Friday, December 25, 2009

colorado bound

The first time we went to Colorado I almost killed myself and my husband learning how to ski.
I looked like this:

The last time we went to Colorado I was pregnant and sick. I stayed in the house all day and threw up a lot.
I felt like this:

I looked like this:
(Man I was pale and sickly looking. Gross!!!)

This time will be different. I will not be a first time skier and I will not be pregnant. Wonder what this year's picture will be. Betcha I'll be wearing that same coat! ;)

I am so looking forward to seeing the mountains and to sharing that beauty with Lauren. She's got her snow suit and snow boots all ready to go. What a little snow angel she will be! The drive on the other hand...not so excited about. Can you blame me?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve... home.

The presents are beneath the tree, the stockings are stuffed, and there is a darling little girl in Santa jammies sleeping soundly down the hall.

I am soaking in every moment of this Christmas and will treasure these moments as a little family in my heart. I know that time will too soon pass and this will be only a sweet memory.

Merry Christmas!
May you be surrounded by those you love and immersed in the presence of our Lord.

One of Lauren's presents under the tree: a rocking chair for reading and a favorite book with a note from Mommy and Daddy inside.

Monday, December 21, 2009

taking a leap...

...into the familiar and the unknown.

After a lot of prayer and discussions full of words like "pros" and "cons" and "what's best for our family" with my husband, I have decided to accept a very part-time and a very flexible teaching position with a small local college. My time away from Lauren will be extremely minimal and I feel peaceful about the way things have transpired.

Classes start on January 19th and I hope I am ready! I have a lot of reading and preparing to do before then!

Thank you Tammy for the resources! You are the best! It was great to see you, Leslie, and Kelly today!

Friday, December 18, 2009

decision time

Much has been going on in my life and I can't wait to share when it all goes down and the decision has been made, but for now I'll leave you with one of the songs I've been listening to. I *heart* Sara Groves, she always says just what I am feeling!

"Hello Lord, it's me your child
I have a few things on my mind
Right now I'm faced with big decisions
And I'm wondering if you have a minute...

I don't doubt your sovereignty

I doubt my own ability to
Hear what you're saying
And to do the right thing
And I desperately want to do the right thing"

Sara Groves - Hello Lord

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest
The tide can change so fast,
But I will stay
The same through the past,
The same in future, same today

I am constant; I am near
I am peace that shatters all your secret fears
I am holy; I am wise
I'm the only one who knows your heart's desires
Your heart's desires

Oh weary, tired and worn,
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold
Cause Mine is light

I know you through and through;
There's no need to hide
I want to show you love
That is deep and high and wide

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest

~Jill Phillips~

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

math major...

or hair model? Oh the possibilities for this silly girl!

Monday, December 14, 2009

all we needed were dresses, aprons, and pearls

Well we are finally feeling better around here and I am so excited to be getting back into some kind of routine! Yes, I realize that next week with the Christmas festivities my schedule will again go down the drain, but don't burst my bubble, okay?

This morning I decided that I wanted to make vegetable soup for dinner. Shawn and I love this recipe mainly because the secret ingredient is canned tomatoes from my grandparent's garden. Yum-O! I can't even begin to explain what that jar of tomatoes does to the soup, but it is fantabulous. Seriously. Anyway, then I just throw in a bunch of veggies and browned hamburger meat and let it cook in the crock-pot all day long!

I decided that today was the day Lauren got to help me! She was absolutely adorable and I just couldn't help posting these pictures. She sat so well on the counter (don't worry, I was right there) and stirred and stirred.

She was so proud of her stirring abilities! I'm sorry - is that smile not the best? How did I get so lucky to hang out with that bundle of joy (most of the time) everyday?

I let her add the potatoes after I peeled and cut them and she loved dropping them into the soup mixture. P.S. Notice how much of the sauce is splattered all over the bowl, and the counter, and the tile, and the toaster, and the girl... Oh well, it sure was fun!

P.P.S. Yes, she washed her hands before handling the food! ;)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

germs and blessings

This past week has in some ways seemed like the longest week ever and in others felt like a blur. Lauren got sick Tuesday, I got sick Thursday, Shawn got sick Thursday night, and today we are all just trying to recuperate. Will we ever be back to 100%? It sure doesn't feel like it.

I feel like I've been out of touch with reality and been hanging out with germs. Today is the first day I have felt up to really cleaning. And, let me tell you there is cleaning to be done. I have bathrooms to clean, sheets and clothing to clean, dishes to clean, and a living room that looks like a tornado hit it. I guess this is what sickness looks like. Sickness that comes in and decides to take away any piece of sanity, energy, or brain function a mom has. Oh, and sickness also looks like this:

Sickness smells like...Oh, sorry. Too much? Alright, we'll just leave it at that.

