Tuesday, November 22, 2011

7 thoughts with neither intro nor outro

1. Just so you know, Phoebe is the cutest thing that has happened to the history of humanity. Here's one of many proofs. Her word for "meat"? "Meep". Boom. I win.

2. I hate talking on cell phones. First of all, I don't like things that give me cancer. Secondly, the delay is terribly awkward. Also awkward, the breaking up of the line while someone is pouring out their heart to you. It's so terribly uncomfortable to interrupt your friend's tears with, "Hey, San...Sandy?...Yeah...I can totally understand, but...Sandy...San...I-I-I'm sooooo sorry, but I honestly am not really catching all your words. Like, I get the gist that you're totally depressed and feel like you are one the edge and I want to talk about this more, but I'm missing every fourth word. Let me call you back when I'm not on Marshall Ave, k?"
"Oh. Can you hear me now?"
"Yes....But, I always hear when people ask that. I probably won't hear you if you actually start talking again."
I admit that my honesty in these situations makes things a bit more awkward.

3. I recently wrote a post about dyeing my hair. I think it's not relevant to enough readers to publish. What do you think? Should I rework and post or just let it RIP in my drafts cemetery?

4. I haven't picked up One Thousand Gifts since my last post. Somebody make me do it. Vanessa, did you finish it?

5. I think best while driving or while showering. And my synapses are way quicker in the morning.* When do you think best? When are you most likely to be inspired?

6. This past weekend, I was getting Jillian ready for a holiday boutique (aka "craft fair") outing. It was special because it was just the two of us. But, as usual, Jillian was melting down. She doesn't like to get her hair done. She doesn't like to get dressed. She doesn't like to wear her coat or her shoes. I had one of those moments of motherly psycho-clarity. That term has never occurred to me before now, but I think it fits well. I knelt down, put my hands on her shoulders and said firmly, "You will let me do your hair, because you are going to look pretty. And I'm going to look pretty. And we are going to look at pretty things. And we are going to have a pretty day. Do you understand?!" And she nodded her head "yes" and that was the beginning of a beautiful day. Strange.

7. I grabbed a shower between items 5 and 6. That's how I remembered my story about Jillian. No joke. Also, I had a great idea for a book and I'm not even a writer. Would a dry erase board work in a shower? just wondering... (Does anyone else think I sound like I'm on cocaine? I'm not, but sheesh...sloooow doooown, jenna)

*I totally googled "synapse in a sentence" because I have no confidence when using words that are medical, legal, literary, etc. This was no help. I just want to be straight up with you about my literary dumbness. I can't believe I was worried about this when in the same sentence I used, "way quicker." Awesome.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

brain dumps are where it's at. who knew?

I have recently been told by more than one person (read: two) that they like my random blog posts. You know the ones that are basically a list of random things I'm thinking? I have always felt so guilty that the only time I really enjoy writing, is when I pulled together a brain dump and hit "publish". And all this time, all two of you actually appreciated this.

Figures. Figures that what feels most natural is what I should have been doing all along. I've often thought that I should just change my blog title to Brain Dump (or something like it), instead of entertaining myself with an obscure reference to Spinal Tap ("All the Way Home" is the first song that Nigel and David wrote together.) Maybe I'll do that. It would take some consistent writing on my part to earn the reward of a new name. (Also, there's a good chance that "Brain Dump" is already a super popular blog that I've never heard of.)

And now I will commence with a brain dump of epic proportions. (Not really, but I just want to incorporate "epic proportions" more in my life.)

1. I should save the best for last, but I can't. I need to tell you of a conversation Avery and I had yesterday. I ventured out to the grocery store--on a SATURDAY! which means that I must love my family very much. Avery noticed right away that his favorite snack was among the goods. He didn't want to draw any sibling attention to this bag of original Lay's chips. So this conversation ensued in whispers:

Avery: Mom, can I have some chips.
Me (mouthing quietly): A few.
Avery: What?
Me (more clearly, but just as quietly mouthing): A few!
Avery: What?! Oh....I thought you were saying f u!

As I type this, I'm in a public place and I can't help laughing.

2. I'm reading four books right now. Not like I normally read four books, which means that I started four books, but abandoned every one and I'm in denial that I'm never going to read them again. I'm actually actively reading all of them. This is a big deal. Because EVEN IN COLLEGE I've only ever read one book at at time (if I was reading at all...). You really want to know what I'm reading, don't you? I'll tell you, but I'd like to give a line item for each book. Cool? cool.

3. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. All the Christian ladies be all up in this book right nah. And for good reason. It's very good. I want to give a short description, but I'll assume you know how to get to Amazon to read about it. I'm a little stuck right now because her writing is so super poetic and I've left her as she's chasing the moon. I just couldn't connect with that part. So many times I think, "Man the moon is bright tonight." And then when I take a closer look, it's just a street light. City living. Anyway, I'll skim and get back into it. It hasn't been that long since I cracked it. Just a few days. Honest, I'm gonna finish it.

4. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's probably the reason I'm even writing right now. I've been feeling blocked creatively for a few months and I have a great friend who is a beautiful writer who understood this block better than I did and is making me read it. I'm so grateful to her and to this book. I feel like I'm already reaping benefits from it. Again, you can read more about it on Amazon. (No, I don't get any credit through my links. So, maybe go link through someone else's blog to give them a little tip.)

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey. I'm reading it for book club. Very funny memoir. (Heads up: It's a bit crude. You should have guessed though.) I'm grateful to have an easy read for book club, because I haven't finished the last four or more books.

6. Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas. Just started it. Already loving it. It's not a manual on parenting, which I happen to be very averse to. If I attempt someone's "tried and true" parenting style, I find that I'm unable to do it consistently and then feel like a failure and then struggle with anger. So, I've been avoiding parenting books for a few years. Lately, I've felt I need a recharge in this area. I'm so thankful that a friend just happened to recommend it. And then a week later, an acquaintance mentioned that she had just finished it and loved it. So, go check it out if you're a parent or want to be one.

7. This is getting long, so I'll wrap it up. I hope to write consistently. If I don't, consider this one of those random long-distance catch up calls with an old friend. It's long, your ear is sweaty, but it was just good to touch base...even if you didn't get to tell them that you're moving across the country and had another baby because your friend just blabbed on and on about the books she was reading and about the time her eleven year old son thought she was saying "F U!" in response to his request for chips.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

am i april ludgate?

This morning, I realized that I look at my eleven-year-old son as if he's my mockumentary camera. That's love.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

a note on each kid

after jillian's first day of preschool, she had three pieces of art in her hand. i asked her, "are these for me?" and she said, "yes!...NO! they are for becky!" (she must be saving the good ones for me, right?)

earlier this week, avery asked me if i was wearing a bra. (um...i was...)

miles is in third grade, but in fourth grade math. he IS the absent-minded professor. he lost his homework somewhere between the dining room table and his math class ev.er.y day last week. (oh.my.gawsh! this is SO frustrating...to us! not him. he's not fazed.)

if you ask phoebe, "who made the sun?" she answers, "me!!!" (this is a little digression from when the boys were toddlers and knew their catechism and could recite the books of the Bible...)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

i love me some state fair

We have recently returned from the wonderful Minnesota State Fair. Here are some reflections:

Some people have really, really dumb tatoos. I can't help but try to imagine the thought process one has before choosing a hideous cartoon frog which looks like it came straight out of a generic coloring book.

If you bike to the fair, you will feel guilt-free about every morsel you eat.

It's pretty amazing that some folks carry around ginormous stuffed animals all day...only to realize there's no good place for it at home either.

Anyone else wonder why the heck is there not a Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar RIGHT NEXT TO the All The Milk You Can Drink stand??!!

Is there anything better than showing your toddler a REAL cow after reading Big Red Barn for almost two years?

The San Filipe grande fish taco is well worth the long line and $8.

I pretty much smell like a rose garden after a long day at the fair.

One day at the fair isn't enough. Momma wants to go back. Without kids :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

what to do, what to do...

Last summer, I learned the hard way that it is imperative that Avery has a plan for each day. It doesn't have to encompass the whole day, but there has to be something to accomplish or look forward to. Despite my not-so-structured nature, I've been able to accommodate that need better this summer, but...

With the last minute nature of Miles' surgery, I really didn't have much of a plan for how to deal with the rest of the kids. Within a few hours, Avery was driving me NUTS because he didn't have any structure. He had read all of his library books. He didn't have Miles to play with. We don't have video games. He I couldn't host a friend. What could he do???

Ever since our trip to Dick's sporting goods the other day, Avery has been perseverating on the idea of getting catcher's equipment. So, I made the mistake of letting him look for a set on Amazon and he became quickly obsessed with saving up for it. I'm all for safety in baseball, hard work and saving up, but did I really have capacity to deal with this??? It takes a lot of work to put your kids to work.

Out of sheer necessity to preserve my sanity, I put Avery to work this morning to clean up our construction site/family room. He worked his tail off and organized, moved tools, swept and vacuumed it up. Ch-ching. He made bank.

But, he wanted more work... (ugh...)

I got out a ladder and had him work on pulling off a rotten board from our garage. He worked on it for awhile, but then determined he needed a saws-all to finish the job. Okay...but I couldn't devote time and attention to overseeing that project. Ch-ching. He made a little bit for good effort.

But, he still needed more to do... (oh.my.word.)

So...after thinking for a few moments, I figured now would be a good time for him to learn how to cut-in and roll-on paint. He's 10, right?! But, first he had to sand and prep the walls (just a little bit). And then he had to remove the switch plate and railing (yay for getting to use tools!). He's really focused and loving his job. Ch-CHING! He's definitely gonna earn a good wage for this one!

Here he is working on the stairway down to our basement. We've needed to paint it for five years. I think I like having an eager 10-year-old!!!

