhat calmer addition to our loud family and maybe, one day, he'll get to a point that he'll join in on our antics, or at least doesn't internally(or externally) roll his eyes at our crazy Tattrie behavior. More than anything, I am lucky, and blessed beyond belief to have you as my sister. We over-share together(something I've learned it's best not to do with everyone), we talk about fictional characters as if they were real, and share some of the same perfectly logical neuroses. You encourage me, push me and I admire you more than you know.

Happy- When we weren't driving each other 'round the bend, we were a team, a pair, for all of my 21 years. There were secrets shared(or so we thought-Mom's really do know everything), clothes borrowed, Barbie's divvied up and much, much, laughter exchanged. I'm happy today to pass you off to a man I trust to share, hopefully not your clothes, or Barbies for that matter, but your secrets and much laughter. Today, I am truly and unabashedly happy for you. To see you start a new chapter of your life with this man who you love and who clearly loves you makes my heart smile. 

Excited- I'm excited to see where life will take the two of you. Maybe one day, if you so choose, I might have a couple nephews that are cuter than anything I've ever seen. Your call, of course. Perhaps, I'll start to follow golf and trade texts with Jeff during golf tournaments. Although, I really don't see that happening. Whatever happens, know that I'll be there cheering you on, praying for you and coming over to your house whenever possible.

Shannelle, I love you. Jeff, you're alright too.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

What 29 Looks Like

Before you read this post, you should probably read this one. I'm sorry but I'm not going to write that all out again. I'll wait.

You read it? Okay, then read on.

I'm looking to have a different sort of year. In order to do that, I'll be setting some goals for myself. I'll be adding to this list throughout the year. Some of the goals will be super small, possibly a bit silly(check out #3), some will be a bit more substantial. I'm the kind of person who takes a shower, then writes "Take a shower" on her To Do list just so I can cross it off. There may be a bit of that this year, but I'm okay with that.

1. Write a New Post Every Two Weeks
       Writing is something I love to do and I`d like to work my writing muscles a bit more than I have been. I`d like to get better. At first I thought I should write a post every week but seeing as how it`s taken more than two months to write my two most recent posts, I thought every two weeks was probably a bit more realistic.

2. Pursue Writing
   What this would look like, I'm not sure. It's been suggested to me that I pursue getting my work published. My first(and second and third) response was "What? No way! What if they say no!" Who is 'they' and what are they saying 'no' to? I'm not sure. I don't make sense a lot of the times. However! I`d like to see where it might take me. If you have any tips or advice, send them my way!

3. Watch Braveheart
  This is one of those silly goals, obviously. I’m fairly certain that pop culture has ruined the whole, “They’ll never take our freedom!” for me, but I’ll give it a shot regardless.

4. Create More Structure at Work 
  I am a nanny to amazing, two-year-old twin girls. They are hilarious and adorable(as many two-year-old`s are) and I love them so much! We go on a number of awesome outings(Calgary Zoo, Science Center, Monkeyshines) and have lots of fun at home, but I`d like to step up the educational component. They`re whip smart, so all I need to do to provide them with more opportunities to learn! It`ll also give me an opportunity to use that BEd I’ve got! :)

5. Plan For Something a Year in Advance
  Since I graduated from university, my ability to plan anything more than a couple weeks into the future has gone to seed. This is a skill, I feel, a functioning adult needs to have a better handle on. And so I plan. Well, I plan to plan. I`m thinking a 30th Birthday trip. We`ll see.

Stayed tuned for more! And hey, if youve got some goals ideas, let me hear ’em!

One More Year

15 years ago:
  I look at the party invite that my parents have received for Steve's 30th Birthday. One thought runs through my head- "30. Steve, I'm so sorry. Life is over for you now." As a very wise 14 year old, I could see that my life was full of possibility and clearly, at 30, Steve should just give up. What was there to live for after 30?

9 years ago:
  My twentieth birthday hits me like a ton of bricks. Living in the States with family, I have a near meltdown, sure that I'm light years away from where I should be in life. There are many tearful emails written to family and friends back home that all share a common theme- "I'm 20, shouldn't I have it figured out by now? I'm nowhere where I thought I'd be."

