Program Interruption

Monday, August 31, 2009 6 Comments A+ a-

I'm interrupting our regularly scheduled programming for a quick bragging session. I borrowed these pictures from Sarah, they are from Sawyer's 1st birthday party. I just fell in love with my kids all over again.

She's starting preschool this morning. Her backpack sits by the door, and she's so excited for this new adventure.

I can almost hear Hudson's laughter through this picture. He so enjoyed playing with another boy for a change.

And my precious, littlest one. She is such a joy to our family!
She is pure sugar, that one.

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30 Years - Year 23

Sunday, August 30, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

Jon and I settled in married life pretty easily. We had our ups and downs, learned some very valuable lessons about fighting fair, but overall, it wasn’t nearly as hard as we’d feared it would be. I think knowing each other for so long before we married allowed for such an easy transition. I knew him better than I knew myself at times.

So it was no surprise to Jon when I bemoaned the fact that I would miss Thursday night TV with the sisters. It had become a tradition to sit down together and watch Friends, all four of us together. Jon casually mentioned one week that I should invite them over one Thursday for a Friends viewing. Little did he know the tradition this would start.

Christine, Allison, and Courtney started coming over every Thursday night after that. Then pretty soon Christine started asking if Caleb could start coming over, then it was one of Caleb’s friends, and then Jon wanted to invite one of his friends over too. Before we knew it, we had a steady Thursday night group congregating at our house every Thursday night. This group consisted of Jon and I, the three sisters, Caleb, Jeremy, Peter, Annie, and Drew. There were others who joined on occasion, but this was the core group.

Oh, those nights were hysterical! Jeremy and Peter had such an amazing chemistry together. Just one of those duos who knew exactly how to play off the other, and resulting in many, many laughs! In fact, I can remember on more than one occasion, waking on a Friday morning with my abs just aching from the laughs the night before. I think the best part was the running commentary between the guys while watching Most Extreme Sports on Spike TV.

This tradition carried on into well over the first two years of our marriage. We could always expect a steady stream of people walking through our front door every Thursday night. The memories of those years make me smile.

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30 Years - Year 22

Saturday, August 29, 2009 0 Comments A+ a-

I was pleasantly surprised to find this memory sitting in my inbox and was instantly taken back seven years ago and all preparations of our wedding.

This is from Kara, a woman who has become very dear to my heart! She married Jon's cousin, Ben, approximately six weeks after we did. We were (and still are, for now) the only two female cousins (by proxy) in a family of all male grandsons.

Jenn,

I'll never forget that morning we met at Einstein Brothers Bagels shortly before you got married..it was the last time we would meet before you became a Mrs. and I remember listening to you giddily chat about last-minute wedding details all while sipping coffee and eating bagels together..it was a surreal meeting because in two short months I, too was getting married--to the cousin of the man you were marrying!!

It was a fun time in life and we were on a similar journey..there were cut-out's from magazines, scribbled vendor's phone numbers on scraps of random paper, and an abundance of coffee dates to compare and contrast our latest findings with each other..and now here we are..seven years later..still madly in love with those [shared last name] boys..and four beautiful kids between the two of us to show for..life is good :)

Hope it's the best birthday ever!! Happy 30th!!

Love, Kara

Kara, thank you! What a great trip down memory lane! I'm also reminded of your bridal shower that I attended about a week after I returned from our honeymoon. Two brides, one with stars in her eyes from wedded bliss, and the other with stars in her eyes from anticipation. It has been such a joy to travel this journey with you!

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30 Years - Year 21

Friday, August 28, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

Ahh, yes, twenty-one. For the most part, twenty-one was quite a good year!

I celebrated my 21st birthday with a baseball game with my dad, had my first beer in a ballpark, and then later went out to dinner with my family and enjoyed a raspberry margarita. It was a pretty tame celebration, all in all.

I got engaged during my 21st year, whereby (I’ll admit it)I turned into a bit of a Bridezilla. (How many times did I kick you out of the wedding, Courtney?!)

But oh, who can forget the day they found THE dress?! The dress they just knew they’d walk down the aisle and marry their best friend in… I know I won’t.

The first weekend after Jon and I had gotten engaged, my sisters, a couple of friends, Mom, and Grandma Nancy went to one of the only local bridal shops to try on dresses. I had a blast, trying on some of the most expensive gowns in the store. I thought I’d wanted a specific designer, but once I’d tried on her gowns, I knew they weren’t for me. They were SO heavy!

So I quickly changed my expectations. I just wanted the big, white skirt… the bigger, the better.

After checking out a couple of local shops, we decided to make a day of it in Denver. I had it all mapped out… which shops we’d go to, where we would go for lunch, I was fired up! The same group accompanied me on this trip and we stopped in a little shop in Aurora.

We zipped through the gowns, pulling some off the racks to try on. I had about four to five gowns and was getting ready to try them on, when Courtney rushed in with another dress. I looked at it and dismissed it with a single glance. But she made me try it on anyway. (She’s kind of pushy, even at 15 years old.) I went through all the others and only Courtney’s was left.

I slipped it on over my body and liked it, but the skirt wasn’t big enough. One of the consultants overheard me and promptly brought in the biggest, puffiest slip they had. So I switched slips and retried on Courtney’s dress. It was perfect! The bodice fit perfectly, it was the perfect size skirt, I just fell in love. I could feel the tears stinging my eyes, and I locked eyes with Mom in the mirror, who was also shedding tears by this point. I just knew this was the dress I was going to become Jon’s wife in.

