Sunday, December 24

Making New Traditions

This past week has been very busy! I'm sure everyone's in the same boat. We made chocolate bark, decorated sugar cookies, shopped for food, crafted our Christmas dinner menu, finished decorating, wrapped presents, shopped for more food, welcomed guests, and ate enough sugar to sink the Titanic. And it isn't even Christmas yet!

Josh's parents, sister, and grandmother are visiting us this week, and we're really enjoying the company. Papa is working on another remodeling project (this time, the master bathroom), and Grandma brought enough fun projects to keep Kaden busy for a few weeks. Papa and Grandma see who can keep Kaden's attention the longest. So far, hammers and drills are enough to distract him from sugar cookies (Is he really my son?!).

Since this is the first year that Kaden can really dialogue about Christmas and start to grasp what it's all about, I've been thinking a lot about family traditions and how we want to celebrate the day. It seems hard to balance the present factor (me-me-me) with the fact that Christmas is really a celebration of Christ's birth.

One thing that we're doing this year came from a forward I received from a friend. Here it is:


It's just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas --oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it-- the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma -- the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat! .

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids -- all kids -- and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas this at year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition -- one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us. May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.

I love this idea. Giving instead of receiving. Others instead of me. I think it honors Christ's birthday and the way he lived his life in a way I've never done before and in a way I want to teach my kids. Are there presents under our tree? Yes, of course. But there will also be a white envelope on our tree this remind us that we're not just here on this earth for us. I hope this story may inspire some of you, too.

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Just wanted to give a Happy Birthday greeting to my mom. Today's her special day!

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you!

Saturday, December 16


I love this song by Greg Ferguson (of Willow Creek fame). It characterizes God in some ways that I've never seen anywhere else. As we're all gearing up for Christmas, I wanted to share these words for you to ponder in the next few days leading up to the big day. They're simple, but so beautiful! I hope they touch you, too.

"Peacemaker, Fear taker,
Soul soother, Storm smoother,
Mind clearer, Sigh hearer,
Hand holder, Consoler,
Light shiner, Lost finder,
Cloud lifter, Deliverer,
Would binder, Tear drier,
Strength giver, Provider,
Heart toucher, Truth lover,
Heart healer, Kind father,

Who other could be...
Fear taker, My Savior, Peacemaker to me?"

Sunday, December 10

Ropes of Kindness and Love

The kids and I played hooky from church today because we're all recovering from yet another head cold. Josh volunteered in the media booth, so he had to leave home at 6am this morning. Unfortunately, he didn't get home from work until about 1am last night and is at work again tonight. Poor guy. ;-( He does love volunteering at Cross Point, though -- it's just hard when an early morning is sandwiched in between two nights of work.

Anyway, I was reading my one-year Bible this morning, and this verse jumped out at me:

Hosea 11:4 - "I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him."

What an encouraging glimpse of God's character! Does anyone else other than me sometimes (okay, regularly) need reassurance that God is going to continue meeting our needs, leading us along with his ropes of kindness and love? I know that I do! No matter how he's come through for me in the past, my human heart is shamefully forgetful. I hate to admit it, but it's true.

I love Bible verses that give us visual pictures, and this one definitely qualifies. I imagine a cord reaching from heaven right into my life, an invisible cord that has been there my whole life and is woven into the intricacies of each blessing and each decision that has brought me to today.

Josh and I have talked recently about how the nature of our work (day jobs, night jobs, and regular leaps of faith) makes it obvious to us that God has "stooped to feed us" many times over the past two years. Although part of me misses the "security" of a 9-5 salaried job, I can see that our self-employment jobs are a blessing because they tie us directly back to God's gracious hand -- freelancing projects, new clients, and generous tips at the restaurant. We don't necessarily have a company or boss to attribute our finances to, so our gratitude goes directly to God.

But...I think that direct tie is also why I worry sometimes -- worried that I'll do something wrong to cut off his grace or that he'll change his mind about me or about meeting my needs. This verse tells me that it's not about me. It's about HIS kindness, HIS love. And on this side of the Cross, it's all about Jesus' righteousness that makes me worthy of God's love.

If, like me, concern or worry [gasp!] ever grips your heart, know that God has lifted that yoke from your neck. Trust that his ropes of kindness and love will lead you along the right path he intends for your life. I fully expect that part of his love will lead me through difficult times in order to grow me and shape me. And that's okay.

