Thursday, June 30, 2011

On Turning For...For...Forty

Gray hair.  Crow's feet. Laugh lines.  Picky stomach.  Joint pain.  Slower metabolism.  Yep!  I've got 'em all!  You see, there's a big birthday coming up here...and it ain't 30.  I wish.  I loved turning 30.  I finally felt like a grown-up--that maybe I had some wisdom attained.  Yet, I was still young.  This year...well...I'm not exactly going to be old, I guess.  I just can't figure out how I got to 40 so fast.  Forty times around the sun--it makes my head spin.  And they say time goes by faster as you get older?!  Oh bu-oy...I think I'm in trouble.

For the past several days, I've been pensive--introspective to the point of self-absorbtion, possibly.  (It can't be good to think about one's self so much.)  But, I can't seem to help it.  I've been sort of taking stock.  Assuming I'll have an average life span, though I realize there are no guarantees, I'm about half done.  The term "Mid-life Crisis" comes to mind.  I haven't gone out and bought a red convertible...yet.  However, in the past month I've: colored my hair, bought a face cream with AHA's, exercised more, gave up pop (more or less), and considered buying a teeth whitening system ($$).  It's the middle-class woman's mid-life crisis. 

All of that only addresses the physical aspect of my life being half over--and not very well at that.  The bigger question looming in my mind is, "Have I been a good steward of these 40 years?"  Gulp.  God has given me so much to oversee!  There's my marriage, our kids, ministry, friendships, finances, my home, gifts & talents, His Word, my relationship with Him, and time.  Have I been a faithful steward of all of that?!  I doubt it.

And then there's a deeper struggle, regarding my innermost hopes and dreams.  I had all of these aspirations when I was younger.  Some of them have come true: marriage and motherhood, to name a couple.  But I really wanted to do something BIG.  Something special.  And I know, I know...marriage and motherhood are noble things.  But I wanted to make my mark on the world!  I don't know.  Is that a little silly?  A little selfish?  I've simply been feeling so normal.  So average.  So blah.

So, count your blessings, Jenny.  Right?  Yes.  Good point.  I do have many blessings.  Lots of people would covet a "normal" life like mine.  And I don't mean to sound ungrateful.  I truly have nothing to complain about.  So why do I feel a bit...restless?

Is this yearning a device to keep me from resting on my laurels?  Does the Lord have a new adventure for me?  Is this something to urge me out a state of complacency?  Or is this a purely selfish craving meant to distract me and make me discontent?  Complacency and contentment: so close in meaning, yet so far.

Stupid birthdays....

There is a bright spot in all of this.  Because I have trusted in Christ's atoning death on the cross to pay for my sins, I have eternal life.  And what's the middle of that?  What's half of eternity?  It's still...eternity.  To that, I cling.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Secret Room 2

YAY!  I finished the secret room yesterday--more or less.  Sunday was a gorgeous day, so I scraped paint off the porch windows while the kiddos played outside.  Monday was a bit dreary--good weather for working inside.

 Look!  There's a floor!
 A step inside the door
 I'm still going through books and pictures, so these shelves will be completely full by the end of the day (see the last picture below).  I think more shelving may be in my near future.  On the floor I have the dehumidifier and extra comforters.
Going clockwise around the room: a few baby things, cat carrier, luggage, telescope, school stuff.  (It'd be nice to sheetrock this room someday.)
 Shoes-in-waiting, clothing (organized by boy/girl and size), sleeping bags.
 Extra mattresses, Christmas decor (way back there), fans.
The Sorting Room (a.k.a. my bedroom) where I'm still working on photos & memorabilia, picture frames (I don't know how we got so many), and books (I do know how we got so many).  The plan is to finish this today, but the weather is perfect so the kiddos are outside.  Sam's a bit too young to play outdoors without me nearby.  I s'pose I'll get out the razor blade and scrape some more paint off the porch windows for now.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Secret Room

I picked up Emma from MDA camp a week ago already.  She had a great time--her best year yet, she said.  This was her fourth year attending, and the first time I've ever received a letter from her.  And yes, I've always sent her to camp with pre-addressed, stamped envelopes, so all she had to do was jot down a few words on a card and slide it in.  Anyway, she said I could publish her note.

Hi everyone!

Today is Monday and a lot has happened so far already!  Right now it's rest time, so nothing exciting is happening.

Guess what?  Savannah reads the Warrior Cat books!  We are really good friends and we just played in a huge pile of sand at the beach!  It was a lot of fun, but now my pants are all sandy, AND I have to go to the dance in them!

Anyways, I miss you all (yes, even Lydia) and I got your letter at lunch, so no worries!  I hope to write you again.


