Monday, May 22, 2017

In the Weeds

Admittedly not the most flattering picture of anyone or anything, but you'll see why I chose it

The baby is fussing fitfully as I change her diaper, rubbing her eyes with the backs of her chubby, dimpled fists.  She's ready for a nap, if I can just get her changed.  I hear some sort of large liquid spill transpire in the dining room, and simultaneously a fight breaks out among the older two kids over whose fault it was.  My husband is in our bedroom, calling out to see if I know where any clean work shorts are because he's trying to leave like 5 minutes ago.  I glance up and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror above the changing table; hair a mess, glasses on, no makeup, rocking the I've-been-up-for-three-hours-and-I-haven't-had-a-shower-yet look. And I need to use the bathroom.  I close my eyes and sigh. I'm in the weeds.

This may sound like hyperbole to you, but it's a reality more often than I'd like to admit.  I feel like so much of my life right now is about putting out the most urgent fire, and most of the time I don't even know which one that is. Nothing seems efficient.  Nothing fits neatly into my ready-made boxes on my OCD labeled shelves. My life is messy...

But I've been encouraged lately in my Bible reading, as I slog through the Old Testament.  Maybe "slog" is not the right word.  I just know that my peppy sounding "Read Your Bible Through In A Year" plan is turning out to be more like "Or Three Years." Anyway.  I like to try to make my life the most efficient it can be; multitasking as much as possible and finding ways to do more in less time. Barreling through life in a desperate race to get the most done. But is that really the point? Is that God's goal for me?  

Over and over I see in the books of the Law, direct commands of God that the people stop and celebrate Him for days at a time, or that they get up and leave camp when His cloud moved.  Have you ever stopped to consider that these commands were not efficient or convenient?  That the mother who just got her baby to sleep after a crazy long night of teething, might have to wake that baby again because it's time to load up and move to a new location? And that it was GOD'S PLAN?  And God knew every hair on that exhausted mom's head, and had grace ready at the asking for her.  I read in Numbers 29:1 about God commanding that a certain day "be to you a day for blowing trumpets."  I haven't had one of those in, well um, ever.  Maybe it's about time.

I spend my life trying to get out of the weeds in the most efficient manner possible, when I think sometimes God wants to remind me of Himself.  That He's there, and worth celebrating.  That His plan is best.  Because I can't get the baby down for a nap, clean up a spill, break up a fight, find the shorts, take a shower, and use the restroom all at the same time.  God knows that.  And God has grace for me, even In the Weeds.  Look up!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Love Hate

I'm 9 days into a Whole 30 .  You can click that link if you want to know more about it.  Meanwhile, this is me, desperately craving bread/chocolate/cheese/coffee creamer, and not getting any of it.  Hating my life and loving it all at the same time.  Because, while I can't have any of my usual favorites, I do get to eat healthy food like this:  

Grilled Citrus Chicken with Cauliflower Mash and a salad with homemade Ranch dressing.  And almondmilk to drink.  So there.  It was all delicious, but an hour later I was staring into my cookie cupboard, mouth watering.  I've even stooped so low as to open a bread bag or a cookie jar and smell the inside. Free smells, right? 

Why do I do this to myself?

Once upon a time there was a girl who had health problems even though she was only 36.  Her hormones were messed up, her iron was way low, and she was tired.  Dead dog tired.  All. The. Time.  Not to mention the fact that 6 months after her last baby was born, she still looked lumpy in all her clothes.

So 9 days in and I do still crave sugar in a bad way, but here's what's getting better so far (the Whole 30 calls these "Non-scale victories"):

1. I'm just now beginning to get some energy back, and I hope it gets better and better. My family will thank me.  I get 8 hours of sleep at night (thank you, Lord!), and yet I was still thinking about napping almost constantly.  I wake up exhausted, and I go to bed exhausted, and there's pretty much just exhaustion all day.  It's been pretty bad, y'all.  Hopefully we're on the up-swing.

2.  I'm learning to cook.  REALLY.  I'm ashamed to say that since Eden was born, "cooking" had diminished to the point that I would maybe grill some chicken with bottled bbq sauce on it, make a package of blue box mac & cheese, and dump out a bag of pre-made salad.  Folks, that's not cooking.  On a program like Whole 30, none of those foods are compliant.  And so you relearn how to really cook real food with real ingredients and NO ADDED SUGAR. As you may be able to guess, cooking like this takes T-I-M-E. And planning. And actual ingredients, like fresh parsley and lemons.  It's been good for me.

I'll let you know at the end of this how it went! 21 more days to go...

Thursday, March 16, 2017


I absolutely LOVE dressing a girl! This was Eden and me, just before we left for church one Wed night.

Fortune Teller

(It has taken me weeks to write this post! As a result, some of it is old news by now.)

On Fridays, Josh takes Noah with him to work. He's been doing this since Eden was born partly to give me a break, and partly because it is so good for Noah to learn things about Josh's business and how to deal with a variety of people and problems.  Noah gets one-on-one time with his dad, learns (hopefully) how to work hard, and I get some time with just Pep (aka Seth) and Eden.  There is zero fighting from the kids all day long when Noah is gone, which is a great reprieve for this mom-turned-referee.

Last Sunday we had some missionaries at church who are trying to raise support to go to Japan.  They brought with them several origami cranes, as well as other paper crafts, including something like what is pictured above.  From way back in the recesses of my mind, a memory surfaced.  When I was in fourth grade, when my friends and I weren't busy trading funky-shaped erasers, fluorescent stickers, and other such trinkets, we would make these "fortune tellers."  I *guess* these things are also popular in Japan, because there were a few of them being passed around at church.

I sat down with Seth one Friday to see if I could make one for old times' sake.  To my amazement, my mad fortune teller folding skills came right back to me!  I made this one, which has created much entertainment.  Noah was shocked when he came home and found out *I* had made it.  He never knew his mom was so cool.  *Ahem*

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Life With Three Kids

Well, here I am again!  Every so often I get the urge to write; usually when I've just read something I wrote about in the past and thus remember something I would have otherwise completely forgotten. Also, it turns out that writing has a similar affect on me as eating chocolate does, without all the extra calories and guilt. Win-win.

My life has drastically changed in the last three months.  I now homeschool a fourth grader, try to entertain my four-year-old while sneaking in some preschool work when he's not looking (he gets suspicious if he thinks he's actually learning), and somehow balance the needs of a 3-month-old. Plus the other housework and wife stuff added in for good measure around the edges. I'm not bored fo' sho!

Here are some highlights of what thrills me these days:

I'm so thankful that Eden sleeps through the night now! My sanity has returned, and with it some semblance of clear thinking. I still have moments where I lock myself in the bathroom, shovel Hershey's kisses into my mouth, and wonder what on earth I got myself into with these kids, but for the most part I'm able to deal.  Thanks to large doses of God's Word and seven-ish hours of sleep at night. And coffee. 