I am so grateful for the way God uses his Word to directly answer prayers and remind me of what an amazing Father he is.

You don't have to comment here, but just think about this: how have you seen God's ropes of kindness and love weaving through your life and holding you up at just the right times?

Thursday, December 7

The Blended Salad

A few days ago, Shelley Fuge, one of my friends from Cedarville U., posted about her new, healthy treat: a Blended Salad.

Now, although it may sound weird, I thought it would be perfect for me because I have been having such a hard time coaxing myself to eat raw veggies for the past year or so (I do much better with cooked). While I was pregnant with Laney, raw veggies made me nauseous, and I guess I got out of the habit b/c I still haven't really incorporated them back into my diet very well. I used to eat a big salad for lunch every single day, but that takes a lot of time to prepare and chew, chew, chew. And honestly, I don't really have a half hour to devote to just feeding myself at lunchtime. Or dinnertime, for that matter. I do sit down and eat, but when I make a big plate of salad, I can't seem to make it the whole way through it without getting distracted.

So when I saw those raw veggies blended up in a smoothie, I thought, "Eureka!" :-) Now, I'm sure this is not the miracle pill or something that will instantly make me lose these 15 pounds of weight from my pregnancy, but hey -- it's worth a shot. I'll tell you this...I've had two of these shakes, and I am seriously already feeling healthier. It may be psychological, and my logic may be faulty, but I'm thinking this is the best way for me, at least at this busy point in my life, to get in a great big serving of fresh veggies. I can cart my cup around with me from room to room as I change diapers and run after a toddler. And it's good for me!

Here's Shelley's recipe:

A fistful of Spinach
1 Cup of Rice Dream (found in the dairy section, but not a dairy product)
1 1/2 Cups of Frozen Fruit
1 Cup pre-blended Romaine Lettuce
2-3 Tbsp. Flaxseed
Optional: Carrots and anything else healthy

Now here are my changes: Whatever kind of milk you drink will work. I nixed the romaine and added more spinach. The first night, I added half of a small tomato. Bananas are highly recommended to sweeten up the spinach. And I also have to admit that I put a approx. 1/2 T. of honey in there. I think I can phase that out as I get used to drinking vegetables. :-)

So that's it! Oh, and I have to add that Kaden even drank some the first night. I cut it with half milk, but hey -- I'm happy about any veggies making it into his little body. [He actually said to me a few days ago, "I don't like green." ...meaning veggies. He won't even take one bite!]

Try it, okay? Let me know how it goes.

Friday, December 1

Christmastime is Here Again!

Well, it's Christmas in the Hesse house. We started decorating our tree a few days before Thanksgiving, and we finished it about 2 days ago. [Yes, it took us a week just to decorate it. We had to do it in small spurts to work around the kiddos.] As you can see from the pictures, the tree is currently presentless, but that problem will quickly be remedied when a certain minivan from New York carrying 2 grandparents, 1 great-grandparent, and 1 aunt arrives before Christmas Day.

You may not believe it, but Santa actually loans a few of his reindeer to the Hesses since these world travelers are used to carrying sleighs full of presents for every child in the universe. Yes, we're talking a lot of presents. As in, "We each brought 2 sets of clothes...and the rest is all presents." Plus, I'm sure a few presents will find their way under the tree even before they arrive. It's great to have doting grandparents and great-grandparents, and we're fortunate to have many on both sides of the family. And for more reasons than just Christmas presents, of course!

Back to the issue at hand -- the tree. I'm posting two pics here so you can see it in all its glory. Yes, it's artificial. I know, I know -- where's the authentic Christmas spirit in an artificial tree?! But for those of us with sensitive skin and a weird allergy to evergreens, my skin and lungs thank me for insisting on a fake tree. Plus, no water bowl to keep the kids out of! Josh and I both like that little perk. Maybe one of these years when the kids are older and could enjoy a tree-hunting trip to find the perfect tree I will try to tolerate a live tree again. But for now, it's fake all the way.

My husband says I'm a scrooge, and compared to him, is true. However, I am really enjoying the twinkling lights and listening to Christmas music on the radio and looking forward to sharing Christ's birthday with my family. Christmas is in the air!

Wednesday, November 29

Calling All True Loves...

