Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ordinary Moments...

When my life is going through a peaceful season, I will often get a bit morbid in my thoughts. Like, "Hmm, things cannot continue like this for very long. Oh no! I hope Joel isn't going to get in a bike accident and die. Or be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Lord, please don't let my mama get cancer. What if Sam or Amelia dies in a car accident, or both of them! What if they ride their trikes down the driveway and get hit by a car! Because, let's face it, terrible life-changing stuff happens every day. All day long. " Then I will get a little panicky or teary or what have you. I don't let myself stay there long, but it's just long enough to make me look at my every day with a little different perspective. Ordinary moments aren't so ordinary anymore. They are pretty extraordinary.

Laying in bed this morning. The windows open, the crisp spring air all around me. Birds chirping. Sammy on my right side and Amelia on my left and Joelie beside her--little legs and arms all over us. We are all snuggled in and I am the only one awake--reveling in our togetherness .

Reading on the front porch swing with my little ones yesterday. They were still waking up from a long nap...fuzzy hair and sleepy eyes. Gobbling up fresh bread with honey on it and excited to read "Caps for Sale" again.

Joel in the back yard tilling the garden. A red bandanna tied around his head, holding his unruly hair back as he works. He stops tilling and excitedly calls the babes over to look at all the worms in the soil. Clothes are hanging on the clothesline behind him.

I just couldn't get over how happy these ordinary moments were making me, and I think it's because I realize that though I don't want to dwell on it, I know deep inside that each of these moments is a gift that could be taken away at any time. And I want to slurp them up and I want to take them in and I don't want to rush by them. Oh no, these are the days. Every one. I know God would still give me joy if life took an unexpected turn, I know He heals hearts and makes beauty from ashes--but even still, I want to live life as He has given it to me now to the fullest and I think for me that means being present and being thankful in the most ordinary of moments.

With a thankful heart,

Monday, May 24, 2010

" Are you my mother?"

A friend passed on this book to us and it has been a favorite from the start (side note: they also went COO COO over the book "Who ate all the cookie dough?" recently. Amelia was literally quoting it in her sleep! ) . I hear them all of the time during their animal's conversations asking each other, "Are you my mother?" " No, I'm not your mother." " Where is my mother?!" etc.
Anyway, since it was SNOWING outside this morning I was looking around the house for fun things to do and I saw this mama animal- baby animal matching game in my "pre-school" cabinet. AHA! I knew they would try to just talk with each other with the different cards (which they did), but I thought if pitched it that they needed to help the baby animals find their mother, they might go for it. It worked! They were very concerned that all of the babes be reunited with their mamas (especially Sam) and worked until they were all matched, except for the poor mama dog whose babies are currently missing.
Anyway, 20 minutes of learning fun! Later the weather warmed back up into a Spring afternoon and we took a ride around the block. Sammy is loving his new balance bike (yay Craigslist!) and Amelia is thrilled that she can now ride his trike without a growl or protest from him:)
All in all it was a lovely day (minus my simultaneous feeling of exhaustion and being wired that my allergy medicine is giving me-yuck!) . Hope yours was a good one too, Jen

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dear Joelie,

Can it be that we have been married for 11 years?! What a wonderful, challenging, growing, full of life 11 years its has been!

Tonight we went out to eat together (after we closed on our first home!) and it was a sweet time of conversation and yummy indian food. As we were eating though, you saw a disturbance across the street that kept distracting you. It was two drunk men either fighting or something on a bench across the street from us. It was hard to see what was going on, but a family walked in and told us the police were there and that both men were super drunk. They talked with an air of disgust. It bothered you the way they were talking. You wondered if you knew the men, if they were your patients from the clinic. You wanted to walk over and talk with the police about an outreach program you are trying to start in collaboration with Volunteers of America."This is the exact thing we are hoping to try and help prevent (The one guy was being beat by his friend over a bottle of vodka we later found out. The incident ended up involving the police and fire departments, detox center, and jail and thousands and thousands of dollars I'm sure. Joel's clinic and VOA hope to be a presence in the homeless camper and high ER user community to cut down on unnecessary or preventable trips to the ER/jail.) " We walked over and my heart shattered into a million pieces. The man was so drunk and out of it that he was hard for me to look at. You did know him. You had talked to him just that day by phone. I didn't want to look at him but I did. I did because I wanted to really see what you see everyday. Most people see situations like this with disgust. You somehow see them with hope.

