An Indefinite Amount of Time

Last Tuesday, my office sent us home with our computers, laptops, supplies and anything else we might need to work from home — which is what we’re doing.

For an indefinite amount of time.

On Friday night, I finally set up my home office, pulling my desk out of storage. I had been meaning to do that anyway.


I also ventured to grocery stores Friday night, spending three hours hunting for eggs, milk and produce. Luckily, I had found six rolls of toilet paper behind a bag full of bags in my upstairs bathroom cupboard.

I felt like the richest woman on earth.

Mostly because it meant I didn’t have to go out again on Saturday.

Friday night at my neighborhood Dillon’s looked a lot like Sunday afternoon the week before…

No bread on Friday. Thankfully, I still had half a loaf with a “Best By” date less than a week prior.
Few soap options. I bought three, one for each bathroom and an extra to take with me. Excessive use of public soap has officially caused my eczema to flare and my knuckles to crack and bleed. The itching means I also bought an super-sized bottle of eczema cream.
No paper products. Toilet paper, paper towels and napkins were sold out. To the world, please don’t flush products other than toilet paper. (Women already understand this.) The last thing we need is a clogged water system during this quarantine.
The worst? No diapers (or wipes!). I found a pack of 18 in my son’s size on Sunday, and then again on Friday. One pack each day. Soon, we’re going to be potty enforcing, instead of potty training. Luckily, I’ve had people reach out to help me.

On Saturday, my husband and I cleaned the ever-loving s*** out of our house. We used the last of our Lysol wipes to scrub appliances, countertops and sinks. We dug deep into the kitchen sink with baking soda and cream of tarter. We swept, Swiffered and mopped the bathrooms and kitchen. We dusted, Windexed and vacuumed the house top-to-bottom.

I sprayed disinfectant purchased during my husband’s latest cold (more than a month ago) on every cabinet pull, door knob, light switch and surface my son might decide to press his face on.

So all the surfaces.

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Ignore the grammar errors. I was near an anxiety attack. A well deserved one, I might add. And autocorrect is a nightmare.

On Sunday, I outlined my week of billable work hours and homeschool for my son.

My agenda book has never included “School Activities” and “Outside Play.”

With the school district closed for the rest of the semester and my household #socialdistancing (and now under a shelter-at-home order), my 3-year-old no longer has access to the education, social/speech therapy and daily work he needs to improve on his cognitive and speech delays.

Now, that therapy falls on me.

Why me? Why not my husband, too?

Let me be clear: We are not a gender-“normal” household. We share the load across the board. We take care of bills, housework, paperwork, pets and the toddler equally and equitably.

But, right now, he’s taking care of even more because he works at a major hospital in our community. He has staff on the front lines of fighting coronavirus, flattening the curve and supporting the hospital.

All while they’re all trying to take care of themselves and their families.

So, that’s why me.

However, he still has to make dinner some nights because I’m generally a terrible cook (unless he wants frozen “chicken chunks” and oven-roasted corn on the cob for the indefinite amount of time I’m home).

Honestly, even with no butter, the corn was pretty legit.

In return, I’ll do the laundry and try to potty-train the toddler.

No promises on that second one, though.

Homeschool — and the attempt to teach my son how to string English words (instead of “his language” words) into a sentence — are my new normal for a while. I don’t know when he’ll be able to go back to daycare or school where he can learn from professionals.

Remember, this is indefinite.

What hasn’t been suspended for an indefinite amount of time is my job.

Because I still have a job.

A flexible, gives-a-s***-about-me job that understands and makes accommodations for my new normal.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

Sometimes, in the thick of things, we can forget how lucky we are.

I know I have.

Since Tuesday, March 17 — without a lucky St. Patrick’s Day celebration — I have been reminded over and over how lucky I am through the actions and words of people who care about me. The people I work for and with every day.

I know not everyone is going to be as lucky as I am during and after this pandemic.

Coronavirus is reshaping households and families worldwide. For an indefinite amount of time. Remind yourself, if you’re one of the lucky ones, that you are in fact lucky.

Stay home because you can.

Buy less because you can.

Donate more because you can.

Remember, not everyone can.

We’re all in this together.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

I joined Junior League of Wichita in 2016, and my favorite event of the year is here: Trash Bag Handbag.

Organized by the League’s Child Advocacy Committee during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Trash Bag Handbag aims to raise awareness for children suffering from abuse and neglect in our community and children in out of home placements.


Starting Monday, April 8, League members swap out handbags, purses, backpacks and totes with… trash bags.



Often when children are removed from a home and placed in police protective custody, they don’t have time to pack a bag. They might not have a bag. Instead, their belongings are shoved into a flimsy plastic bag, or a trash bag. Trash Bag Handbag’s goal is to raise awareness about this issue and funding for bags.

Real bags.

Donations go to ICT SOS in creating fresh start bags, which include clothing, hygiene items, gift cards and comfort items. Fresh start bags can go to any of ICT SOS’s partners to help children.


