punkin patch

…as J. Bug calls it. It’s pretty much his favorite place in the world, mostly because he can run around as much as his heart desires.

More pumpkin patch photos to come! Right now things are still moving along with buying a house, so I’m up to my eyeballs in paperwork. The inspection showed no major issues, except (dun…dun…dunn….) the foundation. Apparently foundation issues are rampant in Texas (something about the clay soil), and it’s not a matter of if your house will need foundation work, but when. We’re prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom, but are relieved that we’ve been made aware of these issues before we buy the house! So we’re in the stage of negotiating inspection repairs (Shawn’s job) and getting our loan paperwork in order and approved (my job). I’ve done some light packing – mostly the just the junk in the boys’ closets – and we’re working on just taking life one day at at a time!


cutie mcbooties

So it’s 55 degrees right now. It’s 55 degrees, and that’s the high for today.

Hello, fall. I love you. I love you so much I want to marry you and live forever in your cool weather, falling leaves, and warm beverages. Don’t worry, Shawn won’t mind because he loves you as much as I do. I bet we could do some kind of sister-wife thing even. Except it’d have to be brother-husband? I don’t know, we’ll figure it out. Please just stay forever and don’t ever leave, okay? Okay.

We went on a walk a couple of weeks ago and when we stopped to let the boys play, I whipped out the camera.

[Shawn and C. Bear, looking kind of like twins]


[My sweet J. Bug with his inquisitive face]

[J. Bug was ALL about playing with the rocks. He insisted this particularly interesting rock be in our photograph together. So here is Jen, J. Bug, and the Rock.]

[I’ll just give you a heads up with these photos that you can’t actually kiss those cheeks through the computer monitor. I’ve tried.]

[The boys are playing together much more nicely these days.]

[Stop trying to kiss your computer monitor! I already told you – it won’t work!]

[Lately J. Bug has been asking to take photos with our camera a lot. It’s taking him awhile to learn how to look at the screen to see what you’re taking a picture of, and he still hasn’t grasped getting his finger out of the way of the lens, but it’s always interesting to see what he finds picture-worthy. On this day, he took no less than ten photos of his rocks. Rocks up close. Rocks far away. Rocks stacked. Brown rocks. White rocks. And in this case, the “big rock, ‘lil rock, and ‘lil-er rock.” I spared you the umpteen other rock photos, but I won’t promise that if I hit a blogging slump they won’t make an appearance.]

[Once we convinced J. Bug that taking photos of his family might be as fun as taking photos of rocks, this is what we got]
[And then of course, he continued to take about twenty more rock photos. Priorities, people. Priorities.]

um, we’re buying a house?!

Yeah, I said it. We’re buying a house. We decided a couple of weeks ago to officially start our house search, and the house we ended up putting an offer on was the very first house we looked at. Shawn and I were both a little shocked that we found the perfect house so quickly (we expected it to take a few months…at least), but find the perfect house we did!

So the good news

We love the house. LOVE. It’s four bedrooms, two and a half baths, good sized yard, and just beautiful. There are so many things we love about it that I’ll share later, but my heart literally skips a beat when I think about how excited I am to live there.

The double sided good news

As of now, we’re closing on November 21st. This is great because Shawn will have some vacation time for Thanksgiving, so packing up and moving won’t be as stressful as it could be. It’s also exciting that we’ll be moved in by Christmas. And yes, I already have planned where the Christmas tree will go, in case you’re wondering.

Of course, that also means WE’RE CLOSING IN LESS THAN FOUR WEEKS! Holy moly. There’s a lot to do in those four weeks. A lot. Not the least of which is packing up and moving all the stuff we just packed up and moved ten months ago. Four weeks? Holy moly.

The bad news

I think the only real “bad” news is just that we’ll be very busy for the next few weeks. I won’t be blogging as much, and we likely won’t be returning as many calls or replying to as many texts. Don’t get me wrong – we won’t be as busy as that time we put our house in North Carolina on the market, had a newborn baby, and moved from North Carolina to Texas – but we’ll still have more than our share of stuff to do.

