Sunday, October 31, 2010
Tim and I were married on June 27, 2003, a month and a half after my graduation from college. We spent a week in Colorado for our honeymoon, and then rushed home to Illinois for his grandfather’s funeral. His grandfather passed away while we were returning from our honeymoon. I returned to an apartment jam packed with boxes containing all of our earthly belongings, and no time at all to unpack any of it because of all of the family responsibilities surrounding the funeral. I distinctly remember sobbing as I had a can of soup to open because I was not feeling well, but I had no clue where in that mass of boxes I would find a can opener. As a young wife, I wasn’t sure what my husband, who truthfully I didn’t know all that well after dating long distance, needed while he grieved.
As newlyweds, we were happy. However, I was miserably lonely. Janna was halfway across the world, and Melody was still in college. We didn’t have cable, I hadn’t discovered facebook and blogging, if they even existed, and we only had slow dial up Internet. Our small apartment only took so long to clean, and I didn’t have a job. The church my husband grew up in was big enough, but everyone had their groups, and I never really fit. There weren’t young couples to hang out with, and we tried to go do things with the singles and college kids but it was obvious we were not welcome. I can’t remember a time in my life when I was that lonely.
I poured myself into cooking for my husband and setting up a home. I got movies from the library to fill those endless hours while he was at work, and I started looking for a job.
Truthfully, it was only two months before I was working again and the loneliness wasn’t so intense, but those were a long two months.
I realized quickly just how different my husband and I are. We are polar opposites. He would (and does) watch sports all night long, and while I taught myself to like baseball and the Cubs for him, I could really care less about sports. I LOVE sci-fi movies and TV shows, specifically the Stargate series, but he cannot stomach them. We had to negotiate over the TV and the computer, which we only had one of when we were first married.
I distinctly remember one night when our differences came to a head. We went to the county fair with his parents, and I was so excited about riding rides. I love amusement parks and grew up with a large one in my town that we always got season tickets to. Tim, on the other hand, cannot stomach rides, as they make him sick. He, however, loves tractor pulls, something I cannot stomach due to the smell of body odor and diesel fuel.
I just wanted to do something with my husband. I went to the tractor pull and read a book, just so I could spend time with him and try to appreciate what he appreciated. I enjoyed my book, but not the nasty smelling man next to me. On the way out, I begged him to ride a ride with me. I chose one that seemed simple and non-scary. It wasn’t a scary ride, but it did spin in circles, and it made him sick with vertigo. He didn’t talk to me the whole way home, and I choked back tears because his parents were in the car.
That night I sobbed. I couldn’t imagine how we would make a marriage work with such different personalities. While I was in love with and committed to my husband, I wasn’t sure how we would make it work.
The next day I called my mom. I am so thankful for her reminder. My dad and mom are completely in love and have always seemed stable to me, except for a brief time when I was very young. They were not Christians nor grounded in any way when they met and married as teens, yet they have had an amazingly beautiful relationship. She reminded me that my dad and my mom are complete opposites. Sometimes they even spend their entire evenings on opposite sides of the house, dad upstairs watching sci-fi bug movies, and mom downstairs in the basement scrapbooking.
It took us a while, Tim and I, to find our groove, but I am so thankful to say that we are making it work and are still as in love as we were the day we were wed, even after two kids, two dogs, and a mortgage. Oh, we have our differences, and he still won’t watch sci-fi with me, nor will I watch football with him, but we have learned to appreciate and love each other for who we are. We still don’t have a lot “in common,” but we compromise, enjoy our little family, and pour ourselves into our new church together.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
In my college years, I had the opportunity to travel internationally twice. I consider myself very blessed to have had these opportunities and to have my eyes opened to the world outside of America.
The summer after my Freshman year, I boarded a plane with absolutely no one I knew and flew to Olot, Spain. There I served with one other gal and some missionaries, playing piano in their church and helping with a summer camp. The language barrier made it difficult to truly communicate with the people, but the opportunity to travel allowed me to see another culture and understand the way God works outside of America.
