Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This Week's Menu: Oct.27-Nov.2

*Disclosure* NONE of the highlighted recipes are mine. I want to thank all the blogs and websites mentioned in this post for sharing their creations(or making time to tweak another's, lol) with people like me who need all the help they can get in the kitchen ;)




  • Breakfast: Peach Bread
  • Lunch: Sandwiches 
  • Dinner: Brisket enchiladas w/ yellow rice and peas(3)



  • Breakfast: Oatmeal w/apple slices and cinnamon
  • Lunch: Leftovers or sandwiches
  • Dinner: Philly Cheesesteak Pizza(5)


  • Breakfast: donuts(found these in a bakery discount cart in my supermarket!) and bananas(also found on discount in my supermarket!)
  • Lunch: any leftovers from previous meals, or sandwiches
  • Dinner: Creamy Chicken Lasagna(6) w/ Garlic Herb & Parm breadsticks(5) 
  • Saturday's Family Movie Night Treat: Peach Dumplings with French Vanilla Ice Cream
(1)The fried chicken mentioned was kindly provided to us after helping our church with an event after services. The Sausage, Parm and Kale soup modifications- I doubled the recipe before I noticed it originally had 10 servings for a single batch(opps!), so that's why it's on here a lot this week. I omitted the water and added more chicken broth instead. I had no thyme in the house so I just added extra parsley. I added frozen corn(about 3 cups) when adding the other veggies called for. Last, I added the parmesan cheese into the milk mix after it reached the desired consistency because I have a bad history with adding cheeses to soups and the cheese just making a big clump at the bottom of the soup...plus, I'm lazy. *laughs*
(2)For the breakfast bread recipe, I added 1 apple, chopped, about a half a cup of dried cranberries, and about a half a cup of walnuts from our tree outside. Instead of the called for oil, I used the same amount of butter, melted. I cover the top of all sweet/quick bread recipes in aluminium foil and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes only because I've found in the past if I follow the recipe's statement,  "50 minutes uncovered" the bottom will be done but the middle will still be uncooked/raw.
For the lunch bread recipe, I used the same "nut bread" base as I did with the apple, cranberry and walnut recipe(above), just omitted the nut part  and added 4 peaches, pureed in blender. I tripled the recipe but instead of adding the called for 3 cups of milk, I only used  a 1 and 1/4 cups of milk and mixed it in with the pureed peaches, which, coincidentally made about 3 cups of liquid .
(3) I had made the Brisket over the weekend for another meal. To use it for the enchiladas, I just took what I had left over, sprinkled some taco seasoning onto it, mixed it in with a small bottle of salsa, put it on my homemade tortillas, and rolled them as decent as I could. I spread some salsa on the bottom of the baking dish, added the filled tortillas, put salsa on top of the tortillas(some people buy enchilada sauce, but to each their own) and added some shredded cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. For the yellow rice, I cheated and used a pre-packaged rice mix that you can normally find in the ethnic foods section of your local supermarket. I doubled it and once it finished cooking, I added 1 cup cooked peas.
(4) For the chili, I omit the onion and garlic powder and add 1 onion and about 2-4 teaspoons of crushed or minced garlic from a jar. I also add 1(15-ish oz.) can of white corn or 2 cups frozen corn. I don't mix the cheese into the soup(see sausage, parm. and kale note for reason why), but just sprinkle it on top of the soup.
(5) Pizza- for the crust, I use this recipe. I'm making a double batch of the dough so I can use the other dough for bread sticks on Saturday. I'm going to try something a franchise pizza place does, and melt a few tablespoons of butter, brush onto the dough, sprinkle garlic-herb seasoning and shredded parmesan cheese to the crust before adding toppings. To assemble the pizza, I'm going use homemade cheese sauce instead of marinara pizza sauce, cooked cheese steak meat(i.e., "steak flats")  that was sauteed with chopped onions, green peppers, and mushrooms. For the actual cheese, I'm going to use shredded provolone.
(6)I'm substituting (1) 15-oz package of ricotta for the cottage cheese, because I can't stand cottage cheese. I'm adding about 1 cup of fresh spinach to the ricotta cheese because...veggies, that's why. *Boss face*
Have a yummy week!
Until Next Time....
-Mama Jenn

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My First Few Months as A Wife

Lately, I've been thinking..."you know, Jenn," I said to myself, "I haven't written a blog post in a bit, maybe it's time I did..."

And so, here I am. I wanted to write about several things, really. It never fails--I leave the blog alone for a bit, then when it comes to mind, so does about 1,000 topics in my head and not enough time to type them all down.
Oh, well. 

Anyways, I had one too many cups of coffee today, it's the middle of the night and I'm alert. I could clean, but, instead, I'll blog. *giggles*

Well. Here I am. A wife. I am married. Papa has not only met me face-to-face, but he still agreed to marry me(!!!) And get this-he still loves me!  Even after a few months of saying it repeatedly in some way,shape, or form, it still shocks the heck out of me.I'm not going to get emotional here...but let it be said, the God crazy love story between my husband and I brings tears to my eyes each time I think about it. But, *wipes eyes with a tissue*  not going to go there today. You guys see enough of our sappy stuff on Facebook. *blows nose*

No, today I'm going to talk about my first few months as a wife. In some ways, it was what I expected, and some ways, it's not. It's funny, how people enter into marriage thinking they have it all figured out, only to have some curve balls thrown along the way. I guess God's just funny like that.

Okay, so...what did I expect? I guess this list is short, because honestly, I didn't have much to compare marriage to. I sort of expected it to be an extension of what Papa and I had already had-a long distance relationship, up close. He is a trucker after all, so it's not like I was really expecting a huge shift in our everyday lives. We get married, I see him on the weekends...but for five to six days a week, it was supposed to be pretty much like it was when we only saw each other on the rare Skype and the pictures we saw on Facebook/texted each other. Our saving grace to keep connected  while he's on the road was, and still is, the phone. I didn't really think much about how we were going to handle the weekends past...er...*ahem*...but I figured, we'd do okay.

I expected lots of cuddling and kissing. Ever since we started flirting, it was made known-I am not the overly physically affectionate one in this marriage, he is. I guess the reasoning is really just my upbringing- my dad wasn't overly affectionate in public. My mom wasn't either(and if she was, I never saw it). That was one thing they both had in common-they always looked so uncomfortable showing PDA in public.Plus, I know it sounds weird, but cuddling and kissing are in my mind, the beginning of something more. I'll let you decide what that means. But, after years of being single and attempting and re-attempting to suppress every urge...cuddling and kissing people that aren't my kids were a good way of avoiding the issue. Lastly, these things are, again, just the message I received growing up-a sign of vulnerability. Growing up with the idea of feminism to the radical it has become, PDAs are a sign that "I" need "you" to fill some sort of(physical, emotional,etc.) need in me. I am a woman of the 21st century- "I" don't "need" anyone, and PDA's, I can do without, thank-you-very-much. Or, at least that was my thinking.

