Fog

It’s foggy down here in the Valley. Really foggy.  On the news this morning, they showed a live cam from the Island and the picture was just a screen of grey/blue nothingness.  Funny how that’s how I feel sometimes. Foggy. So foggy that even when I self-examine, all I see is grey/blue, undescribable, nondescript blah.

So what can I do when my picture, my outlook, my forecast says “foggy”?

GET A NEW LENS. GET A NEW CAMERA. CHANGE MY PERSPECTIVE.

When I start looking at my situation with a new lens, I am able to focus better, perhaps with no scratches. Maybe I can see with a wider angle or focus on just what’s important and blur the excess. I can see details.

When I get a new camera, I get to play around with the settings – I might even change the way I am used to doing things. I find that what used to work for me no longer does. I exclaim over the way the colors are seemingly different with my new camera. I revel over the way I can capture expressions with ease after I learn how to use it.

When I change my perspective, I see things I never knew were in my horizon. I notice how small some things are -even though I had previously thought them large and opposing. I meet new things, new faces from this vantage point. I can see what is behind me and a glimpse of what is to come sometimes. The change is good. I no longer want what is in my Lilliputian land. What seemed out of my reach is closer. I like this new perspective.

I’m swapping out some equipment; moving myself.  How about you?

~Janna

Ketching up

I just spent the last 1/2 hour on my hands and knees in my kitchen. It was not a planned event.

This morning, I was enjoying some quiet time in the Word and was meditating on Philippians 3 :12

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Now, here it is in the Message Version:

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

My friends, this morning I was quite sure the Lord was speaking to me- Janna, right there in my bed with this verse. I was pumped up. It was perfect for my Monday. I could conquer the world! I could stay calm and collected! I could at least conquer the laundry, right?   I was desperate to hear the voice of Someone cheering me on today. “You can do it, Janna!” I have lists and lists of things to do this week and still needed to accomplish our regular weekly routine items.

And then life happened.

I needed to stay in the room of son #3 to make sure he cleaned it to my specifications (not his!) I even decided I’d let him sleep in his sleeping bag all week to help him with his morning clean up goals. It took a lot longer than I had hoped and the “no breakfast until your room is done” rule doesn’t really matter to this skinny, could-care-less-about-eating boy. While we were spending such a grand time together, I needed to have him try on some clothes. The boy has no dressy pants. This is a problem. The dressy khaki’s I had hanging with his blazer, dress shirt and tie were no where near his size. Nuts! Adding dress pants to my list, I moved on with other activities.

Enter son #1, aka, “Mr. I know, Mom.” This guy knows EVERYTHING already. He already knew why I was entering his room and walking toward the closet and he already knew how everything in there would fit him. He already knew he had a dress outfit. Really? Tell me why your slacks are falling down to your knees? Last year, (before he played football) these pants were actually a bit snug around the waist. Now, they were a no-go. A belt would just make them look ridiculous. We tried on a pair of “I hate those, Mom” khakis. They were also loose, but wearable with a belt. I can actually check his name off of the “dress clothes” list.

Our final boy installment is son #2. I had (or so I thought) prepared this young man for this very event days ago.  “Hayden, you know I am going to come into your closet in a few days and look for dress clothes, right? Am I going to find any kind of surprises in there?” “Oh no, Mom…I have checked it all out, and it’s clean-really clean.” That should have been my clue. Really clean.  I entered the room. It was clean. I entered the closet. Also clean. We tried on clothes.  Again, the first pair of pants were a “no.” We had success with the second pair.  Now comes the interesting part: Son #3 has the tiniest little closet. There is barely room for his clothes – certainly no room for the Rubbermaids of Too Big clothes. These are stored in Son #2’s closet.  I opened up the first box, looking for a pair of pants that would fit our youngest. No pants in the box. I opened the second box. What should I find, but a box filled with DIRTY CLOTHES belonging to our middle guy. Yes, he had lovingly shoved them in a Rubbermaid of too-small-for-him clothes and then placed them atop another Rubbermaid on the shelf. I had to breathe deeply. Like I was in labor. It was all I could do not to scream. Didn’t he know I was done with the laundry?

Fast forward to dinner. My man is not home. It’s just me and the boys. This means it’s crazyfood night. I had tuna salad. They had chicken burgers. I served them with a smile and went to the other room to grab my glass of water. Somewhere during that brief moment. One of my children went to the fridge to grab the industrial sized jug of ketchup out of the fridge to decorate his burger. If you have spent a meal with us, you’ll know exactly who I am writing about. If you haven’t, I’ll give you three guesses and a hint: he’s a bit forgetful with the laundry…. So he is retrieving the 4,000 gallon plastic tub of red stuff and somehow (he said later on, bewildered) somehow it slipped from his hands. Have you ever seen the aftermath of a Sam’s Club Ketchup when it’s dropped on the floor? We have. This was not our first time. It stains. It splatters. It has the ability to reach tight corners and crevices you never knew existed. It gets under things like appliances, rugs and magically under the cute little buns of brothers sitting on chairs. (I still don’t know how that happened.)

