Monday, August 28, 2017

Threenagers, and Other Things With Daughters

Well, here we are, four weeks into Daddy being gone, and Chris is scheduled to arrive home one week from today.

I. Can't. Wait.

The girls and I have been doing pretty well but it has been nothing short of a chaotic summer. But chaotic in a good way for the most part. We had the gut-wrenching and soul-examining experience of losing a new infant in our congregation, and just this past week the third of five pregnancies was born. And the cool part was, I got to experience it. Mostly.

After I arrived home on Monday (at midnight, so, basically Tuesday), Sherri gave me a late night ride home from the airport and I crawled into bed in an empty and silent house (no girls, no Copper, and still no Chris) and slept.

I woke up around 7:30 (oversleeping) and went to pick up the girls. I am so glad Oma was willing to watch them over the weekend; I had a wonderful time with Chris and they had a great time with their Oma and Papa (Uncle Dan and Heidi were there for part of it, too)!

After we got home and had some breakfast, we packed up and prepared to leave for a friend's house who lives near Hibbing, MN with Sherri, and her two youngest girls. Our friend, Liz, is a wife and mom of 7 who homeschools her littles. Her husband is a doctor, Liz is a lawyer, and they have a beautiful story; I remember being sad when they moved away and I think that was either before I even had kids or around the time I had Sophia, because I knew what a great source of wisdom and encouragement Liz is.  So, we had asked if we could come up to her house and see her homeschooling in "action" to learn, and to have a mini-Summer retreat.

Her house is beautiful. It is a pre-fab but you would never know; makes me want to order one! I'm sure they are designed to be sturdy. Anyway, because they are out in the woods with the closest neighbor being her parents at a mile or so away, it is quite the Adventureland for the kiddos. The girls had a blast finding frogs and toads, and even garter snakes. They played on the playground, jumped on the trampoline, jumped in hay bales, and we even had the opportunity to go see their horse at her parents house, which they were so excited about. And it was such an encouragement to me to see someone homeschooling a child around the same age as Sophia. The reading and writing aspect of teaching always makes me somewhat nervous because it seems like all of education hinges on it; but I loved watching her teach this portion to her son. Put me at ease.

When we got home, I tackled her first lesson in language and writing. I am looking forward to this school year! We are also now officially in "February" lessons of the kindergarten math year for the Saxon math. Sophia is doing so well at Math. When discussing education it was an encouragement to me to hear and remember that God created us to learn; he gave us a written word and it is his intention that we grow, learn, create. Children are geared towards this! And it is just amazing to watch these skills develop in my girls.

I ordered a school workbook for Heidi as well so she can have her own worksheets to do while I am working on school with Sophia and Elli next year.

Aside from school, Heidi is growing in that she is getting ready to wean off of naps. And it is happening fast. But the problem is she is trying to wean herself too quickly. She went without a nap on Saturday and Sunday; on Saturday she ended up sleeping for a few minutes in the later evening because she was just so tired, and then on Sunday she didn't nap at all and by the time it hit around 5 or 6 p.m. she was just a shipwreck. Everything was making her cry; if I told her "No" it was like she had developed an oppositional disorder and was pushing to the limits of what exactly "no" means. Eventually after bath, reading, etc. I put them to bed around 8:30. By 9:30, the girls were both still awake. Heidi was crying because she couldn't find her Pooh Bear (her second, back-up Pooh Bear; she still had one) and Sophia desperately needed a fresh drink of water (suddenly my children become completely dehydrated every night).

I (somewhat harshly) went into the room and commanded them to go to sleep. I heard Heidi through the door saying, "I don't like Mommy, Sophie. I don't like Mommy. I want Daddy." *Sigh* My poor girl. Overtired, missing Daddy. I have been reminded not to take it personally, and I know that, because I know if it had been Chris instead of me she would have been saying how much she doesn't like Daddy and wants me, but it still hurts. This morning when I woke her up she just cuddled right in my lap. I apologized to the girls for having a harsh tone with them last night, apologized for sinning against them, and asked their forgiveness which they graciously offered to me. We are all missing the dash of testosterone, and male leadership, that Daddy brings into the house.