Helping us in our endeavor to raise awareness this year are eight community leaders: Annette Lawless, Anchor/Reporter for KAKE News; Claudia Amaro, AB&C Bilingual Resources, LLC; Judge Kevin Smith, Sedgwick County District Court Judge; Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruse, 4th District; Susan Estes, Junior League Sustainer; Susan Humphries, Kansas State Representative; and Vendla Smith, Owner/Director Zinta Inspired Language. 

Junior League of Wichita Major Fundraisers

We are an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Our focus area is child abuse prevention, intervention and awareness. Much of our volunteering and fundraising goes to supporting that mission and combatting child abuse and neglect.

Holiday Galleria, an annual shopping event held at Century II in Wichita, is our first major event of the year. Net proceeds support the League’s mission. The event has contributed more than $5.8 million and more than $44 million in the form of volunteer hours to the Wichita community.


Kitchen Tours, an annual home touring event, is our final major event of the year. Net proceeds also go to supporting the League’s mission. During Kitchen Tours, homeowners across Wichita open their doors to showcase their historic kitchens, remodels, local businesses and more. This year, we’re strolling around Wichita’s College Hill neighborhood to tour some of the city’s oldest and most interesting homes.

Our Projects

The League decides on one major project in our focus area to dedicate fundraising and volunteer efforts each year. Sometimes projects last multiple years.

Most recently, the League has partnered with and committed $150,000 to the Wichita’s Children’s Home for a period of three years. Our goals are to help young moms through mentorship, assistance with secondary education opportunities and by stocking the BabyMobile, a van that delivers critical self-care items to young parents transitioning to independent living.

You can help stock the BabyMobile and the Wichita Children’s Home by donating items on their wishlist.


How You Can Help

During Trash Bag Handbag April 8-12, swap our your usual bag for a sack. We use grocery store-sized blue sacks, but any old sack will do.

Engage people in conversation about why you’re carrying your wallet, phone, gym clothes, lunch, etc. in a sack instead of a bag and talk about what the League and our ambassadors are doing to help children in the Wichita community.

Can’t commit to the bag? Don’t worry. We get it. Wear blue, donate and encourage others to do so as well.

More than fundraising, though, we want to raise awareness about the issue of child abuse in our community. Yes, the funds are needed. Fresh start bags are needed. More, Kansas needs more mentors for children, more CASA volunteers and more foster parents to fill the gap between caring homes and children in need.


Disclaimer: Ambassador Judge Kevin Smith is not raising funds. He is an advocate for children in our community and will be a voice for the event.

BABR: November Update

First, BABR stands for Biceps and Belly Rolls. Now I don’t have to spell it out again.

Next, wow. It’s been a minute.

Life has a pretty fantastic way of getting in the way, which is why I’ve abandoned boxing, dieting and taking care of myself.

Yay, life.

Life also throws happy days, great opportunities to educate, learn and participate in the community and thankful moments in the way, too.

So, thanks, life.

Let’s focus on the good.

Happy Days


We dressed the toddler up as a puppy for Halloween.


He was literally a little puppy running around with his puppy lovey. (Thank you to my sister-in-law and her sweet boys for hand-me-downing this ADORABLE costume.)


I die.

I realize Halloween happened in October, not November, but this. kid. is. too cute.

Opportunities to Educate…

The Junior League of Wichita Child Advocacy Committee conducted a child abuse information panel with representatives from the Wichita Children’s Home (WCH), the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Exploited and Missing Children’s Unit (EMCU) and two foster parents to discuss the League’s focus area, child abuse prevention and intervention.

The goal was to inform the League about available resources in the community and their needs to assist with child abuse prevention and intervention.

EMCU detectives said the greatest need they see in the community is education. Other panel members agreed. Education not only on how to be a parent — one detective brought up the number of parents who don’t know safe sleep needs for infants — but also education in knowing what support is available to young parents in the Wichita community as well as what programs do for children and families.

Education is an area with which the League is familiar.

The League’s puppet show teaches elementary students about physical and sexual abuse, reaching 23,000 third and fourth graders so far.

In 2013, launched as a website designed to be a resource for Wichita to learn more about preventing child abuse and community programs.

In 2014, the League gifted $300,000 to the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County for its education and training wing.

And last year, the League took on a three-year project with the Wichita Children’s Home, granting $150,000 to help build up young mothers and their children through volunteering to mentor, providing necessary care items, such as diapers and formula, and encouraging healthy relationships and secondary education opportunities.

The Two Lives at a Time project is where my heart is, if not where my time is right now.

Top the contributions of the League with the individual contributions of its members, and this group of women shows itself as a force for change within Wichita.

…to Learn…

Junior League of Wichita gets together for a General Membership Meeting (GMM) every (or every other) month for League announcements, project updates and some education of our own.

In November, Kaye Monk-Morgan, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Wichita State University, presented Living Our Values: Respect to the League.

Kaye Monk-Morgan presents to the Junior League of Wichita at the November GMM

I can’t speak for the rows behind me, but from the third row forward, she had women on the edge of their seats. Her insights were heartfelt. Her stories were full of heart — and hilarious.