Grandma made me go to other bridal stores to try on other dresses. “Just to be sure,” she said. I really liked a sheath dress at another store, but it didn’t even come close to my dress at the other store. That was THE dress!
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30 Years - Year 20

Thursday, August 27, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

Moving on to something a little more happy, a little more carefree.

Allison came home after three months of intense therapy at Remuda Ranch, about a month after I turned 20 years old. One of the stipulations of her release was that our family receive counseling twice a month for a year; we went for two years.

I’m not sure if it was the counselor at Remuda Ranch, or our personal counselor that suggested a vacation, but whoever it was, God bless them! Up until now, our vacations consisted of days-long drives to our destination, usually Indiana or Arizona to see family or Mount Rushmore. But after the year we’d had, I guess Mom and Dad thought it was high-time for a luxurious vacation.

We took a harrowing plane ride to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The plane was small, we hit air pockets, and had turbulence; you name it, we had it. All I remember is squeezing my eyes shut and clutching my arm rests until we landed. (Truth be told, I don’t even remember who I was sitting next to; Christine, Allison, or Courtney, do you remember?) Regardless, I was terrified.

But once we were settled into our condo on the beach, I couldn’t have cared less about the plane ride there.

It was gorgeous! A two-bedroom condo, complete with a living room, dining room, full kitchen, and a patio that overlooked the pool and beach. It was incredibly indulgent, but we felt like it was a much deserved vacation!!

We swam in the pool and in the ocean. We took a boat out into deeper waters for snorkeling. We ate at restaurants; one night at a seaside restaurant where you could barely hear each other over the sound of the crashing waves. Mom made a scrumptious meal for us one night, which we ate out on the patio. Unfortunately, this was the night that I was incredibly sunburned and could barely move. Christine and I toasted Allison’s health with margaritas. Allison and Courtney had their hair braided by local women.

It was an amazing trip! And one I won’t soon forget!
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30 Years - Year 19

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

My 19th year was one of the hardest years of my life. I learned many hard, but extremely valuable, lessons that year. Some of them were at the expense of others, some were at the expense of my own ideals and convictions. Truthfully, it was one of the ugliest years of my life. But that year is “beauty from ashes” personified, and only God can receive the glory.

Out of respect for family members, Jon, and even for myself, I won’t go into many details. I’m more than willing to share my story, so if you’d like to know, just ask.

But I will share one of the deepest, most painful memories from that year.

I’ve mentioned my sister’s struggle with anorexia on here before; Alli was admitted to Children’s Hospital on her 15th birthday. We were able to wish her a happy birthday before Mom and Dad took her to Denver for an evaluation. I don’t think we expected her to be admitted so fast, but the doctors were worried.

I didn’t realize how bad it was until Mom and Dad took us to visit her for the first time.

It was a surreal feeling walking down the hallway to her room; I kept wondering how it got this far over and over in my mind. When we walked into her room, there she sat, pretty lifeless and a little gray around the edges. She was tiny, oh so tiny! She barely took up any space on the bed and she seemed happy to see us, but was still pretty emotionless.

It was then that I noticed the cart next to her bed, the heart paddles hanging from the side. I glanced sharply at Mom, shock evident all over my face. She brought her finger to her mouth in a “shh” gesture, and mouthed the word “later”. Why would that possibly be in her room, unless they needed to use it?! Mom later confirmed to me that yes, the doctors were worried that her heart could give out at any time and that was the need for the heart defibrillator by her bed.

We put on a brave face for the rest of the visit. Joking with Alli, trying to get her to eat a snack, trying to get a smile out of her, pretending that it was normal to be sitting around a hospital room with a very sick sister. I managed to keep my composure throughout the visit, but I could feel the panic rising.

I made it to the elevator. And that’s when I lost it. Sobbing, I leaned against the elevator wall. The pain was so great! How on earth did this possibly happen? How could my little sister be fighting for her life? And most importantly, why couldn’t I do anything to take away this fight for her? I begged and pleaded with God to let me take on the fight instead; I was willing to do anything that would bring her back to us healthy and whole. You can’t imagine the guilt I felt, as the big sister, I felt this was something I should be able to fix.

It was a long road for Alli, for my parents, for our family. It was hard; harder than anything else I’ve been through so far in this life. But amazing things happened through Alli’s struggle, it brought our family to a different path, to leave an amazing legacy for all of us. A new heritage!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." –Jeremiah 29:11

"To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of JOY for mourning..." –Isaiah 61:3


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30 Years - Year 18

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

My eighteenth year; the smell of independence was in the air.

I was never a great student by any means. I rarely studied for tests, or put much effort into papers; I did the bare minimum to get passing grades. Trust me, not my finest moments but I’m being real here. So I knew that if I had any hope of getting into college, I needed to apply early! I was accepted into five state colleges; Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

Based on the brochures, I was leaning towards Kansas. They had a beautiful campus and best of all, it was out-of-state!! But Dad wanted me to visit Wyoming and I did it to indulge him. Surprisingly, I fell in love with the campus. It was an old campus, but beautiful! My decision was made. Laramie, Wyoming was it!

I filled out the appropriate paperwork for loans, grants, and student aid. I submitted my requests for a roommate, checking off my interests and habits, and looked forward to opening anything with University of Wyoming return address on it. I was pumped!

Then the weekend of freshman orientation came.

