BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND TWITTER BACKGROUNDS »

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wishing you a rad 2012



Thursday, December 29, 2011

I love being a mom.

Last night the boys were exhausted and we got to snuggle in bed and read stories together.  Soon after they fell asleep with little smiles on their faces.

It was such a great moment, knowing that they went to bed warm and feeling loved.

I do love, love, love being a mom.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sorry

I know.

I'm sorry.

In the last month I have been stretched more than I ever thought possible.

We had two rounds of antibiotics for ear infections.
Our renter in Virginia moved out of the house with one day notice.
Mark lost his job out of the blue. (Layoffs).
I got the flu.
We went to Nicaragua.
I got sick again in Nicaragua.
We got home and my back went out.

It's been a very stressful month.
But in the midst of this, I feel God working.  I see his hand guiding and protecting.
And, yes, stretching.

So I'm sorry for not writing more.  I needed to process and figure stuff out.  I think we have a plan moving forward so maybe I'll be able to write more.

But, regardless of all that, Merry Christmas!  I hope it's been a less catastrophic month for you!

Love,
Jenni

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Big Fail

So obviously I get a huge F for posting regularly.  Yeah, sorry about that.

HOWEVER...

My house has been more regularly clean and there have been hot meals on the table when LT W gets home every day for the past couple of weeks.

Oh, and Tate and Theo are stepping it up in their reading abilities.

And I edited a huge document for our Nicaragua move.

So all in all it's been a very successful week.

Did I mention that I've also finished several projects I had laying around?

Seriously, it's been an epically productive week for us.

I also started CHRISTMAS gifts.  Tate understands now that gifts need to be secrets and he's having an absolute blast making gifts and keeping them secret.  I think he's better at keeping them secret than I am. Sad, I know.

I hope your week has been similarly productive!

Peace and love,
Jenni

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Because I love you


In case you're somewhere and aren't getting to enjoy some fall color, I thought I'd share this picture with you.  Because I love you. 

And because I love you so, so much, I'll include these gems from my neighborhood.  

This beautiful tree really stood out on my drive home.  It looked like it was on fire among all of the other greenery.  I stopped in the middle of the road to take a picture. 

And when I got to the end of the street I took another picture.  It was that beautiful.

I just love Autumn. 

I think it's one of the things I'll miss the most when we're in Nicaragua. 

Speaking of Nicaragua, I've been convicted lately that I don't share much about our trips.  There are several reasons for that, but the bottom line is I should be sharing more.  So I'm going to try to open up this week with some more general stuff and next week I'll maybe even peel away some layers and share deeper stuff.  

If I'm brave enough. 

For now, though, I'm going to go relax while the boys have quiet time!

Peace and love, 
Jenni 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Whew!

I know it's been a while since I've posted.  Too catch you all up quickly on our lives for the past two weeks, here's a list of what the past two weeks have included:

  • A trip to Seattle to visit my parents
  • A simultaneous trip to San Diego for LT W (Navy related)
  • A cold for Tate, Theo and myself
  • One urgent care visit when Tate collapsed on the floor crying because his ear hurt. (Diagnosis is a severe middle ear infection)
  • Four truck loads of stuff to the Goodwill
  • Sale of our king sized mattress and box springs
  • Sale of our bedroom furniture
  • LT W and I moved from the master to a smaller bedroom upstairs (hence the above sales and donations)
  • LT W's wonderful Grandma moved in with us!
  • A Steven Curtis Chapman concert
  • Tate is continuing to improve his reading and phonics skills
  • I participated in a focus group and earned some cash!
  • I knit some leg warmers from yarn in my stash. 
  • We cut wheat out of our diets which resulted in LT W losing about 10 lbs in 2 weeks. 
  • I started working out again (Four times last week! It was awesome!)
  • Theo has decided he does not have much interest in potty training...sigh. 
  • We have worked in the 2-3 year old classroom twice at church.  It's a ton of work but it's nice to meet the parents and feel like we are serving. 
I'm sure there is more random stuff, but that's all I can think of for now.  We are almost all unpacked in our new room upstairs.  The bedroom hasn't been the biggest issue, it's actually been the bathroom.  Before it was fairly easy to keep our toiletries out of the hands of a certain 2.5 year old...now...not so much.  

On a somewhat related note, sharing a bathroom with three males is disgusting.  

I'm going to do my best to post regularly this week!  I hope life is treating you well!

Peace and love, 
Jenni 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I'm trying to let go...

Found on Pinterest. 



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New wall


I redid the wall in our living room [with mostly repurposed stuff]. 

I'm pretty happy with it.  I strive to make our home a creative, inspiring place full of happy memories and joy.  Having pictures of fun memories is a huge part of that. 

And the adorable butterflies?  It was super fun to make those.  We had a lot of good laughs painting our feet!

Whenever I look at the wall now, I'll smile. 

Thanks Kayla J Photography, for all the pictures!  If you're in the Seattle area, check her out.  She's simply amazing!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Superman, without the cape


When Theo runs, he runs with his arms behind him like he's flying.  I imagine he pretends he has a cape as well.  It's one of the millions of endearing things about him. 

