Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.
Psalm 63:3

Friday, April 30, 2010

da..da..dut..da..da..dut...Breaking News

Sweet Man received some news yesterday. He is being asked to take his long weekend break (usually he gets one once a month during deployment) beginning this afternoon. Fine and dandy...we can do that. He will be transferring to another office in town and working here longer than we first expected, which means our middle of May trip home won't be happening...but perhaps an end of the month trip will. And...we will be moving from this lovely hotel to another one...bigger room with a small kitchen. 

All's good...but I have to erase some of my hometown plans...including a crazy-packed Saturday the 15th...and miss all my homies for a while longer. C'est la vie. But you may have inferred that I am really enjoying being in this place for this time. 

P. S. Sweet friends, cancel that childcare SOS from earlier in the longer necessary.

Our day in pictures

Update:: we're stuck inside the hotel on this rainy day...I turned on the TV and happened upon a Little House episode...the kids and I are talking about the characters...who's fictional and who really I begin to realize that this episode is about Albert detoxing from morphine in glorious technicolor detail. Whaaaaat? I must have missed this one in my tweener years. I'm sorry...tragic, surely...riveting, you bet...I fully support and participate in the recovery process...but safe for a 6 and 4 yo? I get it...that hipster, Michael Landon had his finger on the 1980's pulse and was using the show as a vehicle to address the issues...nice. Where is that rascal Nellie...she's much more my speed. Oy, the questions....

Captain's Log, Thursday, April 29th::
I'm realizing how lame I must sound to some people...but of course, I had to record the events here on my bloggity/virtual scrapbook for myself. By all means, enjoy reading....because I was so excited about what we did today...not because I'm a homeschool mom::I am, but I am many other things, not because I love post Civil War American history::'cuz I don't, but because I loved reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books while I was growing up. Period...unashamedly lame.

I remember watching the TV series, too. Remember the episode of the blind school fire? Riveting suspense. Needless to say, I was disillusioned when today, Tour Guide Steve reminded me that so much of the TV series was really just Michael Landon's fantastic storytelling and embellishment...not biographical.

But the prospect of visiting a former home of Laura Ingalls Wilder...thrilling...even more so, because our family is almost finished reading Little House in the Big Woods. So, this weekend, as I studied the Iowa guidebook, I discovered that we were only 90 minutes away from her home in Burr Oak, where Ma and Pa helped another family run a hotel for a year...couldn't pass it up. We had some other lame fun adventures, too!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Northern Iowa
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Momma's got her groove back

Oh, how I wish you all were here...we had such a fun day. Cedar Falls is a wonderful place to live:: bike trails everywhere, fun parks, fishing everywhere, friendly people, community activities that are open to everyone.

A little geography lesson:: Cedar Falls sits on the Cedar River which flows south from here to Cedar Rapids...makes sense, right? The falls, from what I've seen, are controlled with a dam and the drop just northeast of downtown is not significant. The small downtown is charming with eclectic and cute shops. It would be a great place to walk around for an afternoon. I keep driving through and threatening the babes that we're going to stop and go into the Crazy Girl Yarn Shop. Actually, not a's a buck up, kiddos.

The University of Northern Iowa campus is tucked in between where we are staying and the downtown. Panther fever is fans know them as their men's team made it to the Sweet Sixteen in March.

In my community research, I found an activity called Messy Morning, held each Wednesday morning at one of the buildings on campus...thought we'd check it out. The posting described a craft/art hour for 3 to 6 yo's, $5@ kid...perfect, 'cuz I bring some art supplies on the road, but nothing too organized or involved or messy

Miss Penny, the coordinator, had 8 stations set up in a big art room...and each station had a least one or two projects to make. My sensory self time-traveled back to elementary school with the black lab tables splattered with paints and clay and the smell of tempera. There was tracing, decoupage, paper crafts to make wands and flowers, bookmarks with stamps and make your own drawing into a puzzle. She had easels set up with paints, a shaving cream table with dinosaurs and trucks, and a table to plant seeds in our decoupaged flower pots. She encouraged the kids to travel the room from table to table or to stay in one place if they fancied.  Bug was more excited than I had seen him in a while, which is a relief...he and I have had a couple of rough days. 

We gathered to walk through the sculpture garden outside and she read Eric Carle's The Little Seed. I became my annoying self with my snappity-snap shutter...capturing moments, shyly explaining that we homeschool and I need to document our art experiences....which I do...but it was a glorious morning.

