Banana Splits for Lunch (and a Giveaway)

I’m a bad mom.

I realized a few weeks ago that my sons had never enjoyed a delicious banana split. I mentioned something about a banana split, and they looked at me like I had horns coming out of my head.

“A what?”

“What do you mean ‘a what?’ A BANANA SPLIT.”

Lots of blinking.

And so I decided to remedy the situation by making them banana splits for lunch. Because summer. Because memories. Because Hershey’s sent me four bottles of syrup to give a whirl.

Hey Let's Eat Banana Splits for Lunch

Because I wanted a banana split for lunch myself. And then I realized, huh, I’ve never made a banana split before. Well I’ll be.

It’s easy.

Peel a banana. Duh.

Cut it in half, and halve those pieces. Place them in a fancy pants bowl.

Hey Let's Eat Banana Splits for Lunch

Hey Let's Eat Banana Splits for Lunch

Add ice cream. We like vanilla. Well, BigBrother probably would have preferred chocolate but this is my banana split dream here, so there you have it. Vanilla ice cream.

Top with Hershey’s Syrup in Milk Chocolate or Special Dark, Caramel, and Strawberry.

Hey Let's Eat Banana Splits for Lunch

Of note that I chose the Hershey’s Special Dark Syrup for my chocolate fix on the banana split. Dark chocolate is my chocolate. Also of note: BigBrother originally didn’t want the Hershey’s Strawberry Syrup. He choked on a strawberry when he was two and remains adamant that he does. not. like. strawberries. Update: He likes the Hershey’s Strawberry Syrup.

Whipped cream to top!

Hey Let's Eat Banana Splits for Lunch

My banana split also featured peanuts on top of the whipped cream, because duh.

And enjoy.

Hey Let's Eat Banana Splits for Lunch

Hey Let's Eat Banana Splits for Lunch

The boys thought this banana split for lunch thing was the best thing that had ever happened in the history of all things, or at the very least, in the history of all lunches. And, really, I can’t argue. We sat at the table, ate our splits, and slurped up the syrupy goodness at the bottom of our fancy pants bowls, happy smiles spread across our messy faces.

I’ll always remember the day I made banana splits for lunch.

Now I want to know what your favorite sundae option is: Do you go banana split or are you just a chocolate lover? Let me know in the comments for your chance to win. The giveaway will include four bottles of Hershey’s Syrup, one of each flavor—Milk Chocolate, Caramel, Strawberry and Special Dark— along with one ice cream scooper, six sundae bowls and 20 party spoons. Comments are open through Friday, August 11, 2014.


*This post is sponsored by Hershey’s. All ideas and images are my own. Be sure to visit for more dessert and syrup inspiration.


Icebreaker Running

Training for the Columbus Half Marathon: What a Difference Two Years Makes

The Columbus Marathon is in 83 days, or in 2 months and 21 days. I have twelve weeks left to train for the Columbus Half Marathon.

Training for the Columbus Half Marathon

We flew all day yesterday, landing in inclement weather. We stopped to eat food, and drove the hour(plus) to our home. I briefly unpacked, only to get to the pink shirt I wanted to wear to run. I put on my new Asics that they sent me to give a whirl. And I was out the door within 20 minutes of walking in the door. I wanted to get that final run of week four done. And I did, albeit rather slowly.

New Asics

I felt proud at the time.

In retrospect, it was a bad choice. My back, due to flying and luggage dragging, and the general constant movement of conferences (like, uhm, dancing until 1 AM), is completely out. I burst into tears this morning trying to get out of bed. I am currently on the recliner with an ice pack, having taken the first Flexeril I’ve taken in over a year. I’m hurting, physically and emotionally. I hate that one bad back flare day can remind me of how bad it really got in 2012.

Let’s take a comparison shot shall we?

2012 and 2014

On the left, you’ll find me in 2012, just days after my back procedure while attending BlogHer ’12. I was mostly pain free, with a few leftover twinges. But I was severely overweight for my slight frame and the fact that I dealt with the feelings of my back injury by eating everything in sight. On the right, you’ll see me just after Voices of the Year this past Friday at BlogHer ’14. I see a slight tummy bloat because I had just downed two glasses of champagne and eaten two plates of food (I can’t eat before I go on stage; it used to drive my dad nuts!). But I see a healthy, happy woman who worked hard to lose 38 pounds. I’ve put five pounds back on since my lowest weight, and that was a personal choice as I didn’t think I looked or felt as healthy as I do in the range where I currently rest.

2012 me never would have woken up at 5:30 to go to the hotel gym with her favorite people.