The Missionaries we stayed with, the Campos family, were not Americans. He was a native Spaniard and had been serving as a pastor while working full time. When some American missionaries saw how stretched he was, they advised him to seek support in the States. He was able to raise support and come back to minister to his people full time. He had (and still has) a tremendous passion for the people of his small town. I was blessed to see how hard he worked, and I was challenged to eat foods I had never had before in order not to offend my hosts.
Helping with VBS
While in Spain, I fell in love with Nutella (not what they called it over there, but the same food). It is as common over there as peanut butter in the States. While we were at the camp, they served bread for breakfast with a plate of Nutella formed into a square. I thought it was odd that they had formed the Nutella like that, but I spread a heaping serving on my bread and took a huge bite. Oh no, it was not Nutella. It was pate. Pate is ground up and seasoned . . . . Liver. ICH!
During one drive, Mr. Campos pulled over at this farm, where the man bred pure Spanish horses. They were gorgeous!
Standing at the site of Calvary, the place of the skull. Can you see the skull?
A couple of years later my college hosted an Israel tour, and any student who went received two of their required Bible class credits. I jumped on this amazing opportunity. With some of my friends, I toured Israel with two of my favorite Bible teachers, Dr. Oats and Dr. Radford. Dr. Radford had done this tour many, many times before, and he knew many of the sites intimately. While on this tour, we boated across the Sea of Galilee, floated in the Dead Sea, and dipped our feet in the Jordan River.
When we went to the Jordan, many of our tour mates decided to fill empty water bottles with Jordan River water. I didn’t’ have the desire to do this, because these sort of trinkets were never important to me. Dr. Oats, however, did.
After we got back on our bus and went to the next site, Dr. Oats could not find his River water. Come to find out, someone had accidentally drunk the river water! We all ended up getting this nasty stomach virus, and I feel that was the culprit!
I have so many wonderful memories from that trip, but I must share one that only fellow MBBC grads will truly appreciate. At one point we drove to the top of this mountain and then climbed down using these hand grips. Many of us were lagging behind the tour guide because we stopped to take pictures of the harrowing journey once we got to the bottom. The tour guide was getting a bit upset. I turned around, and here was Dr. Oats, the president of our Bible department and a very serious-minded teacher, sliding down the mountain (not the steep part) on his rear end through rocks and briars. It was a hilarious sight I have never forgotten, and I didn’t let him forget it later when he became my pastor for a short period (twice).
I don't have a picture of Dr. Oats and the mountain, but here we are swimming in the Dead Sea.
On the way home our entire group was getting ready to board the plane when we were informed it was broken. We were divided into three groups and sent different ways home. Because of this delay, I was sent through Belgium instead of the original European country (France I think). My flight was nine hours delayed! As a result, I almost missed my connection in Chicago to come home. Let me tell you, trying to find someone who speaks English well enough to understand my plight and a phone I could use my calling card on to call home in a European airport was very challenging, especially when I was all alone at that point because of being split up. I bought some Belgian chocolates at the airport, but promptly after eating them got sick with the stomach bug, so to this day I cannot eat Belgian chocolates.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Sometimes, I focus too strongly on the work aspect of working from home instead of the home aspect.
When Miss N brought home a paper from preschool about her first-ever field trip and the fact that they needed helpers and drivers, my first thought was “but I have to work. I wonder if I can afford to take the morning off?” The only thing that makes my workweek possible is my full days on Mondays and Fridays while the girls are at school (N to preschool, M to Mom’s Day Out).
Then it hit me.
This is why I work from home. So I can drive to the fire station with a bunch of three and four year olds. So I can be home with my child when she’s sick. So I can help with the Christmas party.
So I signed the form, and tomorrow I go with Miss N on her first ever field trip, filling my van with little people and car seats, and touring the fire station with my girl.
And I’m so excited.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
This is post number 2 in my young adult years from Mommy's Piggy Tails
My college years were all about my friends. I didn’t get a boyfriend until my second senior year, although I had a couple of male interests, so my friends were my social group.
It seemed that most of my friendships revolved around church. In fact, the three gals I considered my closest friends through my college experience all attended the same church as me while we were in school.