I have to tell you that I had the sweetest thing ever happen to me today. So, I am in the kitchen trying to get some dishes done and the doorbell rings. I automatically call "Not It" because, well, I am in my pajamas and I haven't showered in....a while. So, Shawn answers the door and I hear my sweet friend Mandie's voice. I was so embarrassed because my house, my daughter, and myself looked like messes, but then I saw what she had done and I was just overcome. Mandie brought us a "get-well" food bag. There was Progresso chicken noodle soup, saltine crackers, bananas, and chocolate chip cookies. Seriously, how thoughtful was that? I felt bad because I sort of thanked her and rushed her out of our house, but all I could think about were the germs that were attacking her body!!! :) I really need to clean this house top to bottom after what we've had. Anyway, as I stood there after she left, I thought - wow - that was the most thoughtful thing ever. She said she didn't call me beforehand so that I wouldn't freak out and try to clean up. Let me just tell you that she must really love me if she was willing to look past my outfit and house. :) That girl blessed me and my family in a big way today.

I have several friends (and more I haven't blogged about), Mandie included, who are just the type of person to go above and beyond for a friend in need. Those friends who see a need and give of themselves so selflessly and freely. Those friends who leave lasting impressions on your heart and make you feel all soft inside when you think about them. Those are the friendships that I cling to. Those are the friends I want to emulate and learn from. Those are the kinds of people who make differences in other people's lives. I want to be more like that.

I am so thankful for Mandie's willingness to drive all the way over here and bless our sick family like that. I am so thankful for her thoughtfulness in the midst of a crazy, busy season. I am so thankful for the way that she continually blesses my life. Honestly, I am better for her friendship. How can you repay someone for that?

Mandie, thank you for reminding me once again what this season is truly about ~ love and sacrifice. I am so thankful for our friendship and the way it has grown so vastly in the last year. You are a beautiful person and I feel absolutely honored to be your friend.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


We're sick around these parts. I have so much to tell you about Lauren's first real throwing up sickness (aren't you glad) but honestly I am so tired and weak I can barely form sentences. Just thought I'd let you know what is going on around here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

i think we have a little bob ross on our hands....oh the happy trees

Water painting is the bomb. Seriously - the. bomb.

This was great practice for Lauren in strengthening her fine motor skills and, more importantly, she had fun doing it!

All I did was give her a little water in a small, plastic, craft cup and a paintbrush. I used a purple piece of construction paper and let her go after it. I wasn't entirely sure what she would do, but she automatically dipped the paint brush in the water and touched it to the paper. As soon as she figured out that it changed colors, she went to town!

I love this picture because it looks like she is truly contemplating her masterpiece!

Dipping the paintbrush...

Cheesy smile....

By the end she had pretty much covered the entire piece of paper with water. We only had a few cup spills so all in all I think this activity was a success. Not to mention that the clean up was a breeze!

Friday, December 04, 2009


This morning I put Lauren down for her nap and I came back into my semi-clean living room. You people know I live with a 16 month old, right? I poured myself a cup of coffee, opened my Bible, and sat for a moment on the couch. Listening.

At first I heard nothing but the hum of our heater. Then, I started hearing a cute little girl talking to herself. Yes, I still use a monitor with her. It makes me feel better. Anyway, she was so delightfully happy as she talked herself to sleep. Precious. Perfect.

My Bible opened up to Ecclesiastes 3, the chapter about there being a time for everything. As I read through those God-breathed verses I was shocked at how many of them I had a memory for, how many of them I am living in right at this very moment. For some reason it was very comforting to me to know that though I may be going through a season of tearing (God is working on me, people) He also promises me a time for healing. Does that comfort anyone else? That although it seems like this is a season of stone scattering (I feel that I am being asked to let some things go) and it hurts and it is uncomfortable and it is scary, He has promised me that there will be a time for gathering. I can only imagine what good He plans for me to gather back up and what bad stuff I won't even want to touch again. In my marriage, I am learning the truths for verse 7 - there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. Why is it I always feel like speaking?

Today I am meditating on where I am and where God wants me to be. In the stillness and in the crazy He is there giving me life and answers and truth. I just have to listen.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

...and after

I am tired, but in a good way. I feel like I've been able to be very productive today and I needed that! I started my toy organizing and general clean up of the living room while Lauren was awake, and let me tell you that girl is a huge help....NOT! I realized that everything I put away suddenly found its way back onto the floor or down the hallway or in my bathroom...weird. About half-way through she got tired and I thought hallelujah - nap time!!! Sweet thing has been sleeping for a while now and I was able to get the rest of the clean up and organizing done. Woot woot!!!