1 year ago:
  I turn 28. There's no denying it now. I'm in my late twenties. None of this forgiving "mid-twenties" stuff, I'm rolling to the finish line. I start to see 30 on the horizon, waiting to give me my Retirement From Life papers. A steady dread makes itself at home in my mind, occasionally singing "30's getting closer! 30's getting closer!", like a school yard bully.

  I turn 29. I have 365 days until I'm 30. You may think it's silly, hey, I think it's silly, but I'm kinda freakin' out. I have often said, "If my 20 year old self knew that I'd age almost a decade and still not really know what I'm doing, I would have really and truly lost my mind." I feel like I should know where I'm headed(or at least a general direction), that I should know what I'm about. I've got to be honest with you, most days, I don't. However, an experience last weekend had an unexpected influence on me. I went camping. You might say I had an epiphany. And by epiphany, I mean, I realized something that most people would find to be common sense. Let me explain.

  Camping has never been on my radar. I didn't hate it(although I did have a number of minor death-related fears about it), I didn't love it, I had no feelings towards it at all because I had never tried it. There are lots of things in life, trivial and otherwise, that I'm indifferent to, or more importantly set against, because of the unknown. I don't know what the outcome will be so I eliminate the possibility of the experience altogether. Here's the problem with that thinking-you miss out on so much! Well, I assume you do, I wouldn't know. :)

  One of the best ways to find some direction in life is to try different paths. "It doesn't hurt to knock on the door", as my mom would say. Try things you've never done or only considered. For the most part, you won't know if it's right or wrong by simply making a pro/con list. Listen, I'm not saying, "Hey! Try something new! Do something you know to be a colossal mistake! Stupid decision making leads to a great life!" I'm thinking more along the lines of, "You have a talent. Explore it. See where it might lead. Take it in a direction you didn't expect." Or something as simple as, "Hey! You've never gone camping-give it a shot! You might like it!" Turns out I did. So, as a brand new member of the 29 year old club, I'm making a decision to be a bit more intentional with my life. I'll do my best to accept the life that's brought me to this point and shake off the fear of my twenties. If I'm nowhere I thought I'd be(check!), I've decided that I'm going to use this year to get a bit closer. A year from now, I still may not know what my life will look like at 31, but I'm hoping that I'll have, at least, narrowed the path and maybe eliminated a few possibilities. Check out my post, What 29 Looks Like, to see what some of my goals are.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let Me Preface This...

The other day I was in the cheese aisle at the grocery story. Okay wait, I should say, I'm beginning to notice a terrible personal habit. I'm an extreme prefacer. I think many things come into play here.

1. My dad is one of those people who ends up talking for ten minutes about something that could be explained to two sentences. He fills you in with a million details that really have no effect on the story. He tries his hardest to help you remember that, in fact, you actually do know the person he ran into at Costco, while he was buying some shaving cream that was a really good deal, after he sampled some great hot chocolate, but before he remembered he needed more pens. The excessive details bit is just one of the many things he has passed onto me. 

2. A favorite TV show of mine called Felicity. In the pilot episode, our heroine, Felicity, is about to tell her high school crush that she completely changed her university plans and traveled across the country, because of him. This is how she starts- "I just want to preface this by saying that I don't want you to feel weird about anything I'm about to say, at all." Which really, if you hear someone say that to you? You're almost guaranteed to feel weird about everything they're about to say. It's such a classic Felicity awkward moment, I really do love it.

3. My mind is, at times, a wild jungle full of scary gibberish. There are often times my mind ends up in places and I really have no memory of what train got me there. So, because I'm so random, I want to make sure that I'm not bringing my listener into the middle of some random scene in my life. I want to appropriately set the stage. Sometimes, I stop in the middle of telling a story, and add in a preface. "Oh! Before I go on-let me preface this by saying..."

4. Sometimes I just want to tell someone a random fact about my day. So rather than just say one random thing, I disguise it as a preface, even though it has nothing to do with what I'm about to say. "So, just to preface this-I saw a guy with a huge clown wig on today. Okay, so let me tell you about the book I'm reading." To be fair, there's never really a natural place in conversation to mention a clown wig sighting.

5. I often speak before I think. When I start talking, I really do think the preface is necessary. Honest, I do. But then, about 4 sentences in I realize, it's completely unnecessary. I'm working towards thinking before I let words come out of my mouth.