I could write about Janna and our friendship, as of my college friends she’s the one I’m still the closest to and the one who I had childhood connections with, but I have already done that. Suffice it to say she was (and still is) a friend I could count on to tell it to me straight and kick me in the gut when I needed it, yet still supported me when I needed that too.
My freshman and sophomore years I hung out with Edy, who I mentioned in my previous post. We attended the same church, along with Janna, Paula, and a few other people. She was a history major and completely adored everything about history. She and Paula set me up on my first date my freshman year with a young man they worked with. I was so scared! They literally had to physically push me out the door to meet him for dinner! I was clearly unprepared at age 18 for the world of dating! But, I am thankful they thought enough of me to arrange that.
Edy and Janna were roommates my freshman year. That year Janna’s mom ran for a political office in our hometown. I remember sitting around the computer screen in Janna and Edy’s room having an “election party” and watching the election results. Mrs. B didn’t win, but it was fun to watch the results with good friends and food!
After Edy and her now husband got engaged, our friendship drifted a little. Not long after that, Janna and I decided to room together during my junior year. Little did we know that a beautiful three-way friendship was about to develop. When we arrived at school we found we were going to have a third roommate. That gal, Melody, was instrumental in my meeting my husband.
We had such fun as a room! We were all upperclassmen and focused on our studies, but we still had a blast. Somewhere along the way that year we ended up with a poster of one of the Three Stooges with a milk mustache. When we had our room birthday party (our birthdays were all within a month of each other) we thought it would be fun to paint our own milk mustaches with the whipped cream from our ice cream cake. Mel and I served as door greeters/ushers at Janna’s senior recital, cheering our dear friend on as she sang melodious tunes and looked fabulous in her floor-length blue gown. Us in our milk mustaches
One memory in particular always brings a smile to my face. We were talking one night about a dream I had had in which the rapture occurred (this is the time when the church is caught up to meet Christ in the clouds at the end of this period in biblical history). For some reason in my dream I was sent back to the earth because God had forgotten someone, and I was shocked to see Dr. Oats, one of our most prominent Bible faculty members, had not been raptured. After relaying this dream to my friends and roomies. We all proceeded to go to sleep. Moments after we shut out the lights, a semi truck drove by and blared its horn. I sat bolt upright in bed and yelled “It’s the trumpets!” We spent the next hour giggling over that. Somehow after the conversation and in the fog of early sleep I thought the trumpet had sounded and we were on our way.
After Janna graduated and moved to the far away island of Siapan, Melody and I had the opportunity to move into a dorm house rather than a dorm. We had such a blast setting up our own house with our other roommate. We took many a road trip together. I remember one time in particular we decided to head to downtown Chicago. On our way back to her house, we got lost in the ghetto. It was incredibly scary, and we were not sure what to do because we were not about ot ask anyone for directions. Mel called her dad on her cell phone and he got out his paper map (they didn’t have Internet at her house), figured out where we were, and guided us back to Rockford. Two very naive white college girls lost during the night in the ghetto of Chicago – not a good thing at all! Thankfully we can look back on that and laugh.
I will leave you with a final memory. Every time Mel, Janna, and I had a party, we broke out the lime chips. These are tortilla chips that have a ‘hint of lime’ according to the package. Something about the chips made us giggly and crazy. If we really wanted to get hyper, we would break open a bottle of sparkling cider or grape juice. To this date, if I drink or eat those things, I think of my dear friends and our awesome college experience.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Megan, two years old.
Monday, October 11, 2010
While many people have dreams and aspirations of grandeur, and I had my share of those, one less glamorous or spiritualized dream stood out throughout my young adult years. I wanted to know what it was like to have straight hair. I wanted to have the ability to run a comb through my hair without completely wetting it down, throw it up in a perky ponytail, and run out the door for class with moments to spare.
While I never truly got that wish, as my hair is and always will be curly, I did get to experience life with straight hair for 24 hours.
My freshman year my two very good friends Edy and Paula helped me realize that dream.
