Like many of you this past year, we have not been able to travel, and family members haven’t been able to travel to us. However, with people receiving the COVID vaccine, life is beginning to return to normal—which thankfully includes visiting family members and friends.
My birthday week started out with my in-laws, my son Drew, and my mom at my house. They sang me “Happy Birthday” with my favorite treat, Stan’s Donuts.
Then, my daughter Jenna arrived here for a short visit. It was her first time back in the Chicago area since Thanksgiving 2019. She arrived the day before my birthday, and Drew came home from the city to join us as well and spend the night. We had a nice, quiet time catching up at home, just the four of us.
My birthday began with a trip to our favorite place, the Chicago Botanic Garden, to see the spectacular display of tulips and cherry blossoms. My two kids, my mom, and my friend Mara all made the trek. We then went to lunch, where my brother, sister-in-law, and Steve met us. Later that evening, Drew’s girlfriend Victoria joined us for a nice dinner at home.
I’ve been thinking about how fast the time goes with every passing birthday. Jenna will be 27 in June and I turned 58 this month. Jenna has always presented wisdom beyond her years to the point where my friends would often say, “What would Jenna do?” when confronted with a daunting situation.
I guess her chronological age is finally catching up with what her mental age has been all along. But where did the time go? I remember every detail of the day of her birth but, after that, most of my memories are a blur.
Jenna came into the world three weeks early and ready to go. And she hasn’t stopped since. On a trip down memory lane, I wanted to share some of my favorite Jenna memories with you.
The Early Years
- Jenna slept through the night within just six weeks
- As a baby, she was excellent at letting us know what she needed, and we in turn clearly understood her needs whether for sleep, food, drink, or diaper change
- By age two, Jenna even changed her own diaper—she would wake me in the morning and tell me she did it!
- In preschool, the teacher said Jenna played mind games with the other kids and the kids followed her rules—some foreshadowing of her astute leadership and sales skills
- A woman came up to me after speaking to five-year-old Jenna and said, “I think your daughter was channeling a 35-year-old”
The School Years
- In 5th grade, Jenna was chosen as Class President
- Jenna became a cheerleader and joined show choir in middle school
- As a family, we took multiple mini-ski vacations every winter—Jenna loved to go fast!
- At 13, she had a Bat Mitzvah and went on a group trip to Israel
- Jenna went to overnight camp in Wisconsin for six summers; she camped, rock climbed, kayaked the Apostle Islands, and did a lot of girl bonding
- We vacationed for 13 summers in Eagle River, Wisconsin, at a camp with other families, including two of our best friends. Each family got their own cabin, had all meals included, and did all the classic camp activities: tennis, waterskiing, sailing, canoeing, walking, and running, plus nighttime entertainment of bingo, music, and yummy drinks and snacks. (There are so many phenomenal memories of these times that I think I will share them in a future blog post!)
- Jenna was a football and basketball cheerleader as a flyer—they tossed her in the air, OY!—and she became senior year MVP
- In her senior year, Jenna took first place in the state DECA (business) competition, and went on to the finals in Utah
- While shopping for her senior prom dress at a nice, upscale boutique, she made such an impression on the manager that he hired her on the spot to work in sales
- Jenna and I ran three half-marathons together in Chicago, Kenosha, and Indianapolis; we even got to run around the Indy 500 track, and Jenna had so much energy during the last mile that she was doing cartwheels!
College and Post-College
- Jenna chose the University of Tampa for college
- She had her first internship with Morgan Stanley, and then completed two marketing and sales internships for software companies in the home healthcare industry
- Post-college, she stayed in Tampa, and has since worked for two other software companies in the home healthcare industry doing marketing, sales, business development, and management
- She has done quite a bit of traveling for work and pleasure and loves having access to the United Club
This Past Year
- Jenna bought a house with her boyfriend Michael in October
- We also had a family meetup in the Smoky Mountains that fall
- Just recently, Jenna began a new career for a mergers and acquisitions company, in the healthcare industry, as their youngest and only woman buyer
This trip down memory lane has made me long for some of those early days when we could hang out as a family all the time. Aaah, well, life goes on.
I’m so grateful for my daughter and close-knit family. I’m also so proud of how Jenna has grown throughout the years—Steve and I both know that Jenna will be a success at this new company, just like she has been at all her other companies. We are so proud of her, and we wish her the best of luck!
Now, let’s stop getting older!
Pati L Nootbaar says
Happy Birthday Jenna; and to Denise. We were pregnant at the same time I think; both girls are always amazing us with their feats. And will continue to.
Blessings on you and your family
Pati Nootbaar, and fellow PT friend.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JENNA!! ????????????
You have a lovely family!
My family loves Stan’s donuts too!!
Davida Salamon says
Denise Jenna is ahhhmazing a highly motivated and. accomplished young woman.
Much to be proud about.