Daddy’s (Hard Working) Girl

If I shared my resume with you, you probably wouldn’t believe it.  The Variety is astounding and the length?  Ridiculous.

Okay so I was never Flo...

Okay so I was never Flo…

Are you ready for this?

First I carried out groceries (1)
Then I was a waitress at a Dutch restaurant called Russ’ (2)
Then I went back to the grocery store as a Cashier (3)
After that I worked at Build-a-bear workshop as a party bear and master bear builder (4)
While I was doing that, I also delivered newspapers. (5)
Then I landed a job as a secretary at a driving school. (6)
To make some extra I $ worked at a pizza place on the side and then switched to delivering at  Pizza hut. (7 & 8)
When I went back to school I trained as a server at On the border, also on the side. (9)
Because I was worried about making rent I picked up a 3rd job as a 3rd shift barista (10)
(my plan was to not sleep at all Wed – Sat… this also did not last long)
When co worker issues at the restaurant I switched to working at the planner store. (11)
(still a driving school secretary at this point)
When we moved to KY I quit both jobs and scrambled to find a new one, which I did, at a deli. (12)
After a while I moved up from that and worked in the Alumni office at Kel’s seminary (13)
When we moved to Oklahoma I took a job at a local bank, in the new accounts dept. (14)
I quit this when we had Noelle and then started helping at Kel’s ministry a bit. (15)
And then after Caedmon was born I took a break, and haven’t worked formally for 2 yrs.
But I did sell crochet baby hats for a while, as well as appliquéd onesies.  (doesn’t count)

I told you, it’s ridiculous.

Do you want to know why I worked at all those places?  For the most part, it wasn’t because I was a flake who couldn’t hold down a job, it was because I needed the money, to live on.

And because as the situations of my life changed, the jobs needed to change as well.

24242_507268922987_7207055_nMost women have different moments in their lives when they feel like their father’s daughters, like Daddy’s girl.  As for me?  It’s hard work.  My dad was a hard working guy and for a long stretch in my life he worked three jobs to keep our family afloat.

While he was doing that he was practically running our household, due to my Mom’s depression.  And he was also managing my sister’s care as well, forever on the phone with a therapist or specialist, or my sister herself.

Yes, I feel like a Daddy’s girl when I bite my bottom lip and work my tail off.  But it took me a really long time to be okay with this.  For so long I wanted to be a bit more pampered, with less responsibility, I thought being spoiled would be nice for a change.

But that’s not me, and that wasn’t my Father and it wouldn’t have served me well in the long run.

Because in real life, when the going gets tough, the tough work their fingers to the bone for a while, for a season… or two.  It’s true what they say about hard work, for the most part it pays off, those who refuse to quit… they get somewhere, someday, usually sooner than later.

This week I added two new jobs to that long resume (16 & 17)  the first I’ve had in over two years.  I’m working two days a week as a pre-school teacher and cleaning houses here and there, it’s only about 2 or 3 days a week and I get to take the kids with me to school for no added cost.

Honestly, it was a hard transition to give up my alone time on Tuesdays and Thursdays while the kids were at school in favor of working with MORE kids at a neighboring preschool.

I was worried about telling you, I was afraid that you’d think less of me, or Kel, because we have to work for the money we have.  I was scared you’d think we were doing something wrong because I needed to work a bit to add to our income, to keep us floating.

For a while Kel’s income was enough, until suddenly it wasn’t anymore.  We hung our heads in shame, we were debt free, with no car payments, we were canceling cable, Kel has a Master’s degree, how are we scraping?  We must be doing it wrong.

But we aren’t, and so since the going got tough, this tough girl is earning some money, because it’s the right thing to do, because we need to bank some money, not live on our emergency fund.

I was worried it would be the end of Leanne the writer, that these jobs would steal all my writing time.  But these new jobs? They can’t kill who God says I am and he says that I’m to write, so write I will.

Where there is a will, there is a way, and as my resumé reflects, I’m no stranger to hard work… who knows what good will come from these new experiences?