All this to say, that in eleven years of marriage I have never been so proud to be your partner in life. Life holds such promise with you. Each day holds such promise, and such meaning. Thank you for loving me, for hoping in me, for believing in me as well. You are an amazingly funny, kind, depthy, adventurous, hopeful man and I am just so thankful that you are my man:) I know we are both thankful to the Lord for His faithfulness throughout our relationship--what a wonder.

All my love,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A day to celebrate!

I am so proud to announce the birth of my niece Lucy Faye Devin Schoepf! Oh my, I am just so thrilled to have baby Lucy in our family. Bub and Robin are going to be the best parents ever! My heart just ached to be with them yesterday, but more than anything I am just so thankful that mama and baby are doing great and are healthy and happy! I was quite a wreck all day. So anxious waiting for the call that she was born, so sad that I wasn't there waiting with the rest of my family, so happy when I got the all that she was here and all was just went on and on. At one teary point during the day Amelia asked me, "What's wrong with your feelings?" Yes, it was quite up and down:) Anyway, she is just beautiful and hopefully I'll have some pictures to share soon!

Yesterday was also our little friend Eli's birthday! We had a great time celebrating with he and his family. Here are a few pictures for you...

All for now,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mama's little helper...

Sammy really is such a little helper and such a hard worker. He thrives when he is helping or working on a project or task. It is amazing for me to watch since being a hard worker is just not what comes naturally to me. So I just loved seeing his determination while we were baking muffins together today. Those little arms just stirring and stirring, those little lips pooched when he was focused, his out of the nowhere saying "Grandma is proud of me" and "this is really hard work and so is building train tracks". I treasure one on one time with Sam and Amelia because their personalities really shine out to me and I am able to really pay attention.

I love you so much my little helper, and I know I will learn so much from you throughout the years as I watch your work ethic and determination grow.
All my love,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reason # 527 why I love being a mama...

Deciding on a Monday mid morning to have an ice cream picnic under sheets blowing in the warm wind.

What could be better than that?

"Hi, what's your name?"

I haven't taken very many pictures of the babes lately because, well, they would almost all look like this.
This was taken today in the morning light. They were outside by 8 and playing hard. I keep peeking outside and this is what I see. Sister and brother, crouching down talking, talking, talking with trains. When I went out to take this picture I was quickly told that they wanted to "be alone". Sniff,sniff. Honestly, though, I LOVE to see them play together. I marvel at the simplicity of their play and at the relational theme to almost everything they do.

I have tried to slip in some new activities lately but it always goes back to, "Hi, what's your name?" I found some sorting bears at a yard sale for like .25 and was so excited because I have wanted them for a while. You know, there are five plastic cups in five colors and then about 10 bears in each color and then they sort them into the matching colored cups. You can practice counting, sorting, patterns, etc. So, I introduced them and they did have fun sorting the colors but when I went in the kitchen to check on dinner and then came back, the bears were all going for a joy ride in one of their toy cars...chatting as they went along:)
Then I found a Little Bear game at the thrift store and I thought, "bingo!" It's their beloved Little Bear, and it's a's about time to start playing games, right? Not so much. "Hi, my name is Little Bear. What's your name? Let's go for a walk! Let's swim in the pond! I'm hungry, said Little Bear."
Then I found some Bubble Bears (you press their tummies and the bubble wand comes up, meaning no messy bubble hands) I had forgotten to give them for their birthday. After a few minutes of bubble play, "Hi, what's your name? I'm a blue bear. Let's go dig for clams." End of bubble play.
I'm sure if I look in a "Parenting your 3 year old" book this type of play is common at this age, but I think it is pretty special to see the two of them getting to live in that world together. They aren't into sports (a neighbor brought over a hand me down basketball goal and Amelia said, "Is it baseball?" ), they don't get into puzzles or games right now, but their conversations are pretty fabulous and I don't ever want to forget them talking, talking, talking in the morning light. Fresh air, animals and trains and bugs and snacks, and these little ones are happy as larks. Oh, that does remind me of the disclaimer for this post. Ahem, Sam and Amelia are not always happy while playing in their imaginary world. Sometimes they need a lot of intervention from mama to use kind words, to not snatch the other's toy, to not scream and wail at "insignificant" things, etc. For a few weeks I thought I might pull my hair out with all of the fussing during their play. I think I must have said, "Is that a kind thing to do/say to your brother/sister? (no). Is love rude?(no) What is love? (kind)" about a trillion times. Slowly, though, the fusses seem to be becoming less and less. I am sure this will be a roller coaster for many years to come! Even with the extra fusses though, i think it is pretty special to have a playmate just your size all the day long.
To end this post, I'll give you a real time play by play of a conversation going on right outside the door between two (toy) froggies,