How do we live our values? When the League comes to serve, Kaye Monk-Morgan charges us to do it with unconditional regard — respect — for ourselves, each other and the people we serve.

At the November meeting, hosted in the Child Advocacy Center’s education and training wing, League members also donated new and gently used professional clothing items to the Two Lives at a Time project with the Wichita Children’s Home for upcoming mock interviews aimed at preparing participating mothers for job and secondary education applications.

Professional attire donations for the Wichita Children's Home Two Live at a Time project with Junior League of Wichita.

Special shoutout to some friends at work who helped grow this donation. Thanks, ladies.

…to Participate

I had a unique opportunity to participate on a panel with KMUW’s Engage ICT’s Democracy On Tap in November, too. The topic was #Activism, or social activism. Thanks to my boss who passed the recommendation to me.


You can watch the video of our discussion at I hope I don’t sound dumb. There’s no way I can verify that I don’t sound dumb because there’s no way I can confidently listen to myself speak during this video…

…without it being awkward for me. I will not be taking one for the team here. My boss did. She said I didn’t sound dumb 🙂

Thankful Moments

November was a busy month for me personally and professionally. A true highlight of my month was spending time with family and friends.

First, a dear friend from high school travelled to Wichita for early Thanksgiving celebrations. It’d been three years since we’d seen each other, and it felt like we’d talked just days before getting together to catch up.


I failed to take a picture of our high school reunion with two other dear friends Friday night, but it was good to spend time with them and talk about our recent or current rewatchings of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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And he met my toddler AND BECAME BEST FRIENDS IMMEDIATELY. **heart eyes**


Our formerly yearly Christmas-time get together happened at my mother’s house, where we played six rounds over two nights of cutthroat Pitch. Pitch is a traditional card game of ours. Cutthroat means we didn’t have partners.

He won three rounds. My mother one two rounds. I won only one.

Hey, I was tired.

We played with my great grandmother’s cards, a 50-year-old set I dug out of the junk drawer in my house. They still smell like her house. Smell, I hear, is the strongest trigger for memory.

It’s true.


My husband and I spent Thanksgiving afternoon enjoying family time and a trip to the park, and then went to bed early for the first time in NIGHTS.

Black Friday had a trip to his parents for an amazing lunch — of which my son ate rolls and cake, if you needed more proof that he is my son.


One of my favorite days of the season, Small Business Saturday, found me running up and down Douglas to work in some Christmas shopping.

I picked up a few books for the nephews at Watermark books.

Watermark Books and Cafe on Small Business Saturday

Stops two and three on my #SBSICT run picked up some fun gifts at The Workroom and gift wrap at Love of Character.

Love of Character and the Workroom on Small Business Saturday

Not to be excluded, I also got a cup of coffee outside The Workroom from Sunflower Expresso. It’s a coffee truck. **additional heart eyes**

I cut my shopping trip in half for lunch with girlfriends…


and we talked for like three hours, so I quit shopping and headed home to spend more time with my nugget.


I’m not usually this busy with the real-world. Usually, I’m just busy with toddler world. December isn’t looking any less busy.

Get ready for the next BABR update.


Junior League and Child Advocacy

I joined Junior League of Wichita in 2016. Friends convinced me it’d be worthwhile. The League’s focus on child abuse prevention and awareness also aligned well with other non-profits I’d worked with in the past. So I was excited to spend my first active year on the Child Advocacy Committee.

The Child Advocacy Committee organizes a fundraiser during Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month in April called Trash Bag Handbag.

junior league of wichita general membership meeting april 2018

Children moving through child protective services and foster care often don’t have the time or resources to pack their things in real bags — shoving clothing, toiletries and loved items into a trash bag instead.

Trash Bag Handbag calls for Junior League of Wichita members and supporters to switch out their backpacks, handbags and purses with blue trash sacks to raise awareness about this issue in our community and funds to solve the problem. Money raised purchases clothing, comfort items and real bags.

I used the same blue trash sack throughout the week, replacing my purse and the bag I use to carry my boxing equipment. It burst just before the last day of the fundraiser, and I had to double bag to keep carrying it.

Oh, yeah, I started boxing. That’s another blog post, and that’s Jen!

Jen is the executive director of ICT SOS working alongside other organizations charged with protecting young people at the Child Advocacy Center in Wichita. Money raised during Trash Bag Handbag goes directly to these organizations.

We raised about $7,000 this year.

  • Selling custom cocktails at the League’s April general member meeting.
  • Collecting donations on our website from our ambassadors, including Wichita columnist and reporter Bonnie Bing, Susan Estes and USD 259 Superintendent Dr. Alicia Thompson. Junior League of Wichita President Laura Roddy also played puppeteer with Joann from the League’s elementary school puppet show.
  • Taking donations on-air during a KAKE News live phone-a-thon.
  • Exchanging headshots for donations at The Studio, a favorite near monthly charity event of mine.
  • Throwing a wrap party at Newport with our ambassadors.


It takes a lot of work to raise $7,000. Thanks to all those who donated, participated and raised awareness. See you next year. I’m on the Child Advocacy Committee again.