Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kyle Joseph

  Today is my brother's birthday. The first of his birthdays that he will not be here to celebrate with us. I will celebrate his life and his amazing love for my boys. And I want my boys to celebrate Uncle KK on his birthday. Without his birthday, there would be no birth, no Kyle... and I am so grateful for his life. Though I miss him Every Single Day, I am so thankful for the years we had together. I simply cannot imagine my life without him in it for those 26 years, but I never thought I would be contributing to a scholarship fund created in his memory for his 27th birthday.

Kyle and I in the summer of 2010.

  Growing up, Momma always let us choose the menu for our birthday dinner. And every single year, he chose the same thing. Mom's Apricot Chicken. And so that is what I will be making for dinner tonight. Kyle's favorite birthday dinner. Momma baked his favorite birthday cake and took it to the middle school where he taught and coached. She said that this will be the first year that he's ever shared any of his birthday cake!

  Through the tears, I give thanks to God for creating Kyle... He was so many things to me. For one, he always provided free entertainment. No matter what he was doing, you can bet it would make you laugh out loud! And he was constantly (even the last time I saw him at Christmas) poking me in the ribs.

  It was his love for camping that forced Jonathan and I to camp/overheat in the middle of the scorching Texas summers to float the river with him, and led to Jon and I purchasing a popup camper (with air conditioning)! Camping has become such a joy for my boys, and is a tradition we intend to carry on.

Heading to float the river on our last camping trip together.

  Kyle had such a passion for football and for coaching. This is the loneliest football season I've ever experienced. My Daddy was a football coach, and from the time when I was just a few weeks old, I spent every Friday night at the game. When he retired, it was Kyle's games we would go to, even if that meant a 10 hour roadtrip to Alva, OK to watch him play for Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Once he graduated from college, Jon and I would pack up the boys several times a year and head out to watch the Ferris football games where Kyle coached. This is the first season of my near 30 years that I do not have plans to attend high school football games.

Alex and Abe with Uncle KK after a Ferris Football game in 2010.

  One of the greatest roles Kyle played in my life was that of cheerleader. I used to run track in school and he was always at the finish line, waiting to tell me that I ran a great race.

  And I know he'll be there, when I finish this race and meet him at Heavens Gates, and I hope that he'll be proud of the race I ran.

  In celebration of Kyle's life, leave a memory that you have of him in the comments.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Case of Misplaced Identity

  Moving to Arkansas rocked my world. Jonathan and I both felt God leading us here, and so I was rather at peace with the move itself. I was leaving a lot behind. I had 4 different part-time jobs (on top of my Full-Time Mothering) and an awesome group of friends.

  Once we moved into our house in Arkansas, I had expectations. I would keep the house clean, cook amazing meals, teach my children, spend time in God's Word daily, and meet up with new friends throughout the week. I was working harder than I had ever worked before, and nobody even noticed. If people appreciated me, why did they put their dirty clothes in the middle of the floor? If people knew how hard I was working, why wasn't I getting any fulfillment? I left behind several jobs in Texas where I was appreciated and recognized constantly. Now, I was just plain mad. Underpaid, disrespected, unloved.

  I took my frustrations to the Lord. How could I be feeling this empty when I followed God all the way to Arkansas?  I left everything that was home to me for this?  It was then that I realized the heavy weights I had placed on Jon. I was expecting him to give me unworldly appreciation, affection, and love. I was looking to him to meet all of my needs. And I was trying to figure out who I was without all of the titles I left behind.

  Somewhere along the way, I misplaced my identity. I defined myself by the hats I wore: Wife, Mom, Realtor, Party Coordinator, Math Tutor, etc. The problem with that definition is that those hats often change, resulting in a loss of identity. Being a believer, my identity should only be found in the One that is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I am a Daughter of God.

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God...” John 1:12

  Once that light bulb went off in my head, I offered my empty cup to God Himself. Jon should never have been expected to carry that heavy burden. And this was found in my Bible that day:

  I have had to remind myself constantly that I work for the Lord and no one else.  He sees my dedication, effort, and hard work (and lack thereof).  And He alone gives me Joy and Purpose.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


  Easter was exciting for us!  We now live close enough to Oklahoma City that we were able to go spend the holiday weekend with our OK families.  

  Here are the boys hamming it up with my Grandmommy.  We spent Saturday night with her and went to church with her Easter morning.

After church, we went to Nana and Papa's for a great Easter lunch and an indoor Easter egg hunt (because it was storming!) with all of the cousins.

The week after Easter, we took the boys on their first trip to Braum's.  Here they are enjoying their Very First Ice Cream Cones (before we always had them eat it from a cup)!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My 30 Day Review

  I began my new career on April 4, 2011, a career that I longed for month after month. There simply is no job more important than that of a mother. I am happy to say that I am a full-time mom.

As with any change, the transition did not go as smoothly as I imagined. Jonathan and I were both sick my first week on the job. The boys spent much of that time watching Disney Jr. (a big deal for them b/c we don't have cable if we have to pay for it) while I counted down the seconds until naptime. Because they are not normally exposed to commercials period, much less on cable, they began to ask for everything they saw on tv! I think all I said that week was “No. No. No.”.

The second week Jon and I were both feeling better. We found a church, began to work out at our new gym, and started exploring our new little town, but things weren't going so smoothly during the day when it was just me and the little ones. They missed Ms. Sandra's class and their friends from church. They have experienced what it's like to feel lonely, and that makes me so sad.