Get ready to shell out $18,920 for your twelve-day Christmas extravaganza this year! For all those True Loves inspired by "The Twelve Days of Christmas" song, you can expect to shell out over 3 percent more than last year for your milking maids and piping pipers. Here's a little glimpse from the PNC Wealth Management press release announcing the news:


PITTSBURGH, Nov. 27, 2006 – Historically low unemployment is making it more expensive to give the gift of live entertainment this year, according to the PNC Christmas Price Index. The tongue-in-cheek economic analysis by PNC Wealth Management is based on the cost of gifts in the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

According to the 22nd annual survey, the cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is $18,920 in 2006, a 3.1 percent increase over last year. Gift prices mirrored the U.S. government’s Consumer Price Index – a widely used measure of inflation calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As part of its annual tradition, PNC Wealth Management also tabulates the “True Cost of Christmas,” which is the total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song’s verses. This holiday season, very generous True Loves will pay more than ever before – $75,122 – for all 364 items, up from $72,608 in 2005. This 3.5 percent increase is substantially less than last year’s 9.5 percent increase. Kleintop observed that Christmas Price Index inflation may reflect trends that led the Federal Reserve to pause interest rate hikes this year.


Okay, I just had to share that...pretty funny stuff, right? that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, the Christmas shopping season is officially underway! Any special gifts you're hoping to receive? Or maybe a special gift you're buying for your True Love? :-) Leave me a comment!

Tuesday, November 28

Online Bible Podcast

Josh created a survey last night to begin researching the possibility of doing a daily podcast that would read through the Bible in one year. If you don't mind, take 30 seconds and take his survey for him -- it will make him happy to hear from you.

If you're scratching your head thinking "pod-what?!", just post a comment on Josh's blog and he'll educate you. :-)

Saturday, November 25

The Fridge Challenge

My fellow blogger and friend, Margaret, double-dog dared her readers to post a picture of our post-Thanksgiving Day fridge. So here I am! As Margaret said, if you've read this, consider yourself tagged!

By the way, the strange garbage bag on the top shelf is actually deer meat that my expert hunter/gatherer brought home for us. ;-)

Happy post-Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 23

A Day of Thanks

What am I thankful for?

God, to whom I owe all my thanks!
A wonderful husband
Two healthy, happy kiddlets
Friends and family who support me through good times and bad
The chance to be a SAHM and do work I enjoy from home
A warm home, good food, and friends to enjoy Thanksgiving with

I could keep going and going, but the turkey's calling!

God Bless and here's to a great year!!!

Monday, November 20

Gifting and Breastfeeding: 2 Unlikely Topics!

Have any of you seen the commercials on TV for I checked out the site last night, and man, is it cool!! The neat thing is that you can search for gifts by personality type: for guys, things like metro, country clubber, and outdoorsy; for girls, things like super-mom, trendanista, and domestic diva. They have lists of the top 10 gifts for each personality, and you can shop by price range, too. They have a lot of gifts that are way out of my budget, but I'm sure you could use their ideas and maybe find a bargain at another site or store. Anyway, just thought I'd pass that along b/c I thought the shop-by-personality thing was so neat-o.

And in other news [which just happens to be about something I spend a considerable amount of time doing every day], have you heard about the breastfeeding scandal with Delta? Apparently they're being sued by a woman who was asked to leave the plane b/c she was breastfeeding in her seat in the back of the airplane. Now, I'm no breastfeeding nazi, insisting that everyone nurse until their child is 2 or that women should just sit around with their breasts completely exposed in public, but please! This woman was sitting against the window with her husband beside her, and they actually made her get off the plane!! Now, we don't know how they responded -- perhaps they were kicked off for some sort of road rage response.

I just returned from a trip during which I flew several times and nursed Laney on every flight. Granted, I was using my handy-dandy nursing cover, which I HIGHLY recommend, so I was fully covered. I don't think it's unreasonable for women to cover up while nursing, but it would be nice to feel like breastfeeding was a little more widely accepted. My sister-in-law sent me a link to this blog post, which discusses the topic in a most hilarious manner. I laughed out loud!

Speaking of breastfeeding, my little one is crying. Must run!

