On the outside I’m a hippie freakshow, on the inside…About Jen Kehl

Living Outside the Box

You may think I’m a contradiction.

I listen to the Grateful Dead, I buy only organic when I can, I vote conservative.

I don’t wear makeup, I buy expensive shampoo, I owned a Bugaboo and I buy most of my clothes at Target.

I read my bible everyday, old and new Testament, I am Jewish.

I live in a community with one of the best school districts in Illinois, one that I am a product of, and I am homeschooling.

I believe in Mad Cow disease, that plastics and the chemical industry are poisoning us, but I do not believe in Global warming.

I went to four different universities in six years and changed my major five times.  I have been a jock, a punk rocker, a deadhead, an artist and a yuppie.  I still play my flute.

I read a book a week alternating between chic-lit and sci-fi/fantasy.  I will not read a tear jerker or a Pulitzer prize winner, nor go to a movie that is not funny in some way.  However, in my life I tend to be the serious one, even controlling at times.

I believe all of these things are not contradictions; they are the perfect pieces of a whole, true person, who makes decisions for herself.  It is precisely this diversity that makes me a good parent.

I have also had my share of adversity.

I’ve struggled with infertility and dealt with the physical and emotional pain that caused.  I have experienced the joy of motherhood through the miracle of adoption, but not without having a failed adoption first.

I have had to deal with a laundry list of unexpected hurdles when it came to raising my most wondrous child. Life threatening food allergies, environmental allergies, cold urticaria (allergy to the cold), Cholinergic urticaria (allergy to heat), severe eczema, asthma, sensory processing disorder and a large movement Tic Disorder.  But please, don’t misunderstand, the greatest joy and blessing in my life is this beautiful son of mine.  He could not be any more normal or perfect with or without all of these labels.

These are the things, these quirks, that make him who he is.  And these are the challenges that have forced me to be an exemplary parent.  I have been forced to think for myself, which has meant thinking outside the box.
The more I thought about what my daily life entails, the more I realized I have an awful lot to share with so many parents facing one, or all, or more of the things I have had to face day-to-day.  There is so much to learn and share.

I am tolerant of all views, although I am not tolerant of people who create drama with their children to bring attention to themselves.  We need to be strong for our children.

Your job is to be your child’s best and loudest advocate, to be the parent your child needs you to be.  If you need someone to help you realize that person inside, share here.  I am that person – the person who will not judge, who will be opinionated and who will help you be the best advocate you can.


  • I love that you are both Jen and that is totally what does make you just you. And you are so right about being our kids biggest and greatest advocates, too. I like you would do anything for my girls and that is just a huge part of who am i, too.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thanks Janine! I’m amazed about the people who don’t feel that way about their children, but they are definitely out there!ReplyCancel

  • I think I am both as well. Probably more traditional but not afraid to buck the tide for something I think is right.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Michelle, this was a great prompt, totally made me think!ReplyCancel

  • As I read you describing yourself at the top, I started thinking about how all those “contradictions” are troubling to younger people- it makes them cut out some of those aspects of their life so they can fit into their image of who they’re supposed to be. A gift of adulthood for many of us is that we can say “I’m all those things and that makes me a BETTER person for it.” Like you said. I totally agree. And yes, knowing how dynamic all people are, makes it harder to judge. I loved this post!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thanks Jean! You are so right! These days it seems like younger kids are so afraid to think for themselves, they want to fit in so badly that they will wear the suit of whatever group they are trying to be part of. Not realizing you can just wear one piece if you want.ReplyCancel

  • My absolute favorite post of yours ever. I feel this way about myself a lot of the time. Raised in the jungle in Maui, so happy to watch monster trucks with a bunch o redneck friends. Eating a Big Mac while I shop for 3x more expensive organic fruit snacks for the kiddo. Etc. Etc. Etc. Love it. We’re just us, and us is great and wonderful.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Koa! It’s so awesome to just be who you are and not someone others think you are, isn’t it??!!ReplyCancel

  • I think that so far of the posts I’ve read that this might be my favorite so far. I love love it. Like LOVE it and am so proud to be your friend. I wish we could meet in real life, up the street, with our boys. THey seem so the same in many ways (except that Tucker HATES swinging back and forth although he will spin to the puke point – me, not him). Seriously amazing post, sweets.
    ttt x 10 x everythingReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thank you Kristi! You know how much I love you, it’s like the mutual admiration society! We are both so lucky and blessed. And Thank YOU!!! tttx10 to infinity!ReplyCancel

