Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the homemaking front:

In the kitchen: Using two new books in the kitchen these days and am loving them both. One is this book that is giving me some new and fresh snack ideas for the wee ones:

So far we've made Apple Cookies and Carrot Oat Muffins and both were delightful. Look forward to lots more yumminess from this wholesome cook book.
Also loving this cook book that Joelie gave me for Christmas:

The recipes are very simple and nourishing. The subtitle is ," Recipes and suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world's limited food resources." One of the first quotes on the inside is, "We are prepared with all our hearts to share our possessions, gold, and all that we have, however little it may be; to sweat and labor to meet the needs of the poor, as the Spirit and the Word of the Lord and true brotherly love teach and imply.--Menno Simons"
How can you not love a cook book that begins with that quote?:)
On the menu this week is a tomato quiche and a crusty mexican bean bake. I'll let you know how they turn out.
We also made a fresh batch of play-dough. I love making play- dough. Here's the recipe I use:

Homemade Playdough
1 c. flour
1/2 cup salt
1 T. cooking oil
1 T. cream of tartar
1 c. water
Food coloring of your choice
Add-ins of your choice (i.e. spices, extracts, glitter, etc.)
Stir ingredients together well. Just measure them into the saucepan you will be using to cook the dough, but mix them well before heating up the pan. Over medium heat cook the dough, stirring constantly until it forms a ball. Turn dough onto a board (or the countertop) and knead until very smooth. Cool. Store in a covered plastic container OR in a sealed ziploc bag.

Last note on kitchen topics is that I have finally cemented the habit of menu planning on Sundays and grocery shopping for the week on Mondays. All it took, really, was making the decision to do it(thanks to my friend in my mom to mom group, Sarah M. for having a long chat with me about this. It really helped!) Boy are we saving some moolah by planning ahead so that we aren't grabbing food when we're out, on the way home, etc. Now I'm hoping that with the new learning tower I can keep the babes occupied beside me while I cook instead of using their nap time to get it done. We can dream, right?

House Cleaning: : Hmmm, have a ways to go on this one it seems. My mama is helping me with some problem spots and really streamlining things. My desire is to have a cozy but not cluttered home and it seems a constant battle to get there. I'm not giving up, though. My next goal is to have a rythem to my cleaning. Mondays are bathrooms and linens, for example. I mean, they aren't now, but they could be:) Anyone have some success stories to share?
I did finally start making some of my own cleaning solution when Tara was here. We used baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. I like the smell much better than strong, toxicy smells, ya know?

Atmosphere: Would love to get to the point where, at least once a week, dinners are on a table with a table cloth with fresh flowers and other lovely things. Right now I am just trying to remember to wash my hands in between spraying poop off of cloth diapers into the toilet and chopping up onions for soup. Was that too much information? Sorry. But truly, I love setting the atmosphere in the home. I think beauty makes an enormous difference on the mood of everyone in the house. So, I aim for little things these days. Framing a new, Waldorfy post card to hang at the babes level. Rearranging the living room to look more open and airy. Etc. Baby steps.

Anyway, I'll be posting a bit more often about this area of my life. It is a big chunk of my role right now, and a part that I cherish and think is very important. Sometimes I feel defeated, thinking of managing the home as an uphill battle. But mostly I feel hopeful. Hopeful that new habits can be created and passed on to Sam and Amelia and any other little ones we are blessed with. Hopeful that I will continue to learn to see the every day as sacred. It is my New Year's desire. Jen

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A little peek for you...

Into this winter season,the babes dancing and running and playing, our Christmas morning, our much loved Learning Tower (gift from my grandparents to the babes), etc.

