Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sometimes life looks like this.

So, I have designated Wednesdays as our "Nature Club" morning. A morning of the week where we go for a nature walk or hike, make a seasonal craft, etc. This morning, even though we had a late night and an early morning, I was raring to go. "Let's go guys! Here we go! Let's take some books and go read at City Creek!" They, on the other hand, were in slow motion. After they finally made their way downstairs, it wasn't long before they were out in the back yard playing. Inwardly I was pouting, imaging us in the cool morning forest. I went outside to tell them to "come on" and then I paused when I saw this.

They were "cleaning the road" and had an elaborate system going. Sam had no pants on, Amelia had a collection of "cute" worms she was gathering...who am I to say that this relaxed play is less worthwhile than gathering materials for a nature mobile?
So, here we are. They are in the sandbox now, and I am catching up on e-mails and doing some housework. All is well, though I am sure that soon my sandy, wet children will be ready to come inside for a snack and ask to go to City Creek. It will be too close to nap time to go. I'll say "maybe this afternoon". Sometimes, on a larger scale, life looks like this. Plain and ordinary and not as "photogenic" as we imagine it will be. While I won't stop seeking nature and beauty, I do hope to learn to listen when Sam and Amelia are asking for the beauty of home and ordinary. Jen

P.S. Why the late night, you ask? We have small group here on Tuesdays and the kids all stayed up and watched the new Tinkerbell movie with friends. I cannot express how excited Amelia was about this! Ever since she got a hand me down bathing suit with tinkerbell on it she has been SO curious about her. I told her the story about Peter Pan but knew the movie, and even the book, would be way to scary for her at this point. Then I found out there were movies just about Tinkerbell. So, I thought about it but refrained since we haven't yet touched the highly marketed world of Disney (besides Mary Poppins, which doesn't have a million "things" in her image marketed towards children). She saw a picture of it on a Redbox stand the other night and was SO excited, that I decided not to resist any longer.

Aren't they all so cute? She was not disappointed and, once again, mama learned to let go a little bit. Not so much that she will be introduced to Disney Princesses any time soon:)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I began my trip by taking the train from the airport into Portland. Such a simple sentence, but it actually isn't so simple. I can get really anxious over these kind of things, especially without Joel there. I know that sounds silly to some, but I am going to be honest and this post and say that I have some social anxiety that often doesn't bode well when I'm in new situations. This time though, it really was fine. Great, in fact! It was good that I didn't need to be anywhere at a certain time, so I could just relax and not worry if I didn't figure everything out in a hurry or went wrong somewhere. Plus, everyone else from the airport heading to the train seemed to be in the same boat ("where do you buy the train tickets? Which button do we press? Is this the right train?"). So often the case that everyone around us is feeling the same way and yet we think we are all alone. Anyway (do you see how much self-analysis you would have to hear if I didn't have children to keep me busy?!), rode the train into town and then walked and walked around downtown. Caught the bus up a bit further towards my hotel. Felt a little anxious every time I passed a must see in Portland, " Oops, there goes Powells, oops there goes the Rose Garden, etc." I knew what I wanted though. So, I got off the bus and walked the remaining twenty something blocks to my hotel. It was glorious. Beautiful day, beautiful city.

Walked to my hotel, dropped my pack, grabbed an apple and headed off to my destination. The place I knew would calm my soul, though I had never been there and had never heard anyone talk about it as a destination spot. Just the name of it told me it was where I needed to spend my time of solitude. I walked and walked some more and then, there it was.

Ah, green and lush and just what I was craving. I sat and read and prayed and just was. Then I walked
, walked, walked back down to the little area of my hotel, found a cute little consignment shop that I couldn't resist, found a great little grocery co-op where I bought some snacks and soup and headed back to the hotel. I loved my day in Portland. It was just what i wanted to to be.