Bethany, my dear, stubborn, redhead, is also having her own version of defiance. She knows exactly what "no" means but also pushes it to the limits. She also knows what and when she should sign. For example, she knows how to sign "more" and "all done," but yesterday she was refusing to sign. She was being so stubborn that instead of asking for more food, she pincher-grasped NOTHING, yes, NOTHING, maintaining eye contact with me and eating air. Then when she finally gave in and said "more" and I gave her more, she refused to ask again. This time, she ate the food that she found in the chair around her legs and in her bib before asking for more food. It is so funny to me, because she knows that I know what she wants. She is trying to hard to bend me to her will. The intelligence displayed by such a small person is incredible, and the sin nature to defy those in authority is so present and obvious even at a young age.

This morning I woke the girls up for Sherri's house. I generally just wake them and put them right in the car around 6:30. This morning, I woke up Sophia and went to brush her hair and there were giant globs of toothpaste stuck in her air. Sticky, solid, toothpaste. I don't know how or when this happened because all three girls took a bath last night, but we were standing over the kitchen sink trying to wash it out of her hair and then brush all the tangles. Then I woke up Heidi and found the same thing in her hair! We were slightly late this morning.

It has been an interesting week. I am working hard on a few loose ends around the house, looking forward to meeting with the Mom group from church tomorrow, and eager to connect with my parents who are coming in on Wednesday night!!

Monday, August 21, 2017

AAAAAAAAALBUQUERQUE

Sorry. I don't think I can get enough of the way Weird Al says "Albuquerque" in the song. Here I am in the airport in Albuquerque, and have just said goodbye to Chris. I had a great weekend and am so glad we had the skymiles available to make this trip happen.

Chris has now completed three out of five weeks of the second and final portion of Chaplain Candidate training for the Air Force. This past week was a busy one for him, with heavy ministry involvement and obligations, from speaking engagements to preaching a sermon this Sunday.

When I landed we stopped by the base quickly and then went to lunch at a wonderful Peruvian restaurant called Pollitos con Pappas. It was excellent. My favorite thing was a Papas Rellenas, basically a fried stuffed potato. It was precisely as good as it sounds, perhaps better, and then some fried Yuca as well.

After lunch we took a tram up to the top of Sandia Peak, I think currently the third longest tram in the world, and the tram that goes the farthest distance as far as height is concerned.  The elevation was over 10,000 feet and the rock formations were absolutely breathtaking.

After leaving Sandia Mountains we went to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. The information is powerful and sobering, with history going back to the WWII era. There was a copy of a letter from Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt outlining his concerns with the development of nuclear weaponry, including that it appeared Germans were concocting their own experiments. It was apparently not a matter of great concern for Hitler who was more concerned with the short-term, close-range victories and was not as far-sighted. A lot of the testing took place in New Mexico and something I found fascinating was the level of discretion around the project. The town that cropped up was fairly secretive; babies born in the town even had "P.O. Box 1663" listed as their place of birth on their birth certificate rather than a city name.

While the encasement for the nuclear bombs was rather large, around 10 feet in length, at the same time the size is not all that large considering the dropped of just two bombs led to the immediate deaths of over 200,000 people, and many more after death toll from radiation poisoning is taken into account.

For dinner we celebrated our anniversary with a great seafood dinner at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. YUM. I had excellent stuffed crab and a shrimp gumbo, and really just overate. Kind of a common theme on this trip.