Another, you ask?

Theo: "Mom, you're beautiful and you're the best.  Mom, you're my princess."

What a sweet kid!

Friday, October 7, 2011

I am ridiculously off this week


That is kind of how I feel. 

Just, misshapen. 

The house is (barely) being held together by dirt and (probably) dirty clothes. 

I started using my happy sun lamp this morning. 

And taking my vitamin D supplements. 

I think, though, the fact that LT W has had two days off in the last 40ish days is the main culprit.  Hopefully this weekend when we have two days off in a row will be incredibly refreshing and reviving for all of us.  Because, honestly, who wants to feel like this?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

We Are All Missing Them


I am often surprised by my kids' ability to remember.  I don't know why I'm so surprised, because I've got a pretty good memory myself.  Nowhere near what it used to be, but it's pretty good.  The thing that surprises me most is when they remember something so clearly, but it's just a snippet of what happened.  For example, we had a family movie night a few months ago.  The intro to the movie had the graphic of the little boy resting on the moon fishing.  I didn't think anything of it until a couple of weeks ago when Tate asked to watch the movie with the little boy fishing on the moon again.  It took me a few days to figure out what he was talking about but I finally did.  Those are details I would have remembered when I was younger, but they are lost on me now. 

One of the drawbacks of having such a good memory is that the pain of missing loved ones is intensified.  I've seen this in Tate many times with people (and random animals...don't get me started on the goat story).  He's very compassionate and loving, and sincerely misses his hermanos that live in Nicaragua.  He's been asking about them a lot recently.  Asking when we can see them, when we get to move to live close to them and play with them all day.  He loves looking at pictures of them but feels shy talking on the phone with them (and I don't blame him.  Phone conversations are hard enough without a language barrier). 

So today I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I made signs with what the boys wanted me to say "To our brothers in the Posada, we love you and miss you a lot!".  I took a picture and posted it on Facebook so that their hermanos can see it.  I know it's not much, but it made Tate feel like he was getting to express himself a little bit.  

And, just for fun, the latest thing he's attached himself to is our house in Virginia.  He's been saying over and over again that he misses "Spencer and what's his name again?" (It's Trey, BTW) and really misses our house in Virginia even though we didn't have a lot of toys when we lived there because he was just a baby.  (FYI, Tate hasn't seen Spence or Trey other than on webcam in almost 5 years.  But he still misses them).   He's sad that we don't live there and wants to move back.  When I explain that we would miss all the people that live here he just about collapses in despair.  

He's also sad that we don't live in Minnesota (don't get me going). 

And Grandma and Grandpa and Nana and Papa?  Oh my.  There are tears almost daily about how much he misses them. 

Just the other day he said something along the lines of, "Mom, it's so hard because I like so many people and I just never get to see them all as much as I want to!"

I agree with him.  It's hard to keep your heart open and ready for love when you know it's going to hurt to leave.  

But I've found that it's worth it, and I hope that someday he learns that, too. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The boys are back at it

Tate: "Mom, when we have a cat I want to name it Snowbell."
Me: "Um...OK"
Tate: "And if you forget, I'll whisper it in your ear so you remember.  Because I won't forget.  But we won't tell anyone because it will be our secret."
Me: "Why would we keep our cat's name a secret?"
Tate: "Hmmmm...you're right mom.  We just won't tell the bad people in the suits that like to steal bags of animals.  We'll keep it a secret from them, OK?"

*****************

Theo: "I've got a giant, giant pee."

********

Me: "Theo, will you please not push on the ottoman?"
Theo: "Yes. After I stop I can."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How we got there



1-2  We (the littles and myself) left the house with the dogs.  Went to both sets of grandparents houses.  Driving.  ~3 hours. 

2-4  We flew to Chicago via Phoenix.  In middle seats...we had to change because the boys (obviously) aren't old enough to fly by themselves.  Most people were pretty cool about it but there was that one guy.  He pitched a fit and stormed off.  Luckily his ire was directed at the Flight Attendant and not me. 

4-5 Bought a car in Chicago (it was planned, don't worry) and drove to Wisconsin.  Had a bit of trouble on the ridiculous Chicago toll road system.  They don't accept cards so after getting an opportunity to pay online at a later date and being told to stop at an ATM and get cash for the tolls coming up (which I did), the entrance ramp to the freeway not only didn't accept cards, they didn't accept cash, either.  Just coins.  And I didn't have coins.  I just had my newly minted $20 from the ATM.  I am sure I'll get a ticket, but since I have no idea where I was and the car isn't registered to me yet, I'm waiting on a phone call from the dealership.  I went to the website to pay and I wasn't able to because I have no idea where I was on the toll road (they want to know what exit I was at...I have NO freaking idea). 

5-6 After a night in Wisconsin I drove to Minnesota to stay with friends.  The drive was beautiful!  I enjoyed the fall color immensely.  Perhaps it was a gift since I didn't get to see much last year. 