Monday, November 13

Celiac, Insurance, and a Headache (Make that a Migraine)

As many of you know, I have Celiac Disease (aka celiac sprue, gluten intolerance), which means that I am on a gluten-free diet. My condition is controlled solely through diet, with no medications or other interventions. So imagine my surprise when I was recently denied for a new health insurance policy we applied for (Farmer's Bureau/TRH). Now, the really annoying part is that this policy is our dream health insurance: a family policy with a maternity rider and dental insurance for nearly $400 less per month than what we're paying right now. The big cost discrepancy is a mixture of this company being a really good deal and the fact that we've been overpaying by dealing directly with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

I was SO excited to be cutting out $400 off of a fixed expenditure, and I'm still reeling a bit from being denied. Unfortunately, since I was denied b/c of Celiac, we also do not get the maternity coverage b/c that coverage lies with me. The whole reason we starting shopping around was b/c maternity riders are SO expensive -- my insurance alone currently costs $400/month. Ughhh.

I'd be fine with a normal policy that excludes anything celiac related, as long as it included a maternity rider and normal co-pay stuff. But they don't do that. They do have a "defined benefit" package that would exclude celiac, but that is $500/month and doesn't have maternity coverage -- it's more for people who are uninsurable b/c of big medical costs. That's not me!

The whole denial thing makes me mad and sort of insulted. I mean, I'm perfectly healthy other than celiac, and that is not going to cost the insurer one cent. I don't go to the doctor for this, I don't have any prescriptions...I just eat gluten-free food! I think being denied makes me feel weird b/c it's like they've decided I'm sick or something...but I'm not!! Part of me wants to go all-out and try to drum up some sort of reaction from the celiac community (I'm a member of a bunch of discussion groups), but then there's another part of me that knows that it's Farm Bureau's right to deny me. They don't owe me insurance, and they get to decide who they insure.'s just not fair! :-)

Well, anyway. If anyone has any ideas for companies to try or advice that could help, please leave a comment or email me. I'm kind of at my wit's end. Grrrr.

One of my friends made a comment today about how everything in my life sounds so perfect on my blog, so I wanted to be open enough to share something that's really discouraging me right now. Thanks for reading, everyone! Love, Jenn

Friday, November 10

Dear God...

I have to brag on my son when opportunities arise, because I've shared some pretty harrowing tales of motherhood on my blog, mostly involving diaper ointment and baby powder. There was also a recent incident at my brother's NEW house involving purple nail polish and a white carpet. But I won't go into that. :-) Let's just say that Jon & Ashley were very gracious and that Melaleuca's Sol-U-Mel saved the day.

But as full of energy, curiosity, and mischief as he can often be, there are many, many times each day when I see his tender heart, mostly toward Laney. He is so incredibly caring to her, and although I know they'll go through spats while they're growing up, I pray that someday they'll return to this sweet friendship they have going on right now. I feel confident they will.

So while I like sharing the humor and awe involved in some of his schemes, I really love sharing the endearing moments that we get to see at home. A few nights ago, Josh was at work, and I was praying with Kaden before bedtime. He rarely wants to pray himself; he much prefers drinking his milk in silence and letting Josh or me do all the talking. Which is fine with me because I know he's listening and learning with every word we say. So I prayed like usual, and then we talked for a few minutes and Kaden (in all his stalling glory) asked me to pray again. At this point, I usually suggest he prays, and he normally responds, "Mama pray, Mama pray." But for some reason, he agreed. So his prayer went something like this...

Me: Dear God, thank you for this day.
Kaden (repeating): Dear God, thank you for this day.
Me: [starting to say something else to repeat]
Kaden: [ignores me and starts praying on his own!]

Thank you for fun. Thank you for Daddy. Thank you for Daddy work. Thank you for Jeremy. Thank you for Uncle Jon's truck [This was a carryover from our PA trip--my brother just got a new truck.] Thank you for toe-food. [Kaden-speak for tofu...we had it for dinner that night.] Thank you for flowers. [Or "leaves" as the rest of us call them. Our property is full of trees!] Thank you for Laney. Mama pray...Mama pray.

And then I realized it was my turn again. :-) His cute little voice praying to God made my heart melt. It was certainly a simple prayer, but oh! sweet. Kaden's very interested in heaven and God right now. He'll point out the window or look up into the sky and say, "Look! I see him!", referring to God. The small steps we're taking to teach Kaden to know, love, and enjoy Christ have already been such a joy to me. And more than anything, my prayer is that my kids will be able to look at my life and see a resemblance of Jesus. When they see my faith in action, I want them to be able to say, "Look! I see him!"

By God's grace, may it be so!

Saturday, November 4

Back in Music City

I'm home! I'm home!