For two hours they worked their magic with a huge round brush and blow dryer, until my capricious curls were flattened and I had straight hair.
Knowing it would only last until I once again submitted to the waters of the shower, I went to work, chatted with my male interest of the time, and slept on straight hair. I even postponed my shower until the afternoon of the following day so I could enjoy the silky tresses just a little longer. I was amazed at how much longer it was when straight!
I have only straightened my hair one other time since then, and my husband hated it (a hairdresser insisted on doing it for me even though I said no thanks). It was a lifelong dream fulfilled, and something I look back on fondly. I did decide then and there, however, that straightening my hair was way too much effort. There was no way I was ever going to spend two hours on my hair just to get it straight. So embrace my curls I did, but it was fun while it lasted.
I am participating in the "My Young Adult Years" portion of Mommy's Piggy Tails this time around. Check out the link below for more information!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
I graduated with the highest GPA in both my high school and college classes, and while I realize that was something to be proud of, it was something that was not difficult for me. Getting good grades came naturally.
Working from home as a freelance writer is a challenge, especially finding the right balance between work and homemaking, but it is work I enjoy and work I find easy. I rarely apply for jobs I’m not highly qualified for, because I can’t stand the feeling of rejection.
And I like life that way. I love living in my comfort zone, doing things I excel at. After all, when you attempt something that you are good at, there is little room for failure. I don’t do failure well.
Today, for the first time in my life, I accomplished something that was not easy. In fact, it took work, and lots of it. It took about six months of hard, not-so-fun work.
For the first time in my life, I know the feeling of accomplishing something that I worked hard to attain.
Today, I ran a 5k race.
Well, truthfully, I did not run the whole thing, but I FINISHED a 5k race.
Sitting here typing this, tears are welling up in my eyes.
In May we bought a treadmill (I think it was May). I knew after my first time using it that just walking was not going to give me a sufficient workout. I am overweight, but I think underneath the pudge and baby fat I am more fit than I appear, and that walking was doing nothing.
Now, I am not a runner. Anyone who knows me from junior high or high school probably remembers all of the lame excuses I came up with to get out of running. I practically wished I had asthma just so I could still get an A in PE class and not run.
But, I found a program called Couch to 5k. It starts off with just 60 seconds of running intermixed with long periods of walking, gradually (over nine weeks, but longer for me) getting you to the point of running a 5k. I figured I could run for 60 seconds, so I started it.
I was supposed to run a 5k on the fourth of July, but that was on a Sunday and I couldn’t figure out how to make that work. Then I was going to do one on Labor Day, but I chickened out. On Saturday last week I thought I seriously injured me knee (heard a pop and lots of swelling). I had no one to run this race with, and Tim and the girls couldn’t even be there because he had to work. But, I didn’t chicken out. I paid the money and I showed up.
My friends assured me that I would not be the only fat, unfit person there. They told me people of all shapes, sizes, and ages would run at a 5k, and there would be lots of walkers.
That was not the case for the race I picked. It’s a new race, apparently, and most of the people were quite fit. There were a few walkers, but I was feeling very intimidated when we were waiting for it to start. I was thinking I was a fool for even trying this.
The race started and I wasn’t sure what pace to set, so I kind of ran ahead of some people who appeared to be in about the same shape as me. They must have been going a good clip, because my time at the first mile marker was 10:13. I have NEVER in my life run anything close to a 10-minute mile. I knew then that I would make my goal – under 45 minutes. I told myself my goal was 50 minutes, but really I wanted to break 45.
My other goal was to run the whole first mile. I did that. After the first mile I decided to walk for two minutes to catch my breath and bring my heart rate down. Then I ran probably half-mile and walked for two more minutes. At the second mile marker my time was 23:23, I think. Still really good for me!
The last mile was a killer. I had gotten behind the ladies I had paced myself with at the beginning and could no longer see them, and the people slower than me, mostly walkers, were way behind me. I wasn’t certain what the course was since I had never been here, and the one place wasn’t clearly marked. That threw me off a bit. For the last mile I alternated three minutes running, two minutes walking. There was a big hill that I walked, and then I sprinted toward the finish. I finished in 38:35.