Elizabeth picked me up the next morning. What a joy to see her. I don't know that Elizabeth and I have ever had a surface conversation in our entire friendship. By the time I reached the conference I had already laughed, cried, and bared my soul!
To stand and worship with 900 other women was incredible. Our voices lifting up together was so beautiful I could have left right after singing and have been so encouraged! Funny thing is that though the conference was about simple living, it seems the lord had other things to say to me. I think He knew that my heart was already very on board the train of living simply, desiring order, etc. so He took the opportunity and encouraged me and convicted me in other areas that I wasn't even expecting. So, I was a bit disappointed during the conference until I felt my heart align with His and I had some "Aha' moments if you will about what I was really there for. Maybe I'll share more about this later. If you'd like to listen in on one of the sessions I heard, you can do it here.

Elizabeth and I headed to her house full of thoughts and things to chew on after the conference ended. We drove through beautiful Oregon countryside and then came to their new home and I was in awe! So peaceful. I told them as we were sitting out on their porch overlooking huge, rolling pastures and cows and tractors and fruit trees, that if I wasn't convinced our family was right where we are supposed to be, I may have started sobbing out of envy:) I truly am so thrilled for them and for their children to be in such an amazing place.

Then I came home and fell completely in love all over again with my little family:) I feel so thankful for my trip and my solitude and the way God fed into me while I was there. I am left hungering for more of Him in our life. More truth, more direction, more of an intentional path. I say that a trip that leaves you hungry for God is a trip well worth the taking! All for now, jen

Monday, September 27, 2010

Beauty all around.

So, my trip to Oregon was a big "success"! By that I mean that it was so much what I was hoping for. Time alone exploring Portland, time alone drinking in the greenness (and by that I literally mean the color green, not the compostable bag I was given at the children's consignment store I visited:) of the city, time worshipping and learning with 900 other women at the conference, and time with my friend Elizabeth and her sweet family. Time is my love language, and so to have that gift given to me was really big. Really big. I hope to write more about my time tomorrow and show you a few pictures, after I have had time to chew on it some more. For now, I wanted to show you some pictures of the beauty Joel and the babes were reveling in while I was gone. They went on their first overnight camping trip together and had such a blast. And yes, when we were reunited I declared them the cutest children in the universe and am just so thankful to all be together again:)

More soon, Jen

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm off!

So, I'm on the plane headed for Portland for my first solo adventure in, oh, years and years. Yes, it's only three days, but considering how ready I am to see Sam and Amelia after three hours of them being in pre school, and how I love to have Joel with my as an adventure guide and companion, I'm sure three days will be plenty!

I kind of feel like, " hello self, it's been a long, long time." You mamas know what I mean, right? I love my mama self, more than i ever did my pre- mama self actually, and yet, well, the chance to step away and refresh and renew and think, it's a welcomed opportunity.

Joel sent me off with love, Amelia with words about missing me and wanting to go with me, and Sam with one of his best juicy smootches and warnings to " not get hurt by sharks, or bears, or mountain lions." :) How I love my little family.

So off I go, with just a back pack and heart ready for adventure and refreshment, and to see my dear friend Elizabeth.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I know a song about a beautiful whale...

I know it because I listened to it about 15 times on the way to and from the canyon today!:) "Baby Beluuuga, baby beluuuga", still rings in my head:) Sam adores that song, and Amelia sings it at the top of her lungs.
Anyway, we headed to the canyon for a picnic lunch to celebrate the first day of Fall! We wanted to collect acorns, but alas, we didn't find any. Guess we'll have to head to City Creek where we found some last Fall. Anyway, Sam spied some white shells, and acorns were all but forgotten as they scoured the mountainside for shells (and found lots--what does that mean? Why are they there?) They also found some beautiful leaves for our nature table. I bought some gourds at the store yesterday and Sammy had such a fun time decorating with all of these treasures today (He got in trouble for purposefully crunching one of Amelia's special leaves, and all the way to the time out stair he was wailing, "but I have to finish decoraaaaating!".

