Two Little Words

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 3 Comments A+ a-

It never fails.  The minute that the costumes are put away and the candy from trick or treating is hidden, the case of the “I Wants” begin.

Its an incessant mantra, “I want, I want, I want” and with each utterance of the words, I take a deep breath and do my best to quiet the lecture that threatens to burst forth from my mouth.  Those words are like nails on a chalkboard for me, and most times, I give a visible shudder when those words come out of my babies’ mouths.

“I want…”

For me, there’s such a sense of entitlement in those words.  I want, therefore give me.  I want, therefore I deserve to have it.  No.  Just no.

Please don’t hear me wrong.  We do the present giving thing at Christmas time.  I love watching my little ones open a present that I know they’ve longed for and will treasure.  It’s part of the joy of being a parent, getting to share in that special moment with them.  And yes, as their mother, I have a fairly good idea of what will bring a smile to their face.  I look forward to Christmas morning as much as they do.

But its when they’re looking through the big toy catalogue or when we’re walking through a store, and the “I wants” become more about the gimmies than the actual desire for, or love of, a hobby or collection.  Its when they lay their eyes on something that they’ve never seen before, have no idea what it is or what it does, but because its shiny, they want.  It’s the coveting that I dread, and an attitude I want to nip in the bud.

And then today it dawned on me.  What if, instead of focusing on what we think is missing in our life, we start focusing on what’s already there?  And so I started a new game with our LIttles.  The “I Have…” game.

It started out with just Reagan, Ashlynn, and I on our way home from running a few Christmas errands.  The “I Wants” began with a whimper and by the end of our errands, it was a full blown shout.  Enough to give me a headache.  And heartache, if truth be told.

“Hey Reagan, what if we played the “I Have” game?” I countered against a wish for another type of doll.

It made her pause, and I watched as she tilted her head in thoughtfulness.  “What’s that?” she asked.

“Here, how about I go first?” I offered.  I waited for her smile and gave the first answer.  “I have… a warm bed and soft pillow where I can sleep.”

I watched her as the concept of the game sank in and I recognized the glint in her eyes when she caught on.  “I have… crayons and markers to color with,” she offered.  I smiled in the rearview mirror and nodded in encouragement.  “You’re right, Baby!  You do have a ton of crayons and markers and you make beautiful pictures!”  I turned to Ashlynn, “Do you want a turn, Love?”

She wiggled in her car seat and said, “I have… Barbies!”  And I laughed.

The three of us round-robined the rest of the way home, and the suggestions were as silly as being thankful for socks or candy, to the more serious thanks for a roof over our heads and food in our fridge.  It was such a breath of fresh air, and I sighed in relief. 

Perspective.  Its one of the biggest gifts I can give my Littles.  There will always be someone who has more than us, and there will always be someone with less.  Its so easy to get caught up in the things that we don’t have, that we forget about the things that others envy us for having.  Perspective, its something that even I lose sight of more times than I care to admit.

We played the “I Have…” game twice more today.  Once after we picked up Devyn and Hudson from school, and the second as the Littles tried explaining the rules to their daddy.  So far the game is still new and fun and its a novelty, but I pray that it’ll help us remember just how very rich we are without all the “I Wants” that cloud our vision.

Two little words.  Both “I want…” and “I have…” have incredible power to shape our attitudes, but I want our family to focus on the blessings we already have. 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~Melody Beattie

For One Moment, It Did

Monday, December 08, 2014 3 Comments A+ a-

It’s Monday morning, and the usual list of things to do is running through my mind…
  • Run a load of dishes
  • Transfer the load from the washing machine to the dryer
  • Make sure the card has a stamp on it before I mail it
I had another list for the afternoon when Reagan goes to school and Ashlynn is down for a nap…
  • Finish my homework for Priscilla Shirer’s Breathe study
  • Fold the dry clothes and start a new load
  • Start dinner in the crockpot

Normally these daily chores are done to the background noise of a television show or two sisters fighting over the green crayon, usually in combination with each other. My mind has grown accustomed to the clatter, fading to white noise so that I only register high and low tones. Or shrieks that indicate the fighting has reached the point that I must intervene. But this morning, I put on Pandora and we listened to Christmas music instead. I finished the dishes and was about to run downstairs to change the loads, when I heard a soft whisper.


So there, at the top of the stairs, I stopped. I took in the scene sitting before me. The living room was littered with open packages from birthday gifts. There were boots strewn across the floor, and there were random pieces of Legos and dolls and crafts spilling out of boxes. I saw socks I needed to fold and books that needed to be put away.

