Jeannie Bruenning Author

Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai | Prickly Pear

Somehow our littlest one has turned one. She’s a socialite and her first word was “HI”. It’s no wonder, because every room she enters has someone new greeting her saying, “Hi, Amelia!”

Since we moved into this multi-generational crazy world, I’ve found myself frequently saying, “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai.” It’s fun to say and a bit of a pressure release. 

Once Amelia began adding to her vocabulary with words such as dada, didi, baba, mama, I thought it was time for her to learn my new favorite saying. 

“What does Neenee say?” I’d ask. Then I’d throw my hands in the air, toss my head back and say, “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai.”

Amelia caught on quickly and “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai” became part of her vocabulary.

The other day I glanced into the kitchen just in time to see her straddling the high chair and counter top. I froze for a moment and then jumped in and grabbed her. Mom had turn away for just a moment and when she turned back and we shared the same shocked and horrified look.

Mom took Amelia in her arms and hugged her. Amelia tolerated the hug for just a moment then pulled back, looked over at me, tossed her head back and exclaimed, “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai!”

…at least she knows how to use it!!

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Hen House and Puppy Dogs | Prickly Pear

We currently have thirteen pets on the hill: three dogs, four cats, two hermit crabs, and four chickens. We had five chickens until one of the hens let us know she was a rooster and is now living at a new house.

Sadie, our textbook ADD & ADHD puppy has visited the hen house on a few occasions. It didn’t seem to bother her or the hens. Sadie was far more interested in their food than them. 

The other day, Sadie took her brother Charlie into the chicken run and things changed. Charlie is the our big gentle bear, but once in the run, he became more bear than gentle. Feathers were tossed and hens pinned to the ground. 

The only witnesses of this adventure were three of the four kids who also live here. One stayed to try and get Charlie out the run, one ran for help and we’re not sure what the third one did.

The puppies and hens were safely divided and except for a few feathers and a limping hen, they all lived. 

All three of the grade school age witnesses have shared their take on the situation with me. Liam, the 5th grader mentioned that one of the hens is now limping. 

“I know,” I said. “I’m so sorry Charlie got in the hen house.”

“That’s ok,” Liam said, “it’s natural for dogs to go after chickens. If they were in the wild, they would be eating them.”

“Well that’s a very good way to look at it,” I replied. 

The fourth grader, who plans to someday to be a superstar – traveling the world singing but only after she becomes a world famous gymnast – found the situation to be traumatizing. In her words, “it left her trembling for hours.” (She’s kinda a diva.)

Our third grader sees life a bit differently than most. Emery sat next to me and in her serious and soft voice said, “The pups got into the hen house.”

“I know,” I said, “I’m sorry.”

Emery lowered her head and looked up at me through her brows. I saw her dimples begin to appear as she fought to hold back the smile. 

Then I heard it… that sinister laugh that lets me know she is my grand-daughter.

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Love Well

Our adventures with a 17 year-old has come to an end as abruptly as it began. A week that started with the old escape through the window ended with uncovering text messages from mom which provided the address of the AirB&B she had arranged, delivery of food and plans to drive to California to take her home. These empty promises combined with a week long Meth high ended with yet another arrest and orders to return to the courts in Colorado.

We are left with broken hearts, numbness, sadness and a very clear understanding of just how broken our system is.

It would be so easy to slide into anger, but I admit I’ve lived there and it’s not a place I’ll ever choose to go back to. It would be easy to fall into the pit of regrets, but I have non – truly. What I’ve learned in the past 13 months could never be regrettable.

I’ve learned what loving unconditionally feels like, and it’a pretty amazing. 

I’ve discovered that Love is the core of all of us, some just haven’t discovered it yet. But that’s ok, because that’s what life is all about, discovering our true selves. Surprise, surprise – our true selves has nothing to do with our capabilities, it has everything to do with our ability to love.

Learning to love well may just be our soul purpose. I can’t imagine a higher calling or a more difficult one. Most of the time it challenges everything we know, everything we are and everything we do. 

I’ve been stretched, challenged, and changed in the past 13 months, and all for the good. 

Live, laugh and love well. Oh so simply – oh so complex – I’ll never live any other way.


Note to friends –

Many of you have been with us through the challenge to keep our Colorado Kids safe. After years of trying on our own, we felt the need to seek legal help. The results have been strong but the financial obligation is overwhelming. If you’d like to support financially, click here:  Raun’s story


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It’s Me!

“How do they find me? How do they always find me?”

This is one of my favorite lines from the movie The Producers. I’ve been known to say similar statements; Why does this always happen to me? Why am I stuck here again? I can’t deal with those people!