Ironically enough, although Papa feels awkward in public settings, he has little to no issue with PDAs. He can throw a whopper of a kiss at Walmart, he can hold my hand like he's afraid I'll blow away(and with this crazy thing called "Dust storms" that I'm not used it, there is always a chance I very well may. But I'll talk about that, and other things I've never knew about until I moved to Idaho, in another post). Not that I'm complaining. I'm not. After years of telling/ducking and dodging people at church, "Yeah...I'm not a hugger. But I'll fistbump/high five/jazz/glitter hands ya anyday!" and wondering if my body would ever be viewed as more than a floppy place for the kids/animals to land/paw/kick in their sleep, it's nice that my husband does this every possible moment, for no reason whatsoever.

I half-expected him to like my cooking. I mean, I still have a ways to go when it comes to refining it. I rarely burn anything now, and  the smoke detector doesn't serenade us with the song of its people as we eat, so that must be a good sign, right? *nervous laughter*

I expected it to be easy for me to transition from being a single mom all my adult life to being a married woman. Being a single mom is one of the toughest jobs in the world, so shifting to being a wife and stepmother should be a cakewalk, I thought. I sort of went into marriage with a Rosie the Riveter mentality, "I can DO this! I got this! If I can raise three children, as an only parent, and people claim I do a good job of THAT, surely(!!!) adding on a husband and two more children shouldn't be that much a struggle for someone like me! "
 *rolls up sleeve to show muscles that can take on the world*
*realizes they aren't muscles but floppy boob-like arms*
*quickly rolls sleeve back down and makes a mental note that I really need to get back into doing yoga again*

While some of  y'all more experienced folks laugh at my somewhat overconfident outlook...I suppose I'll share the unexpected's...
I didn't expect to dread Sundays. Sundays are normally the days that Papa goes back in his truck away from home and out on the road. When we were almost two thousand miles away, it just seemed like another day. I never saw him, so I didn't think seeing him and then not seeing him would be that big of deal. It would suck a little, but I was somewhat immune(in my head, anyways) to the trucker's wife departure symptoms. Yet, the first weekend he left, I felt lost, and somewhat empty. What was life like without him home, again? How did I sustain life before as a single woman? Who is going to get the spices off the insanely tall cupboard while he's away?  How on earth was I supposed to function without him being home? Wait-I'm expected to do stuff without him?!  Women mentioned it on trucker's wives pages, but I always thought they were being overly dramatic. Some women would(and some trucker's wives, to some extent do) ENJOY their husbands gone that long, for pete's sake! Surely, this must be an exaggeration!
But as his truck rolled out of our driveway and on the way to his job, I cried. I still do, sometimes, although not every single Sunday. I am a somewhat emotional person, but I never thought the sight of him departing for the week would bring me to tears. Suddenly, the house seems bigger and I feel smaller, incomplete. Even though its been almost five months, it still takes me until at least Wednesday to stop counting out five plates as I serve meals. I had to start planning out our week ahead on Sundays, because if I don't keep busy, the bed will feel more spacious and suddenly the road will seem more dangerous. I've had to limit my time on Facebook on Sundays,too-one bad weather report or one traffic accident, and I'm regretting not kissing him once more before he left and wondering if he left the house with seasonally appropriate clothing.

I'm also re-playing out the whole weekend in my head. Did I display enough love to him-was I cold and unfeeling to him? Did he get enough cuddle time, hugs and kisses,etc. to sustain him for the week ahead? Did he eat enough food, did I feed him too little? Did I put enough clothes in his duffle bag, enough food in his cooler? Why did I get my feathers in a bunch over that(insert random thing to get mad about here), when I should have just been loving up on him! Did he remember a coat, just in case?

As we sit in church, I am trying hard to focus on the pastor's sermon, the worship music, and keep my mind centered on the prayers. In the corners of my mind, though, I am taking a mental note of the time, wondering-will today be the day the pastor accidentally forgets his sermon, gets lost coming to church and hey, what do you know? We now three hours to spend as a family, without others,before hubby has to get back on the road! But then I remember, the pastor lives next door to the church, his sermon is mostly already memorized, and dang it, I actually like church. Stupid internal conflict.

Secondly, I didn't expect to crave his affection. Remember my little "I'm a feminist that doesn't need anyone" speech?
Yeah, screw that.
 I really thought the weekends would be satisfactory for affection. But as Sunday turns into Monday, I forget what do with my lips aside from speaking and eat chocolate. Why are they on my face, anyways, if they can't kiss my husband? What's the point of having speed bumps...er, I mean "curves" if my husband's hands aren't there to touch them? Why does my back feel so random when he's not there behind it, embracing it as I cook? Suddenly, my whole body feels like a puzzle missing complete pieces. Even meals feel odd. Isn't this the end of dinner? Where is my thank you kiss for the meal? Even though I am not overly affectionate or a person to normally initiate signs of affection yet...suddenly, I feel at odds without it.

Third, I didn't really expect him to have any ideas about food. I had tried before we got married to rack his brain on what he likes and his response was almost always the same- "Warm, cooked food." Now that he's somewhat used to my cooking, he's now throwing ideas at me that I wouldn't otherwise come up with.Rules on food are being broken, questioned.  Who says we have to put ground meat in our lasagna-can we put, say, roast beef or brisket in there instead? What constitutes as a pizza topping/sauce/cheese? Can you crush onions somehow to make them blend in with the food? Why can't you put green beans in shepherd's pie?  At first, it felt like a low-blow to my cooking skills, but now, it challenges me. His ideas, no matter how strange they seem at first to me, are showing me that he is finally taking an interest in how his food is made. He is not just ramming it down his mouth as he drives, like he always claims. He is actually taking time to think about food, how it can be better, how we might be able to sneak in more better, sometimes healthier options. He not only semi-likes, but loves my cooking, and is helping me to be a better cook. It's a win for everyone, right?