It has been tough finding things for them do, and entertaining them is a Full-Time job with lots and lots of overtime required. It is exhausting. And having 2 three-year-olds is very loud (especially in a hotel)! It's hard for me to have phone conversations because I simply can't hear over the sweet music (or fighting) of Abraham and Alex.

I thought I was being fired from my new position on the playground. Both boys told me that I was not needed. I was asked to go away. I reminded Alex of my responsibilities, which included their Taxi service to and from the playground, and cooking dinner. Once he realized that he couldn't get home or eat dinner without me, he changed his mind. Poor thing sobbed right then and there saying he did in fact need my services. It gave me a sense of job security.

Looking back, I could have done a better job. I was more focused on the tangible things than the teachable moments. I wanted Jon to see what a great housewife I was, doing the laundry, cooking a great dinner with a limited kitchen, ironing his clothes. But I was missing out on those moments when Abe wanted me to read to him, and Alex wanted to cuddle. I have had to rebalance my priorities and use my time more wisely. I believe it is very important for me to be a great helpmate to my wonderful and hardworking husband in my new role. I believe it is in my job requirements to supply a healthy dinner, to make sure the laundry is done and that Jon's clothes are ironed. I just have to plan those duties into my day during naptime instead of them being the main events. The most important moments are not when I am doing housework, but when I get to laugh out loud with Abe and Alex.

I have to remind myself often that my children are like savings accounts. I'm having to work hard and invest a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but I know that they are worth every bit of it. I know the relationship that I am building with those sweet boys will be my reward. I am still adjusting to my new role, and I'm having to learn that its important to allow myself room to grow and grace when I really blow it. I am so thankful that God's mercies are new every morning!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Swing for King Memorial Golf Tournament

Swing for King is the Memorial Golf Tournament for my brother, Kyle King.  My dad has teamed up with some of his friends to play (and in all of my near 30 years, I have never know him to set foot on a golf course) so this should be interesting!  My husband, Jon, and cousins will also be playing as a team.  I will be there to cheer them on!

All proceeds benefit the Kyle King Scholarship Fund at Ferris ISD.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Busy Bag Swap! (now Closed)

(Unfortunately, the swap is now closed.  I encourage you to organize your own!)

I am so bummed that I missed out on an opportunity to create Busy Bags with 30 other woman around the country.  So, I am taking matters into my own hands.  I am hoping that 29 of my friends (or friends of friends or strangers, whatever, I'm not picky) will be willing and super excited to jump into this adventure.

I originally tried to join here, but didn't make it into the top 30.  For a great explanation, you better go back and click "here".  For a mediocre explanation, please, read on.

For those of us with children toddler and preschool age, I'd like all 30 of us to choose 1 type of Busy Bag to make... and we will each make 30 of them.  You will then mail them all to me, and I will mail 1 of each (30 total) back to you.  That will give each of us 30 different activities to take on the go for our tots, or I'm planning on letting one little man use a busy bag while I spend some one-on-one time with the other little man in my life.  With us planning to homeschool in September, I'm thinking I'm really going to need these.

If you are interested, please comment below or email me at JanaLBrown@hotmail.com with Busy Bag Swap in the subject line.  Once I have 30 moms on board, we will proceed.  In the meantime, you can search around online and figure out which Busy Bag you'd like to make.  I want to ensure that we don't get duplicates, so you'll need to let me know once you've made a decision.

Now share this with all of your friends.  And hopefully your friends will share it with their friends.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A pervert. And Tom Hanks.

The boys and I have come to love Dave Peel park in Bentonville.  If the weather is decent, we head straight to the park after my morning workout.  This park has a steady stream of moms and kids, and we try to go 3-4 times a week.

Anyway, on this particular day, we got to the park and there was only 1 mom and her two little ones.  The park is fully fenced, and as we entered the gate, the mom approached me to warn me about a guy that had been watching the park.  His car was backed into the parking spot and he was sitting in the passenger side of the car facing the park.  She told me that he'd been there for at least an hour.  This favorite park of ours is just off of the downtown square and courthouse, so I was thinking that maybe he was waiting for a friend who might be in the courthouse... Plus, with the courthouse so close, there were sheriffs' cars constantly driving around the park.

Well that mom decided to leave.  And that left just us.  I was getting ready to leave because that man was literally staring at me.  Straight at me.  Gross.  And then here come 3 more moms and their kiddos.  I told them about the perv that was lurking in the old school blue car and they confirmed that yes, he was looking right at us.  And who knows if he was there for us good-looking women, or for our precious children.

One mom, I later learned her name was Monica, immediately called the police.  Within 5 minutes, 3 police cars quietly surrounded the suspicious perv-mobile and blocked off the street in both directions.  Wow.  Now that's service!  And then all policemen are out of their cars and practically rolling on the ground.  Maybe this creep is a friend of theirs?  One of them approaches us and asks for Monica.  She revealed herself as the policeman asked what she had against Tom Hanks.  What?  We were seriously confused.

If you look closely, it does look a lot like Tom Hanks.  And if you look really closely, you will see that it is in fact Tom Hanks... Forest Gump to be exact, in cardboard cutout form.

Well I felt much better after a good laugh.  The car (and cardboard) belonged to the neighbors that live just on the other side of the fence you see in the background.