Friday, August 13, 2010

Harris Haven

*Warning...this post has not one image because this story has been sitting in my Drafts for over a week which is so totally unacceptable. So I'm doing it...I'm posting with zero pictures which is truly tragic because they are just down the hall on the hard drive...but it so so so hard to get them. Uploading pictures is one of the tasks I loathe most in life, certainly blogging life.* end warning

Let's see...what's new? Well what's not new is perhaps a better question. Short cap

Gary turned 33
Caleb turned 3
Jude turned 6 months, is eating solids, crawling and now expresses emotions about what he does or does not like
My brother Jon married my beautiful, amazing, talented friend Katie Templin...errr...Katie Chisum
Gigi & Mimi came to visit during the wedding
I got a new stroller
Gary & I have made some tough decisions about our future and life
and most recently I spent a wonderful day at Harris Haven.

The Harris Haven is most commonly known as my great aunt and uncles cabin on Hood Canal. The cabin was built in the 30's, I think, and has been in the family since my Grandma Betty's parents bought the land. It truly is amazing, rustic, peaceful and wonderful. I make my way to the cabin maybe once every summer at best although more typically every other year.

So yesterday marked this special day. Me and the boys, minus hubby who was workin', loaded up bright and early into the forester. I was busy the night before packing us for the days outing and really only had a few hours sleep before Jude woke at 5:45am (hear sobbing in my voice). I was supposed to be at my parents by 8am and I made it by 7:45...hold the applause!  We then transfered bags, carseats, stroller, children and one exhausted but excited me into Matt & Whit's new to them truck.

I never thought I would say it but I'm totally jealous of the truck and so want one of my own. It's a Ford Double Cab Diesel. Don't asked for a more detailed description because I wouldn't know what to say without picking up the phone to call my brother Matt and asking which I can't do because I'm out of cell minutes for another 5 days. Ughh! So back to the truck. Me and the boys fit beautifully in the back for the 3 hour drive. It would have been shorter but we had to make a few stops along the way for potty breaks and food for the day. My mom and aunt "mimi" Mary rode in my mom's car.

Around noonish we finally arrived at the cabin and pulled down the narrow path they call a driveway. The truck just made it past huge old pine trees. As a family we spent the next many hours sunning, swimming, eating, playing, resting, talking, laughing, watching, breathing and listening.

Caleb was still down at the water's edge around 7 playing happily. Thanks to Emmalise, 2nd cousins 8 year old daughter, for keeping him occupied for a large chunk of the day. Except maybe when he followed you out into the water in his water wings and you left him and I had to go get him and the water was so deep it was over my head and he nearly drowned me because he wanted to climb on my back. Mild panic attack but its ok...I've recovered now!

The day ended with a lovely feast of grilled chicken, salmon, salad, cornbread muffins, baked potato and quick goodbyes as we needed to catch our 9pm ferry from Bremerton back to Seattle. As we drove away the boys drifted off to sleep and I closed my eyes for a moment. Remembering the warm sun, the salt on my skin, the breeze, the birds, family, closeness, precious moments with my sons, the wind of passing vehicles fluttering my dress on our walk, picking the first black berries of summer, Caleb swimming with Matt, sunning with Whitney & Wyatt (name of 16 week old yet to be born nephew that may be a boy....98% chance), feeling the weight of a lot of things lifting from my shoulders.

Today I am longing.......for peace, beauty, sun, slow, creative, life, abundance, joy, grace, and lots of fun poignant memories with my little family.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Every few days or so for the past two months I have thought to myself...oh I should put that on my blog. Someone should know that just happened or that I was thinking about this.  And yet its just never happened. Why is this???!!!

Well I have a confession. It's no big secret but its an answer for the why question.  

When I'm overwhelmed in life I literally FREEZE.

mail goes unopened
laundry is folded but never put away
garbage piles up,
blog posts remain partly written with no uploaded images (as a photographer/artist I just can't post an image less entry)
i stop plucking my eyebrows
i don't do my hair
i stop checking my email
i read books (some might call this escapism - I think I agree)
i don't check my voicemail and I don't return phone calls

It's this crazy craziness that only makes me even more shut down and defensive and with drawn and lonely.

So how did I get here again?  Well I moved, which was supposed to be wonderful, and then hubby went to India for two weeks.  And it just happened one crazy day at a time. I think it was around day 5 when I completely broke down because I couldn't find anything in the boxes, Caleb was out of control, I was screaming and crying all the time and poor little Jude just sweetly sat in his baby Papasan in the midst of the chaos.  

To be honest I don't really want to relive it all out for you but I do want to say I realize this is not a healthy part of me. I desperately want it to change but I'm not going to beat myself up about it...already did that...many times.  