Oh yeah, and moving is expensive. Even just moving across town – there are tons of hidden costs, deposits, etc. We’re excited though, and a few weeks of mayhem and frugality is totally worth it!

in which i’m grateful to be a late bloomer

I’m aware that this blog projects a certain image of me. If you’ve never met me, you’re likely to think I’m just about the coolest Mom, woman, and general individual to ever have existed. I’m certain when you think of words like, “rad mom,” “awesome woman,” or “trendy general individual,” jenny.erally speaking is what comes to your mind, right?

No? Hmm. Well, at any rate – let me let you in on a secret.

Despite the fantastically put-together woman you see before you, I have not always been so. I know, I’m sorry to shatter your illusions like this…but it must be done.

I have three siblings – my older brother is almost exactly a year older than me, and my younger brother is about a year and a half younger. It would probably be an understatement to say I grew up as a tomboy. I was mistaken for a boy more than once, and I spent my summer days building forts and playing war. My family didn’t watch much TV, so as I grew into my Jr. High years my only real style influences were my peers. I’m sure I don’t have to explain why trying to find your style based on other small town Jr. High girls didn’t work out all that great for me.

By the time I got to my freshman year, I decided the trendy overly-made up look just wasn’t for me, and my high school yearbook photo was pretty much my daily look:

I actually just showed Bug the above photo and asked if he knew it was. He stared at the picture blankly, so I said, “Did you know that’s Mommy?” He immediately laughed, “NO! That’s not Mommy!” By my sophomore year, I stopped being afraid of a little makeup, figured out that those bangs were not working for me, and threw on a little jewelry. Fancy, huh?

When I look at these yearbook pictures, I see a girl who didn’t feel very noticed and was mostly okay with that. I wasn’t interested in most of what the high school culture had to offer, and I did my best to just quietly opt out. For me, high school was a lot about figuring out what I was NOT, and college was a lot about figuring out what I AM.

I wasn’t particularly popular in high school, and I certainly was never mistaken for beautiful or even pretty. I was voted “Best Personality” as a senior superlative…but we all know what “great personality” really means. When an old friend tagged me in these two photos on Facebook, I was more than a little surprised to find myself face to face with my high school self. Since then I’ve stopped trying to convince my hair that it isn’t curly, learned how to wear make up , and have figured out how to wear clothes to reflect my character and flatter my body.

Now that I’m eleven five years away from high school, I can say I’m grateful to have been a little plain back in the day. Like most high school girls, I was searching for significance and as much as I was “opting out,” I also wanted to be thought of as beautiful and captivating. If I had been a girl who caught guys’ attention (any guy. seriously. i went on literally two dates my entire high school career and one of those dates was with a guy who now has a boyfriend), I’m certain I would’ve gotten myself in trouble as I sought to find my significance through those relationships.

Instead…I stayed out of trouble. And not always by choice, to be honest. As things in my home got more chaotic, I found stability in church and began to realize that I am significant. I am beautiful, and I’ve captivated the Creator of the universe.

Being plain and easily overlooked in high school was kind of a blessing in disguise. Actually, I wouldn’t even say it was in disguise – I think I was just too myopic to realize what God was doing at the time. He was protecting me, loving me, cherishing me, and closing the door to mistakes that could haunt me forever. 

It turns out that being the beloved daughter of the King doesn’t always mean you’ll be part of the popular crowd or will even be noticed by many. In my life, it means God treated me like a precious pearl. He carefully hid me until the time was right and His plan was ready.

I’ll take that over being invited to the kegger and dating a football player – every time.

an adventure

Once upon a time, a small little family took an overnight adventure. They packed for the trip (entirely too much):

And told the two tinies about their plans. The little guys were thrilled:

…And a little perplexed. What? We’re going to a place called The Great Wolf Lodge so Mommy can speak to Jr. High girls?

Mommy answered with her sassy face, “Mmmm-hmmm. Daddy’s not the only person capable of ministering in this family, you know.” 

The tinies replied, “Ohhh, I get it! We get to go stay in a hotel room, spend lots of time with Daddy, and enjoy the indoor water park? Sign us up!”

The family went on the trip, had a lot of fun, and took one photo of the entire sha-bang. A photo of Bug in front of a random tree.

