Category Archives: Pregnancy and kids

South America – Day 129

I think I should write a blog entry but I just don’t know what to write about.  Derick didn’t call yesterday, and for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to go to bed.  As if the day isn’t complete without talking to him and praying with him.  I finally made my way to my bedroom at about 11pm.  I wasn’t even doing anything constructive, just missing Derick and playing around on Facebook.  5am came awefully early this morning, especially when Brody woke up at 12:30 and wanted to eat, and then Kendra’s friend Erika, who spent the night last night, had to leave at 4:30 this morning to go to work.  Hearing the door openning and shutting woke me again.  This morning I am wiped out!

I think maybe its harder for me to be motivated to post a blog entry because Derick isn’t reading it so much anymore.  He doesn’t have internet access so readily available at his new location like he did in Cuba.  So, Skype is out of the question.  Phone calls and snail mail are the preferred methods of communication.  Its hard on the kids, not seeing him while they talk.  I suppose, though, that this will help me to remember everything that has happened while he is away.  So that I can look back and see how God has taken care of my family whether Derick is here or overseas.  Eventually my kids will be able to see it also. 

Today I have high ambitions of get all of my Christmas decorations put away.  Well… almost all of them.  I think I am going to start a new trend.  I’m gonna leave the lights on my house until Valentine’s Day.  One month is just not long enough to enjoy all the work that it takes to get the lights on the house.  And I didn’t get them up over Thanksgiving weekend.  So, really, they have only been on display for 3 weeks.  Besides, I have white lights and red bows.  That just screams Valentine’s Day.  If I find out that Derick will be home by then end of February, I may leave them up til he gets here.  They are so beautiful.  They give me comfort.  I don’t know why.  I love coming home at night and having that little bit of light on the front of my house.  I love seeing the lights through the blinds as I am putting the kids to bed.  Christmas lights just have a soothing aspect to them.  When everything else about this holiday season seemed chaotic and out of control, my Christmas lights kept reminding me that there is still beauty in the chaos.  Besides, there is a foot of snow on the ground out there.  I’m not about to go tromping through the snow to remove my little bit of Christmas cheer. 

Today I am also hoping to go outside to play in the snow with the kids.  They all received snowpants and boots for Christmas and, like I just mentioned, there is a foot of snow on the ground.  Tomorrow its supposed to be above freezing.  They are predicting snow, but I’m not sure how its gonna snow if its not freezing outside.  I’m not the weatherman, I guess.  So, today the goal is to get Brody in bed for a good nap and get outside to play.  It will probably take me just as long to get all of us dressed as we will actually spend outside.  I have snowpants, too… did I mention that?  Derick and I got new coats and snowpants about 3 years ago when we were delivering papers.  Very expensive but definitely money well spent!  When I see that the current temperature outside is a balmy 3 degrees (its 6:30am), I thank God that I am in my pajamas, sitting in my toasty living room, blogging about snow, instead of tromping through it, delivering newspapers!  (They have to be delivered by 5:30am)  I’d have to be pretty desperate to do that job again!

Derick said he went to the beach last weekend.  Must be rough!  Even though I love my Christmas lights poking out through the snow, I would love to be laying on a tropical island beach with my true love, soaking up the sun.  He thought they would be going back this weekend too, for New Years.  Wow!  What a way to bring in the new year!  I’m so jealous!  Not jealous as in, “Can I trade places with you?” but jealous like, “I wish I were with you!”  I don’t really want to go to the beach unless Derick can go with me.  When I talked to him Sunday night, he said we should go to one of those all-inclusive resorts for a second honeymoon.  That sounds great to me! 

Derick, if you read this before I get to talk to you again, I love you and I miss you like crazy!  We’re on the downhill slope now.  (Hopefully!)  Stay safe and hurry home!

