Friday, August 29, 2008

Big School Girl

Miss N is officially a Kindergartener!
I love how her backpack is almost as big as she is.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Random Tired Thoughts Borne of Too Little Sleep and Too Much to Do

When I was a little girl I loved unicorns, faeries, and Princess Leia. I loved to draw fluffy cloud creatures, sing at the top of my lungs and hang upside down on the monkey bars.

What happened to me?

I'm now dependable and solid and responsible. At work I'm organized, energetic and busy.

These are not bad things.

I just miss the girl who used to sing along to the Sound of Music Soundtrack "I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly..." or sing Kermit the Frog's "Rainbow Connection".

This is all sounding hopelessly sappy and saccharine but I don't care. It's my blog and I can be a dork if I want to (remember the 60's song, "It's my party and I can cry if I want to"? It's like that).

So my point? Don't really know except that I wish I were more fun, more creative, more everything... I'm in a tired, work induced funk. Gotta go get me some more contentment and joy from Jesus. Acceptance for who I am and what I'm doing.

Jen

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Miscellany

I realize there are some loose ends I need to tie up.

Joel is healing well from his jaw surgery. He has been off pain meds for four days, hooray! The hardest part is certainly the lack of communication. Joel is a talker and it is weird for me to be doing most of the talking lately. Our best bet for clear communication is instant messaging eachother on our laptops (at times like these I love technology). Joel's gestures seem to be incomprehensible to me and writing notes is just too slow!

He has an appointment with his doctor today and we are hoping the bands will come off and he will be able to open his mouth, talk and eat something.

We still have no word on N's possible heart surgery. It is obviously not an emergency and I am putting it out of my mind for the time being. I am just getting on with life and as the saying goes, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Lastly, you may remember this post when I shared my hopes for this summer. Just because I'm sure you are dying to know, no, I never made cheese. Maybe I will tackle that project over Christmas break, or maybe next summer, or... sometime in the distant future. I did make some other stuff though, homemade pizza, strawberry shortcake, hummus, and salsa verde. I am reaching dizzying heights of domesticity.

I did not finish my daughter's scrapbook nor did I start my son's. But, this very weekend I finished 6 more pages in N's book. There's nothing like procrastination is there? The weird thing is that I really like scrap booking but I could never seem to make it a priority this summer.

More stuff on the summer list: swimming lessons, yes, check; losing weight, sadly, no; exercising more, sporadically; increased shopping locally and secondhand, yes; rekindling my relationship with Jesus, a work in progress but definitely getting there. I'm so glad he loves me and is waiting for me no matter how far I drift from him.

So that's it, all the random stuff rolling around in my head. I feel better now that it is out.

Jen

Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer Vacation is Sadly at an End.

Big sigh.

My first day of school is today and I have mixed feelings. There is always the excitement of the first day of school... new school supplies, new clothes, fresh faced kids and the hope that some of my students did their speech homework over the summer (highly unlikely, I realize). I am a Speech-Language Pathologist, for those of you who don't know.

I do enjoy certain aspects of my job. I love helping kids reach their full academic and social potential through improving their communication skills. The kids make it all worth it. I do not like, however, the endless paperwork, meetings, and pressure to meet IEP deadlines. It stresses me out. I do not like leaving my own children during the week but I do what is necessary to help my family financially and I make the best of it in the meantime. Joel and I have worked out a great schedule this year. Our kids will only be in daycare one day per week and the rest of the time will either be with me or Joel.

My daughter also starts Kindergarten this week (cause for more mixed emotions). I am proud, sad, nervous, hopeful... it is hard to think of letting her go when I have only had her for three short years. It seems that just yesterday I saw her for the first time at the International Arrivals gate. My heart was pounding when Joel placed her in my arms for the first time. What an unforgettable moment to hold both of my much longed for children at the same time; one in my womb and one in my arms. I had better stop or I'm going to make myself cry.

I want so much for her to have a good school experience. I have done a great deal to prepare her for this day given her history of anxiety and attachment problems. She seems nervous but excited and I am praying for a smooth transition, that she will connect with her teacher and make new friends.

This is a big week for us all but God is our strength, joy and peace. I pray that I will remember this throughout the year especially at those times when I fear being swept away by the stress and pressure of it all.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beijing Closing Ceremonies

I have been enjoying the beautiful and precise choreography and artistry of the Beijing closing ceremonies. The colors, lighting, and music... the sheer number of people moving perfectly of one accord. And oh, those incredible fireworks. I have never seen anything like it. But through it all I had one nagging thought... Does it seem that the entire ceremony was a humanistic worship service? Glorification of the human will in the absence of God? I don't know maybe it was the song to Beijing that sounded like a worship chorus or the Babelesque (just made up a word there) living tower at center stage? I was left feeling awed by the spectacle but saddened at the same time. God has given us beauty, intelligence, talent, and creative ability. I guess I just want Him to have the credit.

Just a thought.

Jen

Green Beauty Products

I have recently discovered an affordable organic makeup line, Physician's Formula Organic Wear makeup. I have seen it at Target and Fred Meyer. The coverage is good and it doesn't feel heavy which is essential for my many skin issues.