So this week....
I opened the mail
only a couple boxes remain to be opened
I checked all my email
I answered the phone
I got out of the house and saw friends
I did a couple of photo shoots
Semi-organized the office 

and now I'm going to ignore those entries I wrote but never posted...I'm starting anew!!!  After all this is what Breathe.Hope.Life is all about. Its my journey of learning which as we all know requires the ability to start over when we fail. Well I didn't exactly fail...I just stopped doing. For some reason that always has felt better to me. Although not doing something we want to do in essence is failure on the greatest level as we never even gave it a chance.

This is not a one time issue in my life and just to give you some examples....I didn't get my drivers license till I was 20. I was afraid of failing the test...and guess what? I did the first time! So for 4 years I depended on friends, family & public transportation to get me around.  I never finished college because I was afraid of anything but perfect. I just stopped going...truthfully I did. I always had a good reason but really I was scared and it was hard.  There are so many things I have kept myself from doing because of fear. 

I know this isn't how I'm supposed to live and yet I do.  So that is my confession today....I'm sure it won't be the last time you hear about it.  Sighhh....confession is good for the soul but when I let it out sometimes it makes me want to cry. Oh dear....that wasn't supposed to be the point of this entry. I was just going to life has been busy!  We moved, Gary went to India, I turned 30, I planted a  garden at my in-laws, I got an amazing cookbook Super Natural Cooking which inspires me daily, have been reading, potty trained Caleb and Jude rolled over. It's all true but really it's not about me learning to grow into the woman I want to be. These are my circumstances and not my journey of inside growth. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Herbs = Blissfully Happy

Herbs make me happy...seriously they do! I love seeing, smelling and cooking with them. Have I ever had my own herb garden? Well no...or at least not until today. Why is it that since I was a girl I have not had an herb garden? I've transplanted more ferns, wild rose bushes, moss and trees in my parents yard since I was like 8...just ask Betsy and the Chisum Boys...errr...Men. And so how is it that my absolute love for plants, gardening and the outdoors has not as of yet yielded an herb garden or pot? Well its really rather simple. My parents house was in the woods and therefore nothing but shade loving plants like moss and ferns would grow. Tragically during my adult life I have been a renter with either no yard or poor area for planting.

About 3 weeks ago Gary was doing demo and cleanup at a house of someone who had passed away. Kinda creepy but someones gotta do it I guess. Anyway, during the day he called to see if I wanted a planter that was going to the dump otherwise. I expected a tired ole' terra cotta pot all covered in moss which is classic of such pots in the Pacific Northwest. And no it does not rain everyday...just a lot. To make up for the rain though our summers are amazing and somehow everything is almost always green. Back to the was really nice. So my lovely blue pot has been sitting empty waiting for the frost to leave which I think it has.

This morning I met up with two dear friends who I've known forever or nearly forever. Since we were kids and young teens at least. Christina, Bethany & I took our boys, all 5 of them ranging from 7 weeks to 3 years old, to Jump Planet which is basically a warehouse full of huge inflatable bouncy toys. Of course getting out of the house is never without its drama of last minute diaper changes, getting the clean diapers out of the dryer (yes we cloth diaper), chasing Caleb around and threatening to cancel on "Rain-aa & Lie-us", aka Ranen and Elias.  Despite my good intentions of leaving the house at 8:30am it was more like 8:53am. Oh well at least I had the time wrong on the kids under 6 free jump so we ended up being 15 minutes early instead of late.

After the boys got their wiggles out and us moms caught up on life we headed to the parking lot. Naturally Jude decided to wake up just as I was loading him into his infant carrier from the Moby Wrap. We made it a minute or two down the road to the bank to make a deposit - thank you Chase for drive-through banking - and then Jude decided indeed he was starving. I pulled through the drive-through and parked the car because I knew we wouldn't be able to make it home. So there we sat while Jude ate to his hearts content. It is at moments like these I am so thankful that our nursing sessions only take 8 minutes or less. This is assuming there are no choking sessions due to an overactive let down. My poor boys! I digress.

On our route home I saw the Yakima Fruit Market and swung the Forester into the parking lot. Pretty much when this lovely local fruit market reopens every spring I get super excited because it means the sun and its warmth will once again be my companions.  The market has an outdoor section with plants which I always find so enticing. I unloaded the boys and ventured into my little heaven. I could seriously look at plants and natural skincare products for hours. I went straight to the herbs. First of course I had to have Italian parsley, being Italian and all...or rather should I say of Italian descent. I am American and there's just no getting away from that. Then it was rosemary. I went with Tuscan Blue followed by Thyme and Spearmint. Pretty sure I'm going back for the chives and oregano which I of course can't live without. As for my absolute favorite, basil, well I know better. Our temperatures are still to low and we just don't have the sun for it indoors. Plus I think Caleb would destroy it as he has already been pulling pink flowers off a plant Ryan & Maria gave me when Jude was born.

