Faith · Family · Love · Perspective

merry MeRrY MERRY Christmas!

I don’t think we hear it enough. Sure, I heard a few Christmas songs on the radio this morning, but are we really hearing it? The love, joy and goodwill that Christmas is really all about?

Are we just seeing the consumerism side? The “is your tree HGTV or Better Homes and Garden” quality? Do you need a “Star Shower” to project Christmas onto your home? The “is my display up to the par of my neighborhood” moment.

Are we taking the focus off of the Divine and directing it to the Dollar Store (or Macy’s or Kohls…) accompanied by a sense of obligation and dread?????

Or are you FEELING and EXPERIENCING Christmas in your home?

I believe that a few thousand years ago, God became Man briefly. He took on our own skin, but not because we deserved it. Goodness no! Read the Old Testament and parallel it to modern man today. We couldn’t be farther from deserving then or now.

God gave us His son humbly as a gift. Humankind, of course, destroyed the gift. We really do excel at ruining good things. God knew we would ruin it and thru the Easter miracle graced us with forgiveness and love if we will just humbly admit we need it. We need Him.

That is where we base Christmas in our home. Is it because my parents told me to do it this way? No. It’s because I experience my Creator’s corrections and blessings on a daily basis.

Do we do stockings and gifts? Yes. Do we have a (mostly) glowing Christmas tree? Yes. Do I have a hugging Santa and Mrs. Claus on my counter next to a reindeer? Yes.

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We celebrate in our home and out in our community because we received a gift that we didn’t deserve. We happily give out of love because God gave us the gift of Love.

Give to your family or friend. Give to the local Angel tree (kids in need). Give to CarePortal (supporting families- things like beds, carseats, sheets, clothes). Serve at the food bank. Serve at your church. Serve at the local school.

If you aren’t physically able or are financially strapped, be kind. It doesn’t cost a thing to say thank you or to hold a door. Smile.

Whatever you do, please serve, provide for, or treat others with a happy heart. We don’t have to agree on faith matters and theology to be kind to one another. If your heart is hurting, I hope you encounter kindness and compassion today. I’ve been there too.

And if I pass you on the street, Have a Merry Christmas!

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Family · Love · Perspective · Uncategorized

Goodbye

Tough tough week.

Amongst the normal chaos of trying to be places on time with stacked meetings and schedules, there was also projectile vomiting, water spraying a basement wall, and having to say goodbye to our cat.

I always kind of scoffed at the idea that a pet could bring out such deep feelings of grief. I lost a lot of cats and dogs growing up on the farm. As my sister pointed out, having a pet for 15 years- daily feeding, brushing, petting, snuggling, interacting at every point for 1.5 decades- makes that animal more than a pet. It makes him family.

He was stress relief for my husband after a long day and late night company after the kids and I had cashed it in for the evening. He was wordless comfort when my  husband experienced the loss of loved ones.

He was always on the floor or furniture right next to the kids. In the middle of our Candyland board game, sticking his head over the edge of their infant/toddler chairs when they were little, being ‘accessorized’ by my little girl- tolerant and engaged. Touching them with his nose to check on them. Licking their hand or forehead to say “you are my kids.”

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He was my early morning reading partner. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the indoor cat idea, I grew protective and wanted him safe from the plethora of outdoor threats.

He never had enough fight in him to keep him alive outside. 13 years ago, my father-in-law found him half dead in the yard with a nacho Doritos chip bag stuck on his head. Presumably, he was trying to get the last cheesy crumb. Tugging the end of his tail softly brought him down and he’d just lay there looking peeved.

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He was adamant about his small feedings three to four times a day. Voicing his frustration if we missed one, he would expect a bonus feeding later to make it up.

All the way to the very end he was social and loving. After his initial trip to the vet for his diagnosis and return home, his first instinct was to go find the kids. He searched their bedrooms for them and then assumed his place in the sun until they walked in the door from school.

