This coming month is going to be a long month.
  1. the days are growing shorter
  2. my husband is going to be traveling for work for TEN days straight
  3. that travel? the same week that J#3 doesn't have nursery school
  4. I am anticipating a trip back 'home' to Minnesota in November...it will have been 10 months since our last visit.  That's a LONG time. 
  5. The month has 31 days {not 30 or like the blessed month of February...28}
In the past I may have lamented the coming of this month.  I would have made myself a victim.

But this year I've head some realizations, thanks to Him. The words that He guides us with are so clear.
But what happens when we live God's way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.  We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. {Galatians 5:22-23}

And I'm thankful for that.

Because this year when I'm faced with a month like October, I've got plans.
  • I'm going to do 31 days of crafts & games with my kids (and write about)
  • I'm going to develop a cleaning schedule and stick with it
  • I'm taking part in a challenge that involves 31 days.  And Jillian Michael's Videos.  EVERY single one of those days. 
  • Another Game On round, of course. 
  • And 34 in 34 plans like writing 10 gifts for my 1000 gifts list per day, chalkboard painting something, getting our scratch off map set up, writing my testimony and reading a non-fiction book. 
So I should be busy right?

And time's going to fly by, I'm sure of it.

* * * 



This Five Minute Friday is one for the ladies...

It's time for another Five Minute Friday.  This one is something I never expected I would write and make public by hitting that publish button.

If you happen to be a guy who reads my blog?  You WANT to stop reading now.  Step away from the computer and go watch The Ryder Cup.  'Kay?  Thanks.

The prompt this week is "grasp".

* Start *

Some days I grasp.

I grasp for the positive.  I grasp onto things to be grateful for, because there are nature things working against me.  As much as I can mold my mind, make my mind happy the nature stuff just takes it in the other direction.

You know what I'm talking about, right ladies?  Guys? Well, you'll just have to go ask your wives or girlfriends.

If it wasn't for Eve.  You know I read something just this week that made it sound like the reason we deal with this is because that darn snake tempted her with that apple.  And she took it.  So:
 To the woman he said,  "I will make your pregnancy very painful; in pain you will bear children.  You will desire your husband, but he will rule over you."  {Genesis 3:16}
Oye.  That's heavy.  Oh yeah...and that darn snake.  Grr.

Makes me crabby.  Oh wait, everything is making me crabby today.

But its a good test.  It tests me to find what it is that helps me find just an ounce of joy, an ounce of life to not be crabby and short tempered about.

Please pray for my husband.  And my kids.

Okay, I'm kidding...a bit.  They'll make it.

If they're lucky.

No, but really.  I grasp for the the other weeks every month where I don't feel like this.  And I know you do too.

What an odd thing to write about, right?  But the writing is what helps me lift some of the weight.  Along with the list of 1000 things to be grateful for {I've been filling it quickly today}, and the knowledge that someday?  I'll go through menopause.


*  Stop  *

And if you have gone through menopause, but this week still comes around?  
Please, PLEASE do not tell me that.  I need it to look forward to.   Ha.  Haha.

Click on over here to find what others have written about "grasp", 
its sure to be more cheery than my post.  


Five Minute Friday


On comparison. & gratefulness.

  • The other night, my son sat down in his room at bedtime and told J#1 and I that he (my son) was going to read us a story. And he did.  {well, he didn't read it, but he told us the story}
  • Last Wednesday night, my son said "I wuv you mama" in reply to me when I told him that I love him...and he's been doing it ever since.  
If you know me in real life, you know how big of deal these two things are.  And daily, he's saying new words, repeating everything {uh oh} and communicating more. 
Up until recently, I was plagued by comparing.  Comparing him other kids his age.  Reading statuses on Facebook and wondering why HE wasn't telling us the funny stories other kids were.  I was doing that comparing even though he was jumping, running and being altogether fun and goofy without words. 