6-7 After a week in Minnesota I drove through both Dakotas (just to say I've been there)!  I stopped in Bismarck for the night (or so I thought) and was told there were no hotels available.  LT W, who was in Japan, helped me secure a hotel some 200 miles away in Montana.  Seriously.  There was no vacancy anywhere.  Said hotel was a dump and when I showed up at midnight they didn't have my reservation but they took pity on me and let us stay, even though they had to take away a room from another guy who had reserved 4 rooms.  He hadn't showed up yet so they told me to just lock my door and don't answer it if he's mad when he shows up.  very comforting. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one that had this unfortunate experience because as I was unloading the boys another 2 cars showed up with "reservations" and the lady had no idea who they were, either.  I think maybe someone was drinking on the job (that's what it smelled like, at least). 
Driving, 13 hours

7-1  Woke up at 7 am in the motel.  I thought about putting on a movie for the boys and dozing, but then decided that I'd rather not stay any longer.  Packed up the boys in about 8 minutes and was outta there.  Drove (with two stops and no tantrums) home to PDX that day (night...whatever). 
18 hours. 

It was a great trip, but I'm happy to be home!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Minnesota Recap

Our first time at the Mississippi River!

Minnehaha Falls

Alana and I at Minnehaha

Downtown Minneapolis.  I thought it was beautiful and charming!

SkyZone Trampolines!  So much fun!

While we missed LT W while he was in Japan with the Navy, the boys and I had a splendid time in Minnesota!  (And Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho and Washington).

I could really go on and on about how wonderful this trip was, but I'm going to keep the online sharing to a minimum (besides, Alana, you know how much I love you :)).  I'll just say that it was so great to have companionship and do some good iron sharpening time!  Two years was too long to wait!

We drove home in two days (that's 31 hours of driving by myself...FYI).  It's taken since then to recover.  I almost have the suitcases unpacked.  They won't stay that way for long, though, because in 58 short days we head to Nicaragua (just visiting this time)!  

One of my favorite discoveries on the drive home was that gas stations celebrate pumpkin spice season, too.  And their coffee is cheaper, doesn't taste as much like coffee (which is good for me), but the caffeine has the same affect!  

It was a great trip!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Where are we? and a winner...


I'm in Minnesota.  

It's been fantastic. 

We'll start the road trip home on Tuesday, and it will be long grand


*************
And the winner of my son's favorite book, Tico Tango, and the other goodies is Debbie M!  Debbie, I'll send you a FB message and get you the book ASAP!  Thanks to everyone who celebrated with us!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

CELEBRATORY GIVEAWAY!

Reading has always been a huge part of my life.  I can still remember the first book I was able to "read" by myself.  It was a hardcover Disney storybook, based on Cinderella.  I know now that I wasn't really reading, I just had the darn thing memorized.  But even 22 years later I remember the elation I felt when I could tell myself the story, I didn't have to wait on anyone else.  I had figured out what those characters on the page were saying!  I felt like a whole new universe was open to me-all sorts of information was at my fingertips.  It's not a stretch to say that reading consumed me.  I loved stories and and new information, and especially after a rough day at school I could escape for hours into a book.  To this day (much to the frustration of LT W) I have a hard time putting down a book I'm reading...I view it as an unfinished project.  Even so, we've made it a priority to pass along to our children the love of reading.


A year or so ago, my wonderful MIL, Nana, became an Independent Consultant for Barefoot Books.  To be honest, I was a little skeptical at first.  But, much to my surprise, Barefoot Books is a rare gem in the industry!  The books are fantastic, (every single story I read to my kids is an instant hit) and affordable, too!  One of my favorite things about Barefoot Books are the many, many titles in Spanish.  Being that we're trying to have a multilingual home, bilingual books are a must. 

So, now on to the whole celebration.  Today Tate and I were reading one of his favorite stories, One Moose, Twenty Mice.   After we had finished reading it for the bazillionth time, I asked Tate if he wanted to try and read it himself. 

He said yes. 

So he sat there and read this story to me.  Then he read it to Theo.  Then he read it again.  He was beaming, so proud of the fact that HE was able to tell the story himself!


I am so proud of him, I could just burst. 

More importantly, HE is so proud of HIMSELF, he could just burst. 

So in honor of my beloved son taking a giant leap toward literacy, I'd like to do a giveaway. 


I'm going to give away one of our FAVORITES from Barefoot Books...The Parrot Tico Tango by Anna Witte as well as a few other Barefoot goodies. 

If you want to get in on this giveaway, here's what you need to do...
  1. Go to www.barefootbooksnana.com (or just click here).  Look around and tell me  by posting in the comments on this post, what product you are most interested in.  This is worth one entry. 
  2. Post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook or twitter with a link to this post.  This is worth one entry each and you must comment here as well to let me know that you did this. 
**PLEASE include your email address or a way to contact you in your comment.  If you're worried about spammers, please email me at thestearns (@) hotmail dot com (without spaces) and let me know who you are**

This contest is closes on the 20th of September at midnight, PST.  

GOOD LUCK!

*PS If you're interesting in doing a fund raiser for your kid's school or daycare, please don't hesitate to contact Vicki HERE*

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ketchup

Haha, ketchup instead of catch up.  I'm so punny.