A few notes on the video:

No, I didn't wrap their presents this year. They would be much less excited to run into the room and see a bunch of wrapped presents than to see their new rocking animals and wooden blocks and cars that they received from their mammy and Papa, etc. They still don't get the whole "unwrapping" thing yet, though Sam did get into it a bit towards the end when unwrapping some gifts sent from TX family. We kept it really simple this year for them. I think all Joel and I got them was a "quiet time" rug from Ikea, a wooden barn I got half price months ago, and the little radio flyer ride-on toy I found for $8 at a resale shop--yiippie!:) Plus, our families are delightful when it comes to listening to our desire for simple, open-ended, "no batteries needed" toys and they received plenty of wonderfulness.Thanks family!

Yes, you may see some pink shoes on Sammy. What can I say? Amelia got them for Christmas. Sam wanted to wear them around the house. Who cares? Well, besides Joelie. Sorry sweets.

Lots of people ask if the babes fight a lot or if they play well together. Well, I'm happy to report that though they have their moments (of course), these two love each other so obviously. The kisses. The wrestling matches (seriously). The giggles and chasing and climbing and the following each other around. It really is precious and I'm growing more and more thankful that they have each other each day.

Without further ado....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On this Christmas Eve...

There was some lovin'...

Some relaxing with Mammy...

Some cooking and cleaning...

Some stuffing our faces with cookies...

and, finally, some sleeping babes and decorating mamas:)

In the midst of it all my mind returns again and again to the people Joel saw in clinic today. The people around the world and in our city who are hurting,lonely, unfed, unloved. The thought of it is overwhelming, and yet tomorrow we celebrate the birth day of Hope. Of Love. Of God reaching down to earth and gifting us with His perfect child. So, as I enjoy my babies and my sweet Joel and my mama and the wonderful busyness of gifting and cooking and baking...my heart also whispers, "Oh come, o come Emmanuel". You came to us in a manger, you died for us on a cross, and one day you will come again and the pain and agony that man and sin has wrought will be forever gone.

Merry, Merry Christmas to you as you celebrate our Emmanuel,


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh, the (mis)adventures they will have...

So, Joelie was at home with Sam and Amelia while mom and I were out and about today. I got a text from him saying that everything was going great and that he was about to give them a bath after a funny misadventure involving butter and Sam's hair. Oh my.
Apparently Joelie was trying to get some charting done while the babes were playing. At one point things were too quiet for too long and so he went to check on them. He found them in the kitchen with Sam sitting quietly on the floor by the fridge while Amelia rubbed butter into his hair! We still have no idea where she found a bowl of butter (did she manage to get it off of the cabinet w/o dropping it?!). Here is her masterpiece--

After scrubbing and scrubbing it with shampoo, it had a nice, smooth buttery shine:)

I can't even imagine all of the stories they'll have to tell when they are (Lord willing) old and grey. "It all started when Amelia rubbed butter all over my head...." he'll say:)

All for now,

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Walkin' in a winter wonderland....

It was a beautiful, snowy morning for our first family sledding trip! It was NOT a beautiful morning getting geared up (and down--did we smell poop?--nope, all that undressing for nothing--ahh!!!) and out the door. Once we got there and saw the babes getting used to the snow and then reveling in it, it was worth all of the hassle. It was magical really. I couldn't stop smiling.

Tonight is Christmas dinner with Anne and Ben and Vera, Monday my mama comes (hurray, hurray!), and all the while there will be peppermint sticks and Christmas music and maybe even a little decorating. I may not be together enough to get Christmas cards out or have my tree decorated(!), but I do love this Christmas season. And though I will miss being with the rest of our family, cozying inside and just slowing down does sound lovely. Especially as the snow swirls around us. Happy celebration time to you friends, Jen

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A friend asked the other day how long we were going to let Sammy's hair grow. My answer was that we'd love to let it grow long. After all, we are pretty comfortable with guys having long hair in this family.

Exhibit A:

My little brother and his beautiful girls-- Thanksgiving, 2008.

Exhibit B:

Joelie and I-- circa summer, 2005. That's a lot of hair!

Exhibit C:

My big brother holding Sammy, December 2007. His hair has been MUCH longer than this, but you get the picture.