You might wonder why I didn't have him unload the dishwasher or do laundry. Well, he has to do those things on an almost daily basis. Pro bono. That comes with the territory of being in our family.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

all in a day's work

People ask what life is like with four kids. First of all, I LOVE being a mother and I LOVE my kids. But, to answer their question, I tell them that it's manageable, but that us + anything else is hard. Here's a debrief of the last 24 hours:

1. Drywall went up in the family room. Thanks, Dan! (He doesn't read this blog. Just thought I'd give a subtle clue that we didn't do it. very subtle.)
2. The house still stunk yesterday. Thanks, Dead Animal! You smell bigger than you probably are!
3. Took the kids to Dick's sporting goods and was tempted to buy catcher's equipment to protect my kids from further injury...read on...
4. Called Miles' pediatrician because he took a baseball to the face three weeks ago (freak accident) and now that the swelling and discoloration are gone, it appears his nose is crooked. Was referred to ENT. (BTW, I had taken him to the ER when he was injured and they thought everything was absolutely fine. bastards.)
5. ENT wanted to see Miles yesterday, so we went.
6. Within 20 minutes of the appointment, we were scheduling Miles for surgery for tomorrow to correct broken nose. (No, they are not going to re-break it.) None of us have ever been put under anesthesia. Pray for Miles.
7. Avery's team played in ridiculously uncomfortable heat. And there were biting bugs. They lost in extra innings.
8. After the game, I hung out with good buddies Kari and Megan and had much needed laughs and heart-to-hearts.
9. Got a text while there from Brent that read verbatim: "Does Phoebe have any diapers? She's wearing a a hybrid cloth duct tape concoction right now!" I thought he was serious. Laughed so hard I couldn't breathe. He had actually put her in a rarely used cloth diaper.
10. Came home and talked until midnight-ish.
11. Woke up at 5am with killer low back pain. Fell back asleep at 6am.
12. Woke up again at 8, needing to get a shower, get everyone fed, dressed and out the door by 8:45. (I seriously hadn't brushed my hair since Saturday. I had taken a shower, but we've been going at such a frenetic pace that I'm pretty sure there was no time for a luxury such as brushing ones hair.)
13. Upon waking up, Jillian said she needed to throw up. She didn't. She was just tired, I think.
14. Phoebe pooped in that cloth diaper. I was going to try to clean it, but I tossed that Bum Genius away after gagging at the smell.
15. My low back was throbbing with pain. I got a deep tissue massage. psych.
16. Avery took antibiotics, because, of course he was diagnosed with Strep a few days ago.
17. Somehow we all got on the road by 9:03am. Only 18 minutes behind schedule...
18. Jillian went to camp.
19. Miles went to his pre-op appointment. Cleared.
20. Cold press coffee at Caribou. finally.
21. Costco trip. Bought a month's supply of diapers, bread and frozen pizza.
22. DQ drive-thru for the boys' lunch.
23. Picked up Jillian from camp while ominous clouds formed overhead.
24. McD's drive-thru for Jillian's and Phoebe's lunch. Torrential downpour ensued during this time.
25. Got to garage, but stayed there to watch golf-ball sized hail crashing down. Very cool.
26. Our house still stinks.
27. Gotta figure out dinner, clean up, do laundry, put stuff away and get Avery back to the fields by 4:30.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

i'm so good at keeping the blog updated. (and has anyone seen my camera?)

I'm terribly inconsistent. I had a gentle reminder that it would appear Avery never came home from camp. Let's try to give some updates, shall we?

1. Avery loved camp. I'll be honest. It wasn't SO bad while he was gone. The best part about his absence was that he's a pseudo-picky eater. So, even though he will actually eat a wide variety of foods, he complains and makes a stink about veggies on pizza and having to go to Chipotle (what?!) and having spaghetti sauce (but he likes lasagna, people!). The worst part about him being gone was just not knowing what he was doing. But, then I would remember what camp was like for me and knew he was having a blast. Getting that first hug from him after nearly a week made me cry. And, he was so excited --or maybe relieved--to see Miles when we finally got home. But he's so subtle, I might have been the only one who noticed.

2. Oh, by the way, my parents were here from Romania and I just LOVED visiting with them. They were so helpful and gracious and I'm looking forward to them swinging through the Twin Cities in August before they head back to the other side of the world!

3. Did you know MN government is shutdown? Pretty much going about as usual. SO grateful our libraries were not closed. Bummer for those crazy folks who like to camp though. State parks are closed down. In one of the few months it's actually possible to camp in Minnesota. Crazy. Also, no building inspectors or regulation spies are lurking about the city. Ah, Minneapolis feels safer somehow.

4. This past week, Jillian went to her first summer camp. While she was at her camp, the boys were at their camp. While the boys were at their camp, Phoebe was napping. If you do the math, you'll notice that I had no children saying "mommymommymommy" for about 2 hours (for two days anyway). I had complete thoughts. It gave me hope for what my brain might be like in a few years.