So, I want to apologize if it's ever taken me 5 minutes to simply tell you that the cheese was on sale. Well, I guess I just did.

The cheese was on sale.

There, I did it.
See? I get there eventually!


'I remember when you went to one gas station, your gas station, no matter what. Now, people just go wherever they have cheaper gas.'
I remember feeling nostalgic when my Dad said this a few years ago. Now, this may make my Dad sound like he's one of those 'back in my day’ kind of old men, and maybe he is. But I also think it shows his sense of loyalty. When I was growing up, we always went to the Esso station to fill up. Not Shell or Petro Canada, always Esso. I had the sense that this was our gas station. It was almost like they were the team I cheered for. I remember not understanding when friends would tell me that their parents got gas at the Husky station. 'Why would you go to the Husky station, when you could go to Esso?' This, somewhat ridiculous, sense of pride in a gas station(I get how crazy that sounds) still has a lingering hold on me. There’s an Esso station a couple blocks from my house and that’s my usual station. I feel slightly out of place when I’m filling up at a Shell station. All that yellow assaults my senses. 
Both of my parents are very loyal people. However, my Dad is loyal to things like gas stations. I think that loyalty also spills over to his possessions. He has a hard time throwing out anything that at one time or another was useful or meaningful in any way. Even if it was 25 years ago. I would guess that, if not for my mom, who gets a great deal of pleasure from purging dusty closets and rarely visited drawers, my Dad would end up on Hoarders. I would say, I’m somewhere in between, but sometimes I see my Dad’s slightly irrational loyalty come out.

For example, I have been known, on occasion, to leave the TV on to lend my ratings to a show, even though I don’t actually watch it. I want to support the actor, producer, or creator of a show. I want them to succeed and feel encouraged in their latest endeavor, so I put the show on, hit mute and go wash my dishes. I know that's insane, even as I write this, I'm shaking my head at myself. I'm bonkers. I get it. But there's a part of me that feels like turning my back on a celebrity that doesn't even know I exist, makes me disloyal. I'm loyal to famous strangers. That is nowhere in the arena of rational thought. But I’ve embraced that personal quirk. I do my best to think logically about things but sometimes I slip up. I can't help it. 

On an unrelated note, JJ Abrams, if you’re reading this, I'm a huge fan. I’m sorry I don't watch Person of Interest. Please don’t take it personally.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

90's Kid

A friend recently asked me what decade I most identify with- "Are you an '80's kid or a '90's kid?"

Now, as much as I love the influence the '80s had on my childhood, after hearing rumors of an S Club 7 reunion, I have to firmly place my allegiance in the 90's Kid Camp. I don't think an '80's kid would have tried to simultaneously jump and make an 'S' in the air as many times as I did. 
 These rumors have ushered in a smile on my face and a healthy dose of nostalgia! Because of my age, I get the most nostalgic when I listen to mid-late '90's pop music. I'm the first to admit that this era is ripe with the cheesiest tunes around, but there's always a special place in your heart reserved for songs you know all the words to but haven't hear in over a decade. :) I've included some gems for your enjoyment.

Spice Girls-Stop(1997)
Not only do I know the words, I know the actions.

S Club 7-You're My Number One(2000*)
This was my favorite S Club video. They're just so much fun!
*I know, not an official '90's group, but because they're the reason for this post, I'm including them.

All Saints-Never Ever(1998)
I made one of the teens in my youth group listen to this song a couple days ago and his question was, "This song was a hit?" My answer? Yes, yes it was.

Five-Everybody Get Up(1998)
Me and my friends would blast Five driving home from school.

Take That-Sure(1995)
A couple of my friends and I LOVED Take That. We watched as many music videos as her VHS tapes could hold. :) You also have to love the net shirts.

Semisonic-Closing Time(1999)
Now matter how overplayed this song was(and it really, really was), you're probably a '90's kid if you've ever, after hearing someone say 'closing time', started singing "You don't have to go home but you can't stay here. I know who I want to take me home!!"

The Cardigans-Lovefool(1996)
This is the classic drives-me-crazy-because-once-I-hear-it-once-I-know-it'll-be-in-my-head-all-day-but-I-still-can't-help-but-sing-along song. :)

I could sit here for hours adding songs and memories but I'll leave it at that.
As far as music goes, I'm a '90's kid. What about you?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lyrics Say Wha?!