If I told you everything that our family has gone through in the past few weeks, I doubt you'd believe me.  So I won't even try, but I will hit the highlights.


  • LT W went to Mexico.  He was supposed to go to Nicaragua, but didn't make it.  We're bummed he didn't get to see our family there, but so happy to have him home, safe. 
  • I sprained my foot/toe.  I was being ornery so I guess I deserved it. 
  • Tate, Theo and I spend Labor Day weekend at my parent's house.  We went to the fair, played in the lake and had a blast. 
  • Tate inner-tubed.  By himself.  
  • Theo went to the bathroom on his little potty by himself several times. 
  • I found a way to make tee-shirts that I love but never wear into something that I love and will wear. 
  • I learned how to make gallo pinto, a Nicaraguan staple. 
  • It's pumpkin spice season.  Enough said. 
  • I'm teaching myself to hula hoop, and I'm loving it. 
  • LT W is gearing up to head to Japan for 2 weeks with the Navy.  Ugh. 
  • I get to go to Minnesota for two weeks!  Yay!
  • Tate swallowed a magnetic marble which necessitated (do you see the TATE in that word?!) a trip to urgent care.  
  • We're still waiting for said marble to pass (eeeeewwwwwwww). 
  • We sold Gus, officially. 
  • We are in the process of buying a new car.  We'll be able to take it down to Nicaragua...it's really happening!

Some random quotes from the last few weeks:

Tate (to Theo): I got the last piece of pizza!  Ha ha ha ha ha!
Theo (to Tate): Yeah?  Well, I'm awesome!  Ha ha ha ha ha!

************

And because we are always talking about poop, here's another one:

Tate: Mom, I pooped a big poop! We don't eat that. Only bad guys eat poop!

************

And just like that, you're up to date.  Mostly.  


Peace and love, 
Jenni 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Home safe


I don't think I'll ever be able to articulate my feelings of gratefulness regarding the trip LT W. made, but I'm going to make an effort. 

Thank you, dear friends.  Thank you for your words of encouragement, your thoughts and prayers, and for picking up the phone when I needed to chat.  Until heaven, you'll never know exactly how effective your prayers were but allow me to assure you...God heard you and answered your prayers on behalf of the guys who made the drive. 

I got word that Earl and Austin (who were able to finish the drive) made it safely to Nicaragua yesterday. 

And LT W is home.  

And, somewhat appropriately (for his nickname, at least) he is at Navy today. 

Please accept my heartfelt thanks.  I appreciate your prayers so much.  


Love, 
Jenni 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Update on the drive

First and foremost, God is good.

LT W is still in Mexico.  It's a really long story, but things have not gone according to their plan.  However, in the midst of all of the...hmm...shall we call them adventures?  God has really proven himself faithful.    

The gents are now down to one car, and two of the team members flew home.  There really wasn't space for five guys to comfortably drive one car.

There have been serious mechanical issues (hence the whole down to one car part) and there has been a lot of discouragement and some scary moments.

Please continue to pray for the guys' safety while they drive.  This has been and will continue to be our number one area of concern.

Please also pray that the last mechanical issue will be fixed early tomorrow so that they can get on the road.  They will not be traveling at night, so they hope to leave early afternoon in order to make it a few hours before they stop for the night.

Please pray for blessing over the local church in Veracruz, Mexico.  Upon arrival in Veracruz, we contacted friends who have family that are missionaries in Mexico.  After hearing about all of the, ahem, "adventures" that have come up for the guys, they drove down [three hours each way!] to encourage and lift the guys' spirits.  I cannot even explain how grateful I was to hear this.  Not only did they bless them by coming down to visit, but they sent a mechanic over from the church to work on the vehicle (on a Sunday!) to get it ready, and the church is going to cover the bill.  The generosity and compassion of the church in Mexico has brought me to tears.


Truly, there is no force like the church in action. 


I'll post more tomorrow night after I hear what the plan is.  We appreciate your faithfulness in prayer, at times it is truly the only thing making this trip bearable.

Peace and love,
Jenni

Friday, September 2, 2011

Prayer Request

Mark is driving from Texas to Nicaragua as we speak.  Last night he flew to Houston and the epic adventure started this morning.  Here's some info about the trip...

  • LT W is with a group of 4 other men.  Two from Believer's Church (the best church on the East Coast, IMHO) Pastor Earl from the orphanage where Kevin lives, and Austin, a college student from Oregon State University. 
  • Two vehicles were donated to the orphanage, which is why the guys are driving.  It's much quicker (and presumably less expensive) to drive than ship.  We'll find out the exact cost benefit at the end of the trip. 
  • After a few hours at the Mexican border, the guys are now on their way.  They are very concerned about driving through Mexico, as the gang activity has been high lately.  The route they were planning to use was discouraged by the police so they found another (this is what I gather from snippets of conversations I've been able to have with Mark). 

Please pray for the safety of the men on this trip.  They are all volunteering their time to drive and are paying for their own costs...it's not a vacation.  