We'll see if the little guy follows in their footsteps:)

In other random news, here are the babes and their sweet friend Vera having a quiet moment today. The girls followed Sam's lead and pretended to sleep on their play silks. SO adorable. Then it was back to the normal chaos:)

All for today. Oh wait! Happy BIRTHday to Eleanor Grace Klentzman....welcome to this world sweet baby girl.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Amelia and her dress.

A dear friend sent this Christmas dress for Melia, and I just adore her in it! Here are some pics of her day.

Loving her horsie...

Washing her hands before starting to cook:)

Concentrating on her peg board...

She loves to take her own bowl to the table these days...

She also LOVES to use a fork, but sometimes she likes to eat like this...

Oh my.

Most of all, though, she likes to spend time with her beloved dadoo...
Ahhh! This picture won't load, but I'll keep trying.

Her brother is pretty darn cute too:)

All for now, Jen

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

20 months old. How can it be?

Dear Sam (AKA Sammers, Sammy, Boo bear, Mr. Sam, brother, brother bear, Punkin, bubs, bubu....)

When I think of you these days I think of funny faces, of your love for working, of your continued love of "TUCKS!" and buses. I think of the way you sit so still at your little table and eat all of your food, and you still sleep like a log all night long and take deep, long naps. I think of your sensitive spirit and all of the snuggles and all of the struggles that it brings with it. I think of your sweet, sweet voice when you say, "mama. mama. mama. dada. dadoo. daddy." I think of how you are saying more words, many of them sounding very similar to the way your little "mama" sister says them. I think of your love for jumping, running, turning in circles, swinging those arms, looking at book after book, puzzles, playing chase or peek a boo of any kind. Your sly little sideway glances. The way you carry your little snack trap with you everywhere. I think it's your lovey. Oh Sammers, I love you. A lot. A lot lot lot.

At 20 months you:
Weigh: A wee 22lbs :) I think you're going to be long and lean like my brothers. Why oh why do the boys inherit those genes?

Say: Lots of things. But mostly, bug, bus, "tuck", shoe, sock, "NACK!", coooold, boot, dog, book, mama (finally!), dada, poo poo, pee pee, and probably lots of other things that I am forgetting. You still like to sign, and your favorites right now are sad, more, hurt, cracker, bus and please.

Don't like: Diaper changes (um, this has been going on for long enough. man o man o.) Clothes changes. Any changes really. Transitions are hard. People invading your space. Except for mama and dadoo.

I think I covered your likes above.

Until next month you little man, Mama

Dear Amelia (AKA Melia, Mils, Millie, sister, punkin bug, boo bear...)

When I think of you I think of kisses galore. I think of my little mama who loves to care for her babies and for her brother. I think of your love for ring stackers and containers that open and close. While brother has lots of highs and lows, you sail through each day on a pretty even note. Not to say that you aren't expressive! I don't think anyone could think of you and not think of your wide eyed expressions. Oh how they keep us laughing. Those shoulder scruntches, those head turns, those boo boo lips, those belly laughs, that sad, sad face when signing hurt or when you hear someone crying. I think of the way you go and plop down beside brother when he is on the time out mat. Amelia, you are such a joy to my heart.

At 20 months:

You weigh: 22lbs. Just a few more ounces than Sammy, which shocked us all because you feel so much heavier!

Your favorite words to say are: Brother, mama, dada, cracker, coooold, snow, BAAAAYbeeee, nigh nigh, piece (as in "give me a piece!"), and many more!
You like to sign cracker, bus, frog, coat, star, sun, cooooold and lots more!

You don't like: To sit still and eat for very long or share:)

I love you my wild haired, expressive, fun loving, affectionate little girl, Mama


For Christmas this year we got the babes a membership to the children's museum. They love it! Today we went for the second time (my first time alone w/ them--a little crazy but doable;) and I just love to see them explore. I guess the gardens were our spring/summer/fall hang out and the museum will be our Winter. The aren't the best pics, but it was hard to find time to follow Amelia (who acts like she owns the place:) and carry Sam (he gets a bit overwhelmed) and take pictures!

