Monday, December 28, 2009

Out of the mouth of babes...

So we arrive at Great Wolf Lodge yesterday and I realize that I left my camera at home. I was feeling a little down about it when Abby Sue said, "Oh, that's okay mom. We can just be like Mary and treasure all these things in our heart."

She gets it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Try, Try, Again

We took them ice skating today. The little girl stayed home, safe, with Poppa & Gramma. We get to the rink, it's crowded. We wait in line for a half of an hour just to get in. The kids are patient...the parents aren't. Rentals downstairs..we follow the signs and find ourselves in a chaotic mess of shoes, blades, and feet...everywhere. We ask for our sizes...wrong, try again, and again, and again. There...the kids and Mommy are set...but Daddy is not. You just can't fit size 16 feet in to size 15 hockey skates. Still, he puts on a brave face and we get our things together and head for the rink. Wait...where are Abby Sue's sneakers? They were just here...we look under every bench and one is helpful...they are just annoyed. Mommy is getting annoyed too. Breathe Jenn, breathe. There they are! Okay, just a few set backs, but now we are ready. Hold on... we need a locker..they only take change..can't get change gotta go upstairs for that. But wait...the purse won't fit in the locker...should we skate with it? Gonna have to. Please don't fall Jenn, you'll smash your camera to bits.(Can't put it into the locker because it costs 75 cents every time you go in and out of it). Breathe again...lets just get on the ice! Okay here we go....BAM! Two kids down..Mommy still standing, Daddy wincing in pain. Now we are coaching them and they are getting it...then, what's that? Zamboni time? We just got on the ice! Are you kidding me!? Breathe...get the kids off the ice. BAM>>BAM...we're okay..let's find a seat. The ice cleaner is fun to watch right? Where did all these rude teenagers come from..they are sprawled everywhere on there cell where to sit...just dirty looks. Merry Christmas to you too!...breathe Jenn. Abby Sue is thirsty. Really thirsty...gotta get a drink. Daddy has a dollar. The dehydrated 8 year old goes to get a drink from the "venting" machine. They are a dollar fifty..and it won't give us our dollar back. No one can help us. After all, "We don't take care of those machines.." they say.." you have to go to the customer service center here in the mall for that.(inhale..exhale)" you just have a drinking fountain? No answers on that one. Big sister is gonna have to just tough this one out. She chokes back the tears, the Zamboni has worked its magic, time to get skatin'. 5 more minutes of gliding and falling, smiles...but wait...Daddy's toes are revolting...he takes my big purple purse and heads off the ice. One down. The three of us skate to the middle. I'm halfway decent enough to coach them a little. Falling less...skating more...faster, more confident..SLAM! Ben meets ice face first. I heard it. Scoop up the boy...get off the ice..please Lord...don't let him have a broken tooth, concussion, etc. He's in pain. Big Sister is freaked, Mommy is done breathing...MEDIC! We better go...I can't handle head injuries. "No....I want to still skate!" says the brave boy with the bloody face. "What!?..really? You want to keep skating?" Daddy gives us all a hug...he's smiling again now that his feet are free. We are back on the ice. They love it. They don't want to leave. They can't wait to skate again. And me? I would've given up hours the first sign of trouble...written off the day...thrown in the towel. Not these kids. Perseverance. Determination. Lesson learned.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Minor Chords

Some days feel like minor chords. An unexpected, reflective moment that gives you that "I think I might cry" feeling. We are so confused about the future right now. Of course we can't know what is ahead, we can only pray for wisdom when the time comes to make a decision, but Aaron and I are both feeling the temptation to get anxious.
A couple nights ago we were up most of the night talking, going back and forth about Boston. Reality is hitting us hard these days. We can't go anywhere without feeling a bit depressed over the possibilities of, friends, church, school, beautiful Oregon. I especially have been struggling with a future that will include isolation & loneliness. I know this sounds depressing but I have lived far away before and to be's stinkin' hard! I want to put on the brave face but all I hear is those minor chords bringing me to tears. Still, I know that a song without minors is predictable and honestly, boring. So...