5. A few days ago, I smelled a vague offensive odor near our living room (which is filled with our family room furniture). The next day, I came home and immediately asked the babysitter if Phoebe was poopy. Nope. It definitely smelled like something was rotting in the trash, but it wasn't. It was emanating from the fireplace. What was it? Not sure exactly, but I this helpful information:

The animal falls or climbs down the chimney but can’t get back up the chimney. The poor guy meets a slow death. The story does not end here. As the body decomposes, maggots and flies develop. Soon the decaying animal body begins to stink and flies enter your home. This usually only lasts a month or two. The best way to solve this issue is to have a brave chimney technician remove your damper and reach up inside the fireplace and remove the decaying animal body. Don’t forget your gloves! (via)

ugh. Thanks to friendly advice on Facebook, Brent sealed up the fireplace with some poly sheeting and I'll get a chimney guru out asap.

6. Did I mention that it was like 90million degrees yesterday. And that there was something dead in our house. Cool. K.

7. Avery (and his entourage, aka the rest of the family) are immersed in tournament baseball for about 10 days. He just played in state with his team and did a fairly good job, but got knocked out by the team that took first place. He literally played 5 games in 24 hours. (Three of those game were shortened to 4 innings) He continues the momentum tonight and will play through Sunday (if they keep winning). During this time, I will make three balanced meals a day and shop frugally and keep our house clean and remember to apply sunscreen on everyone. ;)

8. We're trying to encourage Jillian to eat healthy food. It's hard when she's practically being raised on concession stand fare. Today I told her she needed to eat fruit instead of candy. She tried to convince me that candy IS a fruit. I think she actually believed this. And the candy was not even Skittles; it was a Charleston Chew.

9. Phoebe refuses to talk. She'll say a few words, but if we ask her to say something new, she bats her eyes and shakes her head, "no." It's adorable.

10. I end with a picture. I think it was about a month ago, that Avery's team won a tournament. He is seen here receiving his trophy and about to shake hands with a player from the team who took second.

Monday, June 20, 2011


yesterday we took avery to camp.

my son is two hours away (driving with a lead foot anyway).

miles asked on the way home, "how long would this journey be on foot?" that's so miles.

i thought i'd bawl my eyes out on the way home, but i was too happy for him. and, at the time, thursday seemed so soon. now, a day later, and thursday feels so far away.

i'm dying to know how he's doing. does he have a lot of mosquito bites? has he brushed his teeth since we dropped him off? is he starting to miss us?

i let him pack his own suitcase. i'm pretty sure he did a mostly great job. (i didn't double check.) but, i noticed today while doing laundry that he didn't pack any swim trunks!!! good thing he's a boy and can just wear shorts.

it's nice being able to lavish miles with affirmation without worry. usually there's an older brother who interprets affirmation for anyone else as a criticism for himself.

ugh...i just want to see a picture of him or get a text. it's crazy having no contact with my boy. i can't believe some sons go off to war and their moms can't comfort themselves with mental pictures of zip lines and camp songs. oh lord, how will i survive the ache of being a mother?

i heard today that avery's team won their game last night (with no avery!). they are now in first place in their league. i want to tell him about it. he'd be so excited.

on one hand, i miss the living daylights out of him. on the other, i keep thinking about how much we could get done if they were all at camp...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

9 thoughts on my parents (who read this blog and live in romania)

1. I haven't been able to erase their old American cell phone numbers from my contacts. The thought of it bums me out.

2. Speaking of cell phones, I wish I could text them pictures and random updates.

3. I'm really excited to see them in a few short days!

4. My kids are even more excited. I never really experienced grandparent love as a child. It melts me.

5. I love who I'm connected to through my parents. My aunts and uncles and cousins, Eastern Europeans, my best friend in Pennsylvania...

6. I wish my house was in better order for their visit.

7. I think about holding my mom's hand a lot. I miss holding her hand so much.

8. My Dad is better than yours. He might not be able beat yours up, but he could beat him at everything else.

9. As a parent, I want my children to know how much I love them just because they are my children. As a child, I want my parents to know how much I love them just because they are my parents.

Friday, June 3, 2011

20 things from today

1. Brent took the day off to work on our family room remodel.
2. I took the boys to school and barely made it to the gas station. The gas light had been on awhile.
3. While I was pumping gas, my delightful doppelganger, Jenny Wilson, called because she did in fact, run out of gas. (We even have the same car.)
4. I ate several dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joes.
5. The Pella rep finally called me back about an estimate. We played phone tag. It was pretty awesome.
6. Jillian changed her clothes four times. Maybe seven.
7. I got visits from Becky, Jenny Rigney, Jenny and Matt Wilson and the Misners!
8. Phoebe pooped all over herself promptly after waking up and sometime before we got her out of her crib.
9. Rachel stopped by to borrow sewing supplies. I'm glad somebody is using them!!!
10. I found out, after the fact, that Miles recited a poem at school in front of the whole school today.
11. I went to sleep today. That's how late I was up last night. I was up until today.
12. I got a call from my lovely Japanese daughter, Youki, to let me know she is graduating on Sunday and that she would like to see us today or tomorrow. (We opted for tomorrow. And I HOPE we can go to the graduation!)
13. Avery played in his first tournament of the season. They lost 3 - 1.
14. Phoebe peed through a cloth diaper. We discovered this right when we got to the game.
15. I fixed Jillian's bike chain that had been falling off every few seconds...for the past six weeks.
16. Jillian and I planted the pots on the front porch.
17. Jillian and I painted with water colors on the back deck.
18. I felt badly because I felt like I ignored Jillian, but now I'm thinking I didn't do such a bad job.
19. We did laundry. (Just in case you thought we could go a day without it. Uniform and Phoebe's bedding.)
20. Finally sold some furniture on Craigslist. They came, they bought, they sauntered. Or rather, it took them quite awhile to pack up their minivan. Like a really long time. But, no big deal. Just notable.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

