When “Thank you” isn’t enough – THANK YOU!!!!!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Four days on Block Island in a house full of family, has us all feeling super grateful (and maybe a little exhausted). All things considered, we are one lucky family!



The support our family has received over the last ten years has been amazing and with the release of Smiles and Duct Tape, it’s all been magnified. I’ve been receiving notes for the last two weeks from friends and family and strangers who have stumbled on the book. I’m so touched by the kind words and thrilled that the book is finding an audience.

The words “thank you” aren’t really enough, but THANK YOU!!!

If you are local, please join our family at WORDS for a reading/signing/Q&A this Thursday, December 1 at 7:30. I can’t promise that I won’t be super nervous (and I will definitely end up in tears at some point), but at least I can THANK YOU in person.

Love, Jess


What I realized while in Paris


Sitting at a dinner table in the heart of Paris I watched my mother and daughter debate everything from single-sex college dorms to the definition of rape. Suddenly it occurred to me that I was watching two extraordinary women. Two of my closest friends.

I’ve always been close to my mother – first as a daughter and then as a friend. I remember when our relationship turned from mother/daughter to friend/friend. I was older than Anna. I needed to be older than Anna. I needed guidance well into my twenties (okay – I still need guidance, but my mother is much better at slipping her advice into polite conversation – usually).

It’s strange when your mother becomes your friend because she becomes human. She’s no longer the person behind a curtain who you fear but can’t really see. This new person makes mistakes and bad decisions (not you, Mymom – I’m just trying to describe most mothers). She goes from telling you what to do, to what she did and how she learned. This women asks you for advice and helps you without needing to take over. I loved when our relationship switched, but I was an adult when my mother’s curtain fell. My curtain seemed to fall off without me even noticing.

Anna learned early in life that I am human. I blame ALD for the weakened grip on my motherhood curtain. ALD has a way of stripping down resilience. Too much energy is taken with worry and late nights. It been quite a while since I was careful with my answers to even the most “adult” questions and I’m certainly not great at hiding four-letter words or less-than-perfect mother behavior. Fortunately, Anna has always loved me unconditionally and she seems to know which of her mother’s characteristics to emulate and which to stay away from . . . She has grown into a remarkable young woman. Anna’s not just a good student, but she’s smart – not always the same thing. And, she’s funny and kind. I’ve known all this for a while, but in Paris while sitting at the dinner table covered with a thin white tablecloth, I gained an appreciation that she has also become incredibly self-assured and well-spoken. Watching her with my mother, debating rather inappropriate topics for a sixteen-year-old and her grandmother, I thought WOW I want to be just like Anna when I grow up.

Anna and I have talked about going to Paris since she was a little girl – a girl’s trip to celebrate her sweet-sixteen. We invited all the women in the family to join us, but life is complicated for everyone and Mymom was the only taker. As disappointed as we were not to have the whole crew, it was lovely to have just the three of us on this adventure. Museums, long walks through the city, elegant meals, even a Segway tour (don’t ask Mymom about it – she’s still recovering). It was all perfection, but my favorite part was watching these two people that I adore debating each night at dinner. I came from one and created the other. Nothing is more amazing than that.



This week has been busy with Smiles and Duct Tape getting out there. I’ve been distracted with marketing strategies and thank yous and begging for reviews on Amazon (not that I am doing that here), but I keep thinking about our magical weekend in Paris. I have two such strong, impressive (opinionated) women in my life. Lucky me.

Love, Jess

PS Anna still has a curfew. She might be mature and amazing, but she’s still only sixteen.

I’m gonna say it. It’s not appropriate or good parenting by any stretch. I can’t believe I am going to put this in writing, but her it goes — my daughter is my best friend.


B Nice

The Eagle has landed. Smiles and Duct Tape has been released. It’s out of my hands and out there for all to see – and read – and judge – AHHHHHHHHH!

I have lived my life trying to keep expectations low. If you strive for an A and end up with a B, you’re disappointed. If you strive for a C and end up with a B, you’re thrilled. I‘ve been a solid B most of my life and proud of that accomplishment. I pat myself on the back almost every day. Even days when I’m making dinner still unshowered in my yoga pants, if my family made it through the day and is being fed, it’s been a successful day!

Smiles and Duct Tape is the first time that people have rather high expectations for me. I do think that my writing has improved over the last ten years, and I’m proud of my 500 word essays on this blog, but the book is 49,000 words – in a row, it’s about the worst 1000 days our family has ever been through, AND I’ve never written a book. I hope people are looking for a solid C performance and give me a big high-five when they discover it’s a B, maybe B+.

If you read Smiles and Duct Tape and enjoy it, I encourage you to write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. If you read it and think I should stick to 500 words at a time, please keep that information to yourself.

The book is currently available at Deeds Publishing, at our beautiful local bookstore WORDS, Amazon (paperback and eBook) and my basement. Please contact me for quantity purchases (i.e. book clubs/super fun holiday gifts for the whole family) and I will give you a deal.

Love, Jess


Guardianship – Jack made it easy(ish)

I guess there are worse reasons to take your eighteen-year-old son to court, BUT today was a tough day.

When a person turns 18, they legally become an adult and are expected to make decisions about their life – medical treatment, finances, education, etc. Guardianship is a legal proceeding in which the court is asked to find the person in question unable to manage his/her affairs effectively. A guardian (or guardians) is/are appointed to make all decisions on behalf of the person.


Today Dan, Jack and I went to court to prove to the State of NJ that Jack is too disabled to care for himself. He is too limited to make decisions regarding his care and well-being. He is (and will always be) dependent on us. Heartbreaking.

Like most heartbreaking things having to do with Jack – it was Jack that made it bearable. He was in a great mood this morning as we got him scrubbed and ready to make a good impression on the judge. He smiled the whole way to Newark, eager to see his buddy Adam (our lawyer) and to meet a few new friends. Jack always loves an adventure.

When we told Jack it was going to be like Law and Order he didn’t seem impressed, but when Dan said, “I wonder if Judge Judy works here”, our boy laughed and laughed. It’s hard to take things too seriously when you have Jack chuckling next to you, but when we needed to go in front of the judge, I could feel the tears start filling my eyes.

Everything went off without a hitch. We just needed to sit as the judge read through all the paperwork – proof that Jack needs us to be his legal guardians (doctor’s notes, school information, interviews with us and others who know Jack). I did my best to ignore the details of Jack’s limitations get repeated over and over again. I’ve developed a talent of keeping a smile on my face and nodding politely as I block out information. Dan’s bruised hand was the only evidence that any of the words actually made it to my ears.

I’ve accepted Jack’s challenges and understand that, as a special family, we need to do this stuff. The only thing that really bothered me about the whole experience today was the use of the word, incapacitated. It was used through the hearing over and over and over again.

 Ivan did not expect to be incapacitated for more than a few days: disabled, debilitated,           indisposed, unfit, impaired; immobilized, paralyzed, out of action, out of commission,    hors de combat; informal laid up. ANTONYMS fit.

I know that words need to be attached to circumstances, but of all things to call Jack — incapacitated is not one I would ever use. He’s more full of life than anyone I know. I understand that he needs (and will likely always need) our care, but as I heard that word I couldn’t help but want to stand up and scream “I OBJECT!”

I didn’t – I played the role of calm mom and didn’t even let myself even cry until I kissed Dan goodbye and dropped Jack safely off at school. I am so #$%^ing glad that it’s over.

Love, Jess (proud guardian of JackO)


Jack makes things easy(ish)