desperate for non-sweltering entertainment

Now that we’ve experienced two years of Texas summers, I feel like I can speak with absolute authority on the subject. Texas summers stink. I might even go so far as to say they “suck” if I knew reading that word wouldn’t make my Mom shake her head in disapproval.

So I’ll just keep it at, “Texas summers stink.” I start gearing up in April and brace myself in May. By June I’m usually patting myself on the back at how well we’ve done, but by the end of July I start getting antsy. Come August, I’m a mess. 

For instance, I looked at the ten day forecast and saw that ALL of the days are less than 100 degrees. I rejoiced and did a little happy dance. In case you missed it, I was OVERJOYED at seeing that the next week will have highs of 98 degrees.

Clearly, the heat has caused me to be out of my ever-lovin’ mind.

So finding ways to get out of the house that don’t actually involve frying ourselves in the sun becomes a priority as July rolls around. Enter the children’s museum. It’s like a huge playground, except it’s air-conditioned. Ah, sweet air-conditioning. I promise to never, ever take you for granted.

The boys and I actually got free tickets through our library’s summer reading program. I made a big deal out of our reward for all the reading we did, and we were very excited to show off our wrist bands. Shawn had to buy his. I guess being a nerd DOES pay off, huh?

The entire toddler area was dubbed “tiny Texans.” Because it would be just silly to go through an entire outing without being reminded of Texans’ weird pride in their location. I just don’t get it, but Texans are VERY proud to be from Texas!

There was quite a grocery frenzy going on. The shelves were empty and everybody was grabbing what they could!


swinging & giggles

I posted photos from our Mother’s Day trip the park awhile ago, but I haven’t had a chance to include a video of my sweet boys being silly that same day until now. Bear got such a kick [pun intended] out of pretending as if he was knocking me down with his feet. Those giggles have been just filling our house lately, and I’ll be honest – filling up my heart. 

flashback friday

A look at blog posts from yesteryear:

MONDAY, MAY 18, 2009

you think i can do what?! 

Shawn says that he thinks I should make and sell fitted diapers. I thought he was crazy at first, but since Shawn has a tendency to see more in myself than I do, I’ve been mulling it over for a few months. You read that right, it takes me a long time to mull. No need to judge.

Actually, he started saying I should sell them when I made Bug’s first batch of cloth diapers. I disregarded the idea because I was just starting to figure out what I was doing and thought Shawn was just trying to give me an ego boost. I also had no idea if the diapers would even work, if they’d fall apart after one washing, if they’d hold in stink, if the velcro would fall off, if the seams would come undone, if the elastic wouldn’t work…you get my drift. I didn’t feel comfortable trying to sell something that I didn’t even know would work.

After having J. Bug in cloth diapers for five months (we did disposables for his first month), I can now say that the diapers I made are pretty dang good and hold up just as well (and actually hold the smell less) than the purchased ones. And since Shawn is still saying he thinks I could sell fitted diapers, I’m starting to take him a little more seriously. Truthfully, I’d love to be able to make them and give them away, but my time with Bug is very precious to me. If I’m going to be doing something that takes me away from him, I need it to be something that generates income to contribute towards my eventual dream of staying home.

Now for the embarrassing part. I’m not a good marketer, and I have a severe disdain for people who peddle themselves. I’ve stayed far, far away from businesses like Mary Kay and Pampered Chef – not because those aren’t great opportunities for extroverted women – but because I’m just not good at the whole, “you should buy my product” thing.

Allow me to tell you a story to demonstrate my point. Two weeks ago, I took Bug into our pediatrician’s sick clinic on my way to work because I thought he had a cold and wanted to make sure it wasn’t something more severe before we left town. I usually try to put him in a disposable before we go to the pediatricians because I don’t want the cloths to change the consistency of his weight, but this was a last minute thing, so I didn’t have the chance and he went in his cloth diaper. As the nurse was getting some of his stats from me, I undressed J. Bug to get him ready for the weigh-in, asking if it was okay that he was in a cloth diaper. Yes, it was okay, and the nurse quickly became fascinated with my cloth diaper choice, telling me that she was considering cloth diapering her 8 month old. This is not an unusual occurrence, I get questions about it at least once a week. The conversation went like this:

“Where did you find the diapers?” the nurse asked.

Tell her you can make them, myself said.

“Well, I had a hard time finding anything locally, so my husband’s parents actually bought us most of his online.” Just do it. It’s not that hard, just say, “Actually, I made some cloth diapers for him that work as well as the ones we bought. I’d be glad to give you a better deal than you could find online if you’re interested.”

“Do you happen to remember the website you bought them from?” she inquired.

“Gosh” I replied, “Not off the top of my head. I do know that they’re Little Lions brand, though. I think you can do a search for Little Lions and probably find them pretty easily. They were the best quality for the best price that we could find and they work out well for us.” Or…I can jot down my email address for ya. The Little Lions were about $9/diaper plus shipping and handling. I’d be glad to make you some for about $7.50/diaper and you wouldn’t have to pay shipping and handling. I can easily email you pictures of the diapers I’ve made. 