The boys will start a new soccer season, Lord-willing, next week.  Seth can hardly contain himself--he gets to play this season!!  He has spent the better part of his life being carted to Noah's soccer practices and games where he had to sit on the sidelines, and now it's finally his turn.  The league was short on coaches, so it looked like Seth wouldn't get to play unless some brave soul stepped forward to volunteer.  We prayed about this, and still no coach surfaced, so Josh took pity and stepped up.  I am so thankful he did!  Makes me proud of him to see a need and a desire in his little boy and sacrifice his time to meet the need.

This winter has been more like spring than usual.  We've been enjoying beautiful days with temps in the 70's. It's weather like this that reminds me what a blessing it is to live in Florida.  

God has been very real to me over the last few months.  Nothing like having a baby to make me remember where my strength is, and it's not in me!  Three kids, all at very different stages of life, is a challenge!  Noah needs constant (like daily, hourly, and minute-ly) reminders of what he should be doing at any given moment ("But I practiced the piano yesterday!").  His homework needs to be checked, he desperately needs handwriting help, and sometimes he could teach a mule a thing or two about stubbornness.  How can I help him without blowing a gasket unless God is helping me? God has reminded me that I need constant intervention and correction too (Didn't He just show me yesterday that yelling is wrong? And here I am doing it again!), and yet He is so patient with me. And Seth: lost somewhere in the middle between Noah's academic progress and Eden's next feeding.  Often I feel like I'm neglecting him.  And Eden, who is a very sweet baby, but comes with the requisite frequent feedings and blowout diaper changes.  God is in it all, from the big life-changer moments to the mundane dailies.  It's all a big deal to Him, and He's helping me see He's there with me, giving me grace at every turn.

As usual, I would say I hope from now on to be more regular in my blog posting.  Also as usual, I am realistic enough to know that life doesn't always lend itself to sitting down to quietly type out my thoughts.  At least not during this stage of life!  So while I would love to blog, bake, have people over for coffee, clean my house, work on art projects, read fiction, crochet, exercise off these last 8 pounds of baby weight, and keep a lovely yard, how about I just start by being thankful that this blog post got written?  Baby steps.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Eden Annelise

This is a short version of Eden's birth story, a little of my recovery, and how we chose her name.

Birth Story and Recovery (the rosy, less messy version):

We had planned a c-section for November 15, due to my having had 2 prior c-sections--the magic number when it comes to the possibility of natural birth, at least with my set of doctors.  During the final weeks of pregnancy I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and ready to give birth, so I started praying that I'd go into labor on my own.  I didn't really think it would happen, in part because Noah and Seth were both born on their due dates, and my c-section was scheduled for the 15th, two days prior to my due date.

Thursday, November 10 started out normally. I did a major grocery shopping trip, cleaned out and vacuumed our car, put away clutter, and mopped the kitchen floor (nesting much?).  I then laid down propped myself up for a short nap.  When I woke up at 3pm, I felt a little crampy, so I decided to have a snack. Hey, it made sense to me at the time. :)  As I was heading to the kitchen, my water broke.  Quick change of plans!  No snack for me, because I knew I would be having a c-section and the doctors (and my stomach) like you to avoid eating for 8 hours prior to surgery.  I casually texted Josh, "Water broke. No rush. I'll be packing and taking a shower."

I hopped in the shower (that sounds so limber of me, doesn't it? Don't be fooled. It wasn't.) and then tried to pack. Tried being the operative word.

A word to the wise: DON'T be like me and save your hospital packing for when you are in active labor.  Just. Don't.  You will be utterly useless.  Josh came home around 4:30pm to find me alternately grabbing random mismatched pajamas and toiletries, and breathing through some painful contractions, which were 2-4 minutes apart by this time.  Bless him, he helped me get my stuff into a suitcase, pack the boys' overnight bag, and then we headed out to Matt and Jen's to drop our kids off (thanks, guys!), and finally to go to the hospital. It was somewhat of a hectic ride, because Josh decided to stop at Wendy's first (REALLY?) and then during one particularly heinous contraction, the kids decided to have a fight in the backseat about which half of a burger they should get (again, REALLY?).  I may or may not have yelled pretty loudly that they BETTER. STOP. FIGHTING.  And then we hit some heavy rush hour traffic that made me want to scream.  Anyways...

I will spare you the messy details of checking in at the hospital (except WHY do they insist on checking to make sure your water has broken?  I promise you, it did.  I would know.  And WHY do they ask you 359 questions while you are contracting about stuff that should already be in your chart?).

After a bit more mild moaning (okay, maybe it bordered on yelling) on my part, they prepped me for my c-section and by 7:30pm were ready to begin.  Eden Annelise was born at 7:58pm.  She weighed 9lb 9oz, was 22.5 inches long, had a full head of jet black hair, and she set up shop immediately screaming; screaming like birth was the most offensive, unjust thing that she could imagine, which it probably was. :)  I didn't get to see her until after they stitched me back up, and by then I was feeling very ill from the anesthesia and couldn't hold her.  One of my "perks" for having most types of anesthesia is how nauseous it makes me.  I've come to realize there just isn't anything they can do for it either, because no matter the precautions they take, I always end up sick as a dog in the end.  This was no exception.  Again, I will spare the messy details.

Moving on...

My hospital stay went by in a daze, but with several unpleasant memories.  I was sick all night following the surgery, then the next day my iron levels were discovered to be alarmingly low, requiring a blood transfusion.  The iv port in my hand became overwhelmed from all the extra fluid and swelled up and bruised horrifically.  (A week later, and it is black and blue and still really hurts!)  I had to wear a catheter for 3 days to facilitate healing of my incision (don't ask).  Thankfully God is good, I am home, and we are doing much better!  Every day I am able to do a little bit more, and it has been a blessing to have Josh's mom here helping out tremendously with meals and cleaning.

How we chose the name Eden Annelise:
You may know that our whole marriage we have struggled with infertility.  All three of our children have been the result of many people praying for us, much medical intervention, and God's miraculous power.  Early in this pregnancy I came across the following passage in the Bible:

Isaiah 51:1-3
"'Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
Who seek the LORD;
Look to the rock from which you were hewn
And to the quarry from which you were dug.
Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain;
When he was but one I called him,
Then I blessed him and multiplied him.'

Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places.
And her wilderness He will make like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the LORD;
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody."

I was struck with the fact that the Lord had done just this in our lives; He had sent us comfort in the form of this final baby.  I was finally at peace with the size of our family, and could rejoice with thanksgiving in God's provision.  He had truly made my "wilderness" and my "desert" of infertility into a beautiful thing, like the garden of Eden.