Mom and I made the hour and a half trip together. I was idealistic and optimistic, so full of dreams for my college career. I got to meet with a Journalism advisor; I registered for my classes; met a wonderful girl and her parents, and managed to convince the school to put us together as roommates. We got to eat on campus, spend the night on campus, and meet with older students as they talked about what to expect during our first year away from home. It was a great weekend and made me even more excited for the semester to start!

Our last appointment for the weekend was with the financial aid office and it was in that office that I received the crushing news that I didn’t have enough money/aid for the year. It was devastating, and I left their office in tears. Being the oldest child, we had no idea how student loans worked, nor that I could apply for more loans. We simple had no idea what to do; we thought we were out of options.

It was a defining moment in my life. And with that, I felt that I had no choice but to stay home and go to our local community college instead.

Yes, it was incredibly disappointing at the time, devastating really. But looking back on that time, and seeing how my life has developed, I am so thankful! If I had ended up at the college, I have no doubt that Jon and I wouldn’t have made it. We would not be married, we would not have three beautiful children, and truthfully, my life is so much fuller than the one I had imagined eleven years ago.
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30 Years - Year 17

Monday, August 24, 2009 2 Comments A+ a-

From Christine, the sister whom I shared a room with for 19 of my 29 years, the sister with whom I share the most memories. Another tear-jerker!

Jenn,

I always remember being close to you as a child, but I remember our relationship grew from being close sisters to best friends in High School. I'll always remember the first time I went to young life with you. It was the first time I remember being a little jealous and wanting to be just like you. The girls in my class thought you were really cool and the guys thought you were hot. :)

I remember the summer before my sophomore year our family started looking for a new church. That's when we ended up at Faith. I remember how much you and I liked the youth group and how much we liked the guys in the youth group. :) I remember the first time you told me that you had a thing for Jon. At first I didn't get it. He was nothing that I had always pictured for you. The moment I saw the two of you interact though, I knew that the attraction was mutual. Suddenly, it made sense. You were perfect for eachother right from the start. Who knew that we would both end up marrying guys from that youth group?! Mostly I remember our time together with that youth group. I remember Wednesday nights, double dates, summer nights, weekend group outings, going to Prom together, etc.

I also remember our bedroom and how we shared that bedroom for so many years. In our high school days we would stay up late at night talking. We would talk about school, boys, other girls, anything. We would talk about really light subjects and not so light subjects.

I also have many memories of you and I at Rocky. It was so comforting to have a sister at school with me. You were the first person I wanted to talk to anytime something exciting was happening in my life. I remember riding to school with you in Kim's car every morning and blasting the music as loud as we wanted and singing along.

I also remember how many times you came to my defense any time a friend or boyfriend had hurt me. You were always good at playing the protective role.

Jenn, as I look back at these many many high school memories of you, I smile and I cry at the same time. It was such a fun and great time in our lives, I just love each memory and each moment. It was literally the time of our lives. I cry though because I realize how fast time is flying. Can you believe it's already been 10+ years since then? We've come such a long way. I'm so proud to call you my sister. I still look up to you and follow your lead. You are a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, and sister. Oh yeah, and I still think you're really cool. ;)

Happy 30th Jenn. I love you and I don't know what I'd do without you.

Love,Chris

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30 Years - Year 16

Monday, August 24, 2009 0 Comments A+ a-

Ahhh, sweet sixteen, and all the turbulent emotions and feelings that come with it! I could mention the sweet-sixteen party that I had at a neighborhood park. (That was a blast!) I could talk about my first year of high school and all the teasing I received in yearbook as one of the two sophomores. I could talk about awkwardness of high school dances. I worked my first job at Orange Julius, received my first kiss just two months prior to my 17th birthday, and had a horrific perm throughout that whole year.

But one of my favorite memories was of the youth group summer camp the summer I was 16 years old. We went to Summer Jam, which was held on a college campus. I had invited a friend, yes, Kim, to come with me and proceeded to ignore her, and my other friends, during the entire camp. Of course a boy was involved. The first boyfriend.

But what really stands out from this trip, is Jamie and Jon. Yes, that’s my hubby, Jon, but not at that time.

At that time, Jamie had a tremendous “thing” for Jon and all she could talk about was him. I loved listening to her go on and on about him. It was obvious he was a special guy! Every time he walked by us, there was giggling and pointing. Of course, he just turned on that mega-watt smile and would disappear with his friends.

Sure enough, Jamie and Jon started dating. It ended soon before my family started going to his church. And I couldn’t stop thinking about the things Jamie had admired in him...

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30 Years - Year 15

Friday, August 21, 2009 2 Comments A+ a-

Year 15. The year I got to start driving!!

I had it, the small, plastic card. It was hot off the press and placed just so in my new wallet. I kept whipping it open to take a look at my smiling face. It was so surreal, knowing that the little card gave me permission to drive!

The only problem?

Mom and Dad didn’t have much time to teach me… I remember huffing and sighing, anything to show my displeasure at not being allowed to drive.

Then one day, at a family gathering, I was bemoaning my predicament to Uncle Randy. He was only 12 years older than me, and were pretty close at the time. He asked my mom if he could take me for some practice time and she absently nodded yes. I squealed in glee!

We drove to the empty parking lot of the nearby elementary school and Uncle Randy parked, got out of the driver’s seat, and proceeded to explain the fundamentals of driving a stick shift. This was a completely foreign concept to me, as all the other cars (one) I’d driven were automatics.