“I’ll have to check those out – have you tried any other brands?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’ve tried the BumGenuis, they’re a pocket diaper. That just means you “stuff” them with the liner that’s already sewed into the fitted. I like them a lot, but I don’t see much of a difference in functionality between those and the fitteds with the covers.” Gosh, just say it! I made some for Bug that work really well. I’d be glad to make some for you to try if you’d like. Here is my email address and what I would charge per diaper. End of peddling. How hard is that? Really. How hard is that? 

I went on to explain to her some of the details of how fitted diapers work, the best place to find the diaper covers, how often I wash his diapers, and the best way I’ve found to remove the smell and stains…all without mentioning that I’m fully capable of making fitted diapers.
See? I’m a total and complete pansy. It’s ridiculous, really.

I certainly can’t expect to sell any diapers if I don’t let people know that I’m able and willing to make them. I don’t plan for this to develop into any kind of lucrative business, I’m just thinking that I can take something I love and about which I’m passionate and turn it into a way to help support my family.

Because I’m completely stepping out of my comfort zone here and doing my best to put this out there, would you like to know why I think my diapers would be a great option? Well, whether you would or not, here you go:

  • I’m really not lying when I say that they’re equal to the diapers we’ve purchased. Shawn actually likes them better, but that would sound pompous if I said it. 🙂
  • Because each order would be custom made, the client can tell me what kind of fabric and pattern they would like. The diapers I made are considerably softer (even after tons of washings) because I was able to choose my fabric. The pattern choices are almost endless and I’m sure I could find a fabric to fit even the strangest of tastes!
  • Supporting your local economy and handmade goods is very trendy right now. So…if you’re a jump on the bandwagon/peer pressure type of person, this is a great opportunity for you (but after this, you should really stop jumping on that bandwagon. The 80s are making a comeback in fashion and you really don’t want to go back there. So really, for your own sake, jump right off).
  • Included in the order, you would receive washing and care instructions so that even someone who doesn’t know a cloth diaper from a trash bag would be able to get them clean like a pro.
  • Really, this price is just about the cheapest you’ll find for non-used cloth diapers. I wouldn’t even consider selling them if I didn’t feel like I could make something that is quality for a great price. I don’t have time to waste making something that won’t really work or that is overpriced.

So consider this my one and only solicitation of you, my friends and family. If you know of someone who is interested in cloth diapers, just let ’em know that I make them and sell them pretty cheaply (I’m thinking around $7.50/diaper, the price will vary slightly depending on the type of material and pattern they would like). They can email me ( for more information or pictures of the diapers I’ve made. If you yourself are interested or would like to order diapers for a friend (great baby shower gift!), it would be my pleasure to make some for you, according to your specifications, and I can ship to anywhere in the US.

Okay, that’s the last of that nonsense. I promise that my next post will be filled with lots of Jude goodness! 🙂

Phew. It’s done. I did it. I am, by far, the worst saleswoman ever. Ever. But possibly…just maybe…next time someone asks me where I bought my cloth diapers, I’ll actually muster up the courage to tell them that I make them. Maybe? Maybe. Definitely. I can do it. Jen M.- pansy? No, Jen M. – cloth diaper maker-er. Yeah, I can do it.

my favorite russian

Of course, I don’t actually know any other Russians. But I have a feeling that even if I did, Anton would STILL be my favorite. My friend Vanessa brought her three cuties over one evening a couple of months ago, and [as usual] we had a blast together. Even though our families only live about 15 minutes from each other, Vanessa and I still find ourselves only talking once a month or so. I’m so blessed by her though. She’s one of those friends that I could not talk to for several weeks, and yet we’re still able to pick up right where we left off.

That’s good stuff.

Bear and Bug both enjoyed spending time with Kenya, Judah, and Anton and all the kids bonded over a healthy dose of Yo Gabba Gabba. Or “toddler crack” as Mamas everywhere call it.

I’ve been so privileged to see God’s hands working in Anton’s life, and I count myself unbelievably lucky to be a part of his [and Vanessa’s] lives. Anton is such a great kid, and I can’t wait to see how God’s plan unfolds even further in his life!


camp [from another perspective]

While I didn’t take very many photos of our Jr. High camp experience, I lucked out. It turns out one of Shawn’s fellow staffers took a ton. And by a ton, I mean a whole heck of-a-lot. Don’t worry, I’m not going to include EVERY photo he took, but I did think you might like to see a few that include some handsome fellas you may know:

[That would be my super hot husband standing in front. He’s probably having an in-depth conversation about the Spirit of God, or the theology of charity, or [more likely] the perfect ratio of ketchup to mustard on a hamburger.]

[Bear’s actually wearing his big brother’s clothes in this picture. Hmmm…I think I just realized why people are always asking me if they’re twins.]

[This would be all the campers from our church!]