Annelise means "graced with God's bounty."  Which we have been.  Abundantly, bountifully blessed.  We praise the Lord for our little girl!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Quiver Full

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate." Psalm 127:4-5

I used to wonder how a person could know when their quiver was full.  I'd overhear moms conversing at the park. Always nonchalant, but always adamant, as if the choice were really up to them; "Oh, we are so done.  No more kids for us."

I'd puzzle over that for a while because no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't relate.  All I've ever known through my married life is the pining after children.  One, then two, then a third.  I thought I would never be satisfied, like the barren womb in Proverbs which never cries, "Enough!"  I thought that I'd always want one more.  Even when I was pregnant with Noah and then with Seth, I'd feel pangs of heartache at the thought that this could be the last time I'd get to experience pregnancy and have a little baby to snuggle.  If you can believe it, I was actually disappointed when I went into labor because it meant pregnancy was over, possibly for good.

But you know what?  This time I'm at peace.  This time I'm able to say that I'm perfectly content if this is my last pregnancy, the last time I'll give birth, my last experience with an infant.  Now, I fully realize that this could be due to many factors such as:

I was sicker longer with this pregnancy than with either of my previous ones.
I am more uncomfortable, and feel more acutely the aches, pains, and discomforts of pregnancy than ever before.
We are having a girl after having two boys.
I am 36. Thirty. Six.  That's 10 years older than I was when I was pregnant with Noah.  Trust me, a lot changes in a body in 10 years' time.

However, I don't think these are the only reasons I'm fine with this being our last baby (Lord-willing).  I think it is honestly true that some people's quivers are larger than others, and that God can give full and perfect peace when one reaches capacity.  I would say we are at capacity after this little girl comes. :)  If I'm wrong, I know the Lord will give grace, but I'm just saying that it is a wonderful feeling to be at peace with 3 children, when I thought all my life I'd keep wanting "just one more."

God is so good to give me the desires of my heart and to make me satisfied with Him and His good gifts!

Friday, September 2, 2016

And Then She Was Silent

Way to leave a blog mid-story and go dark for 6 months, right?

I have no excuse for myself except to say let's just pick up and move on, shall we?  It would help me if I didn't have to recap all of what has happened in the last half year.

The Lord answered those prayers way back in March, and I'm now almost 7 months pregnant with...a baby GIRL!  I can't begin to tell you how excited we are to welcome a girl into our family in mid-November, Lord-willing.

And now, let's get back to what this blog has been about: sharing my thoughts, events, and lessons learned.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Our Big God

This is a story all about the miraculous power of our God.  I've been dwelling on Psalm 104 some lately, and yesterday I saw it played out in real life.

"[Man and the animals] all wait for You to give them their food in due season.
You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
You hide Your face, they are dismayed; You take away their spirit, they expire and return to the dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground."  Ps. 104:27-30

Yesterday I had my embryo transfer.  It did not start out on a good note.  Dr. W. pulled us into his office for the usual pre-transfer briefing, and before we had even sat down, he matter-of-factly stated that we only had one remaining embryo out of my 4 that were doing well last Friday. 

"So, Joanna, we'll just transfer the one today, Joanna."  He likes to use my name copiously in every conversation.  Josh and I joke about it sometimes, but really it's what makes him so endearing.  And comical, when the news he bears isn't so sad.  Anyway, something in me withered, and I got up deflatedly (spell-checker is telling me that's not a word, but I want it to be; so there) to follow the nurse down the hall to the transfer room.  I gave Josh a quick kiss and left him in the waiting room, the whole time reeling from the thought that 3 of our embryos hadn't made it.  Just one left.  I've not had a transfer be successful with just one before.

I donned the enormous hospital gown, the purple rubber-bottomed socks, and the fetching blue shower cap (really!?) and sat down to wait my turn.  While I waited there, I poured out my heart to the Lord, unloading all my disappointment and casting my fragile longings on Him.  I begged for a miracle. I asked Him to please help me trust Him. I thought of dear Mary from our church, who is praying that we have twin girls (!!) and briefly thought about texting her not to get her hopes up.  

Suddenly it was my turn.  I climbed onto the table and they started an ultrasound.  Immediately the nurse said "Your bladder is too full." On my way back from the restroom, the embryologist was standing there waiting for me with the nurse.  My nurse beamed at me and said, "Would you like to transfer one or two embryos today?"

"I'm sorry?" I said, "I only have one."  The embryologist piped up from behind her mask and said, "That report Dr. W. was reading was from this morning. Early this morning, one of your embryos had stopped developing and wasn't mature enough for a transfer.  But we have been watching it, and in the last few hours, it has amazingly started growing again, and is actually now a better quality than the first one! It's rare, but sometimes these things happen." 

Psalm 104: 29-30 came to mind almost immediately. "You take away their spirit, they expire and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created."  Even on an embryonic level.  My heart almost burst with thanksgiving to God as I hopped back on the table and proceeded with the transfer, which wasn't entirely uneventful. At the end, Dr. W. told me that if I ever have any more transfers, to make sure I bring him a Valium. I, however, was floating on the awareness of the mind-boggling miracle God had done for me, and hardly noticed the difficulties we had.

So it's done now.  I have my TWO embryos safely where they belong, and now I just have to trust the Lord and try not to think about all the what-ifs.  I am trying to make the Lord God my trust and my hope.  If you see me between now and testing time, remind me of that!   

We had so many people praying for us, and I know God answered with a miracle yesterday!  If you are one of those praying for us, thank you!  God does hear and answer prayer.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

God's Perspective

As of this morning we were in the middle of an IVF cycle, and then, like a really good dream, it was cancelled this afternoon just when it was getting to the good part. I was already prepared for everything we needed to do next; miraculously I was even mentally ready to give myself the monster shots they call progesterone, and then to eagerly await Monday's transfer and the long-awaited PUPO (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise) status.

I knew when I saw the nurse's number pop up on my phone that this would not be a good call.  I was right. "Your progesterone levels are already too high," she said.  Her voice was lacking its familiar cheerful sound. "I"m very sorry. We're going to have to cancel this cycle."

She began telling me what to do next, which surprisingly still included giving myself those dreadful shots.  I was in a fog.  Surely she didn't just tell me to start the shots tomorrow!  But she did. All so we can clean the slate and start all over next month, this time adding another shot which (if you ask me) they should have included in this round in the first place.

This news was too much.  All at once I wanted to eat all the desserts.  Or cry.  I did both.  What was there to say? To do?  I texted several people and asked them to pray for me, as I was so disappointed that I couldn't really even pray for myself.  I mopped the floor sort of numbly, and then while it was drying, I sat down in the living room to read my Bible.  By then the Lord was beginning to speak truth into my spinning heart.  I find it fitting that God spoke to Job "out of the whirlwind."  He spoke to me out of there too.