He finally handed me the keys and I started the engine of his fire-red sports coupe. I felt like hot stuff with that engine purring underneath the hood. I was confident, I was feeling cool, I was on top of the world.

Then I stepped on the gas…

It stalled. Not just once either, I believe two or three times. Again Uncle Randy explained the core concepts of the stick shift and we tried again.

Finally I kind of grasped how to press on the gas, while easing on the brake, both at the same time.

And then, I was actually moving!

Right…

towards…

a…

chain…

link…

fence!

With a ditch on the other side of that fence.

And I couldn’t stop!

Despite Uncle Randy screaming at me to stop, I couldn’t do it!! Somehow, I really have no idea how, the car, the anxious uncle, and the shaken teenager all came to a complete stop.

Uncle Randy held out his hand for the keys.

And that was the end of our driving lesson.

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30 Years - Years 13 and 14

Thursday, August 20, 2009 3 Comments A+ a-

Forgive me, I was remiss in posting yesterday. I find that I'm experiencing writer's block and don't have much to say right now. (I don't know how reporters write articles every day! Kudos to them!) Regardless, I'm including years 13 and 14 into one post.

This is from Kim, my oldest (longest?) friend after Missy. She put together some beautiful pictures of our friendship and sent them to me. She made me cry too!

My friend -

You are an amazing friend and I am so thankful to have so many wonderful memories with such a beautiful person. You have influenced my life like no one else has and I will treasure our memories together forever. There is absolutely no way I can narrow down one good memory of you, considering we have been friends for almost 26 of the 30 years you have been alive!

The best way I remember things is through photos. I have included some special photos of you and I through the years along with a small quote. It was so fun to look back through these. Cheers to 30 more years of friendship & memories and to always looking and feeling young!! I'm sure glad you are 30 first!

All my love, Kim




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30 Years - Year 12

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 3 Comments A+ a-

Do you remember when I linked to Uncle Randy’s site here? Well, our local newspaper did an article on him this week.** A very well-written article. It made me cry. “Why?” you ask. He talked very poignantly about his grandmother, my great-grandmother, Grammie. As he so aptly said, “She was the cornerstone of our family.” Oh, so true. Even 11 years later, I still miss her.

There can be no reminiscing without being reminded of Grammie and all she was to me. She is in every memory of Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, any holiday, our road trips to Denver once or twice a month after church to visit with her, baking, cooking, her teasing ways, her laughter, the way she smelled, the way she loved, the way she opened her home to everyone. I have so many memories of my beloved Grammie, and its so hard to pinpoint just one. I don’t have a direct memory of this happening during Christmas of my 12th year, but it happened every year.

For the majority of my growing up years, there were six of us cousins; the four girls and our two male cousins. We were raised more like siblings than cousins, goodness knows we fought like siblings. Every Christmas we’d trek down to Grammie’s house for Christmas dinner and more presents. The six of us were absolutely forbidden to go downstairs to see the Christmas tree. But that didn’t stop us from trying.

During my 12th year, Christine would’ve been nine, Allison would’ve been seven, Courtney and Daniel were five, and Ryan was two. As the oldest cousin, it was my job to organize the recon operation. (Truthfully, as the oldest, it was my job to know better, but this was much more fun.) It usually played out with Christine and I trying to distract the adults long enough for any of the younger ones to run downstairs to get a peek.

Sometimes we’d succeed, and we’d all gather upstairs in one of the bedrooms where the successful ones would share what they’d seen. Other times, one of the adults would catch us, usually Grammie who often sat at the dining room table in direct view of the staircase leading downstairs. There’d be a half-joking scolding, a warning that all presents would be taken back to the store, and a threat not to do again. And every year, we’d do it all over again.

I miss her, sometimes with a physical ache. She died in her 100th year, living from 1898 to 1998. She had the most amazing memory, even to the very end. And yes, she was the one who kept our family together. If I can live to be half the woman she was, then I will have lived a successful life.

** Another press release for Uncle Randy here.
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30 Years - Year 11

Monday, August 17, 2009 4 Comments A+ a-

I had the hardest time with this one! For the life of me, I could not come up with a memory of my 11th year without resorting to a school memory again. Then it hit me... the perfect memory, the beginning of the awkward years.

This was the grade that the boys and girls got THE talk... you know which one I’m referring to...

THE talk involved dividing the males from the females, getting a short video about the changes that are to be expected, the requisite question and answer period, and then we were all brought together to watch the same videos. TOGETHER. At the end of this horrible day, all the girls were given feminine products and the boys were given sticks of deodorant. There were the typical giggles from the girls and the groans from the boys. So awkward!

Anyway, my mom refused to let me hear about these changes from the school first, and so we set out for a date, just the two of us. We headed to the same park where I sat on the concrete steps and accepted Jesus into my heart. (Yes, that park means a lot to me.) My mom was prepared, she had books and encyclopedias, and I had NO clue where this conversation was headed.

Imagine my surprise (and horror) when Mom pulled no punches, even sharing pictures (of anatomy, folks, nothing else) with me. Mom went on to explain the changes in both males and females, God’s design for marriage, and oh, there was more, but I’m pretty sure my ears were burning by this time and wasn’t paying much attention. Trust me, I had a new vision of my parents that I did NOT want to have. I had been blissfully unaware such things happened between a husband and wife, and wished I could have turned back time about two hours.

I’m giggling right now; this memory has brought back every awkward and horrified feeling during that time.