My time shocked me! It is close to, if not matching, my best time on the treadmill. It beats my best outside running time by a lot.
But most of all I have accomplished something I never thought I could do. I have accomplished something that was beyond hard for me. And I did it.
This is a feeling I never want to forget. It is a feeling I want to repeat again. It is a feeling I want my children to experience someday – the joy of accomplishing something you worked for.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
It’s that gut feeling that something isn’t quite right with your kid. You can’t put your finger on it, but you know something isn’t right.
But, because you can’t put your finger on it, you wonder if it’s all in your head.
I tend to be a hypochondriac about my kids. I see a spot that could possibly be a rash, I am googling pictures of rashes to make sure we don’t have something highly contagious. Miss N starts coughing during the night, I get the inhaler out so I know where it is if it gets bad like last time. My kid has “the runs” for a few days, and I start researching dietary sensitivities.
Because I know that I tend to be a hypochondriac about my kids, I also tend to take two or three steps back before calling the doctor. Thankfully, I am raising kids in the age of Google, so most of the time I can reassure myself that, while a 102.5 fever seems scary, it does not warrant a call to the doctor.
Yet, there are those times when I know something is not right. Like the last time Miss N had pneumonia. I just knew she needed to see the doctor. Or when Miss M wasn’t talking right. I knew she was behind and would qualify for intervention, even though everyone assured me she was “fine.” (For the record, she is doing amazingly with her speech and did end up being “fine,” but I was “right” in that she was significantly behind at the time.)
Anyway, I have been wondering for a while if Miss N needed glasses. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why, but I can’t. She’s never outright struggled to see, but I just had this gut feeling. In Illinois, kids have to get their first eye exam at kindergarten. I decided to see how the beginning of school went and see if her teacher mentioned any concerns when we had our first conference. There were a few little things, like getting headaches when playing a hand held video game or insisting I hold books a certain way when reading to her, but nothing huge that would have warranted a trip to the eye doctor.
But that gut feeling wouldn’t go away.
So on Tuesday she had her first eye doctor appointment. The doctor asked me my concerns and I couldn’t really tell him much. The whole time I was sitting there thinking I was crazy and being hyperactive or overprotective.
Then he started the exam. It was clear that one eye she could not see well out of when he did the first test for seeing far away. He measured and took pictures and did all sorts of tests, most of which I had never seen done, and most of which did not involve having her say letters or identify pictures. They were mostly all measurements.
Turns out Miss N is quite farsighted, which means she can’t see things close up. The doctor commented several times that she has a very strong prescription, and that she should wear her glasses all the time because it is affecting her distance vision because it's so bad.
So my mommy gut was right. In just a few days my little girl will be sporting her spectacles. She’s excited about it. I am glad she will be able to see properly, but I am a little sad. It will change the way she looks and it will be a big responsibility for her. She also freaks out if there is any sort of smudge on her sunglasses, so teaching her to keep them clean will be interesting. Keeping her sister’s hands off will also be a challenge.
So wish us luck as we enter into the world of glasses!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
But, they are still siblings.
And the little one gets on the big one's nerves a lot, usually intentionally.
Like the other day. I can't remember what Miss M was doing, but Miss N had had enough. After I reminded her to be loving, she looked at me and said, "WHEN will we have a baby BOY!!?!?!?" Very funny!
Friday, October 1, 2010
Miss N (while listening to the Barney theme song): Mommy, this is bad music. It says “if we just believe in him.” We shouldn’t believe in anything but God.
(I did tell her the song said, “If we just MAKE-believe him,” and that make believe is a bit different.)
Mommy: Miss N, you need to trust your daddy when he tells you something.
Miss N: No, Mom, we should only trust in our LORD.
Miss N: Mommy, I have a mysterious question. Does God wear shoes?
Mommy: Mommy is tired and is having a hard time with my attitude. I need to pray that God helps me to change my attitude and speak in a loving way.
Miss N (a few minutes later): Mommy, did you pray yet?
Mommy proceeded to pray out loud.