Jesus, I ask for peace...I pray for courage....and I thank You with all my life for making our song into a symphony praise. Amen.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Tree Hunt

We bundle them up and put on their muck boots, pile into the truck and head up the winding road to Reinhart Tree Farm . It's Christmas tree hunting time. The winter sky glows blurry orange as we set out to find our perfect tree. Abby Sue wants the "happiest" one, Ben wants the "lonliest", and Zibby loves them all. It's quiet, only a few families search around us. We are on top of the world. And then...through the hazy cold, Daddy spots her...our Christmas tree. Happy, lonely, and loveable. All three kids gather round and give her the thumbs up. We stop by the barn for cookies and cider...marvel, once again, at the "singing tree", visit with friends, and head back down the hill with our tree in tow.

Silverton...I love you.

Silverton Tree Lighting

Zibby & Daddy

Abby Sue & Ben watching the firefighter sprinkle pixie dust on the tree

Gramma & Sue Bee

Ben and his best buddy, Colby

Santa usually lights the tree from the top of the fire truck ladder but word on the street is that our Silverton Santa had a little too much "holiday cheer" to be up that high. The kids didn't really notice and the magic is still alive and well in their little hearts.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,
What I want for Christmas is a eletrice scooter, the Littlest Pet Shop Adopshion Senter, a paper fashion doll set, and most of all I want a trip for five to Morsirri. XO XO


p.s. If it's too much just get the trip to Morsirri.

note: Morsirri=Missouri...where Uncle Lorn, Auntie Dory, Barrett & Audrey live.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


As I was struggling with a light cover today I expressed my frustration out loud to the kids, who anxiously waited for me to change the light bulb....,"Mom calm down" Ben says, "Just remember, lefty loosey, righty tighty!" Ahhhh...thanks for the reminder Benji! End result: Just wait for Daddy to get home and play in the dark WITH the kids :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What we do for beauty

Aaron and I decided to surprise Abby Sue this weekend and let her (finally) get her ears pierced (as part of her christmas present). Even though she is already an 8 year old in third grade, it was still hard for me to consent. I think the biggest reason for me had to with the fact that (in my opinion) she happens to have perfect ears. Seriously, both she and her sister have the most darling little ears you'll ever see. Their ears are so pretty...why punch a hole through them? But...vanity and girlhood prevails and to Abby Sue's delight she was inducted into the "ears pierced" club yesterday. The best part was when the first hole went in the gun actually got a bit stuck in her ear, so it hurt more than usual. "Oooo, oo,, let me take a breather here before you do the other one if you don't mind!" Abby Sue responded. What we do for beauty is beyond me sometimes...still I have to admit her perfect ears do look spectacular. (Pictures coming soon!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving Pics

The Tree of Life

A little bit of Abby Sue's artwork.

Something to Treasure

From the "What I am Thankful For" bulletin board in Abby Sue's classroom.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lessons Learned So Far

"If home is where the heart is, than mine is where you is."

3rd Grade Homework can really pile up when you are out with the flu."One Eyed, One Horned, Flying Purple People Eaters" are very good at "gettin' down". When you are only 2 years old it's okay to have an imaginary friend named "Huebert" and draw pictures of him all day long. And when you aren't feeling so good, nothing cheers you up like snuggling with daddy and your new kitten.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Giving Thanks

Starting with the annual Evergreen Thanksgiving Feast (making costumes for my 2 little Indians), decorating a "Thanksgiving Tree" (complements of my MOPS group), getting the house ready for the family dinner, the Turkey competition (it was a tie again), a Thanksgiving Carnival (another one of Abby Sue's fun ideas that ended up being a hit), tables laden with yummy food, love all around, Uncle Terry being with us, Grampa Papo's blessing, the Crazy Cousin Thanksgiving Sleepover (incomplete without our Barrett & Audrey), Daddy's pancake breakfast, and a lazy 3 day weekend...just too many blessings to count, we give You thanks dear Jesus!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I am so excited to celebrate Advent as a family this year. Our Jesse Tree Advent candle holder came in the mail yesterday just in time to prepare for next Sunday. I have always wanted to do this as a family since it was a big part of Aaron's childhood growing up in the Catholic church. Aaron's dad was an ordained Priest before he married and still faithfully serves in the Catholic church. He is a very special man whom I have come to love and respect dearly. It is because of Paul's faith that Aaron came to know and love Christ, those seeds that were planted in his heart as a young Catholic altar boy grew into a desire to seek God and serve Him with all of his life. That is why I felt that advent was a way to kind of "bridge the gap", so to speak, and share with our children the beauty of symbols and scripture that point to Christ. The Jesse Tree Advent wreath tells the story of His lineage through symbols and readings from Scripture, one for each day of Advent. The Advent season begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas up until Christmas Eve. Each day in Advent, often at the main meal, the candles are lit. Each lighting is accompanied by a blessing, scripture reading and the singing of a verse from "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." (My favorite Christmas hymn!) A different member of the family, starting with the father, leads the ceremony and lights the candles each evening.
I think this will be a very special way to help us as a family keep the focus on Jesus throughout the busy season.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Book Talk"