My precious, miracle middle son stood there in the kitchen with ketchup dripping from him saying “I’m sorry, Mom, I don’t know how that happened.” He was frozen.  I muttered something about wasting the ketchup and had him change his clothes. Well, they all need to change. (I told you, it reached faaaaaaar). I began to get on my hands and knees and scoop it up. After I scooped, I got a wet cloth and wiped. And then it was time to invite my special friend, Mr. Bleach.  The grout was pinkish orange. I kneeled again and as I did so, I remembered my special time this morning…

I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

I bleached and wiped and pressed on. I forgave. I smiled. I thought about how I had longed to have just one child in my belly when I couldn’t get pregnant. I thanked the Giver of Life. I loved on my little boys. I reached forward to take hold…

~Janna

Beneath My Heart Giveaway

In case you have never visited the “Beneath My Heart” Blog – I want to encourage you to do so.  I found her blog over Christmas and spent hours reading her one night. She lost her mother to cancer not too long ago and I found myself relating to so many experiences and thoughts she posted about.  She’s very creative and I love her ideas.

Speaking of: Please pray for Tommy’s Mom, Nancy. We are still, and will continue to be praying for her healing HERE ON EARTH. She is very weak. We love her so much and it pains us to think of her in hurting.

The Beneath My Heart Blog is having a great giveaway right now for vinyl wall decor. It’s a great giveaway contest! I hope I win. I love the Laundry decal!

~janna

Spring Break

We weren’t going to take Spring Break this week. We were going to press through even though all of our friends here were on Spring Break. It didn’t work so well. We have done not even half of the work for the week.  Sad, sad, sad.

I think I might have figured out what we are going to do for school next year. I love this part. I love the planning, the research, the dreaming.  It’s my favorite part. This year, we are using Veritas Press for our literature and we did Texas History, Presidents, States and Capitals for History/Geography.  I love the book list that Veritas uses. We are going to use them for the whole kit and kaboodle next year.  I am so excited!  I don’t know if you realize this, but homeschool bookstores (or any bookstores, actually) aren’t in abundance down here. In fact, we have ONE bookstore in our town. A very tiny Waldenbooks in the mall. It’s sad. No Half-Price Books…sniff.  In any case, I can order the books I need for next year.  By the way, did you already know about www.thriftbooks.com? I didn’t until this week. My supersmart, superbeautiful (in all ways) Western Bestern Friend told me about it! Check it out – cheap used books and FREE SHIPPING!!!  Wahoo!

In other news, I made the BEST smoothies this morning. I thought I’d share some pictures with you so you could pretend you were here enjoying one with us. 🙂

You can't see that spinach, can you? The boys loved these!

The boys decided they tasted like Gogurt. I don’t even know when I bought Gogurt last, but it’s been YEARS (When I was a serious couponer, I am sure)

Smoothies are a great way to get more fruits (and veggies) into our tummies. I will freeze the rest into my heirloom (that’s my new way of saying “old” Tupperware popsicle molds and they will have a treat after mowing the lawn today. Yes, you read that right, we are mowing down here. Our grass is crazy. I think we only had one month off. I say “we” but I mean them – you knew that, right?  And yes, our boys do the work. Tate and Hayden mow – one does the front, one does the back. They do the weedeating. Carter does the blowing and sweeping. We invested in 18 volt battery lawn tools. They are very lightweight – no cords, no gasoline. Even Carter can use them all.  Worth it for us.  Mowing the lawn is (as Carter puts it) their main source of income. We don’t give allowances. Our thinking is this: In the real world – you don’t get paid unless you work. You don’t get paid for keeping your house tidy or your clothes clean or for picking up after yourself. They don’t HAVE to mow. Tommy is able-bodied enough to do it.  If they do the yardwork, though, they get paid. We offer other extra jobs like this for them to make cash, as well. We are teaching them how to handle their money (tithe, save, give away, spend) from what they actually earn, not what we give them because they are cute or clean their rooms. (They are cute, though, aren’t they?)

The boys have to keep their rooms clean, beds made, clothes put away (and bring the clothes to the washer) as well as kitchen jobs that rotate. This is part of the “we all live in the yellow submarine” bit. We all do our house jobs because we live here. I don’t get paid to do my house jobs and Tommy doesn’t get paid to do his house jobs. real life.  I am not knockin’ how anyone else does it, I am just sharing what we do and why.

With that thought, I’ll close for the day and gather my guys and read our chapter books so I can pretend we are doing some schoolwork today.

Make a smoothie and tell me what you put in yours!

~Janna

Why British Accents are Cool

I am pondering some deep, deep stuff down here. Stuff like: why did my Mom only serve Bell Peppers when they were made into stuffed bell peppers? Why did I ever think pantyhose were cool? Why do we think British accents are way cooler than ours? And why doesn’t the Post Office have a drive through?