Lastly...I didn't expect being a wife and stepmother would be a transition I clearly wasn't ready or fully prepared for. I believed I was ready. My step kids will love me, just like the neighborhood kids back home, I thought.  We might butt heads for a very short period, but after a week or two, they will, just like the kids I babysat, see that although I am strict, I am also one of the best adults you could ever have around. I am the cool but firm mom! You can tell me anything, and it stays right here, like a vault!  I am the one who doesn't take no bull, but will gladly watch Disney movies and make home baked cookies with y'all... and although cool, you'd best be calling me "Miss Jenn" or else, now here's some milk to go with that cookie *smiles*. I had won over some pretty tough kids back home, kids that wouldn't listen to their OWN moms. Surely I had seen/heard/disiplined everything when it came to kids and could handle it all.
Uhh...yeah...about that....
You know those movies where the kids are running wild, and the parent/caregiver is hiding off somewhere, like a closet or something, hoping for a few moments of peace and sanity? I've always laughed and thought...that's just in the movies!
Except....this summer tho.(*-_-)
I was in my bathroom...not hiding! I may or may not have been hiding. Okay, I was probably hiding. Chocolate may or may not have been involved. So was frantic/tearful calls to hubby.
Oh, and lots of praying. I was doing lots of praying. They nearly all started out the same..."LAWD, give me the strength...!!!" But it was out of religious habit than desperation, okay? I start all my prayers out that way.
Okay, not really...ever.
Except when my nerves are shot.
Which was pretty much as soon as I opened my eyes each day.
And every moment afterwards.
...But hey, no one can say I don't pray for those kids!!!
And we had heart to hearts....not the kind I was used to back home, though. Kids back home would confide in me things they wouldn't normally say to anyone past their age group-" I secretly like that girl on the bus", "I actually like to watch wrestling, but my parents say I'm not allowed", "I wish I could leave this house already, I'm so sick of living in such a strict house!", "My mom's lover sleeps naked and they don't think I know...". I knew secrets they only shared with friends, but I could give them adult advice in a way that wasn't condemning.
However, I couldn't do that with my stepchildren. Our heart to hearts were more along the lines of-
"I wish you'd make boxed mac and cheese like my REAL mom does!"
 "I can't WAIT to go back home!"
"Why can't you be just like my mom?"
"I don't want to use the bathroom! It takes too long!"
"Why can't we have candy like we do all the time at home?!"
 I couldn't give them advice on these matters, because I was in the MIDST of these matters! I was the reason they complained! ME! Can you believe it? The mom that was cool with every kid suddenly was public enemy number one-not for a little while, but for an entire summer! Instead of remaining cool but distant on the matters, I lost it every single time-
"I don't care what kind of super processed food your mother made you back home, here we eat REAL food, and from scratch, YOU GOT THAT?!"
"Well, next summer, we'll ask you if you want to come over, and if you don't want to come over,then... FINE! Do you know who wanted you here for the summer? Your dad, me, and my kids. But if you want to break all our hearts by not coming, hey, it's YOUR CHOICE!"
  "I'm sorry I don't let you get away with everything, and actually prefer you didn't act like hooligans while we are out in public! Gee, I must be so horrible in your eyes, because I expect you to have this crazy thing called MANNERS and RESPECT for elders...Well, shame on me, right?!"
 "Well, guess what? If you don't want to use the bathroom, then you can clean yourself up when you go in your clothing, because you are TOO OLD for me to justify putting on a diaper and wiping your butt! I REFUSE to clean up a five year old's poop! Ain't nobody got time for DAT! But good luck trying, buttercup! Now, get your be-hind in there N-O-W!!"
I wasn't calm, cool and collective.
I was losing it, and losing it daily!
But, God gives grace to the...uhh...humble.
....Not that I was acting the least bit humble. But, hey, the step kids are back home with their mom, and I have another chance to try again...the next holiday break they get. Or next summer, if they still want to come back...whichever happens first. We did have some good moments, we did have some, "hey, I may still finish off this summer as cool mom!" moments. So, who knows? I know I goofed up this summer, but maybe by next summer(or whenever they decide to come back), I will be more humbled and God will give me more grace, and I might still have a shot of these kids actually liking me. Hey, I might even have a shot at "step mother of the year award"...instead of winning an honorary mention for "Worst Step Monster of the Summer".

And going from single to married in mindset?
Yeah...that was...*big sigh*...yeah.
Not exactly what I was expecting.
The biggest issue I have is this notion called joint decision making. A part of me wants to go on cruise control and let Papa Bear take on all the big issues for our household....but, another part of me, the perfectionist, hey, I am used to being the only decision maker me, is quickly exclaiming, "Don't you dare!".
You mean to tell me...I can't just let him make all the big, tough decisions, and I make all the smaller, and most times, cooler ones? But, at the same time, I can't make all the shots? Hey, what is this, anyways?!?
It's called a marriage- it's a fine line, that middle ground, and yes, I'm...I mean we are working on it. Sometimes day to day, sometimes minute to minute. But we are still working on it.
Second issue I'm butting heads with? Sharing. Yes,contrary to popular belief, when it comes to sharing certain things, I am a greedy, self-centered two year old screaming, "MINE!!!". Normally, I *like* to think of myself as a giving person....
Shirt off my back? Hope you don't mind looking at my stretch marks-here ya go! Last bit of some really good food? Eh, I wasn't all that hungry anyway- you take it. Want my stupid-easy recipe for chocolate peanut butter fudge? Don't tell your friends, but I'll totally write it down for you, send it to you in an e-mail, or text it to you...which would you prefer?
Tell my, I mean our babies what to do? I'll rip your eyes out. Oh, wait we're married...I'll give you a nasty stare instead. You want the computer to watch Netflix? You can't handle the computer!! What do you mean, I can't have ice cream for dinner/unplanned movie night when you're not home?! Why not?! Oh, yeah, I'm not supposed to be greedy with the funsies. *licks last bit of ice cream off carton* Err...Opps.

You see, I am still very much a selfish person in the ultimate selfless relationship. God doesn't use the illustration of marriage when describing the relationship between Jesus and the Church for nothing. Jesus' love for the Church is supposed to look like a marriage-selfless, willingly serving the other out of love, loving the other more than yourself. Or maybe marriage is supposed to look like Jesus' love for the Church(?) Wait, I'll get back to you on that....*nervous laughter*
 Marriage is a very giving relationship. You're supposed to share all things with your spouse-because you're no longer just "you", but "us". Not sharing with your spouse is supposed to feel like not sharing with a part of yourself, because you are no longer two separate people but one in God's eyes.
....I just wish my brain, mouth, and emotions would get the memo. I shouldn't allow anger to rise up in me every time Papa goes to correct the kids. At the end of the day, he's in the same boat I am-just trying to raise God-fearing, respectful, wonderful kids. And seriously, will the internet world come to an end as I know it, just because I'm not there? I'm gonna take a guess and say...no. Well, maybe. Okay...no, the answer is definitely no.  And sharing fun is, ironically, more fun. Yes, we may all get say, less ice cream than if there were a few people less, or we might be able to finally be able to hear what that one actor is saying if we watch it alone, but c'mon...where's the fun in that? Family fun time is not about me, or him, or the kids, the movie, or food or whatever. It's about having fun together. And considering hubby is gone pretty much everyday of the week, why should I not willingly want him to come home to some fun times, instead of a mere "honey do" list?