I am a strong believer in confidently singing along to songs, even if you're not completely sure of the lyrics. Sometimes, when I eventually find out the lyrics, I still sing it the old way. As ridiculous as it is, I feel a bit rebellious and silly when I intentionally sing the wrong lyrics. And, honestly, sometimes I just forget the real lyrics. :) Here are just a few songs I always mix up:

Bon Iver- Blood Bank
Real Lyric: I'm in love with your honor.
I'm in love with your cheeks.
Jenn Lyric: I'm in love with Your Honor(as in Judge)
I'm in love with your cheese.

Foster The People-Hustling (Life On The Nickel)
Real Lyric: Yet again I'm hustling, hustling, hustling
Jenn Lyric:  Get my Ross on, Ross on, Ross on.

Angels and Airwaves- The Adventure
Real Lyric: I can't live, I can't breathe, unless you do this with me.
Jenn Lyric: I can't live, I can't breathe, unless Judy's with me.

If I'm being completely honest with you, the vast majority of the time, I'm not even singing words. I'm singing the sounds that I hear. Complete. Gibberish. But it's gibberish with gusto!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I don`t like the word stupid. It seems so..harsh. And rude. There has to be a better word you can use to say whatever it is you`re trying to say.`s the only word that comes to my mind when I see things like this:
I really don`t understand why people think things like this are funny. I`m even more dumbfounded when I see people claiming `that`s totally me!! hahahahahaha!`

Really, people? Really?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Table For One

  Being a "single" in a world largely filled with "pairs", once was, and still can be at times, daunting. Intimidating. Honestly, depressing. But I've learned to look for the perks and embrace my alone-ness. I used to envy the built-in adventure buddy that so many of my friends had. Another person to suggest awesome outings or memory making moments. I was left to my own devices and ideas.

  I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but I slowly came to realize that my "pair" friends were having the same boring Saturday nights I was. If I wanted to go do something, I was going to do it. Was I seriously going to wait until someone came into my life and told me, "Hey! Know what would be fun? Frisbee!!" Heck no!*  So I decided to start doing things by myself-going to movies, out for dinner, exploring the city. It became a mini mission to start making adventures of my own. There have been some awkward moments of my solo journey's, but there have been some great moments too. For example, when I decided to go see my first movie alone. There was a very small voice in the very back of my mind saying, "You know what's going to happen? You're going to walk into that theater and it's going to be filled with couples and groups who are all going to be thinking-What the?! Who goes to a movie alone?? Loser!" It was just a small voice, but it was there just the same. So, it was with a bit of apprehension when I turned to corner to find my seat in the theater(the movie was just starting) only to find it completely empty, save one person. Another person having a solo movie night. Awesome. I told that very small voice to shut it, found the best seat in the house and enjoyed the movie.

  I've become comfortable with being alone. I am by no means turning in my people-person badge, but as an overall extrovert, it's allowed me to indulge my introvert tendencies. It's given me a bit of a more balanced life.

  Some people get uncomfortable when single people talk about being single. There's a pained look of sympathy that sometimes crosses there face as if they're saying, "I'm just so sorry you have to live through this. Singleness. That is the. worst. Chin up, you'll make it through." There may be some of you reading this who are super uncomfortable with the fact that I'm drawing attention to the fact that you're uncomfortable. To you I say-I'm not living with a terminal illness. I'm not crying myself to sleep every night. I'm not constantly drowning my sorrows in Ben and Jerry's. I'm happy and always looking for the next adventure. I'm sorry if you're sad for me, but chin up, you'll make it through.

*Please don't think I try to play frisbee by myself, because that would be depressing. It was just an example.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I know I'm not old, objectively speaking. However, as I look back over my first decade of adulthood, I often think-where have the years gone? I'll be turning 30 in a year and a half and I'm already starting to panic. Crazy, I know. But when I think of all the things I still want to accomplish and experience, the expression, 'Youth is wasted on the young', begins to resonate with me.

But then I think-if youth is wasted on the young, what is being wasted on me?

What do I have that I don't appreciate? What gifts, resources, opportunities am I squandering? What blessings in my life am I blind to?