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New Design... Kinda

Sunday, August 16, 2009 3 Comments A+ a-

Thanks for your patience while the blog was off-line for a little while. I was making some changes.

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30 Years - Year 10

Sunday, August 16, 2009 2 Comments A+ a-

We're a third of the way through my life now...

This is from Courtney. I'm not at all portrayed in a good light here, but you'll get a great glimpse into my bossy, oldest child syndrome. I laughed so hard reading through this one.

Jenn,

One of my favorite things about you is your true oldest sibling personality. You have always been very bossy, demanding, over protective, and quick to give your opinion on everything when it comes to your three little sisters. Through the years it has been both a blessing and a curse to us but something I appreciate a lot because I know you always have my back. I have countless stories of us growing up when you tried to be the one to mother us but one of my favorite memories is when you tried to teach us… literally.

I remember when I was about five (which would make you ten
[or eleven, but whatever]) and I had just recently finished my first year of kindergarten. Somehow you got it in your mind that summer school would be a fun activity for the four of us girls all summer long. You went to your teacher and asked for additional school material (math problem activities, reading assignments, writing notepads and reading books). We were so excited when you brought everything home and told us your plan. Mom helped you set it all up in our downstairs office, complete with TV tray dinners for our desks, folding chairs and you used the office desk as your “teacher area”. I was so excited that my older sister was going to continue to teach me all summer long (I was young and still loved the idea of school) and we couldn’t wait to get started.

Things were great for the first couple of days but I remember it was very hard for you to step into teacher role and not big sister role. There were many times you would lose your patience with us and a fight would pursue. Mom would be quick to come downstairs and remind you that this was just a game and to go easy on us. Finally, towards the end of the first week, the three little ones had has just about enough of the “fun” game of school. I remember my bossy older sister was punishing me for not finishing my writing assignment on time and you forbid me to have any lunch or recess time. That’s it, I was done. We went upstairs to mom and told her, in our little girl words, that you were abusing your power a little too much after trying to lock us into the office so we couldn’t get out as our punishment to not obeying you.

Jenn, dear older sister, I love you so much and I am SO appreciative of everything you have done for me through the years. But I am also very thankful that you never took up teaching as a career choice.

Happy 30th month!!!

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30 Years - Year 9

Sunday, August 16, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

Sarah and I shared a teacher in third grade, our dear Mrs. Brown. Sarah and I had been told we’d be good friends “or else” by our mothers, who tossed us together in second grade. (They didn’t really say “or else” but we like to say that they did.) Truthfully, Sarah and I got along famously, even though we had the occasional little girl fight from time to time. It comes with the territory of both being oldest children. Am I right, Sarah?

This particular third grade memory involves the Secret Santas that we did that year. (Sarah, I may get this memory wrong, so please correct me if I do.) Mrs. Brown had put the name of each classmate in a hat and she walked around the room, having each of select a name. The only time we got to put the name back was if we’d selected our own name. Of course, I’d hoped to have the name of someone I liked. And of course, you can’t expect third graders to keep this a secret... seriously!

I looked at my name and I smiled, Melanie Miller. Of course I was happy with that selection! But then another friend, Alyssa Holbrook leaned over to show me who she selected. Sarah. My Sarah! And my little green monster reared its little head. I just smiled at Alyssa.

Not even ten minutes after that, I told Sarah that I knew who her Secret Santa was and told her it was me. (Don’t ask me why I did it, I couldn’t begin to tell you.) Sarah was distraught. She hadn’t wanted to know who her Secret Santa was and now I’d ruined the surprise. Even though I had completely lied. Mrs. Brown was told and I was reprimanded. *Sigh*

Those lessons growing up are never fun, and never easy. Needless to say, I kept my mouth shut for the rest of the Secret Santa party.

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30 Years - Year 8

Friday, August 14, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

Second grade, oh the memories of second grade and one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Ring. Mrs. Ring made every student feel special, and at the end of the day, we all had to stand in line and get a hug from her before leaving class.

We did a lot of things in that class that make me smile to think of them. We watched caterpillars spin cocoons and emerge from their chrysalis as butterflies. (See, I did learn something.) We learned about Egypt and had a party one day where we got to dress up as Egyptians. I was especially tickled because we were allowed to wear make-up at school that day; I just remember lots of eye liner.

This was the year of the snap-its; those metal covered bracelets that “snapped” on to your wrist. This was also the year that a few of us girls would put gloves on one hand and lip-sync to Michael Jackson during recess.

But this particular memory is not one of my finest moments, in fact, I can still remember the deep shame and embarrassment of this “learning” moment.

I don’t know where I saw it, or what prompted me to do it, but there was a little boy in this class that I did not get along with. Truth be told, I can’t even remember his name. But he was constantly annoying me and trying to get a reaction from me. After a particularly bad day, I simply looked at him and raised my middle finger.

I had no clue what it meant, just that it probably meant something bad. And sure enough, when that little boy hollered for Mrs. Ring, I knew I’d done something so NOT good and blushed a deep, crimson red from embarrassment. I could feel every face turn in my direction to see what was wrong.

I was pulled out into the hall, told that I was never allowed to do that again, and made to sit out there and think about what I’d done. I remember begging Mrs. Ring not to tell my mother. Afterwards, I had to tell the little boy that I was sorry, and I was... very, very sorry.

That afternoon when Mrs. Ring leaned down to give me a hug, I wrapped my arms around her neck and sobbed my apology. She looked at me, whispered that she knew I was a good girl at heart and I wouldn’t let it happen again. With her forgiveness, and a tight squeeze, I knew all was right with the world.