A: "This is a lot of food for us." (They are snacking on cheerios)
S: " Here you go, said the froggie"
A: "Thank you said the froggie"
Long pause, lots of crunching.
A: "Thank you said the froggie"
A" The bear went over the hill, over the hill, over the hill" (singing)
S: "The bear went over the meadow, the meadow, the meadow, to see what he can see." ( I have no idea where they learned this song!
A: "I know! We could eat crabs!"
S: "How about ants?"
A: "Yes, they are good for you!"
A: "Ewwwww! You should eat a cheerio"
S:" Croak, croak. I better get a new cheerio. Croak, croak. " Amelia carries one over between the froggies arms"
S: " One, two, three, four, five, seven, eight. One two, three..." as he counts out cheerios for the frogs.
A: "Good! You better get lots of them."
S: " growl!" (I guess Amelia interrupted his counting)
A: " Are you not done yet?"

Mama intervenes to stop the cheerios from being put in the dirty table for the frogs to eat. Sammy asks mama to "Go away please. Be quiet." Mama tells Sam that it is not okay to talk to mama like that or to tell mama to be quiet and to obey and put the cheerios back in the bowl. He obeys and then says, "I'm sorry mama," and melts my heart on the spot.

And the conversation continues.

All for now,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In the kitchen...

A few recipes from my kitchen to yours. [I really am such an amateur in the kitchen. I always feel like Amelia Bedelia--afraid I am taking things literally that aren't meant to be. But, I am loving it and that is the important thing. I am nourishing my little family, and that is really the important thing. Still, I am so new to it all. Disclaimer over.]

Lemon Asparagus Pasta ( Simply in Season Cookbook--have I mentioned how much I love, love, love this cookbook. Well, I do. )

8 oz angel hair pasta
2 1/2 cups asparagus (cut into 1 inch pieces)
Cook pasta in boiling water 4 min. Add asparagus and cook 2 minutes longer or until tender. Drain.

1 TBLS butter
1/2 cup green onions
1 1/2 tsp lemon peel
3 TBLS lemon juice
While pasta cooks, melt butter in large frying pan over medium heat. Add green onions and lemon peel and saute 1 minute. Add lemon juice and cook until juice is almost evaporated.

3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
Beat together. Add with pasta and asparagus to pan with green onions. Cook over low heat until milk mixture is slightly thick, about 4 minutes. Do not boil.

1 TBLS fresh dill (chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Stir in. Serve immediately.

I made this and artisan bread for my friend Karen on Wed. I really wanted something yummy because she is not an amateur in the kitchen. It was my first time making this recipe and artisan bread, and thankfully they both turned out well. Yay!!

