I Have Some Insane Really Awesome Relatives

Some of us dream of kicking back and relaxing in a beach hammock. Some of us love the idea of sitting on the deck of a mountain lodge and sipping coffee. Some of us like cruises and having plenty of minions around to bring us a fresh drink as soon as our ice starts melting.

And then there are others. Others, whose idea of a good time is something called “hiking”.

“Hiking” (as far as I understand it) involves work. And maybe even sweating. Which to me seems to be the antonym to “vacation”. But what do I know?

Some might say they are a little strange. Crazy, even. But I prefer to call them my family.

These particular family members would be my Aunt and Uncle, the youngest daughter from my father’s family and her husband. They like the Great Outdoors.

Great Outdoors:  A place where there are bugs. And possibly large, flesh-eating mammals.

The last time I sat and talked with my Aunt, she regaled me with the tale of her and my Uncle’s trip to the Arctic Circle, and how a polar bear (Polar. Bear.) seriously considered fording the river that separated them and sharing a coke eating them. Okay, so I don’t know that he wanted to eat them, but I’m pretty sure he was interested in more than a photo op.

Now that they are both over 50, however, she and her husband have realized that their adventures must, by necessity, take a more moderate turn. I mean, after five decades of life, one must realize that perhaps a safer, less exhausting mode of entertainment is in order. I mean, sure, hiking is still just fine, but let’s stick to just a few hours at at time, okay? And no more freezing rivers. Or exotic locations. How about somewhere closer to home?



Very funny. For a minute there I thought you said Iceland.

You did say Iceland?

Oh. Okay. Sure. Just a little jaunt. You went on a cruise ship, right? You viewed it all from the deck of a luxury liner?


Why am I not surprised?

Okay, okay. Go ahead. Put us all to shame. Show us all your pictures. Let us know what irrevocable wusses we are. We can take it. 

This is a hot spring (even the Icelanders aren’t that crazy…I don’t think).

The name of this particular bit of Iceland is Kirkjubaejarklaustur. I am not even kidding.

Here are two of the most amazing people I know. My Aunt says they choose to take vacations such as these once a year in order to strengthen their bond. It’s “the ultimate marriage encounter”, according to her.

I think I’ll just take her word for it.

Did I mention that they hiked for sixteen hours straight across a glacier in one day?

Yes, I said glacier.

Glacier: A big-ass piece of ice.

These people, I am honored to call them my relatives. I’d like to believe I have half of their inner fortitude.

But who am I kidding? I would have been reduced to the consistency of Jell-o within the first thirty minutes.


Okay, okay, I wasn’t going to say it. I really was trying not to say it. But I have to say it.

My uncle looks startlingly like a garden gnome in this picture.

I hope he will still speak to me after he finds out I called him that on the world wide interweb.


This is the end of the hike. Oooh! Look at the pretty little purple and yellow Icelandic wildflowers! Look, Uncle John! Look at the pretty little…oh, never mind.

It truly is a beautiful country.

I could almost imagine going there myself someday. Except for that pesky temperature issue.

My Aunt and Uncle are so insane really awesome that they’d rather hike on the ice than put it in their drink. And I’m just so proud to be hanging out in the same family tree as they are.

A Game: Name That Affliction!

Here are some hints:

  • Eyebrows tilted upward, furrowing
  • Head slowly shaking
  • Mouth pursed and turned downward

Got it? Let me add two more:

  • Heart aching
  • Voice murmurring prayers

If you said “bad Mexican food” you would be wrong (but I can understand the confusion). What it is in this case, is empathy. And right now, my heart is hemorraging from an excess of it.

You see, almost two weeks ago my (huge, giant) little brother and his precious wife welcomed their first child into the world. My (huge, giant) little brother…who was himself a tiny wee babe a mere 60 seconds ago, has now produced offspring.

This sweet bundle of humanity is so very welcome, so much anticipated, and so abundantly blessed with two earnest parents, and yet…there is the staggering. The stumbling. The overwhelming and consuming reality that There Is Now A Human Being For Whom We Must Assume Full Responsibility.

I like to call it the MY GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE phase.

I remember it so well, and it is that memory which is causing the current empathetic throbbing.  I just want to go gather them all up in my arms and carry them through the next couple of months to higher ground, where there is a semblance of sleep, a clearing of the panic, an ebb of the pain…where they can see a view that is a little less overwhelming.

Unfortunately, I have no command of the space-time continuum. It’s such a drag being mortal.
I have no doubt that they will make it. I know that the Good Lord knew what He was doing, and that they are the perfect parents for sweet Story Lynn. I know she will stretch, unfurl, slowly take in the world, and decide to give it a chance. I know their love for one another will weave itself through their days, binding them together in the beauty that is family, until they cannot imagine a life apart from her…I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I know this, because I saw it happen in my own life.

He is faithful. The moments seem overwhelming, but He is there, in the tumult, in our fears, in our hopes and dreams, and in our weakness.

Especially our weakness. 

We’re not enough.

But we know Who is.

Welcome to the world, Story, sweet thing. You’re in good hands.


(huge, giant) little brother with wee diapered one

I love this picture

at least the groceries are good…

admiring Grands….my folks…

my heart, it throbbeth 


Cue Carnival Music! **Deet-deet-deedle-deedle-deet-deet-dee-dee!**

Hi folks, and welcome to my second foray into the Great And Glorious Bloggy Giveaway Carnival! Today I am offering what might as well be a piece of my very own soul, that is, a little assemblage of Beachy Things.

If you know me at all, you know that I love the ocean. So today I’m giving away a copy of Anne Morrow Lindberg’s evocative and sigh-worthy book-of-musings, Gift from the Sea,

Also, a set of 12 blank greeting cards beautifully adorned with some of my absolute favorite scenes from my trysts with Mr. Salty, including, but not limited to, these images:

And what giveaway would be complete without chocolate? Shewt, that would be just plain silly. So you’ll also get this:

You know the drill: leave me a comment extolling my virtues, and I’ll pick a winner August 1st.

P.S. You don’t have to extol my virtues in order to be entered in the drawing. But geez, is it really so much to ask?

P.P.S. Don’t forget to head back to the Giveaway Carnival to enter the gazillionty-three other groovy giveaways going on RIGHT.THIS. VERY. MINUTE!

P.P.P.S. But mine is the best.

Bok, Bok, Buh-GOK!

So it would appear that chicken pox has come to roost among my brood.

Do you like how I got in three references to fowl in the above sentence?

It started with son Caleb coming down with a strange cluster of spots on his arm that he said felt sensitive and creepy, but not so much itchy. He was two months old when his three older sisters came down with the pox 15 years ago, and he himself had about a dozen spots, so it crossed my mind that he may have contracted it again, but to a lesser extent.

The spots spread a little, but remained mild (not that you would have guessed from his continual obsessing over their appearance and behavior on a bi-hourly basis) and he was free from any (other) signs of illness. They cleared up eventually, and I logged the experience away in the mental file marked with a large red question mark. Was it chicken pox? Was it shingles? Was it the result of the nefarious experimentation of aliens during his last abduction?

Sorry. I have X-Files on the brain.

It was definitely the pox. Son #2 (10) now has it in its more recognizable form, and I’m battening down the hatches to weather the storm of approximately 5.5 more persons succumbing in the near future. The 0.5 is for daughter #4 (14), who also came down with approximately 2 dozen spots when she was an infant, when MY younger brother was afflicted. I’m not sure of her immunity status. Also, I didn’t include Cowboy X, since I’m just choosing to believe that my immunity will protect him, even though it didn’t work out that way in the past. C’mon, breastmilk! Do your stuff, for pete’s sake!

Mostly, I’m relieved that it’s finally come, so we can get past it. When it attacked my three daughters 15 years ago, I was conveniently out of town, so this will be my first experience with it. Given that Rose is one of my least-stoic children, it was almost undeniably God’s grace and sense of humor that left my husband in charge at the time, and not my sympathy-challenged self.

I like to say “pox”. I think instead of saying “What the @#!!*% are you doing??” when someone pulls out in front of me on the interstate and my life flashes before my eyes, I’ll start saying “A Pox Upon You!”

It speaks to my inner medieval apothecary.

At any rate, I’ll be here, sponging people with baking-soda-infused water. Chicken pox has an incubation rate of 10 days, so at worst this will go on for, oh, a mere 2 months or so before it’s all done. 


On a happier note, TUNE IN HERE ON MONDAY to see what a spectacular giveaway I have for the bloggy carnival!! 

It’ll be more fun than a barrel of chickens monkeys.  

My Groovy Gig

I’m honored to be “speaking” on behalf of crazy-ridiculous-you-gotta-be-kidding-me-huge families over at Shannon’s place today, as part of her inspired “What I’d Like for You to Know” series. The post over there has the distinction of being my most-proof-read piece of writing to date, so be sure to check it out and tell me if you could tell a difference. Cuz proofreading? It’s tedious. And I don’t plan on doing it much unless you instruct me otherwise.

Bum Update

Some heat on the belly…




Some olive oil on the bum (who’da thunk? Thanks, Faeryland Mom!)…do you think I should write the Carapelli corporation and tell them they could leave their competition in the dust simply by adding “soothing raw heineys” to their “best for” list?



And many, many diapers later (ewww…), we’re still dealing. What’s really funny/sad is watching him try to play through his crampy pain. When he clutches his guts and says “ow, Mommy! ow!” my heart just about explodes.


Thank you for the prayers, and may your day be virus-free!

Down in the dumps

My poor little Tobias.

He’s got some fever, and diarrhea. His poor bum is scorched. Riddled. Napalm-ed.

It’s not a pretty sight.

Himself, however, is. And here’s proof (compliments of daughter Rose and her shiny new camera).

Prayers are appreciated. Containment, in more ways than one, is key.

BlogHop ’08

Last year at about this time, I had been blogging for 6 months. I was enjoying the experience and thought blogging was a lot of fun, but I was only beginning to grasp the (brobdingnagian) scope of the blogosphere, and therefore, when I realized there was a whole conference devoted to the subject, I confess…

I giggled.

And I may have rolled my eyes.

Poor souls! I thought to myself. They really need to get a life!

Honestly. Who could feel so passionate about blogging that they would want to attend a conference about it? I’m glad I’ll never be that desperate!


Mmmmm. Crow! The breakfast of champions! Nom nom!

So anyway. Obviously I am not at BlogHer this year, and I’d love to be. However, the lovely Robin over at Penseive has arranged for those of us left behind to have some fun of our own. It’s a little blog-party, a mix-n-mingle to get to know some new voices and to take our minds off the place we are not.


If you are new to my blog, welcome! I’m Jenni, and my little mini-bio under my eyeball (in the sidebar to your left) pretty much sums me up.

No, wait! The little mini-bio is just the tip of the iceberg! There’s lots, lots more to me than that.

At least, that’s what I like to tell myself.

If you want to see pretty pictures, try this link. If you want to read some favorite posts, try this, this, or this. If you want pure, unadulterated silliness, try here or here.

If you want to know why I have such a brood, how about this?

And for the 2 of you who might not mind a little poetry, click here.

As far as snacks go, I can only send you here. And thereby give myself the cop-out-of-supplying-recipes-award for the year. Thank you. Thankyouverymuch.

But I’ve got to hustle my buns over to Robin’s to check out the rest of you who are playing! It’s more fun than cooking! See ya there!

Letters from Earthcamp

Dear Daddy,

 I can’t believe I’ve been here over three months already. It seems like just a few days ago that I first arrived! I have to admit that Earthcamp is not so bad. It isn’t that I don’t miss you anymore, but it’s a lot more fun here than I thought at first! For one thing, did you know that if I just smile at my camp counsellors, or my bunkmates, they’ll do anything for me? Smiles must be really rare here, because everybody sure acts like they’re special. The camp cook keeps telling me I’m the best eater she’s ever had because I love her meals so much. My other camp counselor just gives the best hugs. I like to snuggle up with him when I’m feeling lonely for you.

There’s something that I’ve been wondering about, though. The other day I heard everybody talking about a little girl whose time at Earthcamp was over. The thing is, it seemed like everybody was really sad about it. Like they didn’t want her to go home to you. Why would they act like that? I thought they would be excited that she didn’t have to sleep in a tent and have to deal with all the bugs and work so hard, and be apart from you anymore!

I’m just starting to like being here, Daddy…but I know it will never compare to being with you. So why is everyone acting like it’s better to stay at Earthcamp?

your child

Dear child of mine,

Did you know that I love your smiles too? I can definitely understand why they make everyone so happy…that’s what they’re for! Unfortunately, smiles are pretty rare at Earthcamp, and it seems they are becoming more so every day. Remember that I made Earthcamp for you, and if you keep your eyes open you will find many surprises that I have hidden there, just especially to make you smile. Maybe you can help others see those things when they seem to have forgotten how.

You are very right to wonder why everyone is so sad about someone leaving Earthcamp to come home. I know it seems strange, but even those who know that I am waiting here at home will be sad when someone leaves to come to me. They are sad because they will miss them, because it isn’t their turn to come home too, and because it seems like such a long time before they will see them again. Also, remember your journey to Earthcamp? Remember how scary it was, and how you weren’t sure you would be all right? Well, the trip you make when you leave Earthcamp is a lot like that too. Sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes it takes a long time. Most people are afraid to make it because it seems so very hard. Even those who know me can wonder if I will really be there at the end of it, waiting for them. But I am here, my beloved child. I am here, and that will never change. I long for the day when you–when all my children–will be here too. What a party we will have!

I love you, never forget that,


(more letters from Earthcamp here and here)