We spent our last evening and morning gently and genuinely loving on him. It was clear that he wouldn’t have much more time before we needed to take him back in to the vet. He had quickly dehydrated (complete kidney failure). I’m grateful we were able to say our goodbyes and provide him that pain-free care.

Rest easy. We miss you.

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I didn’t mean to make this a long post, nor a sad one. This is part of life. It is a blessing to be able to love a person or a pet. It is a gift to love and be loved.

Much love this week-  Jen

Family · Perspective · Uncategorized

Fall Drive

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Today the cattle are being driven the four miles back to the farm from the hills.

We don’t actually ‘drive’ them. They walk. We don’t push or get aggressive. The mamas know the path. Their bellies sway as they plod down the dirt roads. The babies push along in slow groups or stick close to their mamas.

90 minutes of slow and steady. They are back for the winter.

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Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Quiet Time

I get up about 30 minutes before everyone else, minus the cat, to enjoy quiet time. This morning it was an hour earlier.

As it is the Christmas season, we have our tree up and decorated. I decided to use it for light to read my devotions and a chapter of Isaiah in my Bible.

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I lit the fire. Snuggled down in the couch with my blanket, drink and Bible.

I read. I pray. I work to get my heart and soul headed in the right direction before my head starts making plans and going over the schedule.

This time is important for the well-being of everyone under this roof.

But today, I had a talkative 7yr old try to join me. Try is the optimum word.

After 10 minutes of him trying to make small talk, I firmly laid it out that this is mom’s quiet time and there is NO talking. There is also no drum playing on the kitchen counter or finger snapping… or wait, why in the world are you up right now kid?

I’m not going to discuss the wind blowing and making noise. Don’t glare at me when I tell you I can’t talk right now. I did invite him to sit and read quietly if he was interested in doing so.

Now he’s singing in the kitchen and making himself breakfast. I love my morning boy. This morning’s early hour of quiet time has passed and the rush and hum of our morning routine has begun.

Faith · Love · Perspective

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your’s! It’s about being thankful for all you are, have, and don’t have.

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Big, small and all things in between, spread thankfulness, kindness and gratitude. ❤️

Although we celebrate this day once a year, share this spirit all year long.

It may be surprising how much it lifts you up to project gratitude outward to others. Celebrate your tiny mundane daily details.

If you think my life is perfect and that’s why I’m spouting such positive fluff… As for personal examples this morning: I’m not letting a root canal yesterday, child with strep throat, or this huge two week pile of laundry get me down!

I’m thankful for teeth and dentists, access to antibiotics for strep and likely an ENT visit (4 rounds of strep in 5 months), and for clean clothes for my family.

Not perfect. That’s not real or attainable. Just thankful for life and grace.

Much love– Jen

Family · Uncategorized

Blue Skinks

Well hello to this fine Friday!

It finds me at my desk, but SHOCKER – my floor heater isn’t on! Today is a sunny day and rather unseasonably warm for mid-November. I’ll take it after the unseasonably cold last few weeks. I was almost a meteorologist, so I understand weather… but question the term “unseasonably.” And the meteorology story is saved for another day.

Back to my title – Blue Skinks. This is a bit deceiving because blue skinks are native only to an Australian island, but the truth is we have a lot of  Great Plains Skinks around our house (outside). The juveniles have blue tails. These tails also come off if you try to grab one. My kids love this!

I grew up catching skinks in the Blue Hills north of my family’s farm. Harmless creatures. As kids, we took two home and they lived in the old cellar for years – Skink and Skank. Yes, I lived a colorful childhood…

great plains skink juvenileWe’ve seen them scuttling around in the summer, sunning themselves on rocks or our sidewalk. They feed on arthropods – insects and spiders. Anything that knocks down the spider population is fine by me.

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A few weeks ago, we took on a family-based project (read: husband driving the heavy equipment, kids and I picking up and hauling stuff around by hand and with a wheel barrow). We ripped the old, concrete steps off our house. After 50+ years of salt, the concrete was literally crumbling. You could stick your hand inside the cinder block base — although I wouldn’t based on the number of snake skins we found. The rails had been removed almost 10 years ago because they were unsafe. It was TIME.