I've read blog posts by other moms who already had their kids in speech and language therapy to help them talk at J#3's age or even younger.  I wondered what we should be doing.  
I took him to speech and language therapy here in Scotland, and she told me that he was too young for them to work with one on one, and that it was likely he'd develop more communication very soon, likely when he started nursery school.  That was last Spring.

He went to nursery school.
 And his communication?  It exploded.
There are reasons I shouldn't have been comparing in the first place.

As a wee one, I didn't talk until I was three. 

We spent a year in a foreign-speaking country.  While the speech therapist said that didn't have an impact, in my head?  Spending a year where people talk to you in words you've never ever heard before has to have an affect.
  Comparison doesn't solve anything.

  It's not up to us.  It's up to Him.

I did not design the human mind to figure out the future.  That is beyond your capability. I crafted your mind for continual communication with Me. Bring Me all our needs, your hopes and fears.  Commit everything into My care. Turn from the path of planning to the path of Peace.  {Jesus Calling, September 17}
I am SO, so grateful to know that He has it covered. 

I'm grateful for J#3 having become a fountain of words.  I appreciate his {sometimes endless} babbling more because of the time I waited for it.

I'm grateful that I've had this experience so I can ease other mother's similar fears, and be able to tell them "I've been there".

And I'm grateful for "I wuv you mama."

 ~  ~  ~

a punk, a pumpkin and a peanut

The Fontenot Four

Thankful Thursdays Button


34 in 34: Spending Freeze.

Monday I mentioned our trip into Glasgow for the day last Friday.  And the fact that I'm on a spending freeze this month. 

It's a self imposed spending freeze, but I'm pretty sure J#1 doesn't mind.  {wink}

Why a spending freeze, perhaps you are wondering?  A few reasons...
  1. It is EXPENSIVE to live in Scotland.  For some reason it seems more so  than when we lived in the Netherlands, even though supposedly the Netherlands has a higher cost of living.  It has to do with the currency exchange; lets just say it's not friendly to us.  
  2. We have a trip planned back to Minnesota in November.  I always spend a lot {probably too much} stocking up on all of our favorites when we are there.  And hello, one word: Target.  So I need to save up for that.  
  3. {& this one is the most important} I wanted to focus on the important people in life {not the things}
I actually started in late August, but am maintaining it through the end of the month.  In all honesty, I'm not too much of a big spender {except pertaining to #2 above}.  It's really random things I find at the grocery store that I can't seem to say no to.  Like:
Yes, they are plants. Yes, I know that I just wrote a post yesterday about my inability to garden.  
But they were £2.50.  If that's not the perferct price for someone with a black thumb?  
I don't know what is.  
Heck, just the pots that they are in are worth £2.50. 
I hope they are still in stock on October 1.  {Yes, I'm dreaming.}

And then there is my real guilty pleasure. 
 Office supplies.  Oh how I love you.  
If I was a poet, I'd write a sonnet.

But alas, I have four more days of September.  Four more days to resist my silly spends. 

Lets just hope I don't undo all the good I did in September on October 1st.  {wink}


The process.

It's a process.

What's a process?


Losing weight. Raising children. Building a house that's considered a home. Learning new skills.  Being the person I aspire to be.

And the famous quote becomes so true:
Success is a journey, not a destination.
I haven't thought too much about the definition of "success" as of late.  I've thankfully been trying to avoid the comparison monster that often makes me contemplate success.  Instead I'm using what I usually compare myself {my house, my kids} to as inspiration.  

Well, except with cooking. I went ahead and admitted to my husband last night there are two talents I likely won't ever develop in my lifetime.

Please keep in mind...this conversation occurred after I didn't cook our rice long enough so it was a bit crunchy.  Rice, people.


Easiest thing to cook.  Ever.

His reply, "What? Cooking and cleaning?" {In his defense, I'm not in love with cleaning...but I'm not bad at it.  I just don't do it as much as I should.}

"No," I said.  "Cooking and gardening."

Cooking?  Did you just read that line about the rice?  Yup, 'nuff said.