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South America – Day 126

I think the Lord made it snow just for me.  After Christmas eve morning with my parents and brothers and sisters, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until Saturday night.  The thought of spending the next 3 days alone at home with my kids brought such a feeling of despair and loneliness.  I was invited to go to Glen Carbon to spend Saturday lunch with my in-laws, and I had been invited to go to Iowa to my Grandma’s house, but either option just sounded like so much work.  I know that Derick would have wanted me to go to Glen Carbon.  And I know that on the way down there, I was planning on driving with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law to ease the stress of the trip, but I wasn’t sure what time they were coming back and I wanted to come back fairly early so that I could see my extended family for at least an hour.  I, actually, don’t go to Kroger for milk and eggs by myself with all four kids, let alone take a day trip that’s 2 1/2 hours in one direction.  The more I thought about it the more stressful it sounded.

Christian went to his Jolliff family on Christmas afternoon and I told his dad that he could spend the night at his grandparent’s house.  So, that eliminated the option of going with my parents to Iowa.  But God made it snow instead.  It was predicted to snow 3″ or less here, but 7″ at my grandma’s house.  And the trip to Grandma’s house was postponed.  Suddenly, I had a place to stay for the Christmas weekend and I wouldn’t be alone in a house full of little kids.

Anyone who has spent an extended amount of time with me this week knows that I was not looking forward to Christmas this year.  I had no idea that it would be this hard to spend it with Derick overseas.  I did all my shopping in a matter of 2 days.  I really think I made pretty good purchases in spite of my procrastination.  I know that Jesus is the reason for the season.  And deep inside I really wanted to make it a special Christmas for my kids.  But, I just could not do it.  I was stuck, paralyzed, unable to move forward with the plans I had in my head.  I called my mom, crying on several occasions.  I’m sure she didn’t know what to do with me.

Its funny how things work.  I have such a great support system around me.  But, Christmas, so far, has been the hardest weekend of Derick’s absence.  That is also the weekend that everyone is the busiest.  I wanted company so bad.  But, its not a weekend that people spend with needy friends, it one they spend with their families.  My family is gone though.  I know… my kids are still here.  But when it comes to holidays, I feel like I am functioning as half a person.  I remember my grandma saying that after my grandpa died.  Yesterday I began to wonder how she even made it through the holidays that first year without him.  There is such a marked difference when the person that you most want around for a special occasion is missing.

I began thinking about people that really are alone during the holiday season… every year.  Am I available to visit those people?  Or am I too busy with my own life to even notice.  I’m not sure I even know anyone like that.  Or maybe I do and I just haven’t recognized that they are in need.  I pray that God would open my eyes to the needs of others.  That I would not be so consumed by myself that I don’t take the time to notice what’s going on around me.  And that he would give me boldness and assertiveness in making myself available.  I think if someone would have asked me this week if I needed anything, I probably would have said no.  I didn’t need anything tangible.  I needed someone’s time, anyone’s time.  But, I didn’t want to take people away from their own family, I didn’t want to be selfish about it.

Well, *sigh*, now Christmas is over, and my God, in his loving kindness, provided company for me.  I have one more party to go to tonight and then its back to life as usual.  Back to my normal goals and semi-routines.  Back to potty training and trying to keep kids healthy during the flu season.  And back to counting the days until Derick’s return.  I welcome routine.  Right now it brings me comfort and peace of mind.

So, now I sign off so I can put pants on my son that seems to have been potty training forever.  He makes Aida’s potty training nightmare look like a walk in the park.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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South America – Day 122

It is 5:30am and Christian is finally sleeping… I think.  I’m pretty sure he has an ear infection.  I gave him Motrin last night and at about 3:00 this morning he was back in my room because the Motrin had worn off.  So, after listening to him toss and turn for about an hour, Brody woke up and wanted to eat.  (Maybe that means Brody will sleep in now… fat chance.) I sat in bed feeding  Brody and listened to Chritian saying over and over in almost a sing-songy voice, “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.”  It must have been some pretty intense pain to wake him up in the night.  I remember him coming upstairs and asking me something, but I don’t exactly remember the conversation.  I remember telling him he could sleep in my bed if he wanted, but beyond that I just remember feeling him toss and turn and hearing that sing-songy voice.  After I fed Brody I gave Christian more Motrin.  That was at 4:10.  Then he saw me check something on my phone and he asked if he could play a game to get his mind off the pain.  Sure!  Whatever you need to do!  So, he sat in my bed for an hour playing brickbreaker until the alarm went off at 5:00.  I came downstairs and poured a cup of coffee.  I had just got settled on the couch and I heard the sound of footsteps above me.  Here comes Christian, complaining that he is scared upstairs. (Scared?? Seriously??)  So now he is sound asleep next to me, on the couch.  Finally!  I’m supposed to finish my Christmas shopping today but honestly, after last night… er… early this morning, I’d rather take a nap!