I still have to vacuum, but the girl is asleep and I am NOT taking any chances.

The bookshelf is a bit of a nightmare...Lauren loves to read but the books always end up all around the floor....

Okay, I know this looks weird but it is our entry closet which I didn't even take a before picture of because it was HORRIBLE. I mean the kind of place where you shove the junk inside real hard and then close the door as fast as possible so that nothing falls out kind of horrible. Anyway, I've been wanting to get it organized and cleaned out for a long time. Even though this picture is kind of boring and empty - I love it. It might just be my favorite picture ever. Okay, probably not. The blue bins are going to hold educational-type toys and activities for Lauren that I can pull out and mix and match throughout the week. For instance, in one of the bins I have these great mix and match textures and colors cards that my friend, Erin got Lauren for her birthday. I don't want Lauren to lose the cards, so they are in a ziplock bag in one of the drawers. When we need an activity I can just pull them out!

Just for kicks and giggles....our tree - Lauren helped decorate it the first time and keeps rearranging our ornaments, can you tell?

living room before.....

I've been meaning to go through Lauren's toys for a while now. It has to be done before Christmas and we add new toys to her collection so I thought why not today? Now I am kicking myself. As you can see from the pictures below we have experienced a toy explosion. I've pulled all her toys (even the ones I had in a sort of temporary storage) in order to put away the things that are too babyish (*tear*sigh*) for her and to organize the ones she plays with in a manner that she will actually play with them. What a mess! Do you think I will ever get it cleaned up AND organized?!!?


First off, I got started on our dinner preparations. We are having T-bone steak (thanks, mom and dad!!!) and baked potatoes. I put the steaks in our favorite marinade and got those in the fridge. Then, I started on the potatoes. Have you ever baked your potatoes in a crock pot? I do it all the time and they are sooo yummy!!! These are perfect especially if you work outside the home or know you will be gone most of the day and won't have the hour before dinner to bake them. They are also great in the summer so you don't have to warm up your kitchen with the oven.

The first thing I do after washing and poking holes in the taters is to coat them with salt. They are best with sea salt, but alas, I did not have any on hand... regular old table salt will do the trick. Then just wrap them up like little baby tater burritos and plop them in the crock-pot on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 3 to 4. Perfection!

Here are the after pictures. Much, much better if I do say so myself!!! I will tell you not to be fooled though, there is still MUCH to be done in regards to the drawers. That is another post for another day!!!

Now on to the living room and to organizing toys!


Monica over at The Homespun Heart has been spending a week focusing on her home and living to blog about it. I know during this crazy, wonderful, busy Christmas season it is easy to let little things go. The problem for me is that those little things often turn into big things and then the big things turn into mountains of work that make me feel like I can never overcome them! Well, today I am going to focus on some of the clutter and "stuff" that I have been letting go before they turn into mountains!

If you are a clean freak, please shield your eyes. The pictures that follow are not for the faint of heart. The first step for me today is to focus on my kitchen. Thanks for coming along on the ride! I'll be posting updated pics once I've tidied the area.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Branson bound

Today, my friend Kelly and I are heading to Branson to get a little Christmas shopping done. We are hoping that by going during the day and in the middle (sort of) of the week, we will bypass all the crazies that flock to the superstar capital of the world. Ha.

I am really excited for some girlfriend time and the chance to get away for a little bit. Let me just say that it is much needed! I have most of my shopping done (yay!) but there are still a few little things I'd like to find and I am hoping that between the racks of Gap and the aisles of Target I can find them!

P.S. Last night at the Walmart I picked up a pair of Hanes $5 heather gray sweatpants because I am oh so stylin like that and I have since decided that I would like a pair in every color. :) Honestly, people, you know you are getting QUALITY when the pants you buy are rolled up and secured with a paper wrapping. I haven't washed them yet so I am waiting to make sure they don't shrink up all weird, but if they don't you may never see me in jeans again. Kidding....sort of. I mean, you should have seen the color possibilities (pink, green, black, blue, dark gray, white...) and they are really quite comfortable! ;) Please don't plot the intervention until you've tried them!

Monday, November 30, 2009

real life calls and so I answer reluctantly

Man I wish I had some sweet tea right now. The problem is I don't have any sugar. Why don't I have any sugar you ask? Well, my friend, I don't have any sugar because I haven't been to the grocery store in two weeks. Two weeks! Do you know what that means? That means that I am going to have to brave the grocery store for a WHOLE lot of stuff. Ick, ewww, grrrrr.....