The next day, already Sunday, was the day for Chris to preach. I had an experience that is one that I only hear about. I had sat down in a pew, three or four rows from the front, by myself because Chris sits on stage the entire time. I am by no means a tiny person, but I also don't take up all that much space. Anyway, someone approaches me and was going to (I assumed) say Hi. Instead, she said to me, "Would you mind moving? There are some people that come in that normally sit here." WOW! This happens? In real life? I have heard the stories, but there it was. It broke my heart. Not because I was upset about moving, I wasn't particularly attached to the pew seat I had chosen. But I kept thinking to myself, "If I had been a guest, and that was the first time I had set foot in that church, I would not be returning and I likely wouldn't have stayed to hear the (most excellent) sermon." Christian: hospitality and reaching the lost is more important than your pew seat. 

(rant over)

Chris preached an excellent sermon about the theology of work. I always enjoy watching him speak. And it was an encouraging message because sometimes the work that I do is not the work that I want to do. We have other ideas for how we think we would or could be better used, but the thing is, where we are is where God wants us to be and where he is using us. We joined the deputy wing chaplain and his wife for lunch; it is easy to see how God has blessed Chris with the people he is surrounded by at this base, especially this particular chaplain. I can easily see this gentleman turning into a great mentor down the road, and his wife was a benefit and a blessing to me in just the short period of time that I knew her.

Later in the afternoon was the Katie-focused part of the trip. Chris took me to Old Town Albuquerque, full of local shopping. We spent a couple of hours there and Chris let me pick out an anniversary gift; a beautiful Bear ring (will post pictures later). They did not have it made in my size so it is being made (handcrafted!) and will arrive within six weeks. I'm very excited to see it.  We had a delicious dinner at Taco Cabana - a cute fast-food type Mexican restaurant with a salsa bar and incredible fresh tortillas. I was in the mood for ice cream afterwards (because my mouth met a rather warm jalapeno) so we found a Frost nearby. I was thrilled - I love Frost! It was surprisingly hard to get to and after several "recalculating"s by the GPS (poor Siri) we finally made it! They are quite lovely.

This morning Chris had to do one quick thing for work but then was given off the rest of the day. Prior to his stopping in to work we went to a local coffee and crepe shop (Breve) and did some devotional reading before continuing on the rest of the day. We went to the petroglyphs and enjoyed viewing some of the art and the history behind it. Beautiful drawings. Most of the knowledge about what the pictures contain is just conjecture but it was fun to read about and see the historic drawings.

Lunch was at Thai Vegan, which is exactly the kind of restaurant that it sounds like. The food was also incredible. I am amazed at all the great food in Albuquerque - there seemed to be lots of it.

God was watching over us even as we left. There was a major accident on the road to the airport minutes after we arrived there; Chris said it was backed up for miles on his way home. I am so glad for the opportunity I had to come here and excited for Chris as he completes this second training. We can't wait to have him home but I am so grateful for what he is doing here. I pray God continues to use him for the remainder of the time - two weeks from today!

table of elements in a granite floor
"fat man" and "little boy" (A-bomb) replicas
Picture of a stopped watch and burned hazy outlines from Japan
"Before" and "After" from a-bomb dropping
Chapel!
Christopher preaching :)
SHOPPING DAY!
Vegan cashew tofu dish. Yum.

Bethany Grace Turns 1

Well, bad Mom moment of the year. I am not with Bethany Grace for her first birthday. I will make sure Chris and I FaceTime them from Albuquerque. (Aaaaaaaa-aaaaaaa-albuquerque). (That's a Weird Al reference for my less sophisticated readers). I picked up a yellow New Mexico teddy bear at the airport today for my sweet birthday girl.

It is strange to think of missing her birthday. If she were Sophia's or even Heidi's age it would probably be worse because now they know what "birthday" means... I am still going to miss her.

Anyway. Bethany Grace. It hard to believe she is one already! ONE! Has it really been a year? This may have been the fastest year of my life so far. There are few things that remind you that life is a vapor like watching your kids grow.

She has one of the most goofy, funny personalities. She is so energetic and laughs, like huge, head hanging back, mouth open wide laughter, laughs at things. She will crack herself up all the time, but her sisters can make her laugh really easily as well. Sophia will generally make goofy noises or faces to get Bethany to laugh, and Heidi will chase her (or have Bethany chase) up and down the halls of the house.