The plan is to drive straight through Mexico tonight and tomorrow and they should arrive in Guatemala tomorrow night.  I know that I will sleep better when I know they have made it through Mexico. 

Thanks for your prayers!  I'll let you know if I hear anything!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Tate!





You are five.  

I cannot believe it. 

Four was so much fun!  But I'm really looking forward to all that five brings, too. 

You continue to LOVE baseball, video games, dogs and all things racing.  Your favorite food is grilled cheese (which you call girl cheese), and pizza.  You have gotten much more adventurous when it comes to food.  

Your love all animals, especially dogs and penguins.  You are very interested in learning about animals, but you're pretty intimidated by most of them.  Except dogs.  You have yet to meet a dog you don't like. 

You love your hermanos in Nicaragua and ask when we will move there. 

You have a love/hate relationship with Theo.  You like to boss him around and most of the time he takes it just because he likes to be with you. 

You are learning Spanish and just figured out how to roll your "Rs". 

Your great grandma Ann's dog, Dotty, is your favorite dog in the whole world.  You are always concerned that she's going to be big (but she won't...she's a papillon). 

You hate the Yankees and Steelers.  We've taught you well. 

You love the Seahawks and Mariners. 

You started preschool this year and you loved every minute of it.  You did very well, making tons of friends and always following the rules. 

You are very, very concrete. 

You spent time in Korea, Nicaragua and the states this year.  You liked Nicaragua and the states but Korea wasn't your favorite. 

Your favorite question is, "But what if it's not?"

I love you so much, and have really enjoyed spending this past year with you.  You bring a joy to my life that will never dim or fade.  Your sweet, compassionate spirit continues to grow and I believe, wholeheartedly, that the Lord is going to move mountains through you. 

I love you, Tate. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fun in the Sun


 It's finally summer here in Portland, Oregon. 

I hope you're enjoying it as much as we are!


Peace and love, 
Jenni 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Perfect Read for Summer: An Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck

I have been busy reading a ton of material to help prepare us for moving to Nicaragua.  The books have been amazing, life changing and full of pertinent information.  But to be perfectly honest,  I'm a little overwhelmed with all the heavy reading.   Since I love to read and wanted to choose another title from Waterbrook Multnomah*, I decided to look for something fun and light.  You know...easy summer reading.


cover.jpg

And I found it in The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck, by Kathleen Y'Barbo.  This book was perfect!  The story was absolutely delightful.  The characters were vibrant, fun and believable.  As someone who likes to make her own plans and not be controlled by anyone, I was able to identify closely with Charlotte.  

The book was about the perfect length and I was able to finish in one night (although I did stay up a little too late doing so).  The story is broken into two parts and I should have put it down for the night at the break, but the story was so interesting I just couldn't bear to not finish.  

I whole heartedly recommend this book to you if you're looking for something fun to read.  The story well written, the characters are likable and there is nothing inappropriate or cringe inducing.  All in all, I give this book a whole hearted 5 stars!

*WM provided this book to me, free of charge, for review purposes.  All opinions are my own. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kid quotes

Tate: Wow!  That is a steep mountain!
Theo: Yeah!  Peee-eeeew!  That mountain is STINK!

***************

Tate:  I need a fork.
Me:  You need a fork?
Tate:  Yes!  It's not Sunday, so of course we use forks today!

***************

Tate: Mom, I want you to grow another baby.
Me:  Yeah, that's not going to happen, sorry sweetie.
Tate:  OK.  Well, I still want a baby girl.
Me:  I would like that, too.  Theo, what would you want?  A girl or a boy?
Theo: No.  I don't want a girl or boy.  I want another Theo!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A week off

Over the weekend I was blessed to have the opportunity to just be me.

My beloved parents took the boys for the weekend so LT Wonderful and I could just be together, and it was wonderful.  [Although I did miss the boys terribly].

During the time by myself (Thursday afternoon and Friday) I really got to remember what life was like before I started thinking my given name was "mom".

*I had sole custody of the radio...I listened [geek alert] to my Phantom of the Opera and Rent songs as loud as I wanted to.  I forgot I had those songs on my ipod, and I forgot how much I enjoy them!

*I went out in the middle of the day!  I forgot that the world does still go on during nap time.  I haven't been out of the house to run errands between the hours of 1 and 3 in years.  YEARS.  And it was delightful.

*I went blackberry picking.  With the thorns, it's too dangerous to do it with the boys.  And it was a mostly whine-free picking session (LT W did whine a few times).

*I browsed at the craft store.

*I checked our Borders.  The clearance sales were disappointing.

*I worked out in the middle of the day.

*I woke up on Saturday morning and baked a cake.

*We went kayaking! And we didn't tip this time!

*We stayed out late.  And slept in late.

But most importantly, we reclaimed a bit of ourselves.  I made light of it in this post, but there are some days that I forget that my name is Jenni...I start to only think of myself as a wife and a mother, not a real person.  That is a dangerous first step to losing yourself in your children.

My goal for the next week is to incorporate some of the things I like into my daily routine.  Like the working out and listening to music I appreciate.