(Tell Phoebe I said, "Meow!")

= )   Love you!

Well, she didn't write us again, but I'll take what I can get.  And a speshul thanks to those of you who took the time to write her while she was at camp.  = )

In other news, three houses in our immediate neighborhood are for sale: the houses on either side of us, and one kiddy-corner across the street.  It's making me feel a little self-conscious about the kind of neighbor I am. 

The weather report: it rained so much this week I felt like we were living in Seattle.  The good news?  Our yard looks great.  The bad news?  Our roof was leaking.  Thankfully, we have a neighbor-friend who's a roofer by profession.  He came over today and tarred up a couple of spots.  He wouldn't take a penny, either.  I guess we can't be terrible neighbors then.  Unless everyone is just living in fear of us....

Part of the reason I haven't blogged lately is because the leaky roof has caused me to go through everything in the secret room**.  Everything.  So far I've gone through all of the clothes and shoes, Christmas decorations, reorganized the kids' completed school work, and I have bags and boxes of stuff for Goodwill.  I still have a few boxes of who-knows-what to sort through, and I really need to get rid of some more books.  *sigh*  That's the hardest part.

**The Secret Room is a 24' x 9' space under the slanty part of our roof at the back of the house.  You have to go through Jeffrey's room to get there.  It's one of the things that sold us on this house eight years ago.

 Jeffrey's closet (above)
 Jeffrey's hanging clothes are to my right as I take this one.
 Voila!  The Secret Room
(Well, not-so-secret anymore.)
 This isn't a true "before" picture, so you can imagine how bad it was before I began!
 Our cat, Phoebe, shedding her fur right where I last vacuumed.  Typical.
I don't blame her for being in here though.  It's so nice and quiet.  Ahhhh....
Here's an area I feel is finished.  Emma's and Jeffrey's completed school work (K through now) is in those bins, and the rack holds shoes-in-waiting.  Boots are behind it, and the cardboard box holds soccer gear.

It's going to take me most of the weekend to finish in here, but I'm going through every tiny, little thing.  Besides, I haven't cleaned this out for at least three years. (Hmmm...Samuel is three.  There might be a connection there.)  In any case, it's nice to take a break from working on the porch.  I'll post some porch pictures another day for those of you who aren't on Facebook.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Happy Camper

We just got home from dropping Emma off at MDA camp.  The shoe is on the other foot this week for me--entrusting my kid to someone else's care.  Usually, other parents are dropping off their kid(s) at our camp.  It's Emma's fourth year as a camper, so it wasn't as difficult to leave her as the first time, but it's still weird.  And even though she's probably the quietest of my four kiddos, there's still quite a void here at home.  Already.  *sigh*

Each MDA camper gets his/her own counselor for the week.  Some kids get two--depending on how much equipment and special care is needed.  Emma has had the same counselor, Tricia, for the past three years.  This year it's Kate.  Tricia is still there this year, so I'm not sure why there's a switch.  I think it's because Kate is new to MDA camp as a counselor, so they didn't want to put her with a new camper.  Tricia has the new girl.  In any case, Kate seems like a lovely young woman.  She'll be a junior at one of the UW branches, studying elementary and special education. 

This is one of Emma's favorite weeks of the year.  She loves MDA camp because she doesn't feel like anyone is staring at her, and--compared to some of the other campers--she feels more abled than disabled.  They also have a lot of fun things planned (motorcycle rides, pony rides, boating, swimming, crafts, games designed for kids like her) and the local news affiliates get a lot of footage for the Jerry Lewis Telethon.  Emma is usually on TV quite a bit over Labor Day Weekend.  She'll fall asleep one happy camper tonight.  = ) 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Good Housekeeping

In the book I mentioned the other day, my first "Mary Assignment" (as opposed to Martha) was to make a sort of mission statement for why I want a clean home.  I won't bore you with the whole enchilada, but I discovered something of interest during my soul and Scripture searching.

"Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach (2 Tim 5:14)." 

Now, it's not like this verse was new to me, but this time I saw more clearly how marriage, mommy-hood, and managing a home (how's that for alliteration?) are part of God's design to help me live a godly life and improve my witness to others.  Hold on though; what I think this verse is NOT saying is, "Cleanliness is next to godliness."  That is, I don't think it means that the cleaner my house is, the more spiritual I am.  I'll tell you why.  Let's back up a verse.

"And at the same time they (younger widows) also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention (2 Tim 5:13)."