No matter where I work or where I do, I still ultimately work for the God who wastes nothing and that is very good news friends.

How many jobs on your official resumé?  What’s your most interesting one?  Has anyone been in a chicken costume on the side of the road?

Have you every felt ashamed for having to work to keep floating?  (let’s agree to stop doing that, shall we?)

What I’m Into (February 2013 Edition)

Feb Review 1

Month in [Super Brief] Review: I cannot believe February is over, I know it’s a short month but seriously?  I can hardly tell you what we did or where the month went.

I know I had a re-design on the blog, it snowed, we made snowmen, we went to Great Wolf Lodge, checked out Trader Joes and then it was supposed to snow but instead it was sunny and 54°

And now it’s almost March, dang.

PicMonkey Collage23

Best Moments of the Month:

At Last Serenade

click for my awkward reaction to this amazing serenade

On Valentines Day, Kel had some members of the ECU cchorale come and serenade me with “At Last” by Etta James, which is the song I walked down the aisle to at our wedding.

It was amazing, I was blown away and as you can tell by the video, I had no idea what to do while these amazing singers did their thing.

Also this month, Noelle has started working out with me… and she’s amazing.  She really takes the sting off of Jillian Michaels… sort of.

And Caedmon’s nose pressed against the glass at Great Wolf Lodge?  Priceless.

Also, a new nights ago Noelle created a reading corner and I instantly felt like I was winning as a Mom.  Then Caedmon joined her and she “read” to him from her memory… and I cried a little.

Feb Collage 2

Continue reading

Mom Hacks – My Timer, My Friend

Timer Graphic

As parents we wear a lot of hats, juggle a lot of balls, have a lot of irons in the fire… pick your metaphor.

Off the top of my head I’m a Child of God, Wife, Mother, Writer, Housekeeper, Chef, Creative Soul, Cat Owner, Reader, Laundress, Storyteller, Novice Matchbox Aficionado, Pretend Kitty and Watcher of British Television.

I’m sure your familiar with this picture, there are more hats than can be gracefully worn in a day, although Lord knows we try.

I know that I need to prioritize, focus on the most essential and eternal roles and then pray the rest fall into place with a little grace and elbow grease.

Yet, finding a graceful rhythm for this dance is no easy feat.

So, lately I’ve been using my kitchen timer as my metronome as I switch tracks and wash sippy cups just before crumpling onto the couch for some BBC or a good book… or Bubble Mania… (don’t judge)

This timer rhythm works around the structure of a daily “to-do list” and “schedule” on my chalk board, where I jot down what we’re going to do and when.

Then I set about executing that plan with a heavy hand of grace and flex.

And if a fight breaks out over a toy, I set the timer and we take turns.

If someone goes to their room, the timer is their release bell.

When things quiet down, THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO IS CLEAN! But… I CAN commit to 15 minutes of cleanup followed by 30 minutes of rest,  if the pickup time is finite and doesn’t feel endless I can handle it.

As it turns out, the timer doesn’t imprison me so much as it sets me free, especially when it comes to the unpleasant stuff I’d rather not do.

By the time nap/rest time comes the last thing I want to do is clean toilets or fold socks… but I can usually commit to 15 minutes of chores.  And I’ve been utterly amazed what a 15 minute clean up job does for my sanity and my countertops.

So when naps start I scrub for 15 minutes, I hunt stray toys like a lioness and when that timer goes off I grab my tea and my book and lay down for 30 minutes, or I switch on the TV if I feel like it.  When the timer goes off again I do another burst of cleaning, and repeat the cycle.

Sometimes I just do a 5 or 10 minutes burst here and there. Some evenings Kel and I do a burst together when the kids go down.  When we do this, we find we have a lot less to do on Saturday mornings when we’d rather be doing something fun.

If you’re like me you’d like to boast a mostly clean yet totally lived in house. You’re not going for pristine, but something that feels ordered and leaves space for dancing, in every sense of the word.