Traveling is wonderfully exciting, and it's always great to visit with much-missed family members...But there's nothing like being where you're meant to be. There's nothing like home!

My fantastic hubby cleaned the entire house and completed a bunch of things on his bachelor-honey-do list while we were gone, and it made me feel so happy to see our clean, neat, welcoming little house. There are new flannel sheets on our snuggly bed and a roaring fire in our fireplace. There's even egg nog in the fridge! There's nothing like enjoying a crisp fall night with the person you're meant to be with, and there's nothing like home!

My babies are tucked soundly in their beds, and I think all four of us have a twinkle in our eyes tonight. We're back together, and it just feels right! Here, with these three precious souls, is where I'm meant to be.

There's nothing like home.

Wednesday, November 1

"Aunt Jenn" Has a Nice Ring

After 2 kiddos to call my own, I now have 2 other precious little ones in my life: Lilianna Grace (9/29/06) and Korben James (10/24/06). Aren't they adorable?! When my siblings each got married last summer [Babies already?! Both of them?! I know!], they both said they wanted to wait for many years until they had children. I had no illusions of my kids having cousins near them in age, but God had other plans! I can't say I'm disappointed. :-) Actually, I couldn't be happier--I'm a baby fanatic!

Image hosted by Webshots.comThis pic of Korben will take you to his mama's site where she has other Korben photos uploaded. He was a bear for Halloween!

Too Busy to Blog?!

Wow, it's been a while since I blogged. I haven't been doing a very good job of updating y'all! (Or "youns" for my PA readers.) I have been SO busy!!! Here's a quick update.

You already know that I left Nashville for PA on the 21st (the surprise, remember?). Well, early on the morning of the 24th, as in about 5am, we got a call that my sister-in-law, Ashley, was in labor. Kaden and I prayed the night before that Korben would decide to come before I had to leave for CA at about 2pm on the 24th. Long story short, he made it just in time! My mom and I got to be there for the birth! Mom was one of the camera operators, and I got to be Ashley's right-leg labor coach. :-) She gave birth at home, and it was truly an amazing experience. My mom and I were saying last night that the whole thing still seems like a dream. But it's real. Korben's here, he's healthy, and he's one amazing little dude. I will post a picture in a separate entry.

So that was the 24th. Well, actually, not all of it. Later that day, I took off from Baltimore with Delaney to visit my sister, Jess, and her husband and new little one, Lilianna Grace. I have never been to California, so it was fun to visit a new place. We mostly sat inside and watched TV while we nursed around the clock, but hey -- it was a change of scenery, and the scenery was definitely gorgeous! For those who read my blog before I switched to Blogger, you know that Lilli was born about 4.5 weeks early and spent nearly 2 weeks in the NICU. But, Praise God!, she is doing great. (Those old entries are still at my Xanga blog.)

We heard today that Lilli's up to 7lb 12oz and is growing, nursing, and sleeping just beautifully. Well, she still has a little progess to make on sleeping, but she's getting there. It was wonderful to be with Jess, and we had a great time of visiting. We went on a few walks with the girls at the bay and the beach, which was pretty awesome. How fun is it to say "the girls"?! They got along quite well, I must add. Granted, I'm not sure they were really aware of each other, but they did help each other stay on their nightly eating routine by kindly waking each other (and us) up. Although Laney sleeps through the night at home, she was quite happy to take part in the late night snacking. :-)

Laney and I had a marathon day of traveling on Monday, and now we're back in PA at my parents' house. Mom and I took the kids trick or treating last night...just to the great-grandparents' houses, nothing too exciting. But Kaden got quite a few treats, which naturally made him quite happy. He got a nice sugar buzz going since his little body is not used to sugar at all.

And that brings us to today. Jet lag is behind me, and now I'm enjoying a few free moments while Mom plays with Laney. Kaden's asleep, Opa's asleep, and after Laney goes to bed, I will be working away at my freelancing project. I miss Josh like crazy, and I'm getting that I'm-ready-for-home feeling.

The last week and a half has flown by, but it's been a very enjoyable break. I'm loving being an aunt, so I'm going to post some pics of my new niece and nephew. I'm not sure if I'll blog again before I get back home on Saturday, but I'll be back as soon as I can!

Much Love from Pennsylvania!

Monday, October 23

The iBrain Ain't as Smart as She Used to Be!