I have only gone up to the canyons by myself with the babes once or twice before, and I always feel so adventurous when I do! Usually Joel leads our outdoor adventures, and I am thankful for that because he gets us out much more than I would. However, short trips like the one today are really fun and I hope to do it much more often. I did get kind of panic-y at one point. I was letting them lead the way and they wanted to go up,up,up. We did for a while and then I started thinking, "What if something happens? We are out here all alone." They were not happy about turning around until I said, "Guys, mama is getting a little bit nervous because way up high is where we might see a mountain lion." I don't think they could have scurried down the mountain side any quicker than they did! :) We had a nice picnic and then left just as the dark clouds started to sprinkle down on us.

So, happy Fall to you all! Jen

P.S. Please remember that our festivity stand and seasonal book basket are the only "decorating" that I do for most seasons/holidays, so don't start thinking I am super on top of things:)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Father and Son...

Joel loves this outfit of his from when he was little. I forgot to put it on Sam last summer and this summer so when Joel got Sammy dressed this morning he remembered to put it on him:) Soooo cute. The shorts are a bit short, but those knobby knees are so cute that I don't think it matters much.

He wore it proudly to the Treehouse Museum this morning:) Here are some pictures of cowboy Sam from the museum.

Where was Amelia in all of this you ask? Well, she is having one of these kind of days:

Ah well, we all have them I guess! Happy Monday to you, Jen

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An evening hour...

We spent a wonderful hour at Red Butte Garden yesterday evening. The sun was setting, the leaves were changing, the garden was nearly empty of people. A perfect hour to watch a bunny hopping through the garden flowers, roll down a big hill, play hide and seek in the ivy tunnels, explore for a bit. I took some video with my phone to remember the time and to share with you.

So, here is a rather lengthy video of the Children's garden at Red Butte one late summer's evening...


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Autumn. Simplicity. Transition.

I can't decide what to write about today, but I wanted to get something out while I have the time. So I'll just write what is on my heart and mind:

* Autumn. I have never been so aware of seasonal shifts as I have been since having children. Maybe part of it was living in Texas and Hawaii, where the seasons were a bit more subtle. Here in Utah though, change is in the air and you can't miss it. Amelia is so into the changing seasons and I love that! She sees a yellow or orange leaf and exclaims, "It's Fall! See mama?" We are pulling our Fall books out for our seasonal book basket, we are back to eating warm oatmeal every morning for breakfast, going for multiple walks during the day, making plans for another trip to the apple orchard....just settling in to the season. It feels good, though I have to keep my negative dread of winter at bay.
We were on a "nature walk"* yesterday and Sam spied some chestnuts that were still in their prickly shells and he was so curious about them. We stopped and had a good look and then walked on home. In our mailbox were two books that I had ordered. One was this one and just look what is on the cover! Chestnut boys in their tree! I couldn't believe it. Such a wonderful, creative Fall story of the Acorn family and Mr. Squirrel and the Chestnut boys...we plopped down in the front yard and gobbled it up.

* Simplicity. Yep, my trip to Oregon is coming up next week! I feel like God has already been using the principles that I'll be learning about even before I get there. I felt like I was shedding skin as I let go of some things I had been holding onto for years at our last yard sale. I have seen the value of staying home and cultivating our little garden and our home. Because of it, we got to connect with two different neighbors that we have wanted to for so long. One was some Ethiopian refugee neighbors that live at the end of our street. We have chatted several times, but have never connected like we did when they found out we had a garden and came to see it. The visit ended with several teenagers, one woman, and about 6 kids sitting in our basement, the kids playing and the women looking at Joel's Ethiopia pictures! What a gift to connect to such a precious group of people.