  • Did you feel like the odd kid out growing up, or were you one of those kids who was friends with everyone? Or somewhere in-between?ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Totally the odd one out Tamara, a perfect Clark.I was friends with everyone but felt comfortable with almost no one.ReplyCancel

  • Kate Hall

    I love this in so many ways. I love the beginning and all the things about you, how awesome. I love your son in the giant Rubbermaid tub (we have one of those). I love your openness to differences and your encouragement to others. Love it!ReplyCancel

  • With every post of yours I read, I like you more. This is a great post, especially for those of us who are new to meeting you. I enjoy someone who likes to venture out of “the box”.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thank you Christine! That is so nice of you to say!ReplyCancel

  • LOVe your answer…we should be a contradiction, we should not have to conform to one side or belief. we should be who we are…beautiful.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thank you Karen, I completely agree!ReplyCancel

  • Teresa Danner Kander

    What a great post….as someone new to your blog, it was a great way to get to know you, and your son. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • I love the fact that you stayed true to you. You adapt yourself for new to new situations but you never lose yourself.

    I love it!ReplyCancel

  • What an interesting post. I’ll be honest: there’s some stuff on here I vehemently disagree with. My first instinct was to turn away. But I came back because I agree with you that more tolerance is needed in this world. In fact, more than that: more acceptance is needed.
    I love how you practice advocacy for your child in your blogging. As a former special education teacher and now parent of a child with special needs, I agree, but it is a real challenge for me.
    I’m not sure what you mean by this sentence: “I am not tolerant of people who create drama with their children to bring attention to themselves.” What do you mean?ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Hey Sarah – I’ll comment to this post here, and then your other comment up there.
      What I mean by creating drama, is so many moms say “why is this happening to us” I can’t believe “we” have to go through this. They spend so much time feeling sorry for themselves, and posting their “upsetness” on Facebook and not focusing on the important thing, their child. If they put as much energy into being an advocate and less in to the woe is me, a lot would change.
      ALSO by creating drama around a diagnosis you are sending a message to your child that there is something wrong with him, which really affects their self esteem.
      I by NO means apply this to all parents, just the few that I meet or have contacted me that behave that way.ReplyCancel

  • I love all the not-contradictions that make up who you are. Your complexity and self-awareness are inspiring, and you are such a great role model and advocate!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thank you Stephanie! What an amazing compliment!ReplyCancel

  • By far my favorite post this week. I love the direction you took on this.

    PS: Random fact…I also believe in mad cow disease but do not believe in global warming.ReplyCancel

  • I’m feeling a little regretful about my previous comment. To clarify, I wanted to come across, not as a hater, but as someone trying to practice what you preach (and I agree with) even though we have some differences. I hope I didn’t come across as rude.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Don’t feel regretful Sarah, I was not offended at all. I do practice what I preach 🙂 I am totally okay with someone who disagrees with me!ReplyCancel

  • Oh my goodness, I love the swing your son has 🙂 And I agree, why using a label like traditional/non-traditional if one can have the best of two worlds 🙂

    Have a great weekend, Jen!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thank you Stephanie! The swing is awesome! We’ve gotten a lot of use from it!ReplyCancel

  • Don Re

    You are quite the conundrum! My boys have some nasty eczema. Have you found anything that works well to keep it at bay?ReplyCancel

  • I loved hearing about YOU, Jen! I played the flute, and I TRY to pick it up every now and then. I’m jealous that you are still at it!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      I mostly only play the flute when my son asks me too now!ReplyCancel

  • WOW! I thought I had contrasts, but you have covered ALL of the bases! I love that and I think it often reflects a high-functioning mind. Your son is beautiful and I can imagine most kids would count their lucky stars to have a parent as open and loving as you. Excellent and thoughtful post!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thank you so much Lisa, you’ve got twins so you win no matter what! But your comment is much appreciated!ReplyCancel

  • I love this. Absolutely love this! How many thousand places can I share it? 🙂ReplyCancel

  • And this is why I love you so much. I find that so many (even some of my friends) opt for the easy way out, meaning having a certain taste in music of movies should come with a certain certain religious beliefs or a lack thereof. People use existing personality constructions instead of creating their own and this is usually done in service of their ego and a desire to come across as someone instead of being someone. LOVED, loved, loved.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thank you Katia, so much. I completely agree, but you say it so much better!ReplyCancel