Prior to this I used makeup and beauty products from the Body Shop mistakenly thinking that they are a natural and healthy alternative. The packaging sure looks trustworthy and they say great things about themselves but when I looked up their products in the Skin Deep Database I found that MANY of them contain harmful chemicals. Especially their body butters, which is such a bummer because I looooove them and they smell so delicious. But I can no longer support that corporation ;0) (I know they are missing me).

I sometimes feel like I have bought every cosmetic known to womankind with the same disappointing results...Mary Kay, Arbonne, Cover Girl, Maybelline... the list goes on. I'm hopeful that Physician's Formula will be one I can stick with.

Let's not forget about all the lotions and potions I have tried over the years. A few weeks ago I purchased Aubrey Organics cleanser, toner, and moisturizer (very affordable online). I liked the cleanser and toner but alas, the moisturizer makes my face itch, especially around my nose and mouth. It is a bit puzzling because it contains very natural ingredients but the fragrance is quite strong and I'm wondering if it contains some essential oil or herb that I'm allergic to. So back to the drawing board. Right now I'm trying a sample size of Welleda Almond Moisturizer and liking it so far (also at Target). We shall see.

I realize this may not be the most exciting subject for some, but for a person like me who has spent way too much money and time on the beauty biz it seems a worthy topic. I want to find products that not only embody my environmental ideals but are friendly to my sensitive skin as well.

In my quest for skin health & the ever elusive appearance of beauty I have even been considering the "no poo" (short for shampoo, in case I just scared you) method of caring for my hair and scalp and the "oil cleansing" method of homemade skin care. Definitely friendlier to the budget as baking soda, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and Castor oil are not very expensive.

Have I gone off the deep end? Perhaps. But sometimes you get desperate when your skin problems make you feel like one big ball of sensitive, red, blotchy, itchy, half dry/half oily flesh. Gross. I have been on prescription creams and lotions for years too that just barely control the problem and never get to the root issue, whatever that may be. My frustration has reached critical mass. I do have an appointment with a dermatologist in a few weeks so we'll see if she has any tricks up her sleeve that my family doctor does not.

Bored yet? Grossed out?

Me too.

The End.

p.s., Here's a new blog I like about this stuff at Almost Natural Beauty.

The End (for real).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shopping Secondhand

One of the ways that I'm trying to become more environmentally conscious and save money is by shopping for clothing at secondhand or consignment stores. You can find some great reasons to shop secondhand here.

I have hit the jackpot with one store in particular located in more of an "upscale" town nearby. Today I came away loaded with all sorts of brand name loot (Gap, Eddie Bauer, Anne Taylor Loft, Tommy Hilfiger, etc.) for far less than I would have paid in the department stores. The find of the day was my "new to me" grey, hoodie cashmere sweater for $18. Oooh, it's so soft!

I don't buy everything second hand because frankly its a bit of a crapshoot whether you will find what you are looking for or not from one visit to the next. Patience and repeat visits are key since the selection is so variable.

These are some of my consignment store finds from a few months ago. Lucky Jeans, Anne Taylor work pants and American Eagle Outfitters skirt.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Phthalates...Ever Heard of These Bad Boys?

Me neither, until recently.

At the risk of being a "Debbie Downer" (think SNL) I thought I would share what I've learned.

Phthalates (pronounced thalates) are some nasty chemicals that are commonly found in children's toys, baby products, air fresheners and almost any household or beauty product with "fragrance". Bottom line they wreak havoc with our reproductive systems, especially males and most particularly our male babies in the womb. Take a moment to read these links to learn more here, here and here.

As always when I learn about yet another scary health hazard, I'm left wondering "what now". Over the past 6 years or so I have very gradually phased out many products in our home containing harmful chemicals. But these phthalates are in so many products that I never felt concerned about before like my children's sippy cups and vinyl children's toys. So do I go on a phthalate rampage and throw out all sippies and soft plastic toys??? Or do nothing but hope that we are not those people who have high levels of phthalates in our blood but live with this nagging sense of guilt and helplessness? Arghh. This is precisely why I try not to read too much stuff like this. Sticking my head in the sand = feel less guilt and fear.

Any ideas out there? Input? More cheerful thoughts?

Jen

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Salsa Verde

I was feeling adventurous so I made Salsa Verde!

The tomatillos, onion, and jalapenos are homegrown.

I'm not a recipe guru or a super fabulous cook so I'll just direct you to the original recipe here.

This is the part where I "blackened" the tomatillos. I felt so gourmet!

It was all very easy and I actually stayed true to the recipe--well almost, I didn't have lime juice so I opted for lemon instead. I tend to think I can modify recipes at will and add or delete stuff that may or may not be important.

This makes for inconsistent results...hmm, I might be on to something here.

Hence my lack of food guru status.

Here is the end result. YUM.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bountiful Produce

We've been busy...