The End.

exceptionally bright

Oh boy, has J. Bug been giving us a run for our money.Whether it’s the terrible 2’s, the impending 3’s, or something entirely different – he definitely has his own opinions and likes to make sure we know them. On his preschool daily report a couple of weeks ago, we got an interesting note. Usually his reports say things like, “We learned about the letter H today!” or, “J. put the fireman puzzle together faster than anyone! The whole class clapped for him!” This particular report said, “J. has learned to say the word ‘no.’ We’ve worked on telling him that God wants us to obey our parents and teachers, and we appreciate that you reinforce that at home!” On a separate day, we were also told that they’ve been having a tough time getting him to rest quietly on his nap mat during nap time. Apparently he’s been too busy rolling around (thereby kicking other sleeping kids) and trying to identify letters and sound out words around the room.

Oh boy. We love, love, love his teachers and I hated to see that the same defiance we were experiencing at home was now happening at school, too. I have this (hopefully irrational) fear that my children will be the kids in class that the teachers secretly hope gets just sick enough that he has to stay home. I fear that other parents are saying, “I really hope my child doesn’t pick up J.’s behavior. Did you see the fit he was throwing yesterday?” And maybe it’s because I worked in a daycare, but I want Bug’s teachers to know that I welcome suggestions or ideas for how to better discipline and teach him. I do not have a degree in motherhood and am pretty much wingin’ the entire thing. Also because of my background in childcare AND because I know my son, I knew that the words, “J. has learned to say the word ‘no.” is code for, “Your child has been throwing temper tantrums like crazy, and it’s finally enough of an issue that we need to tell you about it.”

So with those fears in mind, I jotted this quick email to his teacher:

Dear Ms. S.,

I just wanted to touch base with you about some of the behavioral issues we’re dealing with in J. Bug right now. As you mentioned on his report yesterday, he has definitely learned the word, “no” and is very fond of exercising his independence. 🙂 We’ve actually been having a difficult time with his choices to be defiant and disobedient in the last three weeks or so. He’s a very sweet and very smart little boy, but he can also be very stubborn.

I wanted to share with you some of things we’re doing at home to help with this behavior, so you’ll know the discipline and methods he’s used to. When he tells us “no” or throws a fit, we tell him that he is being disobedient. We give him one warning that if he isn’t obedient, he’ll need to go to time out. Because he’s used this warning as a way to stall, if he doesn’t obey immediately we take him to time out. After time out, we explain why he was being disobedient, and ask him to say he’s sorry and give us a hug and kiss. If he refuses this, he stays in time out and is given another chance every three minutes until he chooses to obey.

We’ve also begun memorizing scripture as a family, and I’ve chosen Colossians 3:20 as his verse for the next couple of weeks, “Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” We talk quite a bit about obeying Mommy and Daddy, Ms. S. and Ms. G., and other adults who are taking care of him.

We know that J. thrives on consistency, so we’re trying to be as consistent in our discipline as possible. We also know that he loves to see how far he can push his boundaries, and will definitely notice if we let him get away with something once or twice.

We’re having a tough time knowing if these behavioral issues are just part of him being an almost three year old, or if he’s an especially stubborn child. I would really love any insight you can offer, and would also love any suggestions for discipline or structure to help him understand that disobedience isn’t acceptable. Thank you so much for all you do and for how hard you work!

The next day, I got this response:

Hi Jen,
We have experienced similar issues with J. and we appreciate the heads up on the pushing the boundaries.  You are doing a great job.  We also use time out and we will strive to be more consistent although with 12 little ones running around sometimes we let things slide.  We also use the phrase “Obey your parents and teachers”.  I do believe that this is just part of being a three year old and being exceptionally bright.  I called my children little “mad scientists” at this age because they were always “testing”.  We love J. and thank you for your support.
Ms. S. and Ms. G.