I have been so disinterested in Christmas shopping this year.  I know its because Derick’s not here.  That is something that we always did together.  I think sometimes we even had the kids with us while we shopped.  I remember last year, going to Target (at the last minute) with kids in tow to get Christmas presents for the kids.  One of us would pick out a gift for a child while the other one would take said child to another part of the store so they wouldn’t see the item being purchased.  It worked!  They were all suprised when they opened their gifts!  As of this weekend, I am officially done shopping for my kids.  I just have to shop for extended family members now.  I’d love to hire someone to shop for me!  Any takers??

Today is Tuesday, coffee tuesday to be exact.  Ever since Derick left for bootcamp, my sister-in-law, Rachel has been coming to visit me on Tuesday mornings.  We sit at the table and drink coffee until we are ready to pop.  Nevermind that we each drank a pot before she came.  There have been periods of time that we took a break.  When my Bible Study is going on, they meet on Tuesdays, so I’m not available.  Or sometimes Rachel has things going on too.  Last summer my sister Carrie started joining us.  My grandpa calls it “sistering”.  My grandma gets together every Thursday with all of her sisters and they go “sistering”.  So, now it is a family tradition.  My mom goes “sistering” and I go “sistering”.  Maybe its known as sistering when you have more than just one or 2 sisters.

Well, I suddenly have 3 sick kids this morning so I better close this blog and take care of them.  There is no better medicine better than mommy’s loving arms when you are sick.

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South America – Day 114

Today Derick has the day off so hopefully I’ll get to talk to him a lot.  Yesterday was such a busy day that our usual afternoon Skyping was put on hold.  I didn’t realize til last night that I would get to talk to him today.  I was so sad last night, like I was supposed to do something really important and I didn’t get it done.  Then he called and told me that he’ll be available all day today and that just made everything better. 

 This weekend really went very smoothly and was quite enjoyable. I met Mark and Jill Savage at MOPS and Diane came to clean Aida’s room for me on Friday.  Saturday the kids all wrote “letters” to send in a package to their Dad.  And Saturday afternoon I made cookies.  The kids were supposed to help but about half way into mixing up the dough, they got bored and left the room.  This is one of the many difficulties that I have as a single parent.  I have to learn to put anything aside and go tend to my children.  Whether its cooking, feeding Broy, cleaning, or watching TV.  As much as I don’t want to, I have to be able to put it down and deal with things all by myself.  At the same time, I have to be able to ignore things that would normally drive a person crazy.  For instance, if I hear Aida and Allyn in the other room while I am feeding Brody, I need to be able to determine what is important enough to interrupt Brody’s meal.  If one is terrorizing the other or blatantly disobeying me, that is enough to make me put Brody in his seat, get up off the couch and take care of things.  If, on the other hand, I am cooking dinner and I hear them screaming and laughing in the other room and an occasional crash (followed by more screaming and laughing) I will probaby contiue cooking and worry about cleaning up their mess later (or coaching them to do it later). 

Anyway, back to my weekend.  Late Saturday afternoon, Aida and I went shopping for things to put in Derick’s Christmas package.  He probably won’t get it on Christmas but I just got his address last week so I think he’ll understand.  I asked Aida and Christian what they wanted to get for him.  Christian, of course, had his heart set on a video game, which I vetoed again, stating that they are expensive and I don’t know what is worth playing.  So, he said he wanted a coloring book and crayons.  Aida wanted to get him a puppy.  So we got a little stuffed dog.  Aida also found a set of Disney Princess Dominoes that she wanted to get for him.  She and Derick like to play dominoes on Skype.  I don’t know if she really understood that the box held dominoes, but she definitely saw the princesses!  And what would a sailor in the US Navy want more from his daughter for Christmas than a set of Disney Princess Dominoes. 