Gardening? There's that idea that before you have kids you should be able to keep a plant and an animal alive for a year or something.  The plant?  Yeah...hasn't happened.  I've killed a cactus.  And a peace lily that my mom kept alive for two years before I brought it to my post-college apartment.  Lets just say it didn't say it didn't make it another two months.  

And I'm allergic to cats and dogs, so that's my excuse for that one. 
But two kids?  Almost 2 and almost 4.  Yay!

~  ~

I am figuring out who I am, and it isn't a good cook.  Or a gardener.  And you know what? I'm just fine with that. Because part of the journey--the process--is learning who you are and using that to help you enjoy life.

So I'll spend my time enjoying the food my husband, my friends, my family and restaurants cook.  Because their talents lie there.  

And maybe I'll write about it or take photos.  Because that's where my talents lie.  

Oh and I might even try to bake or cook something.  Because I am a stay at home mom, so its part of my "job".  But again, I'll probably do it, laugh about it and then write about it.  Ha.

And plants? Well, there are just so many pretty ones in the store. 

So tell me...where do your talents lie? 

#  #  #


Scenes from a long weekend

Three day weekends are the things of dreams.  Don't you agree?

Well, living in Scotland with a husband who works at a company that follows Scottish holidays...well, doesn't allow for a lot of three day weekends.  The normal American ones like Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc. don't exist here.
But the Scots do have a LOT of bank holidays.  And J#3 gets those off of school.  So, this weekend J#1 decided to take Friday off, and we enjoyed every last minute of it. 
So the kiddos took advantage of him it.

And so did I.  We started the weekend off in Glasgow, dropping off the zoom lens of my camera to be repaired. 
This photo?  Would look so much better if I had that aforementioned lens that is being repaired.

I'm going to have to do some research, but I think this might be part of the Olympic flame cauldron? 
Alas, I'm in the middle of a spending freeze {more on that later this week} so I couldn't take part in the awesomeness that is Glasgow shopping.

* * *

Up next was our now regular Saturday hike. We made our way up to Callender, Scotland and took one of the hikes to check out the Crags.
After last week's 2.5 hour, 1700 calorie burning hike?   I think I'm going to be going 'eh, that was nothing' for every hike from now on out.  Unless we top that one--then, I'll just be saying 'ow'.
Little secret about our weekend.  J#4 had a cold starting on Thursday, and it went on through the weekend with J#3 and me catching it too.  So, we sort of took it easy.

* * *

Including my exercise on Sunday, which was a family walk down to the duck pond near our house. 
Those are some ducks that are VERY used to being fed.   They came up CLOSE, and were a bit mean.

I think we'll need to bring more bread next time.

*   *   *

From fun out & about...to fun at home.  
Check over at Intend to Live for my announcement about a fun October series!

 then, she {snapped}


Thankful {for them}

Note to self: When the ideas start running through your head...stop them, tell them to take a breather and write them down...before they run out of the other side of your head. 

Luckily, finding things to be thankful for right now {and really any day, right?} is easy. 

This guy is growing up so unbelievably fast.  
Someday I'm going to share more about our journey with him, but part of it has involved not a lot of talking on his part.  But, the flip has been switched {as everyone told me it would} and he is now a little chatterbox.  AND even better, we can understand about 85% of what he says, if not more.  Last night?  He said "I wuv you Mama" after I told him I loved him.  With no prompting.  {Imagine biggest smile on my face EVER}. 

And there's this girl.  Growing up a little too quickly.  But I'm guessing that's because she's the second child? She's got her big brother to look up to and copy.  {uh oh}
She likes to unzip her pajamas in the morning.  And she just started saying the word "no".  Except I'm not sure she knows what it means, it sort of seems to come out when she might be wanting to say "yes."

And the girl is Independent, and yes, that's with a capital I.   
You don't have to worry long about wondering what she wants.  Trust me.  I'm so thankful for that.