This is a small window into my mind on a weekend. I try and allow myself to toss aside the structure and lists of the week and dream and ponder. Tommy and I spent over an hour looking at the train schedules in Italy. Italy is #1 on the dream vacation list. I sure wish those plane tickets were cheaper – yikes! I like to turn off the phone and wear my slippers all day. If I can wear slouchy clothes – all the better.

We are planning a road trip up north. I am already envisioning the minivan-minus one seat for a changearoo. I just can’t stop thinking about how spacious and roomy it will seem. Everytime I mention this to Mr Darcy, he snorts with laughter and rolls his eyes. Sometimes, he’s just no fun. I am going to remove one of the middle seats. If I’m feeling really nice, I’ll take out the one behind the passenger seat so “he” can recline while he travels. I’m nice like that.

Here’s hoping this upcoming week is filled with laughter, fun and plenty of British accents thrown in…

~janna

Kitchen Machines I Love

At this very moment, I am making waffles for dinner.  In the past couple of years, I asked for (and received) the best waffle iron – EVER. It is made by Krups and makes two ginormous Belgian waffles at a time. You pour the batter in, close it, wait 10 seconds and flip it over. I bake ours for 3 minutes. Yumsville.  I think anyone who likes waffles should have one. It makes me happy.

This morning, I had two cups of coffee brewed in my very special Keurig machine. It uses cute little containers of coffee (so many varieties to choose from) and quickly makes my morning (okay, I drink it all day) get going. I also have a special little cup that I can put my own coffee in -so I don’t have to buy their little cups. I have used it – but I’m just going to be honest with you here…I really love those little K-Cups. They make me happy. They also make our life group pretty happy! I had a Senseo coffee maker before this. It was not as lovely, in my opinion and the coffee was not as tasty. I still have Gaggia lust, though. I wonder if that will ever go away? Probably not.

In the first stages of my blogging life, I waxed poetically about my Bosch Universal mixer and Nutrimill. I just can’t tell you how much I love these things. I use them pretty much every week. (note: my mixer is two years older than the model I’ve linked. Just wanted you to know). I have several attachments for my Bosch and use those often. I have a food processor, several kinds of whips/paddles, meat grinder, pasta extruder and a grain flaker.

I frequently use my stick blender – but not as much as I thought I would. I do like it, though. It is invaluable when I am making soups. I am glad I don’t have the super-expensive model of this kitchen tool because I would feel bad about not using it as much. I’d still keep it – but that’s because I’m addicted to kitchen appliances – but you are probably already figuring that out, aren’t you?

I am in fiesta love with my Villaware tortilla press/baker. It also makes flatbreads. I wouldn’t be able to tell you about that, because I have never made those. I keep saying I am going to make some, but it hasn’t happened yet. Tortillas are another story, though. I make whole wheat tortillas all the time in this little baby.  Si, si..es muy bueno!

I have several other special friends lurking in my kitchen that I have fond feelings for: Mr Crockpot, the Griddle, Fondue Pots  (yes, that’s plural), panini press ( I love it, but now that boys eat adult portions, I rarely use it – it takes too long) Monsieur Crepe Maker, KitchenAid mixer, Cuisinart ice cream maker, Cuisinart blender and other food processor (also a Bosch, but not on the same level of Boschness) and hand crank pasta maker. I can’t get rid of them. I just can’t. I love them all too much and I do use them…sometimes.

So tell me, what’s your favorite small kitchen appliance? Please don’t tell me you think I might have a hoarding problem with them – I already know… 🙂

~Janna

Gratituesday

Yesterday was not my favorite day so far. It started off with two boys fighting, my man told me I snored, and mid-morning brought family medical stress beyond belief. I was crying, praying and my mind was swirling all at the same time. I was supposed to bake, but who could entertain her inner Ma Ingalls when she was feeling this way?

Thankfully, blessedly, mercifully..our family member got results from tests that showed nothing seriously wrong. Yet, my knotted tummy could not seem to release the stress.

I am reading a new book called The DNA of Relationships by Dr. Gary Smalley. I think I can pinpoint what the problem was: Me.  The theory of this book is that it is not what actually happens to us that causes us to “feel” or have emotions, but rather how we dwell on it after the event occurs. My thoughts are driving the emotions.

Honey, my thoughts were ruling over Crazytown yesterday. I was questioning everything and everybody.  Until I remembered the book. I got myself back into right thinking. I remembered Who is really in control (no surprise, it’s not me).

Today, I am in a better state of mind, although in reality, my circumstances haven’t changed all that much. I am not going to dwell on the yuck stuff. I am going to dwell on GRATITUDE.  GRATITUDE is going to make my ATTITUDE.

My boys are healthy, beautiful, active and super smart. They love the Lord.

My husband is patient, loving, hilarious, a hunk and sensitive to me. He also loves the Lord.

I have a great family. (Both sides)

God loves me.

We have plenty of food to eat, a great house to live in, two automobiles to get around this great town in and wonderful new friends.

I could go on and on, but I won’t need to. You get the picture.

Stop replaying the yuck. Change the record (or the cassette, or the 8-track).

~Janna

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