  • And, most importantly, you are a “loyal” friend. Don’t find many of those these days. You’d have enjoyed the 60’s immensely. But, your purpose is now, for your son. Enjoy it while you can. They grow way too quickly. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thanks Rich, and right back at you about the friend thing!ReplyCancel

  • Gary Sidley

    You clearly are a resilient, well-balanced individual who has leaned much from past challenges.ReplyCancel

  • Wait…is he in a blanket with duct tape? You need to show me how you do that…
    Yes we are the best advocates for our children yet some don’t do it because they’re too busy wallowing. yes, having a sick child, wild child, healthy child who will eat nothing but carrots…ets…put that energy into your child for the love of all things holy.
    I love you in all of your contradictions. We all don’t fit the cookie cutter and that is totally okReplyCancel

  • I love this – we are all bundles of contradictions. Such a great way to describe it. {Though I kinda want to talk about the global warming thing… but I’ll let it go 🙂 }ReplyCancel

  • I’m like that in a lot of ways… I’m like a work of opposites. I think in life we try to categorize people, like, “You’re a hippie so you need to listen to this music and dress like this and eat this type of food and have these views…” and sometimes it doesn’t work that way. If you’re true to yourself, instead of being true to the profile of a certain “type” of person, you’ll often end up being all over the radar!ReplyCancel

  • Alicia

    My son has Sensory Processing issues as well. I was wondering where you got the CD player carrier he is holding on his waist. I need one as well for his TLP therapy. Thanks!!!!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Hey Alicia! I actually got it at Best Buy. It was just a neoprene one, even though it was adult I was able to tighten it enough to fit! It only cost like 9.99 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Alicia

    Thank you so much for responding!
    I’m so happy to have found your blog. It was recommended to me by the administrator of a Waldorf school in Costa Mesa, Ca that I’m looking into for my son with Sensory Integration disorder. I already thanked her for it. I love your blog!ReplyCancel

  • You are a unique person and that makes you a unique parent. You don’t parent by tradition rather by your own unique ways. 🙂 God Bless you more.ReplyCancel

  • Where can we buy your life story?? This read better than fiction! And we mean that in a most complimentary way. So many times, when we pick up books, we look for diverse characters with flavor & depth and yet it falls short. Your entire life is seasoned with flavor & depth. 😉 You said: “You may think I’m a contradiction.” We say you are a puzzle and a most unique one. A conservative Liberal. A hippy/yuppy A Jewish/Christian?????! You go girl & rock the always original Jen! So happy you’ve started following our blog & most happy to follow you!! BTW~Your child is beautiful!!!!!! 😉ReplyCancel

  • Inion Mathair

    Where can we buy your life story?? This read better than fiction! And we mean that in a most complimentary way. So many times, when we pick up books, we look for diverse characters with flavor & depth and yet it falls short. Your entire life is seasoned with flavor & depth. 😉 You said: “You may think I’m a contradiction.” We say you are a puzzle and a most unique one. A conservative Liberal. A hippy/yuppy A Jewish/Christian?????! You go girl & rock the always original Jen! So happy you’ve started following our blog & most happy to follow you!! BTW~Your child is beautiful!!!!!! 😉ReplyCancel

  • I don’t know how I missed this one, but I really enjoyed it. I feel like you are so guarded with your contradictions. But why? As you say, it makes you the whole, unique, utterly lovable person that you are. [Except for global warming… wtf, Jen?? Just kidding. Sorta. ;-)]

    Anyway, I really liked reading this and I’m still waiting to read part 2 of your religion post, when you get back to being healthy. So glad you are my friend. xoxoReplyCancel

  • You’ve been through a lot with grace and poise a mom should beReplyCancel

  • Stephen Sluder

    Jen… I popped over to check out your final mix tape, ‘Last Dance.’ I saw this Headline and was immediately distracted. What a truly beautiful Post!!! For me, I now know you a little better than before, and for that, please know I am Smiling from within as well as outwardly. I wish for you nothing but the best going forward. Please don’t ever change.

    Regarding Mix Tape: I have so missed being in on the fun for several of the mixes. Just too much going on in “My World.” But, please know I always thought it was a very special thing that you did each week, lots of fun, and extremely rewarding. THANK YOU!!! Take care, SluReplyCancel

  • Jen–I LOVED THIS. The entire post only made me adore you even more. Not that I only adore people who are exactly like me, but I swear, as I read, I just kept nodding my head at more and more similarities between us. It was so fun learning so much about you. What an awesome post–probably one of my favorites that you’ve ever done!ReplyCancel

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