Then I looked beyond the mess and, in the midst of it all, sat two little girls, side by side, playing contently with new paper dolls. There was no screaming or fighting or demanding that the other share. Instead, by the glow of the Christmas tree and with ‘Where Are You Christmas?’ playing in the background, they were quietly playing make believe. It was serene and peaceful. The moment was rich with emotion and thankfulness.

I felt the familiar lump rise in my throat. Every day I’m growing more aware that this time in my life is coming to an end. I’ve been mourning the fact that next year Reagan will be in school all day, and I’ll no longer have two little girls as my morning companions. And in two short years, Ashlynn will be in school too. The days of little ones being underfoot are drifting away and I find myself wishing that I could make time stop moving.

And for one moment today. It did.

Steamboat Springs or Bust

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 2 Comments A+ a-

This past weekend we packed up all four children and headed up to the mountain town of Steamboat Springs.  When we went there two years ago for our anniversary trip, Jon and I sat in the hot springs and talked about how we’d love to bring the Littles up there.  And finally… finally… we were able to make that a reality.  It was everything I had hoped for, and more.


We were joined by our friends Mandy and Derek, and their four little ones.  For those that have children, know how extremely rare it is to find friends where both the women AND the men AND the children all like each other, all get along, and just… click.  I am so thankful for the day that God brought Mandy and I together in a Human Resources Department 12+ years ago.  She is an inspiration to me as a mom, a wife, a Godly woman, and someone whom I can be completely myself and admit all the things without fear that she’ll judge me for it.  And to watch our husbands and our children interact and enjoy each other too… well, its just icing on the cake.


We originally discussed staying in a hotel, but after weighing the pros and cons and envisioning us adults hanging out in the hallway after bedtime lest we wake the herd, we decided to rent a vacation home instead.  It was the perfect solution.  There were two living rooms, one upstairs and one down, a kitchen, a dining room, and plenty of beds and bathrooms.  After bedtime, in which no child actually stayed in their bed or even pretended to sleep, at least the adults could visit downstairs and yell in the general direction of the stairs to “get back in bed!”

Most importantly was the pool!!  Seriously, that pool was our saving grace for boredom and/or bad attitudes.  Never mind that it was in the fifties and freezing… there was a pool and the children could not be stopped!  They jumped in and out of that thing more times than I could count.


It was an incredible weekend, and one I definitely want to replicate again.  Between the food, the Corn Hole, the hot springs, the fishing, the visiting, the swimming, and everything in-between, it was good.  So good!

First Day of School 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 5 Comments A+ a-

I have been chronicling first days of school for about 5+ years now.  You can view 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 when you click on those dates. 

I’m happy to report that with the exception of Jon throwing his back out, the first day of school went off without a hitch.  At pick-up, Reagan’s teacher mentioned that she was quite upset that it was time to go home.  I feigned surprised.  Reagan?  The girl whose mad at me because I didn’t sign her up for all-day kindergarten, upset that school is over?  Shocking!


Sigh.  Life continues to fly by us at a rapid pace and I shouldn’t be surprised that we find ourselves parents of a fourth grader, second grader, and kindergartner, but I just don’t feel old enough.  They’re growing into amazing people and I’m so honored to be along for the ride.  Praying this year is great one for my loves.

Cabin Weekends

Monday, August 04, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

About three to four times a summer, and even occasionally in the winter, we escape to the mountains and stay in Jon’s grandparents’ cabin.  My first memory of this cabin dates back to before Jon and I became a couple, when our youth group headed up there to play “Capture the Flag” on their property.  But I digress…

This cabin has meant so much to us, and we are so thankful to have this place as our retreat.  There’s no indoor plumbing, no television, and no cell phone service.  In order to get any kind of contact with the outside world, we have to hike to the top of their property, in a specific clearing, where we might get two, three bars max.  There’s an outhouse and we wash dishes by hand.  And while there’s been some added improvements in the sixteen years Jon and I’ve been together, such as electricity, a dvd player, a refrigerator, and a stove, it forces us to slow down. 

I love watching the Littles use their imagination and create forts and secret hideaways on the property, I love curling up with a book, listening to a fire in the wood stove, I love sitting down to dinner with his dad and grandparents and reminisce over years past.  There’s a special continuity to it all, from one generation to the next to the next.  Just as if we’re linking the past to the present every time we measure the Littles on the same beam as the cousins before them.  This place is where peace and contentment come to life for me, as if remembering that getting back to the basics is where true joy is found.