We said our goodbyes, pledged to be back and traveled on down the road to a park on a sunny hill...biding time until we could meet Sweet Daddy for lunch. Another mom from the class had the same idea and as we chatted, she shared some other community nuggets...playtimes and storytimes and drop-in exercise classes. Those things make such a difference in this life on the road...we could sit in this hotel and stare at each other or get out and soak up the life here.

What a treasure.

Tomorrow, we have a BIG adventure planned...maybe more for me than the I'll be annoyingly, obsessively taking pictures again.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Small radius

Sweet Man chose a Cedar Falls institution for his birthday dinner. He ordered their famous lasagna...I ordered the special of the season. Delish.

The kids and I gave him a couple of presents and I intended to send him off to a shooting range on his only day off this week, Saturday...but he didn't take me up on it. Instead, he hung out with us, enjoying a slow, puttering day with a walk, a playground, and naps. The man has been working over 80 hours a week...he can nap.

a tree on the trail

starting out strong, as always

a not-so-enthusiastic Sweet Daddy carries the scooter

she's done...yards from the tree they just climbed at the beginning of the path

finishing the path like a champ!

red-winged blackbirds singing over us...beautiful
Zeph. 3:17:: can you imagine Him singing over us?

statue at the Visitor's Center...our hotel in the background on the right

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Freedom flying


*from a beautiful day, a couple weeks played, wise women spoke...I tried to soak it all up*

Friday, April 23, 2010

Captain's Log:: Cedar Falls, Iowa

LONG drive to get here. Why didn't anyone warn me? Oh, yeah, you did. 

I used a new navigator, one much more accurate than my last which used conservative, downright generous time allotments. Note to self:: when my Google Maps app says  it's a 7h 57m drive, I will drive every bit of 7h 57 min. Leaving at 1pm is not advised...unless, of course, that time is spent with a 5 day old bundle of joy sleeping on my ample chest. (I may share photos, but forgot to get the verbal waiver from his mom and dad. Update: Got it!!!) By the by, I was no help whatsoever to my sweet friend and her family. They fed us Wednesday and we brought our own drama to the mix. Help, hrummph...I'm a hindrance.

Yesterday, our road trip became a bit harried with the I'm soooo bored...can we watch another movie?...what can I eat? Not gonna lie...I yelled...a few several times. People heard me yell...which means I. had. had. it. 

Much like our drive to Kansas last spring, the views were beautiful, albeit very flat. We passed many, many farms, some of them turf green through Indiana, Illinois, and into Iowa. We live in a lovely country...especially this time of year.

Today:: cozy hotel room, many smiles, cuddles, books, rain, less yelling. May go exploring this afternoon but it is so nice to just be in one place, for now....

And of course, we will celebrate our Sweet Daddy on his birthday. Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa J for raising such a good, wise, curious, calm, crafty, hard-working, zealous, intelligent, silly, strong, tender man.

And here are more pics of the new sweet boy and his adorable big sis and gorgeous momma.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On the road again

♫ My friend had a baby...yes, Lord.... ♪ ♩

Friday...a baby boy, 6lbs. 11 oz. Ooooo, he's cute and we want to see him them. (Update: Sorry, that didn't make sense...I skipped a sentence. The new baby is conveniently just a little off the route to Sweet Man in we will stop and see him them.) Of course, wouldn't you want me and my two silly kids to crash at your place just after you've had a c-section? and a new baby?

No, we're staying in a hotel...and she or her hubby can tap out at any moment and we'll skee-daddle. Hopefully, we can at least help entertain 2yo big sister.

Proceeding on to Iowa...we'll squeeze another cute boy for his birthday. I did come up with a few ideas to celebrate Sweet Man. He continues to rave about the parks and their walking trails so we look forward to enjoying them. The lodging leaves a little to be desired...he's in a regular old hotel room...we'll see how that goes.

So, after I scramble to get the &*%#* pool under some control, the grass cut, and this house de-cluttered and shined up, we're off! Road trip!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Preach. it. sister.

Need a challenge? Need admonishment? I do.
It hits me square between the eyes...from another incredible blogger I discovered recently.

Here's an excerpt from It's Almost Naptime, but I suggest reading the whole thing:

None of us probably worship lizards or cats.
But I know a lot of us worship a god of our own creation.