Just wanted to update the story of my poor little iBrain. Well, she's back...and she has new insides, but it turns out that she's not quite as smart as she used to be. See, she lost my calendar, address book, and iBank files. My once know-it-all computer has been reduced to little more than an email checker and Internet browser. It's really quite sad to see her in this state. However, I'm working to re-create and update all three of my main info soucres. And I'm happy to say that my real noggin has been performing quite nicely in the absence of my iBrain. Perhaps I have a few more good years left on this one. :-)

And here's my plea, dear readers -- Back up your computers! Consistently, completely, frequently!!! Take it from me, it will save you stress and wasted hours.

Ah-ha -- I just realized why I have a pounding brain has been working overtime!

Night-night, everyone. I'm putting this tired head to sleep.

Sunday, October 22

A Wonderful Surprise

I have to say...I love surprises! I'm normally on the surprising end, that is, the secret keeper side. And I'm not complaining because for some reason, I have always delighted in surprising people with birthday parties, baby showers, impromtu name it. Well, my dad and I cooked up a delicious little surprise and caught my mom quite off guard. I've been holding this secret in since late August, and I've been wanting to divulge it on my blog...but I had to keep it quiet. :-)

Well, the secret's out, so now I can share it! My dad called in August to see if I would consider flying up to PA with the kids provided he paid for the tickets. I took about 2 seconds to decide and said, "Sure!" However, the planning process took much longer than that. Try planning a trip to surprise my mom (and grandparents) around 2 babies due within 2 weeks of each other combined with the fact that my mom was planning a trip to CA to help out my sister who was expecting one of the babies, and you have a complicated process. I won't go into all the details, but there were many deliberations. What if Korben (my soon-to-be-born nephew who is two days late!] is born early? What if Lilly [due 10/30, born 9/29] comes early? (She did and is doing great!) What if Mom waits until Korben is born and then goes to see Lilly? There were many combinations of things that could have happened, but in the end, it has all worked out great.

Josh [begrudgingly, sorrowfully] dropped off his family at the airport on Saturday, and we flew to Baltimore to meet my parents. [Me: May I interject something that will sound a little like bragging? You: Okay, sure. But make it short.] Here goes...I successfully navigated the airport with 3 suitcases (100 pounds total), 1 infant on my back (16.5 pounds), 1 umbrella stroller containing 1 squirmy toddler (37 pounds), 1 carseat for said toddler (2 pounds), 1 bag full of snacks and drinks (10 pounds), and 1 carry-on bag of books, toys, play-doh, laptop, and other air travel distractions for my tiny companions (20 pounds). Phew. I'm tired just looking at that list. Everyone stayed pretty happy, no one next to me seemed overly annoyed, the flight attendants were super helpful (Thanks, Southwest!), and best of all, I did not lose my toddler. :-) Okay, I'm done tooting my own horn.

So how did the surprise take place, you're wondering? Mom and Dad were on their way back from San Diego -- they were visiting Jess, Stefan, and Lilly. Dad worked out the details and got a returning flight that arrived only 1 hour after my flight into Baltimore. Thankfully, Mom agreed and didn't ask any questions about why they HAD to get the 6:30am flight. Dad spotted me sitting in the baggage claim area and kept Mom distracted until they got closer. Then he said, "Hey, look over there. It looks like Jenn!" My mom was SO confused, it was hilarious. She thought it was just a conicidence at first, and then we got to tell her that we were coming home with them! It was great.

So all the secret keeping, small fib telling, luggage carrying, please!-have-another-snack waiting was worth it. Dad and I pulled off a great surprise, and it was fun to bring so much joy to Mom. Aren't surprises grand? :-)

Thursday, October 19

Organizing without My iBrain

I've been reminded again this week just how much I rely on technology for my everyday life. Unfortunately, my reminder came at the temporary loss of my iBook. On Saturday, my cute little laptop started slowing down, hicupping in between clicks, and eventually just died completely.

Thankfully, my always-thinking hubby told me I should store my important files on his iPod in case my puter was dying. He was right! And while I forgot to copy over my calendar, I was able to save my current work files and a bunch of other important things. My calendar is replaceable, although of course it will take precious time to get organized again. Special thanks to Josh for making several trips to the Apple store to coordinate the iBook recovery effort.