Today in Abby Sue's class each student (3rd-5th grade) had to give a 5-8 minute speech that they composed on an animal of their choice. Abby has been working on her report, about Kittens, for 2 weeks and asked me today if I could bring Marshmallow to school for her speech. Mrs Potter, her teacher, also thought that would be a fun idea. So...I had the opportunity today to watch my daughter give her "Book Talk". I think it might have been one of the most hilarious reports I have ever heard! I have to say I struggled to compose myself, tears streaming down my face (and Mrs. Potters), but at the same time I was beaming with pride over my creative, confident, brilliant little girl.

This is a copy of her "Book Talk"..word for word


I first want to start with how cats are born. Now, first of all, what dose the female cat do? (Here she asked the class to raise their hands if they knew the answer! One boy said, "They get married?" and Abby agrees!) Right! They mate with a male cat. The male cat has to chase away a lot of other males before the female has kittens. Now! I have a special gest today, and her name is Marshmelo. Now she is not coming up because she is taking a cat nap. So, on the count of three, I want you guys to say, "Wake up Marshmelo!" (The class responds and up pops our kitten snuggled in Abby's arms.) Now, she is going to tell us how she was born. (This is when Abby starts actually asking the kitten a question and then has Marshmallow answer it in a kind of kitten voice!) Now, tell us Marshmelo. How was it like to be born? "Well, it felt good and wonderful!" Can you give us some facts about it? "Shure. Now, I could not see. I could hear, but not very well. But in two weeks, my eyes were open, so I can finaly know were I'm going. I could hear better too." Well, that is great Marshmelo! Lets all give Marshmelo a round of aplose. (Here, she puts the kitten down to roam around the classroom, much to the joy of every student, then continues) Now, as I was saying, kittens play with there mother's tail. This is when they are four weeks old. Kittens love to play with things that move. The kittens are still nursing, but they are also starting to eat solid food. Sometimes, kittens play fight, but it dosen't hurt. When kittens see a frog, they get themselves bigger by puffing themselves up. Here comes little Marshmelo! Now, watch her how she plays. Isint that cute! Kittens love to play. Feel her soft fur. Did you know that when they are ten weeks old, they are very curious? They love to climb trees. Climbing up was easy, but it will be harder to climb down. Kittens and cats almost always land on thier feet. This is because they can turn around in the air. Soon, they are about a year old! The life cicle of a cat was very exiding. The circle of life goes around and around. Now you know how kittens turn into a grown up cat. Thank you! (She ends with making sure everyone had a chance to pet the kitten and has Marshmallow wave bye-bye.)

I pray that Abby Sue (who prefers to go by "Abigail" these days) continues to grow in her gifts of creativity, confidence, and communication. I know that God has a very special plan for this unique little girl! I love her to bits!

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Smile

After about 25 years of continually messed up teeth and mouth pain I finally have a new smile! I'm just so thankful to have this chapter of life complete. I was 7 when I broke my front tooth, 10 when I broke the one next to, over the years it has been bondings, infections, crowns, surgeries, flippers ( don't ask!), 4 failed bone grafts, etc. But today it is all done and I just can't stop smiling! YAY!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It's looking more and more like Boston will be our new home. Aaron has been there all week and told me today that he has been offered the teaching position once it becomes available in January or early February. Many things are still up in the air but we are both feeling in our hearts that God has an adventure ahead for our family, that we need to step out in faith, and trust Him. We also found out that we will have to sell our sweet little house here to afford a mortgage there, something about the fact that the company will help us with a mortgage but not if we have two of them. I understand. It's still sad though. We really have put so much love into fixing this place up and filled it with countless precious memories, ones that I will hold in my heart always, and that will go with us wherever God leads. So...we'll see what happens, I love God's surprises...they keep my faith growing and protect me from getting a little too comfortable here.