I read Matthew chapter 2, just simply because it was where I had left off this morning. I'm glad I did, because I was reminded that God fulfilled so many prophecies in the birth and early life of Jesus.  He orchestrated so many events; including what I'm sure were confusing and inconvenient household moves for Joseph and Mary.  It was all because He was working His perfect plan. What sounded like "Get up...flee to Egypt" (Matt 2:13) was really a master-organized protection plan for His Son, whom Herod was seeking to murder, and at the same time it perfectly fulfilled a prophecy of old which said, "Out of Egypt I called my Son." (Hos 11:1)

So God always has a plan. The plan.  If I can just trust Him that He does the same in my life.  There is some reason I suffer inconveniences, delays, and dashing of hopes, and I just don't see it right now.  But that doesn't mean it isn't best or that God isn't using this very frustrating turn of events to accomplish His will!  Though I could have said, "Amen" and stopped there, instead I flipped on over to Job because I always do, and well, you already know what I found there. Job chapters 38-41 always stop my mouth just as they did Job's.

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who set its measurements? Since you know...  Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb...And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop?  Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place... Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? Or do you have an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His?"

I got up from my couch at peace again, giving thanks and rejoicing in God's perspective on my earthly disappointment.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Under the Christmas Tree

Noah appeared from his room this morning while I was reading my Bible, and found two wrapped gifts under our Christmas tree.  One bearing his name, one with Seth's.

"Why does Seth get the biggest one?" came the inevitable question. Human nature, and I had seen it coming. Had predicted the night before that he would say exactly that.

Like any normal parent, I said something snide like, "If you're not going to be thankful, I'll just return it to the store and you won't get anything."  Who hasn't heard that from their parent's mouth at least once? It has a way of nipping in the bud any more unthankful comments.

I went back to my Bible reading in Deuteronomy 8.  I had been reading all about the faithfulness of God in leading the Israelites through the desert; how He gave them manna which they knew not, to test them, to show them what was in their hearts.  To remind them that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from God.  I had been dwelling on the fact that God gives each person exactly what He wants them to have; trials and blessings alike.  God's purpose in it is to bring about good--He said so in Deuteronomy 8 (and Romans 8, and several other places).  God handpicks all that He gives us to exactly suit our needs, and to bring Himself the most glory.

Then I got to thinking about what had just happened under the Christmas tree and how it related to my Bible reading.  Noah had seen a bigger gift for someone else and assumed it was the better gift, and demanded why it hadn't been given to him.  Which, if I'm honest, I do too!  Let's step on my toes for a minute, shall we?(This will be just one example, though I could probably come up with hundreds more.) I look at someone else's quiver of children, which happens to be bigger, and I assume it's better.  I complain to God that He didn't give me a bigger quiver.  When in fact, He who makes no mistakes has chosen exactly for me, not only the number in my quiver, but the temperaments and abilities and weaknesses of those children.  It is for my best, to the end of making me the most Christlike that I can be.  A more spiritual me is exceedingly thankful to God for choosing for me better than I would choose for myself.

At breakfast, the subject of big presents came up again, and this time I said what I should have said to Noah in the first place, if I had had my spiritual thinking cap on.

"You know, Noah, Daddy and I chose the gifts we wanted you and Seth to have.  Based on your interests and ages, we picked out the right gifts for each of you.  Seth's may have come in a bigger package, but you can be sure that you wouldn't like it as well as the one we got for you.  God does the same thing for us! He picks out exactly what He wants us to go through, and it will be different for you than it is for someone else.  That just means that God is wiser than we are, and He knows what is best.  I think you'll be thankful when you see what the gifts turn out to be; you'll see that Seth's gift wouldn't have been a good fit for you, and that yours wouldn't have been a good fit for him."

I can't wait to see the look on Noah's face when he opens that gift!  Or on mine when I get to heaven and see God's perfect plan for myself.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Worth It

In parenting, sometimes I wonder if all the everything is worth it--will be worth it--in the end.  And then I have a conversation like the one below, and it is. Worth it, I mean.

Me, getting Seth ready for pseudo naptime (you know, where I put him down and he doesn't sleep, but it makes me feel better to do so anyway?).  I sing "Away in a Manger". All three verses.  Afterward,

Seth: "Why Jesus have no bed?"

Me: "Well, there was no room for Him in any of the hotels. God planned it that way, and Jesus had to be born with all the animals."

Seth: "He should come sleep in my bed!"

I tell you, it makes all the stuff I deal with on a regular basis worth it.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Eine Kleine Garden Musing

This morning while Josh and Noah were at a church work day, Seth wanted to watch "George Muh'mee" (George the Monkey).  I'm trying to keep him from turning into a couch potato at the early age of two, so we wandered out into our yard instead to see what we could do with ourselves.   It's been hotter than I like November to be, but I remind myself that we live in Florida and we do have some gorgeous winters, even if summer does last 9 months. :)

After a while, I glanced down at the base of our lamp post and saw that it was surrounded by weeds.  I focused my attention from there to the whole yard, and was astonished to see weeds everywhere.  I've seen them before I guess; every day in fact, as I go and come from our various busyness.  But I've ignored them, let them grow, seen them as synonymous with grass (they're both green!), until now they're almost choking out the grass that is trying to grow.  I took a deep breath and knelt down to begin pulling up the weeds from around the light pole, when I heard it; the outdoor spigot on the side of the house was spewing water.


I had just told him 10 minutes before when I'd found him at that spigot, "No more water."  And now there was definitely water.  Lots and lots.

I clenched my lips together and shut my eyes.  Breathed in and out.  Prayed. I was staring down another discipline opportunity.  I thought about ignoring it.  "Let him play! At least I know where he is and he's not hurting anything," said Lazy Jo.  But Spiritual Jo said, "But you've been letting these kinds of things go a lot lately, and you're reaping the consequences.  Seth doesn't listen to you at all! He didn't obey you."  By the grace of God, Spiritual Jo won that one.  Seth and I went inside and then came back out several minutes later.  Seth joined me in the weed pile, and I went on trying to free the grass of so many weeds.

When it dawned on me, isn't that what I'm doing in real life everyday?  With parenting, I mean.  I began to reflect on my parenting and realized that I have just as many "weeds" that I've let creep in.  The attitudes. The whining.  The refusal to accept "no" for an answer. Letting them run the show.  I've been lazy and let it escape from me and now these abominable things are starting to choke out any good grass I may have had to begin with.  So I began praying.  With each pull of a physical weed, I prayed that God would bring to light times when I need to pull weeds in my kids' lives, times when I should instruct, and to please help me get this thing under control.  Because if I would just weed a little each day, I wouldn't have such a daunting problem!
This is the goodness of God to give me a parable for real life in the weeds.