It was an adventure taking a 3 year old to Target during the Christmas season!  She wanted everything.  If I had a nickel for every time I said, “We are not shopping for us, we are shopping for dad.”, I’d have an abundance of money for Christmas!  She finally had a total melt down in the book section when we were picking the coloring books.  I put her in the car and went directly to the checkout.  There, she demanded that the cashier give her a sticker.  When the sticker was produced I demanded that she say thank you.  She didn’t, so I gave the sticker back to the cashier.  At that point she started screaming and thrashing.  Which invited a trip to the restroom.  Fortunately, no one was in there at that moment.  (I know that giving her a much-needed spanking isn’t abuse, but not everyone sees it that way.)  When I came home, we made spaghetti, took baths and got ready for bed.  And, I am pleased to report that part of this bedtime routine was picking up Aida’s room (she changed her clothes at least 6 times on Saturday) and the living room.  They both looked fabulous by the time the kids were in bed.

Sunday consisted of hair cuts for the boys (I think I must be out of my mind), Church Christmas Programs, Piano recitals, and dinner at a friends house.  A very busy day!  A good day, but a busy day!  My kids were on their best behaviour at the recital!  I was so proud of them!  I asked my grandpa if he noticed, he said no, but that’s good.  If he had noticed, it would have been bad.  

For now, though, its time to get the kids out of bed and start the day.  The coffee is gone and the sun is up.  Good morning, world.  Hopefully, I’ll get to talk to Derick for a long time today.

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South America – Day 111

My kids are all napping right now, so I have to take advantage of the quiet house so I can post a blog entry.  I would make a pot of coffee, but I’m trying not to drink so much in the afternoon.  Quality, rather than quantity, sleep is a priority in my life right now.  If the day goes well, I usually have 2 hours of peace in the morning and 2 hours at night, when the kids are asleep.  Until Derick left for boot camp, I was not one to enjoy being alone.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good social gathering, but in the last 2 years I have come to love a lone shopping trip.  One time I even went out to eat all by myself.  I took a book with me to read.  Actually, last summer (2008) I went on our church’s annual bike trip.  I usually spent each night reading a book while the high schoolers played card games around me.  At one point someone asked how I could read with all the noise.  I said, simply, “It’s not my kids.”  I don’t have to listen so I choose not to. 

Today was the Christmas brunch for MOPS.  Jill Savage, from Hearts at Home, was the speaker and I just loved it.  I went to my first Hearts at Home conference last March.  I decided I want to go every year.  This coming year it is very close to when Derick may be coming home.  But, I might have to tell him that I need to go so that I can be a better wife and mother for him and his kids! 🙂  Anyway, before it started, I got a chance to meet Mark and Jill Savage.  I had just finished reading her book “My Heart’s at Home”.  (I didn’t finish my daily blog about it, but it was definitely a book worth reading if you are a mom!)  We got to talking about the military, because Derick is in the Navy and their daughter just married a man who is in the Army.  I love being a military wife and I hope that she does too.  I mentioned that Derick has a desire to be a chaplain in the Navy and Mark said he would like to partner with us in prayer for that.  I know they are just regular people but I was so excited to hear that.  Then he said I could email him the link to my blog.  Wow!  I may actually have more than 5 people reading my blog everyday!  

