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!