You know, it's so funny. I went into this marriage thinking it wouldn't be hard to maintain. I mean, we had an almost 2,000 mile, long-distance friendship/on again, off again, why are we doing this again(?)...relationship we maintained for almost 4 years-now THAT was tough. I really thought marriage would be...dare I say...easier. Maybe the kid in me really thought, we were as so many said, like a fairy tale. We had so many obstacles that, through God's grace, we've overcome before we got married. So, we should be living that part at the end of the fairy tale, you know, that "and they lived happily ever after!" part. It should be total and complete bliss compared to all we've been through.

The reality of it is, yes, it's bliss. There are moments where I can't believe I should be, and deserve to be, this happy. There are moments when I have to look up at the sky and ask God, "is this really the life you thought for me? It's too good-are you sure I'm not just dreaming again?"

But, there are moments...that are not so blissful. These are the moments I forget one of my favorite sayings-"when you point the finger, you have four more pointing back at YOU." The not-so-blissful moments are largely because I think I'm right, or better, or not in the wrong. Do I always realize it quickly? No. Do I, once I realize it, quickly apologize, give it a name, admit my fault? Nuh-uh.

While everyone loves a good fairy tale, do you know why many people don't like the follow-ups, after the "happily ever after's"? Because they're real. The metaphorical big, fire breathing dragon nearly every couple had that separated the two from being together is now slain. Now they have to tackle the dishes, together. The wicked witch(I don't say metaphorical, because several people call her a relative of some sort) that does everything in her power to keep the two of you from meeting and ultimately, changing life as y'all know it? She's now a distant memory, and in her place, finances, budgets, and stepping out of your comfort zone(in communicating, sharing,awkward holiday dinners with her and extended family,etc.) take her place.

My first few months as a wife are beyond what I-the borderline perfectionist, I-hate-surprises-because-they-make-me-cry-and-I-hate-crying-so-I-think-of every-possible-scenario-and-try-to-plan-out-how-to- overcome-it-in-my-head-minus-the-crying... me could comprehend. I wish I could say it's all roses and rainbows all the time, but I'd be lying. Sometimes it is farts and loosey-gooseys(random TMI-I still can't fart or go beyond number one  in my husband's presence, or while he's within ear shot. I have no problem if he does, but I for some reason cannot. Does everyone go through this after they get married and lived together? Or am I just being weird, as usual?). Sometimes I feel like I have a Ph.D in wifeolgy, while most times I feel like I haven't got a clue.

Thank God that he not works up to the "Happily ever after" 's, but also the days that follow. Praise God that he gave me such a forgiving, determined, and loving husband to model to me what I should strive for on the days when I'm feeling less than forgivable, ready to go in fetal position and cry, and  quick to be bitter. Thank baby Jesus(okay...and the teen and adult one, too) that he gave us the best example of love for others beyond love for ourselves.
Thanks be to God for the wonderful crazy train we call "marriage". :)
Until Next Time...
-Mama Jenn

Monday, August 4, 2014

Homesteading Adventures& Misadventures, Part 1: Gardening

If you've been here before- Welcome back!
If this is your first time here- Howdy, and WELCOME to the chaos!

Two people shaking hands.
*Everyone shake hands!*
Okay, now that we've got greetings out of the way, I thought I'd tell y'all about my latest adventure....
Now, I know it's August, and *technically* I'm a little late with this, but better late than never, right?
Okay, maybe not.
Soooo...back in June, after the move, I youtube'd what I needed to do, attempted to go to the store, get some seeds, planters, and starter soil, and the kids and I attempted our first baby steps in gardening!
After we had everything assembled the way the video said, the next thing was to give them a "mini green house" by watering them, placing them every night, in the (cold) oven, and take them back out the next morning. The person on the video stressed at least twice(I think. It may have been more. I only viewed the video once, okay? I thought I had this down to a science) that you MUST make sure the oven is cold(not on, not warm from the day's baking,etc.) and you MUST remember to take them back out first thing in the morning so they can get the sunlight they need.
This is where the stupid in me comes.
I forgot to take them out of the oven the next morning. Even though all the kids reminded me.
I left them in the oven all morning. And completely forgot about them. Then lunch time came around, and hey, did I mention how much I loved my oven up until this day? It has a glass top, its all sparkly and new, and...it has a glass top! Those things are SOO much easier to clean than the fire/coil tops! Just saying.
An-y-ways...lunch time rolled around, and I thought, hey, it'd be awesome if we had some chicken tenders! We haven't had those in awhile! Plus, it's not too labor intensive...go me!
So, I turned on the oven, and...oh, another cool thing about this new and sparkly oven...it tells you when it's ready. Like, it will actually beep when its at the temperature you set. Not like a "was that a bird chirping Songs of Solomon?!" beautiful beep, but the "hey, it could be the oven, or it might be the smoke alarm doing the song of its people...but you won't know until you check the kitchen!!" beep. Yeah. Scares the crap out of me every time.
Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah. So, I was waiting for the oven to do the "false smoke alarm" beep, and started cleaning something. After a few minutes, I started to smell something odd. Thinking I had sniffed one too many cleaning products, I stopped cleaning and sat down. But the smell wouldn't go away. After using bloodhound style sniffing abilities, I pinpointed the smell in the kitchen.
"Must be the oven..." I thought, "Maybe we're finally breaking it in, and it's not going to look so shiny after this or something."
"Maybe it's because we haven't set the temp this high...ever?(Never understood why almost everything "convenient" has to be cooked with an oven temp that makes you think you have a part of the sun in your kitchen)"
"Did I put the baking sheet by itself in there, by accident?"
"Maybe I should take a peek...maybe there's a forgotten casserole, or a wasp, or something, dying in there."
I quickly attempted to grab my planters and yank them out of the smoldering furnace...I mean, oven. Only to realize I wasn't wearing oven mitts.
If you think the smell of burning plastic wasn't enough...try the wonderful earthy smell of HOT STARTER SOIL, conveniently scattered ALL OVER YOUR OVEN!! If that's not enough, we'll even throw in the chance to scrub melting plastic out of your oven, courtesy of your lack of brain cells!
*Everyone claps like its a game show*
My seeds...my precious, precious seeds...my planters, my awesome and totally earth-friendly planters...and my soil, my vitamin-full, loose and super-absorbent soil...gone. Covering my too-hot oven. Bearing its soul over my kitchen floor.
Okay, the dirt was WAY scattered than this. I just swept it up.
Well...maybe all was not lost. The planters were semi-salvageable(just not the parts that retained the water for them). I didn't plant all the seeds, because I didn't have enough planters, so I still had a few of each vegetable. So..all wasn't completely loss, right?
Actually, yes...yes it was.
The (remaining) dirt and seeds of great potential...now burnt to a crisp.
The bottoms. Curled up in fetal position.
I attempted to try again, with what I had. This time, I didn't go anywhere near the oven with these babies!!
The kids and I replanted. I watered daily. After about two weeks, shoots started coming out.
"I don't suck at this!!" I thought.
But...then the shoots got bigger.
"You might want to take them outside now, honey." Papa Bear said.
"Okay!!" I said.
Transplanting vegetables. Easy-peasy.
First off, I forgot...I had nothing cute and small to dig with. I had forgot to buy one of those small garden shovels! So, to improvise, I used Papa's huge "this could bury people...if we were those sort of people" shovel. I tried to dig semi-small holes.