So while Apple is replacing my hard drive, I am calendar-less, iBank-less, Address-Book-less, and Mail-less. I have to say, it kind of stinks. But I'm trying to think of the positives...I'm getting new insides for my 1.5-year-old computer! I've been spending a lot of time over the last few days racking my brain for info that used to be on my computer. As you may have guessed, my noggin doesn't have quite the memory, quickness, or functionality that my iBrain has. But fortunately (knock on wood!), I haven't missed any events yet, and I can monitor my checking account balance and email on the web. But still...kind of a pain.

So I've been relatively technology free since my last post. Not much new to report, but if I forget something I'm supposed to be at with you or something I'm supposed to do, please show mercy. I'm trying to stay organized without my iBrain--and sometimes the one I have left is about as reliable as a crashed hard drive!

Monday, October 16

Date Night!

Josh and I had a great night last night. Someone special (you know who you are!) arranged for us to have a free dinner at one of the restaurants at Opryland. The food was fantastic...a marinated portabella salad, salmon stuffed with ricotta and crabmeat served over asparagus, and cappucino creme brulee. (Are you hungry yet?) And that was just MY meal! Yummy, Yummy!

We had a free babysitter (thanks, Grandma!), and the kids were great for her! It was nice to get away for a whole 6 hours -- Laney took a bottle!!! She has refused it the last 2-3 times we tried, so this was a major victory.

Through Opryland, Josh can get $5 movie tickets, so we went to a movie after dinner. We decided to see "Man of the Year" for the comedic relief. It was funny in spots and ever-so-slightly thought provoking, so I'd give it a B+. Josh wasn't crazy about it...more of just "okay." But...a movie?! What a fun treat. ;-)

We even stopped for coffee on the way home and treated our babysitter to a decaf, sugar-free, hazlenut latte. Tasty!

Although I know weekly date nights are ideal, we just don't have that luxury at the moment. The lack of family close by and the lack of funds to pay someone combine for a date night ratio of about 4x/year. Kind of sad, eh? But I know it will improve in a few...well, ummm...years. Like maybe 20 when our kids are up and out?! :-)

But for now, that great date with my sweet hubby will last me for a while.

It's rainy and cold here in Nashville today, so if your weather is like ours, try to find some time to cozy up with a good book and some hot chocolate. Gotta love fall. :-)

Saturday, October 14

Kaden's First Pumpkin

We love fall!!! We're having a great time enjoying Nashville's idyllic fall weather -- cool, crisp, and sunny! Grandma Hesse is visiting us for two weeks, so we're trying to show her a good time here in the south. :-) Josh was off from work last night, so we decided to take a little trip to a local Farmer's Market-type place to look for the perfect pumpkin. This was the first time we've gotten a pumpkin with Kaden. Long overdue, right?! It was great fun!!

Kaden loved perusing the pumpkins and seeing which ones he could pick up on his own. He especially loved the "Laney-sized" pumpkins b/c he could pick those up in no time...and stack several of them on top of Laney while we were distracted. She was quite interested in them, too, so she was perfectly happy to have someone bring them to her since she was stuck in her seat.

We picked out a fantastic jack-o-lantern, and daddy did some expert carving at home. We have it on the back deck with a candle inside, and Kaden loves it that it lights up. It's always fun to see something ordinary anew through his investigative, inquisitive eyes.

I love family nights, I love fall...I love life!

P.S. Jess's baby, Lilli, continues to improve and grow each day! Thank you, God!!!

Thursday, October 12

RSS Feed

I made it simpler to subscribe to my RSS feed. Simply click on the button to the right that says "subscribe" and bookmark the page that comes up. Then (if your browser has a feedreader) when I post a new blog, you should see a 1 in parentheses next to the bookmark, indicating that there's a blog to read. Of course if this is all techno-mumbo-jumbo and you'd like to just check back whenever you want to, that's cool, too. :-)

Isn't technology neat-o?

Wednesday, October 11

Making the Switch

Well, I've decided to switch to Blogger. The main reason is that I wasn't fond of people having to create a new account with Xanga just to leave a comment on my blog. Maybe I still won't get that many comments (nothing against my current commenters!), but hey -- I thought I'd give it a try. There are a few other considerations, but the main takeaway here is that I'm switching!

So subscribe, bookmark my RSS feed, or just check back at your leisure. You can expect more of the same -- a sometimes humorous, always honest view of life from a Christian wife and mom's perspective. Enjoy peeking into my journey!

Sunday, September 17

Hmmm...should I switch?

I'm debating...should I switch to Blogger? I sorta like it better. ;-)