Friday, April 24, 2009

our baby is 16 months old!

My goodness... when did our baby start being so big? It happens so fast doesn't it? One minute you are trying to juggle a baby in your arms while you stir supper on the stove and then next you are letting that same child help you put things in the pot to cook for dinner. Austin is growing so much and each day it seems he adds things to his "accomplished" list! This month he turned the big 16 months...almost a year and a half since he's been here. I can hardly remember what it was like without him in the family! He is getting funnier as he gets older... He has this quiet way about him of causing each of us to laugh out loud daily. He is still a lovey little boy. He loves to snuggle on your lap, lay on the couch with you, or just hang out on your hip :) He's also VERY busy these days. My house is a disaster zone most days. It takes him 30 seconds to fill our floors with anything from dishes, balls, blocks, blankets, shoes, cloths...whatever he can get his hands on and "play" with! I must say that while the constant mess drives me crazy at times, I do love the constant reminder that I am blessed with little ones in my house each day. I know someday when all my things stay in place for long periods of time and I only sweep once a week instead of 3 times a day, that I will miss the days when little hands and feet filled my home. Oh, these are great days! Here are a few pics of Austin during this stage of life! Enjoy!

Each night Austin still has a bottle before bed. He started this routine all on his own. He gets his bottle and instantly takes off for the couch. He crawls up on his own and lays in the same spot every night with his blankie and just guzzles his bottle. Such a silly boy!

This is an example of Austin's new smile! Every time I get the camera out he "cheeses' til I take it! It's so funny and I can never get one with his open these days!! These were the boys at the McIntosh side Easter egg hunt in the barn.

Austin has a new buddy... our next door neighbor comes to our house each day. I started watching Jacob a couple weeks ago and the boys are 2 months apart. They are learning to have fun together! Austin is cheesing again here!!

Our big boy!

Being funny at the dinner table. Rarely a dull moment here :) I'm sure this Hansen boy will be just as entertaining as the first two in the house!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chicago Marathon, here we come!

Yes! It is true... I am going to run a marathon!!! Maybe I should rephrase that... "I am going to finish a marathon!". I may run, walk, or jog...maybe crawl, but I am determined to FINISH the Chicago Marathon on October 11th!!! How in the world did I get myself into this you may be asking? Let me start at the beginning...

Recently Don Williams posted a note in our church bulletin about anyone interested in joining the Iowan's for Africa marathon team to please see him. I read it one week and thought about it for 2 minutes... "Hmmm, that would be cool to do...someday." The next week I saw it again and Dave mentioned a certain someones name to me that was doing it and I thought "gosh, if they can do the marathon I should be able to finish it." (mentioning no names here!! :-) I went home from church that week and couldn't STOP thinking about it. You see, deep down I always had this far out goal of doing a marathon someday, but I really thought my opportunity to do this passed when I hit about 25 and had baby #1. Anyways, for 2 days I thought about the marathon...all the hard work it would be, the training, the fundraising, taking time away from my kids possibly to train, the costs, the discipline it would take, did I mention the hard training? After two days I went to bed and asked God as I lay on my pillow to please help me discern if I should quit wasting my thinking energy on this or pursue it some more. I also went to bed feeling like this challenge was way too much work to pull off and leaning much more towards the no side of doing it. The next morning I wake up and my friend, Kris, has emailed me to say she is running and would I like to join her!?!? Ahhhhh! I got all nervous and excited in one! I brought this crazy idea up to Dave whose first reaction was to laugh a bit, tease me, and shrug it off. I don't blame him. I would have done the same thing to myself if I wasn't on what I like to call "the marathon high"! I spent that day praying, calling Don, talking to Kris, talking to Dave some more, praying, googling marathons and running...and finally deciding, Yes, I would do this!

Let me tell you why I decided to do this...
I have a lot of reasons but here are some main ones: I get to run for an awesome cause. World Vision is an organization that is really motivated to make a difference with the poor in our world. I am moved by their work and support them fully. I am so happy to raise money and run for their cause. Another reason is, I am so excited to have a goal like this to work towards and discipline myself to reach this goal. I have been craving for leadership in a way that would motivate me to seek change physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I am so thrilled to have Don Williams coach me and our team the next 6 months. I am also pretty pumped about my team! It is one fun group and not only that but awesome people in general. I'm really looking forward to getting to know some of them better and having time to spend with some of my closest friends. Another reason is I am up for the challenge of doing something outside of my comfort zone and seeing what God has to teach me as I train the next 6 months. One more thing is, being a stay home mom/wife I often tend to myself last...and while I would never exchange places with anyone I would love to have something that I am working towards for myself and a goal that I can look forward to and put some personal energy into. my list goes on and on... but I must say I am so excited for this and while I realize the hours and training and pain and commitment it will take... I am really looking forward to the whole experience and crossing that finish line on October 11th!