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how long I can delay the inevitable. I really had no intentions of leaving the house today. We've been gone since last Wednesday due to Thanksgiving festivities and I have a tiny bit massive amount of cleaning and washing and folding and putting away and organizing and getting back to real life to do. How am I going to fit in a trip to the grocery store? Hmmmm, McDonald's is very close....maybe I could get out of the house today. ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

deckin' the halls

This is what I am listening to....

can you guess what I am doing?

Monday, November 23, 2009

my laura ingalls wilder moment

This weekend I realized that if Shawn and I were to have lived in the olden days we would have made it. I would wear long calico dresses and my hunk of a husband would bring home the bacon.... or the deer.

Sunday evening, decked in camo and bright orange my man shot his first deer! Isn't that like a rite of passage or something? What? Oh, only if you are from the country? Gotcha...

Way to go baby, your girls are proud of you and happy to know that we could survive in the wild... well, that is if this woman of yours could learn how to prepare the meat without the luxuries of a modern kitchen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

in the trenches

Last week I had a rough day. It was one of those days that started out promising yet never delivered. Lauren and I were off. It wasn't meshing. It wasn't pretty. At one point we were both sitting on the floor in the living room crying. Literally staring at each other and crying our eyes out. It wasn't my proudest moment as a parent.

My mood that day was sour. I allowed the enemy to gain access into my thought closet and if I am being totally honest with you I am just now today feeling that grip loosen from me. For one split second I lost sight of my goal. For a moment I allowed myself to venture into the dark place of self-doubt and it crippled me for almost a week. The questions were right there and easy to speak... What am I doing? Obviously I am not a good parent, why am I here? Isn't there someone more qualified? Am I messing this whole thing up? Do I have anything to offer or teach her? Why is this so hard? Why is it not perfect? (of course I should have expected this one, right?)

I talked to several people that day and the next. I knew that they were speaking truth over my life, even if it hurt and it meant that I had to buck up and stop my pity party. I knew I had to pick myself up. But still, I had let the enemy in to my most sacred and private areas and he kept tormenting me with them. Every time I thought it was under control, the heavy cloud settled back in my heart. I felt defeated and a mile behind.

I don't have a pretty way to tie up this post. All I know is that I am in the trenches. Fighting hard every day for my daughter. For her heart. I fight for the decision I made almost two years ago to stay home. I fight for my marriage and the love that has grown and changed and stayed true. I fight for my family and the legacy that we will pass on to our children and grandchildren.

Some days I lose the fight. Those are hard to take and leave me broken. But, some days I win. Some days I know the very peace that comes only from God and from honoring Him with this job of serving my family. And I learn. I change. I become better for having fought it out in the trenches.

A Piece of Plastic Clay
by Dr. Henrietta Mears

I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day,
And as my fingers pressed it still,
It moved and yielded to my will.

I came again when days were passed;
The bit of clay was hard at last,
The form I gave it still it bore,
But I could change the form no more.

I took a piece of living clay
And touched it gently day by day,
And molded with my power and art
A young child's soft and yielding heart.

I came again when years were gone;
It was a mind I looked upon;
That early impress still he wore,
And I could change that form no more.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the big day

November 17th is here ya'll. I don't know why I said ya'll but it seemed to fit, so forgive me. 2 years ago today I found out I was pregnant after waiting for a I bought 2 fantabulous cd's that I have been waiting a while for. Not quite the same? Oh well. I am still excited and giddy and if you could see me you would probably be ashamed for the crazy dance moves I've been busting out all up in my kitchen.

I DID NOT purchase these amazing cd's from ITunes. Don't get me wrong I love me some ITunes, but when it comes to my most favorite of all favorite singers ever I buy the hard copy ya'll. Again, sorry. I got my butt out of the house and made it to both Best Buy and CPO in order to get my hands on this ear pleasing music. Whoever beat me to Sara's CD at Best Buy, kuddos to you. Thankfully, John was waiting there for me and so all was well. The poor clerks that checked me out probably thought I was a crazy woman...seriously did they not know how important it was for me to Guess they didn't get the memo that today is a momentous day in the world of music. Or at least in Jen's world of music.

I feel called to mention that Nora Jones also had a cd come out today and as much as I love me some Nora Jones, I had to pass that baby up. It is going to be hard enough for me to memorize every single word, note, and arrangement in these two cd's by tomorrow and I just didn't think it would be smart to add another artist to the mix. I have my sanity to think of people.