I’m not a house wife, but I do have a house which requires my attention.  I’m not obsessed about a clean house, scrubbing it certainly isn’t my passion.  So I want to find a way to make it as easy as possible so that I can use my heart for other things… until I can pay someone else to clean it… ha.

WHAT- Set the timer when you do chores, have a rhythm of work followed by rest.
WHY- Because cleaning isn’t fun, but a clean-ish house is easier to breathe in.
TIPS / HOW- Also use this for sharing toys and time outs.


What’s your best tip for cramming in chores to free yourself for something better?

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What Mama Did: The Song and The Dance

I’ve been spending the week reading LisaJo Baker’s series, “What Mama Did.”  Lisa invited some friends to share their stories of what their mothers did that left a mark on them.

What are we doing as mothers that will leave a mark upon our kids? Perhaps it’s not what we think.  Tell me all about what your mama did that made her yours…. 

It’s been bittersweet for my heart to read through these this week, an odd mix of joy and jealousy.  So many of the lovely memories my Mom endeavored to make for us were marred by her mental illness and eventual suicide.

Yet the longer I spend on my own motherhood journey, the deeper I understand my own mother, it this this is a universal experience for all parents.

The more I reflect on our memories together, the more I uncover the truth of who she really was.

As I dig into my past I emerge with pearls, moments where she was exactly the woman God created her to be, nearly free from the depression that gnawed too often on her heart.

I’ve already told you about the warmth of enjoying her muffins on the rug and the way she would curl up and read books with me, both of the memories are precious to me.

Dancing-Feet-300x225 Yet this week I’ve been reflecting on my Mother’s singing and dancing.

I remember vividly the gray plastic CD player that sat on our kitchen counter, and the cassette boom-box that preceded it.  Both of these devices were usually playing Celine Dion or Cynthia Clawson… a bit of Josh Groban in her later years.

They rarely played “kids music” because when mom sang and danced it was because something in the song freed her heavy spirit to do so.

Something in weaving of THOSE words set to THAT music left her no choice but to dance with us across the linoleum flooring.

She never sang without dancing, even if only with her hands.

I remember a childhood vacation that is completely soundtracked with my mother singingly “Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling.  Calling to you and to me, come home, come home all you are weary, come home!”

Or a car ride with her in college when she hijacked my Disney Hercules CD soundtrack and belted “Go the distance” over and over again.  “I will find my way, I can do the distance! I’ll be there someday, if I can be strong.  I know every mile, will be worth my while…” 

When I re-read those lyrics, they tell me more now than they did at the time.  She needed to believe that Christ was calling her, that she could go on another day.

My Mom showed us the vulnerability of her soul through the lyrics of songs and the freedom of soul dancing, she taught us that words set to music can set you free.

She modeled the need to resonate with things, and to allow ourselves to become overwhelmed as our souls connected with something essential, eternal.

The freedom of the soul moving to words set to music, that’s what mama did.

 PS I did not know this was supposed to be a 5 minute friday when I started writing it Monday.  I should have.  Forgive me, I’ve been sussing through it all week.

These are my people, and they’re tall.

I love sharing our stories, and since it’s Thursday, not quite Friday, I thought I’d share a piece of mine to brighten your afternoon or evening… or morning really, any time of day will do.

So, my Dad was one of 5 children and I am one of 14 first cousins on that side of the family. 8 of us are married and have started a new generation of over a dozen gorgeous great-grandchildren.

When we get together, it’s a raucous party with all the trimmings including monkey bread and jello “salad.”

There are people everywhere you turn and I want to hug every one of them.  I usually do.

I love and adore my family, these cousins are some of my best friends and have been for as long as I can remember. We grew up in the same towns, went to the same schools, rode our bikes to each other’s houses and did nearly all our vacations together.

This close-knit bunch didn’t happen by happenstance, my Grandparents were intentional about it. They wanted their grandkids to be friends, they wanted a family who had their hands in each other’s lives, that played cards together and swapped stories over second helpings of blueberry buckle.

So they skipped fancy Christmas gifts in lieu of renting cottages to foster togetherness.