right now being me looks like 20 things

1. It looks like scrambling to make a medieval costume for my eight-year-old.
2. It also looks like scrambling to fulfill my obligation of providing cooked and cubed chicken and 30 cut up apples for said medieval feast.
3. It looks like putting away about three tons of winter clothes. (Some of which are baby clothes...for the last time....sniff.)
4. It looks like loving on a new neighbor who is fabulous and wonderful and broken and doesn't know Jesus.
5. It looks like hauling little girls to Home Depot, Dept of Labor and Industry, BMO, Menards, Minneapolis Permits and Licensing place (whatever that's called).
6. I would say it looks like a tornado has hit my home, but now that I've seen pictures of real tornado damage, it looks more like it's just been ransacked. By toddlers.
7. It looks like a new kind of growing up as I try to be stronger in my home while my husband adjusts to a new job. (No more, "PLEASE come home ASAP!!!")
8. It looks like baseball games. Lots of them.
9. It looks like singing new songs with Jillian. Even if she makes them up, I try to sing along. It looks kinda like this:

10. It looks like demolition of windows and walls and dust everywhere.
11. It looks like boxes of kleenexes everywhere.
12. It looks like laundry at every stage. Dirty, washing, drying, waiting, partially folded, almost put away and some in the drawers. All the time.
13. It looks like nobody wants to cook. Lots and lots of pizza these days.
14. It looks like letting Miles stay up a little later, because that's really the only time he wants to talk.
15. It looks like milk spilled. Everyday. Because Phoebe feeds herself cereal and ain't nobody gonna take her spoon.
16. It looks like mama's not gardening this year.
17. It looks like coupons and board books.
18. It looks like Danskos have made a place in my heart and on my feet.
19. It looks like...I actually made the bed today.
20. It looks like...um...well...it looks like I better go make that chicken!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

a guest post from a little birdie

My parents call my sister, Neely, "Bird." The following is her tribute to our mom on Mother's Day.


...she'll pack a picnic for anything including the time she drove with me to jefferson city so that i could take a licensing exam.
...she'll buy you a commercial-sized air conditioner if you need a fan.
...she's madly intentional about some things in her life and maddeningly unintentional about others. it makes me feel normal.
...she let me drink NA beer* in high school and would occasionally buy six packs of the NA beer for me because i really preferred the taste of beer over soda. Still do.
...she threw caution in the wind and encouraged me to travel to foreign lands in high school and college. now we get to trust in the Lord as she lives overseas.
...she allowed us to watch the best of the 80s movies: Annie, Private Eyes, Mr. Mom, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Working Woman, Baby Boom, Trading Places; name it, we watched it, and we still quote it.
...she always, always believed in my ability to be a tiger lady at the office, but listens to me cry on my worst days without judgment in the path chosen for me in corporate life.
...she loves well her three, very different, daughters, differently.
...she loves our dad and you can still see that i-treasure-you-twinkle in her blue eyes when she looks at him.**
...she love her Lord, Jesus Christ, above all things.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom-A-La!

*for those of you wondering what NA beer is, it's non-alcoholic!
** yes!!! good call, neely!

to mom from #3


With each year that I get to enjoy the blessing of being a mother, my respect for you grows and my heart is humbled. Here are some things for which I am so grateful.

You are a mom I could share anything with. You told me the truth and I told you the truth. We weren't afraid of being real with each other. I felt like the only girl with a mom like you.

You didn't have all the Bible studies under your belt in the 80s that you do now, but you had rock solid faith. You taught us with confidence that God has a good plan even when we go through hard circumstances. I remember vividly these lessons.

I was mesmerized by you as a child. You were so funny. Your spontaneous dancing and general silliness shaped me. (I think Avery looks at me the same way I looked at you.) All my friends loved your laugh. The burst of a howl followed by the unselfconscious hoo hoo hee hee ha ha made us giggle.

You are so comfortable to be with. We don't need a plan. We just plop down on the couch and share our hearts over hazelnut coffee. I love that.

You always give all you have. You give yourself. Growing up, I watched you give time, rides, money, groceries, hugs, smiles, encouragement, gifts...all.the.time.
You have the patience of Job. I didn't really know how self-centered I was as a child until I was an adult. One day you and Dad said, "Oh, Jenna, we are so relieved to see how sensitive you are to other people. You were the MOST self-centered child of the bunch." You didn't immortalize my weaknesses by pointing them out and trying to root them out of my life at a young age. You lived by example and waited patiently for the Lord to work in my heart. I find this extremely encouraging as a parent.