This is a picture that I took about three years ago when I visited the Boston area for the first time...Hydrangea's in Martha's Vineyard. At least the flowers are beautiful there!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Here is something that I made recently. It's the first one I have done to keep. I have made others for friends, especially new babies. I came across this print of a Van Gogh sketch. I love nests and eggs. They represent home, family, and faith to me on so many levels. For this, I used the Van Gogh print and adorned his rendering of an empty nest to one full of 3 little blue speckled eggs. On the right I wrote our children's names and birthdate. On the upper left is a heart that holds our initials, A & J, and our wedding date. On the bottom I wrote my favorite scripture about entrusting our homes to the care of Christ found in Psalm 84:3. I like how it turned out and hope to make more for family and friends in the future. I put mine in the middle of a wreath in our living room just above my "quiet time" chair.

Friday, November 6, 2009


They (The Kuenzi family) named her Marshmallow (she looks like a burnt one). She came from a farm. Her mother was hit by a car. She needed a home. The kids fell in love. Dot (our tabby) has not. We call her "Mel". I think she's a keeper.


One of the many blessings of living in this old house is our grape vines. On both sides of our yard we have fruitful old vines that are full of grapes in the fall. Another blessing is our sweet neighbor, Miss Gladys, who has been a widow for over 25 years, had 6 children, and has lived in her little white house since the early 1940's.
A few years ago, Miss Gladys, had a garage sale. I, of course, was more than excited to see what treasures she would be letting go of. I came back across the street that day with a baby doll cradle, play tea set, old recipe book, canning pot, and the juicer (pictured above). She told me that it was perfect for juicing grapes with, which I had a lot of! The first year I attempted to make grape juice, Aaron helped me, and we both ended up burning our hands and covering the kitchen floor with the sticky, boiling juice. Trial and error has helped me to become much more efficient and this year the juice was made without any catastrophe. I love the way each bottle of juice is a different shade of pink to purple. There isn't a room in the house can escape the sweet earthy smell of the steaming grapes.
The jars are now resting peacefully up on the high shelf above the stove. Sometimes, I find myself looking up and admiring them with pride. This year I hope to make some grape jelly out of the juice. I'll add that to my "good ideas for christmas gifts" list. For now, though, I think I 'll just let them adorn my kitchen with their beauty :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Two Year Old Theology

After Zibby got up from bed this morning, she pointed to the Nativity snow globe way up high on her dresser and said, "I want God!" I'm hoping that she is referring to baby Jesus and not the globe itself!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The best parts of life for me lately have been when everyone is happy and enjoying each other for more than five minutes. That is when I feel like God has pushed the "pause" button and I can step back for just a moment, catch my breath and sigh with thanks. Being a wife and a mom is such a humbling job. If I don't choose to get on my knees in prayer, God has all sorts of ways of getting me there..(to tie shoes, cleaning up anything & everything that finds itself on the floor, looking for a lost blankie, wiping noses, washing little bodies, etc.) I have been overwhelmed with the fact that 4 lives depend so much on me. Sometimes I just want some peace and quiet..time to myself. The best part is knowing that my Maker knows my needs, my weaknesses, and all of the other junk that comes along with being me. When I trust Him to provide...(especially these days), a little reprieve, He so faithfully does.

Dear Jesus, for those who depend on me to take care of them I pray that they may find in my actions and words a peaceful dependence on that I don't fail...I need You to be my Keeper. Amen.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I love the way God made Zibby. Especially her eyebrows. I know it's a funny little thing to admire but to me they are precious. With them she shows her life...excitement, sorrow, frustration, fear, peace, and endearment. I love the way they match her coppery hair. And when the sun is on her face, I love the way they sparkle, almost as if the Lord sprinkled her all over with gold. I often find myself just sitting, admiring, and marveling that such a beautiful person was formed in me. Thank you Jesus for our Elizabeth Jane...if I feel such love for her, Yours is unfathomable...keep this in her heart always. Amen.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More like dessert granola...

Aaron is leaving for our church men's retreat this weekend so I decided to make him and my dad something special to snack on during the drive over the coastal range. Usually I make cookies but feel a bit burned out on that, so I decided to search the internet for a granola recipe. I came across this one and thought I'd share it. It's a keeper for any chocolate fan...(like my sweetheart is!) I'm thinking it would make fun christmas gifts could get really creative with the packaging :)

French Chocolate Granola:

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans or almonds
1/2 coconut (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/2 cup or more finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 300 F

Stir together dry ingredients.
Heat honey and oil over medium heat.
Pour honey mixture over granola and stir well.
Spread granola out evenly on an edged cookie sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway between, until golden brown.
Take from oven, stir again to keep from sticking together, cool.
After granola is cooled, pour into bowl and mix in chocolate.
Store in air tight container.