They planned simple camping trips where we took up 6 lots in a row and made tonka pizza pies.

They still send us all cards on every holiday, pray for each of us every day and know us all by heart.

I can’t write these words without tearing up.  These are my people, these souls are a huge part of the reason I became the woman I am today.

Because of them, life without parents is a lot less lonely than you’d think.

I fall in the middle of the pack of cousins, with all of the younger ones (besides my own siblings) coming from my Uncle Mike and Aunt Dawn’s family of four, three gorgeous blonde daughters and a sweet youngest son named Chad.

The three oldest girls are all in college (Calvin College) now, and playing basketball for the team, for the first and only time in their lives.  And their younger brother Chad is in the stands cheering them on, forever their number one fan.

You see, Chad was born with an undiagnosable mental handicap and it has shaped this family, for the better. He brings humility, joy and laughter to the table, his excitement for his sisters cannot be beat.

He’s one of Noelle’s favorite people and mine as well, every time we circle to pray as a family his enthusiasm is contagious.

He passed out the bubbles at our wedding, and instead of waiting until our sendoff he encouraged people to blow them right away.  This led to a whimsical, wonderful bubble-filled reception for Kel and I.

Today I want to share a video about this family and show you a bit of where I come from.  I hope it makes you grin as much as it does me.

Watch, smile… trust me.

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 1.58.32 PM


click the picture to watch a 3 minute video clip about an inspirational family.  

You guys, these are my people, aren’t they amazing?  Now you understand why I’m always a bit homesick.

Well Wanderers (the woman at the well, is me)

The woman at the well, I always imagine her with darting eyes and a determined jaw,  pure anxiety blanketed with a thin veil of composure.

She assumes that they’re watching her, they always are. Yet she wasn’t going to give them any more to talk about, she would get her water and get out of there.

I understand her game, that’s how I play it when I believe I’m in the presence of those who think and expect little of me.

But then Christ found her, and oh did he ever find her, right where she was.  He cut to the core of her and compelled her to do away with all of her needless trips to the well.

We all know that she would have to return to that well, the one dug by Jacob. She would be back time and time again, because humanity is full of ritual needs, like food and water.  They keeps us faithful, reliant, thankful if we allow them to.

No Christ was inviting her to end a different ritual, the one that found her running to different men for approval, obsessing about what the townsfolk thought of her, the one that binding her with insecurities and feelings of utter worthlessness.

Christ wanted to quench her thirst, to satisfy once and for all her questions of “am I good enough?” And “am I wanted?”

And his simple, profound words opened her eyes and cut to the core of her.  As she put it: “Here is a man who told me everything I ever did!

Between the lines I read “And he likes, probably loves me anyway!”

“Could this be the Messiah?”

Is this the one? Not because he performed miraculous signs or wonders, but because he knew her, yet still accepted and affirmed her. She was forever worthy because he found her, just as she was at that well one hot afternoon.

And today that’s the water I find myself desperate for.

An affirmation of who I am that lasts, a pronouncement of WHOSE I am that I don’t so easily forget.

Because more often than not, I drink at all the wrong wells. Continue reading

Mom Hacks – Crudités Happy Hour

Mom Hacks Logo

Hi, and welcome to week 2 of Mom Hacks: dealing cutting blows to some of motherhood’s trickiest problems.


As parents, when we find something innovative that makes our lives easier, we want to share it, take out a billboard! Shout it from the rooftops! “Hey YOU GUYS!!!  I Found a way to make ______ less stressful!”

And share we must!  Because we need sanity, so let’s swap secrets.

Let’s hack into the system, find some cheat codes to rescue the proverbial princess with a bit more ease.  (Super Mario reference anyone?)

Week 1, the ridiculous pedometer workout, was something I came up with out of the recesses of my truly unique brain.

This week it’s the Crudités Happy Hour, something my friend Jenni shared with me.

One afternoon, on a long distance phone call from Utah to Oklahoma, I was sharing my pre-dinnertime woes with my dear friend Jenni.  She’s like a sister and wise mom-sage all rolled into one.