Monday, November 2, 2015


I have crossed over into the modern age, I guess.  I finally caved in to my husband's pressure and got a smart phone!  I always maintained that I would never own one.  I loathe seeing people sit around in the presence of other people, everyone ignoring everyone, everyone engrossed so deeply in their own phones that they pay no attention to the people around them.  I see this in restaurants--a family out to eat at Ruby Tuesday, each member silently absorbed in his own personal device.  And don't get me started on kids with cell phones. *rolls eyes*


I have recently come to the realization that, used correctly, I could actually be a lot more friendly with a smart phone.  Like when my friends text me a link to something and I can't open it on my regular cell phone.  I then have to take the phone over to my computer and manually type in the web address, hoping I get every jot and tittle in the correct order.  Not happening. So I'm not opening whatever they thought I would enjoy reading, meaning I can't respond to it. "Hey, did you get that article I sent you?"  "Yes, but I couldn't take the time to open it."  Awkward Silence.  What do you do with that?

A few weeks ago I was in a doctor's office, needing to remember the address of my Publix pharmacy.  The nurse suggested I look it up on my phone.  "Oh, I don't have a smart phone," I said.  I might as well have announced that I come from another planet.

Or how about when someone tells me something that I need to remember, like the name of a really great book I ought to read to my kids, and I can't find a scrap of paper or a pen anywhere.  Those memo apps can come in really handy in times like those.

And when my kids do something cute, and I go to grab my camera...  wait, WHERE IS MY CAMERA? Finally I find it, and now the cuteness has long ceased and they are now fighting.  Way to miss the moment, mom!  I am overjoyed that the camera on my smartphone takes better pictures than my point-and-shoot, and if I have my phone, I by default also have my camera.  Case in point:

Why didn't I do this sooner?

Monday, October 26, 2015

On Pumpkin Carving

Noah begs me every year to carve a pumpkin.  Ah, yes, carving pumpkins.  Immediately this evokes dreamy images of crunchy leaves and crisp air, of lattes with harvesty-sounding names, of scarves and silvery breath-vapor early in the morning.  Then I snap back to reality as I remember that I am, in fact, sweating (which may have more to do with the hot flashes that currently beset me, but that's beside the point).  It is 83 degrees, which means the said carved pumpkin will last a whopping 3 days before it melts into an orange puddle of moldy pumpkin goo.  Such is pumpkin carving in Florida. :)

That, and have you ever noticed how much work it is to carve a pumpkin?  How much mess?  And did you notice how Noah always asks if WE can carve a pumpkin, when he actually means "YOU, MOM"?  He has good intentions.  He shows up with the knife and the gargantuan metal spoon, smiling all eager and ready, but at the first sign of this-will-take-longer-than-10-minutes, he's off to greener pastures, leaving me to sweat it out as I do gory battle with the tough rind of a pumpkin.  Then he comes back when it's all done, clamoring to see the pumpkin "we" carved.  I get it.

So here is the pumpkin "we" carved this year.  Can you tell what it is?  Hint: Meow!

P.S. How many times did I use the word "pumpkin" in this post? :)

Friday, October 2, 2015

First Day of School

I finally cleaned out my camera with pictures from who-knows-how-long ago, and found this photo from the first day of school this year.  A few noteworthy things:

1.  Those are Noah's fingers giving himself bunny ears.

2.  This is an illustration of Noah's "loop-hole" mentality; always pushing the limits.  We had just taken a photo 3 seconds ago, in which he had given ME bunny ears. When I was previewing the shot (praise the Lord for digital photos!  Remember when you had to wait for the film to be developed to find out you had your eyes closed?) and saw the bunny ears, I said, "Don't give me bunny ears! Here, let's take it again."  So that's him, not giving me bunny ears. Nice.

3.  That's me, growing my hair out.  And me, almost deciding to cut it again.  For the life of me, I can't get it to quit flipping out. But, we press on. :)

4.  Noah has lost a few more teeth since this photo.  They change so quickly these days!

5.  We sort of have a dress code for school.  Noah has to wear a collared shirt and nicer shorts for the morning lessons.  No, you cannot show up in pajamas!  We figured this would keep things official, and help him not to be lazy getting his work done.  You should see how fast he changes shirts once school is done, though.  Reminds me of the guys at college, yanking off their ties on the way out of chapel. :)  But hey, I think it's a good policy to require that people look presentable for school.

All that from one back-to-school picture.  Just trying to give you your money's worth! :)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Double Date Night

It was good this past weekend to get out on a double date with Matt and Jen.  We haven't been able to do that in years because normally we are each other's babysitters.  Ironically, this time, instead of being able to finally talk without the disruption of small children, we went four-wheeling where we couldn't have talked if we wanted to! :) I'm still laughing about that one.  But the guys really love their four-wheelers, and I know they usually have little tykes climbing all over them angling for rides, so it was a treat to have their wives on the back for a change.  We had fun!  The Lord held off the rain (have I mentioned that we have had almost nothing but rain the whole month of September?) while we were out, and we returned to our kids refreshed and prepared (well, almost) for the parenting thing again.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Noah filled up a superstar card this morning. He can earn superstars for outstanding behavior or attitudes, and when he earns 12 on his punchcard, he can turn it in for something special.  In the past we have gone bowling, mini-golfing, or out for ice cream as a family.  This time, we got a fish!  Meet Johnny Appleseed (that's the fish).  And that is the face of one excited little boy!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

On Parenting

In my previous post, I alluded to the fact that before we had kids I thought I had All The Answers about parenting and that now, well, I don't.  Our church has been offering a parenting class on Sunday afternoons, and it has been most eye-opening.  Embarrassing actually, as I mentally replay all our mistakes and shortcomings, which have conspicuously displayed themselves in my children's lives like the proverbial elephant in the room.  Large, smelly, and generally hard to ignore.  Funny how my mistakes make themselves evident in my kids' lives.

Today's lesson was on giving too many freedoms too early to children (called "parenting outside the funnel"), and then the little cherubs end up ruling the house and doing whatever it is they please.  I only heard bits and pieces of the lesson, because I was in the nursery with the littles, listening when I could on the speaker.  But in between refereeing squabbles (did you know it doesn't really matter who had it first?) and reading stories, I was convicted that we are guilty of parenting outside the funnel!  We have allowed far too many liberties in our children's lives.  I was busy pondering this truth toward the end of the session, when Seth picked up my purse, left the room, and rifled through it looking for something! That's. My purse. And I didn't dismiss you yet!  Case in point.

So, yeah.  We have a lot of uphill hard work ahead of us!  I'm thankful for God's grace, and thankful that just as He's not finished with me yet, I don't have to be done with my kids yet either.  And tomorrow's another day to try again in His strength.  Tomorrow ought to be interesting as we try to dislodge the notion from our kids' minds that they are in charge...  Stay tuned.