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30 Years - Year 7

Thursday, August 13, 2009 0 Comments A+ a-

Going back to Debbie, mom of friend, Missy. She had one more to share.

Long-Distance Sleepovers - As you and Malisa got older, Doug and I would meet your parents at the McDonald's at the Longmont exit on I-25 and either they would take Malisa up to Ft. Collins for a few days or we would bring you down to Aurora for a few days for sleepovers. You girls would have so much fun. Then after a few days, all of us would meet again at the McDonald's and plan for the next time. I don't remember how many years we did this but it will always be a fond memory. I do know that as other siblings came along, they wanted to be included but it was your time (just you and Malisa).

And it seems only fitting to include Missy’s memories alongside her mom’s. Oh, the fun we had!!

I have such vivid and fond memories of our many, many sleepovers. Remember how your mom and my mom would meet halfway at the McDonalds in Longmont for drop off and pick up duty? I remember making the rest of the trek to your house in your parent’s minivan with the wooden side panels. We’d have the best time hanging out.

And, remember how we used to play make believe like we were in college and had college boyfriends?! We would stay up so late just talking and giggling until your mom or dad would tell us it’s time to settle down and go to sleep.

And, oh, all the birthday party sleepovers…those were the best!

And, when we weren’t over at each other’s house, we would send each other letters to keep up-to-date with each other’s lives and the letters always ended with "BFF" and our names. Such precious memories!

Oh, and remember how many Fourth of Julys our families spent together!?

So very glad to have known you and been close friends ever since we were diaper-clad babes. It’s crazy to me to look at both of our lives and see our children and realize that some friendships start this young and stay strong almost 30 years later! Love you friend!

Love you, Missy

Thank you Missy and Debbie! Your family has played a major role in my growing-up years and I'm so thankful to have your family in my life!


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30 Years - Year 6

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 3 Comments A+ a-

Its late and I’ve yet to share my year six memory. Trust me, its been a day. Yet listening to Hudson and Jon’s cousin, Tim, strum the guitar and sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ together tonight, seems to have made it all better.

Year six, hmmm, so many memories to choose from. I could talk about the day that I had my tonsils removed; it was the same day the Challenger blew up. I could talk about how a few weeks after I’d become a Christian, I’d converted Christine by telling my four-year-old sister she was going to hell. (Hey, if that won’t convince a child to become a Christian, what will?!)

But I think I have a more memorable memory to share. The day we became four.

It was the middle of the night when Dad shook us awake to tell us that Mom’s water had broken and it was time to have the baby. I distinctly remember not caring and rolling over to go back to sleep.

Christine, Allison, and I were dropped off at our aunt and uncle’s apartment and I do remember the dark of the early, early morning. I remember the dim glow of their hallway light as they gathered mattresses and blankets to make a bed for us on the living room floor. And not much else as we drifted back to sleep.

The next morning Aunt Debbie came out of her bedroom to tell me that Dad wanted to talk to me. Her bedroom was at the end of the hallway, on the left, I picked up the phone with the rotary dial, and said, “Hello?”

“Well,” said Dad. “Its another girl.” I know he was trying not to be disappointed with the fact that the chance for a boy had escaped yet again, but even to my six-year-old ears, I could hear the resignation. Resigned to the fact that he was destined to be a daddy of girls.

He loves it now. He loves sharing with anyone who shows the slightest interest that he has four girls. And quite frankly, I have loved being a part of that foursome.
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30 Years - Year 5

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 4 Comments A+ a-

Mom and I were returning from a meet-n-greet with my new kindergarten teacher. I was excitedly chatting a mile a minute, feeling so big about going to school, and yet bouncing my feet against the seat because they didn’t reach the floor.

“I think she might be a Christian,” Mom mused to me. My five-year-old self smiled, happy to have a teacher that was like me.

“Mom, I’m a Christian too, right?” I asked her. It made sense to me, after all, I went to church with my parents, I knew the words to the songs we sang, I knew about Jesus and God. Of course I was a Christian.

Mom smiled at me in the rearview mirror and announced we were going to have a date. We stopped at a park, got out of the car, and made ourselves comfortable by the lake.

It was there that Mom explained that I was sinner, I was born a sinner, my need for a savior, to be saved, and that Jesus was that savior. There we sat, on a concrete block, and at five years old, I asked Jesus to be MY savior.

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Many will argue that five years old is too young to comprehend such a deep theology, but while on this earth, Jesus continually reminded his disciples to have a faith like a child. And I see that faith in my own children. As a child you don’t need logical or intellectual arguments; as a child my mom gave me truth and I took it at face value.

It was many years later when I was faced with my own crisis of faith, and I was given a choice, continue claiming my parents faith as my own, or decide to follow Christ on my own. My Christian walk is not without its valleys, deep, dark valleys, but there has never been a doubt in my mind that God is true. Everything He says, does, and is, is Truth! With a capital T.

I don’t know you, I don’t know who reads this blog. I see the locations on my site meter and I wonder who is on the other side of that IP address. I don’t know if you’re a Christian, an atheist, a protagonist, or a believer who is currently walking through their own valley. But you need to know this, and yes, God is saying this to YOU.

You are loved with a passion, with a depth, that is incomprehensible to the human mind. My God longs to share His love with YOU! He sent His son to die for YOU! His son took on the sins of this world, my sins, your sins, so that we could be in a relationship with the everlasting, true God. There is NO other God!