With my lovely herbs loaded in their cardboard boxes I started towards the checkouts. Of course this meant pulling Caleb away from the bubbles that some very wise owners/manager/employees had placed for small people. Pretty sure the plants don't get picked to death with this creative diversion. Naturally when I got to the checkout stand I found my debit card was missing or rather not replaced in its proper location. Remember the stop at the bank? Well the card was still sitting on the passenger seat in the car. Back we went and a few minutes later I was the proud owner of 4 herb plants and one bag of potting soil. Yeah!!!!

As I pulled out of the parking lot I heard something fall over in the back...I was pretty sure it was the jump-seat for the new stroller which is currently in the shop getting repaired (more on that another time). The only problem was that in its direct line of newly purchased herbs. I pulled into the nearest driveway and made my way to the back. As I suspected the herbs were somewhat crushed...Classic. Thankfully not too many were broken.  The rest of the drive the smell of my herbs filled the car with their sweet and refreshing aroma.

Caleb and I had a great time planting and we are now the proud owners of 4 different herbs and one fine looking pot. Its hard to believe its only taken me till I was nearly 30 to realize this little dream for myself. So Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme and Spearmint make me oh so happy! Today I can say has been a good day and I did something with my son that was a first for the both of us. Thanks Caleb for being mommies little helper. Love you buddy even if I don't always act like it. Now if only I can keep him from digging in the freshly potted planter with his rubber shark!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Boot Camp & Birthday Cake

Some of you may know that nearly 2 weeks ago I enrolled Caleb who is 2 1/2 in bootcamp.  Bootcamp you may ask...what kind of bootcamp? Well let me share!  This bootcamp is actually more of a mommy bootcamp.

  • One in which I don't allow television during the day and only on the occasional evening
  • One in which Caleb gets timeout when I tell him he will have one if he does ________
  • One in which I am the boss and Caleb is not ie. no telling mommy, STOP, NO, LEAVE ME ALONE
  • One in which I went to the arts & craft store and purchased $40 worth of supplies ( I had to convince Gary it was absolutely necessary - still not sure he believes me) in order to keep Caleb busy and not bored.

So how has mommy bootcamp gone you ask??? It was an exhausting and huge success. No more are the mornings where cartoons are playing until lunchtime. My son is playing with his toys, not yelling as much, colors, uses his imagination and his language has increased again. An added and much needed bonus is that the attacks on his little brother Jude have decreased significantly too.  The only set back to the great behavior I have seen was today...he just returned from a day and night at Grandmas with movies and not having to share attention/time with little brother. All day he has been asking for tv and movies. I so thought we were done with this.

Sigh!!! Its never ending but I'm sticking to my guns because that's all I can do.  So today I'm back at it. Playdough, coloring, a walk in the new stroller, lunch at noon followed by nap and timeouts when needed.  I realize that these all seem like obvious things to do with you child but its so not that easy. When you are awakened every two hours between midnight and 6:15am by your infant who has a cold and is hungry because he can't eat enough during his normal feeds it kinda makes you want to pretend you don't have children. You definitely just want to turn on the tv and let Curious George and Dinosaur Train take over your role as parent. I have successfully resisted the maybe I should work on not "tuning out" while on Facebook. Not sure I'm ready to cross that bridge yet.

I mentioned the new stroller. I have been agonizing on what stroller to get since we got home from South Africa in the end of October. Seriously had sleepless nights about this which is totally insane - certifiably insane. I know I'm not alone in my stroller insanity though. We ended up with the Baby Jogger Summit 360 with toddler jumpseat. So far I'm impressed although we did have an incidence of it tipping over due to the out of balance issue. Kinda a funny story...I was walking with the boys in the neighborhood we live in and Jude started crying really hard so I took him out. I had pushed the stroller over to the curb alongside someones white picket fence. Anyway, when I took Jude out the stroller tipped over with Caleb right into the fence. He got a little bruise on his leg where he was wedged between the stroller and fence. I tried not to laugh...horrible I realize but considering all the injuries Jude has sustained at Calebs hands it seemed "ironic" to me.

This week also marked Saint Patties day. In honor of this Irish Holiday that we American's celebrate with gusto, despite not being Irish...well at least most of us...I made corned beef and cabbage with red potatoes and carrots.

  I had my parents and brother Ryan over...although Ryan opted for Teriyaki Madness. He's a missionary on OM's Logos Hope and is home on furlow. Actually he goes back to the ship on Sunday. He has this crazy list of things he had to do while he was here that he can't do while overseas and I guess Teriyaki was one of them.