Gratuitous Kid Pics

Just because I think my kids are the cutest in the whole world...Did I mention that they are charm school drop outs?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Surgery went well

Joel's surgery went well and he is staying overnight at the hospital. We appreciate your prayers!

Jen

Monday, August 11, 2008

JAWS

No, not the movie.

I'm referring to my poor husband's jaw surgery. He is scheduled for Wednesday at 2pm. I sure would appreciate your prayers for a good outcome and quick recovery. Also, praying for our sanity would be nice! I'll be holding down the fort during the next couple of weeks while Joel recovers and he won't be able to open his mouth. I can't say that either of us are looking forward to it.

Thanks!

Jen

Oh! p.s., go keep him company on his blog. He really likes to talk and I think he'll be kinda lonely!

Family Visit Part Two: "Stay-cation"

So that's what they call it when you can't afford to go to Hawaii--a "stay-cation". I love the new terminology (got it from the Travel Channel) it makes day trips seem so much more legit!

At the end of their visit, Beau and Jessa went camping by Lake Owyhee and our family joined them for the day. It was really quite pretty for a high desert area.



The kids had impromptu swimming lessons with their daddy.


I helped the kids start a rock collection.

We're a good team, Joel and I. He takes care of all the athletic, jock stuff like swimming and throwing footballs and I'm the geek, collecting rocks and doing leaf rubbings. It works for us. Kasey was in seventh heaven at the lake. She is such a water dog and loves to fetch.
She got a little annoyed with Baker the Stick Bandit. He wanted in on the action!

Unfortunately, Beau and Jessa's time at the lake was cut short by an emergency with their poor doggie. They rushed him off to the nearest vet (about 40 minutes away) when Baker started drooling, breathing heavily and acting sluggish. He had an allergic reaction of some kind but thankfully he was okay!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Family Visit Part One


We had a great visit from Joel's brother, Uncle Beau, and his lovely girlfriend, Jessa. We absolutely adore these guys and couldn't wait for them to get here this past weekend. The kids were literally jumping up and down with excitement! Their ENERGETIC dog Baker came with them and became fast friends with our lazy old dog Kasey. There is a story behind my use of the word "energetic" that involves shake n' bake Baker inadvertently taking me down to the ground in all of his excitement--would have made a great picture I'm sure!
Due to Uncle B's generosity we now have a freezer full of organic meat (chicken, beef, sausage, turkey) that he brought from the Coop where he works. Then they gave us the best gift of all...a day of free babysitting!!! We hardly knew what to do! We figured it out pretty quickly though and got the heck outta dodge. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Uncle Beau and Jessa!

There is more to share but my kids are breathing down my neck right now so I'd better wrap it up. They like want my attention or something! What's with that?

Here are a couple more pictures that capture the special bond between our kids and their beloved Beau and Jessa:


Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dear Hubby Has Joined the Blogging World

So I guess Joel has stuff to say to the world and rebel that he is, he decided to start a blog over on wordpress. He named it An Ode to Farm Life. So go check it out and get to know the real Recycling Man!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy Belated 4th of July

I just had to share some of the fun pictures I took at the Johnson 4th of July parade when we were in Washington. There is no official sign-up or organization to the parade, if you want to join in you just show up and go for it, anything goes. It was a diverse group, from a family reunion to the Moscow Peace Band and the "Sasquatch for Pres" float. We also had the challenge of avoiding the spontaneous water fights that erupted all around us. The kids loved it all and N became an expert candy hoarder. I hope we can go again next year.




I'm not sure of the identity of this group but they all wore Hawaiian shirts and rode scooters and motorcycles.

These folks were "Sleepless in Johnson".

We had our very own episode of Deal or No Deal!
What luck for tired feet! After the parade we hitched a ride back to our car on my mom's neighbor's golf cart. Isn't this a sweet picture?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Still No Answers

I'm a little frustrated to say the least. I received an email yesterday from N's doctor stating that they never had their meeting due to an emergency surgery in Portland on Monday and then he had two full days of cath labs at OHSU. Now he is going out of town today for a medical missions trip. Soooo, no answers yet. He did apologize for how long this is all taking but he said he wanted to be sure that he and his colleagues came up with the "right" answer for my daughter. Which I appreciate very much but at the same time I'm so tired of waiting. We also have some scheduling concerns with Joel needing jaw surgery and N starting kindergarten soon.

What we have decided to do is schedule Joel's surgery within the next couple of weeks. Joel has had braces on his teeth for over a year and now that they are straight he requires jaw surgery to correct his under bite/cross bite. He will have his jaw wired shut and subsist on a liquid diet for 2 weeks after that. I really, really wish he didn't have to go through all that. I'm even having sympathy claustrophobia just at the very thought of him not being able to open his mouth even if he needs/wants to! Now some people I know (you know who you are!) have graciously pointed out that it might be a good thing that Joel can't open his mouth for so long. I can't say that the thought has not crossed my mind (I'm just kidding Joel). In all seriousness, I enjoy talking to my husband and dread having such limited communication with him. I know he will be able to talk through his teeth but I imagine that will get very tiring.

As far as school goes, I'm buying school clothes and hoping for the best!
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