Part of me is really excited because this author and speaker, Jill Savage, is gonna read my blog.  But another part of me is realizing that they are just normal people like Derick and I.  They are following the path that God has laid before them just like we are.  There are days that I think I must have been out of my mind to have agreed to this life.  And I must be crazier still to tell Derick that if he wants to be a chaplain, then I want him to be a chaplain.  It is a long journey.  He has to finish his bachelor’s degree (hopefully less than 2 years) and get a masters in divinity in order to do it.  But, then I think, this is not about me.  It’s not about Derick and it’s not about our kids.  It’s about following the call of God.  I have kind of a romantic view of the military.  I love saying that my husband is in the Navy!  I LOVE  it!  I am so proud of him, everyday!  I know that it’s not really as glamorous as it sounds, but I still love it!  Maybe God has allowed me to keep that romantic view in order for me to be a better support to him.

In other news, my friend Diane is coming over tonight, to help me clean my daughter’s room.  It’s scary in there!  Aida has more clothes and shoes than me and all 3 of my little boys combined.  And she changes her clothes 6 times a day.  I’m not exaggerating!  Hope fully we can figure out some sort of system that I can keep up with.  Thank you, Lord, for Diane and her willingness to help me sort through my clutter habit.

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South America – Day 106

One hundred and six days down, only seventy-one more to go until Derick returns to the United States of America. 

I haven’t blogged about my book lately but today’s chapter was particularly encouraging.  This week has been crazy.  Tuesday was the Christmas Tea at my church.  I decorated a table, so I spent all day Monday and Tuesday getting ready for that.  Wednesday I had a Pampered Chef party.  My mom helped me clean my house that day, since I didn’t do it on Monday or Tuesday.  The party was a flop, by the way.  Someday I’ll learn to stop trying to have parties.  Thursday my friend, Jess came over and I did her hair and her daughter’s hair.  Thursday night, I had a Christmas dinner with my MOPS group.  Somewhere after we cleaned the house on Wednesday it got destroyed again when I wasn’t looking.  I don’t know how, but I was so discouraged that I have hardly touched it since.  Yesterday, I balanced the checkbook, paid bills and set aside money for Christmas shopping that should have been done a long time ago.  (Thankfully, there is money to set aside right now.)  I also planned the meals for the week and started making a grocery list.  All of those things are great but my house was still a wreck.  Last night and this morning have been better.  Last night, I put chicken in the freezer for dinner, I did the dishes and I started a load of laundry.  (Actually I rewashed a load of laundry that I neglected to put in the dryer yesterday morning.)  This morning I changed the laundry and started another load (so I’ll have clean clothes to wear to church), and read my book.  My house is still mostly a wreck but I feel better today.    

Today’s chapter was called “Mom, Site Manager”.  The next chapter is called “Dad, Project Manager”.  Dad is the one in charge but Mom is the one making sure things are running smoothly on the job sight.  My family loves baseball, and I have often likened a baseball team to a family.  I think the pitcher is like the mother and the catcher is like the father.  The mother is out there with the team, throwing balls and strikes, trying to make the game easier for her family.  But, its the father that is really calling all the pitches that the pitcher is throwing.  So, anyway, today I read about the “pitcher” or the “site manager”.  🙂  It was just encouraging to think that I am not doing all of this for nothing.  It is important for my childrens’ well-being, that I am there everyday and for different events in their lives.  It gives the family a sense of security, when mom is available and has everything under control.  (Or, at least appears to the rest of the family, that she has everything under control.) 

Do you ever get mad just because the situation seems to call for it?  Sometimes I don’t really feel mad, but in my mind it seems like I should be mad.  So, I get mad.  I get mad at Allyn for peeing his pants when the potty chair is not 10 feet away.  I get mad at Aida for leaving her clothes on the floor for us to trip on.  I get mad at Christian because he just cannot seem to keep track of his stuff, and when I tell him to look for it, he can’t see it when its right in front of him.  I ask God for patience and he gives it to me and I throw it back in his face.  None of these things are really worth getting mad about.  I have no idea what to do forAllyn.  I feel like I have tried everything I can think of.  Aida needs to be taught to put one outfit away when she gets another one out.  And Christian needs to have designated areas for his stuff to live so that he can put it away and know where it is the next time he needs it.  And they all need to learn to clean up after themselves.  I need to learn that too though. 