Mexican Bean and Corn Casserole (Feeding the Whole Family cookbook)
1 cup dried black beans, soaked and drained.
1 garlic clove
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
Place beans in large pot with garlic clove, cumin seeds, and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat, covered, until tender (50 to 60 minutes) . Add salt after beans are cooked.
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBLS oil
1 cup polenta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a separate pot, bring the water to boil. Add salt and oil. Slowly add polenta, stirring continuously. Lower heat and continue stirring for 5 to 10 minutes until mixture is quite thick.
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 red or green pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped zucchini or shredded green cabbage
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add onion, minced garlic, and salt; saute until soft.
Add pepper, zucchini, ground cumin, and oregano; saute 5 more minutes. Add cooked beans to the vegetables with tomato sauce and water. Check taste and add salt if necessary.

To assemble the casserole, preheat oven to 350. In a lightly oiled casserole dish, spread bean and vegetable mixture across the bottom. Spread the polenta on top. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes at 350; remove cover and 5 minutes more at 400.

Yummo! This was dinner tonight. Big thumbs up from myself, Joel, and Amelia. Sammy only wanted to eat tortilla chips. I cooked a big batch of black beans a few days ago, so that cut down on prep. time tonight which was nice.

Anyway, time to watch a movie with Joelie! Happy cooking, Jen

Monday, May 10, 2010

Her love is wide, and his is deep.

Sam and Amelia are different--as different as can be. Sometimes I get concerned that Sammy's personality will be overshadowed by Amelia's as they get older. She is affectionate and friendly, outgoing and confident and just gets more so by the day it seems. Sammy is more inward, selective with his affection, observant more than interactive, and takes a while to warm up.
I had a conversation with my mama about it yesterday, asking if she had any thoughts on how to deal with it. How to assure them both that they are so loved, just as they are. That they are unique and different and we love and appreciate those differences.

Then, as I was walking home from the park today a thought hit me. "Amelia's love is wide and Sammy's is deep." Amelia loves almost everyone she meets and she shows it. She tells us she loves us at least 10 times a day. We just soak it up and so does everyone who meets her. She is really something special. Her love stretches wide.

Sammy. Oh Sammy. If you have ever felt Sammy's love than you know what I am talking about. It shoots right to the soul. His little chin will start quivering as he embraces you and you just want to eat him up. He will look right into your eyes and tell you that he loves you. He will share his most cherished possession with you. He is really something special. His love reaches deep.

I can't tell you how that thought relieved me for some reason. I texted my mom the thought and she responded, " A thought straight from their Creator. " So, so true. It made me teary, which is funny because Amelia came up here while I was writing this and said, "What are you doing mama?" I said, "I'm writing about you. About how much I love you. " She said, "You can cry about it." Oh my, where does she come up with this stuff?

Anyway, I just wanted to record this little breakthrough. I don't think I'll ever forget it, but I may need to be reminded of it a time or two along the way:)


Things I've heard...

Just want to jot down these overheard conversations between Sam and Amelia. Oh how I love to spy and listen:)

Playing birdies:
Sam's bird: "I want to find some worms. I want to find Percy."
Amelia's bird:" I'm sorry little one, I don't know where it is. Maybe it's in Africa. Do you want to get in my tummy?"
Sam's bird: "No thank you. Not today. "

Playing trains:
Sam's train: "Do you want some candy?"
Amelia's train: "No, I don't want candy. Candy has too much sugar and it makes my boiler ache."
I realized after hearing this how deeply we are entrenched in the train world here in the Hunt house:)

Playing trains:
Sam: "This is a huge storm. We have to get out of here."
Amelia:" Yes, it's noooot gooood."
Sam: "Are you okay James? I'll help you. I'm your friend. I will help you James."
Awww, sometimes the trains are so sweet to each other. Other times they are not:)

That's all I can think of for now. Oh, these two. They are deeply entrenched in animal or train talk most of the day and Joel and I just swoon at the adorableness. As challenging and fussy as they can be, they still have such an innocence to them.

Anyway, all for now friends. Jen

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I have found such joy...

When I read this poem today I got so teary eyed because it seemed to just leap out of my heart. Or at least out of what my heart desires. So I thought I'd share it.

I have found such joy in simple things;
A plain, clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.
I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days: a curtain's blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my window sill,
A rose, fresh-cut and placed within a vase;
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.
Oh, I have found such joys I wish I might
Tell every woman who goes seeking far
For some elusive, feverish delight,
That very close to home the great joys are:
The elemental things-- old as the race,
Yet never, through the ages, commonplace.