Marriage, mommy-hood, and managing a home are good things to keep me occupied so I don't become:
  •  idle (lazy)
  • a gossip (tattler, babbler, foolish or silly talker) and/or
  • a busybody (in other people's business while neglecting my own more important matters). 
Did you notice how they "learn to be idle"?  That's a good thing, because it means we can also learn to not be idle.  And how did they learn to be idle? they went around from house to house, or (ahem) Facebook wall to wall, or blog to blog.  *sigh*  Now, don't get me wrong here.  It is possible to be on FB and visit others' blogs without being a lazy, gossipy busybody.  I We just need to check myself ourselves.  *cough-cough*

Having something constructive to do keeps me from being destructive--to my life, others' lives, and the very Word of God.  I never really thought that housekeeping could be a blessing in my spiritual life.  It's always seemed too mundane for that.  I was mistaken.  Keeping my focus on the nuturing-managing role God has designed for me will really keep me out of trouble, and will enable me to be more of a blessing in others' lives (by minding my own business, mostly).  I'll also keep the enemy's Reproach Bazookas ammo-free.  That's what I think this passage is all about.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some housekeeping to do.  ; )

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Clutter: My Nemesis

I hate clutter.  I really do.  I love to purge and organize--when I have time.  And that's next to never, it seems, because homeschooling takes time--time which perhaps I'd spend purging and organizing if the kids were in school.  I think many other homeschool moms accomplish these tasks during the summer.  Living at summer camp for ten weeks every year makes it difficult for me to do it that way.

I grew up in a cluttery house.  And that's okay.  Some people find comfort in clutter.  That's fine.  I'm not here to judge.  I simply don't happen to be one of those people.  Instead of finding comfort in clutter, clutter finds the crazy in me.  And it ain't pretty.

However, on more than one occassion, I've found myself thinking, "Wow...this is a really nice box/container/egg crate.  I bet I could use it for something...."  SCREECH.  Grinding halt.  Okay, so I may not like clutter, but I definitely carry a recessive gene for clutter-comfort.  So, I need some help sometimes.

I came across an e-book the other day and downloaded it today: 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way.  It's more about the why of having a clean house than striving for perfection.  We clean our homes as a way to show love to our families.  When I get all crazy from the clutter or start cleaning in an angry frenzy, then I am definitely NOT showing love to my family.  And it's not the clutter that's the real problem.  It's my attitude.  See, as a first-born child, perfectionism runs in my veins.  Sometimes I feel like I need to wait for the perfect time to accomplish a task (which is almost never), or it has to be done perfectly, so the job only ever gets half done.  I also have trouble delegating, because I usually think I can do the job better.  This slight obsession leads to procrastination, discouragement, and/or exhaustion.  Does this mean I give up on de-cluttering and cleaning?  Oh, I wish.  ; )  No.  It's more about letting go of the perfectionism, and keeping an actual mission statement of why I want my home to be clean and organized to be at the forefront of my mind.  In fact, that's the first assignment--making the mission statement, printing it out, and posting it where I'll see it often.  So, after I get the kiddos to bed tonight, I'll be working on that. 

I'll keep you posted.  I think it'll be an interesting journey.  And when I'm done, I'll be all ready for company, so come on over!  = )

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hi! My name is Jenny, and I'm a Curriculaholic.

So, I've already received some of our curriculum for the fall.  We finished our school year a week-and-a-half ago by now, so it's time to start planning for next year, right?  *rolls eyes*  If I didn't have summer camp on the horizon, I might put off planning until mid-July.  In the fall, Emma will be in 8th grade, Jeffrey in 6th, Lydia in 1st, and Samuel...well...he'll turn four in October.

