Cleaning house :-)

It is HOT here in Florida! It was days like today that made such an impression on me when we arrived here to visit the family about 13 years ago. We were fresh from a wintry South Africa and the heat and humidity that assailed us when we disembarked at Orlando was like a slap in the face. The weather was actually one of the biggest objections I had about moving to Florida. Give me the temperate outdoorsy climate of (my part of) South Africa anytime. Pet peeve: why do the kids have their longest break from school when it is so insufferably hot to be outside? I wish school could be out over the spring months!

Some of our church friends are going camping at the end of the month, and we have decided to tag along. Instead of spending money to acquire camping equipment that we do not have, we have decided to try and rent a camper-trailer (with airconditioning, yeah!) so that we can ‘camp’ in comfort. Hubby doesn’t do heat. I can tolerate it if I must. Our pastor’s wife was really tempted to follow our example but her kids wanted to experience ‘the real thing.’ Heeheehee. We all think that her kids will end up with mine in the trailer after the first night! 🙂

I am out of the funk that I was in over the last few weeks. I have stopped moping around and wasting time and since the weekend I have cleaned out several closets, and decluttered quite a bit. I went through the pile of Jenna’s books that took up 3 shelves and whittled it down to one shelf, keeping only her most favorite books plus the ones that I would like to use if I should return to teaching again in the future.

Jenna was such a little book worm! The shelves were in her brothers’ room and sometimes if they went to bed before Jenna did (she was a night owl) we would sneak into the room with a flashlight to select books to read for bedtime. Jenna loved tip-toeing and whispering quietly so the ‘brudders’ wouldn’t wake up! She always wanted to take a huge bunch, but I would talk her down to two, or at most three. She knew many of those books by heart, and we had little rituals in reading them and certain comments that were not in the script but were essential to the stories as far as Jenna was concerned. 

You know how it is…you read a favorite book and add a little comment about the picture. Next time you read it, your little one expects to hear the comment again, and each time you embelish on the story it becomes part of the book. Eventually a book that took perhaps took five minutes to read at first, takes 20 minutes!  As I write this, I remember that way back then I was actually going to blog about Jenna and her love for books and how her books kept on getting longer and longer. I actually thought about complaining a bit about it then, since I was so tired at the end of the day and Jenna could have carried on reading forever,  but now I would do anything to ‘have’ to read her a book again!

I have found many more Jenna items while cleaning the house. The walk-in closet downstairs contained many receipts from when Jenna was with us. They were little reminders of what we bought when, I could read them and take a little trip down memory lane. It was hard to toss them out. I didn’t kiss them though! 🙂 I have kept one – dated on my birthday in November last year. The receipt was from a jiffy store, and details 4 packs of chips. The Funyuns were Jenna’s.  Nowadays my receipts at the jiffy stores only show 3 packs of chips, and often no Funyuns.

One of the greatest blessings this week was to find a painted hand print of Jenna’s on a plastic jar that I had used to keep math manipulatives in. She made some handprints on paper that day but quickly painted over them so I didn’t have a definitive hand print in the end. But one of them was preserved, praise Jesus! (He knows I wanted a hand print so badly!)

Jenna used to paint like this sometimes, by the way, and have a bath directly afterwards:

Since she used my unwashable craft paints often, it made sense to keep her clothes as far away from the paint as possible. 🙂 

I wanted to thank all of you who responded to my last post and asked me for my address. I was sooooo blessed by you all! It amazes and humbles me that you would take the time to do this for me and my little girl. I am still up in the air about what I really want to do on the day, but I know this: I want it to be BIG. I want to have a real celebration, and I want as many people as possible to share it with us. My friend Sarah thinks we should actually ask my brother in law if we could use one of his water trucks, park it at the cemetery and have a slip-n-slide party!  I just don’t know if I have the chutzpah. hehehe

Ok…this post is long enough. My oldest has been waiting to use the computer and came to check up on me. When he saw the length of this post he whistled in awe. “Wow, mom”, he said. “You really like writing, don’t you. You are really very strange. You can write my report for school. ”

(  OK…someone mentioned the possibility of the picture being downloaded by strangers for dubious use. I decided to post the cropped version, though the original is sooooo much cuter! )