As reluctant as I am to start another any house project, this one was necessary. Our widower neighbor to the south, Ron, needs railings to get up the three steps to our house. He comes over for holidays and just the general invite. Other neighbors need railings too. We are a welcoming house for tea, cookies, dinner or the non-food related visit.

house projectYesterday, a crew came by to start the rebuild. If you didn’t know, stamped and stained concrete is a more budget friendly option than building a deck (wood or composite).

The crew started by repairing the termite damage under the door. We are crossing our fingers that this is truly the last termite damage those beastly little *insert expletive-laced rant* creatures did. All of that happened three generations before we acquired the family-built house. We’ve repaired and replaced all sorts of things like subfloor, joists, and sheet rock. Those little buggers will eat the paper off the sheetrock!!!

They began to excavate to pour footings and found two things: a hidden underground electrical conduit and a big ball of hibernating skinks.

Skinks – super cool! The crew said that was a first! They relocated them to my flower bed to the south. Good thing it was “unseasonably” warm yesterday! The skinks had scattered by the time I got home from work. Local forecasts show a few more days of warmer weather before a possible snow. I’m hoping they will all find a new place to ball up and hibernate!

Electrical conduit – not so cool… Add an electrician to the mix so we could have electricity by the evening. We also learned that we will need to replace said conduit due to age and the breakdown of the old insulation.

Man, I love house projects (insert a smidge of snark)…. Honestly, I’ve appreciated the endgame of all 12 years of house projects, but even HGTV’s Nicole Curtis needs a break every now and then, doesn’t she???

Enjoy the weekend & Happy Thanksgiving wishes to all this next week!

 

 

Faith · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Pink Slime – Not a Good Hair Accessory

So… this walked in off the school bus yesterday….

Hair with slimeRight.

It was accompanied by a puffy red freckled face that had obviously been crying. Likely because her brother had spent most of the 20 minute bus ride to our office telling her how deeply in trouble she was going to be when she got here.

They hopped off the bus just when the phone was ringing constantly, a customer was at my husband’s desk, and another couple was waiting patiently for my husband to finish up with his current customer. The bus driver was walking in with them.

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That is never a good sign. People- you usually don’t want the bus driver to escort your children in. My kids aren’t without fault. About a month ago, we’d been informed that they weren’t sitting and staying in their seats. (After following the bus one day as it left town, I realized that few of the kids were… but that’s another story.) From that day on, they had been instructed to sit at the front of the bus.

The bus driver explained that it was “slime” another child had brought on the bus. She was fine, but he wanted to let me know. Points for the bus driver walking my obviously distraught child in.

I looked at my husband and calmly said that I believed my office work today was done.

Loading up my crew, more of the story came out. Another little girl had put it on her hair, but it didn’t stick to it. She thought it would be ok. Apparently it does stick to freshly washed very fine hair.

I messaged my sisters and mother, who have proved to be a font of wisdom, asking for suggestions. Suggestion #1 was vegetable oil, then warm water and a clarifying shampoo. And on top of that, I added in a lot of patience and tried not to laugh. I mean seriously, what can you do? A good sense of humor is paramount to peace at our house.

I could tell this would require me being wet. My little girl was sobbing at the idea of vegetable oil in her hair. Why? Not sure. You’d think pink slime was worse than vegetable oil.

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We stripped down and hopped in the shower with a bottle of oil, a fine toothed comb, and a cup to catch the Slime chunks. 30 minutes later…..

Slime be gone! With a few good rounds of clarifying shampoo, most of the pink dye was out as well.

After the de-sliming, we had a little talk about not putting things in our hair that don’t normally go there: Yes’s are limited to hair ties, barrettes, and headbands. No’s (all of which we’ve tried and scrubbed out) include things like gum, sand, paint, mud, glitter, and now….. slime.

Did I mention we were destined last night for a youth program where both kids would be up at the front singing and dancing? To the best of our abilities, we roll with the punches. This time it was a slime covered one.

Much love — Jen