Playing Catch-Up

Sunday, August 03, 2014 2 Comments A+ a-

Ok, so I’m fairly certain that one post in two months is a new record for me.  A bad record.  A record that Jon has mentioned more than once, and honestly, I am pretty sad about it too.  I could insert a number of sad excuses here, but instead, I’ll just move forward.  Be forewarned, you’re about to get a bunch of random thoughts and updates, all at once.  It’s basically going to be a hot mess…

We’ve been enjoying summer.  So much.  The lazy days, the lack of schedules, Hudson’s baseball games, swimming at the lake, playing with friends, lunches at 2:00 in the afternoon, sun-kissed bodies, and overall, just being together.  Don’t get me wrong, my house is showing the effects of our lackadaisical schedule, but in time, we’ll get back into a schedule and a clean house again.  Maybe.

This summer will forever be known as the summer of lost teeth.  At last count, six teeth have been lost between Devyn and Hudson in the past four weeks.  And at $3-$4 a tooth, the Tooth Fairy is going bankrupt.  It was NOT my decision to pay out that much per tooth, but I believe the Tooth Fairy’s management said something about inflation and “you can’t buy anything for 50¢ nowadays” and management is overruling the Tooth Fairy.   Whatever.  I’m sure Management is eating his words about now.  *Ahem*

The most exhilarating and memorable tooth extraction (thus far) happened to Hudson at one of his baseball games.  He was playing second base and a fly ball was hit towards him and I watched as the ball bounced and then hit him square in the jaw.  I saw him grab his mouth and then cup his hand around a tooth.  I knew instantly what had happened, so I met him and the coach at the dugout.  He was offered a chance to clean out his mouth and wait for another turn to bat but he declined.  And so I watched as my 7-year-old son spit out blood in-between pitches.  I am still kind of in awe of his resilience.

There were no vacations planned this year, neither did Devyn head off to camp.  Instead we’ve just kept busy around here…  However, a long weekend in Steamboat Springs is coming up and we’re going with some of our favorite people.  We’ve rented a vacation home for our combined group of twelve, and are planning to go to the hot springs, rent a boat for a day, and whatever else we feel like doing.  Of course, all the Littles care about is that there’s a pool for us to use.  And I’m sure that’ll be the highlight of their trip, superseding anything else we might do. 

Unbeknownst to me, we scheduled our Steamboat trip for the weekend AFTER school begins.  I am that mom, the one who doesn’t really pay that close attention to school schedules and ends up paying for it later.  Truth be told, I am frustrated with our school district anyway right now, so much so that I just don’t care if the Littles miss two days of school.  Two HALF days of school to be exact. 

Yep, you read that right.  Our school district decided to implement a Heat Policy this year and for the first two weeks of school, elementary and middle school students will only go to school until noon.  And because Reagan is in afternoon kindergarten, she’ll only go to school from 10:00am to noon.  Seriously.  Why are we just not waiting to start school until after Labor Day?  This seems ridiculous to me, and as such, I really don’t care if they miss their first Friday and Monday of school.  Mom of the Year.  Right here.

The One and OnlyDevyn and I did get to go to Beth Moore again this year.  We went with my mom, Christine, and our friend, Becky.  I always walk away from a Beth Moore conference with kernels of Truth to tuck away in my armory.  It is NEVER a wasted weekend.  However, this conference felt a little different than usual.  She individualizes each conference, which means she always waits until the conference gets closer to see what she feels God wants her to teach for that specific group.  This is the first time that it felt like she came with one idea to teach but felt that God was leading her in a different direction once she was actually here.  I’ve never heard her speak to such specific situations before, and it was both unnerving and powerful.  I walked away with a definite instruction to obey.  Of course, the hard part is putting that into action…

It has been a busy two months, and one of the things that kept me busy is that I re-designed and moved Munchkin Land Designs from Blogger to Wordpress.  Truth be told, any free time during these past two months was spent on getting the new site up and running.  The move was a long time coming and I’m excited to see what Wordpress can do with all of its tools and plugins.  Please feel free to hop over and take a look around.  I’d love to hear to what you think!


I believe that catches you up with us.  It’s a long-winded post, one that barely scratches the surface.  And its my hope that I don’t go nearly as long in-between posts.  Please feel free to hold me accountable to that… I know Jon will.  Ha!