You were adventurous. You even tried to home school me. We lasted a good semester. Honestly, though, it was the best semester of my life. I loved being with you!

You valued arts and cultural experiences and thus made sure we had season tickets to the St. Louis Repertory Theater. I still remember Conversations With My Father, Fences, The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Christmas Carol, A Little Night Music, etc.... Maybe, this was a tiny influence on me ;)

You concocted and carried out some of the most hair-brained ideas, which turned out to make hilarious memories. My favorite was the time we got tired of the ducks. We'd acquired them on a whim at some rural county fair. For whatever reason, they became a nuisance and you decided that they belonged at someone else's farm. This didn't mean that you'd pick up the phone and find a new home for them. No, you spotted a good pond on someone else's property and didn't need to consult them. The plan we carried out was that when it got dark, we'd each hold onto a duck and lay low in the back of the pick-up while Dad drove. Then, when he stopped by the pond, we threw them over the fence as their feathers flew and they were quackin' at the moon. You're the only person I've ever thrown a duck with. I love you for that memory.

You are the best mother in the world for me. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Today's Top Five Things on My Mind

1. Just got a new roof today. Not for the whole house. Just the addition that someone put on like 40 years ago. It leaked for years, but not every time it rained. It was so tricky. It would either pour in or not leak at all! We kept trying to patch it, but to no avail. Now we have new roof and mama so happy.

2. SOoO...Now, that the leak is fixed, we are ready to FINALLY remodel our family room. We're gonna knock out walls and build stuff and put in a new floor. Also, we're gonna finally say goodbye to the early 90s linoleum in our kitchen! I'm so excited!!!

3. I love Becky Laparra. She babysits my kids once a week, so that means I get to see her at least once a week. Basically, I'm hiring her to be my friend. And to keep me sane.

4. Baseball season is upon us. Little league, that is. I LOVE it. It completely messes up our eating, sleeping and everything else schedules, but who needs normalcy? calories? rest?? Avery was starting pitcher in the first game of the season. My eyes welled up with proud tears the first time I heard the ump utter "strike."

5. Laundry. If baseball is on one end of the happiness spectrum, then laundry is on the other end. It's all I do.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May the Fourth Be With You

I wonder if Miles knows that it's Star Wars Day. He's obsessed. The other day, it occurred to me that his friend's Dad is indirectly raising our son. Or, at the very least, he's raising his Star Wars awareness. Miles has learned Weird Al's song and various trivia from him his son.

It seemed appropriate that Miles would say the following quote today. This should offer a glimpse into daily obsession life with Miles.

Miles looked into the mirror and asked with great hope, Does this [chocolate milk mustache] make me look like Lando Calrissian?

Yes, he said his last name. No, I didn't know Lando had a last name. I most definitely Googled it to figure out the spelling.

Would you like one more? Here's a conversation Brent relayed to me a few weeks ago:

Miles: Dad, can you understand R2D2 when he speaks?
Brent: No.
Miles: Sometimes, I really think I can.

And in the off chance that you haven't seen this public service announcement...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

happy birthday, jenny rigney

Almost a month ago, I celebrated my 34th birthday. My friend Jenny wrote the nicest post that I could ever have imagined. It made me cry. Since she's the easiest person in the world to affirm, and since today is her birthday, I thought I'd write a post just for her.

Here are 29 things I love about Jenny Rigney on her 29th birthday!

1. I have Jenny on a culinary pedestal. Best pasta, best salsa, best sweet potato casserole, etc. In my book, she wins the blue ribbon for every single thing she makes. (And if she needs a judge or taste tester, I would oblige her every time.)

2. Jenny encourages me by her example to be tender towards my children.

3. Jenny is wise beyond her years. (Of course, in my mind she'll always be 25ish and thus will always seem so.) She is sensitive to the truth and unwilling to compromise it.

4. She's slightly intentional when it comes to teaching her first born. At 22 months, he can identify all the letters in the alphabet, he knows his left from his right and he knows a little catechism too.

5. She has modeled to me serving while suffering. While she endured years of infertility, she served friends in need who were mothers.

6. She honors her mother and her father. And makes me cry in the process.

7. She makes the most best lists!

8. She shares her brilliant ideas and recipes.

9. She says she's picky, but she really isn't. For example, if she doesn't like a certain vegetable, she'll find a recipe that makes it palatable. (Most people who actually are picky, don't admit it. boo.)

10. She fights for her faith. She hasn't surrendered to doubt even when the storms have come.

11. She has a beautiful smile. See?!

12. I love how Jenny often asks me, "What are the top five things on your mind?" or "What are the top three things that stir your affections for Christ?" She wants to have meaningful conversation. She's not interested in killing time.