Here’s the issue I shared with her: Every time I stood at the counter to get dinner ready the kids rushed into the kitchen, mustering their powers of whining and clinging to a degree that threatened my sanity.   Continue reading

(Jesus in my Eyeballs) or Be Thou My Vision

Irish_tattoo_269 Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art
Thou my best thought by day and by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

Lately, the Hymn “Be Thou My Vision” has been an essential part of my morning prayers. Specifically the Ginny Owens version, her voice is haunting and slows the busy rhythm of my frantic morning thoughts.

This song has always been more than just tradition to me, because with it I ask God into my extremely human senses. I invite him into my eyeballs and eardrums, the very lenses with which I process life. Continue reading

Valentines Revolution (up with everyday love)

sb10062822c-001 Hey you, I see you.

Sitting in your living room on Valentines Eve swearing that if you see another jewelry commercial featuring a couple strolling in Paris or spooning in a mountain cabin you’re going to throw Legos at the tv.

Because that’s not real life, is it?

I don’t know about you but diamonds aren’t in our budget right now, neither are chocolate dipped fruit baskets or extravagant bouquets of flowers.

Nope, we lead a pretty practical life these days and diamonds are way off the radar. Five years ago I told Kel that I’d like one new piece of jewelry every couple of years so I’d have heirlooms to pass along to our grandchildren.

Just a few days ago I told him that all I really wanted for Valentines Day was more sippy cups, because we’re down to three and it’s making my life hell.

Because maybe if we had a few more sippy cups, maybe if there was one load less laundry, maybe if the kids would sleep until 7AM.. maybe I would have something left to give him in the evening.

If I’m honest, by the time it’s just the two of us, I’m spent.  I have no more “me” leftover for him.  My brain is burned crispy from the heat of the day.

It’s painful to admit it, but most nights find us passed out on different couches in front of the TV, with our iPhones in front of our faces.  Most nights we exchange less than 200 words before we pass out on opposite sides of our King bed.

Our romance flame is flickering, but I believe with everything I am that it’s not beyond hope.  It just needs oxygen, fuel for the fire.

I have hope for romance in the every day, even though it seems miles away from our “here” I believe it’s only a breath away.

I will never surrender the hope when it comes to my marriage, I will never give up on the magic we discovered in the beginning.  We’re still here, we’re not dead, so anything is possible.

So… Daily life?  Stress?  Consider yourself warned, you’ve been put on alert, you will not steal my romance, you will not dominate my marriage.

Sure you’ll win a few battles here and there, but the war is ours.

Tomorrow I’ll get up and stick a love notes to Kel’s mirror.

I’ll shave my legs, because on Valentine’s Day, I like to be prepared.

I’ll kiss him as soon as he walks in the door from work instead of being too distracted to greet him properly.

479010_63570709I refuse to let this cycle continue, I will crack any screen that continues to get in my way because I believe in Romance in the Every day, diapers be damned.

Real women everywhere?  Let’s start a revolution.  Down with the fancy and unrealistic and up with romance where we can get it, right where we are.

Let’s stand up and refuse to let ridiculous commercials and costly babysitters convince us that Valentines Day is out for us.

We will have picnics on the living room floor, we will pick up bottles of champagne and drink them in our Pajamas, surrounded by toys.

We will get frisky, funky and all around serious about our marriages.

Because I don’t know about you, but I’m NOT throwing in the towel, Instead I’m throwing down the gauntlet.

(Hey all, when I moved to a self-hosted blog, email subscriptions were lost was well, if you would like to get new posts delivered, with a bow, into your inbox, use the subscribe box in the top right of the sidebar, to do so)

Mom Hacks (The kid-friendly pedometer workout)

You guys! We have a lot of exciting bidness to attend to today. Buckle up, because we’re announcing the winners of the two infinity scarves AND Kicking off a new weekly feature AND to celebrate the new weekly feature I’m doing ANOTHER Giveaway.

Deep Breath… here we go!