The water activity is the favorite by far. There is this little one for toddlers and a bigger one for the big kids. I love how they have created activities that span so many ages!

Sam loved this "TUCK!"

and Amelia loved this one:)

Even amidst all of the hulabaloo Sammy found a quiet spot to read...

while Amelia went up and down this slide again and again and again.

Anyway, it's great fun and there is lots more to show you. I'm sure there will be many more pictures to come as winter swirls along. Here's to the gift of discovery:) Jen

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Here is a short video about the clinic where Joelie is working. Where he is working very long hours. He is there now. He is there early and he is there late. He wants to be home more, and he will be as he learns the system and gets faster at charting.

Late at night he shares some of his day with me, and rarely do we end the conversation without tears in our eyes. Hurting, broken people. Many who are out there right now in the cold, cold night. Many who are addicted, hopeless, homeless.

We pray for them and we pray that God will show us how to live our lives in light of the fact that daily life is a major struggle for many around the world, and many right here in our neighborhood.


Click HERE to see the video. Also, just a reminder that Joelie has a blog about his experiences there, but it is password protected. If you'd like to be a reader, just e-mail us at jj5hunt@yahoo.com or leave your e-mail in a comment here and we'll send you an invite:)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Music time...

I've always loved listening to music with the babes. When the were newborns I loved to listen to classical music with them, especially during the fussy hours. Then we went through a long period of almost exclusive Elizabeth Mitchell days....we love her still, of course. Now, we are listening to a mixture of music, but I find myself not liking a lot of background music. Especially when they are working on puzzles or looking at books, etc. So, for a long time I have wanted to have an intentional music time, where we really listen to what is playing. I asked for a portable CD player for Christmas and the Hunts sweetly got me one--yay! So, today I sat their little chairs up next to the radio and we spent a few minutes talking about how to touch the radio (with one finger, no pushing buttons, etc.) and then I turned on our first song. It was "I had a Rooster" sung by Pete Seeger. They loved it! They sat there for about 10 minutes (well, Sam sat and Amelia sat and stood and walked around) and we listened to the song about 3 times. The last time they started mimicking the animal sounds. My next goal is to have a little basket with the wooden animals in it, so that they can start picking out the animals when they hear the sounds. Fun!

Anyway, now Amelia is feeding Sammy his yogurt and she's getting a little forceful, so I better run.

They are being so cute these days that I just kiss them a billion times. Could that be because I am well rested and energized? Quite possibly:)

Here's to really listening, Jen

Sunday, December 07, 2008

"Their life was all one piece. It was all sacred and all ordinary." *

This is one of my deepest prayers for my life. That the ordinary will be seen as sacred. That the work I do, whether it be as a mama, as a wife, as a friend, as a daughter or sister, as a keeper of my home ,as a volunteer or in the workplace, that it will be done as unto the Lord. As unto the Lord. What does it look like to cut out coupons "As unto the Lord?" or fold diapers, or make dinner, or write a letter? That is what my heart has been asking. He has shown me much through a book called, "No ordinary home: The Uncommon Art of Christ-Centered Homemaking." I slurped it up and now am going back through to do the Bible study parts.....but I just wanted to put this out there and ask, " Does your life feel like one piece? A seamless life of work and sacredness?" If so, how? Or maybe you have seen an example of someone who lives this way and want to describe them. You don't have to answer in the comments section, but you can! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Love to you this wintery evening, Jen

*Quote from Sue Bender describing the Amish in her book, "Plain and Simple."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Snuggle bugs...Oh how we love you.

Here are a few pics for ya until I have time to catch you up on life here in the Hunt abode. Jim and Shari leave tomorrow. I am SO thankful for their visit, it has been such a restful time for me. I feel filled up. Anyway, more soon! Jen