Okay, here is the shovel in question. Tiny Bear wanted to try and dig a hole.
 Which, didn't turn out so semi-small.But more like "there could be body parts in these holes!" holes.
But, I put them in the ground! That's all that mattered! And I did my best to gently cover them up, saturate the ground, and did a "Holy Udder Chaos, it's hot outside, no wonder I stay in the house, please tell me I'll have to do this everyday!!" rain dance.

One of the tomato plants. Before...summer violated it.

I'm sure my ancestors would have been proud.
...and, by proud, I mean, they probably would have slapped me upside my head. With the "we could bury people with this shovel"...shovel.
The next day, I took a peek out.
Only to find each and every plant....
Not looking all tall and big like they had appeared in my house the day before.
But like sad, lifeless dead plants, laying by the wayside of what looked like a crime scene investigation.
I mean, my garden area.
I talked to them, sang to them a little(hey, it helped Semore, and look what happened to HIS plant--it started talking!!!), and ordered the kids to find ever bit of gray water we had in the house, and dump it on the plants, STAT!
But, it was too late. The damage was done. They.were.dead.
"Maybe the heat was too much of a shock to them," Papa Bear suggested.
"Bite me." I said(okay, I didn't really say this,out loud anyways. I just thought it, in my head. I actually think I sobbed or something).
But you know what? They were my plants. And if dogs and cats can take after their owners, surely plants can, too, right?
And if that's the case...I don't blame them. I'd probably die out there, too. Summer and me...let's just say, I often hope Karma gets Summer with a dirty spork for all those days of boob sweat and making me look like burnt toast.
And now, my plants.
*shakes fist angrily at Summer*
BUT, although it would seem I don't have a green thumb, I am not giving up so easily!
Summer may be the peak time to grow produce, but its not the *only* time.
In fact, Fall's right around the corner. Although I can't grow as much, I can still grow some things.

My fall seeds, from a non-GMO, almost organic company

And grow I shall....attempt!

See? Even the company I bought the seeds from knows my struggle, and is wishing me luck!
(Okay, they really had no clue. But this was an awful nice gesture for a seed company, don't you think?)

Direct soil, this time...lesson learned!
Mixing some fertilizer in the soil...before I put seeds in!
Summer and I may not be on good terms, but Fall...we're cool!
And heck, I may even get some chickens before it gets too cold...just because!
Or even a goat!
(...if Papa Bear gives me thumbs up, of course!)
We're gonna homestead in the fall, and its going to AWESOME!!!
...I HOPE!!!
......How about I update you in a bit?

Until Next Time,
Mama Jenn
Here is the list of vegetables I'm hoping will grow this fall/winter-
Green Beans
Broccoli(two kinds, because I *REALLY* love broccoli!)
Cabbage(anyone have a good recipe for these? I'm not a huge fan of sauerkraut)
Collard Greens
Lettuce(oh, how I have missed you!!)
If you're growing something this fall, or you want to brag about you're summer harvest, I'd LOVE to hear about it! :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Our Wedding- May 27, 2014

Hello again, Chaotics!
Sorry again for the long post last time...I know, you're probably sick of looking at words now, aren't you?
Do your eyes hurt?
Are you squinting a little?
Okay...I'll keep the words to a minimum this time. This post is largely pictures, and two Youtube Videos, I promise.
The only thing I want to type about it...why Papa Bear and I decided to wait until we got married to kiss...and do other things(*wink*)
The fact is...both are a miracle in and of themselves. If you knew either of our history with sex outside of marriage, you probably would think, "There is NO WAY those two could hold out until their wedding day! They didn't KISS, I don't BELIEVE THAT!"
But, it's true.
We had both decided long before we ever met, that we wanted to glorify God in our courtship. Which, in most Christian circles, just meant, "Don't get the nookie on before you walk down the isle!"
However, a few years ago, someone recommended to me the book, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye". After reading it, I concluded this book HAD to be meant for teens, not single mothers who had a hard time controlling her, uh, "feminine urges"!
Around that same time, as I mentioned in my last post, God started to put in my path conservative Christian magazines, ministries, etc. The more I read their Biblical interpreted view of what courtship really looked like, the more I started to see the beauty in it. While nearly all of what was mentioned was geared towards younger adults, I thought...if a bunch of just left the hormonal teens stage young adults can do it, then why can't I?
So, I had decided, even before I had met Papa Bear, that I was not going to allow myself even a hint of temptation. Because for someone like me, who struggled for years between the world's way of sex(great for a moment, then extreme guilt and feelings of shame long afterwards) and desperately wanting God's way(holy and unashamed, beautiful, and with one person-your spouse), I knew that, for myself, even one kiss was one step too many.
Plus...only Tweeny Bear knows how babies are really made. The other two...well...I told them babies are made by kisses. Special kisses, that are only meant for marriage. So...I couldn't allow them to see me getting all tongue-tied and swapping spit with Papa Bear before marriage, if I wanted them to continue to believe that, even after I tell them how babies are really made, that kisses, sharing your lips, or any part of your body,really, is only meant for the person God has chosen to be your spouse...now, could I?
Papa Bear and I are aware that we want to not only raise Godly children in theory, but in our actions as well.  We also want to do our best to glorify God in our OWN walks, and in our actions to each other. We both wanted to respect each other as single people, God's people, and our future spouse, regardless of if that we were marrying each other or not.
It really helped we were 1,800+ miles away from each other most of the time...but minor details, minor details...*nervous laughter*
Anyways...I don't want to sound overly righteous or judgemental in saying all this. It wasn't easy-in fact, aside from the actual driving to get to Idaho, it was the hardest thing Papa Bear and I have had to do in the entire process of our courtship. I would hope most of you know me well enough to know, I am not saying all this from a "soapbox up on high", but rather, a woman who has walked and lived in the ways of the world nearly all her life, and has seen that life is not the life I wanted to continue to take part in. I'm human, but I'm also a sinner saved by grace-both(Papa Bear and I) of us are, really.
So, we decided to save that kiss for the wedding. And even though it may not amount to much to some,it meant a lot to me that we were willing to wait. And I'm glad we did- it was the sweetest kiss of my life.
Okay, I'm getting misty just thinking about it...part one is here, and part two is here.
Below are the pictures. On behalf of Papa Bear and I, I'd love to give a heartfelt thanks to Daniel, a facebook friend I had met for the first time that day, who decided to not only come to our wedding as a witness, but to go a step further and be our wedding photographer for the actual ceremony. Thank you SOO much, Daniel!
Two Families, Becoming One :)

Gosh, these kids are ADORABLE!!