Fourth of July

Saturday, July 05, 2014 2 Comments A+ a-


Better Than The Last

Thursday, May 29, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

I never imagined a time that I wouldn’t want to have a baby in the house.  I prided myself on being a “baby” mama.  I loved everything about the baby stage.  The sweet smell of newborn, small wrinkled bodies, content sighs of a baby at the breast, the way they fit perfectly in the crook of my arms, the weight of their bodies as they napped on my chest.  Even the midnight feedings, because in those dark, quiet hours, it was just Baby and I.  There were no other needs to meet, or distractions, or a mental to-do list in my head.  Just Baby, myself, the dark, and quiet.   There was very little I didn’t like during the baby stage, and Jon and I often joke that if we could keep them at the baby to 18 month stage, we’d likely have kept going. 

I so loved the baby stage, that I just couldn’t fathom life outside of that stage.  And yet here I am, on the other side, and I find myself relishing this new stage.  I look at my sisters, with babies and toddlers and preschoolers, and I remember it.  I remember how hard, how demanding, how… exhausting. 

The first eight years of my role as a mother, I was in survival mode.  I felt like my day was constantly spent trying to put out small fire after small fire.  It was a delicate balance of naptimes and schedules, of timing everything just right so the meltdown during the witching hour wasn’t as epic as the day before.  It wasn’t a matter of “IF” there was a meltdown during that 5:00 hour, but of how bad the meltdown would be.  And should one child miss a nap, or not get a long enough nap, or not eat a good lunch, there was a domino effect.  And the end result would usually lead to Mama on the couch, muttering to herself, while chaos reigned supreme until Daddy arrived home from work.

Deep breaths, Jenn.  Deep breaths.

Then something magical happened last summer, and we turned this beautiful corner.  It was the call of More.  More time, more space, more activities, more fun, just… More.  No longer did we seem bound to the nap schedule or the diaper schedule.  We no longer had to hover around the house for fear of a missed nap opportunity, or misread temperaments.  It was the first taste of freedom.

So we did.  We ventured outside of our schedules and our self-proclaimed house arrest.  We went hiking and swimming.  We went on car rides and picnics.  We made so many last-minute plans.  We had fun! 

It wasn’t that we didn’t do those things before, of course we did.  But I always felt like I was holding my breath, waiting to see which one would transform from my loveable baby to demon child in the span of two minutes.  Or I’d hover over the one being potty trained, ready to sprint from one end of the playground to the restroom at the first sign of a pants grab.  It was fun for the Littles, but never for me.  I was never able to let down my guard long enough to actually enjoy any activity we were doing.

But last summer, I fell in love with being a mother all over again.

Now we move along at a pace that’s comfortable for all; we take our time to stop and really see what it is we’re doing.  I can actually listen to the child that’s pointing out what’s interesting to them, I no longer have to keep one ear open for crying that could start at any moment.  It’s not perfect, heaven knows there’s still plenty to work on.  But I see effort and tangible proof that they’re trying their hardest to wait their turns, to be patient, to lend helping hands, to take initiative when I seem busy at that moment.  I’m seeing the beginnings of independent thought and action, and I’m loving watching it develop.

I’ve been telling my sisters and friends with babies, give it time.  Hang in there.  You can do this!  Yes, its hard.  Yes, its exhausting.  Yes, there are times you want to run away.  But its worth it.  There comes that one moment when you look back and you realize, we made it.  We actually made it through that part, and while it was both glorious and demanding, I’m breathing a little easier on this side of it. 

This side has new challenges, new heartaches, and a different kind of exhaustion.  But the rewards seem so much richer, so much more colorful, they have much more depth and beauty.  No one ever said this parenting gig was easy, and there are times that I often wonder what I got myself into.  But when I catch a loving moment between siblings… when I see one of the Littles aim for the stars and reach their goal… when I walk away from a conversation knowing that I got more out of those ten minutes than what I contributed… I realize that its those moments that sustain me in the in-between.


Knowing what I know now, I can’t help but imagine that each stage is going to keep getting better.  With that said, I especially can’t wait to see what memories we create this summer.  Because this year, I’m ready.  And I’m actually watching for the loveliness of it.

A Letter to Her

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 2 Comments A+ a-

I’ve never understood the honor of cutting umbilical cords, its quite gross if you think about it.  But nevertheless, Jon had the “honor” of cutting the umbilical cords of all our babies.  Except one.  As soon as we found out that our second was a boy, I knew I wanted to be the one to cut the cord.  It was a symbolic gesture for me, a way of reminding myself that when the time comes that since I’ve cut the umbilical cord once, I can do it again.

