Sunday, April 6, 2008

Down the Shore with...Jen Singer

Jen Singer is, in a word, amazing. Not only does she run the very cool website; not only does she blog for Good Housekeeping; and not only is she also author of the very funny You're a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren't So Bad Either); but she's also a cancer survivor -- and she managed to keep all three things going, plus wrap up a home renovation and still run her family show while undergoing treatment.

She's also a big Wildwoods fan, and it plays a part in her story. So here we go:

1. What do you consider 'your' shore town and why?
For the past few summers, my husband’s family has joined us in Wildwood – actually, Lower Township. We stay at Seapointe Village, a quiet, family-oriented condo association near the end of the Wildwood beach. We picked it because it’s perfect for kids: large beach with tame waves, pools, kitchen for cooking, proximity to the boardwalk and to Cape May. We often run into neighbors from Kinnelon there.

2. Why did you start coming to the Wildwoods?
We had been vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, which I love, but it was a haul to get to, especially with kids in tow. So we looked closer to home. My sister-in-law’s friend brought her family there and recommended it. We’ve been hooked ever since. This summer will be our sixth vacation there.

Last summer was an especially sweet time for us. I had just spent my second week in the hospital undergoing chemo for non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. On the day I was to leave for the shore, my husband, Pete, was on his way into Manhattan to pick me up, and my oncology nurse was double-timing my chemo. As a result, I was snoozing on and off, tired from the benedryl blast. When my roommate asked my nurse if she could have my window-view bed after I leave, he said, “If she leaves.” I bolted awake and said, “I don’t care if you have to strap my gurney on top of my mini-van, I am going down the shore today!” Two hours later, Pete was driving me down the Parkway.

3. Most people come to the shore to eat. Any recommendations?
Every year, my husband and I take advantage of the free babysitting and head over to Cape May for dinner for two at the Ebbitt Room in the Virginia Hotel on Jackson Street. They have fantastic seafood meals and awfully good champagne drinks.

4. How did you get the idea for You're a Good Mom?
I’m a recovering mom-aholic who used to feel guilty for folding laundry because I wasn’t making teaching moments for my toddlers, even though I was a full-time mom who spent upwards of 100 hours a week with them. Over the years, I’ve seen mothers try too hard to try to keep up with Super Moms, thereby giving up and becoming Slacker Moms. One’s bad for mom and the other is bad for the kids. But I knew that there was a sweet spot between the two where you can raise perfectly good kids without losing yourself or your sanity. And so I wrote the book.

5. How did you stay inspired finish the book while undergoing chemo?
Writing is one of the things that helped me through all the chemo, baldness, pain, fatigue, all the nastiness of cancer treatments. Getting lost in the writing helped me deal with the fact that I was 40 and facing death. If nothing else, writing is cheaper than therapy.

6. Which parts of the book did you write down the shore?
I don’t even remember which I wrote before my diagnosis and which I wrote after, which, considering I write humor, is pretty darn cool. I didn’t leave our vacation rental much in the first few days down the shore, so when everyone else went to the beach, I flipped open my laptop and banged out a few pages. Or I wrote one sentence and fell fast asleep in front of the TV. Somehow, I managed to finish the book a week ahead of my extended deadline.

7. What do you hope to do in summer 2008 that you couldn't do in summer 2007?
Everything. Swimming, making sand castles, mini golf, going on the water rides on the boardwalk, visiting the Cape May Zoo and taking my kids on in that water gun game where you race to blow up the balloon. I’ve got cheap stuffed animals to win, darn it!

As a bonus, here's a trailer for Jen's book!


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