Here's what I've gotten so far:
Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra ~ $$$!  But I think it'll be worth it.  It will pass down well.
Apologia General Science ~ I bought this from a friend's rummage sale.  Then I found the Multimedia Companion CD for $5 at  It's all the older edition, but I think it looks great.  And, the price was right.
Apologia's Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day ~ After I'd already ordered this, a friend at the homeschool park day told me she had a copy I could borrow for the year.  **Note to self: In the future, don't purchase any curriculum until after the first park day.**
Diana Waring's History Revealed: Ancient Civilizations & the Bible ~ This is my most favorite new thing so far!  It has something for everyone, so we can all do the same time period together.  It will involve more prep work on my part, but it'll also be tons more fun.  Unfortunately, that's been lacking somewhat in our homeschool.
Rosetta Stone Homeschool Edition ~ Japanese!  This was the kids' language choice, so we're going to go with it!  Rosetta Stone had dropped their prices by about 35%, so I finally splurged.  I think the sale goes until June 11th, so you still have time.  (It was $159 for Level 1--normally $249, I think.)
The History of Classical Music Study Guide by Beautiful Feet Books ~ This is a one-year curriculum which we'll stretch out over two years, or perhaps three.  I still might need to purchase some resources for this, but I'll check the library system first, of course.
Institute for Excellence in Writing ~ This is on loan to me from the same friend who has the Flying Creatures book.  She's such a good sharer.  (Thanks, Char.)  This will be mostly for Emma & Jeffrey.  I have an older edition (1997) of Sonlight 1-LA which uses Alpha-Phonics.  It worked well for Jeffrey, so I'll be using it with Lydia.  I also have the I Can Read It! books on loan from another friend.  (Thanks, Liz.)
Do Hard Things by the Harris brothers ~ This will be a sort of devotional book for Emma.  Our history has lots of Old Testament Bible in it, so I wanted something different for the kids' "normal" Bible subject.  Jeffrey will go through Lee Strobel's The Case for _____ for Kids series.  And I think I'll do Leading Little Ones to God with Lydia (and Samuel, as much as he will sit in).  We've also been going through Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade as a family devotion.  I love it.  It goes through the Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English.  (Whew! Say that five times fast!)  Six days of readings--a few short paragraphs and supporting Scripure--are supplied for each of the 107 questions.  If that's the *shorter* catechism, I wonder what the longer one is like!  This will take us two or three years to finish!

I still have to purchase Lydia's math, some language arts items for Emma and Jeffrey (spelling, grammar, vocabulary), art for all, and--if there's any money leftover--some fun things for Samuel.  I've been looking at the Frances Study Guide by Valerie Bendt for him.  It's a unit study based on the Frances books by Russell Hoban--all of which we already own.  I *adore* these books.  I wish there were more of them.  Sam will still be three at the start of our school year, so I don't feel like I really need to start with him yet.  We'll see.

Well, if you've read all the way through my ramblings, congratulations!  The only prize I can offer is my gratitude, for what that's worth.  = )  If you homeschool, I'll be glad to know what your family is doing.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wonderful Weekend

We had such a great weekend that I didn't really have time to blog about it.

Saturday afternoon we went to our local Harley-Davidson place.  It's not just a store.  He's got live animals (emu, miniature horses, a donkey, a camel, and an alligator), a pirate ship, a restaurant, a car museum, and more....  Doc doesn't charge any admission fee.  Here are a few of my favorite pictures:
 Lydia, Samuel, Jeffrey, and Emma
 Motorcycles everywhere!  It was a fundraiser for MDA. 
We went to say thanks to Doc and all of the riders. 
Emma got a chance to publicly thank everyone,
but my camera was being temperamental and I missed a great photo opportunity.
 This, I think, is a HUGE grill which Doc built himself!
 Lydia and Emma inside the cabin of the pirate ship--which Doc also built.  When we had our pirate theme for camp a couple of summers ago, Doc let our staff shoot a short movie on this ship.  What a guy....
 Samuel, Jeffrey, and Dave up on deck
 This is a 5-seater motorcycle.  Guess what?  Doc built it himself.
 A floating car!  Read the card in the picture below for details:
Click to magnify.  Sorry the windshield wiper is blocking some of the words....
Cue the "Dixie" horn please!  Man...this takes me back.  = )

Then on Sunday, I was on worship team.  I love Sundays anyway, but I especially love worship team Sundays.  And it's not because I get to be up on "stage" or anything.  In fact, sometimes I wish I could be invisible up there, so I wouldn't get in the way of things.  I think that because I get to know the words of the songs so well, and practice with other people who love to worship God through music, it just makes my heart...well...SING.  Plus, it's fun.  I wish I could do it every week, but the season of life I'm in right now doesn't allow that.  And that's okay.  Maybe someday...but truly I'm content with what I'm able (and privileged) to do right now.  Thank you, Lord.

After church we had Don & Emily (and kids) over for a barbeque.  First of all, the weather was perfect--mid-70's with low humidity (unlike what tomorrow will be).  And, Dave made the chicken on the grill with the soaked wood chips and everything.  He also did some steak shishkabobs with garlic, onion, and peppers.  I made a yummy salad according to a recipe that I "stole" from my waitressing days in my college years.  We also had some fresh pineapple and cherries.  YUM.  The only bad part of the day was that both Don and Emily had to work that evening, so they could only stay until 3:30.  It was good while it lasted. 

Feelin' pretty blessed....  = )

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Attempt at Posting Pictures

 This is the sling I fashioned for Lydia so she could "wear" her doll to the movie.
This is the doll she brought with her.  The one in the stroller stayed home.

YAY!  I did it!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Park Day!