13. She has mad interior design skillz. She (and Joe!) took on a quite the project when they bought their home (just two blocks away from me!!!). It had been uninhabited for two years. It had a ton of potential, but it basically looked like a crack house. And now, it's pretty much the CUTEST house on the block. I love her ability to make a beautiful yet very comfortable environment.

14. She has THE most hilarious stories.

15. My favorite comedy moment with her was documented on her blog. It STILL makes me laugh OUT loud when I think of it. Last October, she went to Old Navy and Target several times to pick a costume for her son Sam. She kept telling me about this banana costume at Old Navy. Finally, one day we met up at Old Navy and sure enough she tried that banana costume on Sam again, but it just didn't seem right...even though the label said it went up to 50 lbs (what?). As we were waiting in line, I saw the costume again and something caught my eye that took my breath away as I laughed hysterically. Apparently, Sam had been trying on a banana costume for a dog all this time.

16. Oh, by the way, she also makes me laugh on purpose. She is so stinkin' funny!

17. Jen challenges me to be a more thoughtful wife to my husband. When our husbands first heard about the flag football league at our church, she said, "I'll do anything I can to make sure he can play! He really needs an athletic outlet." Wow. I usually think, "I'll do anything I can to make sure my husband doesn't break a limb. I really need him to do a lot of things around the house." But, she was right! (And they both play flag football, btw!)

18. She gives. Salsa. Time. Her heart. Her tears. Oh man, Jenny gives!

19. She loves organization. Exhibit A (that's her pantry!)

But she's not obsessed. Exhibit B (that's her toddler after dumping out a container of sprinkles!)

20. I can trust her because she loves Jesus more than she loves me.

21. She's spontaneous. Most times when we hang out it's not planned at all.

22. She loves. She truly loves her friends. She loves people. She loves her family.

23. Jen is ALWAYS thinking of ways to serve others. The most unlikely word in the world I would use to describe her is "self-serving."

24. Jen is a praying friend. She talks to God. And she prays for me and my family.

25. She has taken the most amazing pictures of my family. I absolutely LOVE her photography. I don't understand the craft at all. I know people think that the camera deserves the credit. Well, I have definitely proved them wrong. I have taken pictures with her camera and they were HORRIBLE!!!! She's a wonderful photographer!

26. She's happy. She's joyful. There is nothing Debby Downer about her. When her toddler messes up her home, she laughs. She has a sparkly kind of smile.

27. She gave me Loving the Little Years for no particular reason. Did I mention that she gives?

28. She teaches without giving you the impression that she's teaching. And maybe because she's not. She's just sharing. But, because she is so reflective and thoughtful and wanting to practically apply all things she's learning, I'm learning right along with her.

29. Jen dances in public. No matter how pregnant she is. I love her for that.

Jen, I really could keep going, because you are an amazing person. I am incredibly glad to call you friend and neighbor and sister in Christ.

If you'd like to add to the list, please do! Tell Jenny what YOU love about her!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

loving my kids

My friend, Jenny, is doing a book giveaway on her blog. All you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment about what you love about your children.

I love Jenny for making me do this exercise. Here's what I wrote:

i love avery (10 yrs) for being my little man who helps me get his baby sister in her car seat when we are running late. i love the way he hums a tune when he's eating a favorite meal. i love how he beat-boxes like a champ. i love watching him play baseball.

i love miles (8 yrs) for engaging his imagination 150% of the time. and i love listening to him use big words. i love that he's the most natural snuggler in all the universe.

i love jillian (3 yrs) for her laugh, her expressive eyes, her tenderness that doesn't let me off the hook when i use a harsh word. i love that she knows the lyrics to more songs than i do.

i love phoebe (1 yr) for melting my heart every time i look at her. i love, love, love to feel her two chubby hands with slightly sharp fingernails (because it's really hard to keep everyone's nails trimmed all the time!) grab my chin to turn my head to look at her. i love her stinky morning breath and the way she laughs and says "mama!" when it's just been too long since we've seen each other.

Now, if you've got some kiddos (or grandkids? or nieces or nephews?), go check out her blog and leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Loving The Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches! I know if I don't win a copy, I'll be borrowing hers!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Up Next, After the Antique Road Show!

What were you up to while I was putting the girls to bed?

Watching a PBS documentary on the Russian Famine.

What happened?

It was really sad. It started with a drought. They didn't have any food. Finally, Americans sent corn, milk and potatoes. But not before the starving people dug up graves and ate the flesh of the dead. Ten butcher shops were shut down for selling human meat.

Sweet dreams buddy!

just to clarify...this was a conversation between Brent and Miles.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

my landline went dead and i didn't know what to do, so i went to the website and opted for a chat. this is the conversation that ensued.

Chat InformationThank you for contacting Qwest. My name is Nicole R. . How may I help you today?

jenna: hey great. um. my landline appears to not be working. no line. how can i get help for that.

Nicole R. : I am sorry we cannot arrange to conduct a conference call with our repair department, but let me provide the number for you to contact them at your earliest convenience. To request repair, please dial 1-877-348-9007 from any working phone. Phone support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or, please click here to log in to your MyAccount. Click on the Help tab to open a repair ticket under "My Phone Service". I apologize for any inconvenience.

jenna: awesome. thanks. technology has made me dumb and i couldn't even remember how to get help.