[Neither of my boys did the super-fun ropes across the pool, but we had a lot of fun cheering on those who did.]

[I haven’t shared many pictures of our friends here in Texas – mostly because they don’t know I have a blog and it seems weird to blog about people without their knowledge/permission. But this is such a sweet photo of our friends Lori & Louie, so I wanted to include it. Louie is the head of Shawn’s Family Life Team, and Lori is his wife. My boys LOVE their kiddos, and I love Lori’s down to earth perspective on ministry and life. We count them as good friends to our family!]

[These are a few photos of the amenities of the camp. Had I not been there with my boys, I no doubt would have made time to do the high-ropes!]

[What? You mean it’s not normal to have gun-shooting practice at church camp? Oh, Texas.]

[These are all the staff kids who were there! My boys would be to the two cranky book ends on the front row.]

[One of the best parts of camp are the baptisms! This is one of the church’s summer interns, Ben.]

[Worship at camp. It was so cool to see the Jr. High students praising!]

[We felt so blessed to be able to be involved in Shawn’s ministry. I love that he was able to do his job AND love on his kids. Also, you should know that I had to take a second look at this photo to see which child of ours Shawn is holding. In case you’re unsure, it’s Bear. I think.]

[Camp food! And a few of my Texas small group girls.]

[Bear “helping” during worship. And yes, that is a disco ball in the background.]

[It wouldn’t be Jr. High camp without messy games. At least not Jr. High camp with Shawn.]

[Well, hello there handsome. Why yes, I will be your wife and give you two beautiful kids.]

[Too much cuteness. Don’t worry, I’ll give those cheeks a good kiss for you.]

[It’s a little freaky how much they look alike, isn’t it? I mean, it’s like my genes didn’t even try. They saw Shawn’s genes coming and ran for cover. That boy is the spitting image of his Daddy!]

[Bear helped Mr. Louie stack the orange cones one morning. I’m told he took the job quite seriously.]

[Chris, one of the church’s interns, decided Hee-Hee could hold onto the pepper for everyone. Bear thought it was a riot and couldn’t stop giggling!]

Pictures just can’t accurately explain how much fun we had at camp. I thought it would be a few more years until the boys and I could accompany Shawn’s ministry, but it was such a pleasant surprise that we could go this year. We are SO grateful for the staff family accommodations at the camp and are already looking forward to next year’s adventure!

a letter to bear

Sweet Bear,

Today you are 2 years and 3 days old, my love. I can’t believe it was only two years ago that I was marveling at your long toes, your swollen baby face, your tiny little cries, and the way your fingers instinctively wrapped around mine. Two years ago you captured my heart, sweetie. Two years ago I fell in love harder than I knew possible.

We had no idea what laid before us when we first held you in our arms. You were the sweetest baby, Bear. You slept so sweetly cuddled in my arms, and even when you cried it always sounded like you were saying, “Umm…I don’t want to bother you. I’m just a little hungry. Could you please consider feeding me?” It’s been such a privilege to watch that sweet little baby grow into [what can only be described as] a sweetly silly toddler.

You’re a trip, son. From your head to your toes, you are a performer who thrives on making people smile. Your booty-shake is about the best I’ve ever seen, you already sing me little songs about whatever we’re doing, and your little body can’t help but groove to whatever beat is playing. It’s such a joy to watch your soul light up when you make me [or your brother, or your Daddy, or the stranger in the store] smile by something you’ve done. One of my favorite things about you is that you have so many little silly quirks – little things you do – that just make my heart giggle.

You’re talking up one heck of a storm, and right now you love to point out the things you notice in your surroundings. You’re especially talkative when you wake up and our conversations usually go like this,

You: “Un bed.” Me: “Your bed?” You: “Yeah.”

You: “Un banky.” Me: “You’re blanket?” You: “Yeah.”

You: “Chew!!!” Me: “You’re brother? Yep, he’s awake.” You: “Yeah!”

You: “Un Da-yee?” Me: “Daddy’s getting dressed. Do you want to go see him?” You: “YEAH!”

Then you scamper off, saying “Daddy! Daaaaaddy? Daddy!” as your face lights up at the prospect of seeing one of your favorite people in the world.

Speaking of your Daddy. Shew, that man is your hero. I’m not exaggerating when I say that at least 25 times a day you ask me, “Where Da-yee?” I always answer, “Daddy’s at work, honey.” and you always reply “Oh.” When he comes in the door, you literally hop up and down in anticipation. Not to mention you and your Daddy are looking more and more alike with each passing day!

As you turn two years old kiddo, I just want you to know how deeply you’re loved and cherished. I love absolutely everything about you and couldn’t have possibly imagined how much of a blessing you would be when I first laid my eyes on you. You’re precious, sweet one. Daddy and I love you with our whole hearts, and we pray that you know how intricately and delicately you were made. Our God created every fiber of your being, knows every hair on your head, and loves you with a ceaseless and powerful love. 

Happy Birthday, Squidgy.


Mommy & Daddy