I was trying to look like I was leaning on him, and ended up with double-chin(*-_-)

Mama Jenn and Papa Bear before the wedding! 

In Papa Bear's Car, getting ready to leave for the Courthouse!

Mama Jenn and Tiny Bear

Tiny Bear fell asleep on me on the way back...too much excitement for her!

Hands joined together, to symbolize unity

Papa Bear putting on my ring

Me, putting on Papa Bear's ring

"You may now kiss the bride..."

The sweetest kiss ever- Our first kiss!

I freaking love you, Papa Bear!!! Forever :)

 Hope you enjoyed!
Until Next Time,
Mama Jenn

Idaho,Why Idaho?!?!, the Story of the Lost Summer, and More!

Hello, Chaotics!
The past week has been...well, blissful!
I have to ask people(I got peoples! Well...sort of. Okay, not really, just the kids) to pinch me, it's hard to believe it's FINALLY happened!
After three years of waiting, and six years since God has laid it on my heart(for reasons I didn't know at the time)....We FINALLY made it to Idaho!
You know, every time I think about it, my mind is blown. Six years ago, I knew I wasn't where I was supposed to be. I lived in PA my whole life, and yet, I always felt uncomfortable, and uneasy. Like I was a square peg trying to fit in a state's oval hole. I'm proud of living there, and I'm in love with the people that are there, but...why did I feel so odd in my own home state(?)
Six years ago, I asked God in prayer, where DO I belong? I know heaven is the believer's eternal home, but...where was I to go until then?
After several days of questioning/praying this...an answer came, "Idaho".
Idaho! I thought. Ah. *ponders* Where the Hello Kitty is IDAHO?!?
And that's when the process began. First it was an acceptance in my heart that God knew what he was doing, then it was talking to others about it( you'd be surprised how many people respond with, "Idaho? No, you da hoe!" (*-_-) ), then pondering it some more( "I must be losing my mind...I don't have any family out there!") to...pondering it some more("Are you SURE you said Idaho, God?!" Maybe there's a city in PA called Idaho I'm not aware of..that's, like, 20 minutes away(?)") to accepting it again( "Okay, Idaho...I-da-ho. Where is that, again?!") to re-accepting it("Okay, okay, got it!!! Idaho...that's near Canada, right?*blinks in confusion*") to telling others about it("Idaho! How the heck are ya goin' get to IDAHO?!?!" "Uhhh...(?)". ).
It took two years of doubters and naysayers to finally accept it. I mean, really accept it. I didn't know where in Idaho I was going, or why on earth God would want me there, but if God said go, then I was at least willing to accept it...in my heart.
But, as I s-l-o-w-l-y started to accept in my heart I was called to Idaho, I also had some other deep longings in my heart.
The more I read my Bible, the more I wanted to surround myself with Godly things, and people. Suddenly, more conservative books and magazines started popping out to me. And there was something inside each of these that also had me thinking of something more.
In particular- how lonely I was.
Every morning, I woke up, to a king-sized bed, feeling like someone else should be there.
However, I was a single mother. While I was not ashamed of being one, it did limit my ability to earnestly go out and "try to find someone decent". When my friends suggested going here or there to meet so-and-so, I politely declined--couldn't find a babysitter. The more kids you have, the smaller pool of babysitters you have readily available.
So many of my friends thought I was somewhat proud of doing it all on my own, or that I enjoyed complaining about not having someone. To a degree, they were right. I was proud of the woman I became- I didn't need a man to make my worth in the world! I gots this! I can juggle kids, start homeschooling, and work at home! I don't need NOBODY(Except God, of course)!
But yet...God knew. God saw past the mirage and knew that, strong independent woman I was, deep down inside I was afraid. I had been used and abused one too many times. I had three kids to worry about- I didn't want them to see what I saw growing up- my mother, a single mom, in and out of unhealthy relationships, over the moon one day, and crying her eyes out the next. I didn't want to deal with the feeling of potential rejection most men had offered me when they realized I was what some of them considered "damaged goods", and looking for something more than a one-night stand. I cried out to God for years, calling out in faith that he HAD to have someone out there, just for me, because in the very first book of the Bible, He himself said, "it is not good for man to be alone." Didn't that also include women?! Where was my "other rib"(?). However, I wasn't ready--just yet--to try. So, although I cried out to God about it, I also did nothing to help it along, either.
So, I did the safest thing I could do--I made Internet friends in Idaho. And while most of them have come and gone, there was one that stuck around...
Papa Bear.
Well, you all know how that story started, right(?) You don't? Oh, okay, hop on over here and grab a cup of tea or something and enjoy the sappiness.
But I know what you're thinking...what happened after LAST summer? Did you guys break up? How did the story continue?
We did  break up during that time. I was really upset over the way it all went down...but it was largely my fault, and part his...I was trying to rush and he wasn't ready for the responsibility. Over the summer, I did a lot of thinking(which was all I really could do, not having a consistently working phone or Internet, and all), and a lot of crying over it all...despite my initial anger, I really missed him.
Anyways, when I finally obtained a working phone number, I sent a text out to those closest to me. Even though we hadn't spoken pretty much the entire summer, I still felt like he should know where I was at, and that I was okay. He texted back and apologized for not being there when I really needed him. He admitted he was sort of just hoping I had it all under control because he wasn't mentally ready or physically prepared to take on the responsibility. So, we became friends again.
But then the issues in Indiana started unfolding-first with the feeling that many people in the church were against us homeschooling because I was a single working mother, small town people gossiping, and last but not least, a trip/visit to/from CYS (fun times, fun times....NOT!)...I was literally crying everyday on the phone to him about something or another. I don't know what or why, but that sparked something in him, and one day, he was just like, "I can't take hearing you like this...you don't deserve this...as soon as my paid time off comes around, I'm coming over there, and we are going to have a serious talk...and if we agree...I'm going to be taking you back here as my wife!" I was speechless. After all we had been through the past several years, he still had feelings for me. He still wanted to give this a try. Despite all the chaos we'd been through...before we had even MET, he still wanted to give us another chance.
So, trying to be open but at the same time, keeping a semi-guarded heart, I made plans with HIM- not by myself, not "winging it and hoping for the best". We still had our chaotic ups and downs, but we still came back and tried again. And tried again. And then...tried again.
As the months rolled on, my semi-guarded heart softened. The guard went away. The voice of doubt, fear...once screaming, now barely a whisper. As PB said in a previous post, I had to stop looking so much to him to fill my need and more to God. I had to trust that God knew what He was doing-even if that meant the day would come and he(PB) might of stood me up. I had to do my best to let go and let God- something I hadn't done very well the first time we...I tried.
 Finally, the time came. THE week. As the week progressed, as the days drew nearer...everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Papa Bear's work truck broke down. Fear of him not getting off on his appointed day because of the work involved. Hunter Bear got an ear infection- something NONE of my children had got in several years! Papa Bear's car wasn't acting right- would it even get him home, much less the airport? I felt like I was NEVER going to get done with all the packing at this rate! Plus...what about my car? I had a friend from my previous job say he was going to check my brakes and put two (newer) tires on for me for the front tires- where WAS this dude?!
But everything was smoothed out. In fact, it couldn't have worked out more beautifully. Papa Bear's work truck? Turned out they fixed it and because of the time it took, his job told him to finish his load and go home-a whole day early!! His personal truck? Needed a jump start, turned out his battery wiring needed to be redone, something he was able to do on his own! Hunter Bear's ear infection? Gone, within TWO days, thanks to some information, a trip to Walmart, two essential oils, and two very kind friends! My car? Well...
The day came- Saturday. The BIG day. Papa Bear texted me that morning, to let me know he woke up on time, and he would text again before getting on the first plane. I got up(late..opps), got the kids and I ready, hopped in the car, and started our first mission of the day' get the U-Haul. It was in the same town as where I was to pick up Papa Bear from the airport...I'd never been there, but it should be easy, right?(Please feel feel to read my post from this time last year to see how easily I can get lost.)
My friend from work texted me. Said he'd be over to put the tires on before I got to U-Haul. I silently fist bumped myself. He came, tried, and said he couldn't get the tires out of the metal middle section. But, he said, the tires I already have on should have no problem getting us there. They would need to be changed, but they weren't bald,etc. He refilled them and put them back on and said they'd be good to go. With a hug and a thanks, I started on my way to go get the U-Haul.
As I started to pick up speed, I noticed...something doesn't feel right...my steering wheel felt wobbly. The closer I got to the U-Haul place, the more uncomfortable I felt. Something was definitely NOT right. I started to slow down, thinking, well, I don't know diddly squat about tires, but I have to do something.I have to at least take some sort of look. Maybe there is a mechanic nearby...I'll just pull over and look on the GPS, and then take it from there...
*BOOM!* My driver's side tire flew--that's right, FLEW--off my car and in the air. I screamed. The kids screamed. I managed to stop the car. The tire went up in the air, came down, and sprang around a thicket in the woods near the highway...on the other side.
Displaying FB_IMG_14009453606025137.jpg
Tire-"I believe I can fly...I believe I can touch the sky..." 
 No one was on the other side as this happened. I checked, the kids were okay. My heart felt like it was going to come out of my throat via vomit, but other than that I was okay.
 I had been holding back tears and fear all week, and after I saw my tire disappear into the thicket of the unknown, they freely came. While I turned on the radio to keep the kids distracted, I cried. I called the friend who attempted to do the tires, but he didn't answer.I called the friend who always helped me out in a pinch--also no answer. Finally, my brain cells decided to function, I remembered..oh,yeah, my phone has Internet. I quickly Googled, called the first tow service that popped up, and got an answer right away. "Where are you at?" she asked.
"yeah, but where?"
"I'm not familiar with this town, I'm actually from another city...I was just going by what my GPS said..."
"Okay, and what does your GPS say now?"
"That I"m someplace...15 minutes from my destination(?)"
(I could hear the lady on the other end do a massive facepalm)
"Huh? Oh...er...it says I'm near (fill in the blank) street....(?)"
"That doesn't tell me much...is there anything nearby...a gas station, a store, anything??"
After one too many facepalms, the lady handed the phone to one of the tow guys who knew the area. Several probing questions later, he said..."Okay, I'm pretty sure I know where you're at. We'll have someone come out to get you, but it'll take...45 minutes to an hour. Maybe a little longer. Are you going to be in your car?"
"The only thing I know around here is my car...yes, I'll still be in my car."
"Okay, then we'll get someone out to you and your kids as soon as possible."
I hung up the phone, feeling slightly relieved. Hey, I can handle a crisis situation! I totally had this!
I may not know about cars, but I know who to call! I am woman, hear me ro--
"Mom...we're HUNGRY!"
...except that in my awesome dash out the door, I had forgot to feed everyone breakfast.