Throughout the summer, our homeschool group meets at a park every other Friday.  Today was our first park day (and I forgot the camera).  What a great turn-out!  The weather was a little humid, but I'm not complaining.  I'd rather have a little stickyness than that eternal snow.  Jeffrey (11) found a great climbing tree.  Lydia flitted about from one piece of equipment to another.  Samuel favored the slides.  All three ditched their shoes from the get-go, and the kids were *filthy* by the time we left.  Sam was the worst, but that makes sense since he's closest to the ground.  (Emma stayed home.  Going to a park reminds her of all she *can't* do, so she had a lovely, quiet morning at home with Dave.  She goes to MDA camp soon, so she'll get lots of outdoors/friend time then.)

After lunch at home, Samuel took a two hour bath--not because he was *that* dirty (though he probably was), but because he was having a great time in there.  I got the bathroom cleaned, caught up on some reading, and checked Facebook and some curriculum websites while he slowly shriveled into a prune. 

I saved us about $30 tonight by cutting Jeffrey's and Lydia's hair myself.  I was all set to take them to a professional, but the place where I usually go closes early on Friday nights.  Grrrr....  In any case, the kids are both happy with their cuts, and Dave's happy I didn't spend the money.  Meanwhile, we watched a Tim Hawkins video I brought home from the library yesterday.  For some bits I was laughing so hard it's amazing J & L don't have bald spots--or lacerations!  (I usually put an old sheet down in the living room and cut hair while the kid watches TV.  I started this when Emma was pretty little to help her sit still, and the M.O. just kind of stuck.)  The part where Tim talks about signing his favorite Bible verse reference during an autograph session had me silent-laughing, and I couldn't catch my breath for a long time.  Thankfully, I was done with the haircuts by then.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

King of the Grill

Dave has really gotten into grilling lately.  The kids and I are the grateful beneficiaries.  We had pork loin roast tonight, but I think the chicken tenderloins he makes are the best.  I often do a marinade, but Dave soaks some kind of *magic* wood chips which smoke the meat on the grill.  Mmmmm...MMMM!  It's a double-bonus for me: I get a tasty main course, plus help in the kitchen!

I got to hold a one-week-old baby girl this afternoon.  Oh, man.  I feel so far removed from that now.  I forgot all of the sweet, funny little faces newborns make--all of the squeaks and squirms.  Love that.

Lydia (6) is in a total mommy phase; she's so cute.  She's got two dolls she's been strolling around the house.  Dave took Emma (13) and Lydia to a movie tonight, so Lydia had me fashion a receiving blanket into a sling so she could "wear" one of the babies to the movie.  Dave joked with her that movie theaters don't often allow babes in arms.  "She'll nap the whole time," said Lydia.  Of course, it's just a doll, so she was able to bring it in.  Little did they know that the doll really *can* cry. 

Samuel (3) stayed home with me to babysit the other doll.  It's a good thing I was home, because Samuel fell asleep sitting up on the couch with the Wii-mote still on his wrist.  (He's not ready to babysit past 8PM yet.) He was all Wii'd out--in more ways than one.  I scrubbed the cushions and they're drying by open windows.  *sigh*

Tomorrow I've got worship team practice.  Kids play all of the time.  Grown-ups?  Not-so-much.  Some time ago, a friend asked how we, as grown-ups, play.  I had to think about that at first.  But I know.  I sing.

Let the Not-So-Wild Rumpus Start!

So, today was our first official day of summer vacation.  I know yesterday was Memorial Day, but we would've taken that off regardless.  I'm not sure what I expected, but it seemed like rather a dull day.  The weather was gorgeous, however.  Warm and windy.  I opened all of the windows in the house and watched the curtains flit about.  A couple of door slams (!) caught me off guard.  *puts door stops on the shopping list*

The best part of the day was seeing my friend's brand new baby girl.  This is her second daughter out of six children, so I think she's loving being in the pink again (the other daughter is her oldest).  Lydia and I brought a meal over.  You might be thinking, "Oh, how sweet of you to make them dinner...."  I have an ulterior motive though--I want to see the baby.  = )  What a peanut!  (We're bringing another meal to a different family tomorrow.  This little girl is the second daughter of five kiddos.  Can't wait!)

I also ordered some more of our homeschool stuff for the fall. is so gracious.  I had a free shipping code which expired in mid-May before I'd made up my mind about a few things in my cart.  Well, I called customer service, and they cheerfully gave me a new code to use today.  (It never hurts to ask.)  I still have several things to order from Rainbow Resource, but that will have to wait.  $$$

I did order a couple of fun things for me today.  The Duggars DVD (1st season) was only $5, and I also bought a Downhere CD.  ( birthday's comin' up.)  I'll have Dave help the kids wrap them, and then I'll act all surprised for the unwrapping.