Friday, September 25, 2015

I'm Coming Back

I'm sitting here at the computer with about a million other things to do; grocery store circulars waiting to be perused and marked, lessons waiting to be planned, rooms to be cleaned, laundry to be done, but I want to write instead.  I think that's how I know that I'm coming back from wherever it was that I have been; I want to write.

The days slip past me fast/slow, and my boys are getting so big and I am missing it by not recording it.  I've taken about 5 pictures in as many months, and guilt knocks on my door about that.  But I'm not letting it in!  I look back on my own childhood, and there certainly aren't pictures documenting every week in those dusty albums.  Do I weep about that? No!  So we press on.

"What do you want to remember?" I ask myself.  These things:

That parenting is the hardest thing I ever begged God to have the privilege of doing.  It is mind-numbingly, pain-stakingly, wits-end kind of hard.  And I laugh because I had All The Answers before I had kids.  And now I'm just pretty baffled most of the time, leaning on God for grace to not yell.

That God is so gloriously good and kind!  One example: think of the many varieties of foods He has gifted us with!  I marvel each morning that my cat is able to eat the same kibble day after day, and I get to choose from a bounty of goodness.  I just came off of a Whole 30 diet, one more attempt to help my "issues" that I deal with on an on-going basis.  That diet plan contains no sugar, grain, legumes, or dairy, and so you can imagine that food choices are pretty limited.  Post-reintroduction, and I just marvel at the many varieties of foods that God gives us and allows us the pleasure of enjoying.  Bread (oh, how I missed bread!), ginger cookies, cream, and yes; sugar just to name a few!

That homeschooling may be the best thing our family has done in a long time.  I don't know why I ever thought I would hate it.  Well, yes I do, but God has helped with every one of my objections.  It's no secret that I was not a stellar student during my academic years.  I liked school, I just wasn't that good at Math, Science, or History.  And so.  Now I have a child who is learning all those things that I have never been good at, and I get to re-learn it along with him!  I'm auditing 3rd grade! :)  We are studying Astronomy for science, and I'm learning all kinds of things I never knew.  I got to help Noah make a solar system out of balloons!  What could be better?

That Seth has probably given up naps for good.  He keeps doing anything but nap when I put him down, and I'm trying not to let it stress me out.  But it does anyway.  I do love my quiet, and having a child threaten my quiet time at two years old puts me on edge.  We have tried "quiet time" in his bed, but it's never very quiet, and inevitably involves me going in there at least twice.  Not peaceful or restful at all.

That Noah, in his present state of tooth limbo (you know how life is at eight!), looks like a jack-o-lantern. (I had his permission to write that.)  I should take a picture of at least that, since it reminds me so much of how I looked at his age.  In fact, I dug out my 3rd grade school photo just for proof, and was surprised at how closely his mouth resembles mine at that age.  Unfortunately for him, that will mean braces eventually (I haven't told him that yet.  shhh!).

That Josh needs to win an award for putting up with me over the last several months.  Seriously, I've been rough.  He has put the kids to bed for me on occasion, been my voice of reason when I had none, listened to me cry, and reminded me of God's promises.  I'm thankful for him!

Blogging is such a good outlet for me, and I hope to continue more faithfully than I've been able to lately!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I'm Not Crazy

*This is probably not a post for the men to read, just to let you know.*

I have felt a little...unbalanced over the past year.  "Unbalanced" may be too demure a word. Crazy would be more accurate.  Sometimes I can't even express this brand of crazy to others.  It's been an overwhelming-can't-explain-it-am-I-losing-my-mind kind of crazy.  For you moms out there, maybe this will help describe what I'm trying to say: it's the kind of crazy that happens those first few weeks after you have given birth to a new baby.  You're happy, you're sad.  Why are you crying? You don't know. You're so frustrated! You are overwhelmed. You can't think straight. You see yourself act and hear yourself speak, but it's disconnected from reality. You think weird thoughts. You. Are. Not. YOU.

That's how I have felt.

Add that to very irregular cycles (see, I told you this wasn't a post for the men!) and some other physical symptoms I've been experiencing, and something had to be done.  My sister-in-law Melanie marched me into the doctor's office last week to try to get some answers and to appeal The Milkshake Theory.

Yes, because the last doctor I saw told me that my problems stemmed from being too thin, exercising too much, and needing to "go have a milkshake."  And I was too weepy and intimidated to refute him, even though I knew there was no milkshake on the planet that could cure what ailed me (if you know of one, let me know!). I saw a different doctor this time, who finally listened to all I had to say, looked at my blood work, and came up with what I believe explains my issues.

Premature Ovarian Failure.

In other words, early menopause.  At 34 years old.  I'm not crazy after all! It makes sense; the cycle issues, the other symptoms (google "menopause symptoms" if you're really curious), and my previous issues with my endometriosis and ovaries.  I had forgotten that my IVF doctor told me when I was 26 that I had the ovaries of a 40-year-old.  (What do you say to that? "Thanks?")  Almost 9 years later, it would make sense that I now have the ovaries of an almost-50-year-old.  Menopause.  I haven't wrapped my mind around this yet, I'm still trying to process what this will mean for me.  What I'd most like to know is how long will these symptoms last? How long until I get Old Jo back?  Will she come back?

In the meantime, I'm at a week of family camp at The Wilds, which is the best place on earth for me to be at this uncertain time.  I'm surrounded by God's beautiful creation, God's word being preached clearly, and family that loves me despite my alarming spontaneous crying spells. :)  I am blessed!

I am reminding myself that God is completely good and completely in control, even when I am not.  Especially when I am not.

"When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.  Nevertheless I am continually with You, You have taken hold of my right hand." Ps 73:21, 23

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you." Is 43:2

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Prov 3:5-6

"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'" 2 Cor 12:9

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Did You Know?

Did you know that

  • Seth loves pockets and he almost always keeps a little hot wheels car in one, and a marble or bouncy ball in the other.  I usually find one of his pocket treasures in the dryer, which always makes me smile. And Seth doesn't like pajamas because they don't have pockets.
  • Vacation Bible School is done!  Crafty J (that's me) can retire her name badge for another year.  I do love VBS, but I'm always ready for it to be over by the end.  There is a certain kind of tired that is only experienced by a VBS staff member. Am I right?
  • Each and every one of the pictures on my camera from VBS came out blurry!  I couldn't believe it.  I think it was the lighting, but maybe it was the setting.  :(
  • Noah lost another tooth a few nights ago and the Tooth Fairy (also me) keeps forgetting to put money under his pillow!  OOPS.  I blamed it on being VBS Tired, but that didn't make Noah feel any better.  I saw him dejectedly sitting on a chair this morning, holding the snack-sized ziploc bag containing his tooth in his hand. Sorry, Noah!
  • We got a new chair for our living room this week! YAY!  The lazy-boy chair that we had was 80's blue, and we had pulled it out of somebody's trash 13 years ago when we were newlyweds.  It was old and worn then, and 13 years hasn't done it any favors. :)  I recently got a commission from a real estate transaction, and decided to spend it on a new chair for Josh.  I praise the Lord for His provision and that I don't have to look at that old eyesore anymore. 
  • Our church is hosting a parenting class on Sunday afternoons, and I have been enjoying that.  Well, "enjoying" I guess is a stretch, because it's not really enjoyable to have your toes stepped on. :)  But I know it's good for me and I totally need it, and it's nice to have some help in this weary world of parenting.
  • Seth has not had a nap in four days.  Praying I don't go crazy. :)
  • We've been enjoying time at the beach on Sunday evenings.  The kids love it!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thanksgiving in July