After an hour and twenty minutes in the car, a call to the U-Haul dealer(who, by the way, I will NOT be recommending to anyone in that area- VERY inconsiderate of the circumstances), two concerned citizens asking if they could help, a post on facebook, several worried texts to Papa Bear, a picture on facebook, and several return calls from my friend...the tow truck came. Twenty minutes later, we arrived at a local Pep Boys. I called the U-Haul dealer again, only to feel worse(because, you know...when potentially handing someone I don't know a couple hundred bucks, I like to feel like a complete idiot, for something I totally had no control over...NOT!). I was basically told I was ruining this guy's Saturday, because, even though I was handing him a large chunk of change, he had better things to do.
 Overly Attached GirlFriend meme
So, after spending several hours waiting for the Pep Boys..er, men, to fix my tire issue, I called the U-Haul dealer...and got nothing.
No, "You suck at life because you're ruining my Saturday", no "I may or may not be able to give you that U-Haul you reserved several weeks in advance"...he didn't even answer his phone.
After the car was fixed, we made a quick dash to McDonalds (hey, desperate times call for desperate measures!), pigged out on some happy meals and a chicken...something...and then...
I had an hour left. ONE HOUR. That didn't give me enough time to do what I had originally planned-get the U-Haul, come back home, get ***super*** pretty(with the help of two gal pals), then dash into the airport like a beauty goddess(with three adorably dressed mini-gods) with a few seconds to spare and see the man of my dreams gasp in amazement at how much more stunning I look in real life vs. my facebook picture.
Uhh...yeah. That didn't happen. Instead, I want to the airport an hour ahead of time, with my "get er' done" packing clothes on, sweaty and gross from sitting in the car on a hot day for AN HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES, my kids a mess because, guess what? They also had been sitting in said car for said length of time as well. Hunter Bear had forgot to put socks on, Little Bear's legs look like she was playing in chalk all morning, and Tweeny Bear looked like she had slept in her clothes.
But we had nowhere else to shower and redress, and I had zero dollars to go and blow on new clothes for us to look semi-presentable. So, I GPS'd myself to the airport, found the bathroom, and tried to make do with what I had: chapstick, a small bottle of hand lotion, a cell phone charger, and a splash of water...and... I still looked awful.
Funny GIFS and Reaction GIF GIFSec.com
If he loves me, he won't care about something as trivial as first impressions, right? *nervous laughter*