Monday, October 19, 2009

A little bit of life...

Last night after we tucked Zibby in we noticed she was holding a Barbie very close to her heart, making sure the barbie could peek just out of the covers, she snuggled the doll and said, "Zibby pray." This was her prayer: "Tank yoo geezus for dis wunerfool, wunerfool Baarbee, in geezus name..Amen!"

Life is so sweet in the little things.

Aaron giving Benji a haircut on the back porch.

Abby Sue and her friend Abbi Eckelman (who Zibby just calls "Eckelman") making their own Apple Cider stand on a Sunday afternoon to raise money for the kids at the mission in Mexico who need glasses.

Memories that make you feel truly alive.

Tank Yoo Geezus!

Friday, October 16, 2009


I like the word "Autumn". She is the only season with two names, Fall and Autumn. I think Autumn fits her best. She's warm and cool, she's radiant and solemn, peaceful, mysterious, and yielding.
I feel the need to store things up in Autumn. Dad gave me a bunch of left over cabbage and carrots from our Oktoberfest booth so I decided to make my own version of sauerkraut. I cooked it all down in a brine of apple cider vinegar and broth then added some spices and canned it. I love how it turned out. It looks so pretty in the jar I almost don't want to use it. I'm sure we will though. It goes great with sausages or in soups. Not to mention the "cleansing" qualities. :)
Yesterday I went along with Ben's class to Bauman Farms. It was the perfect Autumn morning...foggy, crisp, and vibrant with color. It was so much fun riding in the tractor and tromping through the muddy pumpkin patch filled with stalks of indian corn. After we watched the cider being made I noticed Ben looked a little upset so I asked him what was wrong. "They pretty much just murdered the apples in there Mom" said my 6 year old son. I tried not to laugh and encouraged him that apples look forward to becoming apple cider. It made me think again on the fact that Ben has such compassion...even for apples! I wonder how God will use that one day.
Last night was our annual Pie Social at school. It's always a lot of fun visiting with the other families that have become such good friends. I couldn't help but feel a little sentimental, wondering if we will be here next year to enjoy it. I soaked in everything I love about's quirky little schoolhouse building, the playground surrounded by rolling farmland, the amazing teachers, and dear friends that our kids have made. It is a very special place and one I thank God for daily.
Thank you Lord for creating Autumn and making this place for us to savor it in.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dot Can Swim

So today I was "cleaning" our very large cast iron bathtub...I say the word "cleaning" lightly, because I came up with an easy way to clean the tub and shower curtain at the same time by filling the tub up with water and bleach then let the bottom of the curtain (where it really is the yuckiest) soak for the day. Even though this method is truly lazy I still feel kind of ingenious for coming up with it.
Well, this morning I filled up the tub, poured in the bleach, and let it get clean on it's own. Unfortunately I forgot that our cat, Dot, has been in the habit lately of jumping into the tub to get a drink from the leaky faucet. So, as I'm sure you've guessed by now, a few minutes after I filled the tub I hear a loud splashing coming from the bathroom. Zibby was taking her nap, so all at once I realized...poor Dot! I ran to the bathroom and found the poor cat...skinny, soaked, and shocked to say the least!
I just wish I could've actually seen her swimming in the that would've been a sight! I wonder if her fur will be a little lighter now?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Momma's Dress

Before Zibby was born my grandma gave me a few dresses that were once hers, her mothers, and one that my mom wore when she as a toddler. Zibby has always called my mom, "Momma". The other day she saw Momma's sweet little red polka dotted dress hanging in her closet and said..."I wear dis one!" I almost objected and then thought to myself, "Hey, why not, it's now or never with the rate she's growing." I'm so glad I put it on fit just right. She toddled around in it all morning, smiling, and twirling. I even took her to the grocery store in it. An older woman commented, "Oh, look, a little girl dressed up like a little girl!" I think I knew what she meant. As I watched Zibby running up and down the aisles I could imagine my mom wearing the same dress all those years ago, following my grandma along, looking like a "little girl" too. I guess there's just something about a little girl in a pretty just fits.

Monday, October 5, 2009