Nicole R. : Oh no problem

Nicole R. : Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

jenna: not really. wanted to make a bad joke about helping me order pizza, but no. thanks. really. you've already gone above the call of duty. lates.

Friday, March 18, 2011

i may or may not have...

...gone to Walmart today.

...bought a Miley Cyrus brand shirt. For myself.

...showed this video to Avery. And Jillian.

...made hot breakfast for the first half of the week due to a major cereal shortage in our home.

...and maybe even heated up a hotdish and put it in thermos containers for the boys' lunches.

...bought Shamrock shakes for me and the kids. (Even Phoebe may have partaken of the Shamrock.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

why i don't take, post or print pictures of my children at this stage in my life

Jillian: "Mah-um...Mah-um...can I take the picture?"
Me: "No, no honey. Let me get one of you and Phoebe in your cute dresses."

Me: "Honey, can you two scoot back??"

Phoebe: "Wah!!!!!!! Wah!!!!!!!" (translated: I want to look at the picture you're looking at in the camera!!!)

Me: "Hold on. I gotta turn off the flash. k. Phoebe! PEEK-a-boo! Be still one moment...."

Me: "PEEK-a-boo!!! Look at mommy :D!!!"

Me: "Fine...here you go, Jillian."
Jillian: "say cheese!!!!!!!!!!"
Me: "cheese."
Phoebe: "uh. uh. WAH!"

Jillian: "Phoebe, say 'cheese'!!!"
Phoebe: "WAHHHHHH!!!" (translated: I'm about to go ninja on you if you don't give me that frip-frappin camera!!!!!!!!!!!!")

update: my friend, babysitter and the first commenter on this post, becky, had the same idea earlier in the day...with a tad more success.

I imagine Becky was all, "Okay, Phoebe, try to look emo....good girl!"

"Okay, Phoebe, now look totally spaced out while I pull off looking cuter than a baby! sweet. Good job!"

Monday, March 14, 2011

showcase showdown. winner revealed!

And because you've been DYING to know what the actual re-re-re-retail value is...

I think it's safe to say, we were pretty amazed at the price tags on some useless, beaten up items.

In honor of Kim and Graham's big win, here's a video of a Kim who did not win...twice.

Kim and Graham, I think you're gonna have to arm wrestle over who getsta get the Starbucks bev!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Price Is Right, double date edition

Guess the price! Nearest bidder (to the penny!) without going over get's a $4.98 gift card to Starbucks!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

double date

So we got to go on a double date with our super fun friends, Molly and Abraham. What do four parents of a combined eight children do on a Friday night?

First stop: Savers
Mission: Find "The Best" item. Such a loose category. Could be anything really.


...a classic Cosby sweater or a HUGE pair of underwear. What makes that cane qualify for the best?

yeah...It said something like, "since you have become so old and decrepit..." nice.

Brent found a great pair of women's pants. I got The Best of Shalamar. (I also found an Arlo Guthrie record that WAS pretty awesome. Alice's Restaurant, people? I know. so cool.)

After I clearly nobody won our contest, we made our way to the books and media section. Naturally. We found some books that you might want to run out and get before they sell out of them!!!

Then, we played "who can find a John Piper book first." I was sure I would find The Passion of Jesus Christ. I just had to zone in on the color scheme I knew so well. And it paid off! Ironically, Abraham picked up a book right between these two...I think it was a Tripp book. Ha! Paul David TRIPPED him up. yesssss! I win again!

I wish we played a game that resulted in this picture. Molly wins. I can't look at this without my eyes watering.

Molly also found this gem.

hmmm...if I just put some circles next to it...yup, that looks just barely bootlegged. (and, thank you, abraham for photo-bombing. nice work.)

So, after a bunch of laughs, we headed out to THE best pizza place in town, Parkway Pizza!!

Here's a very tired looking me and my wonderful husband.

And there's the happy couple. Silly, really.

My guess is that my sister would bet that it was ME who kept slicing a piece of pizza into smaller and smaller bites, but I don't think I was working alone here. Apparently, there are others who have the "just one more sliver" tendency!!!

Best part about this picture? Mollly's toes. Too cute!

Thanks M & A for the fun adventure!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

a tender moment

Our children adore their father. Since today is Brent's birthday, I thought I'd post this just for him.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

favorites from the Christmas photo shoot

photographer: jenny rigney
location: rigney's backyard
temperature: eh...15 degrees?
photo shoot time: 20 minutes max.
fun fact: brent & jillian actually had a short photo shoot the following day because it was just too cold to make a three-year-old smile on day 1

amazed. we are all looking in one direction.

yep. those are my handsome boys.

oh.my.phoebe. i LOVE this face!

the twins. seriously.

this pictures is healing for me. first one of us together that doesn't totally suck. i actually like it. a lot.

thanks, jenny, for working wonders!