Her hair is staying red! And she is starting to get just the tiniest bit of length in the back. Her hair growth is following the same pattern that her sisters' did before her (so, not much, slow growing). She has an "angry vein" in the middle of her forehead that turns a good dark blue color when she is frustrated. And, lately, she will also stomp her tiny little size 3 shoe feet when she gets angry. Like, for example, when I am loading the dishwasher and it has dirty dishes in it so I tell her "no" to playing in the dishwasher. She'll stomp her feet at me. Or if I tell her not to eat dog food. Or if I tell her not to play in the toilet. She is perhaps the kid that is the most into things out of all of my girls. And she is so fast at it. I went to the bathroom the other day, so I was in there for, I don't know, less than two minutes, maybe? By the time I came back out she had taken handfuls of dog food and surrounded herself on the floor with it, and had shoved a bunch in her mouth. EWW. She spit it all out into my hand, but wasn't happy about it.

She is also fascinated by toilet brushes. Let's just say I keep the bathroom door closed at all times (or I try to) because gross.

But, on the positive, she also loves being in the kitchen with me and playing with pans. We have a little sauce pan, maybe holds a quart, and that "her" pan when she is in the kitchen with me. She loves to have that and a little spoon - it'll keep her busy for 15 minutes. She also loves hairbrushes and if she gets into the bathroom, and gets into something that ISN'T the toilet paper or something worse, then she usually grabs a hairbrush. She likes to "brush" her own hair or my hair or Heidi's hair (Heidi was less of a fan...).

Now that she is no longer getting milk straight from the "cow" (me) she has been drinking the frozen milk quite well. I thought like with Heidi I'd have tons left over, but she's actually going through it and I'm down to maybe just 10 or so bags left. She'll be done with it any time. And I think she's going to be harder to break of the nighttime nursing/bottle feeding habit than either of her older sisters. She seems to actually really enjoy it, more than the other two did. It'll be an interesting habit to break.

Eating is going really well. She doesn't always like the things I would expect (she doesn't seem to love noodles all of the time, which I would have thought would be an easy win) but she does seem to like vegetables. The other day she was actually eating mini bell peppers.

She still has 5 teeth; two on the top and three on the bottom. I think more are coming because she's had a coupe of fussy days this week, but nothing yet.

Surprisingly, she is just not a fan of signing. She knows how to sign "all done" and "more" but most of the time she seems to prefer to want to say the words. And she does have a couple of words. She says "mama" and "dada" and "babada" for banana (I think - she pointed at it and said that), kitty (for her pink kitty), all-done (a-da), and I think she says Heidi, too. Sophia is a bit harder to say. But when we got in the car this morning, Heidi was in there yet and it sounded like she was asking where Heidi was.

She loves walking and is working on running. She has to keep up with her sisters. She also seems to really love water, even when it's a bit on the chilly side. She also loves playing peek-a-boo, and is probably the most ticklish kid ever.

Interestingly, her first birthday lined up with the total solar eclipse across the United States, the first one like it in almost 100 years that went from coast to coast (last one was June 6, 1918). Chris and I couldn't see much of it in New Mexico, just a crescent covering the sun, but the hype was certainly exciting.

We are planning to celebrate her birthday when Daddy gets back into town. Smash cake and all! But before that we are going to have Nana and Papa here too - Yay! It'll be a blast having them here. Love you, my Bethany Grace, and I can't wait to see where God takes your life. Trust in Him always, and let God direct your paths. Riches and fame are nothing; being a servant of the living God is everything.

Playing peek-a-boo with the bib
I'm liking this apricot, Mommy (don't worry - I stopped her from eating the pit!)
Managed to get her utensil stuck on the baby lock



Birthday cake with Oma and Papa
I LOVE THIS SMILE