And so sitting in the recliner this morning, looking at these two versions of myself, I can feel the panic welling up within my soul. Left Jenna was not only overweight, but she hated herself. She hated the pain and the way it affected her mental health. She hated looking in the mirror and getting dressed and leaving the house. At all. Right Jenna is mostly happy, still with the mental health issues she’ll always have, but in a general state of okay. She works hard at being healthy, both movement wise, with portion control. and regarding mental health. She loves spending time outside the house, whether running or with friends. Right Jenna is the Jenna I am meant to be.

A foggy morning run, earlier in the week

I have faith that the pain will dissipate and I can begin week 5 training for the Columbus Half Marathon someday this week. I may only end up with a three run week, but I’m going to have to be okay with that. I worked hard during week 4 despite traveling cross country and working my butt off at the conference. I am proud that 2014 Jenna knows that taking care of myself physically is very important, even while traveling.

What a difference two years makes.

Let’s look at runs for the week.

Monday, run 13: 3.09 miles, 32:00, 10:22/pace
Tuesday, run 14: 4 miles, 38:30, 9:37/pace
Wednesday: Rest day, cross-country flight day
Thursday, run 15: 3 miles, 30.09, 10:03/pace (DREADMILL)
Friday: Rest day, 6,832 steps at conference
Saturday: Rest day, 10,570 steps at conference including dancing until 1 AM
Sunday, run 16: 6.13 miles, 1:04:51, 10:35/pace

Again, I shouldn’t have run Sunday night. I wanted to get it done, so that this week wasn’t already behind schedule. I also wanted to prove to myself how different I am now, how dedicated I am, how much I have changed in those two years. Apparently I also wanted to prove how stupid I am and that sometimes, being human, I forget to listen to my body. It happens. I’ve spent the majority of today in bed, or reclined in the car, with an ice pack, with a heating pad, with a Salon Pas patch, with Flexeril, with water, with sleep. I’m hoping this is just a short-lived spasm like happned last training season.

Today is obviously a rest day, though I predict some sitting in my parents’ hot tub and maybe some laps in the pool to get my back to release. Week five of training brings only a one mile increase in my total distance, and not on my long run either. I’ll be running, 3, 4, 4, 6 (instead of 3, 4, 3, 6). As long as I can get my back to calm down and let go of my spinal cord, I should be okay. If all else fails, I may walk some of those runs just to keep moving. If I learned anything from my previous back injury, which lasted for a full two years, sitting still and feeling sorry for myself only makes it worse. The weight I gained while injured only made it that much harder to get better.

Here’s hoping week 5 will be okay.

A Brief(ish) Word on my Voices of the Year Reading

Standing on stage, reading those words, is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

My Voices of the Year Piece


I mean, I acknowledge it’s a well-written piece, one I am immensely proud of having written, having pressed published, having shared, having submitted for VOTY, having won.


Sending the girl with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and bouts of depression up on stage to talk about suicide seems like a recipe for disaster. Because I would rather talk about anything that suicide. I would rather talk about menstrual cycles and puberty with boys and Calculus and the weird orange mold spores that grew on our back deck than stand in front of a group of my peers and colleagues and talk about the things I struggle with mental health wise. To talk about the times I’ve felt worthless and hopeless. To talk about the times I wanted to die.

On Stage

But there’s a reason it wasn’t my happy posts that were picked. Not a piece about mothering the heck out of my beloved boys. Not a piece about the grief and loss that come with being a birth mother involved in an open adoption. Not a piece about writing or running or marriage or love or anything in between.

It was this piece.

Because it needs to be read. Out loud. We need to talk about the bridge that is any bridge, the space that is any space, those feelings that we’re told to keep quiet, keep silent, keep hidden. When I arrived at the Grand Ballroom, nearly in tears and having been sick with nerves for an hour and a half prior, Elisa Camahort Page took me aside and told me that my piece, well-written, had been picked because just as people needed to read it, people needed to hear it. Out loud. And then I tried not to cry some more.

And so it is my honor to have stood before you and shared those words with you tonight. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your tweets, your photos, your Facebook statuses. Thank you for coming up to me and saying, “Well done.” But mostly, thank you for sharing your stories. We are not alone in this. We are never alone in this.

With My Piece

It is also my duty to tell you that if you are struggling with suicidal feelings, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone. And, like we’ve seen plastered on our mirrors here this week: YOU ARE ENOUGH.

You Are Enough


52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with See Ya Later

See Ya Later!

I dropped the boys off at camp on Thursday.