This has been a rough weekend.  I don’t like to clean on Sundays but today may be an exception.  I’m afraid my house will start growing things if I don’t take care of at least some of the mess today.  I can’t wait to go to church.  I need a break.  I need to leave my kids in their classrooms and forget about being a mom for a couple of hours.  Church is a place of refuge to me.  A place where I can come and find peace, and then have lunch afterwards and worry about cooking or cleaning it up when we are done. 

I miss Derick today.  Only seventy-one days to go.

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South America – Day 98

Tomorrow is Allyn’s birthday.  He will be 2 years old, so, we have plans to put up a Christmas tree tomorrow night.  I’ve been trying to decide how to have a birthday party either before or at the same time.  I’ve also been toying with the idea of making it a tradition to put up the Christmas tree every year on his birthday.  I can’t decide if that would be a good tradition or not.  Lots of people put up their tree over Thanksgiving weekend.  His birthday won’t always be that weekend but it will always be after Thanksgiving.  For now, while he is little, I’m sure it will be exciting.  

Children love to celebrate.  Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what it is, “it” needs to be celebrated.  When I was growing up we “celebrated” Sundays.  We all wrestled on the living room floor with my dad and then we had donuts for breakfast.  It was tradition.  Even when our church started serving breakfast, we continued to have donuts at home for breakfast, for a long time.  Derick and I celebrate everytime we get to stay in a hotel.  We get dessert and a pay-per-view movie and we sit in bed at night, watching our movie and eating our dessert.  When I went to California to visit Derick we had a suite so we tried to put Aida in bed first in her room, but as soon as the movie started and she saw us eating dessert she crawled in bed with us and shared the dessert.  She loved being part of that tradition.  I’m really not very good, as an adult, at celebrating little things in life with my kids.  Actually, I have to admit, I’m just not very good at planning celebrations at all.  I even struggle with my kids’ birthdays.  Poor Christian asks every year if he can have a party and invite all of his friends.  Every year I say yes, and then don’t plan, and don’t plan, and don’t plan and the birthday comes and the birthday goes and I didn’t plan.  Every year I think, this will be the year. 

“When home is a pep rally, I know I am celebrated when I am at home.”  Have you ever noticed that it is so easy to praise the accomplishments of babies and toddlers, but the older the child gets the harder it gets.  The “good job” turns into “you could have done better than this”.  I can praise Aida and Allyn for helping me put the dishes away, but I forget to even say thank you when Christian does the whole job himself.  This is one area that my book talks about that I need some serious improvements.  Birthdays are especially a source of frustration with me.  I have such a tendancy to procrastinate that the party never gets planned (not just for Christian but all the kids).  Then I feel like such a failure as a mother… over a simple birthday party.  But other things should be celebrated too, other events and accomplishments.  Sporting events, music concerts, school papers on which someone worked very hard, no matter what the final grade was, or just general improvements in various tasks.  I think I need to just sit down with Derick (maybe over Skype since we’ll have 2 birthdays and several holidays while he is gone) and decide what we want to do as a tradition for these special days and events.  In my family many traditions have evolved over the years.  But because they evolved and weren’t planned ahead of time, I missed out on some of these, being the oldest child.  My mom always picks the birthday person up from school and takes him out to lunch on their birthday.  I think I had already moved out when this tradition started.  Also, on a birthday, my dad goes to Walgreens at about 5am and buys goofy gifts (magazines, hand held fans, and frappacinos), one from each person that is at home that morning.  He comes home and wraps them and labels them from each person, then leaves them at the birthday persons place a the table, to open at breakfast.  And there is always a silly explanation for each one.  I think I was in high school when this tradition started.  I guess I’m focusing on birthdays because we don’t have many school or sports functions yet in my family. 

I don’t know how many readers I have but feel free to post comments and let me know some of your traditions, birthday or otherwise.  I want to be able to celebrate my children.  I want them to know that Derick and I are gonna be their cheerleaders and we will lead the rest of the “pep squad” (brothers and sister) in cheering them on in whatever area of their life needs cheering.

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