I pray for each my children’s future spouses.  From the moment we found out we were expecting, I started praying for the person who would share their life.  And as we added daughter after daughter, I started praying most fervently for Hudson’s future wife.  She will have to be a brave woman, that is for sure.  Loving a man with three sisters is most surely going be a challenge and I already feel sorry for the women that will be put through the wringer.  But the one that survives, she will be brave.  I’m sure of it.

When I found out Hudson was on his way, I started a list of promises to myself, to Hudson, and to his future wife.  Promises that will be difficult for me to consistently keep, but I wanted a starting point to be the best mother-in-law possible.  So without further ado…

Dear Future Daughter-in-Law,

I imagine that someday I’ll print out this letter and wrap it with the rest of your bridal shower gifts.  I hope you take this with the loving intention that its meant.  I realize that I won’t always be able to keep these promises, but this is a sampling of my intentions as we move into this next phase of our relationship.  We are welcoming you with open arms, because we know how much our son loves you and if Hudson has chosen you, then you are the answer to our prayers.

  • I promise… that I will love you for you.  Not for the person that I think you should be, not with any expectations or preconceived ideas.  I will love YOU, as you are right now and for the person you’ll become.
  • I promise… that I will never stop by unannounced or without calling ahead.  I know that your home is your space, and I would never want to intrude on that without being invited or giving you a heads-up. 

  • I promise… that I will not hound you, nag you, or otherwise annoy you with questions about grandbabies.  This is your life with Hudson and it may not look anything like mine.  If you ever hear me begin to ask the question, shoot me a look.  Hopefully I’ll remember this letter.
  • I promise… to love you as my own.  I’m sure sisters-in-law can be daunting and a challenge (I can only imagine what three of them will be like), but know that I consider you ours too.  Which brings me to…
  • I promise… not to try to take the place of your mother.  I would never, ever want to get between a mother and her daughter, but know that should you ever need me for a shoulder or a listening ear, I am here and willing to be that for you.

  • I promise… that should the need arise, I will always come to you with misunderstandings or hurt feelings.  And always with love and grace.  I am a big believer in going to the source of the problem, and I want you to know that any issues that may arise will be kept between the two of us.

  • I promise… that I will always support your marriage to Hudson.  Its inevitable that problems arise in marriage, and should Hudson ever come to us for advice or support, we will always turn him back to you and his marriage vows. 

  • I promise… that I will never offer unsolicited advice.  Ever.  Life is about making mistakes and choices and figuring out what works best for you, your marriage, and your family.  And unless asked, I promise to keep opinions and advice to myself.

  • I promise… to love, encourage, and support you as a woman, a daughter, a wife, and maybe someday, a mother.  However that looks, I want you to know that I have your back!

I don’t want to be the other woman in Hudson’s life.  I want you to have the sole role of being the one and only woman in his life; I hope to play a supporting role.  And I hope that you feel loved and supported in the years to come.

I once heard that its not enough to make a list of things you won’t do, but substitute do’s for the don’ts.  This is a work in progress, but I feel it’s a great start.  I know that to be a good mother-in-law someday, I’m going to have to be intentional with these relationships.  I intend to do just that.

A Letter to Her

While I know that someday I’ll be replaced by another woman in Hudson’s life, I am currently loving my cuddly, tender, and sensitive little man.  I love being his first crush, his first love, his whole world, and the recipient of the picked dandelions.  I’m going to soak it all in while I can and relish every moment.

A Look Back

Monday, May 26, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

As I’m getting ready to rebrand and move Munchkin Land Designs from Blogger to Wordpress, I’ve been looking through old designs and I’ve realized I’ve been at this for a long time.  In 2008, I started playing around with Blogger templates and designs.  It wasn’t enough to have other designers bring my ideas to life, I decided that I need to have more control.  And from there, my love of designing grew.

Looking through these past designs, it brings to mind certain times in our life and I smile.  I’m so glad I have this place, my own little time capsule.

Pink 'n Brown Header 2Promise HeaderScroll HeaderFamilyFiveHeader3Summer2010DesignChristmas2010Header7ValentinesHeader2KDIMLChristmas2011Header1


Spring2010Header4 KDIMLSummer13Header1

There are some favorites, and then there are a few I wonder what I was thinking.  Regardless, its fun to reminisce.