They’re staying there, with my family, while I’m in San Jose for BlogHer ’14 with my husband. It’s really a treat for everyone. They play, have a blast, get to stay up late and eat all the ice cream, spend time with family, and make new friends. My husband and I get a mini-vacation, even if I work the whole thing.

Saying goodbye to them doesn’t get any easier.

When we stopped in on Sunday to check on them, they didn’t care that we had been gone since Thursday. As we said goodbye until the following Monday, BigBrother simply gave me a hug and ran out the door to go find his friends, the screen door slamming behind him.

LittleBrother looked up at me. “Eight days,” he mumbled. His eyes were wide.

“Yes, but then we’ll be home. You’ll have a good time with your brother and your other friends.”

“Yeah, you’re right. See ya later!” He shrugged as he kissed me and ran out the door, chasing after his brother.

I miss them so much right now, but I am not worried about them nor do I feel guilty. They’re having a blast. They’re safe. They’re happy. The same can be said of us here in California. Not too shabby at all.


I’m Not the Nice Person I Think I Am

I have been meaning to write this story since BlogHer ’12 in NYC. Since BlogHer ’14 kicks off in San Jose later this week, I thought it was time to sit down and tell this story.

There's a cute boy across the aisle from me on this SEPTA train.

My husband and I arrived in New York City via train. We roadtripped to my daughter’s parents’ house, parked our car, and took the train into the city. It was cheaper than flying, I got to see my daughter, and it was way more fun because trains. However, we walked out of the train station to a drizzly rain. Know what that means in NYC? It means you’re never, ever going to catch a cab. This was pre-Uber. We walked a couple blocks, tried again, and failed again.

So we just kept walking toward the hotel, dragging our suitcases and bags along behind us.

A few blocks into our walk, I was sweaty from the walk and the humidity, and wet the drizzly rain. The previous week I had just endured a back procedure hoping to help heal the back injury from 2010, so I was feeling a little tender still as I walked and walked and walked that early afternoon.

As happens in NYC, a gentleman stepped out in front of me on the sidewalk to hand me a flyer for who knows what. I didn’t pay attention at the time, so I surely don’t remember now. I wasn’t a newbie to NYC. I avoided eye contact and just kept walking. Normally this deters the person and they leave you alone, searching for their next person.

Not this guy.

He followed along beside me for awhile. Mind you, my husband was just a step or two behind me off my other shoulder, but this guy either didn’t notice or didn’t care. He walked a step or two ahead of me, facing me, walking nearly sideways on the sidewalk. He stared, willing me to look at him.

Nope. Not gonna happen, buddy.

Finally, he leaned in close and whispered, “You’re not the nice person you think you are.”

Then he fell off and walked back in the direction from whence he came.

I blinked. My husband asked me what he said, and I told him. We laughed, and kept on walking, eventually arriving at the hotel a sweaty, rainy, frizzy-haired mess. Or, I was frizzy-haired; he wasn’t.

I’ve never forgotten that exchange. Neither has my husband.

I said something kind of snarky and off-color yesterday, and he leaned in to whisper. “You’re not the nice person you think you are.” We laughed again, wondering aloud what that even means.

“You know the movie, The Truman Show? And the spoiler people in the movie? I kind of feel like he was a spoiler person,” my husband stated, looking at the road as he drove. I kind of peered at him with a “what are you talking about” face. But maybe he’s right. Not that we’re in some weird, half-scripted, half-not reality-type show and the rest of the world is sitting at their television screen trying to figure out when we’ll run into the wall on our boat.

But maybe that man in NYC told me something about myself that I didn’t know. Or that I did know, I just don’t acknowledge.

Maybe I’m not the nice person I think I am.

Maybe the mean things I think about people but don’t say out loud will come back to bite me in the rear end some time in the future. Maybe my snarkiness is less of a sense of humor and more of a defense mechanism to keep people at an arm’s length. Maybe that guy saw through my facade, sensing that I am not as brave as I show the rest of the world.

Or maybe the guy was really just a jagoff.

It’s probably that.

Whatever the case, I do try to be as nice as possible to people in my life, to people I don’t know. I don’t really attack unless provoked, and even then, I’ve learned over the years how to let certain things go, to let them roll off of my shoulders. I may on occasion think not-so-nice things, but I rarely say them out loud. And if that means I’m not the nice person I think I am, then so be it.

Because I’d rather be a semi-nice person who doesn’t say stupid things* to people than a jagoff on the sidewalk who needs to learn how to keep his mouth shut.

On the Train in 2012


*=I’ll always say stupid things, but rarely with malice.