I have been re-reading One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp (a must-read!) and am being reminded to give thanks in everything and for everything, that thanksgiving always precedes the miracle of living life fully satisfied with God.  Then in my Bible reading just this morning, I saw it for myself: the miracle.  "So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.  My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips." Psalm 63:4-5  Giving thanks to God satisfies our souls!  Are you looking for satisfaction like I am?  A filling up to the brim, and overflowing with joy?  Honestly, too often I turn to chocolate or brownies or coffee to satisfy my soul (which doesn't work, by the way), when what my soul craves is more God.  Then did you see it?  "My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness..."  There is nothing like God to fill up the empty holes, and there is nothing like giving thanks to usher me into His presence.

And so today I am trying to see God in the details of my life and give thanks for things I don't even understand.  Like why, for instance, during the most tiring week of the year (it's VBS, folks!), Seth has given up napping again?  He needs it, I need it. I have to thank God anyway.  He is working His perfect will!  So, thank you, Lord!

My body has been revolting against me for the last year plus some.  I won't share the details here (you're welcome), and even that is one of my frustrations as a result of this trial.  I have no one to turn to, no one who understands, no one who I can even explain some of these things to.  I went to a doctor in May, but he didn't take me seriously. "Go have a milkshake," he said.  I'm not kidding. That priceless piece of advice cost me $200.  I have, like Paul, asked that the Lord heal me or take these problems away, but I think His answer for me is the same as it was for Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9  So, give thanks in everything, right?  The hardest things to be thankful for are those unpleasant things for which you have no explanation.  You can't solve them yourself, you just have to trust yourself to the One who knows you best.  God made me, and none of these baffling issues are taking God by surprise, and He has put them into my life for a very good reason.  He's probably trying to work patience in me (James 1), which I definitely need.  Thank you, Lord!

We would love to have more children.  It's an honest heart ache over this.  The Lord has not allowed it, and meanwhile I watch my friends and family members effortlessly expand their families. Plan for it even, as if they're ordering dinner from a menu. And it happens for them!  I cannot imagine...  I'm about to be 35 next month. And the Lord knows all of this too.  In this, I thank the Lord for His plan, which He promises me is perfect (Ps 18:30), I thank Him for the thoughts He thinks toward me, which He promises are more in number than I can count (Ps 40:5)!

But there are the more obvious blessings, too.  The ones that are easy to give thanks for, things like:
air conditioning in 100 degree heat
my Bible
my family
all of my needs met abundantly
God makes no mistakes
freedom to home school
and many, many more.  The gifts go on and on!

Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hidden Treasure

I had always assumed that a downside to being a family with just boys was that our read-alouds would by necessity be decidedly masculine.  I would be doomed to Captains Courageous, Treasure Island, and Old Yeller, with not even an Anne of Green Gables or Little Women to soften the blow.  I was bemoaning to my niece (and possibly to Jen too) the fact that we would probably never get to read the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder because those stories are too "girly", but Marisa set me straight.

"But if you think about it, most of it is really about Pa!" she said.  "How he cleans his guns, sets his traps, tells stories, and plays his fiddle.  They're not that girly, really. Noah would probably eat it up!"

And she's right.  We're two-thirds of the way through Little House in the Big Woods, and Noah loves it!  He listens raptly to all the descriptions of making maple sugar and smoking the meat, and the stories of being out in the bear-infested woods without a gun.  I'm so glad we didn't skip over this series.  I personally have enjoyed hearing about how Ma got her work done (one major chore for every day and rested on Sunday) and how the girls were overjoyed with just mittens and a candy stick for Christmas (they felt happy and blessed!), and how they were satisfied playing with the simplest and fewest of toys (a corncob "doll" and a pig bladder for a ball.  Yes, really.).  It makes me realize that my kids don't need more toys; they need instead to be taught thankfulness for what they already have.  Life lessons from a book I almost skipped! Imagine that. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hope for Truth

Our church is in transition right now.  There is a family who, though indispensable to our ministry over the last 5 or so years, is suddenly being moved by the clear direction of God to South Carolina.  We see the hand of God in it, and so we can do nothing more than praise Him for this working in their lives and hold our hands out in expectation of how God will fill the gap.  Because there will be a gap.  This family was involved in almost every ministry; deacon, Sunday school teachers, nursery workers (as the one "in charge" of scheduling nursery workers, just ask me how much I will miss them!), music, organization, and probably a myriad of other capacities of which I am not even aware, because they didn't serve to be noticed.  And did I mention that they drove almost an hour one-way just to get to church?  We're talking dedication.

But as much as I am sorry to see them go, there is also awakening in me a kind of wonder-filled excitement at what God will do in our little church, perhaps even through people like Josh and me.  We are no super-Christians.  We're not even talented in any of the facets necessary to running a church.  But I was listening to a sermon last night, and was encouraged to remember that God has given us a body of believers, small though it is, who are equipped by God to help meet the needs of each other.  I'm part of that body, and there are people God wants me to encourage.  I'm not the best singer or teacher or organizer or designer or anything, but God has me in this church on purpose to serve in whatever way I can to the best of my ability.  God has given me everything I need; His complete Word, His Spirit which enables me to do everything, and a local body of believers to help support me in my daily Christian walk.

And so this new chapter is exciting to me.  I don't know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Neat Freak

 I am brave for posting those "before" pictures!  So admittedly Josh is not known for his tidiness as we would define it.  Actually it's a phenomenon I can't comprehend: though it may look cluttered and disorganized to my eye, ask him where any given document is, and he can usually find it.  I can't even begin to understand how...

So as a sort of gift to me (he knew it would make my day and be beneficial for everyone), he let me clean out the office.  Elated doesn't begin to describe my feelings!  This is a room that I have dreaded to go into, and couldn't wait to get out of.  Until today.

Above you see what it looked like as of 10am, and below is what it looks like as I type this.

It's amazing what a little order can do for a person!  Well, for me anyway.  It probably doesn't have the same effect on everybody. :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

These Two

Noah, age 7. He'll be 8 next month, if you can believe that.  I can't.  He loves to read; specifically The Boxcar Children or Hardy Boys series.  He rarely gets along with Seth (this photo just isn't reality most of the time), but we are working on that.  He is competitive, imaginative, inquisitive, and loves to attempt joke-telling (His latest one: What state sneezes a lot?  Mass"achu"setts!).  Still talks almost non-stop, and has a memory like a trap.