We'll see how it goes!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Teaching them the right way


It has been an impossibly long week at the Stearns' house.  We went to bed on Tuesday night we thought we smelled something so we opened these half door things that lead to the bathtub.  Steam came pouring out.  The inside was covered in mildew. 

So, since Tuesday night we've been dealing with fans in the crawlspace and living room, spraying down the crawlspace with bleach, and more and more time with the fans running.  It's been exhausting and loud.  And smelly.  The fumes have been overpowering and it's been frustrating to feel like a fugitive...and the boys are exhausted because they just don't nap well when we're not at home. 

 LT Wonderful, bless his heart, brought me some lilies on Sunday.  He had to play Navy this weekend, so I was busy with the boys all weekend and to be extra special nice he made sure each boy brought me flowers.  It was very sweet. 

I'm sure the boys' future wives will thank him!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Moving...



God has been blessing us in overwhelming ways this last week.

Last week we decided that we needed to move.  We love our home, we love where we're living and we're very comfortable here, but since we are going to be moving to Nicaragua on support we need to be responsible in how we're living now so that we can provide as much of our one time support as we can.  Moving is a part of that.  In just a few minutes of research, we found that we can save about $400/month if we downsize and move into an apartment.  

Since we hope to be down in Nicaragua long term in about a year, we really need to get going on our saving.  When we realized that just by cutting down on our rent we could save $4800 in a year, we decided that we really needed to do it. 

So on Monday we gave our landlady 30 days notice.  

We were excited to be taking steps toward Nicaragua, but planning the move in the month of August (after a non existent summer up to this point) I'll be honest, we were a little bummed.  Our weekends are now going to be taken up with a bunch of moving stuff.  Boo. 

That afternoon our landlady called us and said that she didn't want to lose us as tenants.  However, she understood why we wanted to move and felt like it was a good reason.  

So then she did the unthinkable. 

She offered us apartment pricing in our current home for the next couple of months to let us move slower. 

PRAISE JESUS!

We'll probably be moving in the next few months.  But we're not moving now.  And we get to save the money we were hoping to. 

How big is God?!

Huge.  He's huge. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lawyer in Training

Tate: Mom, can I watch Superman?
Me: No, you can't watch superman.  You're too little. 
Tate:  I'm not little!  I'm 4!  And look at my legs, they are really long.  Can't you see how long they are?  So I can't be little with long legs. 

[pauses]

Well, I guess I'm a little little.  But I'm also a little big.  So I should watch it. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Review: Indelible: A Novel


Indelible: A Novel by Kristen Heitzmann



A quick, enjoyable read.  The main characters were particularly likable, and the story kept me interested.  Honestly, I had a hard time putting the book down because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next!  

As far as the characters and their development, I haven't read any of the other books in this series, so from the beginning I felt a little bit lost.  Due to the amount of time spent on characters that weren't central to the story, I figured out on my own that this was number 2 or 3 in a series.  There was some backstory given, but I wasn't particularly drawn to the supporting characters (with the exception of the painter hired by Sara-I loved her!). 

Even though I was pretty uninterested in the supporting characters.  Her obsession with Trevor really annoyed me…I found it a little creepy, too.  Seriously, she's married and has a child with Trevor's best friend, why would she be pining for Trevor?  Perhaps in the previous books this bizarre behavior was explained better, I don't know.  Either way, I didn't like it; it made me terribly uncomfortable.

Although I didn't like some of the character interactions, I would still recommend this book.  The plot was interesting enough that I was hooked the entire way through.  The story has good morals (and doesn't preach at all…I was kind of wondering where the "Christian" part of the story was honestly, it was very downplayed) and is a good summer fun read.


*I was given this e-book by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for the review purposes. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

So fun!



I love these shoes.  

And I love rainbows. 

It's a match made in hippie heaven!

(Head on over to Hope by Design to order a pair of your own!)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Profound Thoughts From Our Resident Four Year Old

Setting: Tate climbed into our bed to snuggle us for a few minutes.  I was brushing my teeth.  He collapsed down on our bed with his arms out and a contented sigh. 

Tate:  Aaaaaahhhhhhhh, God made your bed SO COMFORTABLE!  (quietly to himself) How did he do that?


************
Tate: Look at that!  It looks like a shark!
LT Wonderful: Yep, it does look like a shark.
Tate:  Yep.  And sharks are pretty evil.  They bite. 
LT W:  Typically they only bite when they are hungry?
Tate: HUH?  Then who gets to be evil?


*************
Tate: Mom, do you know what gliding is?
Me: Yes.  
Tate:  Well, let me tell you about it more.  Gliding is when you are up in the air and are moving.  But you're not flying because you can't go faster.  You're kind of falling, but it's not really scary because you can steer.  And Mom?  Flying squirrels glide, they don't really fly. 


I don't think I would have been able to explain it that well...[and perhaps he's been watching too much Go Diego Go]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thanks for all the Love!

Thanks so much for all the love and sweet things you guys said in response to our big news yesterday.  We are so excited, but so overwhelmed by what we need to do to prepare.  The good news is that we know this is all in God's timing and we feel great about that!