Last, but of course not least.  There's this.
Yes, that's just a simple cup of coffee, but it has cinnamon on it.  CINNAMON people!  And it all of a sudden tastes like an expensive coffee drink from Caribou Coffee {or Starbucks if that's your flavor}.  This is the stuff of dreams.  PLUS, someone told me that it helps your metabolism.  Win, win, win.  Now, if I could just find myself a container of pumpkin pie spice...

What are you thankful for this week? 
* * *

I'm excited to be back to doing thankful Thursdays.   It'll help me be more attentive to my 1000 gifts lists, plus the ladies I get to link up with are lovely. 


a punk, a pumpkin and a peanut

and Sarah
The Fontenot Four


I've been missing out

First of all, a disclaimer.  I never expected these words to come out of mouth. 

I think exercise is my favorite part of getting healthy. 

Seriously.  I've been missing out.  But at least I've figured it out now, right? {smile} The fact that to see some of the most beautiful sites, you need to walk hike. 
It might be a two and a half hour hike, 3.75 miles long, with a 1000 feet ascent hike. 

But this is the reward.
Oh yeah.  Plus I burnt 1700 calories. 

* * * 
I'm linking up over at lovely little whimsy today.  Carina has organized an online Biggest Loser competition, with 43 women competing.  And I'm one of them. 

A fun way to possibly win some money while losing weight and having a supportive community.

Hmm., seems to be my favorite way of losing weight, doesn't it? 


Five Minute Friday: Focus

So...I've done Five Minute Friday before.  A bunch.  But my blog used to be named "A Drop in the Bucket" and I've done it at my other blog home, Intend to Live, which I co-write with a fellow Five Minute Friday'er. 

But now I'm back here.  With a new blog name, and I just wanted to make sure I didn't confuse anyone. 

If you've never heard of me {and all of that above doesn't make a difference to you}?  Fabulous.  Welcome. 

& Go:
from Battlefield of the Mind devotional by Joyce Meyer on YouVersion app, Day 8

I've spent a lot of time this week focusing on this passage.  I find myself drifting away from God when I forget that it's not my will, but His. 

And honestly, when I find myself focusing on His power, and His will I find myself in a more positive mood. 

It's almost scary sometimes. How easily my mind shifts.

But I guess that is a part of growing in my relationship with Him.

Finally realizing and knowing that things aren't in your control, affords you the time {and brain power} to think about all of the awesome things that are happening in the world around you. 

And it is giving me time to think about what I want to do with my time.  It has helped issues come to the forefront of my mind and helped me possibly find a cause (for lack of a better word) that I really want to focus on.

But I guess that's all part of His plan, isn't it?  


Now it's time to head over to The Gypsy Mama to find find out what everyone else is thinking and writing about the word "Focus".  Click on over to find out more about it {that is, if that isn't where you came from. hehe.}


Letter to my teenage self

Dear teenage Jenny, 
You are 16 and wondering where your life will lead.   {Yeah, you do think about that stuff.  Honestly, you think too much. Ease up a little, okay?}  Well, only time will tell where you will end up.  I bet you are thinking you'll be in Minnesota forever.

Well, it may head places that you wouldn't expect.  Like Scotland.  Is that even on your radar?  Don't think so...but it should be.  Along with New Jersey and the Netherlands. 

You know that boy in your journalism class?  The one that asked you on a date last year, but you said no.  It was due to nerves...and your Mom's rules.  And someday you'll be thanking God for those very rules.  Watch for him over the years, he'll make another appearance and become the most important man in your life. 

No, I'm serious.  Hard to believe, right?  

* * *

Jenny...you are NOT overweight.  You are beautiful. Someday you'll have a photo of your teenage self as inspiration for your 34 year-old self.

Even though you are just the right size, start being active girlie.  Get out and run.  You can do it, even though you think your heart might stop you. 
Trust me when I say that 20 years of inactivity is a hard thing to change.  

* * * 

Be confident.  Remember this quote: 

Speaking of God?  Treasure your time in youth group.  Within the next two years you'll have the opportunity to go on two different mission trips-to Tuba City, Arizona and Satillo, Mexico.  Remember those weeks.  They will be invaluable experiences that will help shape your values.