Grace Noll Crowell

I guess I just see such worth in simple joys since I have become a mama. I mean simple. A tidy room, a wholesome meal, a kind word, a gentle act, a hopeful conversation, a kiss from my tender boy's poochy lips, a little hand slipped into mine as we walk, a heartfelt apology, a giggling girl, a purposeful change, a walk around the block, birds chirping, and flowers budding, a roll down the backyard hill, lighting a candle before we eat, holding a child close when I most feel like pushing them a way....each act is an act of beauty--though not always done gracefully, mothering has helped me slow down and see the world through different eyes and I'm thankful for that. On the whole, I have found such joy and for that I thank the Lord. For His gift of children, for His gift of mothers (especially my mama, who is the most nurturing, unconditional loving, joyful mama ever), for His gift of families and of simple joys.

I am thankful to my husband as well for a pretty perfect day of sleeping late, breakfast in bed, time out with a friend, backyard fun with the family, him going grocery shopping for me, and baking bread together. What a sweet, sweet man.

Hoping your day was lovely too,


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A blessing...

I woke up this morning with my eyes crusted over from gross allergy stuff. I couldn't get them open for like 3 minutes and it was a bit unsettling. Then my menstrual cramps set in and it was just not easy to be functional. I had to force myself to get out of bed and into the sunshine to break out of my funk, and this wasn't until I had begged the babes to watch Thomas and Blue Planet for like an hour and a half--yuck. Anyway, just keepin it real folks( I think this is another disclaimer before the sweet stuff comes. And yes, I just figured out how to use small fonts and I really like it:) .

Instead of elaborating on eye funk and menstrual cramps though, I wanted to share this sweet new ritual we started last night. In the car we listen to a waldorfy CD called "The Singing Day". We LOVE it. It has like 98 short songs that go along to the rhythm of a day....morning songs, cleaning songs, sleeping songs, blessings for food, birthday songs, etc. It's a great one. The songs are all super short and we have memorized a bunch of them. Usually I just wait for them to say, "Let's hear it again!" when we come across one they like and then we listen to it about 10 times in a row until we know it. Anyway, this dinner blessing was one of them. Their little voices always sound so sweet when they sing it and I knew we must put it into action at the dinner table. So, though Joel wasn't home and the house was a bit chaotic (yard sale/adoption fundraiser is taking over our life this week:), I just did it. It was so great and they loved the candles and they each got to blow one out once they finished their meal.

I really want to make dinner a special time, even on evenings when Joel can't be there and I think this little ritual may just help me.

All for now, Jen

Monday, May 03, 2010

"This is a lovely, lovely day."

Sam said this as we were walking the trails at Red Butte Garden this morning (I have no idea where he heard this but he has said it several times in just the right context and I just think it is the sweetest thing ever!). He was so right. So peaceful and so much fun, and the weather was just perfect. We came home and spent just enough time to drop our bags inside and head out again, around the block and to the park. Now we are home and I'm watching the babes take a long bath and wishing someone would come cook a lovely,lovely dinner and put these lovely, lovely children to bed:) Ah well, you can't have everything! Off to make some spaghetti, Jen

Saturday, May 01, 2010

I am weak, weak I say.

Day four of parenting on my own. We went to Target to get poster board for yard sale signs. The babes asked for new animals. "Please mama. Can we get one? Can we? Can we?" I say to myself, "Just say no. N O. You do not want them to think that if they beg for things you give in. N O. "

"Sure," I say.

Wait, what?!?! We walk to the Schleich animal section. Amelia changes her mind about fifty times. She sees a box of four sharks and says she wants that. I see a way to split the sharks, make them both happy and get the heck out of dodge. $17.99?!?!?! No way. N O.

"OK great, let's get these, " I hear myself saying.

I completely forget about the poster board and leave target with four new sharks, a bag of animal crackers and a box of goldfish.

Time for Joelie to get home.

All for now, Jen