* Transition. As the babes are off to pre-school for two mornings a week, and we are changing seasons, I just feel transition all around us. Tying into simplicity, I feel like this is a time of scaling down in both our schedule and our things. I am reading the book, "Simplicity Parenting" right now and it is AMAZING. I will write more about what I feel about my "homeschool preschool" goals are for this year, but mostly they revolve around establishing a rhythm for each season, reading often, exploring nature together, unstructured play, prayer and singing! Most of this can happen at home. This will take some transition as I feel like my mentality has always been, "Things are fussy, let's get out of here!" and I know that is partly because creating a home rhythm is hard. In what order do I clean, play, teach, read? I'll let you know how this goes:)

I'll leave you with this quote from Simplicity Parenting that I'm chewing on this morning, " The pace of our daily lives is increasingly misaligned with the pace of childhood."

Love to you this morning friends!

* I said "nature walk" because I gave Sam and Amelia both a magnifying glass and told them we were going on a nature walk, when my real motivation was to get to the corner store and buy a diet coke. Tee, hee:)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Preschool: Day one.

Sam, Amelia, and Mama all had a wonderful first day of preschool! :) They are going to a new, little Creative Arts preschool that I think will be a great fit for all of us. It stresses learning through play and movement and sensory activities, as well as, of course, building confidence and strength and creativity through the Arts. So, they will go two mornings a week and I will be the classroom helper once every other week--so I get some time all by myself on the other days. Today I spent it walking at the park with Anne, Skypeing at the park with Shanyn and Isaac, and going to the library. Sam and Amelia both seemed to have a great time, came home and ate a big lunch and then down for a nap without a peep. Works for me!

Here are some pics from meet the teacher day last week:

Disclaimer: This post may seem as if preschool was just an easy and quick decision for us and just fell into our laps. Hahahahahahahaha. I am SO bad at making even the smallest decision and so deciding on putting them in preschool and which preschool to put them in was ridiculously difficult for me. For one thing, I had always imagined that we would most likely home school all the way through, and so even though it is only 6 hours a week, I somehow felt like a home school failure. Like, "hello, if you can't even manage pre-school on your own, how can you handle K-12?" Then some great people in my life set me straight:) Like my mom. "Um Jenny, you guys went to pre-school and then home schooled for 9 years. It's a break. They will love it. You will love it. Take it while you can." So, I'd just like to say thank you to all of you friends and family who were a sounding board this summer while I went on and on and on and on and on about pre-school choices. Also, a big thank you to their sweet teacher, "Miss Ewin" who worked with us so much to make it possible for us to take such a great opportunity. We all feel great about our *final* decision:)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Summer's End...

We are soaking up the last of this warm weather and sunshine. Sitting out in the front yard reading books, hiking on the weekends, walking to the museum instead of driving,etc. We hiked the Secret Lake trail on Sunday afternoon and it was pretty much wonderful. I just kept thinking how much I love to be outside as a family. For us to get to see Sam and Amelia gain confidence, build endurance, balance on rocks, stare in wonder at bugs and flowers and chipmunks. There really isn't much that I love more.

My favorite things on this particular hike were hearing Amelia's little outbursts of self-confidence like, " I'm really good at this!" "I can do anything!" She did show a lot of improvement in her willingness to keep going when she got tired! I also loved hearing her burst out in random mother goose songs and rhymes like, "Cock a doodle doo, my dame has lost her shoe, my master lost his fiddle stick and doesn't know what to do!" :)

With Sam, as always, my favorite thing is hearing him say things like, " Isn't this beautiful mama?" "Dad, look at this crazy bug!" " We're hiking Mama, I like to hike!" He is still our little nature lover and appreciator and always says the most wonderful things when we are outdoors.

I also love catching up with Joelie. We always have the best talks when hiking. Or should I say, I have a captive audience when we hike:)

Anyway, as we head into Fall, I greet it with a grateful heart for a wonderful summer--full of sunshine and family and memories made. I look forward to Autumn with it's crisp air and apples and visits from the grandparents and some mama time as some little pre-schoolers head off for their first morning of their Creative Arts program tomorrow! More on that very soon! Jen


The babes had their first (very informal) yoga experience this morning at the museum and loved it! I'm curious if any of you consistently do yoga with your children at home and have found it to be strengthening/calming/fun?
Good times! Jen