I hope to keep you posted as I train... I'm sure you'll hear the aches and pains of this journey as well as the joys and accomplishments. Please pray for me and my team and World Vision and if you feel led...please donate even $10 to this great cause! Check out my fundraising page, as well as meet my team mates at...

Chicago Marathon... here we come!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Break week = God's Mountain Camp

Spring break week this year was spent about 5 hours south of here in a little community outside Rushville, MO. The two kids and I (Jess) headed down there to spend our week together with a group of high-school students, a few leaders, and my dear friend Becky and her little guy, Boaz. The group of students and leaders went to help on projects around the camp and Becky and I tagged along as "cooks"! I LOVED going on and leading mission trips before I started to have children and this is the first opportunity I've had to go on a mission trip WITH my children! The last trip I led (with Dave) was to Washington DC six years ago and I really wanted to go to serve!!! Though I love to cook and even more so for people, I knew I couldn't tackle this week without a trusty partner and some help with the little ones. My friend Becky and I work so great together and I was thrilled beyond words when she agreed to do this together! She was the perfect partner for this adventure and I thank her for making it go so smooth!! Natalie Patterson (a high school senior) joined the trip and said she wanted to help with our boys and from there on I knew this trip was meant to happen for us :)
The week was filled with many meals being prepped alongside fun and servant hearted students, quality times spent outside surrounded by nature, wonderful converstaions with old friends and new ones, lots of laughter, early mornings, no distractions, and the presence of God. It was a wonderful week for me... better then I ever expected and I'm so thankful I went along. I hope to go back and the boys do to! I think Jaxon and I both shed a few tears when it was time to leave!

Here are some pics to tell a bit about our week... one can never fully explain in words what a trip like this does for one's heart (or any mission trip!), but I hope to do my best to give you some what of an idea. If you've never gone on a mission trip before I really encourage you to try it out sometime. You'll be challenged and changed more then you know!

Dinner time! A very fun and BUSY part of our day! Thank you to all the great small groups for pitching in!

Jaxon was such a good helper all week! He jumped right in and helped where he could and when he couldn't he had fun delivering snacks or just hanging out watching the crew. Thank you to all of you who included him in so many projects! Your actions spoke volumes to him about serving, being kind, and being a helper.

Lots of smiles from these two all week!

I was trying to keep count, but lost track. I'm pretty sure Jaxon played more then 50 games of Guess Who with pretty much anyone up for the challenge :)

There were 5 little ones on the trip total... here are 3 of the toddlers. Boaz, Addelyn, close as I could get them to sitting 'together".

Jess, Jaxon, & Austin...Spring Break 2009

Jaxon made a fast buddy with Luke Williams. His parents own and run the camp. Luke is an amazing 14 year old who I hope my boys resemble someday!! He was such a great influence on Jaxon.

There was a family from Minnesota there also who had a van full of little ones! A perfect mix of kids for a fun sunny day!

Austin loved this poor dog! Austin would run up and just lay on Hummer... by the end of the week Hummer would dart for the other direction when he saw Austin coming. :) He was such a good dog!

Some of the girls included Jaxon in their playground painting project. Jaxon got to paint his feet up the steps of the slide... when he was done he was washing his feet and he said "look, I'm washing my feet like Jesus did!". Thanks LaRae and Amanda for letting Jaxon join you!

trees, trees, trees! Jaxon did LOTS of tree climbing all week!

My baby boy turned 15 months old while we were there...

Jaxon was found many times entertaining this group of girls. They were so sweet to him and had lots of energy to keep him laughing too! Thank you for spending time with Jaxon! You helped make his week!

Ellen! She always had a free hand to help with a little one, help in the kitchen, help with my sore throat, or just hang for a good chat! Jaxon and Ellen made some awesome apple crisp for an awesome evening snack one night!!