Someone yesterday mentioned how excited the girls must be about this.  And yes!  They are excited!  In May we talked with them about our plans to come down and the relief was palpable when they realized that they won't have to move away from everything they've ever known and loved.  We aren't sure what the whole situation will look like...and we're OK with that.  With the amount of transition that will be involved, we don't want to walk into any sort of expectations.  The plan for "what happens officially with the girls" is to use our hearts, wise counsel from others and a little bit of flying by the seat of our pants to determine the best course of action for all involved.  I realize that some people may disagree with this plan, but since you won't be there you don't really have a say (I'm using my nicest tone of voice when I say that, I really don't mean to sound like a brat).  

So now that you have the 411 on that, I'm going to change directions on you. 

Yesterday we went to a U-Pick raspberry place.  It was me and the boys.  I thought for sure that Tate and I would have a blast and Theo would find something to do to entertain himself while we picked.  

I was totally wrong. 

It turns out that berry picking with a very concrete, rule following four-year-old isn't fun.  Not at all.  Every berry is either too orange, too yellow or too purple.  Or he can't find berries.  He doesn't want to hold up the bushes because he might get hurt by the prickers and thorns.  But he still wants to win, so he's pretty opinionated about where the berries go. 

Theo, on the other hand, just watched as I explained what we were doing and then set off to work.  He picked every little berry in his reach!  I was so impressed.  When we'd get about 15 yards away from our bags he'd say, "Mom, I go get it.  Be right back." Then he'd go haul our stuff to where we were.  He ate a few berries, but really he didn't nosh on that many.  

So, I think Theo and I will go berry picking again for a date night.  He seemed to enjoy it.  Tate can go to the pet store or something (he recently went there and loved it.  I see a hamster in our future...ugh.  Actually we were thinking a chinchilla because they don't smell and don't require the same amount of clean up but did you know they live for 15 years?  Yeah.  Neither did I.  It's not happening). 

That was our week so far.  It looks like summer may have finally decided to grace us with her presence here in Portland (at least, I hope!)

Have a great one (and happy ALMOST FRIDAY!)

Love, 
Jenni

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The [Revised] Plan

Dear Friends, 

There have been so many things I have wanted to share on the blog lately, but in order to share one of those things, I'll have to divulge other information that I just wasn't ready to let out of the bag yet.  No, that's not right.  I wanted to share, but I wanted it to be perfect and I couldn't figure out how to make it perfect so I kept putting it off.  Finally LT Wonderful and I had a long chat about it and he convinced me that I can't make it perfect, it just has to be shared.  So here it is. 

Many of you are probably aware that over the past two years our hearts have become completely enraptured with the Nicaraguan people.  We went to visit the first time thinking that we could be of service to the orphanage and left with our hearts full but broken.  We went to serve and were instead served more graciously than I have ever served.  With that one trip, our entire lives were changed forever. 

Over the past two years we have gone back to visit several times.  We planned on moving down "eventually" but as we've prayed, fasted, sought wise counsel and searched our hearts we have recently decided that "eventually" should be happening sooner rather than later.  Since our trip down this past May we have been actively pursuing what we believe to be our calling to serve down in Nicaragua as missionaries [I don't feel comfortable using that word yet...will I ever?] to the orphanage and to the Nicaraguan people.  We have nothing to offer but ourselves and our love, so we offer this joyfully without reservation. 

We aren't leaving tomorrow, we are in a process and are unsure of how long it will take to get everything in line.  Our goal (and best guess) is that we'll be transitioning down to Nicaragua sometime next year.  There are several questions that still need to be answered (several more that still need to be asked), logistics to work out and decisions to be made.  But more important than that, there are many prayers that need to be prayed for wisdom, courage and most important pure and steadfast hearts. 

So please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we make this transition.  We are so excited about what is coming, but we're also excited about where we are now!  We don't know how long this season will last, but we're doing our best to be content while we wait for everything to come together.  

Now that the news is officially Facebook/Blog "out", I'll be putting together some more information kinds of posts with where we'll be serving, what we'll be doing, how the adoption falls into this, our budget, school for the boys, etc.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.  We love talking about Nicaragua and want to keep everyone as "in the loop" as we can. 

Peace and love, 
Jenni  

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Why


I've been feeling kind of down lately.  I didn't really realize it until today.  I mean, I knew I was feeling kind of off, but I didn't realize that I was feeling sad until today.  I should have known, yesterday just about everything made me tear up.  I got two pictures from Nicaragua from my girl Heather, and my eyes started leaking as soon as they flashed on the screen.  Seriously!

I rationalized my feelings by saying that I started going to the gym this week, so of course I'm extra tired.  Also, LT Wonderful is out of town on a business trip so I'm a little overwhelmed with being a single parent this week.  I've also been staying up later than I should because, well, I can.  Theo has also been feeling a little off...he's running a low grade fever and chewing on everything in sight.  I suspect he's teething. 

I was driving to the store today with the boys, and the car was uncharacteristically quiet.  Tate broke the silence with a poignant question, and he nailed the issue right on the head. 

"Mom?  When do we get to go back to Nicaragua?  I really miss my hermanos.  I think it's time we see them again."