If you are wondering how I do this whole new cd thing, let me explain. Basically I listen to the songs over and over and over and over and over until I could sing the song word for word and dramatic note for dramatic note. I play the music in the background, in the car, and while I am putting on my makeup. It drives Shawn batty, but it is just me and I love it. I guess I should add that I cannot actually in real life sing. Just in case you were thinking of booking me for your wedding or next corporate party.

Now, I thought I would share a couple video's from the new cd's. The first one is called Twice as Good from Sara Groves new album. This song is a shout out(oh yeah, I just said "shout out" and I am twelve) to all my girlfriends. Seriously, life with you girls is half as hard and twice as good!

This next one, Half of My Heart, is by my John and Taylor Swift (love her). How cute is that?

Monday, November 16, 2009

a little help?

Shawn and I just sat down to go over our budget. We use the mvelopes system online and both really like it, BUT I seem to have a problem that I need a little help with. See, in order to utilize the mvelopes system to its fullest you really need to keep and enter ALL receipts. I will be honest with you guys - I have the hardest time holding on to my receipts. Sometimes they get smashed into my purse, sometimes they go in my wallet, sometimes they stay in the bag with my purchases, and sometimes they go flying across the parking lot never to be seen again. What do you do to keep your receipts organized? I thought about getting a ziploc bag or just a mind that remembers but I thought I would ask you all first. Thanks in advance for your amazing answers and for saving my marriage!!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Last night something really cool happened. Our little family made the decision to sponsor a child through the Compassion Organization. I talked briefly about this earlier this summer, but it has taken us a while to finally just do it. To put aside all fears and worries and just trust God with the little bit we are able to do.

Last night our little family grew with the addition of a precious 8 year old boy named Leo. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to know that soon somewhere in El Salvador Leo will learn that someone cares about him and wanted to sponsor him. Leo has been waiting for more than 6 months to be sponsored. Doesn't that break your heart? It did ours. The other really neat thing about Leo is that he and Lauren share a birthday. Shawn and I thought it would be a really wonderful way for Lauren to connect with Leo as she gets older.

It is our desire as parents to raise little Miss Lauren to know the needs of the world. To be God's hands. To never take for granted our blessings. To realize just how lavishly we live and to have a giving heart.

I wanted to post this, but I also worried that by posting the impression might be given that this is for our glory or that our family is being prideful. Truly, it is not and we are not. We are so thankful to be used by God in this young man's life. God doesn't need us to reach His people. He is God and He can do anything. He doesn't need us, but he allows us to get in there and feel. He allows us to show His love to people. He lets us get our hands dirty and in the end we receive the blessing. How wonderful is our God?

This week there are a group of Compassion bloggers in El Salvador. If you'd like to hear their stories you can read Kelly's blog, Heather's blog, Molly's blog, Keely's blog, Shaun's blog, or Patricia's blog. I encourage you to take some time and read through their posts, look at their pictures, and feel what they are feeling.

We've obviously spent some time before making the decision to sponsor a child through Compassion. I can tell you that I was always looking for the way this wasn't legit. You know, like they were taking 90% of the money and the other 10% actually made it to meet the needs of the child. Thankfully, this is SO not the case with Compassion. Here is a quote from Kelly's blog regarding this issue:

"Someone asked me what % of money actually goes to the children. 83% of money given to Compassion goes straight to help the children. Of course - the other 17% just goes to running the company - the offices all over the world. Charity Watch dog is an organization that checks charities and Compassion is the only U.S. company who has received the highest ratings for the last 7 years. We saw file cabinets yesterday with the records that blow my mind that are kept on every child and every penny spent. Compassion is the real deal. It is making a difference."

I'd love to hear if you sponsor a child from somewhere. One of the quotes on one of the Compassion blogs I was reading the other day said that a picture was shown in the Compassion office of a young child. The speaker looked at the bloggers and said, "This child deserves to know Jesus." Yes... yes he does!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

sumpin to watch

I love the band/group/whatever, Lifehouse, and tonight Shawn showed me this video his cousin sent him. Very cool - make sure to watch all the way until the end. Beautiful song. Beautiful message.


Aren't these kids the cutest?!?! All us moms were jumping up and down and clapping our hands and acting just plain silly to try to get these sweeties to look!

Isabelle was on the run and Preston was trying to keep her from sweet!

Poor Preston, the girl just can't be held back!

Lauren was tired of all the noise!

Cougar Mama at her post checking out the latest New Moon info!!!

And tonight I have a date with this little lady....