Addelyn and Austin spent many evenings hanging out outside our apartment building. It got up to 80 one day and these babies got stripped down! Look at those cute pudgy legs!?!?

An evening walk up the big hill!

There was a fish pond and we fed them lots of times during our stay. I really started to wonder about the benefits of raising boys in the country after this week!?!?

Many of our evenings were spent just like this... lots of kids, students, leaders, the dog...anyone just hanging out as the night started to fall and we ended our day in peace :) Oh how lovely it was! It was a beautiful picture of community all week.

And last but not least... i had to post this. My kids were so dirty and worn out by each day... but it was the feel good had a great day kind of dirty! Gotta love those days!

What a wonderful week! The kids were so well behaved, traveled perfect, and things just went so smooth. I returned to a husband who had worked his tail off while we were gone... 12 painted window shutters, a painted kitchen, painted dining room, fixed basement ceiling, painted trim, and a new dishwasher later... and I must say I had one AMAZING week!!! Thank you honey! and thank you to everyone who helped make the week at God's Mountain so perfect!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bible Breakfast & Holy week

Easter is fast approaching! I'm really trying to keep the focus simple and on Christ's story this week... It seems this time of year I am always trying to find ways to help my kids connect with this holiday in the way I want them to connect Easter time with their personal life. Here are a few ideas I've come across the last few years and they are starting to become a tradition. The Bible Breakfast is new this year and so far it's been a great tool to use as we learn, worship, and pray together. Easter morning we have been making "Resurrection rolls" and Jaxon really enjoys this process of making them and then eating them and seeing they are empty, like the tomb! It will be fun with Austin this year too...much messier, but fun! I'd love to hear what you do in your home to celebrate Easter and Christ's sacrifice for us... or any good books or songs you may know... like I said I'm looking for great tools to use and I know you mom's are my best resources!!! The Easter tree we do came from a mom at my MOM's group and the Bible Breakfast term came from a mom/grandma I just met from MN! Now of course I've tweaked each thing to work for my gang here, but that's the beauty of sharing ideas! I hope this week is special for all of you and that you get time to really focus on the gift we receive through Jesus's death on the cross. Have fun with your little ones and enjoy your week!! And if you are looking for a great place to worship on Easter Sunday we'd love to have you join us at Orchard Hill Church in Cedar Falls this weekend! Services are 8:30, 9:45, and 11:10.

Our Easter tree... you can create this with things just around your house. Each item represents something about Jesus's journey from being betrayed by Judas to rising on the 3rd day...
Things you can use: branch (cut from a tree in your yard), thread (to tie items to tree), 1 jar or vase, 30 nickles or dimes, 1 handful of rocks, small strips of fabric in these colors: red(Christ's blood shed for us), black (for his death), white (for his purity), purple (for his royalty and for the clothes they gambled for at his feet), 1 nail, small plastic grapes, a small piece of sponge, pictures of... bread & wine, a dove, a cross, the tomb, crown of thorns, and anything else you think may represent parts of the Easter story. I also use thorn branches to make a crown and paint an egg shell brown to look like an empty tomb. get creative!

I frame this verse from Isiah and sit it by our Easter tree...

Bible Breakfast selection... Each morning Jaxon gets to choose a new cereal to eat while we have Bible time at breakfast (these are the mini boxes of cereal...a real treat in our house!). Each morning is a new section of Jesus's life story leading up to Resurrection Sunday. We started with Jesus entering the city on a colt (Palm Sunday) and will stop on Easter Sunday . Jaxon is at the beginning reader stage so I included a chart to help us remember each day's lesson and to help with some reading too. Holy week is 8 days long... perfect for our daily lessons and a letter each day to tie together the Bible part we are learning and the reading part! We also do an activity that is related to that day's lessons (washing of feet, bread & grape juice with our meal, make cards to invite friends to church with us, etc.). He's never been so excited to SIT through an entire meal before :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

...and this makes 13!

Babies, babies, babies! We have so many people in our lives having babies this spring... I think the string of them has just begun! Babies are so wonderful. Dave's sister, Heidi and husband Aaron, just welcomed baby Devin James! If you're wondering... this makes baby 13 on our Brody side! Jaxon and Austin have so many cousins and it is so fun that they all live within 30 minutes of us! Congrats Aaron and Heidi and welcome to our crazy family Devin!!! We already love you!