Mom Hacks Logo

hack [hak]
Verb (used without object)
 to make rough cuts or notches; deal cutting blows.
Idiom: hack it, Slang . to handle or cope with a situation or anassignment adequately and calmly:

From Urban Dictionary:
Hack: a clever solution to a tricky problem

Welcome to Mom Hacks, my new experiment and Monday weekly feature.

So what is/are Mom Hacks? Well, as you can see in the definitions provided above, a Hack is something that deals cutting blows to a clever or tricky problem, and wouldn’t you like to do that to the roadblocks of mom life?

Me too.

Motherhood is a fantastic gift, not a problem, BUT it does bring with it some hurdles and stressors which can chop into your sanity.

So along those lines I’m creating space on Monday mornings where we can share the little solutions we invent or discover to make Motherhood less stressful and more fulfilling.  

I know not all of you are Moms, so if Mondays aren’t for you from here on, I sincerely understand.  But, perhaps you’ll tune in for future reference or to pass these hacks along to mom-friends?  Many these won’t be MOM specific per say, like this one!

Now for your weekly Hack.  I’ve been storing these up, I have them scribbled on a list so they don’t get lost in my brain.  But, after much deliberation I’ve decided to start this series with a completely original Leanne Penny Hack.

The (At-home, kid friendly) Pedometer workout.

Many of you don’t know this but when I was 21 I had a weight problem.  My doctor told me (from my blood tests) that if I didn’t make some changes while I was young, my later years would be poor or non existent.

So I changed my sedentary, fast food ways and took up veggies and exercise. Slowly but surely I lost 70 lbs, and kept it off for 10 years.

I lost most of it using a hilarious VHS workout called The Firm, which actually came with something called “The Fanny Lifter.”  But, I’ve kept it off by a total diet change and by getting exercise and activity wherever and whenever I can.

At my office and retail jobs I would just start doing lunges in the middle of a conversation with a co-worker.  Weird, I know, but they got used to it and eventually it became my cute, endearing quirk.

Now I’m at home with kids and my ideal time to workout is early, like 6 am.  But, oops!  my son gets up at 5:55 and if I get up at 5 am to beat him away I want to do my quiet prayer time over coffee, not do jumping jacks.

So what to do?

Well, a while back I got this nifty thing.

This is a pedometer and it’s a fairly inexpensive device ($10-$20) which counts your steps  throughout your day.  Your ideal goal is 10,000 steps per day and it’s true what they say, if you start tracking something, your numbers instantly improve.

If you’re counting your steps, you’ll take more of them.

Pedometer Pin At this point you may be wondering: “Does she really run around her 1,300 square foot house?” Yes, yes I do.

In fact I usually have a personal goal of getting 1,000 steps before breakfast, which with my kids usually isn’t hard.  Kids love this plan, it feels like intentional play to them.

You have to understand that I’m prone to depression, so for me getting my heart rate up releases healthy endorphins, and endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t kill their husbands… they just don’t (name that quote)

So if my life necessitates exercise but doesn’t allow much time for it, my solution was the kid-friendly pedometer workout.

Now, if you can get to the gym, do that!  If you can manage to spend 60 minutes a day doing P90X, wow and awesome!  But that doesn’t fit my current life, so I improvised.

As stated in my goals for 2013, I am trying to get more intentional workouts in, but with Kel’s sporadic pastor schedule and my desire write whenever I can, this nifty pedometer thing?  It works for me when nothing else does.


MOM HACK (WHAT): Wear a Pedometer, move more.
WHY: If you’re counting your steps, you’ll take more of them.  If will become a game with a high score you’re always trying to beat.
TIPS / HOW:  Have a dance party with your kids
Go to the park, play soccer or tag in the back yard!
Do squats while you’re brushing your teeth (your husband WILL think you’re nuts)
Do lunges while you put laundry away
Walk in place while you do the dishes
Do crunches while you’re watching TV (Hey, at least you’re laying down!)


So, how do you squeeze healthy sanity-providing activity into your busy mom-life?