I paced back and forth at the airport for an hour. The kids, sensing my anxiety...decided it would be a good time to do a Youtube Video(Gee, thanks, Tweeny Bear!)... 
Finally, the moment arrived. The kids could see his plane landing! You want to talk about NERVOUS...
What if he didn't show up- and I had to go back to my small family in Indiana, and PA...humiliated and ashamed because I had totally and completely given my heart to him before I ever met him?
What if he was just one of those "catfish" people, like so many people have warned me about for the past two years...and "he" was actually some lonely housewife on the Internet portraying a man because their life sucked so bad, they needed to make up an Internet alter-ego?
After all, this wasn't just about "me" meeting "him" anymore. We talked marriage, my kids were involved...just as badly as I wanted him to be who he said he was, my kids wanted him as their dad even more...we were talking FOREVER here, something my kids...I...we...had only dreamed about. Something I thought would never happen to a single mom like me. Something I didn't think I deserved nor was worthy of....
But, something God knew I needed. Something God knew I deserved, not because of who I am, but because of who HE is, and in his love for me.
Forever was just around the corner...If there was ever a time I forgot how to breathe, it was at this moment!
There he was! No screen holding us back, no text message or phone call to guess his feelings, the way he'd look when he'd see me...he was right there in front of me! And I could TOUCH him!I was SOO over the moon with joy...I had finally met my man! I was so happy, I wanted to kiss him!  I didn't, but, boy....did I want to( I know it sounds a little old fashioned, or weird...but Papa Bear and I didn't kiss. We didn't have our first kiss until our wedding day. I'll explain more about why in my next post.)!!!!
I don't know if I can completely convey the relief, the thrill, the joy...all the emotions I felt physically seeing him for the first time, but, again, thanks to my Video Artist in Training, Tweeny Bear, you can see it for yourself here. I could have stayed at that airport and gazed into his eyes, hugged him, and just...be in awe that he was HERE, forever. However, Papa Bear, being who he is...was ready to get the worst part of the trip started and finished-the long drive back home.
The drive back to our home.
In Idaho.
Is God good, or WHAT?!
But, of course we weren't done with the...uhhh...roadblocks to get there...we still had no U-Haul trailer. Papa Bear told me that U-Haul guy was a jerk, and I need to call the local U-Haul center to let them know this & get referred to another dealer. They apologized profusely for his behavior in the matter and redirected me to a MUCH nicer U-Haul dealer not too far away...only for us to pay for the trailer, and be told I had the wrong wiring system(again, not my fault! I had a mechanic at Walmart tell me it was the right one!).The guy and his family were nice enough to say that they'd stay around the store(even though it was almost closing time when we got there), until we got back...four stores and almost two hours later, we found the right adapter for it, Papa Bear and the nicer U-Haul Dealer re-wired the system, attached the trailer and we were on our way!
Except...it was getting dark. And we were both tired from all the excitement and frustration of trailers, electrical wiring, and cars. We needed a good night's sleep.
But the next day...we were set! U-Haul still in place, we packed up all the stuff the kids and I had managed to throw into boxes(and big blue tupperwares) and with some pizza and stew from a friend for brunch, we were on our way to HOME!!
Here are some pictures from the trip! Sorry if they look gross, I tried to keep the windsheild clean, but we hit a LOT of bugs with our windshield(And possibly a raccoon with our bumper...*nervous laughter*)! (*-_-)

"I'm not tired, Ma..."

The Big Arch! 

There it is! 

Meet me in St. Louis!

I just thought this was the COOLEST looking bridge ever! 

Kids-"Mom, that looks like Rapunzel's Tower!"

Kids thought this was a weird sight (O.o)

Eeek! A Three-lane Highway! Papa, you drive...!"

Tweeny Bear, sticking her head out the window, "I feel so FREEE!!!"

Little Bear, and Sherlock. Don't worry-he's enjoying this.


"I go where I wanna"

Aren't these PURDY?!

Edges of Nebraska..almost to Utah

Doesn't this sort of look like a truck with a thong on? LOL

75! Gahhh! I never went faster than 60! Papa, you drive...

Wind Power!!

Papa Bear Says, "There are two seasons in this part of the US- Winter, and Construction Season!" LMBO

Seriously, those things are freaking HUGE!

Utah! One state between us and HOME! *Girlish Squeal!!!*

Papa Bear and Sherlock...road warriors!

Almost there...to Idaho...

"Follow the Road covered with Sage Bush to Idaho..."

We made it!! I don't know how(hint- Papa Bear did 97% of the driving), but not only did we make it before my anticipated time(which was..."eventually"), but we made it on Memorial Day- Which also happened to be Tweeny Bear's Birthday!I asked Tweeny Bear to do a video tour of our home...we're all kinds of worse for wear due to the trip, but you can watch it here if you like!Sorry if it's dark- we got home late that night!
Seeing our new home, looking at Papa Bear, the kids...I couldn't help but praise God at the mere awesomeness of it all!
I thought my day was full, blessed, complete. I mean...I had my man, the man I had prayed about for years. I had our children- a little rowdy for 10 o'clock at night, but beautiful to finally see playing, sharing secrets with, and enjoying each other, together. We had food in our bellies, and clothes on our backs. We had made the journey home with only a few small bumps before we even started; but once we started, the only thing we had to do was count the miles.
This trip. It wasn't me trying to wing it. It wasn't him hoping for the best. It was both of us, trying, and God in the middle of it all. It was crazy, it was exhausting, it was full of more fast food than I ever care to see in a lifetime. But it was also beautiful, blessed, and wonderful.
It's not my story--it's OUR story.
But it wasn't finished yet...
Just as I was content with the journey, seeing my Papa Bear, and everything else...
Papa Bear had to ask me something...
Which, after figuring out together which was my left hand, I excitedly cried, "YES!!!"
I had waited years for my soul's mate...and the next day, I'd be waking up to get ready for our wedding! The moment where there would be nothing between us, when "two shall become one flesh"! I could hardly contain my excitement!
I was going to be Mrs. Mama Bear!
Er...Mrs. Papa Bear!
Uhh...you know what I mean. I was going to be HIS wife!
The kids jumped for joy, and couldn't stop asking, "are you sure--this means you two are going to stay together FOREVER?! You mean it?! He's going to be our forever Daddy--FOREVER?! You'll never break up, right? You won't be like some people and get a divorce...are you sure? Really?! Can I see the ring again, Ma???"
This wasn't merely two people becoming one...this was two families, joining together, becoming one family...only by the grace of God!
One of my closest friends put into words the way I felt-
" You know, it's funny...Last Memorial Day, I(she) had the Indiana State Troopers find you in an Aldi parking lot...This Memorial Day your drove off into the sunset to get married...I'm proud of you!"
All I can say is....Thanks, God. Thanks for answering my heart's prayer, my soul's deepest longings.
I am now home. And now...we are now complete.  :)
Next post...the even BIGGER day...OUR WEDDING!
Until Next Time,
Mama Jenn