There was a time I thought if I did something differently, theywould go away. Perhaps if I never interacted with anyone, theycouldn’t find me.

Recently, as I found myself forced to face a situation I detest, I heard myself say, “Why is this happening again…” But instead of falling into the dark abyss of self-pitting and self-justification, I heard a new voice, one that said, “It’s not them, it’s you.” I knew that voice was right. That voice was speaking my truth.

Those people, the uncomfortable situations, the challenges and failures in this life, are magnifying glasses that identify areas within us that need attention, disconnections that can be fixed, hurts that are heal-able.

It is life’s way of saying,

Look over here, let’s fix this!

Remember this pain, let’s heal it.

You don’t have to be the victim, let’s take care of this.

 Somehow, we’ve turned self-discovery into a scary, life-long drama focused on our woundedness. When in reality, self-discovery can be an amazing adventure of healing that propels us into real life, the one filled with love and peace and ease.

If you are not quite ready to see it in your own life, look at someone else’s life, it won’t take long for you to begin to see the connections.

 But where is your magnifying glass pointing? Who are thosepeople and what are the situations that are uncomfortable? What always seems to be happening– again?

When you identify them, take a deep breath, pour yourself a glass of wine (or tequila) and spend time pondering. If it’s not them,then what is it inside me that’s screaming for attention, longing to be fixed, and aching to be healed. It’s really not a bad journey. It doesn’t have to be scary.

Remembering that it’s not them, it’s me turns you in the right direction. Once there, have the courage to keep walking. The journey will soon become one of self-discovery filled with healing, love, and wisdom. It becomes a life filled with wholeness – instead of one known for its’ woundedness.











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School begins! | Prickly Pear

School has started and there’s a new normal at the hacienda. This time of year is crazy in any household with school age kids, combine three families, 5 kids attending three different schools and crazy can turn to chaos quickly.

This is the typical schedule through out the week:

  • 4:30am Megan heads to work two days a week and 10:00 the other two.
  • 6:40am Jeff leaves for work with Brian following shortly behind.
  • 7:00am is Raun’s departure – leaving Amelia on the days Megan is already at work.
  • 7:30am is the time for Sage to head to school which is 8 miles away, taking 30 minutes round trip. 
  • 8:15am Liam and Elin head to the bus stop and Austyn takes Emery to school, which is another 30 minute adventure. 
  • This all works except for Mondays when the elementary schools have a late start and 3 of the 4 students attending school have to adjust their schedule. 
  • 8:45am Austyn & Jeannie are at the studio to begin the day.
  • 1:00pm Sage is done with classes and typically has afternoon appointments. 
  • 2:00pm is Megan’s expected return when she starts at 4:30
  • 2:40pm Emery finishes her school day and twice a week has therapy. 
  • 3:21pm Liam and Elin need to be met at the bus stop.
  • 4:00pm Elin begins counting the minutes until Dad get homes.
  • 4:30pm Jeff makes his return.
  • 5:30pm Brian drives up the hill
  • 7:00pm is Megan’s return on her late days…

Then there are the unexpected phone calls: Elin has pink eye, Emery has a headache, My car won’t start…

Where is Amelia when all this crazy is happening? Hanging out with Nana or Neenee or mom or dad, or whomever has a free day.

Then there are the critters. Winston is old enough to take care of himself. Sadie and Charlie go from their crate, or hang out in the “puppy room”. We’ve added 5 chickens this weekend and I hope they have no intention of going to school

The Brady Bunch had Alice and the Jetsons had Rosie, we have a calendar hanging on the wall in the kitchen. It does its best to keep us organized, but it’s only as good as those tending to it. 

Each night we try to check in to make sure everyone who needs to be somewhere in the morning will be able to do so and that we aren’t leaving anyone under the age of 10 home alone. 

We laugh, shake our heads, and rub our foreheads. Some days we just stand and stare at the calendar trying to make sense of it. We say things like:

“There’s got to be a way to simplify this.” 

“Oh geezzz. There’s only one person home tomorrow morning – that won’t work!” 

“When will Amilea be ready for Kindergatern?” 

“Why isn’t Emery driving yet?” 

“Hey Liam! Can you build us our very own Rosie?”

“Where do you get an Alice – cause I think we need one!!” 

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Writer, Author and Coach. Jeannie started a publishing comapny in 2009 called A Silver Thread. Resides in a small beach town on the Central Coast of California and has a passion for people and stories. Click here to learn more.

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LIVING UNSTUCK is a collection of lessons to navigate through the journey of finding joy and living a life unstuck. Released Feburary 1st. Learn more...

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