It is a god who wants nothing for us but perfect health. A god who is only interested in our finances to the extent that he increase them. A god who is tolerant of and even encouraging of sin, especially if we claim we can't help it or were born that way. A god who doesn't care if we worship him in a pew or at IHOP. A god who would never, ever send anyone to hell. Well, maybe Hitler. But not our friends, our nice friends.

A god who above all else wants us to be happy, no matter what we have to do or who we have to hurt to achieve satisfaction.

A god who never judges, never condemns, never disciplines. We find ourselves saying, "My god would never do that."

Read the whole post here.

Couple of post scripts:

*I couldn't verify all the information she conveyed in her statements about the first article cited...not that I doubt...I just want to be responsible with the information I'm passing.

*Just so you truly know my heart...I ache for aborted babies and for their mommas.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sword in the stone

I'm published...we're making our mark on the world.

Sorry....let me back up and start again.

My words are accessible to strangers...well, wait, that's not news.

Whatever, just keep reading....

Clues for our first letterbox are posted on the letterboxing website! We've graduated from searching for letterboxes to actually placing a letterbox. Well, maybe we have to wait and see if anyone can actually locate our box from our posted clues...then we can declare it a success.

Flower Pot Hill at Spring Valley Nature Preserve was our my choice for planting a box. Most of you know about Spring Valley...if not, I'll save my affinity for that land for another series of posts.  Flower Pot Hill sits behind (east of) the former site of the swimming pool and has a wonderful trail system and beautiful mature birch/maple forest. As kids, my cousins and friends and I got into all kinds of mischief climbed the hill often.

Sunday, mischief was not on the agenda...just a spring hike in the sunshine.

Our box is called Sword in the Stone because for years and years there was a rock along the pool's driveway that had a piece of metal rebar stuck into it...someone made it look like a sword and wrote the famous Legend of King Arthur challenge:: Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone is the rightwise born king. 
You may ask what purpose the rock served, but I won't be able to answer your astute question.

Here is a our published clue. Poke around this website to learn more about letterboxing.

In other news, one of my dearest friends is about to have her second bambino. She's sooo ready...pray for Mandy and her sweet one, if you could.

Another dear friend blessed me tonight by keeping my babes, feeding them dinner, and sending me off to a much-needed and thoroughly enjoyable Zumba class. I :x Zumba...if only I could shake it like the other ladies. Thank you, sweet friend.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


God and I had a date tonight.

We met at church and went home together.

He was too quiet for my tastes.

I cried.

It didn't end well.

Don't worry...

it's not over between us.

We'll try again.

Next time will be better.

Next time I'll talk less and listen more.

Next time I won't get up and walk away.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Today's been a tender day for me.
I miss my man.
I miss my mom.

I'm MAD...
and I'm not sure at whom.
I want to do things I shouldn't.

I keep wondering...
Is this really my life?

My family?
My home?

I'm being shaped by events out of my control.

Aren't we all...?

Not sure if I'm ready for the continuing refinement...
But that may not matter.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The end of the Pax Johnsona

It's happened...Sweet Man has been assigned. He got the call, for reals, this time. Off to Iowa...he's already there. Thus ends our 2 months of intact-nuclear-family-frequently-staying-in-our-own-home-two-fulltime-parents bliss (sorry, that's pushing the hyphen limit.) I lamented to friends today that I was just getting into a real schedule groove...efficiently erranding and consistently the babes were in my capable husband's hands. And he, in turn, had his own groove going...a balance of time with us and time off doin' what he do. 

I was awake off and on last night in anticipation of solo parenting and was fairly strung out after a pre-dawn trip to the airport. I downshifted into survival mode and just planned to get through the day. Shocker:: we had a fantastic day with a mega-playdate, chocolate chip banana bread, and a great trip to the library. 

Off the subject: my boy reads! It continues to surprise....he reads something well and I kind of tell myself it's a fluke and then I forget. But then he reads something else...with more challenging words. We read as a family all the time...for school and bed, but we don't work the phonics intensely or challenge him to read aloud all that much. Reading is just evolving. So tonight at the library, I let him loose and he picked out some really funny books that he can totally read. He read to us tonight at bedtime. And fell asleep reading. Very cool.