It hit me like a rock.  I'm missing Nicaragua so much it hurts.  We probably aren't going down until November and it's killing me.  I know it's the right choice, I know the long term benefits outweigh the short term ones, but I really want to be there now.  This will be the longest I've gone without going to visit since our first trip.  And I miss it, I miss them, terribly. 

I did get a phone call today.  It was wonderful.  My eyes may have leaked again afterwards just from the joy of chatting with one of my kids. 

So, please bear with me while I work through some of my missing.  I can't promise it will get better, but LT Wonderful is getting home soon, so that will help. 

There is a silver lining!



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cute Story

One of the things that really bothers me about our bathroom (the master) is that I haven't done anything with it.  It's not our house and I don't plan on doing anything big, but it would be nice to have some basic homey touches.  Like a toothbrush holder.  Or bathmats.  Or both.

I was at Target the other day by myself and I decided to browse the housewares area.  [sidenote: it was delightful to browse without little hands helping!]  I found a cute toothbrush holder in a really pretty red, and I thought about getting a teal blue bathmat to go with it.  I like the combination of red and teal, and we have a really picture hanging in our bedroom of sailboats and water...I love it.  It's got teals, yellow and a dark red in it, so I thought it would work well.  The more I thought about it though, the more I decided that I shouldn't.  The toothbrush holder was only $4.99, and the bathmats were about $15.00, but I would need a couple of them.  I put everything back, thinking that I could find a toothbrush holder at Goodwill and spray paint it a color that I like and it will be the same.  As far as the rug, I have a plan but I don't want to spoil it yet.

So yesterday I went to Goodwill.  I was looking for toothbrush holders and I found one that would work.  I was going to need paint, but it was going to be fine.  And it was $1.99 which was a huge win.  As I looked through one more time, I noticed a really pretty red cup peeking out from behind a vase.  I pulled it out and wouldn't you know?!  It was the EXACT one from Target that I had carried around with me in my cart.

The price?  $0.99.

That, my friends, is a HUGE win!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oh Theo

Grandma: Theo, do you want some cereal for breakfast?


Theo: Ummmmm...(puts index finger on his cheek and tilts his head) how about ice cream?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yesterday


Yesterday was one of those days....an exercise in patience, so to say. 

I got a gym membership over the weekend [$9.95/month.  Seriously!] and had big plans to get up early to go try it out.  I even went to bed early to make it easier to get up.  Didn't work.  I didn't fall asleep until after midnight.  Somehow I managed to get up and get a workout in, but the day went pretty downhill from there. 

I realized I did not buy the quick oats for my oatmeal.  Not a huge deal, but I made a mess of the microwave in the process. 

I went out to the bus and realized that I didn't have a carseat...so no errands. 

I did five loads of laundry and in the process managed to lock myself out of the laundry room via mop handle covering the door.  Since the door leads to the garage [and the garage door opener is in the bud in the garage] I had to use my amazing acrobatic skills to maneuver through the side door of the garage and over all of the crap in the way.  I managed to succeed, somehow. 

Tate decided to wash my ipod. 

I burned a bag of popcorn [the house still smells faintly of burned popcorn].

I feel like I worked all day long and at the end I had nothing to show for it.  The biggest problem though, wasn't that stuff kept happening, I just couldn't get a hold on my attitude.  This made me feel like an even bigger failure.  And in the end it all worked out OK. 

LT Wonderful ran my errands for me. 

LT Wonderful fixed my ipod [well, him and the oven]. 

LT Wonderful made dinner. 

Do you see a pattern here...?

Yeah, he lived up to his name yesterday. 

I made sure to get a good amount of sleep last night so I can tackle today with a great attitude.  LT Wonderful is gone for the next three days so it's important that I maintain a good attitude. 

So, here's where you come in.  If you have something that you think might make me laugh, send it along in the comments here!  I'll really appreciate it!

Peace and love, 
Jenni 


Monday, July 18, 2011

My thoughts on Love and War



I have tried to be very open about how rough the past year was on our marriage.  Being separated for work, living in polar opposite parts of the world, having two young children…the stressors were numerous.  But those reasons really don't address the crux of the matter.  The real problem was that we stopped making our marriage a priority and allowed all of those things (and many of them were wonderful things) to take precedence. 

So about a year ago we decided to fight for our marriage.  In order to make our marriage a priority we focused on quality time together, surrounding ourselves with people that also make marriage a priority (and hold us accountable), and reading books and taking seminars that will strengthen our marriage.  

When I saw that Love and War by John and Stasi Eldridge was available from Waterbrook Multnomah through their Blogging for Books program, I was thrilled!  I had heard great things about the book from several people so I was ready to start reading it as soon as it came in the mail.  I was not disappointed.  I really enjoyed the two perspectives of the book, it made a lot of sense to me to have the husband and wife team work together on a book. 

I think the most important point of the book is that we can't look to our spouse to heal us, only God can do that.  Putting unrealistic expectations on our spouse causes so many problems!

The bottom line is that a good marriage is work.  But it's worth it to keep going to experience healing and restoration.