Many will say that to be a Christian to be bound by rules and laws and restrictions. Let me assure you. I have never known such freedom as the freedom I have in Christ. It is a liberating rush to know that I am free! My deepest prayer is that you would know such freedom too!

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30 Years - Year 4

Monday, August 10, 2009 2 Comments A+ a-

From Tina, wife of one of Dad's oldest and dearest friends. Our families grew up together, Peter was my age, Patrick was Christine's, and Sean was Alli's age. Where my parents went on to have a fourth daughter, Jim and Tina decided to stop with their three sons.

We've had many good times together!!


Jennifer,

I'm attaching a picture of you, Christine, Peter and Patrick at our really cool Smurf table! It was taken in January of 1984, when you were 4 years old and Christine was 2 years old. Your mom was pregnantwith Allison, and I was pregnant with Sean. Your family came to visit at our "little home on the prairie' near Peyton. We spent the afternoon sledding down a hill on our land. Your family ended up spending the night, and we had a big campout on our living room floor! That's the time that I taught your mom to make the felt Christmas tree ornaments that you had on your Christmas tree for many years! That's one of the special memories that I have of fun times with our families together when you were a little girl!

LOVE the picture Tina!!

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30 Years - Year 3

Sunday, August 09, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

Ahh, yes, year three of my life. The memories are coming a little more easily, they’re a little clearer, and I’m having fun. A couple of memories were suggested by family members for this year. One involving a trip to the doctor after I’d stuffed a wad of kleenex up my nose, it had been there for days before they could find the source of the rotting smell. Yeah, gross. But I wanted this one instead.

It was December in 1982, I was three years old and my Arizona grandparents and family were visiting for Christmas. Apparently it snowed... a lot... and the Christmas Eve Blizzard of 1982 went down in history.

My dad and my mom’s brothers were anxious to get out in the six-foot snow drifts to play and at three years old, of course I wanted to join them. They bundled me into a heavy-duty snow suit and out we ventured.

(Now this I don’t remember, I’ve just been told the story numerous times.)

Once we got outside, I changed my mind and wanted to go back inside. But instead of marching me the 15 feet to the back door, my dad in all his infinite wisdom decided to lay me in the back of the station wagon while they went to build snow caves. (Seriously?!?)

Here’s where my memory picks up. I remember laying there, barely able to move because of the puffiness of the snow suit, looking around my surrounding. The car was pretty much covered from the snow drifts, so there was the pale blue tint to everything. I remember the carmel-colored ceiling of the station wagon, and I remember wondering when they were going to come back and get me. To a three-year-old, I felt like I’d been in there forever!

When suddenly two shadows appeared at the hatch. I watched as they rubbed the snow off the window and peeked in the window. I remember grinning from ear-to-ear as I realized it was Dad and he was coming to take me back in.

My Arizona relatives swore they'd never come back during Colorado winters again. And they stuck to that promise. Until December of 2006. We had another blizzard.
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30 Years - Year 2

Saturday, August 08, 2009 0 Comments A+ a-

These memories are from Debbie, a family friend, and mother of Missy, one of my oldest friends. We often joke that we were friends in the womb, even though we’re a year apart. Our parents have been friends since high school, so it may as well be true.

Your Birth - Your mom, Becky, was so ready for you to be born. Once you arrived, her life and your dad's were changed forever...forever to be blessed. I remember that you were so small (at least to someone who had not seen a newborn for quite a while) and of course, you were the most beautiful little person any of us had ever seen!

Malisa's First Birthday - You would have been almost two years old at her first birthday party. I remember as clearly today as at the actual party, the two of you sitting out in my mother's front yard on a vinyl tablecloth, in your diapers only, eating birthday cake together. If memory serves me well, you both were treated to a bath shortly thereafter since cake was literally everywhere.


Thanks Debbie!

****************
And now its my turn, as this is my earliest memory. Its a dim memory, blurry around the edges, but it started a habit that continued to the day Christine and I no longer lived under the same room.

I was two years old when Christine was born. She had her own room, the nursery, down the hall next to Mom and Dad’s room. I had been moved into a room further away, closer to the kitchen and the back door. I didn’t like it. I was alone and it scared me.

When she was about four or five months old, I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night and toddling down the hall into her room. I can remember the glow of the nightlight, it cast shadows around the room. I even remember the position of the rocking chair next to the crib.

I climbed on top of that rocking chair and into the crib, where I spent the rest of the night. Sleeping next to Christine, the baby comforting the toddler.
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30 Years - Year 1

Friday, August 07, 2009 4 Comments A+ a-

Obviously I have no memories of my first year of life, so my mom is filling in the blanks for me. She made me cry...

Jenn,
Thank you for asking me to do your first entry for when you were born and your first year as you mark down THIRTY years!!!! How can it be that long already??!!