12 responses to “Cleaning house :-)

  1. Hi Sumi,
    I enjoy memory lane too, but I like the happy ones vs all that Joel went through. I am so glad your able to write beautiful memories about Jenna. WOW!!!! What a “painting pose!!!!!” That is so wonderful you found that hand print, I know for me too, I am hanging on to most things of Joel’s, they are too precious knowing his little hands touched them! Camping…. sounds fun, our crew would like that, I do not like heat or mosquitoes or flies!!!!! Sounds like your getting things in order in your home and that certainly gives a fresh feeling, good job!!! Keep in touch,

  2. if I double dog dare you to do the slip and slide will you??

  3. Dear Sumi,
    I found your web site through the Marissa Monore site at I found Marissa’s site through Caden Ledbetter’s site at Carringbridge also. Caden’s dad John is my first cousin. I have to say I have spent a lot of time reading your blogs. Your little Jenna was a beautiful little angel. I think she would be thrilled to have you throw her a fabulous birthday party. It should be a celebration of her life. I’ll keep you in my prayers. Oh, and Happy Birthday sweet little Jenna.
    JoAnne Tucker
    Waco, Texas

  4. Love the photo…. what innocence. Hugs…. Joy

  5. No, Sumi, the photo is in no way offensive. In fact, I had to grin at the “cheeky” sight. :oP How often have i taken photos of Lil where she is “nakey” and often for the same reason. :o)

    I’m glad you are feeling more uplifted this week. This is such a long and arduous journey.

    BTW, I feel as you do about Florida and have said it is one of those places I could never live, LOL! I just can’t tolerate the heat. UGH! Hee hee. :o)

    I’m sure whatever you come up with for Jenna will be entirely appropriate and wonderful.


  6. Hi Sumi,

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time, and would LOVE to send a card to celebrate Jenna’s birthday. Please email me your address! I think that celebrating Jenna’s birthday in a big way is perfect.

    I know I’ve never commented before, but I want you to know that I pray for you, your family and Jenna often. Your journey and the faith and love you’ve shown through it all is amazing. I hope you know how special and wonderful you are!


  7. I remember a book Jenna wanted me to read to her and all the stories in it were SOO long and SOO involved. She sat patiently through story after story and I recall asking her, “Jenna, Please – do I have to read another one?” . . .

    “Just one more!” was her response after EVERY story!

    haha, I love the hand on the hip in this picture – so Jenna, huh?

  8. The picture isn’t offensive at all! I think it’s a cute moment! So glad you found that hand print! I’m the same way!

    I usually don’t post here (I’ve only posted that once) because I’m not sure what to say. I still find it hard to comprehend that Jenna is not here. She exudes such life, joy and innocence!

    Keeping you in prayer!

    Cynthia Y.

  9. Oh, I am so glad that you found a handprint! What an adorable picture. Have fun camping in the heat. 🙂 Very smart on the A/C. You just might end up having everyone in your camper.

    We are still praying for you. M wants to know all the time how Ms. Sumi is doing. Miss you…

  10. Not offensive at all :-). Florida weather sounds a lot like San Antonio weather – hot and humid! I’m so glad you came across Jenna’s handprint. I have one of each of my children at my desk at work. My daughter’s handprint was done when she was in kinder, she’s now 18 and it reads, “A mother holds her children’s hands for a while, their hearts – forever.” It’s so very true.


  11. Thank you so much for blessing me whenever I read your blog! I feel like i know your precious Jenna. I often find myself praying for your family whenever God brings you to mind. I am so sorry for the indescribable loss of your precious one. Praise God that your grief is not as an unbeliever–what sweet peace along with the pain in knowing where she is and who she is with–God Bless you with His strength and His comfort.

  12. Your story about Jenna and her books made me smile as a mom of kids who love books and love to expand on stories (the 3 little pigs in our house have names Larry, Curly and Moe) we always go into more and more detail w/our story time, it made me smile b/c I know that I’m not the only crazy mom out there.. Anyway have fun camping and I’m sure you guys will be the “cool place” lol to hang out..Have a safe trip…

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