This week's edition of the Interesting Person Interview Series is my sweet cousin and summer sister, Jenifer. I lived with Jenifer and her family in the summer of 2007 when I first moved to Chicagoland... and Jenifer was one of the select few that watched JSS when I returned to work this summer.
1) What is your name and who are you?
My name is Jenifer. I am joyously living half way through my 20's. I grew up in Connecticut, spent high school in the suburbs of Chicago, and have now found I really prefer the smaller town, Iowa life. I try to find fun everything I do. I am a middle school teacher and recently found a love for working at a winery on the side. I love people and am at my best when surrounded by interesting and engaging people.
2) How do you know Kate?
Kate is my cousin on my dad's side. Kate's mom is one of my dad's younger sisters. More importantly though, Kate's mom is my godmother and I was named after her! This always made Kate an extra "special" cousin in my eyes. Kate and I lived together for 3 months the year she graduated college when I was 17. I learned a lot from Kate that summer.... most importantly - how you can find most anything you ever need at target & hair products are always necessary. I also was one of Kate's personal attendants at her wedding, one of the bigger honors I've had.
3) What are you most grateful for in life?
I got dealt a pretty phenomenal hand of cards. Some argue hard work plays into that. Some say luck. I believe it's a balance of both. I got lucky. But I am also grateful for how hard my parents worked and continue to work to help me keep my royal flush.
4) What is your advice to new parents?
I'm not a parent (yet), so I will give this advice as a teacher. As a parent you are your child's best teacher. Teachers can only do so much at school if you don't play your part at home. Make learning something that happens every single day in everything you do. Talk to your kids and tell them about life from your eyes.
Oh, and, let their aunties spoil them like crazy and give them time just the two of them. The greatest gift my sister Laura has given to me is trusting me with her son and letting me be one of the most important people in his life.
5) What's your favorite holiday? Why?
Christmas. This is a holiday my family has always spent with just our immediate family. My mom makes delicious food, there's always a fire going, my dad STILL loves to play Santa (I need a new phone...), our fake tree is beautifully filled with hideous ornaments we made as kids, and it's usually the longest stretch of time in a given year I get to see my sister Christine who lives far away!
6) What are you addicted to?
There really isn't anything I am addicted to. Except maybe a glass of wine and some spicy cheese before bed!
7) If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
This question is too hard for me to answer. I'm the type of person if there's something I want changed, I change it. If I can't change it, then I figure there are more important things for me to think about.
8) What items are on your bucket list?
I don't have specific things. If I've learned anything the past 5 years it's that life doesn't take you the path you think it's going to. The one item on my bucket list is to keep living a happy life, whatever it has in store for me.
9) What do you hope is the same a year from now?
I hope my sweet nephew still gets excited when I pick him up from school. And I hope my 87 year old grandmother is still healthy and living just a few miles from me.
10) What do you hope is different a year from now?
I hope I find a little more time in each of my days. I keep thinking one of these days I'll be able to sleep less than 8 hours and still have energy for the day.
11) What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
I am filled with so many people who do so many nice things for me. I don't think I can pick one.
12) Where is home to you?
Home is wherever my mom is. Corny - yes. I'm a mama's girl. After 6 years of not living near each other, I am so, so lucky to live in the same town as my mom, and it's going to be really hard for me whenever that changes.
13) Who is your personal hero?
My grandma, Alice. She's the kind of grandmother every kid deserves to have. Loving unconditionally and always a ball of fun. She's 87 years old and climbed all around a jungle gym with her 3 year old great-grandson yesterday and pretended to be just about every zoo animal one could think of, noises and all. I hope I'm that nimble and playful when I'm 87.
14) What is the best time you've ever had?
I absolutely loved Kate's answer to this question. I have to agree it's in my top 10 (maybe 5?). I was newly 21 for her wedding and was at my prime in so many ways. That trolley was a blast.
I haven't talked about my high school girlfriends, which seems odd after 13 questions. I needed a good group of friends like them and we came together right when I needed them most. 12 years later I still manage to have more fun doing nothing with them than just about anything else. We all love good food, great wine, and being really loud and any time with them is a "best time."
15) If you could pick out three words for your tombstone to summarize your life, what would they be?
Loved Like Crazy. Kind of stole Kate's a little, but reworded to match my favorite country song.