When Daddy and I found out we were expecting you, it came as quite a shock since we were still newlyweds and only married for six months at the time. But after the shock, we knew that you coming was part of God's plan for our lives. So we planned and prepared for your birth. You chose to come TEN days late!!! =(

As you know, the labor was long and hard and at the end, we almost lost you. Your heartrate went down, and I had to be rushed into surgery for an emergency c-section. Daddy and Grandma Rose and Grandma Nancy went down to the chapel in the hospital to pray for you and me. (Back in those days, the father didn't get to be in there for emergency c-sections). When they came back from the chapel, a nurse was walking down the hall carrying you and Daddy asked if you were our baby. There you were, with dark hair, blowing LOTS of bubbles, eyes wide open, and happy as can be in the nurse's arms!! =)

I didn't get to see you until the next morning since I was put under for the surgery. But when I DID finally get to see you and hold you, I LOVED your dark hair like Daddy and your almond shaped eyes like me!! =)

I LOVED being home with you--rocking you, nursing you, and just watching you change and grow. Such a special time that went SOOO fast!! You were an easy baby, and slept through the night by five months. It was fun watching all your milestones, especially as a first child for us. It was all so new as parents and we marveled at how God made you!!

One of my most special memories of you in your first year was when you were 11 months old. Daddy was gone for his marine duty and you were standing when he left. You and I worked hard while he was gone practicing walking around the living room coffee table with you holding onto the table. When Daddy got back from his duty weeks later, I told him that you had a surprise for him. There you were, as proud as can be, holding onto the table, and walking around it all by yourself!!! =) Daddy was SOOO excited to see that!!! =)

Jenn, as you go through these memories this next month from family and friends, remember this, honey: You are TRULY a gift from God. As a baby, as a child, as a grown woman. Don't ever forget that, Jenn. He has blessed you with gifts and talents, strengths and weaknesses; all things that make you who you are. You are an incredible woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend. We are SOOO blessed that you have been a part of our lives for almost 30 years. Daddy and I love you very much, our first born.

Love, Mom

Thank YOU, Mom! I wouldn't be who I am today without you and Dad. I am so thankful that you were chosen to be my parents!!

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Phone Short-Takes

Thursday, August 06, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

First, and foremost,

Happy Birthday, baby sister! I pray this year is full of sweetness, memorable moments, and love. I hope today is a special one.

Now, on to the short stories.

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Hudson was stung by a wasp on Tuesday. Not once, but twice. Poor thing! I’ve never heard him in that much pain before. After we’d gotten him settled down, he wanted to call Devyn who was spending the night at Nana and Papa’s house to tell her. As soon as Devyn got on the phone, Hudson started getting upset all over again.

“Owie. Hockey (Golf). Owie. Devyn. Owie. Bees. Owie.”

Hudson barely kept the tears at bay, but desperately needed to tell Devyn about his injuries. (By the way, apparently his golf club had angered the wasps.) I could hear Devyn calming him down, and with a few sniffles, Hudson handed the phone back to me.

************
Devyn often walks around with with a play phone to her ear, just jabbering a mile a minute. (I believe we’re in trouble, folks.) Whenever I ask who she’s talking to, its either Emma or Addison. But on Tuesday night when Devyn spent the night, a new habit was formed.

Aunt Christine noticed Devyn pounding on the key pad, and asked her what she was doing. Devyn replied, “I’m texting Emma.” Oh geez!
************

On our way to Nana’s house yesterday, Hudson wanted to talk to Devyn again. So I called, got her on the phone and then handed it to Hudson. They had a good talk, then I could hear Devyn say good-bye. Apparently Hudson did not.

For the rest of the way, Hudson continued his conversation to a sister that was no longer there. “Devyn. Train. Choo-chooo.” As we passed the train tracks.

“Horsie. Devyn. Niegh.” As we passed the Clydesdale horses.

“Wha? Huh? Devyn. Huh?” He asked of her. I wondered if he had any idea that he was talking to dead air, and truth be told, I don’t think he had a clue.

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He is Faithful!!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009 4 Comments A+ a-

I was thumbing through my bible a few weeks ago and came across a dated letter that I’d written, prayed over, folded, and then placed in my bible. I took the letter out, unfolded it, and read the words I’d written , pouring out my heart before the Lord. As I read, a smile came to my lips, especially as I looked at the date of the letter, and I couldn’t help but rejoice in the faithfulness of my Lord.

My sister, Christine, shares her story here. And I’ve shared some of their story here on the blog as well. Wouldn’t you know it, but the letter I’m referring to is in regards to her story?!

It was heartbreaking to share even a part of that journey with my sister. There was nothing I wanted more for her, knowing that she’d always wanted to be a mother, and wondering if that was part of God’s plan for their life. When her miscarriage happened, I was across the country at a friend’s wedding. I can’t begin to explain how helpless I felt, states away, while my sister’s heart was breaking. I didn’t understand God’s timing in it all, and I still don’t, but I know there was a reason.

Exactly four months later, dated January 19, 2008, I wrote a letter to my Lord. Begging, pleading, scriptures peppered throughout regarding His promises to His children, and praying for a miracle in Christine’s life. In it, I wrote:
“I pray this is the year that you would lay your hand on Christine’s womb and create life, dear Father. My most fervant prayer is that Christine and Caleb would be holding a baby in their arms a year from now.”

On December 14, 2008, Elliana Faith came into the world and a year after I’d written a letter, praying over this situation, Christine was holding her one-month-old baby girl.

Our God is faithful!

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Excited to Announce

Monday, August 03, 2009 4 Comments A+ a-


I am very excited to announce that Munchkin Land Designs is now open for business!

To celebrate and commemorate this new venture in my life, I am offering the first two customers a free blog makeover. If you’re interested, send me an email at jenn (at) munchkinland-designs (dot) com or click here.

In addition to the giveaway, from now through Friday, I’ll be offering 20% off any order. So head over to my site, take a look around, and send me an email if you’re interested in a custom design of your very own!

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