Seth, age 2 1/2.  We are still working on speaking clearly, as much of what he says is not understandable (though he did just start saying "Noah" instead of "No-No", which is forward progress!) I would also love for him to master potty-training before we start school in August.  If I remember to take him, he stays dry and clean all day, but left to himself it's accident city.  Seth is always hungry, declaring, "I so hummy" multiple times a day, even if we just ate.  He likes to do anything Noah is doing, and I am by far his favorite person on the planet. Momma's. Boy.

These are my two munchkins these days, and I can't believe how fast their childhood is going.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Man Flowers

I stink at making holidays memorable.  Gift-giving has never been my forte, and so I face gift-giving holidays with a mixture of denial and dread. My husband is particularly hard to give gifts to; in part because he just buys whatever it is he needs (the Lord is good!), and in part because he's really picky discerning.  Men have it easy when it comes to giving gifts on Mother's Day.  Flowers, check.  Chocolate, check.  Done! But there is no such one-size-fits-all gift that applies to men.  I know because I asked.  So in an effort to let my husband know I care, I asked him what he would like. He's not the type that surprises easily anyway, so I figured I could be open about his gift. 

"I don't know, some beef jerky would be good," he said.  Really? I can do that!

I stopped at Publix on my way home from a chat with my sister-in-law, and looked around for some beef jerky.  I had no idea that beef jerky comes in so many varieties. I brought it home, and got out a vase (yes, a vase! It is Father's Day after all). And I gave my husband his Man Flowers.

Happy Father's Day, Honeybear!  I love you. You're a great Dad! (I'm also not good at sappy accolades.)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Senior Moment

I have been itching to sit down and write about several things lately; namely....   Well, now that I'm in here with actual time to actually write, I have no idea what it was I was going to say!  Do you ever do that?  I will walk into the kitchen, go straight to the refrigerator and stare in, intent on grabbing....what?  I then have to shut the refrigerator and go back out of the room (it doesn't work if you stay in the same room; you absolutely have to leave) until I can remember, and then when I do remember, I go straight back to the fridge chanting, "Ketchup, ketchup, ketchup" until I'm back at the table, victorious with my ketchup. Or whatever it was I was after.

Anyway.  All of that's certainly not what I wanted to say.  I guess I'll have to come back when I remember!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Camera Purge

I recently got a new camera, after my old one's lens cover was mysteriously submerged in grit and refused to open anymore.  How this happened we don't know, but I think it had something to do with the fact that we have two kids who love dirt. We debated long and hard whether we should even buy another point-and-shoot at all, or if I should just join the 21st century and buy a smartphone, which would take pictures and keep me perpetually tied to the internet, all while making calls and texts.  But the truth remains; that doesn't thrill me like it does for most people. I don't use my phone like most people do, nor do I even want to (that's another soapbox for another time), and so I was happy to purchase another point-and-shoot camera, which I will employ to do camera-like things, and not also require it to also make phone calls, keep track of my appointments, and order pizza.  Anyway.

So I have this camera, and I just learned how to upload the pictures from it!  And that thrills me, because, if you haven't figured it out yet, I am not that technologically with it, and it's one less reason I have that I haven't been keeping up this blog!  So here is a random sampling of what we've been up to lately, in picture form. Enjoy!

School work with 'tude!

This shelf was my pathetic attempt to organize our shoes; which, if you've been to our house, you know we. Need. Help.  Noah and Seth volunteered to put it together! 

A diorama of a rain forest, courtesy of Noah.

Josh bought the house right next to us (that's it in the photo) and he's been fixing it up.  He was about to go fix the swimming pool.  No, we're not moving next door.  But we thought about it. :)

Our new church auditorium!!!  The Lord allowed us to finish the renovation and meet in there for the first time on Easter Sunday.  It is a blessing.  It makes every part of a worship service exponentially better than before.

Seconds before an Easter egg hunt

Seth is giving up naps, only taking them about half the time.  The other half of the time, we bust a move to the beach, library, or something else.  Just so I don't go crazy. 

Butterfly science project!  Best. Project. EVER.  I loved this even more than Noah did, and will probably do it again.  You order caterpillars online, and get to watch them go through their miraculous metamorphosis. Reason why we home school #153.

Letting the butterflies go.

Waving "hi" to an alligator.


From those pictures, you might think our life is all fun and games.  It's not, but the Lord has been so good to us to allow us to enjoy the life He gives.  I'm so thankful for these blessings!

Monday, March 30, 2015


I make the weekly bank deposit for our church.  Each week, that's me in the bank's drive-thru line, two kids in the backseat rolling down their windows and shamelessly dangling out the window in hopes of scoring a lollipop ("We're here, do you see us? Aren't we cute? Don't we deserve a lollipop?").

Only, the last couple of months there have been no lollipops.  The bank ran out, and has made no effort to restock, despite my kids' disappointed faces.  Then I noticed a few weeks ago that they had closed down two of the three drive-thru lanes.  Thinking it strange, I mentioned it to the teller when I finally pulled up to the window after waiting 13 minutes in line (closing down two lanes has meant that the wait in the one remaining line can be absurdly long).  The teller informed me that they were in the process of closing down the drive-thru for good, and that by June 8, there would be no more drive thrus at any of their banking locations.

My mouth dropped open.

He then went on to explain that technology has made it possible for people to bank completely online, and that hardly anyone comes through the drive-thru anymore (I glanced in my rear-view mirror at the 3 cars behind me in line, wondering how they would feel at being called "hardly anyone").  With the emergence of online and mobile banking, drive-thrus are becoming obsolete, blah, blah blah.

Obsolete? You mean that all the other mothers like me with hungry kids in the backseat are celebrating because now they will get to tote their cherubs into the bank with them and attempt to stand peacefully with them in the line, restrain them from loudly knocking over the retractable line dividers, conduct their business, and then emerge from the bank lollipop-less and then buckle everyone back into the car again?  Surely you jest!

Somehow I kept it together and let him happily explain to me that I will be able to do all my banking with a debit card at the ATM, as long as I don't have too many checks at a time to deposit (great! What happens if I do have too many checks?).  I failed to ask him what I should do with the loose change that sometimes appears in the offering plate at church; tape it to the checks and hope the slot accepts it?

Anyway, the point of my rant is this: pretty soon it will be possible to go an entire day with absolutely no human contact, and that to me is very, very sad.  Lollipops aside, I like being able to wish someone a good day and offer a smile.  It just won't be the same to look into the screen of the ATM camera and wish it a good day.

And I guarantee it won't have lollipops.