*  *  *

One last thing Jenny...don't stop writing.  Don't ever stop writing. 

Your older self, who is now a mom (?!?) that will be sharing this with your daughter someday.

 graceful for young women 
I'll be linking up tomorrow with Emily over at Chatting at the Sky.  She just wrote a book for teenage girls that is supposed to be fabulous.  AND she wrote a book called Grace for the Good Girl for those of who are a bit {ahem} older.  That book is #1 on my "to buy" list. 



How will we tell them?

It was a sunny, warm September day.  I was newly married and on my way to a job in downtown St. Paul.  Just as I passed over Highway 36 on 35E, the dj's on the local pop radio station broke into what they were jabbering about.  "A plane just flew into the World Trade Center."
Post 9/11 Manhatten
I drove the rest of the way into work, with my mouth hanging open in disbelief.  I'd get to work and all day we'd be riveted to the small black and white t.v. at our office.  We'd constantly be hitting refresh on our computers to learn more about what had happened.

I remember the details of that day so clearly.  From calling my Mom because the comfort of hearing her voice made the world seem a little more sane, to heading over to my mother-in-laws house to spend the evening because my father-in-law was traveling (out east) on business.

I will never forget September 11, 2001.  

But my children weren't even a glimmer in our eyes at that point.

I pray that as a nation we keep the memory of that day alive.

Four months earlier, as we returned from our honeymoon, my husband's parents and grandpa met us at the gate at the airport.  Who'd have thought this would be the first AND last time I'd take a photo right after emerging from plane.

Now the hugs and loving reunions occur after baggage claim, liquids in carry-ons are limited and passports are required to travel to Canada.  Among other things. 

Because of one day.  One tragic event that would change our hearts and souls forever.  It would remind us of the fragility of life.

Lets not forget that today.  Maybe hug your kids a little harder, give your husband {or wife} an extra kiss.

And never forget.  


What is it about challenges?

There is something about a challenge that makes me thrive.  Not necessarily the every day life kind of challenges {those just have a tendency to stress me out}.  But challenges like writing a novel in a month or training to run a 5K

I have to believe that its one of the reasons that I am finally able to really concentrate on losing weight too, because the Game On Challenge I've been doing for most of the year has been pretty effective (well, mostly) at helping me lose weight...although I'd be better if there was no time off {wink}. 

So that's one of the reasons I put together my 34 in 34 list.  There's a link to it up top there, and I'm also writing about it and my progress so far over at Intend to Live

Unlike my bucket list, obviously the goal is to get all of these things done THIS year. 

So what is it about challenges?  I think its the journey, and more importantly, the feeling of accomplishment when its completed.  It just makes the path more interesting.

Oh, and I need a few new items for the list.  Our travel plans have changed since I first wrote it, and I really want to finish everything so I'm updating it.  Do you have any ideas for me? 

* * *

What do you want to do this year???


Living a Listful{l} Life

So.  I'm back.

But, I'm still there.

I'm everywhere, I guess.  ::wink::

But for reals. I wanted to write more.  About everything and nothing.  So, I hope you'll have me back here. If not, I guess I'll just write for myself, and honestly?  There's nothing wrong with that.

I decided a change was in order with this 'ole blog. Mostly because "A Drop in the Bucket" is also the name of a really awesome charity, and I didn't want to get sued.

And then there is the fact that this blog has always been, at its heart, about my bucket list. I've added a few more lists now. My list of 1000 gifts, my 34 in 34 list.  So, it is FULL of lists {listfull, get it?}.

Plus, I want to live an attentive life {attentive is the meaning of listful...huh, interesting, right?}.

So, do you see?

Attentive + Lists = Listful{l} Life.

There you have it. 

Crossing my fingers that you don't get sick of me.   Because I'm going to be everywhere.  Ha.


You've missed my humor, right?   ::wink, wink::
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