Most of you probably know that I love to cook. Let me say that again...COOK...not bake. Cooking is fun....baking is not and makes me fat!!! Anyway in my love for cooking I keep thinking I should take pics of the food I make while I'm prepping, etc. But who has time for that? Well this week both boys were napping while I prepped the meal so I took pics. It was a fun and creative adventure. ☺Actually this week I've started taking photos again. I really haven't since our outreach as life has been somewhat uninspiring in so many

 ways. Her are a few pics of my week including a play dough session with "birthday cake".

 This is the only cake I've made since Caleb's 2nd birthday in Panama. That was an adventure...I accidentally bought garlic butter(who knew it existed) and I didn't have a beater. Plus I had to even buy a pan to cook it in. I'm pretty sure it ended up being way more expensive that it would have been to buy a stupid cake. He probably would have liked cookies just as much...but there are no candles to blow out on cookies.

All in all its been a lot of work this Boot Camp business but I'm pretty sure its worth it. Of course as soon as I  type this Caleb will try to "Buzz Lightyear" off the couch or Jude will start wailing because Caleb pinched his cheek or head butted him for the 7th time today. I keep repeating my mantra..."I Love my Life, I Love My Life, I LOVE MY LIFE!"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fresh Start

Today is a new day and marks the beginning of this virtual journey of learning to Breathe, live in Hope and experience my Life fully in the coming year. 2009 marked a very challenging and difficult year in my life. Many of you know that my husband, Gary, and I embarked on a 7 month journey with PhotogenX in April with our then 1 year old son Caleb. What many of you don't know is that the weeks prior to our departure I had a miscarriage. Not only were we busy packing away our lives into storage for the coming adventure but we had the tragic loss of our 2nd child.

I was about 12 weeks when we found out via ultrasound that the baby had stopped developing and ended up having a D&C the day before we flew out. Once we arrived in Kona, Hawaii we literally hit the ground running with classes, homework and getting to know our new community. There wasn't much time for me to process the loss and really go through the grieving process. I just had to bottle it up for the most part and keep moving along.  About halfway through our 12 weeks in Kona we found out that somehow I managed to get pregnant again - well I know how but we were surprised to say the least. We were so amazed and overjoyed that so soon our loss had begun to be redeemed.

As things go I started having some pretty heavy bleeding and generally freaked out! The Dr. I was seeing in Hawaii felt I was having another miscarriage so he sent me for another ultrasound. Miraculously our little baby was alive and well at 7 weeks. During the next 2 weeks we prepared to depart for 4 months of overseas travel with our school to Panama, Costa Rica and South Africa. Throughout our time abroad I was hit with severe morning sickness and weightloss, stress of ever changing living situations, raising a toddler among 40 adults in a small church, attempting to parent, be a spouse, grow a baby and participate in our field assignment. Life was very very stressful and really not at all what I had envisioned this season looking like.

After a month and a half in South Africa we made the very long journey home to Washington where we arrived October 25th. In my mind I had really set this next season up for being one of setting my life back up as it had been prior to leaving. I had day dreamed about decorating my own home, cooking, nesting for our expected baby and spending time at the park with friends and their kids; all things I could not do on outreach. The reality of my life upon arriving home was much different. We found ourselves broke, living in a strangers basement, trouble with extended family, exhausted and just as stressed as before.

So our home has become a small daylight basement that is filled with our hosts belongings. In this space we fight, love, cry, laugh, plan, work late into the night and dream of our own place. I would say that this season of transition as we launch PhotogenX Seattle, raise support, work side jobs, raise children (we had our 2nd son Jude on February 3rd) and learn to love in all circumstances has been the hardest of my life. I am exhausted emotionally, physically and spiritually! I feel far from the woman I had hoped to be at almost 30 (next month).

This past week I realized my life is generally what I make it out to be. I realize not earth shattering news and I technically knew it to begin with but sometimes it hits you in a new and fresh way. So, while the circumstances may not be what I had hoped or dreamed of that doesn't mean I should give up to the depression that ebbs at the corners of my mind nor the anger that at times seems to be all I feel. It doesn't mean I should give up on the dreams I have for my life nor should I stop hoping for all that is to come - the promises God has given me completing a good work. As I pondered how I could hold onto all that I want three things came to mind
  • BREATHE - truly inhaling and exhaling life both literally and figuratively
  • HOPE - for all the dreams I have bottled up in my heart for my family, friends, ministry and  work.
  • LIFE - not allowing life to just be but rather to truly make my life what I want despite circumstances. To shape it in all its glory and messiness because it gets pretty messy with a 2 year old, infant, husband, starting a new business and non profit all at the same time.

In my attempt to capture the journey of the next year I decided to create a virtual diary of sorts. I hope that you enjoy the journey with me as I learn to Breathe.Hope and live Life fully. Its going to be quite the ride I'm sure!

Jenn aka Wife, Mother, Daughter & Friend