Can you see now why I love his teachers? I read through the note quickly and felt confident that he was getting the reinforcement and consistent discipline at school he needed. Then I read it again, only this time I noticed a phrase I hadn’t picked up on before.

exceptionally bright

Really? I mean, I know Bug is pretty smart and I know he really loves learning. But do his teachers really consider him exceptionally bright? I looked up some of the developmental milestones he should be hitting, and I found myself a little surprised. Socially and emotionally, he’s right on target. He’s physically a slight bit ahead (that boy has amazing balance and doesn’t stop moving unless he’s asleep). But cognitively, I’m working on things with him that apparently most 4 and 5 year olds are working on.

We’re learning how to sound out words. He loves showing me how some objects are “the same” and some are “different.” He can recognize rhyming sounds and can follow directions with up to three steps. He loves patterns and can tell me what comes next when shown a pattern. Bug can identify all of his colors, letters, and shapes, and can count to ten. He can recognize numbers up to about 25.

I mean, I’m not saying my child’s a genius. I don’t know that I realized quite how advanced he is, though. Cognitively, he’s ready for kindergarten. I need to do more research on the topic, but I have a feeling that’s why that boy can wear me out so much. It takes a lot of work to make sure he’s entertained, and I spend a lot of time trying to stay three steps ahead of him.

When I was pregnant with Bug, I read that eating a lot of Omega 3 when you’re pregnant and nursing will help your child’s brain develop to its full potential. I loaded up on salmon and flax seed during both of my pregnancies, so I guess you could say I asked for it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my “exceptionally bright” child is trying to eat dirt right now. Oh, and look at that – he’s also trying to put a rock up his nose. Sounds just about right.

don’t ever take me to a concert

Seriously, I am absolutely, positively no fun. First of all, I’m all of 5’2. I like to say I’m 5’3, but I’ve realized that’s just wishful thinking. I’m 5’2. But if you ask me, I’ll deny this post ever existed and tell you adamantly that I’m 5’3.

So because I’m the size of the average Jr. High girl, I enjoy the concert…until everyone stands up. Then I enjoy the back of someone’s head. At this particular concert, that someone wore sunglasses hung from the back of his t-shirt. Classy.I spend most of the concert on my tip-toes or trying to perfectly position my head so I can see in between that tiny hole right there between those two people, except oh wait – one of them shifted and I can no longer see.

Reason #2 why you shouldn’t take me to a concert is that I don’t often like to sing along. I could hear myself sing along to my favorite songs any day, all day. It’s not that impressive, and if I wanted to hear myself sing I would not have paid $30 to do so. No, I bought a ticket because even if I can’t see the artist, at the very least I want to be able to hear them.

Reason #3 is that I’m a sit backer and take in all in-er. I’m most likely to stand with my arms crossed. If I’m really getting into it, I might do a head bobby thing. If I’m feeling all wild and crazy, my shoulders might move too. I don’t usually scream at the top of my lungs (because then you can’t hear anything that’s going on!), and I wouldn’t join a mosh pit if my life depended on it. I’d rather watch, observe, and take it all in. There’s so much to see at a concert, and I want to soak in all of it. My soaking it in posture is one of arms-crossage and head-bobbage. Talk about lettin’ loose, huh?

And finally, reason #4 not to take me to a concert is that I don’t like being told what to do. Listen here, artist. Just because you can sing like a canary doesn’t mean you’re better than me and get to tell me when to clap my hands. I’ll clap my hands when I dang well feel like it, and it’ll probably depend on how good of a job you’re doing. Don’t try and get me to make you feel better about your performance by giving you pity clapping. Psh.

[Okay, so I’m not really that awful of a person. I don’t actually think those things. But I also don’t usually clap…seriously, I don’t like being told what to do.]

And yet, even knowing all these reasons why I am no fun at a concert, Shawn still bought us tickets for a David Crowder show at the House of Blues in Dallas. Not just David Crowder. John Mark McMillan and Gungor were opening for him. If you’ll allow me a moment of transparency, I’ll confess that we were really there for the opening acts. In fact, we left after Crowder had done about four songs and had dinner at The Spaghetti Factory. It was totally worth it, John Mark McMillan and Gungor were seriously amazing. You might have noticed that I got a photo of David Crowder, and I got a photo of John Mark McMillan and his band. Why no photos of Gungor, you ask? My face was too busy being rocked off.

Rocked. Off.

And in case you have no idea who these artists are, allow me to share: