22 March 2010

They might be giants

I love taking perspective/angle shots!  I took some where the camera was above the subject, back in August when my brother's family was up visiting...you can revisit that post here.  This weekend, I took some with the camera on the ground facing up.  It made us all look like giants!  I especially like the one of Darwin.  There are mountains in the background, and he is just ginormous standing next to them...the mountains only come up to his shins (or so it seems). =)

19 March 2010

Something I learned this week

I like going to church.
(no, that is not what i learned this week...haha!)

I'm not very good at organizing my spiritual thoughts on the fly (coming up with witty or sarcastic things on the fly is more my forte...haha!), so I don't make too many comments in Sunday School or Relief Society, but I absolutely love learning from those who can.  I can think of about four women that I always learn something from every week in church.  They just say things during class that make a light come on in my understanding.

I had two of those moments this past week at church, and I have been thinking about them all week.  The first one was kind of about why sometimes it seem like God doesn't care about us, or that he lets bad things happen to us and we feel alone and sad.  A woman in Sunday School explained it like this:

She has a baby girl who is almost 2 years old.  Each Sunday, she takes her daughter to the nursery and leaves her there with very capable adults, toys, snacks, and lots of little friends.  Each Sunday, her daughter screams and cries.  She doesn't want to be left in the nursery.  She feels sad and alone.  She feels like, "Why would my mother leave me here?"  Each week, this mommy would love to just hold her baby...but she knows that her daughter needs to learn how to do something that is hard; something that she doesn't want to do, but that will help her.  She loves her daughter more than she can explain, but that doesn't stop baby from feeling sad and lost. Her mom returns...each week...to pick her up and hug and kiss her.  She would never leave her for good, just for short periods of time in the hands of caring people, and she is never really very far away.

I think that is why sometimes it feels like God doesn't care.  Like he has dropped me off "in the nursery" and I don't want to be there.  I scream and cry.  I wonder why he would leave me there.  Why do I have to be here "in the nursery", when I would really much rather be where I feel comfortable.  The door between me and Him isn't locked, he just needs me to do something hard, something I don't want to do, but that will help me.  I know that He loves me (and all of you too).  He loves us more than we could ever understand, and that means that sometimes we have to go through hard things,  The hard things help us grow.  They help us gain experiences that shape who we are.

He always comes back too.

He doesn't leave us "in the nursery" forever, but when we are small (in understanding), it seems like forever.  Two hours in the nursery can seem like forever to a two year old.  The desire to be near our parents at two years old is incredibly strong...sometimes almost like super glue!  haha!  There may be caring people around us, there might be great food, and lots of friends...but we have a strong desire to have our parents right there in the room with us.  All of us are like that with our Heavenly Father.  We feel much better when we know He is right there, holding our hand.  When he gives us something hard, the first thing most of us think is,

"Why me?"
"Why now?"
"Can't you just give this hard thing to someone else and stay here with me?"

How would we grow if God held our hand for everything?  We wouldn't...and He knows that.  We know that too, but I don't know anyone who prefers bumpy, pothole filled roads to cruising down easy street.And that takes me to the other thing that I learned this week.

"God doesn't give us things that we can't handle"

I have heard versions of this quote my whole life.  A part of this truth didn't click (for me) until this Sunday.  I had the realization that while I am going through whatever hard thing I'm going through, not only am I not alone and have the apparent capability to handle it , Heavenly Father picked it for me.  He gave it to me.  He KNOWS me and KNOWS that it will be hard.  He also KNOWS that I can handle it!

How cool is that?!

He knows that up to this point in my life I couldn't handle (for example) the death of a parent, spouse or child.  He hasn't given that to me.  That doesn't mean that he won't give it to me in the future, but it means that He knows who I am and knows that that isn't an experience that was meant for me up to this point.  We wouldn't try to teach a two year old how to drive a car, because they lack many of the physical and mental abilities to learn and apply those principles.  By the same token, God knows that I don't (up to this point in my life) have the necessary abilities to learn and grow from that experience.  That will be something that I will most likely have to experience later.  All of us are going to die...but so far in my life I haven't had to experience the death of a parent, spouse, or child.

I bought a necklace a few weeks ago from a woman who has had to endure a few hard things recently.  She has been dealing with a contested adoption for the past year and a half, and in order to be able to pay for all the legal fees that come with a contested adoption, she and her friends have opened a virtual jewelry and clothing shop called the r house couture on etsy.

I loved this piece!  It reminds me that I really can do hard things.  It's like this necklace has super powers! haha! As I'm walking around and the beads are clinking against the silver disc, I have the words at the forefront of my mind...I can do hard things...and it really seems to help! I seem to be more productive and focused on accomplishing things while wearing it.

I love going to church.  I love being surrounded by others who can teach me.  I am grateful for their talents and their ability to say things that speak to me.  I will work on focusing more on what I can learn from doing hard things, then how much I don't like doing them.  I know Heavenly Father loves me.  I know he wants what is best for me.  I know for sure...

17 March 2010

Shamrock Shenanigans

 Calvin O'Russell made it to the Jensen house!  The kids were so cute last night...it was like they were waiting for Santa Clause to come!  hehe!  They all woke up bright and early too...just like Christmas morning, well not really Christmas morning...because we do all the opening of gifts on Christmas Eve...but you get the picture, ya? They were all ready for school by 7am!  Most mornings, they aren't even up by 7am!  They noticed all the mischief that our little leprechaun left for them to find...and some that I didn't know they would attribute to him. =)

First of all, he took a whiteboard marker and wrote Happy St. Patrick's Day on their bathroom mirror and drew some shamrocks.

Then as they came up the stairs, they noticed something was off...the rug and coat tree that are usually at the top of the stairs, were moved over in front of the door.  There were green shirts flung about...and he dressed one of the snowman in a green shirt!  He also moved the snowman to the other side of the stairs!  He moved the fake ficus to the other side of the room and he cleaned the gerbil cages and sorted the baby boys out of the tank and into the cage with Ron (their dad)!  (I didn't think they would think he did this, but they were so amazed at how three of the baby gerbils were now in the other cage...they gave him credit!)

He left some interesting things for their lunches today too!  He left them Green Beans in little fruit cups, green fruit by the foot, and some green packaged Pringles pizza sticks, and drew shamrocks on their lunch sacks.  He also left apple juice (in green juice boxes) and some green pear sauce (like applesauce, but it was green).  We also found key lime pie yogurt in the fridge for breakfast!

He left each us a gift at the table.  Darwin got a Planet 51 dvd (little green men?  haha!), I got a Princess and the Frog movie (more green characters), Brooklin got a green Laffy Taffy chapstick, Caleb got one of those "bed-of-nails" toys...everyone always puts their hands or face in them and they make a relief map type of thing...London got a Tinkerbell toy, and Isaiah got a green book.  He also left us each a button with a snappy St. Patrick's Day catch phrase and each of the kids received a golden dollar!

This is so much fun!  I love this family tradition that helps us remember my Grandpa Russell and lets us celebrate a small piece of our heritage.

15 March 2010

I accomplished something!

I can't believe how much stuff I got done this morning!  It is so nice to not have to worry about homework this week.  I got up this morning at 6:30am...35 minutes after my alarm went off the first time...  so I was worried that I'd started off bad and wasn't going to recover.  I did though!  =)  We all had oatmeal for breakfast this morning.  My kids LOVE oatmeal (the flavored kind that comes in the packets).  London had a field trip today to Eaglecrest (the place to go skiing here) so I had Caleb make the lunches and I french braided her hair so it would stay out of her face, and helped her remember to get all her snow gear.  Isaiah got up really late and was still eating breakfast at 7:50am...school starts at 8am.  Brooklin got up and was sneezing like mad.  We have all had some sinus something and she is the last to get it.  She really wanted to go to school today to show off the new shoes she bought (she bought her very first pair of shoes with her babysitting money...black "converse".  the short top kind) and the new shirt I bought her.  I made her stay home.  She was kind of bummed, but she understood.  (I gave her some NyQuil and within an hour she was sound asleep with a book propped open in her hand.  I left her home while I ran some errands later on and left her a note on the whiteboard and put the phone next to her head in case she woke up and didn't know where I was).

I drove the kids to school and when I got home, I had to fight the urge to plop down in front of the computer.  Instead of playing on facebook and reading people's blogs I:
  • took a shower
  • prepared three packages to be mailed.  (Marnie: mailed you the flannel squares for the baby quilts. Lisa: mailed you some clothes for your girls. Heather: Remember about two months ago, I called and asked you if I could mail you a box of stuff??  Yeah...it is finally on it's way, slow boat mind you, but it should be there within a month).
  • pieced the back for my king size quilt
  • called the quilting lady and set up a time (tomorrow at 10am) to take it in to be quilted
  • did two loads of laundry (washed and dried, but so far not folded)
  • went to the post office and mailed the three packages
  • went to one bank and made the boat payment
  • went to another bank and made a principle payment on the house
  • drove some papers in to the mortgage company for out refinance (closing at the end of this month)
  • went in and interviewed a property manager for renting our house
  • ate lunch (a teriyaki chicken wrap from a cool Thai restaurant I didn't know existed!)
  • went to Fred Meyer and got some groceries
This was all by 12:30 pm!  I don't ever do this much stuff by lunch time!  If I hadn't called Brooklin at 11:30 to ask her about a book I wanted to get her but didn't know if she already had, she probably wouldn't have known that I even left!  haha!   Now I am gearing up for the kids to return from school.  I told them that we would make cookies for FHE (family home evening) tonight.  I am also hoping to have a REAL dinner tonight...one that I cooked and not something frozen that I just reheat!  It feels like I haven't cooked if forever!  This is such a great feeling... =)

14 March 2010

Lucky Lissa

Last Saturday we took the whole family to the home show here in Juneau.  It cost us $15 to get in.  ($5 each for Darwin, Brooklin, and I...the other kids were free).  We had fun walking around and looking at stuff, but we really went with two purposes...to find someone who would give us a free estimate for painting the inside of our house and to sign up for all the free prizes.  hehe!  We found only one person who was a house painter, (she called this week while I was in class to set up a time to come by, and I haven't returned her call...oops) and we signed up for every raffle we could.  The next day after church, I got a phone call from some guy from the home show.  He was calling to tell me that I had won a set of drills!  haha!  I went down this week to pick them up at Alaska Industrial Hardware and apparently they are really nice (and expensive)!
I won a DeWALT 18V Compact Lithium Ion Compact Drill and Impact Driver Kit that retails for around $270!  I don't even know what an impact driver is...haha!...but I am a nice wife and I'm going to give it to Darwin.  He is very excited, but hasn't had a chance to even see it yet, because he left early on Monday morning and I hadn't been in to pick it up by then.

The reason this post is titled Lucky Lissa, is because that is one of the names my family used to call me when I was younger.  One day, I went out into the backyard when we lived in Pasco, WA (so I was somewhere between five and eight years old) and found 23 four-leaf clovers!  My mom helped me save a few of them by sticking them in between two sheets of clear laminate paper.  I gave a few of them away and I don't really know what happened to most of them, but I'm pretty sure I still have one of them in a box of my childhood memories.  I think I am pretty lucky in so many things.  I have a great life...not gonna lie...I have the best husband for me, awesome kids, I've been able to live in some of the most beautiful places in the world (or at least the United States...hehe), I have the gospel, the scriptures, and a ton of cheerleaders and friends in life.  I have won a few things by chance, but I am grateful for the things Heavenly Father has blessed me with in this life. 

Mouth Power

The kids and I braved downtown Juneau this weekend.  It isn't all bad down there, it is just insane trying to find a place to park.  All the streets are narrow and nearly all of the parking is along the street, and I am not good at parallel parking.  We went down to see the Mouth Power exhibit at the Juneau Museum.  It was a cute setup.  They had a giant set of teeth with a huge toothbrush and floss the size of yarn.  There was a dentist's chair and several small white lab coats so the kids could pretend to be the dentist.  They had some displays about smoking and tobacco use and several animal skulls so we could see different kinds of teeth.  While we were there, London sat down in the dentist chair and said, "I have a really loose tooth.  You should come over here and pull it out."  I thought she was playing, but she was serious!  I walked over and yanked out her tooth!  haha!  She lost a tooth at a display about teeth!  Pretty funny.  We bought her a souvenir tooth holder from the gift shop. 
After the museum, we stopped in a little new/used bookstore on our way back to the car.  We all love books.  Brooklin bought four books, Caleb bought two, and I came home with four or five.  We had some other shopping to do on Saturday (since it IS a special day....lol!) so we walked back to the car and drove to the stores.  We went in to Payless Shoes at one point to buy Isaiah some new Sunday shoes.  After picking out some that fit him, we all started trying on random/crazy shoes...super high heels for me, knee high lace up converse for Brooklin, wedge heel tennis shoes for London...I think even Caleb tried on a pair of shoes.  It was getting time to go, so I told the kids to start cleaning up all the shoes we had gotten out.  London was sitting on the floor surrounded by boxes of shoes, and said to no one in particular, "I could do this all day..."  We all had a good laugh at that one!  We came home and played a game of Settlers of Catan and then had French Toast for dinner.

Darwin has been in Florida this past week visiting with his brother's family in Satellite Beach and this week he's attending a Cruise Ship Expo (I think) in Miami for the Coast Guard.  He should be home on Saturday night...hooray!  We have been having fun talking with him over the internet.  We both have laptops with a webcam in them and we have been using Yahoo Messenger 10 to video chat.  The kids and I all squish into the picture and have fun seeing and talking with him!  I love video chat!  We just tried out Skype today, and it seemed to be a good option as well.


This week is my Spring Break.  It is so hard to blog during school.  It seems to me like I have more homework than ever before this semester, but that isn't what this post is about.

Meet Bob

Bob was Caleb's flour baby last week.  The entire 6th grade got their flour babies on the 4th, and had to take care of them until the 9th.  The teachers did a kind of hat draw to determine whether the kids got a boy or a girl baby and one boy ended up with twins!  They had to take care of the baby for 5 days, make sure it wasn't left alone, and that it didn't get any holes

Caleb was a really good dad!  He got babysitters for Bob when he had an activity that he couldn't take care of Bob, he never forgot Bob in the car or at the house (I did!  I left Bob in the car last Sunday when I was supposed to be babysitting...bad grandma!  haha!), and he was caring and kind to Bob.  Once he came upstairs without Bob, and I asked him where he was.  He said, "Oh.  Bob is taking a nap.  I read him a story, and put him down for a nap."  I looked at the other kids, and they confirmed that he had indeed read a storybook to the flour sack, and put him down for a nap!  I almost cried!  It was so cute.  I'm so glad he took the assignment serious.  I hope that we don't have to experience any of our children with a real baby before they are married, but I am glad that he decided to do the assignment and didn't treat it like it was dumb.

01 March 2010

So....we're moving

 from this....

...to this.

I have visited Oahu three times in my life.
Each time, I distinctly remember saying something like "Nice place to visit, wouldn't ever want to live here."

For me, there are just too many people in one place.  I decided to see just how many that was.

There are approximately 900,000 people living on Oahu.  There are only 31,000 people in Juneau and 625,000 people in the entire state of Alaska!!  71% of Hawaii's total population lives on Oahu, which is only 9.2% of it's total land area.  Oahu has an area of 607.7 square miles with 112 miles of coastline. (44 miles long by 30 miles wide).  Juneau's land area is 2716.7 square miles

Today we got orders to move to Oahu.

We were actually made aware of this situation on February 16, but couldn't tell anyone for sure since we didn't have orders.  Darwin called me and told me the detailer called him and told him that they wanted to move him this summer to Sector Honolulu Investigations Division.

(I guess I should insert here that we kind of knew we might have to move this summer and were hoping that we wouldn't have to.  Darwin had a rank advancement in September, and is now the same rank as his boss.  Originally, his command wrote him a letter of recommendation requesting that he stay in his position for the remaining year we had in Juneau, but somewhere along the way that letter became obsolete...just because...)

After he got that call, he called me to let me know.  I have to say that the second he told me, I had an adrenaline rush...like something amazing just happened.  I was so excited!  Then I caught hold of myself and tried to be upset that we had to move.  I've tried not to act too excited either, but really...I am excited.

When we found out that moving might be a possibility (I would say that we have know this might happen since December) Darwin went in and filled out his "dream sheet"...the list of places that he would like to live that had jobs that he was qualified to do.  His top few picks were Seattle, Portland, Yorktown,VA, and I think one in California.  He did have Honolulu somewhere on his list, but not for the job he is going to do.  We haven't ever had this happen before.  We have pretty much picked everywhere we wanted to go, because EVERY SINGLE ONE of our moves have been overseas...Idaho to Kodiak, Kodiak to Washington DC, Washington DC to Juneau, Juneau to Maui, Maui to Juneau, and now Juneau to Oahu...and when you go "overseas" you typically get one of your top picks.  Now this Juneau tour was #20 on our "dream sheet", but the detailer called us and asked us if we would like to go back to Juneau or Kodiak (and we could turn both down if we wanted)...and we picked to come back to Juneau, so I count that as picking where we got to go.  

The only person that isn't really excited is Brooklin (she cried when I told them all).  We set her up with an email account and a facebook, and I think that this time will be a little easier on her.  She is trying a little to not focus on it or be too sad about it.  We keep reminding her of how much fun she had scuba diving and going to the beach.

My only concern is what we are going to do with our house, but God seems to even be helping with that too...almost even before I had a chance to worry about it.  We have had three different people call and ask us if they could rent our house before we even had our orders!  I don't know anything about renting out a house, but that is on my list of things to do this week...call around and find out what there is to know about renting and property managers and that kind of stuff.  I'm pretty sure that we couldn't sell it for what we owe on it anyway because since we bought it, prices have fallen a little and we financed some of our closing costs.  Who knows...but I'm glad that it is hopefully going to be a small worry and not a big one.

So that is the big news.

This is also my 300th post!!  hehe =)