One last thing, we haven't decided if we will join SM in Iowa. He thinks he may be there as little as three weeks and all four of us would be a squeeze in his hotel room. But his birthday is the 23rd and I want to do something special for him, even if it is from afar. We are both terrible at giving each other gifts and have resigned ourselves to just picking out something for ourselves and calling it a "gift." So I need help...suggestions, ideas, schemes...send 'em my way. I've removed him from the feedburner, so he won't even see if he read the posts anyway. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Soft him

Since ya asked

 (no, not one asked...)

and because it's been about 2 weeks

since the last utterly embarrassing post, here's another:

Bug had a friend sleep over recently.

This 6yo friend is a riot...keeps us all in stitches

...and awake...grrrr.

Sweet Man recalls waking up the morning after...

...surrounded by little voices in conversation. 

Eyes closed, he felt a little person

climb into bed with him.

Bean: You can touch him if you want to. He's real soft.

Bug: Yeah, yeah...he's real soft right here (touching his bear-y chest hair-i-ness.)

Bean: You really can, you wanna?

Riot boy:  He's not my dad. I only touch my dad. I'm not gonna touch him.

With one eye open, Sweet Man pointed at our guest and said, "That's a real good answer."

No pics of the moment...maybe next time. Sweet Man would love that...a chest hair pic floating around in perpetuity.

P.S. We don't have a kid-directed household, but they have changed our vocabulary. When Bean was little(r) she would offer up a snuggly stuffed animal and say, "You can soft (pet) him, if you want to." Hence the phrase.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Beautiful, scandalous night

This song captures today for me. I should meditate on it every day. Thank you, Jesus.

performed by Robbie Seay Band

go on up to the mountain of mercy
to the crimson perpetual tide
kneel down on the shore
be thirsty no more
go under and be purified

follow Christ to the Holy mountain
sinner, sorry and wrecked by the fall
cleanse your heart and soul
in the fountain that flows
for you and for me and for all

at the wonderful tragic mysterious tree
on that beautiful scandalous night you and me
were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
on that beautiful scandalous night

on the hillside you will be delivered
at the foot of the cross, justified
and your spirit restored
by the river that pours
from our blessed Saviour's side

you carry the sin of mankind on your back
and the sky went black
go on up to the mountain of mercy
go the crimson perpetual tide
kneel down on the shore
be thirsty no more
go under and be purified

For the birds

These peep houses would friggin' adorable, if not for the fact that we found a real bird's nest in our dryer venting yesterday, right next to the opening to the dryer.  Disaster averted...whew! Sweet Man cleaned it out and replaced the vent cover with a device impervious to birds. Oh,  and I still think the houses are adorable.

In other news: I need some lessons in grace. I haven't been so sweet to Sweet Man. There are theories:: that we are anticipating being apart soon or perhaps, we've been together too much. But bottom line is I'm uttering those words that milliseconds before I say them I think not now, or ever, don't say it  or at least, change your tone but I blow right past and spew. (Nice sentence, grammatically speaking.) Yeah, we're tangled up and I need a little grace to undo the knots.

And now at the risk of sounding way too self-righteous after confessing my bad behavior...I am profoundly touched by the Easter celebration and try to untangle it from the peep houses and baskets and dresses. Just as every Maundy Thursday and Good Friday affects me, there is an undercurrent of solemnness with the reminders of what Christ has done for you and me. It's important to look at the suffering He endured so that I can begin  to understand the gift He gave us...and share the good news of that miracle.

We're making these resurrection meringues tomorrow. Oh, and we will celebrate His empty tomb...with secondhand baskets and secondhand dresses.

He is Risen.
Risen, indeed.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Back to the beach

Got the Pharmphone call last night and were so excited to hit the road, we drove all last night. No time to say goodbye to all you loveys.

Sweet Man has been sent to east coast! No unpacking for us...we hit the beach first thing.

Ahhh, April Fool's! 

(This pic is Bean and my longtime and faraway friend, Gwynn's son in the sand at our local park.) Would that it were true...I wanna get outta here, people. I'm ready. But we're still here in the all night driving for me, hopefully ever. Gosh, and we've had some special plans with some special peeps this week...not gonna miss out on that.

Our nephew stayed with us for a couple days and raised the bar on behavior in general in the place. Showings on the house are picking are our cleaning frenzies...aaack! Schooling is spring break...we've been taking it here and there already, right? We squeezed in an ice skating trip yesterday....bizarre, turning in my flip flops for a pair of rented skates. Playing outside, grilling with friends, lots of walks...we're enjoying the spring.

And Easter...we have two Easter projects in the works. We'll see how those turn out. And I have 3 projects that are time-sensitive and no where near done. I may be not so fun for the next couple days.